A True Story from Frances Godek Goodman’s Financial Counseling Sessions – Open Your Mind To Prosperity

Open your mind to prosperity.

I’ve heard the words “could’ve” and “should’ve” during my financial counseling sessions at the Submarine Base in Groton, CT, on more than one occasion.  In this context the “could’ve” and “should’ve” refer to the failure to save money to meet living expenses and debt payments.

One of my “could’ve” “should’ve” clients came to see me because he was on the verge of losing his security clearance.  He had excessive debt and needed help.  Of serious concern for him was that he had only 2 more years before he could retire.  He came to see me when our government was reducing the size of our military, and a service member’s debt was one reason for dismissal.

I reviewed his financial situation and together we worked on a plan to reduce his debt.  The plan was workable and would show the military that he was serious about getting his financial house in order.

I gave him resources to help him get moneywise.  Let me add that he was single – never married with no dependents.  Thus, it was easier for him to reduce some of his expenses, including his very expensive vacations.

I told him to check in with me periodically so that jointly we could review his progress.  Six months later he checked in with me.  He was in panic mode.  His dismissal was almost certain.  I asked him where he put the financial plan we worked on together and all the material I gave him to help with his finances.  He said it was in his car.  I asked him if he could get all of it from his car.  He left and was back in a flash.  I put all the financial material I gave him in a large manila envelope which I sealed.  When he handed me the envelope, it was obvious he never opened it!  I asked him why he didn’t look at the material I gave him.  He had no answer for me.  He was dismissed from the military.  There was nothing I could do for him.  I had similar cases in which service members said that they were going to join the reserves to finish their service years to obtain retirement benefits.  I passed that message along to him and he smiled as he left my office.  Procrastination was a very expense lesson for him to learn.

Saving money requires discipline.  Here are a few tips for making it a habit.

  1.  Pay yourself first.  Most financial advisers suggest you save 10 to 15 percent of your net income.  If you cannot afford this much, at least set aside   as much as you can.
  2.  Think of saving as a bill you must pay – as an expense.
  3.   Collect loose change.  Empty your pockets and wallet at the end of each day and put the change in a container.  Every so often, deposit the change    into savings or a retirement account (if you are working).
  4.  Create a scrimp and save day.  Whatever you would have spent on that day for lunch, coffee, snacks or whatever, put that money into savings.

Truly, I do realize how difficult it is for many people to save money.  However, you are the one that must come up with some imaginative/creative ways to start saving even in small amounts. 

I had the most enjoyable experience to travel to Portugal and Spain in 2016.  One of the stops on my tour was Gibraltar.  This picture I am using here is of the lighthouse on Gibraltar.  It was taken by a fellow traveler.  I’ve used a lighthouse for this blog for a symbolic reason.  A lighthouse can be your beacon that points to where you want to go – hopefully to a bright financial future. 

Lastly, talking about being creative – during WWII Gibraltar was a base used by the Allies to defeat Hitler.  The Allies dug caves into the sides of Gibraltar.  I asked our tour guide if he knew what they did with all the dirt from digging out those caves.  He said that the dirt was used to make the runway for airplanes.  That runway is still used today.  Talk about imagination, creativity and solving a problem! 

Thank you for visiting money-o.com, and I wish all of you happiness and prosperity.

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Finding Your Happy Balance Will Help You Plan For Your Financial Happiness

Finding Your Happy Balance Will Help You Plan For Your Financial Happiness

Happiness isn’t about the next thing you want to buy. It’s about changing your way of thinking.

No matter what tough situations you find yourself in (use this space to verbalize or write down your tough situations) try to focus on what is going right in your life. Focusing on what’s wrong leads to a downward spiral of negativity. Thinking about what’s working for you can cause an emotional chain reaction lifting you upward.

If you set meaningful, realistic goals of what you want to achieve in life, including financial goals, and you take action to achieve goals on a daily basis, you’ll be amazed how those 365 little actions have added up to alter your life. The magic of action, even when we take the smallest steps, is transformative.

The following is taken from the January/February 2018 edition of Psychology Today. These “10 Rules for Reinvention” if kept somewhere where you can see them frequently and reflect on them, can help to make fundamental changes in behavior.

1. Don’t beat yourself up for your problem; it serves a purpose.
2. Acknowledge the fear of failing to meet a wanted goal.
3. List the pros and cons of changing, and inventory all the forces working for and against change.
4. Prepare in advance ways to counter feelings of frustration and discouragement.
5. Break your goal down into small, specific incremental steps.
6. Stay attuned to the dream; give yourself regular reminders of the goal.
7. Align your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors with your goal; you might feel fake at first.
8. Engage in any activity that boosts faith in yourself.
9. Keep friends around; they lift your mood.
10. Accept the deep discomfort of uncertainty that change brings; it’s only temporary.

Like the featured rainbow picture, this picture was also taken by Tony Gorman.  It was taken a few days ago at the Mystic Seaport.  I believe that water and the color blue are therapeutic in that they represent serenity.  To all who read my blog, thank you; and I wish you a successful 2018 both personally and financially.

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A true financial story from Frances Godek Goodman and a picture from 2017 Mystic’s Holiday Boat Parade

I’ve labeled this picture, “Where There is Darkness, There Can be Light,” to symbolize a true financial story about one of my clients whom I helped while I was a financial counselor at the Submarine Base in Groton, CT.  Although initially dark, there is a happy ending to this story.  I took this picture at the 2017 annual Mystic Holiday Lighted Boat Parade.

A recent graduate of the sub school came to see me for some financial guidance.  I’ll call him Jack who had recently turned 19 years old.  He was visibly shaking as he sat in front of my desk.  I said,  “Jack why don’t you start talking, and I will listen for as long as you need me to listen.”

Short version of his story – Jack had a $250 cap for downloading music with a large telecommunications company.  Jack continued by telling me that he didn’t know how it happened, but he download $3,000 worth of music.  I could see his eyes start to fill with tears when he told me that there was no way he could pay this bill.  Momentarily recalling the teenage years of my son, now a successful adult, I told Jack that I would use all of my resources to resolve the matter for him.

I had already been counseling at the base for a few years.  It didn’t take me long to realize that I had a lot of power as a financial counselor on a military base.  I also realized that this was another case whereby I had to use that power!

The first thing I did was to use my computer to find the CEO name and address of the telecommunications company.  Having that information, I proceeded to call the customer service department of the company in question.  I was on the phone for nearly an hour being transferred from one supervisor to the next.  When I was connected to the supposedly last supervisor, I proceeded with my speech.  I said that the company could adjust the bill to $250 and write off $2,750 as an expense on its income statement.  For this particular company, the write off would be considered an insignificant dollar amount in accounting terms.

I continued by telling this last supervisor my plan of action:

  1. I was going to write an article for the financial column I created for the subase newspaper, The Dolphin, telling my client’s story and the lack of compassion for this young submariner soon to be deployed.  I was also going to send the article to every installation in the US and overseas.
  2. I was going to send a copy of my article to the CEO of the telecommunications company in question.
  3. I also wrote articles for Navy’s Facebook page, and indicated that I would be sending them the article as well.

There was a moment of silence, and then the supervisor said, “Just a moment, please.”

It didn’t take her long to get back to me indicating that my client’s bill would be reduced to $250.

Needless to say, this young man was overwhelmed with relief.  After completing a session with me, I gave all of my clients a choice of either a mini kit kat (many were watching their weight, the reason for the mini) or a smiley face sticker.  He chose the smiley face sticker, and I ate the kit kat as my reward for the victory!

I’m not going to end with any financial advice.  Just to say, look at the picture.  The background is black, but there are some beautiful shining lights.  Be grateful for your blessings during this holiday season.

Thank you for reading my blog, and may you be blessed with peace and joy in 2018.

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Need Help With Consumer Purchases, Problems & Complaints?

When I began my position as a financial counselor and educator/trainer at the US Naval Submarine Base in Groton, CT, I realized very quickly how vital current, free resources were to military personnel, their families and veterans.  So, I’m passing along information about a FREE resource book (which is paid for by our tax dollars).  It’s called Consumer Action Handbook.

You can order it by going to www.USA.gov.  Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on “View Publications.”   You can order a copy online or call 1-844-872-4681.  The publication is also available in Spanish.  Consumer Action Handbook is also available as a pdf copy.

Use the Consumer Action Handbook to get help with consumer purchases, problems and complaints. Find consumer contacts at hundreds of companies and trade associations, local, state, and federal government agencies, national consumer organizations and more.  Just to mention a few of the topics covered: Buyer Beware, Cars, Credit, Education, Health Care, Insurance, Privacy and Identity Theft and many more topics.

USA.gov is your online guide to government information and services, including a section for job openings in the private sector and federal government. This website is a treasure-trove of information, and I hope you avail yourself of this FREE resource.

It is my desire and hope that I will be writing blogs more frequently on my website.  I enjoy writing and passing on financial information which may be helpful to some of you.  This past summer, I volunteered at the Mystic Aquarium.  I worked many more hours and days than I had anticipated, leaving less time for writing.  However, the experience was most enjoyable especially seeing families and particularly young children get so excited with all the fish and marine mammal exhibits.  Lessons on conservation and our environment I hope will be long lasting for them – same thoughts I have about lessons on financial literacy!

Thank you for visiting my website and reading my blog.  I congratulate you for continuing to pursue more knowledge about financial issues.

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myRA.gov changes need immediate action

The U.S. Department of the Treasury is phasing out the myRA® program. I am truly sorry to see this program end. I read, whether true or not, that the program is ending because it has been deemed too costly to operate.  I would very much like to add comments about the waste within our government, but I believe I could accomplish more by providing useful financial information to those of you who read my blog.

If you have invested in the program, go to the myRA website http://myRA.gov for important details about your account and the next steps you need to take. There are several options you have to transfer/withdraw your money.  I would prefer that you NOT withdraw your money without reinvesting into a Roth IRA.

And here’s my major reason why – the power of compounding interest.

                                                                                                                              

The money you save in a savings, retirement, or other account can earn interest or investment earnings.  When you leave the money there, over time you can also earn interest on your interest, or earnings on your earnings.  Although this sounds like a slow process, once you get started it can result in some impressive growth in the money you’ve saved or invested over the long haul.

Here’s just a simple example.  Say you initially put $500 into an investment, you add $25 each month, the money earns 4% compounded monthly.  What would you have at the end of 25 years?  $14,201.12.

You don’t even have to know how to do the math for my example. So, don’t panic.  Access Investor.gov and use the “compound interest calculator.”  Investor.gov  http://Investor.gov is a website of the US Securities and Exchange Commission. One of the objectives of the Commission is to protect investors.  It’s an excellent website and provides resources and financial information in a format that is easily understood.

I believe it’s more important than ever for everyone, even young children, to understand basic financial concepts.  Why? Not only for your personal financial security but also for your understanding of how your municipalities handle their finances – ultimately your money.  If you don’t have a basic understanding of money, how do you know if the people you elect for your government positions are financially savvy!

Thank you for visiting my website and reading my blogs.

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