BEYOND PENNIES https://beyondpennies.com Tools to save money and fulfill your dreams. Wed, 24 Feb 2021 17:52:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.6.2 https://beyondpennies.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/cropped-Site-Icon-2-32x32.png BEYOND PENNIES https://beyondpennies.com 32 32 172160722 7 Simple Steps to Turn Your Dreams Into Reality https://beyondpennies.com/7-simple-steps-to-turn-your-dreams-into-reality/ https://beyondpennies.com/7-simple-steps-to-turn-your-dreams-into-reality/#respond Wed, 24 Feb 2021 17:50:55 +0000 https://beyondpennies.com/?p=5296 What if I told you achieving your dreams is simple using project management skills? Learn 7 simple steps to turn your dreams into reality.

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Dreams come true for those who seek them. You've heard it before. But catchy quotes don't help much with figuring out how to get from where you are today to realizing your biggest lifestyle goals.

What is a life goal? Close your eyes and picture your perfect day – the one you wouldn't mind living over and over and over again. What do you see? Grab a piece of paper and write it out.

Now look at the detail in what you wrote and psychoanalyze yourself for a moment. What is it that you're longing for in your life? What is the #1 thing you need to feel like you're living your best life?

to feel like you're being challenged appropriately, in all the ways that motivate and inspire you?

or to be surrounded by people you love spending time with, in an environment that makes you happy?

Now do some brainstorming and write out a realistic life goal. And don't sell yourself short by thinking that big dreams are not realistic.

Here is a list of some big life goals that may seem unrealistic, but are achievable:

  • Relocating to anywhere on the planet
  • Digital nomad lifestyle
  • Create a business and work from home while homeschooling your kids
  • Turn your passion (anything legal) into a money-making business
  • Complete your bucket list
  • Switch to the career of your dreams
  • Live off the grid
  • Buy a farm

STEP 1: DEFINE YOUR DREAM

Be specific and quantitative. What do I mean by that? Make it a measurable dream with a defined timeline.

An example of a non-specific dream: “Someday I want to save up and quit my job for a few years to start my own company.”

Let’s re-word that dream into a specific goal:

“In five years, I want to quit my day job and launch an online company selling scuba dive equipment. I need to save up $200,000 to be able to do that.”

Boom. Now we have a goal.

Step 2: Decide to Succeed

It might sound hokey, but deciding to succeed is an absolute must. Incredible things start happening after you make this decision.

Don't believe me?

In 2013, I was a struggling, single Mom with a troubled teenager, a mountain of debt, a credit score around 550, zero sailing skills, and barely able to make it from paycheck to paycheck.

Then one day I decided I was going to save up, quit my job, and sail the world.

The idea was preposterous. Remember no sailing skills? How about no sailboat?? And no ocean near me to sail in.

But I didn't let that stop me from deciding on success.

Since 2013, the following things have happened:

  • A series of better paying jobs and promotions, more than tripling my pay from 2013. Including moves to 2 different states to make it happen.
  • I convinced my Canadian boyfriend to move to Arizona and now we are married with two toddlers (aka future crew).
  • We learned how to sail, and received multiple sailing certifications.
  • And then bought and sold a house in Phoenix, AZ, making a nice profit.
  • We bought a second house in Bend, OR that has appreciated by $100k in just over a year!
  • And then saved up more than half of what we need to leave on our adventure – post-tax savings in our retail account. We will not be waiting until retirement.
    • We took advantage during Covid and saved money by not eating out and investing our stimulus money.
  • My husband just happens to be handy and can fix anything (with the help of Youtube).
  • We have watched countless vlogs on Youtube of other families doing what we dream of doing and believe we are up for the challenge.

In short – life looks very different today than it did 8 years ago.

Once I decided to succeed, I started noticing opportunities everywhere. Life didn't seem so bleak. I felt re-energized – almost like I was already living my dream.

Planning for the dream has turned out to be a rewarding experience.

Turn your dreams into reality by deciding that you CAN and you WILL.

Step 3: decide on tactics

The first step to turn your dreams into reality is to decide on tactics.

Okay, so you need to save up $200k to pay for your living expenses and maybe some start-up costs of your online scuba dive business.

Obviously there's a financial goal in there, but I bet you have a lot to learn about running an online business, too. So let's make sure we tackle that objective as well.

Reducing your cost of living will make it easier to stay afloat once you take a break from your day job.

How will you save $200,000? You need some tactics.

  • Tactic #1: Pay off all credit card debt within the next 6 months.
  • Tactic #2: Starting in month 7, save $1,000 each month in a personal brokerage account.
  • Tactic #3: Ask for a bonus (or extra bonus) of $10,000 at your day job.
  • Tactic #4: Invest your savings in the market and target a return of 10% annually.
  • Tactic #5: Start working a side job delivering groceries or driving for Uber one day per week, and save all extra funds for extra savings of $500 per month.
  • Tactic #6: Switch jobs or ask for a promotion or raise. Expect a salary increase of 10% per year over 5 years.

Everyone's needs and financial situations are different, and these are just examples. Figure out what works for you. Sit down and do some calculations, and come up with a PLAN!

A Savings Plan to Achieve Your Dreams with Tactics and Timeline
Example of a Savings Plan

Other tactics may involve learning things or gaining skills you'll need for your dream. Training, if your dream involves physical activity, or earning certifications, if required to make your dream happen.

What are your tactics for getting to the level you need to be at to get started? Write them all out.

Step 4: DEFINE YOUR TASKS

For each tactic, there are a number of tasks that will need to be completed. While tactics represent HOW you will achieve your dream, tasks represent WHAT needs to be done.

Decide on 5 to 10 tasks that need to be completed to deploy each tactic. List them out on paper. You will knock these out, one by one. Like a boss!

But let's not stop there. We are going to take it one step further.

Step 5: baby steps

For every task that must be completed, there are probably several baby steps that will need to be done to complete the task. I like to list these out in checklist format.

Another format that works well is a scrum board. Scrum is a project management tool designed to clear away all obstacles to completing a project. Work is done in short cycles called sprints, and the individual or team updates the board as needed to keep tasks current.

To create a simple scrum board, grab a big piece of white foam core board, and draw a line down the center. Using sticky notes, write one baby step on each note and place them on the left side of the board.

As steps are completed, sign the sticky note and place it on the right side of the board. This is a GREAT tool if you are working on a team or with a spouse, but I've found it also works well individually.

As you complete your baby steps, you will be amazed at how fast you are gaining on your goals. This is a motivational way to attack any dream, goal, or project.

Don't worry, you won't know all of the baby steps on day 1. You update the board or list as you learn and make progress. By using the same process every time, you will learn how to make things happen.

Always remember GTTS: Goal —-> Tactics —-> Tasks —-> Steps

sTEP 6: EMBRACE OPPORTUNITIES

As you begin the process of turning your dreams into reality, your way of thinking will naturally change, and you'll be presented with a number of opportunities.

Prepare yourself mentally to embrace them.

I quit my job in 2013, packed up my and my son's stuff, and headed west to Phoenix, AZ. I was headed to a new job with better pay, but it was a huge risk.

Part of me hoped that living there would be more accessible for my Canadian lover, who could make a quick flight from Great Falls, MT to Mesa, AZ on the Allegiant cheap flights.

The gamble paid off for both of us.

The job worked out, the relationship worked out. Thanks to all of that, there are two beautiful humans on the earth.

Its possible that none of it would have come to pass if I hadn't seized an opportunity – if I hadn't accepted the job offer in Phoenix, I'd still be in Fort Worth, making half of what I make now, still drowning in debt, and “dreaming” about moving forward with my life.

When opportunities come your way, embrace them.

Once you decide to succeed, you will notice opportunities that have been in your reach all along. The fundamental change taking place is your self-identity. Once this shift happens, your whole world changes.

Step 7: Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Life sucks sometimes. We all have good days, bad days, and days where we are ready to throw in the towel.

On the hardest days, get out your vision board and remember why you started. Remember what matters to you, and promise yourself to stay the course.

At my most frustrated moments, I recalculate everything: All of my assumptions. This usually leads to me realizing that we are even closer to the finish line than I thought.

Just a little while longer, WE CAN MAKE IT!

And if I can do it, you can do it too. Start today.

Turn YOUR dreams into reality.

If you found this post inspiring, leave me a comment and let me know.

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The Surprising Average Net Worth of a 40 Year Old https://beyondpennies.com/the-surprising-average-net-worth-of-a-40-year-old/ https://beyondpennies.com/the-surprising-average-net-worth-of-a-40-year-old/#comments Wed, 10 Feb 2021 14:20:54 +0000 https://beyondpennies.com/?p=5131 What is the average net worth of a 40 year old, and how does your compare? Learn more about net worth and the importance of knowing yours. Free worksheet included!

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In 2019, the average net worth of a 40 year old American was $428,000 according to a Survey of Consumer Finances publishes by the Federal Reserve. [1]

Does that seem like a big number?

Like me, you might read that and feel like you are way behind the curve. Before we jump to conclusions, let's take a closer look at the data.

Chart showing distribution of net worth by percentile.
Distribution of net worth for 35-44 year olds by percentile.

As you can see in the chart above, there's a large disparity between the net worth of the top 10 percentile and the 0 – 89 percentile. The top 10% category is skewing the average net worth to a much higher number than represents the true average.

We can remove the top 10% from the calculation and see what the new average net worth is for 35 – 44 year olds.

The chart above shows a new average net worth calculation that doesn't include the top 10% of wealthy Americans who fall within the 35-44 year old range.

The result is a significant reduction in average net worth. The overall average is $428,000, and the average using the bottom 89.9% of Americans in that age range is $187,000. This calculation is a much more realistic number to use as a benchmark.

Since an average value can be distorted by outliers, the median is sometimes a better indicator of central value.

The median net worth of 35-44 year olds in 2019 was $91k.

So take your pick – use $187,000 average net worth or $91,000 median net worth as a benchmark for your personal net worth calculation.

Why Net Worth Is Important

Net worth is a snapshot of your overall financial health. There's no better way to accurately measure your wealth. Its also the best way to track your progress over time.

It doesn't matter how low you're starting. Some of you with alot of debt will start out with a negative net worth. I did. By tracking it, you can see the effect that paying down debt has on your financial health.

As your debt goes down, net worth will turn from negative to positive. Tracking net worth can be a great motivator to keep going down the path of healthy financial habits.

For those who focus only on assets, they may not realize that if their liabilities grow at the same rate, they aren't gaining any wealth.

For instance, if your income goes up and you contribute to your 401k, you may feel like you are gaining wealth. But if you're also taking out new loans, racking up credit card debt, or borrowing money for expensive cars, you may not be gaining any financial traction.

The net worth calculation will give you the best insight into your true financial state.

What Your Net Worth Is Not

Your net worth is not your income.

Its not your income because you don't keep all of your income – you spend some of it on living expenses, debt payments, vacations, etc.

The only income included in your net worth is the income you don't spend.

Despite what some Americans believe, you don't need a big income to build wealth. You just need to have a lower cost of living than your income, and be disciplined enough to save the rest.

And once you save up, you can invest your unspent income and let it generate passive income for you.

How to Calculate Your Net Worth

Net worth is the amount of money you would have if you sold all of your assets and paid off all of your debts.

To calculate net worth, start with your assets. Add up your cash on hand, bank balances, investment balances including any stocks, options, cryptocurrency, futures contracts or other financial securities. This should include 401k, IRA balances, and any other retirement funds.

Also calculate the current market value of any real estate, including your primary residence. If you have any antiques or other collectibles with a known market value, you can count those as well.

Pro tip: I use Zillow's Z Estimate as the estimated value for my home. Its not perfect, but its an estimate calculated by a third party that's updated every month. Short of getting a new appraisal completed, this is the best market estimate I have.

Generally non-collectible vehicles for personal use are not included in net worth calculations.

Next, add up your liabilities. This section should include all credit card loans, installment loans, car loans, mortgage balances, home equity loans, future vehicle lease payments, student loans, and any other debt owed.

After you total your liabilities, the math is simple:

Total assets – total liabilities = Net Worth.

Image depicting a printable financial net worth worksheet.
Sample net worth calculation using free printable template.

Free Net Worth Printable Worksheet

Here is a free net worth printable worksheet template you can use to track your own net worth. I recommend printing and updating this sheet on a monthly basis.

How to Increase Your Net Worth

There are several ways to increase your net worth. Here are the biggest priorities to make the largest impact:

  1. Pay off credit card debt
  2. Contribute to 401k
  3. Pay off long-term loans (cars, student loans, etc.)
  4. Save and invest post-tax funds
  5. Invest in a company
  6. Pay off your mortgage

All of that happens by increasing your income and/or decreasing your cost of living. If you want to dig deeper into your finances, read this post on building your own DIY budget binder (with free worksheets to use!).

Automate with an App

If you're interested in a free app that tracks your net worth for you, take a look at Personal Capital. I've used this app before and it does help automate the process of calculating net worth.

Visit Personal Capital's website here and try it out.

However, it removes some of the engagement required to calculate it yourself. I'm a big believer in engagement and spending quality time with your finances.

[1] https://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/files/scf20.pdf

INVESTMENT QUIZ

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How to Turn Your Quirky Hobby into a Side Hustle https://beyondpennies.com/how-to-turn-your-quirky-hobby-into-a-side-hustle/ https://beyondpennies.com/how-to-turn-your-quirky-hobby-into-a-side-hustle/#respond Wed, 03 Feb 2021 14:00:00 +0000 https://beyondpennies.com/?p=4924 You can turn your hobby into a side hustle and make money doing what you love. Learn the different ways to make it happen.

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So you like to knit mittens for corgis. Awesome. Would you like to make your quirky hobby a side hustle?

Side hustles are growing in popularity, and can mean anything from driving for Uber on your day off to building your own business. What it means is extra cash in your bank account.

So what if you could turn your favorite hobby or past-time into a money-making side hustle business of your own? Totally doable. Believe it or not, sometimes quirky hobbies are easy to monetize.

Best of Both Worlds

If your hobby is your passion, why not turn it into a money-making business? You'll spend your time doing what you love and making a profit at the same time.

Its the best of both worlds. The dream job. And its yours for the taking – you just have to decide a few things first.

Chiefly, what, where, and how.

What will you offer your customers? Products, templates, lessons?

Where will you market your stuff? Local or online?

How will you find your customers? If you love knitting mittens for corgis, there's probably a lot of people out there who would love to do it too. You'd be surprised.

Not to mention the Corgi owners who would love a set of mittens for their new pup.

The question is – do you want to sell mittens, or do you want to teach knitting? Or do you want to help your followers find products that you recommend for knitting?

In fact, there are a number of ways you can turn your side hustle into a hobby.

Make Things and Sell Them

If your hobby involves making things, take your craft to the next level and make some side cash. Slap on a fancy label with a logo you printed at home, and you are Etsy-ready.

On Etsy, you can sell unique products you've already created, or you can list customizable products and make them after you receive the orders. Alice the Corgi owner may want an S for Spot on those mittens.

You can also sell unique products at local shops in town. Boutiques love to offer unique items from local artists and craftspeople.

A third option is to create several items and then sell them at trade shows, farmer's market, or holiday craft fair. Corgi mittens in every color.

Teach Your Hobby

Young woman with teacher during tailor's class

Turn your side hustle into a hobby by teaching it to others.

There are a number of ways to make money teaching others about your hobby. Here are some local and online options:

Teach Local

My mother used to teach sewing machine customers how to use their new Pfaff sewing machine. She did that at the sewing machine store on weekends. She had a great time teaching the classes and spending time doing her favorite thing.

Connect with your local community college to see if they are interested in offering a live class on your area of expertise.

Teach Online

There are many different ways to monetize your hobby online. Start a blog and write posts teaching others about your hobby. You can cover topics from where to get the materials, projects, tutorials, industry news, and so on.

  • Start a Blog: Blogging is fun and rewarding, but there is a learning curve involved with making a blog profitable. And it doesnt' happen overnight. If you choose to go the blogging route, be ready to commit 1-2 years of your time (at least) before expecting to make money.
  • Youtube Channel: If you're not camera shy, consider a Youtube vlog where you can entertain and teach your viewers about your hobby. You can make money on Youtube with advertisements, by launching a Patreon account, or finding sponsors – companies who sell products or services related to your hobby.
  • Online Course: Create an online course on Udemy or Skillshare. The great thing about a course is that you only have to create it one time instead of creating a new Youtube video every week.

Write a Book

Turn your hobby into a side hustle by writing a book.

Self publishing is simple in today's online world, so writing a book is an option for anyone brave enough. Amazon will print your book on demand, or offer it in their Kindle store.

If writing a book sounds like something you want to do, you can make it happen with or without an editor and publisher.

Writing a book is a huge commitment that won't pay off until the book is completed and marketed to an appropriate audience. That's a tall order if you don't build a following, or some hype, before publishing.

A book can be instructional, or it can tell your story.

  • Instructional – How to knit, how to knit for pets, or how to design your own knitting projects.
  • Story – How you found your quirky hobby, how it changed your life, or how it impacted the world around you.

Lead A community

Start a Facebook group. You can make money in a Facebook group by offering affiliate products to your members. There are guides you can find that will teach you how to monetize your Facebook group.

You can also require them to sign up for your email list, and then market relevant products or affiliate content to them using email campaigns.

If you want to build an email list, I recommend Convertkit. Converkit is an email service provider that makes it easy to build an email list, set up automated email campaigns, build landing pages (even without your own website), sell digital products, and send emails to your community.

Social Media

If you have followers on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest, you can make money online without a website, Youtube channel, or a product like a book.

How? Affiliate links. Sponsors. Become an influencer in your niche and opportunities will abound.

Grow your followers by engaging others on those platforms and becoming a voice people look to for interesting content. You can use Visme, a great new tool using the latest technology, to create interesting posts, providing valuable tips and information for people who are interested in your hobby.

Marketing Niche Hobbies

Its alot easier to market a niche hobby online than it is in real life. Imagine a store that sold nothing but underwater basketweaving supplies. You probably couldn't find an audience of fans or customers in a single town that would be interested.

But online, there's an entire world full of potential customers. And those serious underwater basketweavers are looking for a community of like-minded weavers.

My friend's husband has a Youtube channel focused on on paramotoring. You may not have heard of paramotoring – most people probably haven't. But guess where paramotorers go on Youtube to learn about the sport? They go to one of the few channels that offer content in that niche.

When it comes to online content, the more specific the niche, the better. That's a hard lesson many of us have learned over time. Be an expert in one specific thing and people will flock to you.

The Process

  1. Choose a hobby, preferably one where you can offer something unique and high quality. If, like me, you can't cut a straight line to save your life, paper cutting projects probably aren't your best offering.
  2. Decide if you want to sell your things, teach things, or market/sell other people's things.
  3. Local or online
    1. Local – Make a list of where you will sell your things or teach your things.
    2. Online – Decide if you want to create your own website, or use social media as your home base.
  4. Choose a name for your business
  5. Research your niche and identify your potential customers
  6. Set up your home office
  7. Make a simple business plan
    1. What are you selling?
    2. How much money you can contribute to start your business?
    3. If online, where will your home base be?
      1. Facebook
      2. Social Media Page
      3. Medium or other 3rd Party Blogging Platform
      4. Online Course Site
      5. Other
    4. Marketing plan
      1. How you will advertise your products
      2. Product research – who will buy your stuff
      3. Competitors – which sites or products are similar to yours
    5. Financial plan
  8. Get Started

Or skip all of those steps for now and get started with a blog today.

  • Start by finding a website name that's available and register it with a domain registrar.
  • Purchase a hosting package and update your name server with your domain registrar. Your hosting provider will email you details on the nameservers after you sign up.
  • Install WordPress (its free) and start creating your blog.

Learn as you go, like many of us have done. Refine and improve your site and knowledge of how to run an online business over time.

Here are the services I use for this blog:

Domain Registrar Epik I use Epik because they don't raise prices on you, they don't make it difficult to cancel, or try to upsell you on other service. If you need help updating nameservers, email them for help. They offer great support.

Hosting ProviderWPX I moved my site to WPX a few months ago and it loads very fast compared to the old provider. Their interface is easy to use, and they cater specifically to WordPress users. They will install it for you, and help you optimize the speed.

WordPress Theme – I use Generatepress for my WordPress theme. Its lightweight, easy to work with, and the code is clean.

Successful Hobby Side-Hustles

Below is a list of ordinary women who launched successful online businesses based on their hobbies.

The Ornament Girl – She sells kits to make fabric Christmas ornaments via a monthly subscription. 7-figure business. She was a stay at home Mom prior to starting her business.

Mimi G Style – She became a millionaire selling sewing patterns and teaching basic sewing and design skills online. Formerly an administrative assistant.

Carla Sue Greeting Cards – Offers sassy greeting cards with messages of positivity and empowerment.  Carla Lyles, the owner and creator, was named one of the Top 10 Entrepreneurs Who Turned Their Hobbies into a Successful Career by Entrepreneur Magazine.

Use Your Uniqueness as a Tool

You are unique from everyone else in the world. Focus on monetizing what you're really good at, and put your personal touch on it. Your business should be an extension of you, and not just something you do for a living or side hustle. 

You don't have to be good at every aspect of your business from the start. Learn as you go, and when its time, you'll hire help to fill in the gaps.

What's Your Hobby?

Next Steps

So what do you think? Ready to get started?

If you decide to turn your hobby into a side hustle, here are some my favorite resources where you can learn more about how to launch your business:

Share your Quirky Hobby in the Comments Below

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How to Create a DIY Budget Binder for 2021 https://beyondpennies.com/how-to-create-a-diy-budget-binder-for-2021/ https://beyondpennies.com/how-to-create-a-diy-budget-binder-for-2021/#comments Wed, 27 Jan 2021 13:04:00 +0000 https://beyondpennies.com/?p=4811 Learn how to create your own DIY Budget Binder, with free worksheets and ideas to help you track your finances all year.

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The start of a new year gives us a perfect opportunity for a fresh look at all aspects of life. We've been through a lot this past year, and your personal financial goals may have changed.

The phrase “hindsight is 2020” may forever have a new meaning.

We lived through it, and now its time for a new mindset in 2021.

If you're interested in improving your financial situation, starting with a plan is the way to go. You don't need to spend a lot of money to do that. One popular solution is making a DIY Budget Binder.

I'll show you how to create one from scratch, and share some templates you can print and use for free in your binder.

So let's get those finances in order now.

Building Blocks

Let's start with a few materials. You may already have some of these around the house!

  • 3-ring binder
  • Paper
    • Lined
    • Blank or printer
  • 3-ring hole punch
  • Pens
  • Plastic Dividers
  • Ruler
  • Calculator
  • Printer (if you want to use free printable templates)

Here are some of my favorite products to use (especially the pens!):

Avery Damask Binder

Portable 3 Hole Punch

Oxford Filler Paper

HP Officejet Pro

Avery Plastic Dividers

Vision Elite Pens

Calculator

Stainless Steel Ruler

Here are some extras to make your DIY budget binder complete:

Binder Pockets

Transparent Sleeves

Finance Stickers

Setting Up Your Binder

Arranging your DIY budget binder is easy using dividers with tabs. Add a label to each tab, depending on how you decide to organize your finances. You can use one section per month, or you can use the following recommended tabs:

  1. Goals & Budget – In this section you can include long-term and short-term financial goals. Also include your weekly or bi-weekly, monthly and yearly budgets. I like to include a worksheet each month that compares actual spending vs. budgeted spending.
  2. Income & Expense – This is where you'll track Income (Money coming in) with a record of your pay stubs, and Expense (Money going out) with the Household Ledger.
  3. Savings & Investments – Track your savings and investment balances each day/month/year in this section.
  4. Debt Payoff – If you have debt, especially credit card debt, your primary goal should be to pay it off ASAP. A debt payoff tracker, amortization schedule for long-term loans, and debt-payoff plan can be included in this section.
  5. Net Worth – Track your net worth each month, and watch it increase over time! I recommend using one net worth worksheet per month. At the end of the year, you should have 12 pages in this section.

Feel free to add more sections to your own DIY budget binder. You can include bank statements, bills, and other documents. You can also use a binder folder to hold loose papers.

Free Printable Templates

Build your DIY budget binder with printable worksheets and templates to help you organize your goals and finances. I've created worksheets for each section of the binder that you can print and use for free!

DIY Budget Binder opened to Savings Tracker worksheet

Financial Worksheets

Below are free financial worksheets for you to print and use in your DIY Budget Binder. You can also create your own worksheets – on the computer, or draw them out on paper. Be creative and spend quality time managing your finances!

Financial-Net-Worth-Worksheet
Financial Net Worth Worksheet
3 Period Spending Plan (budget)
Debt Payoff Tracker Worksheet
Debt Payoff Tracker
Savings Goal Tracker Worksheet
Savings Goal Tracker
Household Ledger Spending Tracker
Household Ledger Spending Tracker

If you like these worksheets, sign up for my email list where you'll receive a free worksheet every week.

Summing It Up

Creating your own DIY Budget Binder will keep you engaged with your finances and help you plan for future goals. The best part is there are no rules – create whatever works for you.

Use your binder all year to improve your financial net worth and succeed at achieving your dreams.

Share this post with friends who might find the ideas and information helpful.

What's in YOUR DIY Budget Binder?

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The Value of A Stimulus Check invested in Stocks https://beyondpennies.com/the-value-of-a-stimulus-check-invested-in-stocks/ https://beyondpennies.com/the-value-of-a-stimulus-check-invested-in-stocks/#respond Wed, 20 Jan 2021 22:06:00 +0000 https://beyondpennies.com/?p=4756 What if you had invested your May 2020 stimulus check in the stock market or in FAANG stocks? What would it be worth in January 2020?

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In March 2020, most Americans received a $1,200 stimulus check from the US Treasury because of the CARES Act, a bill passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump.

Families received checks of $1,200 for each adult, plus $500 for each dependent. Many Americans used the stimulus money to pay the rent, purchase food, or fill other financial needs while out of work.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted a survey in June of 2020 to see how consumers were spending their stimulus checks. According to the results, 70% of those who responded to the survey planned to use their payment mostly to pay for expenses, 16% to mostly pay off debt, and 14% planned to add to savings.

These percentages were adjusted to remove the 14% of those surveyed who did not respond.

Percentages adjusted to remove the 14% of those surveyed who did not respond or expect to receive a stimulus check.

What if you had invested your stimulus check in stock market? What would be the outcome?

Let's ASsume…

  • You received a stimulus check for $1,200
  • And then purchased shares of an index fund that tracks the S&P 500 on May 1st
  • You did not sell any shares until Jan 20, 2021

What would be the value of your stimulus check on Jan 20, 2021?

Calculation

On May 1, 2020, the S&P 500 Index (ticker symbol SPX) was worth $2,919.61. On January 20, 2021, the S&P 500 Index is worth $3,842.84 (midday price).

If we find the difference between the above two prices, we can see that the S&P 500 increased $923.23 in value during that time period ($3,842.84 – $2,919.61 = $923.23).

If we divide $923.23 into the original price of the index, $2,919.61, we calculate an increase in value of 31.6%. ($923.23 / $2,919.61 = 31.6%)

Apply the 31.6% to your $1,200 stimulus payment to find out how much you would have gained on the value of your stock.

31.6% x $1,200 = $379.46.

Now let's add that to your original stimulus check value of $1,200:

$1,200 + $379.46 = $1,579.46

Adding it Up

If you had invested a $1,200 stimulus payment into an index fund that tracks the S&P 500 on May 1st, 2020, as of Noon on Wednesday, January 20, 2021, your investment would be worth $1,579.46.

Maybe you spent your check on frivolous things, or maybe you were unemployed and spent it on bills. Either way, you may get another opportunity to invest a stimulus check.

Joe Biden's proposed American Rescue Plan includes sending out $1,400 checks to each American. If the bill passes, consider ways to put those dollars to work for you. Investing in the stock market is just one of many ways to invest your money.

There are no guarantees the stock market will go up in 2021. However, the historical trend of the stock market over the last century tells us its likely to increase in value over the next 10, 20 and 30 years.

What About Specific Stocks?

What if you invested in specific stocks with the same amount of money, over the same time-frame? The chart below shows the results of investing $1,200 in Amazon, Tesla, Facebook, Netflix, Google, or Apple on May 1st, 2020, and selling those shares around Noon on January 20, 2021..

Stock price data sourced from Yahoo! Finances, adjusted for stock splits.

Choose Wisely

Should you invest your next stimulus check into the stock market? Truthfully, only you can decide whether that is a good choice for you and your family or not.

If you have credit card debt or other high interest debt, you will gain much more by paying it off than you will from investing in the stock market. After you debt is paid off, start saving the amount you were paying the credit card company every month.

Don't just save money, though. Put it to work earning extra dollars for you by investing it. As Warren Buffet once said, “If you don't find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.” -Warren Buffet.

How Will You Spend Your Next Stimulus Check?

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Review of the Erin Condren Daily Lifeplanner Duo https://beyondpennies.com/review-of-the-erin-condren-daily-lifeplanner-duo/ https://beyondpennies.com/review-of-the-erin-condren-daily-lifeplanner-duo/#respond Mon, 18 Jan 2021 14:01:46 +0000 https://beyondpennies.com/?p=4641 Read this full review of the components, features, layouts, pros, and cons of the Erin Condren Daily Lifeplanner Duo.

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The Erin Condren Daily Lifeplanner Duo is a daily and monthly planner with colorful covers you can personalize and customize. This very popular planner has sold over 2 million copies worldwide.

I purchased my planner from Erin Condren at full price, and all of my opinions regarding this product are my own.

How I Use My Planner

As a corporate professional, I use my planner to take notes in meetings, plan my week out, and create task lists each day to make sure I accomplish priority tasks.

As a blogger and Mom, I use my planner to schedule blog posts on the monthly calendar view, plan out weekly tasks, plan activities for the kids, and track reminders (I'm forgetful!)

The Erin Condren Daily Lifeplanner Duo works equally well in the boardroom as well as in my home.

kEY fEATURES

The Erin Condren Daily Lifeplanner Duo is made with high quality components:

  • Pages – Thick 80# Mohawk Paper
  • Coil – Plated aluminum coil (mine is rose gold)
  • Cover – Sturdy laminate, with many design options

With the spiral-bound Erin Condren Daily Lifeplanner Duo, as with all of their planners, you can choose from several customizable covers, color schemes, coil colors, and personalization.

For 2021, I chose the Wildflowers design, and changed the color scheme to teal, with magenta and sage green accents. I was thrilled with the result when it arrived.

Direct link —> Wildflowers Daily Lifeplanner.

Erin Condren Daily Lifeplanner Duo PIN
  • Includes:
  • 4 sticker sheets (8 total across two coiled books)
  • 1 Keep it together folder (2 total across two coiled books)
  • Snap-in ruler (2 total across two coiled books)

The Keep It Together Folder has a fold on each side, for double duty storage of loose papers.

Layout Features

  • Mini months
  • Monthly quotes
  • Monthly notes and productivity pages
  • Dated monthly, daily spreads

Layout Details

There are several different types of spreads in the Erin Condren Daily Duo Planner, including a calendar spread, monthly planner, daily planner, and a lined back page dividing each of the months.

Erin Condren Daily Lifeplanner Duo
Monthly Calendar Spread
Erin Condren Daily Lifeplanner Duo Monly Planning Page
On the left: Lined page; On the right: Monthly planning page
Erin Condren Daily Lifeplanner Duo Daily Planning Pages
Daily Planning Pages

Extras

In addition to my planner duo, I also received 4 sticker sheets, a folder in the back, and a snap-in ruler for each planner.

  • 4 sticker sheets (8 total across two coiled books)
  • 1 Keep it together folder (2 total across two coiled books)
  • Snap-in ruler (2 total across two coiled books)

The stickers add another level of joy to using this planner. In fact, I bought extra stickers just because they are so colorful and fun. On the EC website, you can customize your own stickers using your photos.

Other extras are available for purchase. I bought some wet erase markers so I can write on the inside of the cover in the available space. I also ordered a savings tracker, which is also a wet erase laminated page you can use over and over again – it snaps into the coil, like the covers, and easily snaps back out.

Why I chose This Planner

There are a number of great planners on the market, so it wasn't easy choosing one to commit to for the year. There are several reasons I picked Erin Condren.

I chose this planner because of the quality components and paper, recommendations from people I know personally, and the desire for daily planning pages.

I must admit, the ability to customize the colors on the cover sealed the deal. As a creative person, being able to design a cover that is unique to my color choices was an appealing option for me.

When I received my package in the mail, I knew I'd made the right decision. Two huge journals, one for each half of the year. Two gorgeous covers, interchangeable.

Erin Condren Daily Lifeplanner Duo Unboxing
Unboxing – Duo planners with snap-on covers.

Last year I used the Hobonichi Techo, a popular Japanese planner, but I didn't care for the thin pages and overall size of the planner. It was too small for my needs.

Cons of the Erin Condren Daily Lifeplanner Duo

There are advantages to having a larger planner with thick pages, but there are disadvantages as well. The weight of this planner makes it heavier to carry around than other planners. I can't slip it into a small purse, so I'm lugging around my larger one.

One feature I miss from the Hobonichi Techo are all of the extras, like the “My 100” list, Packing List, Gift Planner, prompts for meal planning, daily quotes, informational pages, and other goodies.

For me, a planner isn't just about writing out my schedule. I also use it to document the events of the year, keep lists of things to remember like movies to watch, books to read, etc. So its nice to have extra pages for doing that.

To fill the gap, I bought an Erin Condren notebook with a cover to match my planner. I'm using the notebook for my extras, and for blog and content creation planning.

Lists I keep for my blog include target keywords, affiliates, blog post ideas by type, future worksheets to create, etc. All of these lists are kept in my notebook. In my planner, I write the topic for each week's blog post on the calendar spread. I also write out plans for social media posts and pins.

The last con for me was the price. The Daily Lifeplanner Duo is not cheap. The starting price is $68, and it goes up from there depending on your customization options.

Compare this to the Hobonichi Techo at $37, another planner of excellent quality, but with a different design. Some users love the thin, beautiful Tomoe River paper used in the Hobonichi. I prefer thicker pages.

Unfortunately, there aren't many daily, dated planners available on the market. You may find one or two options on Amazon in the $25-$35 range, but I can't comment on quality because I haven't used them.

Overall, despite the cons, I'm happy with my choice this year, and will continue to use the Erin Condren Daily Planner Duo for years to come.

Factors to Consider

There's no perfect planner – each one has pros and cons. Its a matter of deciding what your priorities and needs are. Some factors to consider:

  • Size
  • Layout
  • Function
  • Weight and Portability
  • Quality
  • Price
  • Design

The Daily Lifeplanner Duo is a great option for teachers, homeschooling parents, entrepreneurs, bloggers, and others who need to plan out their days and months in detail.

Where to Buy

If you're interested in buying this planner, visit the Erin Condren website and have fun customizing your own Daily Lifeplanner Duo.

If you use my link, I may make a commission on your purchase. Erin Condren is one of the few affiliates I promote because of the superior quality and usefulness of their products. I only promote products I use myself, and would recommend to friends and family.

I hope this review was helpful for you. If you decide to order, post a picture of it in the comments below!

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Tesla is Worth More Than Car Sales – Here’s Why https://beyondpennies.com/tesla-is-worth-more-than-car-sales-heres-why/ https://beyondpennies.com/tesla-is-worth-more-than-car-sales-heres-why/#respond Sat, 09 Jan 2021 14:25:00 +0000 https://beyondpennies.com/?p=4547 Tesla's stock value continues to out-perform estimates. Some analysts believe Tesla is just a car company. But there's more to Tesla than meets the eye.

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As Tesla's value soared past $800B this week, Elon Musk became the richest man in the world. The bears lie in wait, while the bulls believe the price will never come down. Why is the stock so high to start with?

Here's my take.

Tesla is worth more than just car sales. While I know this instinctively, I wanted to vet my thoughts with source information – Tesla financial reports.

So for the first time as a trader, I'm doing a bit of fundamental analysis of a company. Let's see if my hypothesis pans out.

As I was reading the footnotes to the consolidated financials, the following sentence immediately jumped out at me:

We design, develop, manufacture and sell high-performance fully electric vehicles and design, manufacture, install and sell solar energy generation and energy storage products.

Tesla Is Also An Energy Company

Tesla has two chief lines of business – cars and energy. The car line includes sales and leases. The energy line includes generation and storage. They also receive tradable automotive regulatory credits for selling cars with zero emissions, which they sell to other automotive companies and regulated entities who can use the credits to comply with emissions standards and other regulatory requirements.

On page 34 of their footnotes, they state the following:

Our mission is to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy. [1]

One of Tesla's energy products is called Megapack, a battery used for large-scale grid energy storage. This product is designed to be used by utility companies, to store energy and used by the grid to help sustain periods of peak electricity demand.

In Feburary 2020, Pacific Gas and Electric Company received approval to deploy 449 Megapacks at the Moss Landing substations in Monterey County, California.

And this is only the beginning.

Tesla Cars

The third quarter of 2020 was a record for Tesla vehicle production. In the next year, the plan is to increase production rates for the Model 3 and Model Y.

The cost of automotive sales includes direct parts, material and labor costs, manufacturing overhead, shipping and logistic costs, vehicle connectivity costs, allocations of electricity and infrastructure costs related to their Supercharger network, and reserves for estimated warranty expenses.

In order to increase future production, they are building factories in Berlin Germany, Texas, and Shanghai China, called Gigafactories.

They plan to develop and manufacture their own battery cells in the future, reducing the cost of their vehicles and increasing profit margins. Will they then start selling batteries to other electric car companies? Take a guess.

Gross margins on automotive sales increased from 19% to 25% in 2020.

Services and Other

Tesla generates ancillary revenue from non-warranty maintenance services, retail merchandise, and non-Tesla vehicle trade-ins.

This revenue will likely grow at a rate similar to their automotive sales.

Financial Analysis

Many analysts missed on Tesla's ability to leverage its stock price to raise capital vs. taking on debt, like other companies in the industry. In fact, Tesla's long-term debt to equity ratio is half of the industry average.

Tesla is using its stock issuances to buy out competitors and develop technology.

They currently have a 25% share in automotive batteries, which is expected to grow.

RatioTeslaIndustry
P/E Ratio TTM1,616.828.96
Price to Sales TTM27.451.88
Price to Free Cash Flow TTM423.39835.82
Return on Equity TTM4.76%8.45%
Financial Ratios as of 1/8/21

Because Tesla is such a young company in a mega-growth phase, it makes more sense to use a Forward P/E vs. a Trailing P/E, or a P/E ratio based on future earnings projections vs. a TTM (trailing twelve month) calculation.

According to CNBC, electric vehicle sales are predicted to surge in 2021. They estimate production of autos in 2021 of 1.3M. Assuming they sold all units, Tesla would make approx. $43B in revenues using an estimated price of $33k per vehicle.

That's nearly double the annualized revenues from autos for 2020.

Estimated earnings per share for 2021 are around $2.76. At the current stock price, the Forward P/E is 296 in 2021, and is expected to drop lower in 2022.

Summing It Up

Given the enormous growth potential of Tesla as both an energy company and an auto maker, with more service and sales lines in the pipeline, I believe Tesla is a great long-term buy.

They've made it their mission to help the world transition to sustainable energy sources. I'm not betting against that!

However, given the huge run-up over the last couple of weeks, I wouldn't be surprised to see a short-term pullback. I'm hoping for one – so I can buy in.

A correction of 15% would bring Tesla back down to earth, and provide an opportunity to buy in. Couple a price drop with a stock split, and those of us with smaller accounts may have a chance to buy in.

Code Embed: Cannot use CODEmoneymade as a global code as it is being used to store 2 unique pieces of code in 3 posts

 

I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article. My opinions are my own and are not to be used as investment advice.

[1]Tesla, Inc. Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements, Q3 2020, pg. 34

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Liquid Savings Up 116% – And Other 2020 Outcomes https://beyondpennies.com/liquid-savings-up-116-an-analysis-of-2020/ https://beyondpennies.com/liquid-savings-up-116-an-analysis-of-2020/#respond Wed, 06 Jan 2021 18:45:17 +0000 https://beyondpennies.com/?p=4426 Our savings increased 116% in 2020. Find out more about how we saved money, our goals for this blog, and our current investment allocations.

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When we started the year 2020, the stock market was surging. Our brokerage accounts were hitting all time highs. Our liquid investments of $22,085 surged to over $26k in mid-February.

And then, as you all know, COVID-19 happened. A stock market pandemic followed by a recovery that was faster than anyone could have guessed.

In this article I'm going to reveal our 2020 savings and investment performance analysis. Read on to learn what we did well on and where we missed the mark.

We've made 75% gains in crypto using Coinbase.

Where We Began the Year

I started Beyond Pennies in late January of 2020. One of my first posts, Investment Income Report – Jan 2020 showed the following results:

Investment Gains & Losses
Investment Income 01-20

So we started the year with a brokerage account balance of $22,085. That will be our baseline for this analysis. At the time, most of our assets were in stocks.

Over the course of the year, our allocation of assets changed quite a bit.

Stock Market Coronavirus Crash

When the stock market crash began on February  20, 2020, we all should have known it was coming. If we sold our assets mid-Feb, we would have saved ourselves a $5,000 loss that I lament to this day.

It may not be much to some folks out there, but for us, that was a chunk of sailboat money in an account that was just starting to grow.

We sold everything – we closed all of our stock and options positions – and decided to wait it out. I had no idea it would recover as fast as it did.

Our Biggest Mistakes

Our biggest investment mistake this year was sitting in cash for too long. I didn't think the market would recover so fast, while we were still in the midst of a pandemic, with no end in sight.

Somehow it did. And we missed out on gaining back some of our losses, as stock prices rose.

Meanwhile, we were not hitting our savings targets. We were self-medicating during the quarantine with an unhealthy stream of Amazon purchases and Kirkland's prosecco. Yes, we were day drinking.

Eventually that got old.

We went on a vacation in mid-August that was postponed from April. Almost in defiance of the Coronavirus, we flew to Florida in the middle of their surge.

We spent much needed time on the beach, at the pool, and then we went on a sailing charter to earn three sailing certificates we needed.

The sailing charter was a disaster. And at the end, my husband received a phone call about a tragic accident involving his father. Our vacation came to an abrupt end, and it was time to fly back to Oregon.

And then drive to Montana for a funeral.

Learning to Blog

Meanwhile I was learning how to blog. My writing skills improved, and the design of the blog improved as well. Growing social networks has been a boon to my blog traffic.

I started out with a goal of adding 1,000 email addresses to my list in 2020. I ended November with less than 100. But then something happened.

I finally created a lead that got clicks! Since November, I've added nearly 200 email addresses to my list. Using Leadpages has changed everything for me. Their pop-ups make it easier for visitors to opt-in to my email lists because there are fewer steps.

My Leadpages is integrated with my Convertkit email list. When someone signs up to my lead, it kicks off a sequence of emails that delivers a free worksheet every week to those who opt in. This process enables me to provide a lot of value to my readers.

Blog plugins that add tons of value and automate processes to run my blog include Pretty Links, Revive Old Posts, and Social Welfare.

For 2021, my goals are to build my readership, traffic, and start a revenue stream by promoting products I use. I will spend less time worrying about creating a product to sell, and focus more on value to my readers.

A product to sell will happen later, when I understand exactly what to create. I'm not there yet.

Despite the slow build, my focus on creating unique, quality content using my personal expertise on the subject of finance will continue, instead of hiring writers to churn out articles. I love that my blog is written by a finance expert (me), and not some random blog writer off the web. However, I will invite more guest posts, particularly those with a story to share about a personal experience (if that's you, contact me!)

Investment Performance – Liquid Assets

Our current liquid asset allocation includes the following securities:

  • Cash
  • Stocks and options
  • P2P Loans
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Real Estate Crowdfunding

We began 2020 with $22,085, and ended the year with $47,723, for a gain in savings of $25,638 or 116%. This includes a realized loss of approx. $3,500 in stocks, an unrealized gain of $3,239 in cryptocurrency, an unrealized gain of $33 in Real Estate Crowdfunding, and an added $10,689 in cash from bonus/stimulus money.

Our spending was up, and we could have done a much better job of saving money. We spent a chunk of change on our August vacation, and experienced a loss of income from my husband that we expect to make up in 2021. I also got a promotion to CFO at work (yay!), so that helped fill the gap.

How did we save money? A year-end bonus of $25,000 was our primary source of savings. Our savings goal for the year was $36,000, and we missed that goal by 31%. I attribute the miss to two primary causes: overspending and the loss of my husband's business with his father in August.

But we still gained 116% on our savings in a year of pandemic. We will celebrate that win by finding ways to cut costs in 2021 and do even better.

Our savings goal for 2021 is $30,000, with an overall liquid investment target of $70,000 by year end.

Current Stock Allocation

As of the time of this writing, our holdings are in the following stocks:

  • NYMT (Dividend stock)
  • AMD (Growth stock)
  • NUAN (Growth stock)
  • FBC (Growth stock)
  • MGC (Index ETF)
  • CRSP (Growth stock)
  • SHPD (Dividend ETF)

I plan to research more on dividend stocks this year, and will report what I learn in a future post. The focus will be on companies paying monthly dividends

Our Primary Residence

During the pandemic, remote workers started fleeing dense cities and moving to top-rated communities around the US. We live in one of those – Bend, OR.

We bought our house for $460,000 in September of 2020. Its currently worth $525,000. We will sell it in 2022, so I'm hoping home prices keep appreciating, or at least hold steady for the next year.

The appreciation of our home value was unexpected, but totally welcome. If the price holds until we sell, it will make the execution of our future plans faster and easier. We have a knack for picking undervalued homes – this one appraised at $490k during the purchase process.

Chiefly, we don't buy fixer-uppers – our house is really nice. We look for homes that people are in a hurry to sell, and will often accept a lower price to get them sold. This is a great way to make money if you are willing to move every couple of years.

Always wait 2 years to sell so the profits from the sale are not considered taxable income.

The Bottom Line

2020 was a rocky, emotional year with pitfalls, hurdles, and grief. For us, it was a financial success. Many Americans and people around the world fared much worse. I'm grateful we were able to feed our family, take a vacation, and grow our savings.

Looking forward to 2021, we hope to grow a new business (my husband's project), develop this blog to bring more value to readers, grow our savings, and look at next steps to launch our epic dream (stay tuned).

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5 Financial Goals to Prosper in 2021 https://beyondpennies.com/5-financial-goals-to-prosper-in-2021/ https://beyondpennies.com/5-financial-goals-to-prosper-in-2021/#respond Wed, 30 Dec 2020 14:30:00 +0000 https://beyondpennies.com/?p=4261 These 5 smart financial goals for 2021 will give you key targets to make this a year of epic wins. Let's leave behind 2020 for good.

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2020 was a tough year for many of us. As the year comes to a close, its time to get mentally ready for 2021.

According to mywalletjoy.com, 62% of Americans are projected to fall short of their financial goals for 2020.

Ouch.

I think the takeaway is: let's not repeat the same result in 2021. We need to do better.

If you are part of that 62% (I know I am), find out what went wrong by dissecting your financial situation and decision making.

Spend some time reviewing hits and misses from 2020. Hits are financials goals you met or exceeded, and misses are areas where you need improvement.

Then move on with a targeted financial plan using the following 5 smart financial goals for 2021.

Pay off Credit Card Debt

If you have credit card debt, paying it off should be your #1financial goal. Period. It will siphon money out of your pocket until its gone.

Do yourself a favor and add up how much you spent on credit card interest over the last 12 months. Looking ahead to 2021, do you want to spend that much of your hard-earned money on interest payments to credit card companies?

Squash debt for good with this free debt payoff tracker worksheet.

Set an Annual Savings Goal

How much money can you save in 2021? If you don't have any credit card debt, you can start saving immediately. If you have credit card debt, pay it off fast, and then start working on your savings goal.

If you have $2k in credit card debt and you can afford $500 in payments toward your debt each month, you can pay it off and start saving by Month 5.

Based on the above example, you would plan to save at least $500 per month for the remainder of the year.

Increase your savings by spending less, getting a raise or promotion at work, and starting a side hustle.

Start a Side Hustle

There are two ways to build your net worth: increase your income or decrease your spending. I'm a fan of doing both. A great way to increase your income is to start a side hustle.

A side hustle is a side job that earns you extra cash. It can be a part-time job or a small business you launch. The possibilities are endless, from online jobs to in-person gigs.

Here's a handful of ideas:

  • Sell stuff on Ebay from your home or estate sales.
  • Buy old furniture and refinish it to sell on Facebook marketplace or at a local shop.
  • Wedding photographer or videographer.
  • Start a blog or social channel to generate ad and affiliate income.
  • Join the gig economy and drive for Uber Eats or shop for Instacart.
  • Create a product to sell on Amazon.
  • Start an online drop-shipping store.

Learn to Invest

Once you start saving money, you need to put it to work for you. One of the main ways to do that is by investing it. One of your financial goals for 2021 should be developing your knowledge of investing.

If you don't know how to buy or sell stocks, why not learn how? Anyone can do it. All you need is some capital (cash) and a brokerage account. If you do know how, focus on new techniques like dividend stocks, technical analysis, or options trading.

Here are some top notch investing books to get you started:

Beginner Investing Books

Stock Investing For Beginners: How To Buy Your First Stock And Grow Your Money by John Roberts

If you've never traded stocks, mutual funds, or ETFs outside of your company's 401k platform, this book will get you started with the basics. It explains the process of buying and selling stocks in common sense language.

The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns by John Bogle

There's an entire universe of investors who swear by the method of John Bogle. The “Bogleheads” use what is known as the “Boglehead Formula” to invest their hard-earned dollars. This method is very easy to set up and maintain.

It doesn't require you to follow stock prices or understand what's happening in the market from day to day. And while its not glamorous, it generates a nice return on investment for thousands of investors.

Intermediate Investing Books

If you have a basic understanding of how to buy and sell stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs, expand your knowledge with the following books:

Technical Analysis of the Financial Markets: A Comprehensive Guide to Trading Methods and Applications by John Murphy

This is the book that took my trading skills to the next level. If you are interested in swing trading (short-term trading), I highly recommend you read this book. The author, John Murphy, is a former technical analyst for CNBC and director of Merrill Lynch's Technical Analysis Futures Division.

Its simply the most comprehensive book on technical analysis you will find anywhere.

The Little Book of Big Dividends: A Safe Formula for Guaranteed Returns by Charles B. Carlson

Dividends are one of the leading sources of passive income. This book will teach you how to construct a portfolio that generates dividends through the BSD (Big, Safe Dividends) formula.

Advanced Investing – Learn to Trade Options

If you want to learn advanced investing techniques, I could recommend a few books. But as someone who has traded options for the past several years, my best advice is to learn by doing.

Yes, you will lose money. But the best way to learn options is by putting real skin in the game.

Selling (or writing) vertical option spreads is one of the most lucrative ways to make money on the stock market because you have three ways to win every trade:

  1. If the underlying stock goes in the direction you wanted, you win.
  2. If the underlying stock price stays the same, you win.
  3. If the underlying stock price goes against you, but doesn't cross your strike price, you win.

Before you can make money selling vertical option spreads, you need to learn a few things: option fundamentals, liquidity, and implied volatility. Then do this:

  • Watch Tastytrade for free. They will teach you how to trade options and they are entertaining and fun. They have archived series where they teach newbie traders how to trade options in real time.
  • Open a brokerage account at Tastyworks and fund it with some cash. Start trading by copying the trades made on Tastytrade. The visual Tastyworks platform makes it easy to set up your trade and manage your risk level.

Options trading changed my life. I'm not a morning person, but every weekday I wake up, rub my sleepy eyes, reach down to the floor where my phone is charging, and check the stock market. It never gets old!

I'm not a day trader, but I do trade options several times each week. I sell vertical spreads and buy them back when they are worth less than I sold them for. I check my positions every day, and close them as they become profitable.

Its one of my favorite activities.

Pursue a Passion

If you have a hobby, dream, or passion that you haven't pursued, this is the year you need to start.

Ideally, your side hustle is your passion. But if not, this is the year you should treat yourself by diving in to your passion, whatever it may be. A hobby, a sport, a lifestyle choice, a new career.

Find Your Passion

If you don't know what your passion is, spend some quality time figuring it out. Try a brainstorming session, or maybe just try new things and see what excites you.

Your passion is a subject or activity that brings you joy. To help find it, answer the following questions:

  • What subject or activity brings you joy?
  • What are you skilled at that you also enjoy?
  • What are the most important things to you?
  • What are things other people compliment you on?
  • Are there multiple answers to the above questions? If so, that could be your passion.

Achieve Your Dream

Planning for and achieving your dream is one of the most fulfilling experiences you will ever have. So why not go for it? Once you decide to do that, your life will change forever.

You'll have boundless energy fueled by passion. You'll realize all of your previous fears were unfounded. You'll learn and grow by leaps and bounds.

Once you decide on success, you will be unstoppable, tireless, and motivated like Elon Musk.

Best of all – you'll stop worrying. Instead, you will embrace your future will arms wide open.

Share Your Enthusiasm

If you are an expert at a certain skill or subject that you love, consider monetizing it by creating a Youtube channel, starting a social channel on Instagram, Twitter, or Tictoc, writing a book, starting a blog, or creating an online course to teach others.

Yep, you can turn any of the above into income streams, AND enjoy the time you spend creating the content for your followers and readers.

Best of all, learning how to monetize your content will be a great learning experience that will keep you engaged.

Sharing your enthusiasm on a subject is not only fulfilling, its equally rewarding for the person learning from you.

Free Printable Worksheet

Download a free printable worksheet to record your financial goals for 2021:

If you like free worksheets, sign up to receive a new one into your inbox every week! Sign up here: Free Worksheet Every Week signup page.

The Bottom Line

Get a strong start with smart financial goals in 2021. Pay off your credit card debt, increase your income with a side hustle, create a savings target for the year, open a brokerage account and learn about investing your savings, and finally, get past the boring stuff and on to the richness of life: treat yourself by pursuing a passion or dream, and then monetize it by sharing what you know with the world.

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Squash Debt for Good With This Payoff Tracker Worksheet https://beyondpennies.com/squash-debt-for-good-with-this-payoff-tracker-worksheet/ https://beyondpennies.com/squash-debt-for-good-with-this-payoff-tracker-worksheet/#respond Wed, 23 Dec 2020 14:34:00 +0000 https://beyondpennies.com/?p=4144 Eliminate credit card debt for good by following a few simple steps. My free printable debt payoff tracker makes it easy to stay on track.

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Are you overwhelmed with credit card debt?

I know the feeling. That's why I created the Debt Payoff Tracker worksheet.

Nothing will keep you from saving money like credit card debt. Paying it off should be your #1 money goal.

Think of all the extra cash you'll have when you don't have to make those payments every month. You can start paying that to yourself by depositing it into a savings or investment account instead of paying it to the credit card company.

For more information on the cost of credit card debt, read this case study on the cost of revolving credit card debt.

How to Squash Debt

There are three simple steps to paying off your credit card debt.

  1. Stop buying things with credit cards. If you don't have enough cash to pay for the things you want, don't buy them. Using credit cards for rewards only works out if you pay the balances off every month.
  2. Use the Debt Payoff Tracker to get started paying off your balances.
  3. Spend every extra penny paying down one account at a time.

Stop Buying Things With Credit Cards

Seriously though, stop buying stuff with credit cards.

It sounds simple, but not always easy to do when you have a spending habit. Trust me, I know. I have a hard time telling myself no sometimes.

Here's the secret to kicking the spending habit: you need something that gives you the same feeling that retail therapy gives you. A bigger goal or reason to abstain is the best motivator. For me, the dream of taking a mini retirement and sailing the world helps me stay focused.

For inspiration on finding your “why”, read about 31 things that happen when you decide to pursue your dream. This is one of my favorite articles!

Here are a few more ways to stop spending:

  • When you're tempted to make a credit card purchase, make yourself wait two weeks. If you still want the thing in two weeks, try to save up and pay for it with money in your bank account.
  • Before your next pay day, make a plan for exactly how you'll spend the money. Try to eliminate nonessential (discretionary) spending and use the extra dollars to pay down one of your credit cards.
    • Give every dollar a job. This is also known as “zero balance budgeting”. Your income minus spending minus savings should equal zero.
  • Track your spending with a Household Ledger – download a free worksheet here. No more surprises on where all of your money went. No more excuses.

UsE the Debt Payoff Tracker

Use the Debt Payoff Tracker worksheet to list out all of your accounts and balances, and then track your purchases, interest charges, and payments for 12 months.

Debt Payoff Tracker Printable Worksheet

The Debt Payoff Tracker printable worksheet contains 2 pages, tracking 12 months of balances on 5 card accounts.

Download it here for free:

If you're making debt payments and your balances aren't dropping, this worksheet will show you why.

Steps to Using the Debt Payoff Tracker Worksheet

  • Step 1 – Decide which credit card to pay off first, and list it in the first column. Then list up to 4 additional cards on the tracker worksheet.
  • Step 2 – Record your Beginning Balances under your card account names. List the balance from your last month's statement.
  • Step 3 – When this month is over, record your total purchases, your interest charge (you can find it on your card statement), and your payment.
  • Step 4 – Calculate your new balance by taking your starting balance, plus purchases, plus interest, minus payments.

Breaking Out Interest

I've seen several debt tracker worksheets online that don't provide a place to record interest. Those worksheets show beginning balance plus purchases minus payments equals ending balance.

If you don't include interest, your ending balance won't be correct. Interest is not a purchase. Its what you pay the credit card company for the choice to pay for things with a credit card instead of cash.

By breaking out interest, you are recognizing and knowing how much of your hard earned dollars are being spent on payments to the credit card company you can never recover.

You need to know what that number is every month. Every year.

It will motivate you to pay off your balances.

Spend Every Penny Paying Down One Card

Choose one card to target at a time. Squash the balance by paying it down with every penny you can scrape up. Comb through your expenses and find ways to spend less. Have a garage sale or sell things on Ebay for some extra cash.

There are two schools of thought on which debt to pay off first, the Snowball Method and the Avalanche Method.

  • Snowball Method – Pay off your lowest balance first, and then move on to the next lowest balance.
  • Avalanche Method – Pay off your highest interest rate card first, and then move on to the card with the next highest interest rate.
Debt payoff - Snowball vs Avalanche - pros and cons of both methods.

Both methods result in the same ending – your debts paid off. So choose whichever one sounds best to you.

Make sure you pay the required minimum balances on all other cards.

Once you pay off a card balance, stop using the card. Then pick the next card to start paying down.

That's how you eliminate debt.

Watching your balances go down using the Debt Payment Tracker will motivate you to keep going until they are all paid off!

When your credit card debts are paid off, you will have more money every month to save and invest.

Are you staying on top of your credit card debt? Let us know in the comments below!

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