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General Money Management

Three Questions to Ask Your Financial Advisor

Having a great financial advisor is crucial in your quest to build wealth. Use these three questions when interviewing an advisor to get to know them better and evaluate whether or not he/she would be a good fit for you.


How do you get paid?


Why did the last two clients you lost leave you?


What ongoing steps to you take to regularly evaluate and monitor my investments?

Would you like my list of Preferred Financial Advisors? Becoming a Trust828 member and get this list, plus lists of other recommended providers (Insurance Agents, Bankers, Real Estate Agents,  Estate Planning Attorneys, etc.). Membership includes a lot of other perks as well. Contact me for more info.

Save Money Buying Groceries Online

Saving Money By Ordering Groceries Online

I have to admit that I accidentally discovered this money saving tip. 

What I mean by accidentally is that my initial motivation was not to try and save money. What prompted me to experiment with online grocery purchases was my abhorrence of the whole grocery store experience. I am absolutely horrible at it. Do you know how many times I would purchase $250 worth of groceries, get home and while putting them away realize that I hadn’t even purchased a whole meal?

One solution to that problem would have been to prepare a list to take in with me and to have only purchased the items on the list. Preparing a grocery list ahead of time has been a wise practice of penny-pinching parents for decades, but the postmodernist in me was looking for less archaic means of commerce. 

My initial perception was that purchasing groceries online would be slightly more expensive than pacing the aisles of my local grocer, but as it turns out, that has not been my experience. In fact, I believe that online grocery shopping can add incredible margin into your monthly budget, giving you additional funds to improve your fiscal fitness. 


Death to the Oreo aisle…


One way that online grocery shopping can save you money is by helping you to avoid impulsive purchases. I’m a sucker for sweets, and it’s very difficult for me to walk down the aisle of cookies and candies and not throw a few extra things in the cart. I’m also a sucker for product placement and colorful packaging. It’s like the grocer knows exactly where to put things and how to package them so that they speak to me (All too often I shop hungry, and this makes even generic brand packaging looks tasty).

Or how about going grocery shopping with children? How many overpriced candy bars or packs of gum have you purchased in the checkout line because of a screaming toddler or nagging tween (or tag-a-long husband)? Shopping for groceries online prevents some of these impulsive purchases. (I still wouldn’t recommend browsing the internet hungry). 


How many packs of taco seasoning do you need?


Because you can order groceries online right from your pantry, you will avoid all those purchases of duplicate items that have been sitting on your shelf for months about which you had forgotten. This is another advantage of online ordering. 

I am the worst about going to the grocery store and purchasing things that were already in our cabinets back home. The flavor and spice section gets me every time, and seasoning can really add some $$ to your grocery bill. Ordering groceries online allows you to place your order while you look through your cabinets, preventing the stock piling of expensive ingredients. This  also helps you plan meals that put to use ingredients you’ve been holding onto for a while (In case I’m not the only one who’s had Emeril’s Southwest Essence in the cabinet “aging” for the last decade).

Give it a try

I initially tried online grocery ordering motivated from the angle of convenience, but what I found is that it’s a great tool to save money and stick to a grocery budget. There are different ways to do it, depending on where you’d like to shop, with most of the large chains having their own apps specifically for this purpose. 

Shopping in this way also lets you take advantage of online saving apps such as Ebates (If you haven’t already signed up for Ebates, click here to get $10 toward online shopping, it’s a no-brainer).

Finally, one of the best parts of my experience was never having to leave my vehicle. I just pulled into the designated space, let the store know I was there, and within a couple minutes they bought my groceries out and placed them in the bag of my car. It was just that easy. Try it out, then let me know what you think.


How Can I Afford A Coach?


I can’t afford it

One of the most frequently asked questions I get from people interested in hiring a financial coach is, “How I am supposed to be able to afford a coach?”. This is especially true for those that have a significant amount of debt and very little margin in their monthly budget. There are certainly some instances in which it can be more of a luxury than a necessity, however, I have found that this tends to be the exception rather than the norm.

You can’t afford not to

How do I respond to this question? Usually, I respond by asking a few clarifying questions to better understand an individual or a couple’s financial picture. There are no “canned” solutions I’ve found to be universally effective, so I try hard not to fall into the trap of thinking that coaching is for everyone. That being said, in most cases, hiring a financial coach will help you find more, save more, and make more money. l could give you anecdote after anecdote of this truth, but I’ll stick to the most recent experience.

It pays for itself

This past week I ran into a former colleague I hadn’t seen in ten years, and we quickly began catching up on each other’s lives. Later in the conversation, the subject of money management came up and soon after, we were in the middle of a coaching session. At the end of that one conversation, we had uncovered an additional $1,500 per year in income with one simple step.

This is not at all uncommon. In fact, it happens so often that I am able willing to make my clients this guarantee:

“If I can’t find enough savings to cover my monthly fee, I will give you 90 days of coaching at no charge”.

So, whether you are in need of creating a financial solution to get out of debt and wisely plan for the future, or you’re seeking advice on how to better manage the resources you’ve been given, it may be that hiring a financial coach it just what you need to get and stay fiscally.fit.

Make this your story

Schedule a SmartStart Session with me to “test-drive” the process and see if it is a good fit for you.

Avoiding the Siren’s Call

Avoiding the Siren's Call

“If anyone unwarily draws in too close and hears the singing of the Sirens, his wife and children will never welcome him home again, for they sit in a green field and warble him to death with the sweetness of their song.”    The Odyssey


Noise Filteration

Striving for fiscal fitness necessarily means filtering through all the “noise” of the culture around you, rejecting the voices that lead to financial failure and embracing those that lead to long term health. The problem is that it can be hard to distinguish the two, particularly if those voices are from trusted sources or are pleasant to our ears.

  • Think about the last time you told a close friend about a large purchase you were contemplating. How did they respond? Did they encourage you toward being a better steward, or did they cry “Carpe Diem”?
  • Think about the last time you and your spouse disagreed about a purchase. Were you open to a conversation about whether or not it was a wise decision, or did you reach out to a friend that would blindly affirm your feelings on the matter?
  • What steps can you take to evaluate the voices around you? What preparations can you take to avoid the Siren’s call and stay on the road to fiscal fitness?

If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work, there exist some timeless truths that will lead you toward financial peace. Be like Odysseus. Tie yourself to something steadfast and enlist the assistance of wise counsel that won’t tell you what your itching ears want to hear but they need to hear.

If you are ready to start asking the right questions and getting your finances on track, consider scheduling a consultation. Let’s work together to achieve your financial goals!

Four Enemies of Financial Freedom

Part of the preparation for becoming fiscally fit is learning to recognize some of the most common enemies of the money management process. None of us are immune to their siren’s call, so it is imperative that we remain diligent and motivated, especially given the fact that the message we are getting from the culture around us is that these guys can be our friend. In this article, we will take a look at four of these giants.


“A man in debt is so far a slave.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson


Debt robs you of peace. This sinister monster has taken up residence in 80% of American households according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. Not only has it become acceptable, but now it is seen by many to be a necessary part of living the American Dream.  With the average consumer credit card balance now over $6,000 and growing every year, we are entering unprecedented territory as a nation.

If you were to analyze the statistics even more in-depth, what you would see is that debt is no longer confined to what some consider the necessities, such as owning a house or going to college. More and more the average household debt is going up because of the purchase of convenient items. We now use terms like “good debt” to describe areas of a personal finance budget in which being a borrowing is justified. What is typically the basis of this justification? Keeping us the Jones’.



“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Benjamin Franklin


Recent research from a large financial firm showed that only one in four Americans have a written financial plan. Those with a written plan were more prone to invest for the long-term and properly budget their money. They also reported much higher levels of satisfaction with their financial situation.

So, if research suggests that having a written plan correlates positively with higher satisfaction levels, why don’t more people have a written plan? The number one excuse given for lack of planning is that people don’t feel they have enough money or income to warrant a financial plan.

Ironically, it is often the very people who think they don’t earn or have enough money to justify having a plan that needs to plan the most. Maybe this feeling is fueled by shame over past financial mistakes or feelings of hopelessness, but it is simply NOT true.

If your household has an income, then having a written plan is not optional. It is a treasure map to financial freedom.



“Instant gratification is soon not enough”

Meryl Strep


Dopamine is a very influential neurotransmitter that gives us a “high” when we do aggressive things like take big risks, spend large sums of money, or consume alcohol.  Don’t miss the connection here. Most people understand that it would not be wise to make major decisions while under the influence of alcohol because our decision-making capabilities can be significantly impaired; however, this same influential brain chemical is at work when you walk into a mall, onto the car lot, or browse e-commerce sites. It screams to get your attention, to narrow your perspective down to a singular moment of gratification, to improperly calculate the risk-return ratio. So, you give in to the impulse, feel that “high”,  and justify why you deserve it. Later, you kick yourself for being so weak.



“Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gains little by little will increase it.”

Proverbs 13:11


It is this enemy is similar to that of “instantaneous gratification”, and it is also responsible for the largest tax on poor people in our nation. While the average middle-class family in the US spends around 10% of their household income on things like social security, insurance, and retirement accounts, the average household in poverty here in the US spends nearly 10% on lottery tickets. How about the wealthy? According to author and researcher Tom Corley, 84% of rich people never bet on sports and 94% don’t play the lottery.

This mentality actually serves as a roadblock on the path to financial peace of mind, rather than a means to achieving it.  It promises more than it gives with a false sense of hope, it triggers the dopamine response to give us a short-term “high”,  and it can lead to a variety of behaviors and decisions that can quickly compromise personal integrity and character.