The holiday season is a time for indulgences and giving; the new year is about repairing the damage of Christmas and making plans for a new and improved year.
While some are focused on losing those holiday pounds and being physically fit, it is not just your body that needs to get in shape. Your finances need a check-up as well. January is National Financial Wellness Month and there isn’t a more appropriate time to rehabilitate your finances from last year’s expenditures and map out a plan for financial prosperity in 2014.
“Everybody can get their finances back on track. There’s still hope. That’s the one thing we have to realize. Financial wellness is like losing weight. There are things we do to lose weight and there are things we have to do to have healthy finances. It’s all about discipline,” said financial guru Gail Perry-Mason, a financial coach and the senior director of investments at Oppenheimer & Company, Inc. and also the co- author of “Girl Make Your Money Grow!: A Sister’s Guide to Protecting Your Future and Enriching Your Life,” which was featured on the Oprah Winfrey show, and author of “Money Matters for Families.”
However, her main passion is mentoring young people. She is the founding director of Money Matters for Youth which has been educating youth on financial literacy for almost two decades. The five-day workshop is designed to teach young people financial literacy in investment strategies and give them an introduction to economics, budgeting, investing and other resources that can help them build wealth.
As a financial coach, Perry-Mason works to empower individuals to take control of their finances.
“Money is a tool. We are not to supposed to serve money,” she said. “We should not be a slave to our debt, or bills or money.”
Perry-Mason identifies several tips that people should consider while rehabilitating their finances this year.
Track your money. Perry-Mason says, “You have to put a GPS on your money. Track where your money is going for 30 days.” She recommends using a free resource such as MINT.com.
2. Know your numbers-know your net worth. She recommends CreditKarma.com to monitor your credit score.
3. Carve out one hour a week and label it Mind Your Own Business Hour. According to Perry-Mason, we should use that time to discover five avenues to generate additional income.
“People used to live paycheck-to-paycheck; now people live paycheck-to-Monday,” she said. “We need to create more avenues of income. We don’t make enough money because our spending expenses are more than our income. You need five avenues of income at all times.”
She clarified, “That does not mean working five jobs,” Perry-Mason clarified. “Find different things that will make money for you while you are at work and while you sleep. And use it wisely.
“Before we plan anything, we need to track our money, make layoffs, and carve out one hour a week for Mind Your Own Business hour. For many Americans financial prosperity hinges on the battle between what Perry-Mason calls “If-Come Versus Income” and if income wins then a financially prosperous 2014 is possible. ThePennyHoarder.com is a website that offers hundreds of suggestions on how to add avenues of revenue, some of which are highlighted above.
“That’s when we should figure out different avenues of income,” she says, pointing out several different plans of attack to diversify your revenue stream.
Clean out your closet. “There a plenty of consignment and resale shop in the area. Take your clothes, turn them in and get a check,” she advises. “There’s no excuse for not cleaning out our closet and making extra money.”
Sell books and electronics. “Go to Gazelle.com or Mytronics.com to sell old electronics that you’ll never use again. If you have something depreciating, sell it and make money,” she said.
“Get paid to give your opinion. Join a focus group. Focusgroups.com is a great site,” she said.
Invest. Sharebuilder.com to learn about investing opportunities.
Start your own business. Turn your passion into paychecks.
“Being broke is expensive and will cost you,” Perry-Mason said. To minimize that cost, she recommends various online resources to help your family cut costs. Apps such as Groupon and Living Social offer products and services at a discount price.
“Freecycle.org is an online community where you can give and get things absolutely free,” she said, adding, “It’s one of the best organizations I’ve joined”
In addition, she recommends Ebates.com where you can get money back for buying different products. Probably the timeliest suggestion would be to sell back the Christmas gift cards you received using GiftCards.com or ClassicJungle.com. Gofobo.com could cover a trip to the movies.
Gail Perry-Mason emphasizes the importance of making your money work for you, not the other way around.
“We must rise above our conditions with proper planning,” she said. “We can’t fix what we don’t face and we must face our finances in order to fix them.”