In the past few years, I have made the following observation about the relationship between people and money:
Many people are overwhelmed by money
They are trying to “achieve success” to increase their income and overcome their money troubles.
In some cases, people are simply trying to “achieve more” because they are trying to achieve a particular goal and are seeking fulfillment by pursuing that endeavor. I am finding more and more, however, that sometimes one of the underlying factors to wanting increased success can be related to money, so I think it’s an important topic to bring up in the blog!
[Since I have noticed this, I am including some discussion and references to “optimizing your finances” in the blog (hence the recommendations page I started!)]
If you are in one of the aforementioned areas, I would recommend taking a step back and focusing on learning more about “optimizing your finances.” This doesn’t necessarily mean becoming a rigid budgeter. It simply means learning to assess your personal situation, so you can convert your worries into a feeling of clarity, particularly about how to move forward.
A new book that can help reframe your perspective and make you feel more empowered in terms of assessing your net worth and re-evaluating your life (ie evaluating your choices as risks) is Worth It: Your Life, Your Money, Your Terms.
It’s important to note that the book was written by Amanda Steinberg, Founder and CEO of DailyWorth and WorthFM (both have primarily a female audience). Therefore, the book is written with women in mind, however the overall concepts about how to reframe your life and money can serve everyone.
Read more below:
Title: Worth It: Your Life, Your Money, Your Terms
Author: Amanda Steinberg
Formats: Kindle, Hardcover, Paperback, Audible, Audio CD
Reviews: 4.7/5 Stars (Amazon)
Why I Recommend: Many women (and people) are stressed and anxious about their finances. This book cuts through all that. It’s definitely not a boring book. The author brings up her personal backstory to give the reader context and relates relevant stories, statistics and concepts. I like the “roots and wings” analogy as well as the emphasis on understanding the risks associated with buying property, starting a business, etc. and how all of that needs to be considered.
Warnings: Written with women in mind.
Structure of the Book: The book is divided into 3 major parts (11 chapters with an epilogue and “cheat sheet” at the end/summary):
Introduction: What is a Woman’s Worth?
Women are more powerful than ever in US history. So what’s wrong with our value?
Part 1: Your Life: Telling Stories. How your life story is also about you and your money.
Chapter 1: Hit the Reset Button.
The (money) story of my life: what I learned, when I rose, why I fell, and how I started all over again from scratch.
Chapter 2: Rewrite Your Story.
Wake up, Sister. Time to take this story in a different direction.
Chapter 3: Grow Your Roots, Spread Your Wings.
Tether yourself to solid ground; set sail accordingly.
Part 2: Your Money: Getting Clear to Set Yourself Free.
Grow your money, feed your mind, expand your life.
Chapter 4: Know Yourself.
How are you when it comes to money? Discover your MoneyType to make your best investments.
Chapter 5: Fund Your Future.
Support the life you want to live and the self you want to be.
Chapter 6: Go to Market.
You don’t need to learn stocks–you need to learn how to invest according to a few basic guidelines.
Chapter 7: Value Property.
Is buying a home the right investment for you?
Chapter 8: Run the Show.
Launch a business for fun and profit–if you’re cut out for it.
Part 3: Your Terms: Mastering Cash Flow.
Save your money, save the world.
Chapter 9: Wings.
Create affluence on any income.
Chapter 10: Overcoming Overspending.
You didn’t really want it in the first place.
Chapter 11: Money Clarity.
From chaos to clarity.
Epilogue: Design Your Life, Fund Your Dreams.
Summary: Formulas and Checklists.
Closing Comments: It’s a good book to reframe your perspective about your relationship to money. Instead of being afraid of it, you will learn to assess your current relationship/MoneyType. In the end, you will have greater clarity around money and how to view it as a part of your life.
Want to get this book for free? You can get two free books when you start a free trial with Audible.
Deals! Deals! Deals!
Chances are, prior to reading this, you have been exposed to many “Cyber Monday” advertisements today. In fact, if you rewind the clock, you probably saw “Black Friday” ads rolling into “Cyber Monday” ads over the weekend, and before that, “Black Friday Preview” sales earlier in November.
Naturally it’s great to get discounts for holiday shopping, but it can be overwhelming, especially if you set foot inside the stores, though combing through all the web deals can be dizzying as well!
In today’s post, we’re going to review 5 Steps to Optimize Your Shopping this Holiday Season; we’ll focus on how to minimize overwhelm in the holiday shopping process while maximizing not only your discounts, but also the amount of cash back you receive.
(1) Determine the shopping style that works best for you
Determining the shopping approach that works best for you — whether that’s in person or online (or a combination of the two) is surprisingly a good first step. It gets back to the idea of self-awareness: Know what works for you. For instance, personally I do not like large crowds. In the past, if I went to an overly crowded store, I was actually more apt to leave early and give up on shopping (foregoing some deals) because it was just too much for me. Now that you can buy a lot online, doing a significant amount of online shopping is a legitimate option.
Therefore, it’s good to get a rough idea of how you need to allot your time — will you set a time to go to the store, or carve out some time to comb through stores on the computer? It’s good to ask yourself what you can physically (and mentally) handle.
The step of understanding how to carve out your time (so that you’re not panicking last-minute as the holidays approach) helps with the process of organizing yourself and being more efficient.
(2) Organize Yourself with a Shared List
My next recommendation is to organize yourself with a list. Taking a few minutes to write the names of everyone you need to shop for, and writing out the status update and possible gift ideas can help tremendously. Further, even if your spouse does not get too involved with the shopping, just sharing the list can help you feel less alone in the process.
This year, I decided to make a simple Google Spreadsheet to organize my holiday shopping, and I set it up so that it’s shared with my husband’s Google account. I made significant progress over the weekend once I organized the list (and it feels great to mark off “ordered” or “completed”)!
This list worked hand-in-hand with step one for me, because I was able to figure out who I could shop for online, leaving just a couple gifts for in-person shopping (which I plan to do when it’s a bit less crowded)!
(3) Discuss Expectations with Family
Sometimes part of the stress of holiday shopping includes not knowing what to get people. More recently I have tried the approach of actually talking with family members to get a sense of what they might need, or if they prefer to be surprised. If someone identifies a few items they might need, then it’s easier to keep an eye on those types of items for deals, and it eliminates the overwhelm of not knowing what to purchase.
(4) Learn how to Maximize Your Discounts
Sometimes holiday shopping can be stressful if you find out you didn’t get the best deal possible. To ensure I do not miss out on deals, I carry coupons in my purse (I have a big bag…) and I regularly purge the ones that expire. I used to keep coupons for department stores separately, and then I wouldn’t have them with me when I needed them. Carrying the most current ones has helped ensure I get deals if I do set foot in a store.
Another way to ensure you get the best deals, particularly if you’re shopping online, is to do an email search. If I think I’m about to purchase something in a particular store online, I search the store name in my email account to make sure I didn’t miss any coupon codes that are relevant.
(5) Get Cash Back
More recently, “cash back” credit cards seem to be very popular (I see tv commercials for them all the time). In other cases, you can get points, rewards, or airline miles for your credit card purchases. It’s a personal decision on what kind of rewards or cash back you’d like, but it’s important to consider which card you want to use (if you use one) in order to get the benefits that are the most meaningful for you. Don’t forget that using your department store card can also mean extra discounts sometimes, too!
Interestingly, there is actually another way you can get cash back, that can potentially multiply the benefits from using your reward-based credit cards, and that’s through online cash back services. The one that I’m very familiar with is Ebates. Basically, before I shop, I log into my Ebates.com account (free to create, and sometimes they give you a $10 credit just for signing up — check the current details). From there, I click on the store that I want to shop in, and it tracks my shopping trip from there. If I purchase something from that store, and Ebates says “10%” cash back, that means I get 10% back for my purchases (on top of any other discounts I might have gotten through my cards, etc.)
It’s easy to forget to shop through Ebates, but it’s worth it. It’s also important to mention they have a convenient button for your browser now so that you don’t necessarily have to login if you install it. So far I have generated over $200 in cash back from them, (over $170 in 2016 alone!) Every quarter, they mail a check to my house with the cash back I received, and I simply cash it or deposit in my account.
Today, on Cyber Monday, the cash back is double in some cases. Be sure to check Ebates as you shop today (Macy’s has 12% cash back as an example).
Naturally it can be overwhelming to prepare for the holiday season, especially in terms of holiday shopping, but I hope these five steps about organizing and maximizing your discounts will help you! Good luck out there 🙂
*Note that if you join Ebates through the Ebates link inside this article, I may receive a small credit since it is my referral link. However, I recommend their service regardless based on my experience with them.
To find out more about other ways to earn cash back, please check out the “Lisa Recommends” page!