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MomTalk.com November 17, 2017:   The women's magazine for moms about children, family, health, home, fashion, careers, marriage & more


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Assessing Your Money Values

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By Diane Brady


Are people spending money on what's really most important to them? In a culture filled with consumer temptations, many Americans fall into a familiar trap - they spend their hard-earned money on things that, deep down, really don't matter to them or don't fit their personal values. What's worse is they often don't realize they are doing it. The spending "just happens," but the results are often the same - financial stress and a feeling they now don't have the money to invest in what they value most, such as a child's education, a charity or a secure retirement.


The solution is fairly simple but takes discipline and planning. Taking time to step back, evaluate personal values, and re-focus on what's important can help put money to work on what one values most. The following tips can help:


Budget breakdown:
Identify priorities and plug them into a budget. Managing personal finances without a budget is like operating a company without a business plan. A recommended budget strategy is the 10-10-80 concept: 10 percent of income to church or charity, 10 percent to savings for the future and the remaining 80 percent for daily living expenses. Once a budget plan is developed, it's crucial to make sure everyone spending money is aware of the plan - and they stick to it.


Controlling the plastic:
Credit-card debt is the enemy of financial planning. Carrying a high credit-card balance from month to month is about the worst approach a person can take because of high interest rates. Instead, keep just one credit card with a low interest rate and use it only in emergencies. Also, avoid spontaneous trips to the ATM, which can lead to frivolous spending. Budget ATM withdrawals. Controlling plastic can help keep a person's money values on track.


Home plate:
Living in a safe and functional home is a key value in most people's plans, and owning a home continues to be one of the best investments. Paying rent is funding somebody else's investment rather than one's own. Whether paying rent or making a mortgage payment, living within one's means needs to be the priority. A good rule of thumb is spending no more than 28 percent of gross income on housing.


Planning for retirement:
No one is getting any younger, so starting a retirement account is critical no matter what one's age. Saving too little for retirement may mean working longer and saving more at a time in one's life when it's more difficult. Stay-at-home spouses should also have a fully funded retirement account to reduce the amount of time it will take to reach retirement goals.


Ask important questions:
Before pulling out the credit card, always ask if this purchase fits the plan. More long-term questions to ask are: Do I know how I'll pay the expenses associated with long-term care if I need it? Do I have enough disability insurance if I'm disabled and can't work? Do I have enough life insurance to cover my beneficiaries?


What one spends money on is what one values. Assessing those most deeply held personal values honestly and openly is a first step to avoiding the consumer trap and ensuring one's spending is an accurate and planned reflection of those values.




Diane Brady is a Senior Financial Advisor with the Eden West Group of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, a Fortune 500 financial services membership organization helping nearly 3 million members achieve their financial goals and give back to their communities. Thrivent Financial and its affiliates offer a broad range of financial products and services including life insurance, annuities, mutual funds, disability income insurance, bank products and more. As a not-for-profit organization, Thrivent Financial sponsors national outreach programs and activities that support congregations, schools, charitable organizations and individuals in need. For more information, visit Thrivent.com or call 800-THRIVENT (800-847-4836).



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