Newlyweds

June is a popular month for people to get married. The weather is beautiful and there is all the excitement and anticipation of a beautiful life ahead for the happy couple. But after the big day has come and gone and after the honeymoon is but a sweet memory, reality sets in. Have you, as a couple, planned for the daily activities that accompany your new life together? One of the biggest adjustments newly married couples have to make is how they will manage their finances. Below are some things to do before the big day.

1. Include money in your discussions and planning. No, it’s not always fun, or romantic but you need to be honest with each other about your current financial situation. What are your attitudes towards spending and saving?What assets will each of you bring to the marriage? What debts do you have?

2. Develop a monthly spending plan. How much money will be coming in each month? How much will be going out in expenses? Will you have enough money each month to cover your expenses? If not, you will need to modify things to help keep you living within your current means.

3. Schedule a weekly or monthly “money date” where you can discuss money issues and pay your bills together. Do not leave it to one person to shoulder the burden of paying the bills and making decisions. You are a team now. It’s a lot easier for couples to be successful when they “team up” on their finances.

4. Develop joint goals for the future. Is there debt that you want to pay down? Will you save for a house or a new car? What about saving for retirement? Insurance? These are all things to discuss and on which to reach agreement.

5. Plan on putting aside some money for an emergency fund. Because when you least expect it……

6. Agree to celebrate your successes and triumphs with money! Support each other when struggles arise. You are only human. There will be good times and difficult times. But there should be one thing that you both feel confident in–that you will be there for each other during the good and the bad.

7. Consider working with a financial counselor before the wedding day. Just a few sessions can help you understand your relationship with money and how it impacts your relationship with each other. He/she can then help guide you through the steps I mentioned above and help get you started off on the right foot!

Congratulations and Best Wishes for your new life together!

Mitch Korolewicz, MBA, AFC
Accredited Financial Counselor
OK Money Coach, LLC
918.810.4664
http://www.okmoneycoach.com

“Just Imagine…..A Life Free of Money Concerns”

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The OK Money Coach Institute is pleased to announce that we will be holding another Money Encounter Weekend June 6-8, 2014 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Tulsa.

The Money Encounter Weekend is an excellent way for people to learn effective money management skills and develop a financial plan all in one weekend. It is perfect for busy people who do not have the time to attend weekly sessions.

You can find more information at http://www.okmoneycoach.com under the tab “OK Money Coach Institute.” Please call 918.810.4664 or email me at okmoneycoach@cox.net for cost information and to register. There is a 10% discount for those who register by May18th.

Thanks for helping to get the word out!

Mitch

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Expenses: Unexpected!

As I sit here watching my daughter attend her 12th physical therapy session at a co-pay of $50 per session and looking at a bill of $4,000 (after insurance) for my son’s braces, I understand firsthand the importance of an emergency fund!

Many financial counselors speak to the importance of establishing an emergency fund in case of a job loss or major illness.  But an emergency fund is critical for the smaller, unplanned expenses as well. On any given month a family can have unexpected medical, dental and car expenses that can add over $1,000 to that month’s expenses.  This is after the insurance company pays its share! What is a person to do? Many will charge these expenses to a credit card.  Unfortunately this just perpetuates the debt cycle and puts them in a worse position to deal with the unexpected.

This month I ask you to re-double your efforts to establish an emergency fund.  You may not have a lot to start with but make a commitment to putting aside a little money each month.  You will be surprised how quickly this will add up and you will be in a better position to deal with unplanned expenses without racking up debt.

Mitch Korolewicz, MBA, AFC

http://www.okmoneycoach.com

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There are two ways to increase one’s bottom line at the end of each pay period.  Reduce expenses or earn more money.

Financial counselors and money coaches often have their clients track expenses for a period of time to help them understand where their money is going and learn more about their spending habits.  A spending plan is then developed with an emphasis on cutting expenses.

While cutting expenses is certainly an important part of a plan to live within one’s means, it is only one side of the equation. And the difficult side at that! Many people balk at cutting expenses because this practice is limiting, makes them feel deprived and quite frankly takes all the fun out of life!

But what about the other side of the equation–earning more money? Take some time to reflect this Labor Day.  What are you passionate about? Can you use that passion to bring in extra income? As stated in 1 Corinthians:12:4-7, The Lord blesses each one of us with unique talents and gifts. How are you using your talents  to serve The Lord and provide for your family? Your answer to this question can make a world of difference in your relationship with God and in your bottom line!

Enjoy your Labor Day holiday!

Mitch Korolewicz, MBA, AFC

http://www.okmoneycoach.com

“Just Imagine…..A Life Free of Money Concerns”

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This Sunday Remember…..

Money problems can get the best of us down.   When we are worried about money things appear bleak.  How are we going to pay the bills? ……..or put food on the table?…..provide for our children or care for our elderly parents? But as Christians we have hope. Our hope is in Jesus.

This Sunday remember to pray, read God’s Word and follow the plan you have developed with your money coach. Then have faith that The Lord will bless your efforts. For He is faithful to provide for his children.

Remember Phillipians 4:19  “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Make this your scripture for today and for the days to come as you work to gain control of your finances.

Mitch Korolewicz, MBA, AFC

http://www.okmoneycoach.com

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Getting Married? Have This Discussion With Your Partner Before The Big Day Arrives.

Getting Married? Have This Discussion With Your Partner Before The Big Day Arrives.

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Getting Married? 9 Money Topics For A Happy Life Together.

Engaged?  Thinking about getting married? Confilict over money is one of the top reasons couples divorce.  Having a frank discussion about the following 9 areas will help you start your marriage on the right foot and foster a happy life together.

1. Debt

Be upfront and honest with each other about any debt you carry, be it credit card balances, student loans or car loans. Hiding debt from your partner has disastrous effects on a relationship because ultimately your partner will find out and will not only affect the level of trust in your relationship but also affects the monthly cash flow you have.

2.  Assets. 

Disclose your assets. Chances are you’ve accumulated significant savings in your retirement and investment accounts, and potentially a little real estate. Will pre-marital assets remain separate or be combined? Ok….I know you are in love…..and people in love often times think that every thing should be placed in a joint account. But what happens if things do not work out and you eventually divorce ( I know, what an unromantic notion….and on Valentine’s Day no less!) Perhaps a better approach is to keep all pre-marital assets in a separate account and co-mingle any new assets accumulated as a couple.

3. Will You Have Children?

Ok….you’ve been married for a number of years….you’ve worked hard and have done an awesome job growing your relationship.  Whats next?   Kids!  Uh oh…children are expensive and are likely to dominate your disposable income and eat into your nest egg, especially if one of you stops working to raise them. This all needs to be planned for so you don’t spend more on a house, car or other fixed expenses than you can afford on one income.

4. Who Will Pay The Bills?

In most marriages, the job of paying monthly bills falls to one person, usually the person with better fiscal discipline. Ideally though, this should be done together.  At the very least the process of developing a spending plan and setting goals should be a joint effort.  That way you are communicating and both on the same page when it comes to money management.

5. Will You Keep Separate Accounts?

It might seem easier to just have a joint account with all the money stored there.  A better approach though is to use the “you, me and we” system of banking.  Keep a joint account for shared expenses, such as housing, utilities and groceries and separate accounts for fun money.

6. Whats Your Score?

Your credit score, which tells lenders how likely you are to pay back the money you borrow based on prior payment patterns, is important because it dictates whether you will qualify for things like car and home loans and the interest rates you’ll pay.

By law, you are each entitled to a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies, Equifax , Experian  and TransUnion.  If one of you has “bruised” their credit or has a bad payment history, the other may decide to keep their finances separate to avoid inheriting their partner’s credit problems.

7. Who’s A Saver Or Spender?

What is your money personality?  Discovering your attitude towards money and communicating these with your partner will facilitate understanding and growth in your relationship.  It will also help you to manage your money more effectively as a couple.

8. What’s Your Risk Tolerance?

Rare is the couple that agrees entirely on asset allocation for retirement accounts.Those on the conservative side might prefer dividend-paying, blue-chip stocks that typically produce a steady return, but slow growth.Aggressive investors, meanwhile, might be willing to roll the dice on start-ups, tech firms and energy stocks that are more volatile, but hold the potential for hefty returns.

Find out the risk tolerance of your other half, be honest about your own, and develop a plan for investing joint assets.

9. What Are Your Goals?

You should share your financial priorities, and set goals to achieve them. Do you wish to purchase a home,  retire by 55, buy a boat? For any agreed goals, you should start saving a percentage of your monthly income in a separate account.

If you have different goals…then it is time to compromise. A good way to start is to ask your fiance to rank his/her priorities in order of importance and you do the same.Next, decide which are attainable, which need to be downsized and which should be cast aside.

Talking with your partner about the above items does not guarantee that you will avoid arguing over money matters altogether.  It can, however help you develop a mutual trust that will allow your relationship to thrive. For the full article check out “9 Money Mistakes That Can Derail Your Marriage” at www.cnbc.com

Mitch Korolewicz, MBA

OK Money Coach

“Just Imagine…..A Life Free of Money Concerns”

www.okmoneycoach.com

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5 Quick Ways to Bankrupt Yourself

It may not be a surprise to you….with the recession and high unemployment….but 1.5 million people went bankrupt last year.  This is up 20% from the year before.  Want to avoid bankruptcy?  Staying away from these five practices can help.  From the CNBC article:  Five Quick Ways to Bankrupt Yourself.

1. Doing The Plastic Shuffle.  We all know that having too much credit card debt is a surefire way of getting into problems financially.  People who have high credit card balances will often do what we call “the plastic shuffle”— the practice of transferring outstanding balances to credit cards that offer a promotional interest rate of 0% for 6 or 12 months.  Watch out for these offers though.  A lot of times they come with a big fee, that may not make it worthwhile to transfer your balance, especially if the balance is small.  Also, if you are late with a payment one time, this promotional offer can end and the interest rate reverts back to a higher one more typical for your individual credit situation.  Then you have paid the fee AND you now do not have the 0% financing you were hoping for.  Not a good deal!  The reality is, doing “the plastic shuffle” is only helpful when it is combined with a concrete plan to pay off the debt.  Chronic transferring of balances to take advantage of a lower interest rate often just masks a bigger problem.

2. Assuming Insurance Will Cover Your Medical Bills.  Did you know that the #1 cause for bankruptcy is medical bills?  Indeed, researchers at Harvard found that 62 percent of all bankruptcies are caused by medical bills.  Even more disturbing is the fact that 78 percent of those were people who had health insurance!!  What to do?  Eat well, live a healthy active lifestyle and live a healthy fiscal lifestyle as well.  Make sure you are saving every month and building a cushion for the unexpected.

3. Taking Out Advances On Your Paycheck.  This practice can cost you dearly!  Do you know that for most payday loan services the interest rate is 911 percent for a one week loan and 456 percent for a two week loan?  Wow that is incredibly expensive.  If you are having trouble making ends meet develop a spending plan and stick to it.  It might mean you are eating rice and beans for a couple of days until your next paycheck….but at least you will not be paying 911 percent interest.

4. Keeping Up With The Joneses.  How can your neighbor afford that luxury car or that new in-ground swimming pool?  Chances are he/she can’t.  There are approximately 181 million people with credit cards in this country and more than half of them carry a balance.  Its okay to buy luxury items if your budget allows.  If not, maybe you can find some solace in the fact that you are not in hoc for the cost of that new luxury car.

5. Overestimating The Value of an Expensive Degree.  The more education the higher your pay…right?  Not necessarily.  Don’t get me wrong here…education is important and can make the difference between getting a job or not.  Certainly one should strive to earn a bachelors degree.  Just remember there are a lot of educational institutions with incredibly large advertising budgets that promise you the career of a lifetime.  I am not against education or institutions that advertise.  All I am saying is do your homework before you enroll in a program.  Check out what the average salary is for the profession you wish to enter.  Then check out how much tuition is for the entire program at the school of your choice.  Make sure you can break even on your investment within a reasonable timeframe. 

Until next time…..

Mitch Korolewicz, MBA

Your Money Coach

www.okmoneycoach.com

Just Imagine…… A Life Free of Money Concerns

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Going Green Can Save You Money

There is a good article in the Wall Street Journal today entitled “Ten Ways to Save Money by Going Green”. These ten ways will not only help save the earth but also your wallet. Here they are in a nutshell:

1.  Stop energy leaks in your home. According to the Dept. of Energy (DOE), just over a fifth of U.S. energy consumption happens in people’s homes. That costs the average homeowner $2,400 per year. Much of that goes to heating and cooling.

What do to? Insulate ceilings and walls. Seal cracks and gaps. You will save a lot!

2.  Change your light bulbs. Again, according to the DOE the average household has 46 light bulbs. Wow, that’s a lot! Most of these are not energy efficient.

What to do? Buy energy-efficient compact fluorescents. These bulbs can cut light bills by 75%. Or, try the new LEDs, they cut energy use by 95%!

3.  Stop heating an empty house. This drains a lot of energy needlessly.

What to do? Get a programmable thermostat. They only cost $50 and pay for themselves within a couple of months and cut your heating and cooling bills by 10%.

4.  Rethink your appliances. Replace the old ones with newer, energy efficient models. Look for the EnergyStar seal. These appliances typically use 30% less power than a model without the seal.

What to do? Go to http://www.energystar.gov. This government website will give you all the details on energy efficient appliances.

5.  Stop leaving your computers and home entertainment systems on stanby overnight. They continue to suck power even though you are not using them.

What to do? Purchase the new “Smart Power Strips”. These devices make it easier to power down your computer or television. Or you can just use the old time power strips and click the switch off each night.

6.  Make the most of your green taxpayer incentives. Uncle Sam is offering to pay up to $1,500 of your costs on things like insulation or better-insulated windows. But hurry, the program expires at the end of the year. Your state government may also provide incentives.

What to do? Go to DSIRE, the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.

7.  Tackle your hot water heater. It is one of the biggest energy users.

What to do? Have a qualified professional put insulation around the heater and the pipes. Dial down the thermostat. Most are set at 140 degrees which is way too high. The Energy Department suggests turning it down to 115 to 120 degrees instead.

8.  Drive a more efficient car. Hummers are out. Fuel efficient cars are in.

What to do? When purchasing a new car look for fuel efficient ones. Hybrids can be pricey. But you don’t have to buy a hybrid. Some economy cars can get 29-32 miles a gallon. Shop around before you buy.

9.  Get a home energy audit. Sure, they cost a few hundred bucks but experts using high tech gadgetry will analyze your home and work out in detail all the ways it’s wasting energy. They will then tell you what you can do to remedy the situation.

What to do? Check for firms accredited by the trade body, the Building Performance Institute.

 10.  Buy an e-book reader. For avid readers, these things are very green. Traditional books, newspapers and magazines do a lot of environmental damage.

What to do? Check out the Nook from Barnes and Noble or the Kindle from Amazon.

Mitch Korolewicz, MBA

Your Money Coach

http://www.okmoneycoach.com

Just Imagine….. A Life Free of Money Conerns

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Show Me The Money!

Ok….so you are working faithfully with a money coach, you have developed your goals and constructed a spending plan. You are implementing your money management program when you suddenly find yourself having trouble staying within your weekly budget. What to do? Here is a tip to help you get on the right track:

Ditch your debit card!

No, don’t throw it in the trash. Just take it out of your wallet for a couple of weeks. Next, begin to operate on a cash-only basis for your day to day purchases. 

You see, during a busy week it is easy to swipe a debit card and forget to record the transaction in your registry or notebook. Do this once or twice and all of the sudden you have busted your budget for the week.

But on a cash-only basis, you take the money budgeted for day to day living out of the bank each week. Once you have the cash in your wallet you can visually see and count how much money you have remaining until the end of the week. This can make it easier to plan your spending so that it falls in line with your budget. Plus, there is nothing like watching your money dwindle to make you think twice about a purchase!

This technique is especially helpful when you begin to implement your spending plan but it can also be used later whenever you find yourself having difficulties staying within your budget. Look at it this way, you have concrete goals and a concrete spending plan. Why not use a concrete method of making purchases until you get accustomed to your budget

Try it….its amazing how well this simple little technique works!

Mitch Korolewicz, MBA

Your Money Coach

www.okmoneycoach.com

Just Imagine….. A Life Free of Money Concerns

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