A Beginner’s Guide to Memorable Marketing

Starting your own business is a huge step, however if you get it right there’s is every chance that you can be successful and have a significant income boosting your bank account on a month by month basis. In order to be a success though, you need to make people aware of you, your company and what it is you have to offer, which is where marketing comes to the fore.

This infographic from the team at Promotional Plus acts as your beginner’s guide to memorable marketing, exploring features such as color choice, how to maximize social media opportunities alongside many other useful facts, figures and information to get your marketing right.

This Infographic was created by Promotional Plus

Shrewd Ways to Maintain Good Credit

Financing a business can be difficult, particularly for a new business. Business owners may consider raising capital from many sources, including the use of credit cards. Consider these tips to maintain a good credit rating.

Assume that Mountainview Clothing makes heavy duty hiking shorts for the outdoor recreational market. The firm needs cash flow to manufacture shorts during their heavy production period (January and February). Mountainview ships product in early March to meet the heavy demand for outdoor gear in the spring and summer months. Bob, the owner, is considering ways to finance his cash needs in January and February.

Selling equity vs. borrowing

On a basic level, an owner has two ways to raise money to run a business. One way is to sell ownership in your business. The term equity refers to ownership. Bob could sell a percentage of ownership to an investor, in exchange for cash. The new owner, however, would have some say in the future operations of the company.

Mountainview could also borrow money. The lender would insist on a repayment schedule for the principal amount invested, along with a schedule of interest payments.

If Bob decides to borrow, he may have to put up collateral. Collateral is an asset that backs the Mountainview’s repayment of interest and principal. If the borrower cannot make the required payments, the lender may be able to take possession of the collateral and sell it. This protects the lender from losing the money that was loaned out.

The company has a variety of ways to borrow funds. Mountainview may be able to take out a bank loan, using some sort of collateral. The firm may also borrow from an individual investor or take out credit cards.

Lay your options on the table

Taking out debt has its own set of challenges. Bob should consider the interest rate of the debt, and the amount of any required collateral. Secured debts are backed by specific collateral. A home loan, for example, is collateralized by the title to the borrower’s home.

Unsecured debt is backed only by the borrower’s ability to pay. Most credit cards are unsecured debts.

The impact of your credit rating

Several national companies compile data on the borrowing history of businesses and individuals. These companies use this data to compute a credit rating. Your credit rating has a huge impact on your ability to borrow.

It’s important to make smart choices about how you use credit, particularly credit cards. This article provides some tips on credit card use for a business. Below you’ll find some other thoughts on financing a business using credit cards.

Forecasting cash flow to make your debt payments

If you’re going to use credit cards, you need to forecast when cash inflows (customer payments) will be available to make payments. In the Mountainview example, the firm needs to finance production on January and February. Shorts will be shipped to customers (clothing stores) in March.

Mountainview needs to know when customers will make payments. If they all pay within 30 days, the company can expect to pay down the credit cards in late March or early April. If clients pay later- say in 45 to 60 days- Mountainview will not be able to pay down credit card balances until later.

The company needs to be very clear on the payment terms for the cards. If the firm pays late, that could trigger late penalties and much higher interest rates on card balances. Late payments may also be reported to credit rating companies, which lowers the firm’s rating.

Monitoring credit reporting firms

Businesses need to monitor credit rating companies. This practice can help minimize any inaccurate credit reporting- reporting that can lower the company’s credit rating by mistake. Firms need to understand how to communicate with credit rating companies to remove inaccurate information from credit reports.

Correcting errors in your credit report

If your firm has trouble getting a credit report corrected, you may consider hiring a law firm that specializes in this process. Lexington Law lists some of the steps a law firm can take to correct a credit report.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responsible for enforcing consumer protection laws. A law firm can use consumer protection laws to ensure that a company’s credit report is accurate. An attorney can write letters or call the credit-reporting firm and insist that they remove inaccurate data.

Repeating the process

It’s important to keep all of these factors in mind whenever your business uses a credit card. Carefully forecast when customer payments will allow you to make credit card payments. Monitor credit-reporting agencies for inaccurate reporting. If a credit rating firm refuses to remove incorrect information, consider hiring a law firm that specializes in the credit-reporting field.

These steps will help you maintain your credit rating and maintain the ability to use credit cards with a reasonable interest rate.

Measure Your Financial Performance and Ignore the Naysayers

measure financial performanceI’m sure many of us who read financial blogs, own one, or simply have a passionate interest in personal finance understand the idea of quantifying our finances. Here are 2 examples of this:

  1. Tracking Expenses. This should be a low-maintenance activity at this point, with the available options (such as Mint, for example) that are out there.
  2. Preparing Personal Balance Sheets. This entails looking at your assets and liabilities, to determine your net worth. This can be done periodically, to give you a snapshot at a given point in time of where you are.

I personally do both at this point. To me, it makes sense to know where your money is going, and how you’re doing overall in terms of money.

With respect to the later, the idea of tracking expenses has seemingly become a bit more mainstream, or at least so I thought. After all, as I mentioned it’s so easy to do – and quite responsible to do as well. The chatter on personal finance blogs – including this one – tends to support this view.

I had a conversation the other day where I brought up the topic of tracking expenses. Now, I’m pretty sure I bring up the idea of saving money more than the typical person out there, even though I’m not completely conscious of it at the moment. It’s just second nature, and a part of how I think.

There person with whom I was having a conversation looked at me and said “Seriously? You actually take the time to micromanage your money to that extent?”

At first I thought she was kidding, but I then stated that yes, I do actually micromanage money to that extent, and it also doesn’t take much time to do it either.

Her response: “Oh, I could NEVER do that. It takes the spontanaeity and fun out of shopping, I would think.”

I was stunned for a moment, finding it hard to believe that someone who was bright and well-educated could actually be stunned for the opposite reason: that I took the time to track expenses. It was almost like a totally foreign concept to her that she had never heard of. It was someone reminiscent of the epsoides I documented in a post I wrote on crazy things people said about money.

Anyway, It got me thinking that there is some real value to ignoring what many people might say about personal finance, even if they think you’re foolish for something you believe in.

It’s apparently not mainstream to do things such as track expenses. Who knew?

However, even if someone teases you for being frugal, measuring your financial performance, side hustles, personal finance blogging, or whatever – don’t sweat it. Ignore them. Do what you think is responsible!

They’ll be coming to you years down the road for advice anyway :)

My Questions for You

Have you ever encountered someone who basically rejected good personal finance habits?

What do you do when you have a discussion about money with such a person?

What are some financially responsible habits you have that you think others you know might not understand?

Life is Short – Set Goals to Reach Success as You Define it!

setting goalsAre you a goal-setter?

Personally, I have become very goal-oriented. While I suspect I’ve always been more this way than many (not all) other people, it’s become a much more ingrained part of the way I do things.

There’s a reason for it. As we get older, it dawns upon us that life truly is short. When I personally look at how time has flown by, and how some people in the next generation get older quicker than one might expect, I truly realize that we each have a life cycle that isn’t endless. Our time to truly have the energy and wherewithal to do exactly what we want to do isn’t going to go on forever.  Time is valuable, and it’s taken a sick family member for me to truly let all this sink in even more.

So along those lines, let’s enjoy every single day as a gift. For me, this also means setting goals and accomplishing what I want to, when I can do so.

I’ve written before about the role of money in life, and do believe that money is just one aspect of “success”. Health and relationships are where it’s at, and money is just part of the overall equation. Actually, my own experience tells me that all three – health, relationships, and money – can be interrelated. The better you improve your situation in one aspect of life, it’s likely to have a positive impact on other areas.

For example, the better your health is, the better position you’ll be in to fully enjoy relationships as well as make or save money. The better your relationships are, you’re putting yourself in better position to be in good health and even finances as well.

I’m getting philosophical here, but these are the thoughts that have pushed me to be more goal-oriented. Of course, being a personal finance enthusiast and blogger, I would share with you that I do set money-related goals.

I’m actually setting goals in this way:

  • Long-term – as in, a long-range situation I’m aiming for
  • 5 years
  • 1 year
  • Monthly

The idea for me is to start with a vision of how I would really like life to be down the line, based on what I’m thinking now. Of course, life has twists and turns and we gain different perspectives over the years, but we can still do our best to think ahead now. Based on that vision, which really incorporates overall lifestyle, I’ll set money-related goals that I think can make that happen. Then, it’s a matter of breaking it down into shorter time period for goal-setting.

Looking at things each month, it’s a good way to make sure that you set goals that are in alignment with your long-term goals. Of course, this also means honestly reviewing “performance” at the end of the month to see if I’m on track.

There are a variety of things to track when it comes to money, but I think that key areas are income, savings, investments, and risk management. I’ve written about them before in a post about the 4 key personal finance questions.

When it comes to income, just as an example, goals might be for different steps that might get me to a position of improving. For example, it could be: hitting it out of the park on a key project, networking with 5 new people, or similar goals. These types of goals, when met, can all build together to get a person to a higher level of income.

Similar approaches can be taken with the other areas of personal finance, such as spending/saving and the like.

Overall, the bottom line is that life is short – so I try to set goals to get the most out of it, while truly striving to enjoy every day and have fun.

How about you?

My Questions for You

Do you regularly set goals, and track progress?

If so, how often do you do this and in what way?

Do you start with the big picture and work your way to more specific/immediate goals, as I do?

Your Retirement Sentiment: Positive or Negative?

retirement securityWhen you think of retirement, are your initial thoughts positive? Or, are they negative?

I came across a WSJ write-up on the results of a survey regarding retirement. In particular, the respondents were asked to come up with the words that come to mind when they think of how the feel when they hear the word retirement. Apparently, there wasn’t a list provided to survey-takers; rather, the answers were left open-ended.

The results that the article shared were interesting in that the top 10 single terms that came out of the research were a mix of both positive and negative sentiment. However, it skewed negative.

Positive terms included words such as: “excited”, “happy”, and “good”. However, frequent negative terms included those such as “old”, “scared”, and “nervous”. Additionally, when looking at results by age, it appeared that younger people tended to describe retirement in more negative terms than did older people.

So, what do you think of notion that retirement evokes negative feelings in people?

Personally, my first reaction was to be surprised by this. Admittedly, that’s because my initial thoughts that come to mind for retirement are probably more positive than anything else. My initial thought, if I had to summarize in one word, is “security”.

Maybe that’s because it’s what I value for retirement: security. Or, perhaps I’m not anxious enough to express something negative. I’m certainly not thinking of massive excitement. It’s more that I view future retirement from a perspective of “positive practicality”.

But it says something about where people are when it comes to retirement, and their awareness of the situation. Even if it’s deep down thoughts at work here, it seems like there is some actual awareness that people have about retirement. It can see how some might find it to be scary, given the reality that we will not work forever – despite how many people will erroneously rationalize that part.

The part about younger people being more negative is also interesting to me. The article mentioned how one individual interpreted this along the lines of older people having different perspective and priorities than younger folks. While at some level that’s probably true, I wonder if these difference are more due to the reality that younger people are less likely to have pension options that those of an older generation. There is no “system” to take care of many folks who are earlier in their career at the moment.

Anyway, it’s food for thought. Clearly, people see their future retirement (and chances to do so) with different vantage points and ultimately different emotions. What about you?

My Questions for You

What word comes to mind when you hear the term “retirement”?

Do the results of that survey surprise you?

Why do you think there is that distinction between younger and older perspectives?

Customer Service Recovery: My Recent Example

customer service recoveryFirst off, the customer service recovery to which I’m referring is that of a store, not me. I was the customer in this case, and dealt with a few “interesting” situations at a local store this past week.

They were ultimately handled well, and I think they serve as good examples of how a business can actually end up with more loyalty with by recovering from a bad situation. It seems like a paradox, but that’s basically how it ended up. Bad service, a nice reaction and recovery by them, and now I’m a bit more impressed by their service.

The two situations were at the same grocery store, a local place that’s actually very nice. They have a great salad and hot bar, fantastic bakery, and a tremendous selection of organic fruits and vegetables. Nice place to shop, and usually pleasantly uneventful. That is, except for the two bizarre experiences I had this week.

Example #1: The Insane Customer

So, I was at the store one day to pick up a healthy dinner. They have a great salad bar, as I mentioned, and that’s where I started. Loaded with kale, spinach, grilled chicken, and some fruit, I was putting together a super healthy dinner. Yeah, I know that sounds nutritious, but my lunch was far from that so I needed to offset it. :)

Anyway, right next to the salad bar was a station with 8 different types of soup. The aroma drew me over there to those giant pots. I lids were closed, however, so I opened up a couple of them to take a look. After all, if you’re considering buying something, you might want to see what it looks like. So I opened a few.

All of a sudden I heard someone say “get out of here!” I looked up, and saw another customer standing across from me looking at me. Was I hearing things? Surely she couldn’t have been talking to me.

So, I continued on, checking out a few more of the soup bowls. Then, I heard her say “that’s VERY RUDE! You know you’re not going to buy anything, so STOP doing that”.

Okay, nobody else was there except me, so it was obviously me she was talking to.

I looked up and said “Excuse me? All I’m doing is opening up the soup lids to look at the soup in case I want to buy something. There is nothing wrong with me checking them out. “

She glared at me, and started dropping expletives at me, telling me to get lost and stop being rude.

Uh, what?

I paused, and thought to myself, “I am I doing something wrong here, or is this woman insane?” I settled on the latter. Who gets mad at a fellow customer for looking at soup? Yes, it’s bizarre.

I told her, immediately, that I didn’t appreciate verbal abuse and would go the store manager immediately. Now, I realize that the store manager might think that it would be like a kid going to tell his Mom that someone was mean to him. Or, worse, perhaps he would dismiss a complaint by a grown man about a woman who was probably 10 years older than him. But, if the store cared, they would make sure that a customer wouldn’t be treated this way and have an unpleasant experience.

The store manager listened to me, and I pointed the lady out as she decided to sneak away. We walked up to her, and he asked her if she said those things. She stammered that she didn’t know what he was talking about, and she had no idea who I was. Insane or a liar – now we have two possibilities.

I then smiled, ready to walk away, and my grin must have set the woman off. Then, she angrily told the store manager that “she can say what she wants to anyone”. Oh, so you really do remember me, eh?

At that point, he told me he’ll handle it from there. I walked away, calming down, back to my shopping. The manager then talked to me afterward telling me that he told the lady that she’s welcome to leave the store if she chooses to behave like that with other customers or staff. He also told me not to worry, I had done nothing wrong and that the woman was clearly imbalanced, and sorry for my experience in the store.

Okay, now that is a good example of a business handling a situation well.

Example #2: The $12 Cookie

At the same exact store, a few days after, I went in to get something for a celebration for one of my kids. Their bakery is really good, so that’s where I stopped. As a treat, I got him a giant cookie which was decorated with frosting to look like a basketball. You know, something a little kid would like.

The cookies were supposed to be $2 each. The very nice bakery lady got the cookie from the display, put it in a box, and then put a sticker on the box (with the bar code for the register). I smiled, said thanks, and walked over the express lane checkout.

I handed the cashier the box with the cookie, and she says: “that will be $12.00”.

Thinking I heard wrong, I said: “I’m sorry, did you say $12.00?”

“Yes, $12.00” she said with an annoyed tone.

I paused, and said “Actually, I’m only getting this cookie for my child. It’s supposed to be $2.00”

“No, it’s $12.00” she reiterated. With a tone that was clearly even more annoyed”.

I was stunned. At this point, I told her that it’s a cookie, and they don’t cost $2.00. And, that I’d go back to the bakery to get them to vouch for me.

So, I went back the bakery and told the nice lady there what happened. She looked at the box she gave me, and realized that earlier she had put the wrong sticker on it. The sticker was for a chocolate cake, hence the $12 cost.

However, as she pointed out, it’s hard to believe that the flat out told me I was wrong. Plus, common sense tells you that a cookie wouldn’t cost $12. She could’ve checked into it for me, instead of basically telling me to take it or leave it.

The bakery lady (manager?) then asked me to follow her over to the cashier. As we approached the cashier, she told her – in front of me – that she was in the wrong to treat a customer the way she did. And, that she was to give me the cookie for free.

So, I didn’t pay for it. I never asked or expected that, but the bakery lady made that gesture.

Again, really good customer service after an initial mistake.

Takeway

First off, I know that these were really strange examples. I’m not someone who gets into these types of situations at all, so it’s odd that two happened in the same week at the same store. But, they did, and at a nice store in a nice area.

What I really took away from this is that when you have a bad experience, but the business tries to make it right, they can end up getting an even more loyal customer. That’s actually how I feel about that store now.  Admittedly, we have joked at home about what’s going to happen the next time we go there. :)

It’s almost as if you have 3 scenarios:

  1. You have a good customer service experience
  2. You have a bad customer service experience and they do nothing about it
  3. You have a bad customer service experience and they try to make things right

The outcome that engenders the most loyal customer just might be scenario #3. Clearly, scenario #2 is not a great one. But with scenario #3, it’s different that scenario #1 in that there really was a bad experience involved. However, it was corrected.

Not sure if this was just me, but I think it’s something to consider as a service provider or a business. You might be able to recover and keep a loyal customer.

My Questions for You

Have you ever experienced a situation where you received poor service, but the business worked to make it up to you?

Did the business get back in your good graces after trying to recover? Beyond that, did they bring about more loyalty from you?

3 Underrated Summer Travel Destinations

Some of the best times I’ve had have been while traveling. There is something about disengaging and going on a vacation that is good for the soul. Whether it’s for rest and relaxation, fun exploring, or a combination of these purposes, these are often really fun times.

Now, I have to say that my travel heyday was in years past. I’ve been to 47 of the 50 states (Alaska, Hawaii and Maine yet to go), and have taken 2 trips to Europe and 3 to Asia. For now though I’m quite busy with family and other matters, so travel has been curtailed. However, I certainly hope to get back into it in the future – and traveling with kids can be fun anyway and a way to build memories and life experience for kids.

Along those lines, I thought I’d share a few observations about my travels in the form of underrated summer travel locations within the U.S. Here goes:

Underrated Location #1: Coastal Oregon

I’ve actually written a bit about this area before, but why not revisit.

To me, this area is a real gem. It’s kind of like a poor man’s version of Coastal California. Having driven from San Francisco to Carmel, and really enjoyed it, I find the Oregon coast to actually have quite a few similarities. It’s on the rugged Pacific shoreline, mountainous, and has scenic winding roads. Also, there are a number of quaint towns.

There are some differences though. For one, it’s a bit cooler. Also, the area does have a bit of a “Northwest” feel to it that doesn’t exist south of San Francisco. But another big difference is that the area seems much less crowded and also less expensive. You can truly get away to a beautiful, scenic, refreshing area for a reasonable cost. I’d like to make another visit.

Underrated Location #2: Eastern Shoreline of Lake Michigan

What? The Midwest?

Some folks might chuckle, but I happen to think that the western part of the state of Michigan has some really nice summer escapes that fly under the radar for most people around the country.

For those living here in Chicago, it’s not that far away. Maybe a few hours. But it seems like a world away, with nice beaches and towering sand dunes. Plus, there are some quiet lakefront towns with nice dining, hotels and golfing if you’re into that.

There are plenty of things to do outdoors here besides the beaches. In particular, one example of inexpensive summer fun is blueberry picking.  You can actually pick the blueberries at take home large quantities at ridiculously low prices.  All of this not too far from the beach front areas either! All in all, good relaxing summer fun can be had there – for a low price.

Underrated Location #3: Disneyland, California

Okay, I know that Disney seems like an odd choice for an “underrated” location. So many people make a trek to a Disney park at least once in their lifetime.

Having said that, I’m referring to the California location here. Florida is nice too, and seems to be the default option for most from the Midwest, East Coast, or South. I have no data on this, just observations over the years that if people are going to Disney – it’s generally to Florida. I’m guessing this is not the case in the West, but that’s not where the bulk of the population is.

Anyway, having been to both parks, I would go with California. I say that because the weather in Florida can get really hot and muggy in the summer. Kind of like walking outside in a swampy sauna. However, that Southern California weather is warm but really comfortable. Having been to both the Florida and California Disney parks in my lifetime, I’ll take the west coast weather any day!

Plus, I have to admit, we did visit there a few years ago for a short trip to Disney. It was a lot of fun, as I shared in a post I wrote about reasons why Disneyland is worth visiting.  I have to say that it was impressive how clean, updated, and positive they keep that place. It didn’t look dated or run-down at all, in my opinion. Things seemed really well run there, a lot better than other theme parks I’ve been to.

My Questions for You

Have you visited any of these 3 “under the radar” locations?

I’m sure you have your own places that you would called underrated summer travel destinations.  What are they?

Giveaway!

Okay, here’s where it gets fun.  I’m excited to be teaming up with a group of other bloggers on a giveaway.  Prizes are: $200 for 1st, $50 for 2nd, and $25 for 3rd.  You can see below to enter, and there are easy ways to get additional entries too!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

As I mentioned, this giveaway is being run in conjunction with a few other bloggers. Be sure to check out their blogs and share their posts each day as well for more chances to win $200!

Aspiring Millionaire
Frugal Toad
Little House in the Valley
Money Smart Guides
Money Stepper
Money Beagle
Monica on Money
Bloggers Classifieds
Penny Thots
RV Renters World

Pay Attention and Speak Up to Save Money!

pay attention save moneyIf we have our head in the game, and we’re able to be vocal, it can be really helpful in many areas of life. In school, socially, and at work – paying attention and not being afraid to talk are generally good things.

I’ve written about this before, when talking about the importance of speaking up in both school and at work. In the latter, meetings and presentations are times when we should show leadership and the ability to get our points heard while carefully listening as well.

Additionally, when it comes to paying attention, being able to notice the details is a good thing. One example I’ve written about is the concept of being careful to review credit card statements. Sometimes we can see some expenses that shouldn’t be there. Perhaps a subscription or membership we thought we canceled really wasn’t. Whatever the case might be, paying attention to credit card bills is just one example of noticing the details.

Recently I experienced a situation that involved both details as well as speaking up. This time, it also involved saving money!

Actually, it was quite harmless overall. But it made an impression upon me because it was my oldest kid who showed the ability to notice the details and say something about it.

Here is what happened. The two of us were at a local sandwich shop, picking up lunch. I scanned the menu searching for what I thought was the healthiest option, and ordered it. Then, I asked my daughter what she wanted.   She picked out a kid’s meal.

So, I made the order for her as well. The guy behind the counter had a slightly annoyed look on his face, but tried to nicely say that the meals are supposed to be only for kids 8 and under. Thus, I really should get something else. I didn’t even think twice about saying sorry to him since she’s a bit older than that, and then asking her what she wanted to get instead. I simply hadn’t seen that fine print beforehand.

She paused, looked at the menu board, and then quietly told me “It only says recommended for kids 8 and under.”

Aha!

At that point, I sheepishly told the guy behind the counter that the sign actually said recommended for children 8 and under, not only for kids 8 and under. Therefore, since it’s not prohibited, I’d like to order the kids meal.

He looked up again, clearly saw how the wording actually was on the menu board, and then looked back at me. With his own sheepish look, he turned quite nice and said (paraphrasing here) “I guess its okay then. That’s fine”

As a result, I might have saved a couple of dollars.

Now, that’s not exactly a big deal or a cause for a big celebration. It won’t change anyone’s financial situation. The few dollars saved isn’t the point here.

However, the bigger point is that sometimes you have to pay attention to the details. If you’re careless, or just listen to what someone else says, you might lose out. Beyond that, the next step is to actually have the nerve to speak up and nicely debate the other person or business on the issue.

In this case the money at stake was very small. But in another case, it could be a lot of money. As we know, the small financial victories are fun to get, but the lessons we can learn from them can help us secure the big financial victories that can go a long way to helping us.  Sometimes, we can even learn these lessons from a kid!

My Questions for You

Have you ever caught a discrepancy or mistake that ended up saving you money?

Do you ever hesitate to speak up, or can you discuss without reservations about it?

 

The Value of Preparing Personal Financial Statements

Sometimes big business gets maligned, but as individuals we can probably learn a thing or two from them. One way is the preparation of personal financial statements.

Sure, that might not be the most exciting thing to learn from large corporations. Furthermore, financial statements are generally made public because they need to be. There are requirements of publicly traded companies when it comes to filing of financial statements, so they pretty much have to be done whether or not an organization wants to.

Beyond the required aspect, however, such statements can tell a lot about the health of a business. The high level statements can tell investors quite a bit, while more detailed financial analysis can help a business make decisions.

Okay, so maybe you’re wondering where I’m going with this. Why should we as individuals care about such financial statements?

Well, it can be really helpful to put together financial statements in order to help us understand our finances. Here are two in particular:

Balance Sheet

As a snapshot of where we are financially, this gives us a picture of our situation at any given point in time.

We can look at our total assets and liabilities when putting together a balance sheet. Even more, we can assess the composition of them as well. For example, assets could be made up of retirement accounts, a home (also a liability), cash, and so on. This allows us to get a better sense of asset liquidity, which might sound like a bit like financial chemistry class :) It can be similarly important to understand our debt as well.

When you prepare balance sheets periodically, let’s say every 3 months as an example, you can track progress. Ultimately, the measure to track is the difference between assets and liabilities, which represents net worth. Seeing progress over time with our efforts to increase net worth can tell us how successful we have been.

Income Statement

While the balance sheet tells us where we are at a given point in time, the income statement helps us understand how we got there and where we are going.

The key is that we can see our total income and total expenses, and what the difference is. I like to view this as a business would, in that it’s our profit. Thus, we want to maximize income and minimize expenses in order to increase that gap. Yeah, common sense – but the income statement helps us diagnose things.

In terms of expenses, we can figure out where are spending our money. Is there room to cut in some areas? That could help us increase that aforementioned gap.

My Questions for You

Do you put together personal financial statements?

If so, how often do you prepare them?

Do you have any other suggestions in terms of analysis that one could put together to understand finances?