Make Your Financial Success A Priority

We have spent the past few issues teaching you how to prepare yourself for financial abundance. You know how to treat your business finances as an entity separate from your personal finances, you know how to organize and keep track of your expenses, and you know from where you are starting on this financial journey. Great! Now what?

Not a thing in your financial lives will change if you do not do the footwork. You need consistently to devote the time necessary to improve your financial situation. So many of us are great starters. We begin to gather knowledge and make great plans, thinking of the ultimate outcome, but then we often do not fulfill our plan by taking the step-by-step actions required to bring us to that outcome.

Have you ever uttered, “I’m too busy”? Maybe “I can’t afford it” sounds familiar. These are excuses and you need to look closely at where they have gotten you so far. Are you even one step closer to the financial prosperity you wish to have in your life? As artists, we tend to fear anything that might take us away from our artistic pursuits. After all, we have to devote ourselves to our “day jobs”, the ones we know will bring in money to pay the bills. What other time we have we must spend on our artistic endeavors. Right?

Wrong! The financial distress we are in is so distracting it brings an almost unbearable amount of stress into our lives and our minds. How creatively focused can we be under that much stress? If we make a little time every week to take care of our financial situation – such as reading, attending a seminar, setting up a side business – we would actually free up time later on. Imagine pursuing your artistic dream with no financial pressure!

So what exactly does “priority” mean. A priority is a “must”, something we “must” do, and a “must” is very different from a “should”. We all have lists of things in our lives that we “must” do and we all have lists of things we “should” do. There is a critical difference between the two. For instance, I must pay my bills every month on time. This is something I would never allow myself not to do. However, I really feel I should exercise every day. Somehow, as much as I know I should exercise, I often allow other things to get in the way. For others, exercising every day is a must, and they are prepared to sacrifice to get that exercise time in.
I suggest to my students that, for the period they are working with me in private coaching or in our Artists’ Prosperity Bootcamp, they make implementing the steps of The Artists’ Prosperity SystemTM a “must”. Generally, once we see our financial pictures start to shift, we will not go back to doing things the way we did before.

So, analyze your time. How do you use it? Where do you waste it? Be completely and brutally honest with yourself. Then, set aside a few hours every week to devote solely to the endeavor of creating financial prosperity. This practice will help you develop the sound knowledge that will allow you to start building the financial wealth you deserve and desire.

Making the Most of Your Finances

Let’s face it: your finances largely affect how you spend your everyday living. It plays an important aspect when you are determining what to wear, what to eat, where to go, where to live, what to drive, what to do during your free time, and even what hospital to go to when you are sick. In some cases, it seems as if your personal finances control you. But, this should not be the case. You should start taking control of your finances instead of letting it define your life.

Taking Charge of Your Finances

Clearly, it is vital that you pay much attention in understanding how personal financing works. If you can just apply the principles of finance management in your everyday monetary decisions, then you can probably be a lot better in controlling and managing your personal finances.

Constructing a Financial Plan

The art and science of personal finance starts with constructing your personal financial plan. By coming up with a blueprint on how you should spend, save, and possibly capitalize on your money; you’ll start making the most of your finances in no time. Below are the general steps in coming up with your own financial plan:

1. Evaluate your Finances. The first step in making the right plan is to assess how well you are doing now. Examine your ways in obtaining money and assets, along with ways on how you save or spend your resources. Prepare a personal balance sheet. The list should include all your personal assets, along with their presumed values. Do not forget to jot down your checking and savings accounts, credit cards and investments in the stock market. You may also include your social security benefits, and other monetary privileges that you are enjoying such as your monthly income. After listing your monetary resources, you should then match it with a list of your expenses- from your monthly food allowance to expected monthly bills and other liabilities such as mortgages. This way you can see how much you are capable of spending and saving.

2. Identify your Goals. Your goals provide direction to your plan. Usual goals for financial plans include raising funds for personal necessities such as saving for a new house, a new car, a long awaited vacation, or an education plan for your kid. Your financial goal may be a single endpoint, or it may be a long list of your personal ambitions. In deciding what your plans are, you should take note of the plans feasibility. Do not make plans that are impossible to achieve.

3. Devise a step-by-step plan. After you have identified your goal, determine the steps you should take in fulfilling your financial goal. This may include cutting down on unnecessary expenses, exploring new sources of income, or saving more money in the bank. Whatever your steps are, make sure that you are capable of implementing and following your plan. Do not forget to examine possible problems that may interfere with your steps. In such cases, prepare alternate plan of actions. Also, you ought to construct a time frame for your plan.

4. Carry out the Plan. This is probably the hardest part- implementation. When executing the plan, you need to constantly remind yourself about your goal. That way, you can stay motivated and inspired to follow the steps. Equip yourself with utmost discipline and large doses of perseverance. If possible, look for support groups that can possibly encourage you to stick to your plans.

5. Monitor and assess your plan. Keep an eye on how your steps work for the fulfillment of your overall goal. Examine if your plan is really working and if it still feasible and beneficial for you as time passes. Be open for alternatives or possible changes to your plan, especially if unforeseen circumstances affect the consequences of your assumed goal.

Finance Books to Learn and Manage Your Money

Personal finance is hard enough as it is. It’s absolutely daunting to doing the whole thing by ourselves, especially if we’re not very well-versed in keeping logs of earnings and expenses, calculating our own net worth, reducing debts, and managing our finances by ourselves We could all use a little input from experts, especially when it gets really confusing and we don’t know where to start. Here are several finance book recommends:

Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
Dave Ramsey is a great material for looking up information about personal finance. There are hundreds if not thousands of people who are inspired to get their finances straight all because of the Total Money Makeover book.

The book also tackles debt reduction by giving great advice on how best to approach this problem and gradually take shed off the ball and chains to their finances. It is especially for those who are just starting out.

The unique thing about Dave Ramsey’s book is that it includes Christian thinking and values, as well as bible teachings that he relates to money. If you’re the person who isn’t bothered by religious thinking seeping inside a finance book then this book is for you. There are Dave Ramsey fans accumulated over the years, sticking by to what they learned from the publications to help them get over their financial difficulties.

Five Years to Financial Freedom by Morris Kaplan
The book is unlike any other because it presents a somewhat clearer and more defined rule on how to
fix your finances over time.

It helps you answer the questions you ask when you find yourself in a financial constraint. It tackles how people spend more than they earn, how to change jobs, how money affects your relationships. This book helps you realize several aspects of your life that money plays a part of.

It doesn’t promise that you’ll get rich overnight, but what it does is give you a huge resource of information on how to clear all bad debts, paying for mortgage, start investing, branching out, looking into tax benefits and saving money.

The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton
Some people have noticed that this book is one of the most well-loved finance books of all time. The Wealthy Barber provides sensible advice, deep insights into finances how it affects our lives. It is incredibly easy to take in as the book is written like a story or a short, light novel.

The book is always recommended for those who are venturing out in understanding personal money management, because even if you don’t have much background on finance and accounting, it will not be difficult for you to understand.

The Wealthy barber guides the reader to implement the steps in managing their money by thinking of what we truly want in life and how we can get it. It also has a great chapter on getting rid of materialistic thinking, getting spending under our control and minimizing our debts.

For the Young, Broke and Fabulous by Suze Orman
Suze “Suzy” Orman is a famous household name. You can see her in the news, hear her name on the radio, and her face is plastered on countless publications. She is famous for her personal finance books that are sold worldwide and known for her straight-talking and no-nonsense approach to money and debt.

The book “For the Young, Broke and Fabulous” has garnered a lot of following because the message hits the younger generation, targeting their lifestyle and giving out advice on getting started in the workforce, making the best out of your first few years on the corporate ladder, and following your dreams without sacrificing your future. Suze Orman discusses how the young generation has so much potential in them and how they can save, eliminate debt, and have enough to experience life at its fullest.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter
The book has changed thousands of its reader’s outlook on how they lead their life. Rich Dad, Poor Dad is all about acquiring financial knowledge and know-how. It illustrates to us how our perspectives about what it takes to be successful in our own rights. It provides practical guidelines including how to build wealth and buy assets, avoid debt and liabilities, planning for the future while living your life today, and how to go rich by living within your means.

Evaluating, Financing, and Starting Your Farm

Over the past several years the United States has seen an increase in people’s interest in “back to the land” lifestyles and businesses. We see evidence of this in products boasting “green” or “eco-friendliness” for added value and tiny homes are the new design rage. As a result there are a variety of opportunities for entrepreneurs capture this niche market.

Starting a farm business is a great way to create a new source of income and live a particular style of life. Some of these farming entrepreneurs may be starting from nothing, while others may be transitioning to farming as another career choice. Those shifting careers may already own land and need help developing a plan that works with their property and goals. Those without land will have the added challenge of finding and purchasing (or leasing) land. Once land is found; determining what to grow and how to sell it are the next steps in starting and growing your farm.

The first step in evaluating your farming prospects is to identify personal and group goals. These goals can include knowing ones desired work schedule, is this a full time operation or a part time hobby. Another goal is determining how much money your farm needs to mark. As you are getting started with these goals and reasons for farming, take time to write them down, this will be the first draft of your business plan.

Once thought has been put into developing goals and reasons for a farming business, it is time to evaluate resources. Resources can include finances, experience, land, facilities, contacts and marketing techniques. These available resources may limit or even determine your enterprising opportunities. Make a list of these identified resources, how they can be obtained or provided, and possibly the importance or reliability level of specific resources. Keep this list with your draft of goals to continue building the business plan.

After defining goals and resources available, it is time to evaluate the market. Before choosing a market to focus on, one needs to consider location and types of products or resources the land can realistically provide. Keep in mind the farm should be the center of the business, but it will need to be structured in such to add value through other means. Research local farm tours, community supported agriculture programs, farmer’s markets, and local food distributors in order to better gauge market possibilities.

Now that goals, resources, and market research have been explored one can start to brainstorm what products and services can be offered. The Alternative Farming Information Center has a list of agricultural resources to consider, such as field crops, fruit and nuts, livestock, horticulture, farm and home services, and on-farm processing. Comparing the AFIC list to the business plan can help entrepreneurs choose where to get started and how to prepare for added value in the future. As one is looking at which fields to focus on, it is important to always evaluate the resources needed for the specific venture and the risk associated with them.

Marketing is another important factor to consider in the start-up stages and to define in a business plan. Marketing can take many forms and will be determined by the specific farm’s location, product, services, and personality. The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Program has marketing assessments available for farmers.

Financing is directly connected to setting goals, writing business plan, keeping records, access to land, equipment, seeds, and other materials. As one goes through developing goals, resources, and marketing options, finances must be constantly re evaluated. Even individuals who start with access to land and equipment rely on efficient financial management. Options for financing include traditional lenders, commercial banks, loans, state agricultural development programs, grants, personal savings, and friends or family. It is important to demonstrate good financial management, especially during the farms start up. Watching cost expenditures and minimizing financial risk is a continuous process through the farm’s business life cycle. Create a good plan that shows evidence of the farm cover expenses required, if needed, re-create your business plan before implementing actions that may be harmful in the business future.

Farming is a rewarding lifestyle and job occupation, however, like most entrepreneurial endeavors, come with inherent risks. When evaluating the decision to start a farm the first step is to identify your personal lifestyle goals and what is realistic to expect from the indented farmland. Second, research and develop the products and enterprise options that work with available resources. Documentation of these steps and processes will be the foundation for business plans and you will more familiar with tools, systems and processes with which one would need to be familiar in order start, operate, and grow a farm business.