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Giving Yourself Permission to Spend

vacation.jpgBigg success is life on your own terms. The five elements of bigg success are money, time, growth, work and play. Today we want to focus on money.

Some people struggle to save money in the first place because they love to spend it. Other people have no trouble saving it, but they get uncomfortable spending it.

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georgeI grew up with one of each. I’ve never seen research on this, but I bet that happens fairly often. Mom was a saver and Dad was a spender. I learned from both of them.

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marylynn
So I know the answer to this, George, but share with everyone which one you are.

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georgeI think I’m both so I face this internal battle – there are times when I swing to the savings side; there are times when I lean toward spending. The challenge for me is not letting it get out of balance when I shift one way or the other.

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marylynnBoth of us tend to spend on small ticket items. We’re not bigg ticket buyers so we can completely relate to one of our readers, Paul.

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Bigg question

Paul sent us an e-mail about his dilemma. He’s a regular saver, but he has trouble spending it – especially on bigg ticket items. For example, he could comfortably take a vacation but he’s not sure if he should pull the money out of savings. He wants our advice.

Bigg solution

Reading between the lines, it sounds like Paul wants to spend the money but he’s afraid he’ll need it for something else. Here’s the bigg solution:

Set up a separate account dedicated to the next bigg purchase you want to make. Set aside a portion of what you save in this account.

Right now, you’re implicitly saving for these things, Paul. By planning for your purchase and explicitly saving for it (i.e. by stashing money for it in a dedicated account), you’ll feel comfortable buying it once you’ve accumulated enough money.

Since you’ve been saving all along, Paul, consider taking a portion of the money you have in your general savings account and seeding this account with that money. You may feel you have enough to take that vacation now. If that’s the case, go for it! Then use this separate account for your next bigg ticket item.

Live (a little) in the moment

It’s important for all of us to save for our future. It’s also important to live a little in the moment and enjoy life along the way. Otherwise, we risk forgetting why we’re doing what we’re doing.

So Paul’s going to save for a vacation. If you can’t afford that right now, plan for a weekend away. If that’s going to stretch your budget too much, plan for a nice dinner out this month. Maybe even that’s too much … plan for a nice meal at home. Make it an event. Every day … every hour … every moment is precious. Don’t fall into the trap of living too much for the future. Strike a healthy balance between now and then. That’s living bigg!

How do you save for bigg ticket items?

Share that with us by commenting below, calling us at 888.455.BIGG (2444) or e-mailing us at bigginfo@biggsuccess.com.

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Please join us next time when we discuss getting your employees to take a step toward personal leadership. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Take Me Out to the Free Ball Game

george_marylynn_baseball.jpbA one. A two. A three. Take me out to the ball game …

We can hear Harry Carey singing it right now! (We’ll warn you: If you listen to our show today, you can hear why we could never be on American Idol!)

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Bigg success is life on your own terms. There are five elements of bigg success – money, time, growth, work and play. Today we’ll focus on play.

If you’re a regular reader, you know we’ve confessed that play is the thing we struggle with the most. We love our work. We’ve found that thinking about the five elements of bigg success helpful because we make sure we schedule some play time.

We love baseball, but going to a Major League Baseball game can be a real budget-bender. By the time you buy the tickets, pay for parking, and grab a hot dog, you can spend some serious smack!

You don’t have to throw your budget a curve ball to have fun at the old ball game

We feel fortunate to live in a University town. We have some bigg time sporting events, including a baseball team that is doing very well this year. Go Illini!

Last year, we kept talking about going to a game but never made it. They start early when it’s too cold for us to watch a game outside.

This year we made a commitment to go, so we were keeping an eye on their schedule. Lo and behold, they ran a bigg promotion – you could get into the game for free (it normally costs $5) and you could even get free food.

Now that’s a bigg deal!

And the promotion was a bigg success! They had a record attendance. In fact, so many people showed up, we decided it was worth buying food from the concession stand instead of waiting for the free stuff.

It was a great game. We had lots of fun and some good time together as a couple (see pictures on our Flickr page). That’s the best part. The second best part was that Illinois came back to win in the ninth inning!

But what if you don’t have a University team in your area? Can you still take in a ball game on the cheap? Baseball, you bet!

Summer college baseball leagues. College baseball players finish their collegiate schedules early. They want to keep playing without jeopardizing their amateur status. So college leagues have sprung up. We have a team about thirty miles from us (ticket prices are $6 – $9). Check the National Alliance of College Summer Baseball site for the team closest to you.

Minor leagues. Future professional baseball players have to train somewhere. There are minor league teams all over the country. We have a AAA team fairly close to us ($6 – $10 for a ticket). If you don’t know of one in your area, check out the Minor League Baseball site.

Amateur leagues. We have several teams in our area like this. You can take in a game for a few bucks plus any food and drinks you may want.

Little Leagues. We love watching the Little League World Series on television. Check out the raw talent in your area to a Little League game. You can’t beat the price and there are games all over. We have a field within walking distance of our house.

So what’s the bigg idea? Tap into your local community and have a bigg day out at the ball park!

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Thanks so much for reading our post today. Please join us next time when we discuss how some friends of ours taught their teenage daughter the value of money. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00395-051509.mp3

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3 Tips for Buying Health Insurance

memories.jpgToday we want to talk about insurance … just for the health of it!

Health insurance is a significant expense. If you’re fortunate enough to be part of a group, your company is probably paying a good portion of the cost. However, companies are increasingly asking their employees to bear a bigger share of the total cost.

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Of course, if you’re self-employed, you have to pay it all. This really hits your budget in either case and, as we look to the future, it appears it will occupy an ever larger share.

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georgeI used to sell insurance years ago so I’m familiar with that side of it. I also approved our group plans when I was in business before Bigg Success.

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marylynnWhen we started Bigg Success, it was an eye opener for me. I went from being an employee with group insurance to being self-employed buying individual coverage. I saw the full cost, not just my share of it. I was amazed at the array of choices. And I couldn’t get some of the coverage I really liked under my group plan.

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Obviously, your age and your health are two major factors in the cost. The other key factors are:

Your deductible. This is the first money that will be paid out. You pay it up to the deductible you choose.

Your co-pay percentage. Once the deductible is satisfied, you begin sharing the cost with your insurance provider. You may split it down the middle or some other arrangement.

Your stop loss. You don’t have to share costs forever. At a certain point, your insurance company will pay 100% of the covered costs.

Your maximum coverage. It will look like a large number (e.g. $2 million) but it can be used up fairly quickly if there’s a serious health problem.

Your maximum out-of-pocket. This compiles the first three factors. Your maximum out-of-pocket equals your deductible plus your maximum co-pay amount. It only considers covered costs so just be aware that your actual out-of-pocket could be higher.

So now we want to talk about three mistakes that people often make when buying health insurance.

Pushing too much risk onto the insurance company. Being too conservative is very costly. For example, the higher your deductible, the less you’ll pay.

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marylynnBut George, I know when I’ve been light on money, it’s scary to think about a large hospital bill. Even a doctor’s bill of $300 – $500 can be a burden when you’re really strapped for cash.

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georgeI understand that, Mary-Lynn. But I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about. A couple we know has over $50,000 in the bank, yet they insist on having a deductible of $500. They could save a lot of money by being a little less risk averse.

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Not shopping around. As we’ve said, this is a major expense. Like most major expenses, it’s worth your time to try to save some money. So get two, or even better three, quotes.

Make sure you’re comparing apples-to-apples. The plans from two different insurance companies probably won’t be exactly alike.

Settling in. Shop carriers at least every other year. You may be surprised at how much you can save by switching plans.

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georgeThis is something I learned the hard way. I liked my insurance company, but when I finally shopped coverage, I was astounded at how much I could save.

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marylynnThis really boils down to personal preferences. It’s nice to only pay a small amount of money when you go to the doctor. But make sure you’re weighing that convenience against the actual cost.

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The key question to ask yourself is, “How much risk can I afford?

The general rule, in a financial sense, is to assume risks that are small, frequent, and inexpensive. You cover large, infrequent and expensive costs.

But also consider the emotional costs. If it’s going to keep you up at night knowing that you’re bearing a larger share of the burden, then push more risk off on the insurance company.

Think about the impact on your finances and your personal preferences to help you make this bigg decision.

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Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success.
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

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Please join us next time when we talk about bright, shiny objects.

Thanks so much for reading our post today. Until next time, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00386-050409.mp3

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Think Want, Need, Must About Your Money

pyramids Today we’ll discuss a simple, yet effective, way to make sure you’re spending your money how you intend. Divide your spending into three categories – wants, needs, and musts.

We used to think about luxuries and necessities. This splits those luxuries into two categories because, over time, luxuries tend to become necessities.

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georgeLike the dishwasher we have. It’s not a need; it’s a want. But I’d sure hate to live without one!

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marylynnI think my cell phone is a need. But the unlimited texting and the ability to watch videos are wants that I added to my package.

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With our cable TV, we have DVR and premium channels. Those are definitely wants, but we love the convenience and variety.

Climbing the pyramid

Picture a pyramid, with wants at the base, needs in the middle, and musts at the top. We tend to move things up the pyramid. The importance we place on them climbs, so to speak. We look at things that are truly wants as needs; we view things that are really needs as musts.

That’s why we think it’s a good idea to break necessities into two – needs and musts. It helps us refine what is really important.

Mixed message

It’s pretty easy to define our musts – food, clothing, shelter, and transportation. But even within this category, there are mixed messages.

For an example, let’s consider transportation. At its most basic level, the only thing we need from our chosen form of transportation is the ability to get from one place to another. Public transportation clearly would suffice for many people.

However, if you use public transportation, you lose some control over your own schedule. You give up the convenience of having your own vehicle.

So some people may need a car because of their job. They need a vehicle to drive to appointments. Could it work without one? Possibly, but it might cost you too much time to be worthwhile.

It depends on your situation. In the end, only you can know what is best for you.

Gizmos and gadgets

There’s another way that wants, needs and musts can come into play. We’ll stick with the example of a vehicle. Even if you need a car, what do you really need? Something reliable or that fancy car in the ad? Just the basics or a vehicle with all the gizmos and gadgets?

The second of these choices, which are clearly wants, can make a huge difference in the price you pay for a car. And if you happen to finance it, they will add many dollars more in interest costs over the years.

We interviewed Adam Shepard on The Bigg Success Show not long ago. Upon graduation from college, he decided to see if the American Dream was still alive. Starting with only $25 and the clothes on his back, he was eventually able to buy his own vehicle among other things. His vehicle wasn’t anything fancy – an old pick-up truck with manual windows, one which didn’t work. But he still had the transportation he needed!

Keep these three categories in mind and you’ll keep your budget in line!

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Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success!
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

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Thanks for reading our post today. Join us next time when we’ll discuss how these same three categories relate to how we spend our time. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00286-121508.mp3

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How Long Do You Have To Work to Pay for What You Buy?

leftovers In physics class, we learned about the law of inertia – an object in motion stays in motion. So it is with our money. We start spending and we keep spending!

Now we’re trying to slow down our spending and find ways to save money. Today, we want to discuss a new way to think about your purchasing decisions.

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Getting to the numbers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracks many things, including consumer finances. From their most recent study, we calculated how much the average wage earner makes a year.

We then did some more research to determine how much vacation we take and how many hours a week we work, on average. From all this data, we determined that the average earner made $19.38 per hour before taxes.

Next we looked at spending by category, according to the BLS study. We divided that amount by the $19.38 an hour to determine how long we have to work to pay for what we buy.

The numbers

The average American wage earner works for almost a month to pay for entertainment and dining out.

We work about a week and two days to pay for our vacation. Think about that – we spend more time working for our vacations then we spend on them!

And since we’re nearing that time of year where we’re all feeling extra generous, we also found that we spend a full week working to pay for Christmas presents.

There’s power in this tool for you

It may be useful to think about past spending decisions, but the power of this tool comes in helping you make decisions now.

For example, say you’re the average wage earner thinking about purchasing a LCD HDTV. It would cost you around $600. You would have to work two-and-a-half days to pay for that TV.

Is it worth it to you?

A bigger house

We recently saw that the median price for a house is $200,500. You would have to work two months and a week every year to make your mortgage payment on that house.

You may not be thinking about a bigger house now. But let’s say the day comes when you decide you’d like to stretch a little. The median priced house was requiring 19% of your income; you think you could handle 25%. Now you’ll have to work three months out of every year to pay the mortgage on this bigger house.

Is it worth it to you to work three extra weeks every year just to pay your mortgage? Is there anything else you would rather buy with your hard work?

The formula

So far we’ve talked about averages, but they don’t really matter. What matters is how much you make per hour. Here’s how to calculate it:

Amount earned per week ÷ Hours worked per week = Hourly earnings

Your pay cycle may not be a week, but you can adjust accordingly. The BLS statistics look at before-tax income. Ideally, you’ll look at disposable income – after all taxes have been paid – since that’s the only money you have available to spend.

As salaried employees, we often don’t fully track how much time we work. You may have to track it for a week or two. If you really want the full picture, include your commuting time and any other job-related time.

Invisible expenses

Don’t just think about your major purchases. Consider your invisible expenses – those frequent small purchases that can really add up over the course of the year.

For example, say you spend $5 every day on lunch. Over the course of the year, that would add to $1,275 (assuming one week’s vacation). The average earner would have to work 66 hours to pay for this.

Is it worth it?

You might look at that and decide that it’s not. You start packing a lunch which only costs you $1. Now you would only have to work thirteen hours a year to pay for your lunches.

That’s 53 hours of work that could be spent on something else!

How about a nicer vacation, starting that emergency fund, or paying off the debt that’s keeping you up at night?

So frame your expenditures by the number of hours you have to work to pay for them. Then ask yourself if it’s worth it. It’s a great way to prioritize your spending.

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Thanks for visiting us today. Come back next time when we discuss why you can’t have it all, but you can have all you really want. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00276-120108.mp3

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