How to be smarter with your money in 2019

Daily Press (Sunday) - - Success -

Ev­ery year, mil­lions of Amer­i­cans re­solve to do bet­ter with their money, and 2019 will be no dif­fer­ent.

Ac­cord­ing to Fidelity In­vest­ments'

New Year Fi­nan­cial Res­o­lu­tions Study, for the 10th con­sec­u­tive year, the top three fi­nan­cial res­o­lu­tions among Amer­i­cans con­sid­er­ing one are: Save more (48 per­cent), pay down debt (29 per­cent) and spend less (15 per­cent). The tele­phone sur­vey cov­ered 2,005 adults.

Of course, if those are the same three goals as pre­vi­ous years, maybe we are not very good at keep­ing them. Not so, ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey!

Of those who had a fi­nan­cial res­o­lu­tion for 2018, a whop­ping 74 per­cent of them re­ported that they stuck with it. They could be fib­bing, of course, so don't feel bad about your­self if you were not among those who suc­ceeded with your goals.

The three top res­o­lu­tions share some­thing in com­mon: They re­quire that you ac­tu­ally un­der­stand how much money is com­ing into your house­hold and the amount that you spend.

Be­fore you stop read­ing, I am not go­ing to tell you to cre­ate a bud­get. With that out of the way, here's more good news: Tech­nol­ogy makes it much eas­ier to track your money.

Of the free apps, In­tuit's Mint al­lows you to see ev­ery­thing in one place, from bank ac­count bal­ances, to credit card bills, to re­tire­ment ac­counts. Mint also comes with a free credit score. An­other free choice is Mar­cus by Gold­man Sachs' Clar­ity Money, a per­sonal fi­nan­cial man­age­ment tool that helps or­ga­nize your fi­nan­cial life and un­cover un­wanted spend­ing so you can re­di­rect those funds else­where.

In ad­di­tion to the free app world, many users of You Need a Bud­get re­port that the $6.99/month cost (af­ter an ini­tial free 34-day trial) is worth it. The ser­vice is free for 12 months for stu­dents.

If this sounds about as much fun as hav­ing root canal and you are in­clined to blow it off, here's the prob­lem: If you don't know how the cash is com­ing in and out of your house­hold, it's hard to make in­formed de­ci­sions about your fi­nan­cial life.

For ex­am­ple, how much money is re­ally avail­able to pay down your out­stand­ing debt? Can you af­ford to push a lit­tle bit more to­ward your emer­gency re­serve fund, so you have that comfy six to 12 months of liv­ing ex­penses socked away? Ditto for your re­tire­ment plan or col­lege fund­ing.

If you al­ready have the cash flow nailed and want to re­solve to make 2019 the year of firmer fi­nan­cial foot­ing, here are other ideas worth con­sid­er­ing.

Con­sider buy­ing a $149 sub­scrip­tion to ES-Plan­ner's soft­ware. Bos­ton Uni­ver­sity econ­o­mist Lau­rence Kot­likoff de­vel­oped it to help peo­ple con­duct their own plan­ning. The ser­vice uses tech­nol­ogy to "do lifetime bud­get­ing, cal­cu­lat­ing how much to spend, save and in­sure each year to main­tain your fam­ily's liv­ing stan­dard."

As Cher said to Ni­co­las Cage in Moon­struck: “Snap out of it”; once and for all, sched­ule an ap­point­ment with a CFP pro­fes­sional, a CPA-PFS or a mem­ber of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Per­sonal Fi­nan­cial Ad­vi­sors. Make sure that any pro­fes­sional you en­gage ad­heres to the fidu­ciary stan­dard, where they put their clients' in­ter­ests first at all times. Jill Schlesinger, CFP, is a CBS News busi­ness an­a­lyst. A former op­tions trader and CIO of an in­vest­ment ad­vi­sory firm, she wel­comes com­ments and ques­tions at [email protected]­lon­

In 2018, I in­ter­viewed lead­ers from a va­ri­ety of fields for my “Of­fice Hours” pod­cast. I talked with NFL quar­ter­back Rus­sell Wil­son, Mi­crosoft CEO Satya Nadella and many other fas­ci­nat­ing peo­ple.

Now that 2019 is here, I want to share some of the most im­por­tant lead­er­ship lessons I learned last year that can make a dif­fer­ence in this new year.

Re­visit found­ing principles

Satya Nadella and I spoke about re­fresh­ing the com­pany cul­ture of a 43year-old house­hold name: Mi­crosoft. Bill Gates' goal was to have “a com­puter on ev­ery desk and in ev­ery home.” Nadella turned to the his­tory of the com­pany for in­spi­ra­tion for the fu­ture.

Its first prod­uct was an in­ter­preter to the BA­SIC pro­gram­ming lan­guage, which made com­put­ing more ac­ces­si­ble to hob­by­ists. In other words, it en­abled them to do more.

By re­turn­ing to first principles, Nadella re­al­ized that the true mis­sion of Mi­crosoft wasn't about a com­puter on ev­ery desk, it was about em­pow­er­ing peo­ple and or­ga­ni­za­tions to achieve more. This led to bold moves: launch­ing Mi­crosoft Of­fice on Ap­ple's com­pet­ing iOS plat­form and adding sup­port for Linux, both of which have paid off.

Nadella re­minded me that there's power in re­turn­ing to the found­ing principles of your com­pany, es­pe­cially when you need to hit re­fresh.

Great lead­ers are self-aware

Seat­tle Sea­hawks quar­ter­back Rus­sell Wil­son em­pha­sized that a mo­ti­vated team starts with a self-aware leader. Lead­ers need to har­ness their own men­tal tough­ness, stay­ing fo­cused on the vi­sion and out­lin­ing the steps to get there.

It's about re­main­ing zen un­der pres­sure and fo­cus­ing on what you can con­trol.

While Wil­son's and my day-to-day roles are very dif­fer­ent, we face sim­i­lar chal­lenges as lead­ers. We're both re­spon­si­ble for the mo­ti­va­tion and per­for­mance of our teams, and we both want to win.

Wil­son re­minded me that my own mind­set and how I com­mu­ni­cate the vi­sion are just as im­por­tant as the tac­ti­cal choices we make on the field or in the of­fice.

Give per­mis­sion to dis­en­gage

A leader can't al­ways be on, nor can your em­ploy­ees. Writer and busi­ness­woman Ari­anna Huff­in­g­ton dis­cussed the im­por­tance of dis­con­nect­ing and giving your em­ploy­ees per­mis­sion to do the same.

“Stress and burnout have be­come global epi­demics wher­ever you are in the world,” she told me. “It is un­nec­es­sary suf­fer- ing.”

Lead­ers have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­cour­age down­time through ben­e­fits, poli­cies and in­di­vid­ual ac­tions. As lead­ers, we set the tone for the cul­ture and ex­pec­ta­tions of em­ploy­ees.

If I'm send­ing emails late at night, I might be send­ing a mes­sage to my di­rect re­ports that they need to be on at all hours of the day too.

If I never take va­ca­tion, my em­ploy­ees won't feel they can ei­ther. Down­time pre­vents burnout, so it's some­thing I'll con­tinue to pri­or­i­tize and em­pha­size this year.

Em­pa­thy fu­els in­no­va­tion

Cindy White­head is a trail­blazer. She's the en­tre­pre­neur be­hind the first FDA-ap­proved drug to treat low sex­ual de­sire in women, and she's built two busi­nesses from the ground up.

My con­ver­sa­tion with her re­in­forced a deeply held be­lief of mine: that em­pa­thy drives in­no­va­tion.

When White­head started her ca­reer, she saw some­thing she couldn't rec­on­cile. De­spite a ton of sci­en­tific re­search, not one sex­ual-health drug for women ex­isted on the mar­ket. This wasn't a re­search prob­lem, it was an em­pa­thy prob­lem.

When we're un­aware of or can't re­late to a pop­u­la­tion's ex­pe­ri­ence, companies and en­tire in­dus­tries stag­nate.

A di­verse set of peo­ple in po­si­tions of power is crit­i­cal to fos­ter­ing em­pa­thy. As lead­ers, we need to dou­ble down on di­ver­sity ef­forts in 2019. It's the right thing to do, and it's one of the keys to build­ing an in­no­va­tive com­pany.

Fo­cus on eq­uity and be­long­ing

I greatly en­joyed my con­ver­sa­tions with CNN's Van Jones and Bloomberg jour­nal­ist and “Bro­topia” au­thor Emily Chang. Both have a lot to teach lead­ers about cre­at­ing cul­tures that em­power and in­clude peo­ple from un­der­rep­re­sented com­mu­ni­ties.

Jones said some­thing that stood out to me: “Ge­nius is uni­formly spread out, but op­por­tu­nity is not.” As lead­ers, we need to tap into ge­nius ev­ery­where by manag­ing our own bi­ases and ex­pand­ing where we look for ta­lent. Chang re­minded me that once peo­ple are in the door, you have to make sure they're en­gaged and feel they be­long.

Es­tab­lish­ing em­ployee re­source groups and start­ing can­did con­ver­sa­tions to bring ev­ery­one into the di­a­logue is a great step in that di­rec­tion. But there's more work all of us can do. Spencer Ras­coff is the CEO of Zil­low Group and the host of “Of­fice Hours,” a monthly pod­cast.

Jill Schlesinger

Jill on Money





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