Friday, 03 February 2012 17:47

Day 3: Personal Finance For A Better Future

February 3, 2012

Have you been struggling with your finances lately? Come on, be honest… Are you ready to make a change in your personal financial situation in 2012? Well, the good news is you are not alone. If you are like most people, one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get your finances in order and finally take control of your financial life.  And we applaud you. As a woman, it is really important that you start becoming more focused on your personal finances to help you plan for a more secure financial future. Here are some tips to help you manage your personal finances in the New Year:

1. Understand some basic financial planning principles

As tedious as it may sound, much of financial planning is staying disciplined and practicing the same financial habits over and over: spending less than you earn, saving for the future, paying off your credit cards each month, etc. Straightforward stuff. And while we know it usually comes down to remembering the basics, most of us still get so overwhelmed with all that we want to achieve financially that we often end up doing nothing at all toward achieving our goals. Call it “sticking-your-head-in-sand syndrome.” The important thing to remember is that these basic financial planning principles actually do work over time and the best thing you can do to ensure your future success is understand them and follow them throughout your financial life.

2. Visualize where you want to be financially on December 31, 2012

Let’s get down to business. Start by listing out all areas of your financial life, including your income, savings, debt, retirement accounts, insurance policies, etc. Then write down where you currently stand within each of these areas and where you would like stand by the end of 2012. (It will be here before you know it.) Be as specific as possible and aim for realistic yet high goals. For example, let’s say you currently have $5,000 in savings and want to have $10,000 in savings by December 31, 2012. This means you have to save $600 per month. After reviewing your cash flow you decide that this is a doable goal, but it will require a game plan to ensure you are saving the amount needed every month. You can do it! 

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3. Create a Game Plan

Once you map out where you would like to be financially by December 31, 2012, develop a specific game plan to help you get there. In the example above, if you know you need to save $600 a month, setting up an automatic contribution to your savings account every month is a good idea. If this requires you to cut back on shopping or going out to eat, make sure you calculate how much money you can actually spend in these areas without jeopardizing your goal. 

4. Just Do It

Seems basic enough, yet many women get so overwhelmed by their finances that they end up disregarding the game plan they set out for themselves.  Don’t let this happen to you.  Maybe this means scheduling an hour a week to make sure you are on track. Just take action on the game plan and start working toward your financial goals.  Whatever the action is, any action is better than none.

5. Check back in on your goals every month

As you work toward the December 31, 2012 vision you have for yourself financially, remember to check back in on your game plan every month to track your progress toward your goals. This will help you stay motivated and adjust the game plan as needed. Going back to the example above, if one month you are unable to save the $600, you need to decide on a new game plan to get back on track toward the goal. Tracking your goals may not be that fun or sexy but it is a necessary step in helping you reach them.
Remember, no one is in charge of your financial future other than you, so take the time to understand and manage your personal finances to help you plan for a better financial future! 

Brittney Castro is not affiliated with Brittney A. Castro is a registered representative with and securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC.

This article was part of our series "30 Days of Made: Love Yourself". Each day we released updates of videos, poetry, images, and original content, all based on the theme of loving yourself. Click the link to read more!

Published in Personal Finance
Monday, 30 January 2012 09:05

Personal Finance | Know Thy Net Worth

January 30, 2012 

Net worth- What is it and how do we increase it?  Simply stated, net worth is the amount your assets exceed your liabilities. Do you make more than you spend? Women in general tend to shy away from knowing what their net worth is because (1) They think they don’t have enough assets to have a net worth (2) They have no idea what goes in the net worth calculation.  Whatever your net worth is, you want to get in the habit of checking in on it on a regular basis to ensure you are moving in the right direction financially.  Typically if you are saving and working on financial goals every year, your net worth should be increasing year over year.

So how do you figure out what your net worth is? First off, don’t be scared! To make it easy, just make a list of what you OWN versus what you OWE.

Examples of what you OWN Include:

  • Car
  • Checking
  • Savings account (and other cash accounts)
  • Home
  • Retirement accounts (401k, IRA, etc)
  • Business 
  • Your personal belongings (furnishings, jewelry, electronics, etc)

Examples of what you OWE Include:

  • Credit card debt 
  • Student loans
  • Mortgage debt
  • Business debt
  • Personal loans, etc.

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Knowing your net worth is an important step to becoming a Made Woman, however it is not the end all in financial planning.  Eleanor Blayney, CFP® states in her book A Woman’s Worth, “your financial success depends far less on what you have and much more on what you do with what you have.”

So remember as you calculate your net worth (OWN-OWE) there is no good or bad net worth, but rather a number that you should check on every year and work on increasing every year. Once you know your net-worth you will be able to plan for your future and live within your means. Having this knowledge gives you the power to make better decisions. 

For further information I invite you to check out my blog or email directly at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Brittney Castro is not affiliated with Brittney A. Castro is a registered representative with and securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. California Insurance License #0F33895.

This month we are bringing you "30 Days of Made: Love Yourself". Each day we will release updates of videos, poetry, images, and original content, all based on the theme of loving yourself. Join us as we seek to reflect, refocus, and reward ourselves! Check back daily on our 30 Days of Made tab to see what's new!

Published in Personal Finance

January 3, 2012

In five years I will be 30. That thought alone is enough to bring on utter panic. Factor in all the unknowns: Where will I be living? When am I going to have kids? Will I still be on the same career path?...and alas, I now have a full-blown crisis. So I decided to jot down some plans to help me manage and prioritize my way through the next few years. Hopefully--please, God--having a plan will make the next five years a little easier. And they say you can't plan life...

Professional goals.
Throughout this planning process, it's smart to place things in order of importance. What ambitions do you have that you will absolutely kick yourself over if they are not met by age 30? Personally, I'm in a place right now that my career comes first. So my first entries look like this:

1. Advance my career with a position that values my talents and where my fabulous taste in fashion is put to good use.
2. Work in an environment that promotes my well-being.
3. Write the book I've always wanted to write.

By knowing what I'm looking for in an employer and what I have to offer as an employee, I will be able to market myself accordingly. Also, the book will help me hone my writing skills--a professional goal--while exploring hobbies that are personally fulfilling.

Personal well-being.
Next, think about things like health, lifestyle management and finances. Some may want to go back to school, buy a home, or eat eight servings of vegetables a get the idea. Keep in mind that once you have the basic plan, you can work out the specifics later. Mine are something like this:
4. Run a marathon. (Must begin training now. Ok, tomorrow.)
5. Adopt more green habits.
6. Save more money. 
7. Take charge of my finances and pay my credit cards off.

Remember Rachel on Friends? She had to get out the scissors and make the cut (literally) before she could mentally tackle her financial situation.  Taking control of your personal habits now will only enhance your quality of life and prevent future financial burdens or health risks.

Personal life.
Okay, this is where it gets deep. Planning for marriage and family can be a little tricky, because a lot of it is out of our control. But it does make sense to decide on the timing of things, and what comes first.  Since my career is my priority at the moment, my entry in this section is simple:

8. Date a British man. (I have big plans for him.)

You, on the other hand, may dream of dating a man from each continent, or being married with four kids in five years. Whatever works for you! This is your plan.

The fun stuff.
After all is taken seriously, it's time to make room for the whipped cream--the extras in life. If you want to go on a trip to the Bahamas or backpack across Europe, this will require preparation. But the good thing about life's little luxuries is that sometimes our stress dissipates when we know there is break from the routine in sight.  My list:

9.  Travel to another country, or New York. Item numbers six and seven will determine the success of this plan.
10. Buy a pair of Miu Miu shoes from the actual store.
11. See Chelsea Handler perform. Ideally, by the time I'm 30 we will already be best friends though.

Life's not only about hard work. It will do you some good to think of the fun extras that are within reach IF you plan successfully. This part of the planning process might also reveal those items that are not realistic nor in your best interest. So take caution and keep in mind that necessities come first and indulgences later. 

Just remember, these plans are subject to change as you never know what life truly has in store. So while you may not know exactly where you'll end up in five years, don't hit the panic button.  The route to 30 may become a lot more clear with a simple plan.

Published in Lifestyle