Mortgage Payoff: Is it a Priority?

Calendar Mortgage Payoff Is It A Priority?The peace of mind in owning a debt-free home can be very attractive. Tear up the mortgage statements, let go of the burden, and never worry about missing a payment again.

However, before you put your financial focus on paying off your mortgage, you may want to see what kind of trade-off you are making. Here are a couple questions to ask yourself first: Continue reading

10 Ways to Show Your Money Some Love

The love of moneyIn the month of love, we thought it was important to share our tips on how to show your money some love so it can help you attain your goals. While we could add many more tips to the list, the 10 below are an excellent place to start when thinking through your financial strategy.

1. Don’t Wait

“Oh, I’ll do that tomorrow… or next week… or next month.” We can all find excuses about getting fit, starting a diet, cleaning the house or… taking care of our finances. When it comes to showing your money some love, the first step is to put the excuses aside and take action. Money problems are associated with stress, relational challenges and decreased happiness. Waiting to take care of your finances only prolongs the hurt.

2. Save First

When a paycheck comes in, it can be tempting to pay the bills, buy a few things on the wish list and head out to a nice steak dinner. While it may be well deserved, saving before splurging can really show your money some love. When money is saved, it earns interest and the more interest it earns the more money you have later. Savings accounts, 401(k)s, IRAs and other investments are all part of a good saving strategy.

3. Look for Tax Free

Many retirement plans, such as a 401(k), allow you to save with certain tax advantages. Look into your employer’s retirement plan and possible matching programs, as well as other available programs such as the 529 plan for college education savings. Financial advisors, like the team at Sharkey, Howes and Javer, can be excellent resources when it comes to creating a smart saving strategy.

4. Make a Budget

A 2013 Gallup poll revealed only two-thirds of Americans prepare a detailed household budget (source). Budgeting is such an easy way to stay on top of your finances and meet your financial goals. Set guidelines for your spending in categories such as housing, transportation, groceries, medical, recreation, saving and investing. There are many free online tools that can help track spending and keep you moving towards your budgeting goals.

5. Needs vs. Wants

Along with creating a budget, it’s important to take some time to really think through your long-term goals and how your financial decisions now can help you down the road. Filter your needs and wants through a long-term lens. For example…Do you really need a new house or do you want a new house? How is purchasing a new home going to help you achieve your long-term goals? Asking yourself the tough questions now could lead to a happier retirement later.

6. Watch Your Debt

Debt can make achieving financial goals more challenging, but not impossible. The average U.S. household carries $15,611 in credit card debt, $155,192 in mortgage debt and $32,264 in student loan debt (source). If you are in the same boat as many Americans, take some time to analyze your debt and look for creative ways to pay it off. Think carefully before making big purchases or getting caught up in interest free sales. Consider meeting with a financial advisor to help you make the most of your income now and create a strategy to manage your debt while investing for the future.

7. Protect Your Identity

Our private information is being compromised more and more frequently. It seems like every day we hear of another large corporation with a data breach. Keeping close tabs on your identity can keep your money where it belongs and your credit on the up and up. Start by watching for scams. Never give out your personal information such as your social security number over email. Always call your financial institution directly if you receive a suspicious phone call or email asking for your account information. Make sure to check your statements regularly. The sooner you catch fraudulent charges, the quicker they can be resolved. See more helpful identity theft resources on our website >

8. Plan for the Unexpected

Showing your money some love also means saving for a rainy day. Consider starting an emergency fund with 3 to 6 months of living expenses saved. Consider putting your funds in a savings account, or a money market account, where it can be easily accessed in the event of a job loss, medical challenge or other unexpected tragedy. It is also important to let your trusted family and loved ones know where your funds are and how to access them in the event you are unable to.

9. Find a Friend

Perhaps the best way to show your money some love is by finding it a friend you trust. Financial advisors, especially advisors who don’t work on commission, can become your money’s best friend. Starting to work with a financial advisor early will help keep you on track as you work toward your long term goals. When looking for an advisor, ask your friends and family members for referrals, but also be sure to take a hard look at their strategies, team and BBB ratings to make sure they align with your goals. For more on finding the right financial advisor, check out our post: 3 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Financial Advisor.

10. Don’t Give Up

Taking good care of your finances is a process. We will all experience some missteps and setbacks along the way. No matter what, it’s important to persevere. Maybe you have a year where the markets don’t cooperate. Reevaluate your investment strategy and try new tactics in the next year. Or maybe you have a longer period of unemployment than your emergency fund allowed for. With the right planning and the right team, you can rebound. Showing your money some love isn’t a one-time event. It’s a lifelong commitment, and with diligence your money will love you back in the long run.


In conclusion, we want to remember while money is a part of our lives, it shouldn’t consume our lives. Take the time to show your money some love using these tips so you can focus on what’s most important in your life.

What tips would you add to the list? Comment below!

Talk to Your Kids About Money… Really

Talk to your kids about moneyTalking to kids about the birds and the bees is awkward and hard. But what about money? A report by the National Financial Educators Council recently found the average youth financial literacy score to be just 58% (source). [Your kids can take the test here if you are interested]. Another study by Capital One found 52% of teens want to learn more about how to manage their money (source).

Right now most of our financial literacy education comes from our parents. It’s not standard in children’s education. Talking to your kids frequently about money is one of the best ways for them to learn how to handle their own finances as they become adults.

Here are a few tips to talk to your children about money:

Make it part of everyday conversation. You’re at the store and have a budget to stick to. Share with them how and why you came to your budget as you are shopping. Are your kids begging for a trip? Sit down with them and have them help make a plan to save for the trip as a family. Review basic bank statements with them so they can learn how to read financial information. Try inserting conversations about money into your everyday conversations and you won’t have to schedule time to have the ‘financial talk.’ Plus, it will be more effective if your kids can learn as they grow.

Be as open as you can about family finances. There are some topics that won’t be appropriate for all ages, we understand. But try to be open about finances rather than having those discussions behind closed doors. If times are tough, don’t fake it for the kids. Have a family savings meeting to discuss how you can all cut back. If you just received a raise or maybe an inheritance, talk with the kids about how you should invest it as a family. Decide as a family how you want to give to charities, etc. Being open about finances will help set kids up for financial success and make them more willing to talk about financial issues in the future. Continue reading