Monday, January 27, 2014

How to Stop Living Check to Check

One of the main reason's people struggle financially is because they don't have a plan...a financial plan or a budget. Therefore, they have no idea of the state of their finances; how much is actually coming in and how much is going out. If someone asked you today how much income you make or how much your monthly living expenses are, you should be able to state the amounts immediately, without having to go figure them out on a calculator or on a piece of paper.

Proverbs: 27:23-24 tells us...Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?

By creating and following a budget, you make the decisions, you allocate the amounts and chances are that you’ll have the money for all the things you need and want.

A budget is an itemized listing of money that will come in and money that will be paid out. In a personal or family budget, all sources of income are identified and expenses are anticipated with the ultimate goal of spending less than what you are bringing home.

Some may find it challenging to maintain a budget, but your life is so much more orderly with a budget than without.

  1. Having a budget will force your to live within your means.
  2. Having a budget will help you prevent overextending your financial obligations and overspending. Overspending usually leads to excessive credit use – a practice that could lead to serious financial difficulties.
  3. Having a budget will enable you to be in control of where you spend your money on variable or discretionary items, like entertainment, charity, and clothing;  
  4. Having a budget will motivate you to be proactive in giving and saving for future purchases and include savings and giving as a budget category. 
  5. Having a budget will cause you to limit impulsive spending and test unplanned purchases.

Here is a Percentage Spending Guide to give you some idea of how much you should be spending.
Or, try using the Spending Plan to get started on your budgeting.

Upcoming: How To Set Up A Successful Budget.

Erica Hall is the owner of Erica Hall Wealth Advisors, LLC., a financial planning and investment management firm, located in Southfield, MI.   The firm specializes in working with individuals seeking to build wealth and protect their assets. The company’s client-centered planning services include, Retirement Planning, College Planning, Wealth Transfer Strategies, Portfolio Management, Cash Flow Management and Life Insurance Planning. For more information, please visit

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

2013 GOALS LIST: Checking It Twice - Naughty? or Nice?

The year is coming to a close and if you're like me, you've begun to reflect upon the past eleven months asking, "Have I accomplished the things that I set out to do this year?"

I'm always writing out my plans and have been in the practice of setting goals every year. Almost along the lines of new year's resolutions, but I have a lot of them. In fact, I try to address every area such as spiritual goals, health, financial, education, my business goals, and my short-, mid- and long-term goals. My family has even gotten into the practice and we make it a point to share our goals so that we can be mindful to support one another. It's funny how my daughter cleverly shares with us her lists of goals to alert us of things she wants us to buy.

Habakkuk 2:2-3 instructs us to, "Write the vision, and make it plain upon tablets, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for the appointed time, and it hasteth toward the end, and shall not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not delay."

I noticed a long time ago that when I write down my dreams, visions and goals, that they seem to come to past. So not only do I write them down, but I began to be more specific and I make them S.M.A.R.T- you know, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound.

I organize my life and business with "to-do-lists". For me, when I have it down on a list and out of my head, I can rest easy and just refer to my list when needed.

So for 2013, I set out to drink more water and work out. And to make them S.M.A.R.T, I wrote down how I would accomplish them, by drinking 8 glasses a day, which actually ended up being two 16.9 bottles of water everyday. And I surprised myself by sticking to the 10-15 minute workout in the mornings doing quick toning exercises (I do not like to sweat.)  I also set goals to spend more time with my family: named each person and the various activities we would do to intentionally have that quality time. For my business, I set out to create specialized services for my existing client's, get new clients, and increase my sales, of course. And I accomplished all of them.

Going over my lists, I found that I was on target for reaching the majority of my S.M.A.R.T goals, like my savings goal, home improvements, eating healthier and getting my daughter into college, helping my son to improve his grades, and a few more.

One of my goals was to give more. Though I did not make it S.M.A.R.T, I'm pretty sure that I gave more, but I just don't know how much. Next year, I want to be more intentional in my giving, to give a specific amount and to specific causes.

Sadly, one goal I didn't reach was a vacation to the Virgin Islands this year. I'm guessing it's because it was not S.M.A.R.T! I didn't give myself any parameters to make sure it happened. But, for 2014 I will be more specific:

  • Specific Goal: Fund vacation and travel with $3000 for trip to Montego Bay, Jamaica 
  • Measurable: Plan 4 months out from the deadline and fund trip in 4 installments  
  • Attainable: Contact travel agent this month to setup travel arrangements
  • Realistic: Limit extra spending over the next quarter to focus on trip
  • Time-bound: Take trip spring break 2014
- make it happen!

For a free S.M.A.R.T Goals template S.M.A.R.T Goals

Erica Hall Wealth Advisors, LLC., provides client-centered planning services including, Retirement Planning, College Planning, Wealth Transfer Strategies, Portfolio Management, Cash Flow Management and Life Insurance Planning. We specialize in working with individuals seeking to build wealth and protect their assets. Visit my website at