Money

Mastering Your Money

I Need More Money

Money is the root of all evil. Money can’t make you happy. Money doesn’t solve your problems. Money isn’t everything. All this negative opinions about money. Opinions not facts. No wonder people are broke, struggling, and in debt. People associate greed, evil, and other bad things with money.

But if money is so bad. Then why do you work all week for it? Why do people play the lotto, start businesses, and go to Las Vegas to win it? People scratch and claw for overtime. People work 2 to 3 jobs for money. Why? Because they need more of it. Churches need money, charities ask for donations, and schools are always begging for help. Those institutions need money.

You think you need more money to pay your bills, pay your debts, and put food on the table. The truth is more money will not solve your problem. Most people get a raise every year and still are broke. Most working people have doubled their incomes and still are at the mercy of their debt. You hear horror stories of athletes and entertainer losing all of their fortunes. Didn’t they make more money?

The Truth About Money

I opened this article with some of the most popular sayings about money. I call them opinions and not facts. I said money is the root of all evil. You hear that a lot. People say, “the Holy Bible says it.” Well it doesn’t. Timothy 6:10 says, “For the LOVE of money is the root of all kinds evil… ” So don’t love money.

Another saying is money can’t make you happy. But studies show that spending money makes people happy. When you get a raise, work overtime, or receive that tax refund check, the first thing you do is think about spending that money.

Money Isn’t everything. Another opinion and not fact. If it isn’t everything why are people working 60-80 hours per week? What is all the overtime for? Why do we borrow it to take vacations, buy furniture, and appliances? Why are we working so hard to pay off the debts that bought the stuff we couldn’t afford in the first place? Sounds like it’s everything to me.

Money is Amoral

Money is neither good or evil. It’s just like a brick. A brick can be used to build a wall, house, or building. Things that can help people. It can also be used as a weapon and hurt people. Same brick but it is the user that determines if it is used for good or evil.

Money is a tool to use for the exchange of goods and services. It’s not emotional you can’t hurt it. It doesn’t cry. You never actually lose money it just ends up somewhere else. Those who learn to control it can multiply it. Those who can’t end up broke and in debt. Your money does what you want it to do.

When you detach yourself away from money and don’t get emotional. You see it as a tool to better your life. Let go of those old notions. Those misconstrued myths that hold you back and actually make you a slave to money. Get control of your money and make it work for you.

Your Bank Account

I can look at your bank account and see what your priorities are. Are you a giver, saver, spender, or debtor? Your spending habits reveal your character. Do you delay gratification? Do you have a long-term view for your family’s finances? Are you planning to create wealth for the future?

Money Woes

The lack of self-discipline, self-mastery, and guidance are the cause for most people’s money worries. The inability to delay gratification causes people to go into debt and spend all or more than they make. This creates a financial crisis and most people are one paycheck away from a financial disaster.

Mind Shift

It takes a mind shift to go from spending beyond your means to living frugally, saving, and investing your money. A change of attitude and a long term view is the only way people can get control of their finances.

Income increase do not help. As income rises so does expenses. You have to practice the wedge principle. Drive a wedge between your raises and your expenses. Don’t spend everything you make. Leave that raise, overtime, and bonus alone. Apply it to debt or savings.

Practice the 1% Formula.

To get control of your money practice the 1% formula. This is a simple step to start reeling in your finances. Beginning this month you are only going to live off 99% of your total income. You are going to put 1% of your income towards a savings account. The next month you are going to increase that to 2% and then 3% until you get to 10% of your income being saved.

That is a 10 month process. Some of you can do this now. But for those who have never saved or followed a financial plan this is a start. There are a ton of books on the market that teach you how to control your money. I like the Total Money Make Over, by Dave Ramsey. I paid off all my consumer debts in 10 months on his program.

Get control of your money now. Pick up a book, join a Financial Peace University Class, or download some audio. Making more money will not solve your problems. But getting control of your money will.

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Finance

Five Years Since The 2008 Financial Crisis

The 2008 financial crisis was hard on everyone. How far have you come? It’s been 5 years since the 2008 financial crisis. Lehman went bankrupt. Stocks were down big. Home prices were down between 10-20%. 2.6 million people lost their jobs.

Fidelity did a really cool study 5 years later. They surveyed 1100 adult investors and asked them what they do differently.

So how do you think about money today vs. 5 years ago?

Here are the findings of the survey. Plus I’m including my 2 cents along with some financial tips as well…

42% of adults have increased their contribution rates to their retirement accounts or IRA.Do you feel like you are behind on your savings? The easiest way to increase your savings amount is to just do it. Then set it up on an automatic basis. Pick a monthly savings # that works for you, and set it up electronically. Pay yourself first.

55% of the people surveyed feel better about their retirement plan than they felt before the 2008 financial crisis.Why? They have actually done some retirement planning!

My guess is that they also feel better because they have sought out some professional help, and gotten clarity on what they need to do to fund a retirement lifestyle that works for them.

They know how much they have to save every month. They most likely have a target rate of return that they need to earn on their investments. You need to know this stuff for your retirement plan.

42% of the people surveyed have increased their emergency fund.An emergency fund is where you have money in the bank. In savings. Not invested. For some of you, it might make sense to create an emergency fund before investing, or add to your emergency fund before you continue investing.

So do you have enough money set aside for an emergency? Shoot for 3-6 months of living expenses in a savings account. If you are an entrepreneur, consider having 6 months plus set aside. Why? If your income isn’t steady and predictable, a larger savings account could help you get by.

80% of the adults said they now have a better understanding of their finances than they did before the 2008 financial crisis.That’s huge!! That means 4 out 5 people surveyed took the time to get clearer on what is going on with their money situation. Open up the hood of your financial car. Invest some time into learning. The more you understand, the better the decisions you will be able to make.

72% of the people said they have less debt than they did before the 2008 financial crisis.Be clear on what you can and can’t afford. Most of the time, paying down debt could help you in the long run. The key thing is that you need a debt pay down plan. You need to know where the money will be coming from to pay the debt down, and how much you are going to pay down every month.

Sometimes we have to go through experiences and learn from them. But the key thing is to use what we have learned and take action.

So I am challenging you right here to do one thing to improve your financial life. Whatever it is, take the first step. Do it this week. You will feel so much better about yourself.

Important Disclosures: These blogs are provided for informational and educational purposes only, represents our views as of the date of the posting only, and may change without notice. Some of the information has been obtained from third parties and believed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed. We have not considered any investment objectives or financial situations of any investors and we are not responsible for consequences for any decisions made based on the information in the blogs. There is risk of loss from investing in securities, which varies depending on different types of investments. Forward looking statements are based on assumptions only and no reliance should be placed on such statements. We do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information displayed.

Money

7 Ways To Form A Healthy Relationship With Money, Which Doesn’t Own You

“Too many people spend money they earned… to buy things they don’t want… to impress people they don’t like.” – Will Rogers

Although the economy looks fine for some, if you talk to many of your friends and family I’m sure they’re not feeling the love of the economy.

People are working much longer hours for a lot less pay than they were before 2008. That’s the reality. I’m not sure it’s going to change much any time soon. In the meantime, families have concerns about money and for many this is an ongoing topic which causes incredible strain and pressure.

It’s a tough thing when you want to do something for yourself or your family and, day after day, you simply find yourself as a cog in a wheel that’s spinning with no benefit to you.

Even if times are tougher and the financial gains have gone to a few, it doesn’t mean that your life has to slowly come apart. Here’s the deal: Yes, we all need money to live. And, we all absolutely have to put more in to get close to what we had before the economic recession. But, it’s been nearly 8 years. It’s definitely time to move on in the “new world”, which is really not so new.

After I wrote my motivational book last year, I heard from people who were really suffering. I hurt for them. We all should. Many of these people can’t get past the idea of where they are supposed to be versus the reality of where they are.

I know families lost jobs and economic stability. Families were undone. And, some people ended their lives rather than live in whatever they perceived to be as poverty.

I do a lot of traveling and I’ve had the opportunity to speak to people all over the world. I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity. There’s nothing I enjoy more in the course of my business or personal day than to connect with people.

But, sometimes I just want to tell someone who is clearly suffering to get it together, if at all mentally and emotionally possible. We have all had nearly 8 years now in living life through a different lens. In fact, if this new reality were a career, that’s a solid amount of experience in living and operating in a new reality.

One of the biggest things I see with the countless people out there who’re looking for something better is their relationship with money. They think that money owns them!

Because of it, they don’t see any other “way out” than working longer, harder and in greater poverty to the grave. Family vacations never go beyond their local neighborhood. It’s a big deal when the family gets to Disney World and it’s mind-blowing if there is a trip overseas. In many ways, that’s what some think they deserve, because they view money, their boss and the work they do as their master. They see no alternative in their life. It’s just simply what it is.

It’s not.

Money does not own you. Your boss does not own you. Your job does not own you. The first thing to living a healthy life is to have a reasoned relationship with important aspects of it. That includes money.

Forming a Health Relationship With Money

You have to get all of the emotion around money out in the open: whether it’s fear, anger or jealousy. Be aware, these are all toxic feelings. They actually make you miserable. Negative feelings affect your health and well being. If you’re looking to make and save money, you need to own money, not the other way around.

Then “grip & rip” and follow the principles I use in life:

1. Change Your Attitude

Change your attitude about money. That’s the first place you have to begin. Become aware of the negative and toxic feelings that arise when you’re talking or thinking about money. Then, you have to commit to forget about those feelings. Place them to the side every time they arise. Anger, jealousy or fear – all these emotions have to go out the window of your life. You have no time for these things anymore.

If you spend beyond your means, cut it out of your life. If you hold every cent as if it’s the last one you’ll ever make, end that too. If you buy all of those books and tapes out there that tell you how YOU will be rich in as little as one month – save your money! Earning money does not arrive on a magical train that comes into your station in a month or two. It takes work, commitment and planning. All of these are extreme emotions, not healthy and toxic.

2. Take Ownership

Once you’ve decided to take control of your relationship with money, you have to own that relationship. That means this is YOUR relationship. It’s no one else’s. It’s not your wife’s. It’s not your bosses’. Your relationship with money and how you’re going to manage it going forward is all on you.

You have the power.

If you’re suffering from hypertension and are thinking of working two jobs so your kids can get the latest and greatest electronics, you’re in deep trouble. Your kids want you around. They don’t need the latest smart phone. They need time with you. Take care of your health first. Forget about the second job. Your life is more valuable than a new electronic toy or the most expensive sneakers for your kids.

If they don’t understand what’s happening, have that conversation with them. Trust me, they’ll understand if they get less stuff but more of you. Kids are smart. Trust them.

3. Erase “I Can’t” and the Excuses

People have had mountains of debt, and they’ve figured a way to get through it. They’ve had jobs that they don’t like, and they’ve managed to open up their own businesses or change careers.

When people get older, I do understand that things get tougher. Decisions we’ve made do have consequences, but it doesn’t mean you can’t change your life. It absolutely does not mean that.

So, put all the excuses to the side. When you find yourself answering a question by explaining how much you’d like to be able to change things but you can’t, stop it. It’s not easy. I’m not selling you a bill of goods and telling you it’s easy. It’s not.

But, you can change your life, beginning with your relationship with money and everything that flows from it, one step at a time.

4. Get Off the Couch

I always say this to people who know me: “Get off the couch!” You know the difference between the haves and have nots? It’s not the size of their bank account. It’s in the drive they have, or don’t.

If you’re working a job you simply can’t stand and you’re not doing anything to change your circumstance, well, if you’re not helping yourself out, why should anyone else?

Why are you not chipping away at the situation?

Get off the couch. No one is going to lend you a hand if they don’t see you moving. You’ll get the respect and support of your family and team once you begin to move.

As it relates to money, if people see that you’re doing something positive with your relationship with it for the better good, they’ll eventually support your efforts. It may not happen overnight, though. Remember, people within your own family may also have a toxic relationship with money. But, eventually people will understand the importance of moving and not standing still.

5. Commit

Life is not easy. Neither is ending a relationship with money that is one sided. You have to commit yourself to it each and every day.

So, when your kids are asking you for the latest toy and you realize you don’t have it, you’re going to have to hold firm. When you wish you could eat out with your friends, but you have a bill that’s $500 waiting to be paid by the end of the month, you’ve got to keep focused on your priorities.

You’re going to be tested often. You have to stay the course. And, if you happen to slip one day, you have to get right back on the path. A commitment will help condition your mind consistently to get control of your relationship with money.

Remember, nothing is won without consistency and persistence. That means you’re committed to your goal. Stay with it.

6. Do the Work

Most people do not achieve what they want to in life. Most people will not change their relationship with money.

Why?

The answer is simple. It takes work. It’s not easy. Many people will do anything to not have to take the hard way through things. That’s understandable. Who wants to suffer? But the reality is that there’s no real way to have a healthy relationship with money unless you do the work.

It may take you a very long time to get out of the mess you’re in. That alone may continue to keep you believing that “something” will change. But, it doesn’t work that way. It takes work to accomplish anything worth accomplishing in life. There’s no magic pill for anything. Stop believing there is.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Put that somewhere you can see it. Begin the journey.

7. Accept the Consequences

And finally, accept the consequences. The path from Point A to Point B is not a straight. And if it is, it’s certainly not going to be straight all the way to Point Z. Get my drift?

When you start doing something for you, you will get challenges. It might be that the new job you obtained was not at all what they said it would be. Or, it might be push-back from people you thought would be your best supporters.

Whatever it is, something will test your commitment to change your relationship with money.

Stay the course.

Trust your instincts.

At some point, you will realize there’s no turning back. That will mean you’ve got momentum. Keep going.

Do what it takes. Do whatever it takes to tame your bondage to money. Money is great, but never allow it to own you.

Finance

Getting Financial Advice – Your Options Explained

This week’s article is a biggie, but I guarantee it’ll be worth a few minutes of your time. If you’re looking for help with your financial planning decisions, there are a number of resources you can turn to:

  • the internet / media
  • friends and family
  • your own knowledge

Ideally, it’s likely that you’ll want impartial information upon which you can make objective decisions. Whilst these three resources can be utilised, they may not ‘do the job’ as you’ll be hard pressed to get an objective view with no emotion (which often runs high when making financial decisions) attached.

The alternative is to seek advice from a financial professional. The advantage with this route is that, ideally, they will be able to take an objective stance. The problem with this route is that there are so many different types of financial adviser/planner to choose from.

How will you know if you are dealing with someone that is 100% impartial, or a slick salesperson who’s focus is to sell you what they have?

Let’s look at the options available to you and also the steps you can take to find the right type of adviser/planner(from the 45,000 or so registered individuals authorised to provide advice) for your circumstances. The first step is to determine what type of service you require. Do you simply need someone to help you choose the right income protection plan, or do you need someone to help you create a ‘financial roadmap’ for the rest of your life, so that you’ll be able to see how your future will look until age 90/100?

The Financial Product Retailer

If you have an idea of the type of product you need, then this may be for you. The ‘service proposition’ from an adviser that offers this service will probably be to uncover exactly what you need and then to match the need with a financial product.

It’s possible that the advice provided will focus only on the areas that you wish to discuss. For example, if you want some form of life assurance to cover a mortgage/debt, your retirement income requirements may not be discussed at all.

Whether you end up with the best product available on the market will probably depend upon the type of adviser that you are dealing with.

A Tied Adviser is one that only offers the products from ONE financial institution. They represent the institution, not you (this point is crucial).

A Multi-Tied Adviser offers the products from a few providers. Obviously, as they have more choice to offer you this is a better option that dealing with a Tied Adviser. The downside is that you can never be certain that the product being recommended is the most suitable as they don’t have access to all the providers in the marketplace. Like the Tied Adviser, they represent the institution, not you.

An Independent Adviser (also referred to as whole of market) is able to choose from the majority of providers in the marketplace. So if all you require is income protection, they’ll be able to select the plan that is most suitable for you.

You’ll notice that I say, ‘majority of providers’. This is because certain providers, such as banks, will not usually offer their products through whole of market advisers. Crucially, an Independent Adviser is the agent of the client, not any institution.

Paying for Advice

It’s important to understand that the majority of the financial services industry operates on commission. So, when you purchase a product the institution will make a payment to the advising firm (not normally to the individual adviser).

I believe there’s nothing inherently wrong with the commission system as such, especially when it can be used to help individuals purchase certain financial products. However, commission has been blamed for some of the past mis-selling scandals so one cannot ignore the skepticism.

After all, how can you guarantee that the product being recommended is the most suitable for YOU, and has not been selected based on how much commission is being paid to the adviser?

If you want to increase your chances of being recommended the right product, I believe you should only deal with an Independent, Whole of Market Adviser. Why would you take any chances by dealing with a Tied or Multi-Tied Adviser? It has nothing to do with how competent the adviser may be. It’s really about the range of products that they can choose from to help you purchase the most suitable one.

A good Independent Adviser should be open enough with you to show you the actual research that they’ve done so you can see why they are recommending certain providers.

Regarding commission, the majority of providers pay a similar amount of commission within each product category. Doubts have sometimes arisen where an adviser recommends one product category over another. For example, an investment bond may pay up to 8% commission on the original investment, whereas a unit trust would usually pay a maximum of 3% initial commission.

I believe the solution is very straightforward (and fair). When a client invests new money, the same commission should be charged regardless of product category. This should remove any question of bias.

Whichever type of adviser you deal with, don’t allow them to fool you that they are paid a salary and don’t earn their money via commission. If they do earn a salary, they will have sales targets to meet. In fact, I recently met with a friend that works for a bank and he told me that he had to sell enough products to validate his salary 7 fold! Not an environment I’d like to work in…

You should also ask the adviser whether you can pay for the arrangement of the financial product by paying them a fee.

If they agree to this, and subsequently don’t take a commission from the provider, you should benefit by:

  • for investments, more of your money should be invested
  • for protection, the monthly cost of the plan may reduce

Of course, it will make sense to calculate which route is the most cost effective.

Now let’s look at the other type of service.

The Comprehensive Financial Planner

An adviser that offers this service will normally (but not always, so beware!) operate a financial planning process that is aimed at helping the client achieve their most important goals in life.

The process may include:

  • what goals are important to you that you want to achieve?
  • what action are you taking to achieve these?
  • are you on track?
  • if yes, can you reduce the amount of risk you are taking?
  • if yes, can you spend more money without affecting your current or future lifestyle?
  • if no, can you invest more money/increase the amount of risk that you’re willing to take?

Their service proposition is NOT about retailing financial products, although they will usually help clients buy the right ones if required. Often, additional financial products are NOT needed.

I would suggest that you choose to work with someone who is willing to work WITH you to create your own Financial Plan.

You will have a great deal of involvement in creating your plan, so be prepared to engage in the process throughout.

So, how should you pay for such a service?

I am of the opinion that you should pay a fee. By doing so, the financial planner will be remunerated regardless of the outcome. As a consequence, they should have no vested interest in the solutions they devise for you. Of course, there’s no way of guaranteeing this, but I’m sure it will increase the chances of receiving a 100% impartial service.

And remember, impartiality is the key.

How much you’ll pay will depend upon the adviser and their firm. I’ve come across a whole range of figures and ways of charging.

Personally, I prefer fixed fees. That way, all parties know where they stand right at the start of the process.

Qualifications

There really is an ‘alphabet soup’ of qualifications that any type of adviser could possess. Let me cover the ones that I feel are the most important:

  • the Certificate in Financial Planning, the basic qualification required to work as a regulated financial adviser, accredited by the Chartered Insurance Institute. There’s also the Certificate for Financial Advisers (CeFA). These are the absolute minimum qualifications required and advisers qualified to this level may use the designation CertPFS or CeFA after their name
  • the Diploma in Financial Planning develops advanced technical knowledge and understanding across a broad range of key advisory areas (the regulator, the Financial Services Authority, has proposed that all advisers MUST achieve this qualification, or its equivalent, by the end of 2012). Advisers qualified to this level may use the designation DipPFS after their name
  • the Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning enables professional advisers to develop their specialist planning capabilities, providing clear differentiation from the main body of advisers. Once achieved, individuals may use the title ‘Chartered Financial Planner’
  • the Certified Financial Planner licence, an advanced qualification, being an internationally recognised certification awarded to individuals who have already proven their technical competency by passing appropriate examinations to the level of DipPFS (see point 2 above) or equivalent, but who then are tested specifically on their Financial Planning skills to become CFP professionals. In the UK, the Institute of Financial Planning is responsible for the assessing and the certification of CFP professionals. It’s important to be aware that the type of qualification the adviser has is separate to their service proposition and whether they are tied, multi-tied or whole of market. For example, it’s perfectly possible for a tied adviser to be qualified to Chartered level.

The Financial Tips Bottom Line

So there you have it.

The full ‘low down’ on the different types of adviser available. Just make sure you do your homework before you sign on the dotted line!

ACTION POINT

To find an adviser here are some resources:

Of course, you can always contact us for an initial discussion free of charge on 0191 217 3340.

Finance

Financial Advice For Young Families

Maybe you are one of those parents who feels totally financially prepared for your growing family. If so, you don’t need to read this article. In fact, we’d like to interview you as a minor miracle of modern parenting. For the rest of us, knowing how to manage always-limited money and our seemingly unlimited needs is a complex and often frustrating problem. New parenthood and young children just make the problem that much bigger.

You may think of financial planners as the professionals who help rich people manage their money. However, financial planners also have a lot of good advice to help the rest of us manage our lack of money. We talked to two financial planning experts and asked them for their most important advice for new parents and young families.

Judy Miller is a Certified Financial Planner and heads up College Solutions, a company that specializes in helping parents plan for their children’s education. Lisa Leff is vice president and portfolio manager for Trillium Asset Management Corporation, a company that helps clients, including many with young children, use their money to achieve both financial and social objectives. Here are their top five financial tips for new parents and young families:

1. Pay yourself first – This is the foundation of good family finances: Don’t have every cent you earn immediately head back out the door. “Decide how much you are going to save for emergencies, retirement and college,” says Miller. “Save out of every paycheck, bonus and raise. Saving now means you’ll spend yourselves rich later.”

That sounds good. But how the heck do you save? Have your kids wear their diapers for longer stretches? Restrict your spouse to one shower a week? Learn to love beans for dinner? According to the experts, the most important step is simply to decide to make saving a priority. Once you have done that, the “how” is a lot easier. So make a family commitment to paying yourselves first.

2. Learn how to spend – There are two basic categories of spending: the little stuff and the big stuff. Not knowing how to spend wisely on either can get you into financial trouble.

First, how do you spend wisely on the big stuff? Miller’s advice starts off gently. “Rein in your use of credit cards,” she says. “Debt today robs you of tomorrow’s dreams.”

For those of you who have trouble figuring out how to “rein in,” she has more drastic advice: “Don’t carry credit cards with you. Having to return home to get them means you have to really think about the value of what you are buying on credit. Where possible, wait at least 24 hours before making any purchase greater than $500.” The woman speaks from experience – she locked her credit cards up in her safe deposit box.

That works for the big stuff, but the smaller stuff requires figuring out how to use your everyday dollars wisely. There are some excellent resources available to help you do this, with advice on everything from setting up a budget to hosting cheaper birthday parties. (See sidebar for a list.)

3. Plan for the unexpected – This is not news for parents, as we are managers of the unexpected. But planning for unwelcome surprises goes beyond extra clothes in the diaper bag.

“While no one likes to think about facing difficult times, it’s important to be prepared,” says Leff. “Be sure to have adequate life insurance and an up-to-date will, and explore trust funds and other options with an estate attorney to ensure your assets will be protected and available to your child.”

In case you’re wondering, trust funds aren’t just for rich people, and wills aren’t just for people who are old. Both are excellent tools for making sure you have a say in how your children are taken care of if something should happen to you and your spouse.

Surprisingly, life insurance and wills don’t require a lot of time and money to put into place. For wills, there are two options: do it yourself or consult a lawyer. It’s a bit like doing your taxes – if you are willing to spend a lot of time reading and researching and your situation is fairly straightforward, one of the online will kits might allow you to do your own will.

If you don’t want to put in the time or you need more than a very simple will, it is advisable to consult a lawyer – the issues involved are very important. General practice and family attorneys will often produce a simple will for about $300 to $500. You can keep costs down by being well prepared before you visit the lawyer’s office, ready to answer questions about guardianship of your children and an executor for your will.

4. Save for the long term – Long-term financial planning can be a scary thought when you are still trying to afford diapers and Legos, but the experts stress the importance of planning ahead for major future expenses like college and retirement.

“You’ve heard this before … start saving early and often, especially for your child’s college education,” says Leff. “Designate funds, even if a small amount, for regular contributions to a savings plan.” She recommends automatic paycheck withdrawal to save the money before you ever see it and encouraging relatives to contribute to your children’s college savings.

However, college funds may not be the most important long-term saving priority. “If you have to choose between saving for college and retirement, save for retirement,” says Miller. “If you build up your retirement savings when you are young, you will have more cash flow for college when that time arrives.”

Sometimes it might feel selfish to prioritize your needs in front of your kids, so Miller recommends a way of saving that will do both. “The best solution: Make the maximum contribution to a Roth IRA each year,” she says. “These funds may be used for college.”

5. Teach your children financial literacy – Family financial planning is not just for parents. “It’s never too early to educate your child about the importance of saving and how money grows over time,” says Leff. “It’s also important to share with your child your own values about financial, material and spiritual wealth.” Your children will learn by watching how you handle finances.

Well, no one said financial advice would sound easy, but don’t be overwhelmed. As Miller so succinctly reminds us: “By the inch it is a cinch; by the yard, it is hard.” Try a budget. Make a will. Hide one of your credit cards. Baby steps. Parents are good at those!