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Frustrated by Your Finances? Introducing the Finance Goal Guide!

Friends, wow! We're still celebrating in the wake of our launch earlier this week. You truly blew us away with your enthusiasm for our new (and, ahem, legacy!) products, and perhaps the most exciting thing is that your response tells us we're meeting a need, right where you are... and that's our deepest desire.

Over the next few days we'll be personally introducing you to each of our new products and sharing a bit of the story behind them. It's my pleasure to kick things off with an in-depth look at our Finance Goal Guide!

Finance Goal Guide

Similar to our Parents Goal Guide, Fruitful Friendships Workbook, Couples Goal Guide, and now Wellness Goal Guide, the Finance Goal Guide was designed to be used alongside your PowerSheets. Each of our guides help you dig into a specific area of your life that needs cultivating.

Through a slimmed-down and focused section of prep work, the Finance Goal Guide will help you identify the things that have been holding you back from a financial healthy mindset, help you establish a strong "why" for your financial future, and identify what financial goals you most care about achieving (and the first action steps to take for each).

Goal Guide Bundle

My favorite part about this guide is that it requires NO financial know-how to use. With finances, one of the most frustrating things is that we often don't even know where to start. We've overcome that barrier by providing action steps (bitesize, achievable goals that will add up to big change!) for eight different areas of your finances, including establishing solid financial practices, paying down debt, investing, and giving money away. Yes, you'll still have to put in the time and effort to make those changes, but you'll be doing so with a solid road map in place!

Finance Goal Guide

On a personal note, I have seen the fruit of financial literacy and financial freedom in my own life, and it's no secret that I'm the resident Cultivate cheerleader for all things personal finance-related! I spearheaded the development of this product, and I truly believe it is going to help change the money stories of so many women, and that FIRES ME UP! If this product is winging its way toward you right now, know that I am so excited for you, and will be cheering you on from here on out!

Ready to get started? I recorded a webinar with my top five tips for cultivating your finances a few weeks ago, and you can view it right here! Shay Cochrane, my personal finance soul sister, joined me along with thousands of you, and it was a fun and impactful hour!

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A favorite takeaway: so many of us resist thinking or talking about our finances, preferring instead to bury our heads in the sand. The funny thing is that the more you think about money (as in, face your situation head-on and make a proactive plan), the less you need to think about money (as in, worry about whether you have enough). Our new Finance Goal Guide is the perfect first step in managing your money with confidence, freeing you up to live and give as you've dreamed!

Shop the Finance Goal Guide here!

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Cultivating What Matters in Finances, Wellness, and Faith in Kids

If you've been in the Cultivate family for long, you know we don't create products for the sake of creating products. We create products we are excited to use, and our Summer Launch coming April 24th is no exception. Not only are we restocking Six-Month PowerSheets in White, we're releasing a new collection of products we dreamed up to help you continue to cultivate what matters!

Three of our favorites? Our brand new Finance Goal Guide, Wellness Goal Guide, and Write the Word Journal for Kids!

Whether you're cultivating your finances, wellness, or hoping to plant seeds of faith in your children, we've teamed up with experts in these arenas to offer practical advice and encouragement and answer all your questions!

FIVE WAYS TO CULTIVATE WHAT MATTERS IN YOUR FINANCES

Wednesday, April 11th at 2pm ET with Shay Cochrane

Our resident finance guru, Emily Thomas, will be teaming up with Shay Cochrane, commercial photographer, to share their top five ways to cultivate their finances. There's no need to be an expert, because no matter your financial situation, you have everything you need to change the course of your financial story! Register here.

HOW TO CULTIVATE FAITH WITH KIDS

Wednesday, April 18th at 2pm ET with Lara Casey

Our brand new Write the Word for Kids has our entire team excited about planting seeds of faith in young ones. Join Lara Casey, mother of three under six, for a live class on how to cultivate faith in the lives of children. Register here.

HOW TO CULTIVATE WELLNESS

Thursday, April 26th at 2pm ET with Amia Freeman

Taking care of yourself is far from selfish–it's necessary to cultivate all aspects of your life. Join Lara Casey and Amia Freeman of inneractive FITCLUB™ as they talk through how to live a healthy, full life. Register here.

Please note: Crowdcast works best on the Google Chrome browser, and we recommend downloading it ahead of the webinar. If you experience technical difficulties, please reach out directly to Crowdcast support.

If you aren't able to join us live for any of these events, there's no need to fret. A replay will be available for all those that have registered, so be sure to sign up to receive access to the broadcast afterward! Note: you will have to sign up for multiple events.

Leave us a comment, and let us know you're coming! We can't wait to see how your little by little progress will add up to help you cultivate what matters in your own life.

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Goal Action Ideas for Finance Goals

Today we're continuing our Goal Action Ideas series with a Finance edition, supplying you with a bank of ideas for your Tending Lists on that topic. Like all overwhelming things, cultivating a stronger, more streamlined financial life is done through embracing little by little progress, and digging in even when things seem messy. I'd love to hear YOUR ideas, so please drop them in the comments! (In fact, many of the ideas in this post came from awesome PowerSheets users in our Facebook group!)

Though I've loved all of the topics we've covered in this series, I most definitely have a soft spot for today's. First, because I am extremely passionate about the freedom that comes from having your financial house in order, and therefore so happy to be your enthusiastic tour guide in this world. Second, because finances can just be an icky subject–one that feels too complicated, too stuck, too hopeless to make any progress on.

There is SO much hope here, though, friends! As with everything, little by little progress is the name of the game–sometimes with a few big leaps along the way. I've compiled our best action ideas for finance goals below, and I hope it encourages you to dig in where you are!

Monthly Goals:

  • Do a comprehensive review of your finances and set a goal to work toward
  • Sign up for Financial Peace University or a similar personal finance course (PS users suggested Wallet Win!)
  • Read a personal finance book (try Total Money Makeover, The Financial Diet, Love Your Life Not Theirs, or The Millionaire Next Door - or tell us your favorite in the comments!)
  • Make a budget (see our tips here)
  • Choose a way to track your budget (more ideas here - consider an app like YNAB, Mint, Good Budget, or Every Dollar Counts)
  • Set up an initial review meeting with a financial planner (either in person or an online option like Learnvest)
  • Set up a retirement account (either a 401k if offered through your work or an IRA)
  • Total all of your debt, especially if you have multiple sources (this will give you a goal to work toward!)
  • Choose a financial mantra to keep you motivated and post it somewhere you'll see it every day (we suggest your refrigerator)
  • Similarly, choose a picture that represents your biggest financial goal and post it somewhere you'll see it every day
  • Increase your retirement contribution
  • Comb through your expenses from the last month and look for areas where you can cut back
  • Create a visual countdown of your debt and post it prominently where the whole family can see it (more paying down debt tips here)
  • Open a charitable giving account (donor-advised fund) to streamline and maximize your generosity
  • Open an account designated as an emergency fund and seed it with an initial deposit
  • Make a plan to fully fund an emergency fund (most experts recommend three to six months of expenses)
  • Purge your social media accounts: unfollow accounts that contribute to feelings of lack or make you want to spend money!
  • Take our friend Nancy's Contentment Challenge

Weekly Goals:

  • Listen to an episode of a personal finance podcast (Cultivate readers suggested Entreeleadership and Matrimoney!)
  • Sit down with your significant other (or yourself!) and review the week's budget and spending
  • Purge a room of your house (this helps identify waste, cultivate contentment, and curb spending)
  • Update your budget
  • Pay bills
  • Unsubscribe from sales emails
  • Sell something (and put the money toward debt or a savings goal)

Daily Goals:

  • No spending
  • Express gratitude

These are just a few suggestions for items to add to your PowerSheets Tending List each month to make progress on your finance goals for the year!

If you are looking for another great resource for getting started on your financial goals, please allow us to introduce our Finance Goal Guide!

We'd love to hear from you: what else would you add to this list?

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Cultivating What Matters in Your Finances

Boy do we have a treat for you today, friends! The PowerSheets Facebook group is abuzz with women across the world who have some sort of financial goal on their 2018 PowerSheetsShanna Skidmore, business strategist and financial coach, is sharing her herat and expertise with those of us looking to cultivate what matters in our finances. While Shanna's background is in serving creative business owners, her heart for what she does reaches far beyond that. Today she's sharing three ways to cultivate what matters in your finances, and we hope you're encouraged! -Jess

It happened one day while I was riding my bike to work (more on that in a minute)…It was a ten mile ride to the office and about an hour of peddling. Atlanta has a deceiving amount of hills. We had lived in Atlanta about a year, and I thought our move was for my husband's career. But on that fateful day in the midst of some heavy breathing and wondering if the car behind me was ever going to pass, I heard it. My calling.

In 2006, I started working in the world of finance. Business + Psychology degree in hand, I was a 21-year-old living in a big numbers world. I had my hot pink binder of goals, my fresh out of TJ Maxx blazer, and three-inch high heels that wouldn’t be traded for flats until years later. Back in those days I was taught the American dream went something to the tune of “if you can afford the payment, you can afford it.”

But two car payments, two house payments and a few years of the grind later, I learned the most important lesson about money I’ve ever learned : The American way doesn’t account for one thing–LIFE CHANGE.

Kyle and I found ourselves in a new place, living out big dreams but on salaries we no longer had. As we sat in church learning how to “be rich” in our finances, we took a good hard look at our money and realized we had no margin. There was only one thing we could do. Get rid of the stuff. We traded our wood grain and leather seats for bike helmets and “butt” pants. And since that day we changed our mindset about money. Today I want to share three ways to cultivate what matters in your finances:

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Awareness is the key to change. This is the hardest one guys. Get your tissues and favorite comfort food ready, pull out three months of your past bank statements and take a look. When Kyle and I sat down and really looked at the numbers, we saw more than $1,000 spent eating out and $500 on Starbucks–IN ONE SINGLE MONTH! Just know, as Dave Ramsey says, until we tell our dollars where to go we will wonder where they went! So take a look, judgment free. And then ask yourself “is this where I want my money to go?”

Create white space. What are some areas in your finances you can create some white space or margin? White space is like breathing room…it feels good. Are there some areas you can cut back to put your money where it matters to you more? Here's a tip: use your PowerSheets Prep Work to evaluate what has and hasn't been working.

Reallocate to what matters! A few years ago I decided to throw the word budget out of my vocabulary. Budgets feel like a “no” where as a spending plan feels like a “yes”. So let’s create a spending plan. Where do you want your dollars to go? When changing your financial habits it’s not about stopping something bad, it’s about starting something good! Just like with goal-setting, we have to want the outcome more than we don’t want the hard work! So what do you WANT?!!! You will only change your habits when you want something else more -- is it a house? How much will you save? When will you start looking? Is it a car? How much will it cost? How much will you save monthly? When is your deadline?

CultivateFinances

I have worked in the world of finance now for the past eleven years and for most of those years what I’ve said more than anything is this: “they just need a money plan.” You see, we get caught up wondering how much of our salary we should save for retirement, do we need a ROTH or a Traditional IRA, or what is an IRA anyhow? And while all of those are really good things to think about, there is only one essential thing you need–a PLAN.

This year as you sit down to make some really good goals, I encourage you to pull out your numbers and just take a look. I promise you, it’s not a fancy retirement portfolio that will get you where you want to go, it’s intentional planning and thoughtful spending.

Looking for more posts on how to practically cultivate your finances in 2018? Explore our vault of finance posts. This Friday, Emily will be sharing our Goal Action Plan Idea for Finances, and we hope it helps get your wheels spinning for those PowerSheets Tending Lists! Be sure to check out our Finance Goal Guide, too!

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How to Pay Down Debt in 2017

When I look back at my twenties, one of the goals I'm most proud of accomplishing is paying off my student loans. Paying off debt is kind of a classic PowerSheets goal: it takes planning, little-by-little progress, perseverance when it seems like you're not getting anywhere, and a strong connection to your "why." That last one is especially important because it's easy to lose heart when you're slogging through the often long and tedious process.

For me, in addition to reducing the amount I'd spend in interest over my lifetime, the real WHY of paying off my debt was to move one step closer to financial freedom—because when you're financially free, you have more independence, more security, and more options in almost every part of your life.

If you're facing down debt, whether student loans, credit card, a car payment, or a mortgage, what's your WHY to get rid of it forever?

Got your why? Good! I also wanted to share a few of the tips and techniques we used as we paid off student loans, car payments, and our mortgage (ongoing!)

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1. Stick to a budget. Without a doubt, following a budget is the number one reason we were able to make progress on our goals. Without giving every dollar a name, we easily would have frittered away money we could have been putting toward our payments.

2. Schedule payments in advance. Sign up online for a monthly auto-debit for each of your accounts so that you’re never late with or forget a payment. Make it automatic - you won’t miss it as much as you think.

3. Feel the pinch. Every time our budget expanded, we chose to allocate the extra dollars toward debt reduction. Raise at work? Going toward debt. Bonus? Going toward debt. Sometimes in the last few years we looked at each other and were like, why do we feel poor?? But then we reminded ourselves that we were living at a lower standard of living by CHOICE. If you’re paying off debt and are not feeling the pinch in your lifestyle, you almost certainly have room to cut back and increase your payments.

4. Get a little crazy. My sister is working with "gazelle intensity" to pay off student loans from her physical therapy degree, and to help reach her goal faster, she started picking up PT shifts at a local hospital on the weekends in addition to her full-time job during the week. Does she love giving up that free time? No way! But for a season, she's willing to trade freedom now for much greater freedom in the future. Consider working extra hours, starting a side hustle, downsizing to one car, or something else "extreme" in the name of moving the needle a little faster.

How_To_Track_Spending

5. Pay more than the minimum amount. If you’re feeling the pinch you are likely already doing this, but it’s worth stating again: pay more than the regular monthly amount. At times, we were paying more than twelve times the required monthly payment on certain debts using the debt snowball. Which leads us to...

6. Roll the snowball. The debt snowball is simple, but it is by far the most important technique we used to pay off our debt early. The basic idea is to pay the minimum amount on all of your debts except one and then throw all of your other available resources at that one. Once that debt is paid, immediately move the payment for that debt toward another and so on until all of the debts are paid. Dave Ramsey suggests starting with the debt with the smallest dollar amount and moving toward the largest dollar amount; other experts recommend starting with the debt with the highest interest rate and moving toward the lowest interest rate or considering the taxability. We used a combination of these strategies. As long as you’re working aggressively toward your goal, I don’t think you can go wrong.

7. Track your progress. I kept a Google Doc spreadsheet that listed our debts, the current amount we paid per month on each, the outstanding total of each, and the month the last full payment was scheduled. Every time a payment processed, I’d go in and update the spreadsheet. It was extremely motivating to see everything shrink over time!

I would love to hear: Is paying off debt one of your PowerSheets goals? Where are you in the process? Are you using the debt snowball?

If you are looking for another great resource for getting started on your financial goals, please allow us to introduce our Finance Goal Guide!

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