Monday, May 16, 2022

How To Stay Motivated When You Don’t Have It in You

Many people struggle to maintain consistent motivation in various of their lives, including finances. Staying on track, meeting deadlines, setting goals, and even planning financial goals may all be mentally taxing. We have a tendency to compare our productivity to that of others which doesn't help us. However, attempting to improve our own consistency can. Remember that motivation stems from an inner resolve of the will. It is the idea of becoming something larger than our current selves, of imagining and working toward what we might become.

Here are 5 steps to find our inner drive and keep lighting it on fire. 
1. Do What Comes to Mind.
Do whatever is essential, even if you start with a very minor day-to-day task. It is critical to begin small and work our way up. Even something as simple as making our beds at the start of the day will help set the tone for improved productivity. The art of making one's bed in the morning inspires one to tackle more during the day. We must begin somewhere, and what better way to begin strengthening our drive for achievement than by making our beds in the morning?

                                                                                                        2. Defeating Mental Blocks. 
It is critical to identify our mental roadblocks. What is holding us back right now? Are we prepared? What is preventing us from moving forward? Are we scared of failing? These are reflective questions that we can honestly and freely ask ourselves. Speaking truth to ourselves can help us find solutions to our mental blockages more easily. Clearing the mind before engaging in serious thinking is always beneficial to this process. Another factor in efficiently keeping motivated is the environment we are immersed in. A chaotic, unpredictable, disorganized, and congested setting will demotivate any action for achieving a productive capacity. Consider incredible athletes as an example. We assume they built up their setting to get effective results. We absolutely can do the same to set up our environment for success to defeat our own mental obstacles.

3. Flexibility can help. 
The pandemic has changed the way we spend our lives during the last few years. Not only that, but it has provided a new viewpoint on how to live more efficiently. We think more deeply about why we do what we do and why we achieve certain goals. This also relates to many of us with our jobs and how they connect with the ideals we believe in. James M. Diefendorff, Ph.D., a University of Akron professor of Industrial organizational psychology suggests that we “try to structure our day to ensure that some of those ‘best day’ activities can be experienced at least some of the time.” Knowing what excites us is key because if we can repeat the activities that excite us, we will want to find other activities that excite us even more.

4. Break Down Goals. 
Setting a goal that may become unrealistic to achieve over time can be stressful. Why is this the case you might ask? Research by David Zald, Ph.D., the director of the Center for Advanced Human Brain Imaging finds, “when the workload you shoulder seems too heavy or the or the rewards too far off, the obvious but hard-to-see-when-you’re-in-it solution is to break that big goal into smaller tasks.” Goals should always be split into smaller sub-goals; doing so allows us to narrow down and outline the steps needed to accomplish the end result. 

5. Fighting Fatigue.
Being driven has a cost, and that cost is fatigue and overworking to the point of quitting. It is tough to maintain motivation for an extended period of time. We can, however, combat fatigue by adjusting our mental and physical levels. As an example, consider the nature of exercising.  We may increase our weightlifting repetitions on some days while lowering them on others. Blending mental and physical efforts allows us to take rests to refresh our bodies and minds.
For more information on maintaining your drive click here!
Feel free to also refer back to our previous blog that dwells deeper on burnout. Burnout may also cause demotivation and loss of drive if we happen to experience it more than we would like to. 

Your Financially Fit Team 


Wednesday, February 23, 2022

How to Cope with Inflation and Rising Prices in 2022

 In January of 2022, Inflation hit an annual rate of 7.5% which is the highest it’s been in 4 decades, and about 3x more than what it should be. As inflation increases, the value of money decreases, so 1 dollar becomes worth less over time as prices increase. Having a high inflation rate means that this decrease in value is happening more rapidly than usual. For those of you who have been feeling like your paycheck isn’t stretching as far, know that it is a real problem across the nation. Prices are rising and consumers are learning to cope. 

The Wall Street Journal recently released an article about tips from the 1980s for surviving inflation. What we are experiencing now is significant, but 1980 had it much worse. Through the ’70s inflation rates climbed, reaching a whopping 14% in 1980, and people who remember what that was like have shared some of their stories and tips. Below we have made a summary of the lessons they taught.

  1. How to manage rising electric prices:

    One good way to combat increased utility costs is to turn down your heater at night (to about 65 degrees). Using more blankets at night and wearing warm clothes at home can help reduce your monthly expenses. That way, you’re using the majority of your heating costs for the times you’ll benefit the most from them. As well, some energy companies charge different amounts for energy consumption at different times of the day or at different times of the month. Look into your energy provider to see if they charge more during “peak hours” and try to avoid watching TV and having lots of lights on around those times.

  2. How to manage rising gas prices:

    While gas prices are high, It is good to drive as fuel-efficient as possible. This means coasting down hills, accelerating slowly, not driving over the speed limit (because driving faster tends to consume more gas), and using cruise control while on long trips. While this isn’t a perfect solution, it does stretch your time between fill-ups. You could also consider carpooling with coworkers, taking the bus, or biking to work when possible to cut costs.

  3. Postpone expenses that aren’t necessary right now, and take care of what you have so it lasts.

    Simply being frugal can go a long way. If there is something that you want, but your budget is tight, consider whether it is really a necessity at this time. Do you have something right now that you could use instead for the time being? By making what you have last, you avoid the cost of replacing old items. This could include things like learning to patch clothes or doing a clothing swap with friends instead of shopping.

  4. When you do need something, try to buy used.  Thrifting can still save some money.

    When there is a necessary purchase that comes up, make sure to check out the used market, both online and in-person, to get a feel for your options. While some things shouldn’t be purchased used, most things are just fine. Often sites like Facebook marketplace and craigslist offer low-cost items that are still of decent quality. You can also look for garage sales, moving sales, and traditional thrift stores.

  5. Know that it’s okay to negotiate things you’re buying, especially with large purchases.

    One woman shared that telling her personal story helped her to get lower interest rates on her car loan. As well, working to keep your credit score up by only making purchases you can pay back quickly will give you a better chance in your negotiations.

  6. Saving money on food:

    The first rule of thumb is to eat out less often. Eating at home is almost always cheaper than eating out, but it’s more important when money is tight. As well, there are lots of things you can do to save money at the grocery store. First, always shop with a list, and stick to it! It’s easy to impulse purchase unnecessary foods when shopping and having something to be accountable to can help. The second is to buy value brands. Often the “off-brand” items that are of similar quality cost a lot less than well-known brands.

  7. Finding entertainment at home:

    Going out for date nights and time with kids doesn’t have to stop, but spending money on these outings should be reconsidered. Get creative with at-home hobbies, entertainment, and dates. Working on projects or learning something new can be a fun way to spend time with family. You can also consider playing games or having a picnic at your local park. When it’s cold, try making hot cocoa and s’mores, reading stories together, going on lunch dates instead of dinner dates, or playing board games.

  8. Long term investments

    Though not mentioned in the original article, long-term investments are also a g

    ood way to protect your finances from the effects of inflation. What types of investments a person chooses to work with is a very individual decision, but Financially Fit offers resources to learn about different types of investments and accounts. If you’d like to learn more about this, view our website for information on working with FFE.
If you have questions about inflation and want to understand it better, check out this blog post to learn about the basics of what inflation is and how it affects you. If you’d like to view the original Wall Street Journal article, click here. Feel free to reach out with any questions, and check out our social media for weekly financial advice.

Here to help,
Your Financially Fit Team.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Managing Your Mindset with Manifestation

Lately, lots of popular media sources have been talking about the power of manifestation. While it may sound unreal, this idea is actually founded on neuroscience. Apple News shared an article that includes interviews with doctors about how manifesting actually works.

According to Daniel G. Amen, MD, a clinical neuroscientist and psychiatrist, manifestation is a proven way to help you “match your behavior to your goals.” He shared that “focusing on your goals sparks brain activity, especially in the prefrontal cortex, the region of the brain involved in planning, forethought, and follow-through.” By focusing more on what you’re working toward, your brain subconsciously begins to plan and look for opportunities to be successful. 

Managing your mind is an important step to being successful with any goal. Not only do you become more open to and aware of opportunities, but you also are more likely to take the right actions. Even if you are doing “all the right things” to reach your goal, your mindset will still affect your results. Let me give an example.

Say you want to start your own business, and you’re “doing everything right.” By that I mean, you’ve found your suppliers, you hired good people, your product is of good quality, and you made a good marketing plan. Even in this case, if you don’t believe you can be successful or you have any doubt about your business, you will subconsciously hint at this doubt in every company action. It will be passed from you to your team, and then to your customers, and it will become difficult to make sales. 

If you don’t believe in yourself, you will subconsciously convince others in subtle ways not to believe in you either. This goes for work as well. If you aren’t confident in your position, you probably won’t get a raise, even when you’re doing good work.

Working to manifest a healthy mindset about your goals will help you align your actions and intentions to be more effective. That way when you’re “doing all the right things” to work on your goals, you’ll also be sending yourself and others “all the right ideas” about your hard work.

Financially Fit is committed to educating individuals about financial wellness. Along with this blog, we offer financial tools to help you take control of your life on our website. Check out the demo (no personal information required) for more information.

Here to help,
Your Financially Fit Team

Thursday, January 6, 2022

4 Financial Wellness Tips from a Harvard- Trained Economist

CNBC published an article this week that shares 21 financial tips from a Harvard-trained economist. Here are our four favorites and why they will help you better your financial health.

1. Invest in debt repayment first! This includes your mortgage.

Say you have $100,000 that you can invest right now. 

a. If you invest it in a bond earning 1.5%, you’d earn 1,500 in interest income over the course of a year.

b. If you instead had a $100,000 morgage at a 3.2% interest rate, you’d save $3,200 by paying it off and avoiding a year’s worth of interest payments. 

In short, you’d make $1,700 with no risk by investing in your debt instead of in a bond.

2. Use retirement-account contributions, conversions, and withdrawals to cut your lifetime taxes. 

By contributing to your retirement accounts, you save the money you need for your future, receive tax benefits, and can often receive contributions from your employer as well. Understanding your company’s retirement benefits is an important step in this. If you need help understanding the different types of retirement accounts and what is best for you, feel free to schedule an appointment with one of our coaches for personalized guidance.

3. If you don’t formally request your social security benefits, you won’t get it.

Many people don’t know this, and it’s important to plan ahead. You actually have to actually file for benefits once you’re eligible. This can be done through the Social Security Administration’s website.

Another key tip is that if you can wait until age 70 to claim these benefits, your monthly benefits increase significantly. Of course, this isn’t an option for everyone, but consider it before applying.

4. If you want to invest in stocks but are worried about the risk, don’t add more money to your trading account until you are able to pull winnings out.

There are lots of things to learn when you begin investing, but the first things are: 

a. How much money am I willing to “spend” as I learn about the stock market?

- by investing before you know what you’re doing, you will likely lose some of it. Just consider that the cost of self-education. It will get better as you learn to do the proper research and understand the market better.

b. What is my exit strategy?

- If the stock you buy is doing well, it is sometimes hard to sell it because it may continue to go up. If you sell to early, you lose out on profit you could have made, but if you sell too late, then you could lose out anyways. Building an exit strategy means understanding what the stock is likely to do and deciding at what price or % increase you’ll sell part of the stock.

A basic example:
You buy 200 shares of a stock that will probably go up 10%. It has the potential, though, for a 15% increase.

Your exit strategy could look like this:

- At 5% increase: Sell 40 shares

In case the stock doesn’t do what is expected, you make a little and could sell the rest if need be.

- At 8% increase: sell 80 shares
Here the stock is trending as expected but it may not reach its full potential so selling a little over half guarantees some winnings in case it begins trending down.

- At 10% increase: Sell 40 shares

Now the stock has done what was expected. While it could go up, the future is uncertain, and selling a bit more will help mitigate any potential loss from a dip.

- Hold the last 40 shares in case the stock does better than expected and sell if it turns down.

This isn’t the perfect plan for every situation, but it allows you to see the thought process behind mitigating risk with an exit strategy. Here you can see if the stock were to fall at any point, you’d have made some money and could sell the rest of your holdings if needed. 

To read all 21 tips, see the full original article here.

If you need help with any of these concepts, feel free to reach out. Financially Fit is here to help individuals like you better your financial health and overall quality of living. We also offer many financial tools, like budgeting and debt reduction worksheets to get you started. See our website for more information.

Here to help,

Your Financially Fit Team

Friday, December 31, 2021

New Year, New Goals: How To Stick To Your 2022 Resolutions

Because it’s New Year's Eve, let's talk about New Year's resolutions. Setting goals is a great way to plan your future and grow. However, trying to change too much at once tends to result in failure, and that’s usually what happens with New Year's resolutions. People create a laundry list of every way they want to be different and everything they think they should be doing. Then we all assume that the magic of January first will help us keep up with all of these big changes. 

Here’s the thing though. January first isn’t a magical day. It’s just another tomorrow, and you aren’t going to wake up as a whole new you with different habits than what you have now. 

If you don’t already exercise every day, you aren’t going to have the motivation or time just because the calendar changed.

If you don’t already save money each month you aren’t going to start by saving 1000$ a month consistently just because you want to. You have to start by consistently making and keeping to a budget. Then you can save smaller and more realistic amounts consistently, based on your budget. Then when you know you can save 100$ a month regularly and you’re comfortable budgeting, you can keep bumping that number higher.

If you haven’t picked it up yet, the key to making New Year's resolutions work is to take baby steps. Set goals that are so small that you know you can keep them. This teaches your brain to be consistent with a totally new habit. Then after doing it for a month or two, you revise the goal as you feel fit to do a little more.

People always overestimate what they can do in a day and underestimate what they can do in a year so start small. Learn consistency with a small new habit, and you’ll be able to reach your end goal in time.

Here to help, 
Your Financially Fit Team

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Are you experiencing burnout? Here's what you can do.

Most people have experienced some form of burnout at some time or another. Even the most passionate employees struggle with burnout. According to a Deloitte survey, 87% of employees reported being passionate about their work, but 64% are frequently stressed. If you are experiencing this type of fatigue, you are not alone and there are things that can help. This article is here to help educate you about what burnout is, how to recognize it in yourself, and what to do about it. 

Because burnout is becoming increasingly common in the workplace, the World Health Organization has actually recognized burnout’s impact on health. WHO defined it as a syndrome that results “from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” 

Burnout is often characterized by visible signs, such as:

  1. mental and physical exhaustion
  2. uncharacteristic disengagement or boredom at work
  3. reduced productivity
  4. cynicism or complaining related to one’s job

For any of these things, be it tiredness or frustration, it is normal and expected to have off days. However, if you notice you are experiencing an extended period of one or more of the above symptoms, there is likely a bigger issue to address. 

This is where you should take an inventory of yourself. 

While these symptoms are all key signs of burnout, there is also a chance that the cause is not work-related. Sometimes rough situations in our personal lives, like sick family members or financial stress, can affect our feelings and behavior at work. If there are personal issues at hand, consider talking openly with your supervisor so you can have the help you need to continue being successful at work. Also, consider reaching out to someone you trust who can help you manage your stressors. 

If after self-evaluation, the stress you are experiencing is work-related, try to pinpoint what is causing it. 

  • Do you have too much on your plate? 
  • Do you have a clear understanding of what is expected and what you should be doing? 
  • Are you feeling underappreciated? 
  • Are you having issues communicating with other team members?

Management Supported Solutions:

  1. Talk to your supervisor openly.
    • Once you understand what is causing you to feel burnt out at work, it is easier to have a productive conversation about how to fix it. You can talk with your supervisor about what you’re feeling, why you think you’re feeling that way, and what can be done to help you be more successful at work. Often, this kind of open communication is effective for getting the support that you need.
  2. Ask to switch up the kind of work you are doing.
    • If you usually work with data or numbers, ask if there is a more creative project you can help on. If you usually work with the most difficult clients, ask to manage a smaller/easier account so you can stay productive and have a little rest. These kinds of big work changes can help you feel more interested and engaged during periods of burnout.

Self-Oriented Solutions:

  1. Learn what techniques help you manage various types of stress.
    • There are many stress management techniques, from breathing strategies to grounding techniques. There is also counseling for more serious situations. Regardless of what you are dealing with, learning stress management techniques can help you to feel higher satisfaction in all areas of life.
  2. Spend time outside and/or exercising.
    • Getting fresh air and some sunshine can make a big difference when you spend most of your day inside. Exercising also can be a game-changer. Both of these things cause your brain to release positive hormones that will help you feel happier overall.
  3. Make sure you take your time away from work AWAY from work.
    • Don’t check work emails on your off time if they aren’t urgent. Don’t worry about things at work that you have to do if you aren’t there and can’t work on them. Make sure that your time is YOUR time so that you get the mental rest you need to be fully present at work.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Inflation Made Easy

Before you get overwhelmed, know that inflation is very confusing for lots of people! You aren’t alone in trying to ignore it, but that won’t help your finances. Understanding inflation can help you make sure you’re taking the appropriate steps with your finances. Here is a brief introduction to inflation and how it affects your life.

Inflation, in its most basic form, is the idea that the government adds money into the economy and that adding money dilutes the value of the dollar.

This often causes prices to rise over time. Goods and services, like bread, for example, have the same value they always had but the money you are paying with is worth less than it used to be. It’s like pouring water into juice. At first, it looks like there is just more juice, but then you try it and the juice is lower quality. While inflation means there is more money circulating in the economy, each dollar is worth less than what a dollar used to be. Thus, it takes more dollars to buy the same goods.

Now, a quick history lesson. In the US, the government prints money. We used to have something called the gold standard, meaning that for every dollar printed there was a dollar worth of gold in the federal reserve. At this time, the American economy basically worked like a debit card. All of the money put into the market was money the government could back up with actual gold. This standard, however, was abandoned during the Great Depression.

Now, the country switched to fiat money, which just means that the money printed is only valuable because the government says it is. There isn’t any real commodity (like gold or silver) that your dollars represent. They’re now just paper, and it’s worth something because we all agree that it is. Crazy, I know, but stay with me.

This system of fiat money allows the government to balance the economy’s needs by controlling how much money is printed. Contrary to popular belief, inflation can actually be a good thing. The US aims to have an average annual inflation rate of 2.3% because it benefits the overall economy.  In a recession, inflation is often increased to help us bounce back by increasing spending. When the economy is doing well, the inflation rate is decreased since it isn’t as needed. 

One recent example of this is the pandemic! Inflation last year was about 6.2%. Not gonna lie, this is a HIGH inflation rate, but guess why? It’s because of the stimulus checks that the government sent out. Think of how much money was added to the US economy through those. There were also a variety of COVID relief funds for schools and other businesses that factor in, as well. This high inflation rate is what helped families get through hard times.

Inflation can also be bad for consumers. Not only does it raise prices for normal goods, but it also affects your savings. Because money is worth less over time, so is your savings account. 

Right now, check how much interest you earn on your savings accounts. 

If the annual inflation rate is higher than that interest rate, you are actually “losing” money because your savings are being devalued faster than they are being increased. Because the US attempts to average at about 2.3% inflation, you want to find an account that averages 2.3% annual interest or higher to counteract this. This can also be done through investment returns or by investing your savings in things that don’t lose value like gold or government bonds.

Inflation also affects people in debt too, but we will discuss that in a future article. For now, feel free to reach out with any questions. Inflation can be a hard topic and our financial coaches are a great resource to help better understand this and help you make educated decisions. See our website for more information and who to contact.

Here to help,

Your Financially Fit Team