Avoid These Obstacles if You Want to be Financially Free

Few people ever attain financial independence. This is a shame, because it’s not that challenging, provided you get started in early adulthood. You probably don’t want to be one of those people that work for 40+ years and still can’t retire because you haven’t accumulated enough money over the years.

No one wants to work in their later years if they can avoid it. You have other things you’d rather do. With financial independence, you have the freedom to live any way that you choose.

Avoid these obstacles to financial independence:

  1. Waiting too long to begin saving and investing. Time can be your friend or your enemy in investing.
    • When you start early, it’s amazing how little you have to save each month to become wealthy by retirement age.
    • However, if you wait too long, it’s amazing how much you have to save each month to reach the same level of savings.
    • Use one of the online savings calculators and prove it to yourself. Play around with the contribution amounts and the number of years.

  2. A lack of financial goals. You’re just floating adrift if you don’t have financial goals. Goals provide a context for choosing your behaviors and making other important decisions.
    • If you don’t have financial goals, now is the time to make them.

  3. A lack of an emergency fund. An emergency fund isn’t very exciting, but it can have a large effect on your financial independence. Without an emergency fund, you can be forced to dip into your savings or your retirement accounts. This can be disastrous.

  4. A greater interest in short-term pleasure than long-term security. Would you rather enjoy a pizza or look good on the beach next summer? Would you rather buy something you don’t really need or save the money for the future? Short-term enjoyment is the enemy of long-term progress.

  5. A failure to maximize income. How much you save is impacted by how much you earn. Make a real effort to maximize your career growth. Do what you can to increase your earnings. Too many people just settle into a comfortable job and ride it out as long as they can.

  6. Overspending. The more you spend, the less you can save. It’s that simple. You’d be surprised how many wealthy people spend relatively little.
    • Take a look at your spending over the last few years and think about what you have to show for it. Would you rather have those items, or would you rather have all of that money back?

  7. Too much debt. Debt is another roadblock to your financial independence. Debt is just spending with added interest. Debt is a major source of stress, too. Work to pay off your debt. Keep in mind that the less debt you have, the more money you can save.

  8. Caring too much about what others think. Why do you want to live in a fancier, and larger, home than you need? Why do you want an expensive car? If you’re honest with yourself, it’s largely to impress others.
    • Ask yourself what car you would purchase if no one would ever see it or know about it.

Everyone should have the goal of financial independence. With enough money, you don’t have to work for a living. You can spend your time as you please.

Financial independence is a possibility for everyone. Make a plan and get started today. Time is on your side if you start early enough. Get started today if you haven’t already.

What Your Kids Can Teach You About Self-Care

If you’re struggling with self-care, you might learn something by watching what your kids do. Even if they refuse to eat Brussel sprouts, they know important facts about how to keep our bodies and minds in top shape.

As adults, we sometimes neglect ourselves because we’re overwhelmed by responsibilities or feel like we don’t deserve to be treated with kindness. See how children can remind you to make yourself a priority.

Having Fun:

  1. Play games. Self-care offers serious benefits, but the process can be light-hearted. Turn your work into a game and plan fun activities for your leisure time.

  2. Enjoy food. You’re more likely to stick to a healthy diet if you like what you’re eating. Think of food as your friend instead of something that sticks to your hips.

  3. Sing and dance. Music relieves stress and makes tedious tasks more pleasant. Create a playlist for routine paperwork and household chores. Sing in the shower, so you can start each day with more energy.

  4. Tell a joke. Give yourself a reason to laugh. Tell a funny story to your family or friends. Watch cartoons and cat videos. Look for humor in challenging situations.

  5. .Go barefoot. Do your feet ache by the end of the day? Going barefoot feels liberating and strengthens your muscles. Remove your shoes as often as possible. Treat yourself to a pedicure and foot massage.

Taking Risks:

  1. Try new things. What would happen if we gave up because we fell down the first few times that we tried to walk? Give yourself credit for trying and value learning from experience.

  2. Make friends. Schedule your own playdates. Invite a recently hired colleague out for lunch. Introduce yourself to another student in your barre class.

  3. Speak up. Let others know what you really think. Have deep conversations with your loved ones and contribute to business meetings.

  4. Be creative. Experiment with different art forms. You may rediscover your love for finger painting or move on to metal crafting. Maybe you’ll prefer writing a novel or performing stand-up comedy.

  5. Express enthusiasm. Do you feel awkward about showing your appreciation? Brighten someone’s day by paying them a sincere compliment. Give yourself a round of applause for cleaning out the garage or throwing a dinner party.

Other Things Your Kids Can Teach You About Self Care:

  1. Stay active. If you’re trying to push yourself to exercise, think about how children keep moving throughout the day. Working out will get easier if you make it a regular habit.

  2. Say no. A toddler’s favorite word can help you to honor your limits. Set boundaries and enforce them. Let others know how you expect to be treated. Turn down projects that would interfere with pursuing your main goals.

  3. Ask for help. You can accomplish more when you’re willing to accept assistance from others. Encourage teamwork at the office. Tell your family and friends what kind of support you need to manage health conditions or recover from a breakup.

  4. Take breaks. Adults need recess too. Use your vacation days and pause between tasks. Allowing yourself adequate downtime reduces stress and increases your productivity.

  5. Share your toys. Serving others is one of the most effective ways to enhance your happiness and wellbeing. Use your strengths and resources generously. Volunteer in your community and donate to worthy causes. Feed birds, pick up litter, and help your neighbors with yard work.

Children may lose their socks, but they usually remember to take care of themselves. Allocating some regular me time in your busy schedule will help you to feel more connected to yourself and others.

Achieve Your Goals Faster and Easier with an Effective Vision Board

You’ve probably heard of vision boards, but you’ve probably never made or used one. A vision board is essentially a large poster that you construct to help you achieve your goals. It contains pictures that represent your goals.

For example, if you dream of climbing Mount Everest, you might include photos of the mountain, your hiking boots, Sherpa, and famous mountain climbers.

It might sound like silly new-age nonsense, but a vision board can be useful!

Consider what a vision board does for you:

  • It forces you to decide on your goals.
  • It requires you to review your goals daily.
  • It sensitizes you to opportunities that aid in the achievement of your goals.

However, it does not magically make the objects of your desire appear in your life without any work on your part. You’ll still have to work, but a vision board can be invaluable.

Use these strategies to create and use an effective vision board:

  1. Decide what you want to be, do, and have. This is one of the primary reasons that vision boards can be so effective. They require you to think about what you want and to make a few choices.
    • You might need to spend a day or two working on this. Think about what you want for your life. Remember that you can’t have everything, so think carefully and choose the things and experiences that are most important to you.
    • Be bold. If your vision board doesn’t inspire you, it won’t be effective.

  2. Find visual images that represent what you want to be, do, and have. You can look online or in magazines. What’s important is that you have the same feeling when you look at the photo as you do when you think about that thing. The sensations should match.

  3. Arrange your vision board in a way that pleases you. You can be orderly or use more of a collage style. Each objective can have its own board, or everything can be combined on a single board. There are no rules. Follow your instincts and allow your creativity to flow.

  4. Hang your vision board where you’ll see it frequently. A vision board sitting in the closet isn’t of much use. Consider your daily activities and put your vision board where you’ll see it most frequently.

  5. Take a photo of your vision board. Use your phone and take a photo. That way, you’ll have it wherever you go. You can always pull out your phone and view your board.

  6. Start and end your day with your vision board. At the very least, take a long look at your vision board when you first wake up and when you go to bed. You might need to rely on a photo if your vision board isn’t in your home.

  7. Use a process to view your vision board. Think about each goal you have and look at the photos that represent those goals. Allow yourself to feel excited about achieving that goal. Feel yourself on top of the mountain, losing 50 pounds, or driving that BMW.
    • Go through each item on your vision board and experience success in your mind.

  8. Be persistent. Vision boards don’t work overnight, but they do work. They remind you of your goals and keep them at the forefront of your mind. They allow you to experience positive feelings with regards to achieving your goals. Keep at it.

  9. Take action. Avoid the belief that your dream car will suddenly appear in your garage one morning. You still have the responsibility to take action. Using your vision board will allow you to notice more opportunities. Take advantage of them.

Start your first vision board today and use it daily. There’s nothing to lose. Making a vision board can be fun. If you have any children in your life, they’d love to help! A vision board can be more powerful than you think.

The Many Ways that Hobbies Add to Your Life

If you don’t have a hobby, you could probably use one. There’s more to life than work and maintaining your home. A hobby is something just for you. It’s to make you happy and not anyone else. It’s a little slice of heaven that you can rely on to lift your spirits.

Think about your interests and decide to investigate them by actually engaging with them. It doesn’t matter if you’re interested in ballroom dancing, juggling, or stamp collecting. Just follow your interests and enjoy yourself.

See how a hobby can boost your happiness and success:

  1. It’s a great way to enjoy your life more. A hobby can be a fantastic way to add some enjoyment to your daily existence. Hobbies are things that you enjoy, that you can do in a way you enjoy. Your boss might tell you how to do your job, but no one can tell you how to do your hobbies!

  2. You can meet new people. There are hobbies you can do by yourself, and there are hobbies you can do with others. If your social life could use a boost, consider doing a hobby that includes other people. It can be a great way to find like-minded people and spend time with them.
    • Your new best friend might be right around the corner.

  3. It provides a sense of accomplishment. When you do something that you enjoy on a regular basis, you become good at it. Some hobbies, like bowling, can even be competitive. You’ll rise in the ranks over time and have another reason to feel good about yourself.
    • One of the keys to happiness is to see improvement in your life or abilities. You’ll improve at your hobby, guaranteed. That’s a good start to attracting more happiness into your life.

  4. You might be able to make money with your hobby. Some hobbies can become enjoyable careers! What a change it could make to your life to be able to make money doing something that you enjoy.

  5. You can learn something new. Your hobby of choice might be to learn the piano or to study ancient China. You can learn a lot from the right hobby. Just pick something that interests you and dive right in.

  6. It makes you more interesting. A person with hobbies that he truly enjoys is an interesting person. This is true even if the hobby in question isn’t that interesting.
    • People that are passionate about something and spend time doing it are fascinating.

  7. A hobby can relieve stress. A hobby can take your mind off your worries. It’s easy to become lost in a hobby you love. This can be the perfect solution to a stressful day. A hobby gives you something to look forward to at the end of the day or the end of the week.

  8. Hobbies are a great way for dealing with boredom. Are you bored on a regular basis? A hobby could be your salvation. By definition, your hobby can’t be boring to you. Fill your spare time with enjoyable activities. A hobby or two fits that bill.

Hobbies are activities that you are willing to do solely for the enjoyment of doing them. Do you currently have an activity like that in your life? Imagine how much more satisfying your life would be if you did.

You work hard and do a lot for your family. Take some time for yourself by engaging in an enjoyable activity that interests you. Find a hobby and put a smile on your face!

9 Steps To Take Before Buying Your First Home

Are you planning the purchase of your first home? Buying a house is a major decision because the house will soon become one of your main financial assets. Plus, you’ll be making mortgage payments for at least ten years.

Take these steps before you buy:

  1. Ask yourself if you’re financially stable. Have you had your job for at least five years? Do you have a reliable income?

  2. Are you ready to make monthly mortgage payments for at least ten years? Are there any other major expenses in the near future that would make keeping up with your mortgage payments difficult?

  3. Do you plan to stay in this house for at least five years? The first five years of mortgage payments usually only cover fees and interest. Are you ready to settle down in one spot?

  4. Raise your credit score. You can qualify for a mortgage with a credit score of 580, but you’ll have to spend more on fees, interest, and your down payment. You’ll get a much better deal if you wait until you have a credit score of 700 or above.

  5. Look at your debt to income ratio. This is a good way to tell if you’re earning enough to afford a home. Ideally, the expenses linked to buying a home shouldn’t exceed a third of your income. Add up your mortgage payments, utilities, property taxes, and expected repairs.

  6. Save money for your down payment. You can buy a home with a down payment of anywhere between 3% and 20% of the value of the home. The more you can afford to pay, the lower your mortgage payment will be. Look into getting an FHA loan to help with the down payment.

  7. Plan for expenses for maintaining your home. You should count on spending at least 3% of the value of the home on maintenance each year. Create a saving fund to cover these costs.
  8. Document your income and assets. Start gathering all the documents you’re going to need while you compare mortgage options.

  9. Look for the right house for you. It’s best to wait until you can afford something better if you don’t find anything you like. Take the neighborhood and its development into consideration when buying a house, since these aspects will influence the future value of the house.

Buying a house is a very important decision. Becoming a homeowner means that you’re taking a big step on the path of financial stability, and you’ll want to be prepared for this step. Your home will likely become your main asset as it appreciates in value and you build up further equity in it by paying down your mortgage.

Buying a home requires careful planning. Ask yourself how much you can afford to borrow, what kind of mortgage would be best, and what kind of home would be adapted to the unique needs of your family. Take the time to go over your income, boost your credit score, and make a list of what to look for in your ideal home before you start your search.

Engarde Financial Group is positioned to educate and serve its clients with other insurance coverages.

We understand that your personal items that you possess are of significance to you. Here at EFG we look at every situation differently. When it comes to your needs there is no such thing as one size fits all. Speak to a insurance professional today so that we can design a policy to cover all the things you love.

Making Peace with Your Inner Critic

The way you talk to yourself can build you up or tear you down. When your inner dialogue is harsh, it’s usually because you’re repeating things you heard from your parents or other authority figures when you were growing up.

If the criticism goes too far, it can discourage you from trying and take the joy out of your life.

Break free from the voices in your head. Take a look at a variety of techniques that prove that there’s more than one way to make peace with your inner critic.

Making Friends with Your Inner Critic

Your inner critic will sound less scary if you remember that it wants to protect you from failure and other possible dangers.

Learn how to put it to work for you instead of against you:

  1. Increase awareness. You may be so used to your inner critic that you hardly think about what it’s saying. Start changing your relationship by trying to understand what it wants to tell you.

  2. Look back. What’s your first memory of your inner critic? Does it sound like a particular person from your past? There may be family issues or other matters that you need to heal before you can move on.

  3. Focus on growth. Maybe your inner voice says you’re bad at math because you failed a test in the third grade. In reality, you’re not stuck in your past. Adopt a growth mindset that enables you to become whatever you want as long as you’re willing to put in the work to get there.

  4. Aim higher. You may also find your inner critic easier to deal with if you keep a deeper purpose in mind. When you’re working for something bigger than yourself, you can accept your self-doubts without being overcome by them.

  5. Try meditation. Many adults find that meditation helps them to make their self-talk more comforting and motivating. Let go of judgements and connect with your inner goodness.

Silencing Your Inner Critic

On the other hand, there are times when you just need a break. If your self-talk is making you anxious and depressed, you can find relief.

  1. Seek distractions. Shift your attention elsewhere. Take a walk or read a book. Spend some time doing anything that you enjoy.

  2. Distance yourself. Turn down the volume by imagining that your inner critic is speaking to someone else instead of you. Take any statement and replace the personal pronouns with a funny name.

  3. Identify triggers. Give yourself advance warning. Figure out the situations where your inner critic is likely to appear. You may be sensitive about first dates or criticism from your boss.

  4. List your strengths. If you’re tired of hearing about your weaknesses, remember your strengths. Make a list of the things you’re good at from baking bread to writing code.

  5. Correct exaggerations. Your house won’t be condemned because you were too busy to vacuum for a few days. Keep things in perspective by ensuring that your self-talk is accurate.

  6. Use affirmations. Repeating positive affirmations can give you a boost when you’re feeling down. Browse online for ideas or invent your own wording.

  7. Remember your worth. Being tough on yourself erodes your self-esteem. Shore it back up by telling yourself that you deserve to be happy and successful.

  8. Build support. While you need to value yourself, it helps to have others in your corner too. Surround yourself with family and friends who make you feel positive about yourself and your opportunities.

Take control of your self-talk and your future. Treat yourself with compassion and keep striving to reach your full potential.

How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits

If you recently lost your job, you could qualify for unemployment benefits.Keep in mind that you cannot apply for unemployment benefits if you quit your job or were fired for negligence or misconduct. If this is the case and you feel you were fired unfairly, your best option is to contact a wrongful termination attorney. 

Unemployment is meant to be a temporary form of assistance that replaces a part of the salary you’re no longer earning. These benefits are managed at state levels, but federal guidelines exist. The complete name of this program is the Federal-State Unemployment Insurance Program. 

Since these benefits are funded through taxes paid by employers to states, the amount of the benefits, requirements, and duration vary from one state to another. 

There are two main requirements you have to meet before filing: 

  1. You need to have worked for a specific time period. Most states require you to work for a full quarter before you become eligible for unemployment benefits. 

  2. You need to have lost the job through no fault of your own. This criteria varies from one state to another. 

It’s important to start filing for unemployment as quickly as possible, since you’ll have to wait a few weeks before you start receiving benefits. Some states actually require you to wait an entire week after losing your job before beginning the filing process. 

Follow these steps to apply for unemployment benefits:

  1. Start by contacting your State Unemployment Insurance agency. Visit their official website to learn more about the application process. Some states give you the possibility to file online or with a phone call.
  2. You’ll have to provide some information regarding the job you lost. Get this information ready in advance to make the filing process easier. You’ll probably have to give details such as the name and address of your former employer as well as the dates of your employment there. 

  3. Wait at least two weeks. It shouldn’t take more than three weeks to start receiving your benefits. Your state agency can give you a more accurate idea of when you’ll start receiving benefits. 

  4. You’ll probably have to go to your local Unemployment Insurance Claims Office for an interview. The purpose of this interview is to determine if you’re eligible to continue receiving benefits. The interviewer may ask questions about why you lost the job and your plans regarding future employment.

  5. Keep the state agency updated with your earnings and employment offers. You might have to make phone calls or mail documents once a week or every other week depending on the state where you live. 

Most states will grant you unemployment benefits for 26 weeks.

Your state can also provide you with valuable resources. You might be required to register through the State Employment Service to be matched with open positions in your area. If your state doesn’t require you to register through this service to receive benefits, it could help you to register anyway so you can be alerted about available positions. 

Other resources include testing, counseling, and training programs. These are options you should explore if you have a hard time with finding work in your field. 

Filing for unemployment benefits is a rather straightforward process. Keep in mind that these benefits are temporary and take advantage of this time when you’re receiving benefits to look for employment. 

Are Naps a Magic Bullet or a Waste of Time?

Are you a napper? It seems like one group of people believe naps are a gift from the heavens. Others believe that naps are a waste of time and only lead to feeling worse than you did before lying down for a quick snooze.

Are naps a good idea? Fortunately, science has a lot to say on the subject. Napping can be a great addition to your life if you have the time.

See how napping can be a useful daily habit:

  1. Napping is good for your memory. Numerous studies have shown that napping can boost your memory. Naps can be a great way for students to increase their recall.

  2. A nap makes you more alert. Studies done by NASA demonstrated that a 40-minute nap improved alertness by 100%. Other studies show similar results. If alertness is your goal, experiment with different durations. Many people find that a shorter nap is better if they’re looking for a quick boost.

  3. Longer naps boost creativity and skill learning. Long naps, those lasting 90 minutes or longer, can be very effective when it comes to learning new skills. This is especially true if the naps occur shortly after practicing the skill.

  4. Naps can leave you temporarily more tired. The groggy aftermath of a nap is referred to as sleep inertia. Fortunately, this only lasts 5-30 minutes. The longer the nap, the more likely you are to suffer from sleep inertia.

  5. Napping too long can affect your sleep at night. This is also true of a short nap if it’s too late in the day.

  6. Napping has a lot of additional benefits. It’s great for enhancing your mood, reducing the risk of heart attack, aiding weight loss, reducing stress, enhancing motor skills, and improving the accuracy of your work!

It’s easy to see that a regular nap is great for you if you’re able to accommodate the time in your schedule. In many cultures, everything shuts down in the afternoon so everyone can relax and enjoy a nap.

Napping tips:

  1. Find the right duration. Some people love to nap for 5-10 minutes and get great results. Others like to nap longer. The only way to find the best duration for you is to experiment.

  2. Choose the best time for your nap. Most people naturally feel sleepy in the afternoon. This is also the ideal time for most people to take a nap.
    • This is very dependent on your lifestyle. For example, if you work late, but have to get up early to get your kids off to school, the best time to nap might be when the school bus pulls away from your house.

  3. The darker and quieter, the better. The best sleeping conditions at night are the best conditions for a nap. This can be challenging but do the best you can.

  4. Be consistent. It’s fine to only nap as needed. However, if you’re going to nap regularly, a consistent schedule is important. If you become accustomed to napping every day at 2:00PM, you’re going to be miserable if you can’t take your nap when 2:00PM rolls around.

It’s not easy for many people to find the time to nap. Most employers aren’t too keen on the idea of napping at work. However, if you have a lunch break that allows you to leave your worksite, you can catch a quick nap in your car. Just remember to use an alarm!

Many people believe that naps are fine for children and the elderly, but naps are actually good for everyone. Take the time to enjoy a quick nap each day. It can change your life.