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Bankruptcy: The Power of the Clean Slate

It doesn’t take many clicks online to find writing and advice on how to shape up your finances, even First30Days has a great financial advice section found here. There are...

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Douglas Andrew

Douglas Andrew

Owner and President of Paramount Financial Services, Inc.

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Barbara Corcoran

Founder of The Corcoran Group and real estate contributor...

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Lee Brower

Wealth trainer, consultant and author

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Top 5 Things to Do

So you want to have more money? Don’t be like everyone else and just wish for it to happen. DO something about it! In the first 30 days of having more money, you can make a significant difference in your financial future. Here are five steps to get you started:

1. Write down your life aspirations.

And not just the practical, socially-acceptable stuff that everyone else thinks you should. Have you always wanted to start your own tie-dye business? Retire in Belize? Send your kids to college without making them pay (literally) for the rest of their lives? Detail your ideal life on paper. For now, don’t worry about how you’ll get there. Dare to dream!

2. Approximate your net worth.

Just using the term “net worth” makes you feel wealthy, doesn’t it? Add up all your bank accounts, retirement savings, cash in your mattress, etc. Then add any big ticket items you own free and clear—cars, jewelry, second and third homes, yachts, etc. (If you don’t know the exact value of these items, just guess.) Now subtract everything you owe—credit card debt, loan balances, mortgages and so on. The difference, positive or negative, is your net worth—a mere starting block on your race to wealth.

3. Control spending with a budget.

Make a list of all your monthly expenses by category—housing, utilities, food, gas, medical, insurance, Starbucks, etc. (And no cheating—your recent debit/credit card/checking account statements will give you a true picture.) Look for problem areas and set monthly spending limits for those items. If it helps, withdraw cash each week or month for that item, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. You’d be amazed how quickly NOT spending adds up.

4. Assess your beliefs.

We’ve all heard sayings like, “Money is the root of all evil,” “It takes money to make money,” or “Money can’t buy happiness.” Do these or other ideas about money hit home? Sometimes, we don’t realize our true feelings until we dig down deep. Try finishing sentences like: “Money is…,” “Wealthy people are...,” and “To make a lot of money, you have to....” Answer spontaneously, looking for anything that doesn’t line up with your goals. If you know where you’re coming from now, you can make the necessary adjustments to get to your destination that much faster.

5. Establish a financial plan.

How exactly are you going to get from where you are now to the goals you set in step one? A detailed financial plan can show you the way. Use one of the many available software programs or web sites to set one up, or if you need more help, hire a financial planner—preferably someone who doesn’t have a stake in the plan itself and is fee-based, versus commission-based. The plan will include things like retirement plans, investment and savings plans (for that trip you want to take or the home of your dreams), disability and life insurance protection, and so on.

Posted: 10/3/07