For years (and years), I lived under a dark cloud of worry that I would end up financially destitute—a bag lady, all alone living under a bridge.

A study conducted by Harris Interactive for Allianz Insurance Group reveals that I’m not the only one. In fact, most of us have felt that way, not because we’re broke, but because we don’t have confidence when it comes to managing our money. That makes us timid, worried and financially insecure.

 

We don’t have to accept financial insecurity as some kind of life sentence. And that constant and gnawing fear of becoming destitute? Forget it! We can do something about this.

Financial confidence is a choice. It’s a matter of changing bad habits and choosing to learn simple financial principles. Then by consciously applying them over and over again, those principles will become automatic responses—financial habits.

Happy senior woman with laptop experiencing best money year ever

Are you ready to make 2019 your best money year ever? Here are four simple things you can do starting today to improve your financial confidence—and take control of your money.

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Saving money is a curious term with two meanings: 1) To spend less, as in “I buy things on sale to save money,” and 2) To physically place money where it is safe from being spent, as in “I save money in my secret savings place.” 

overhead-close-up-photo-of-a-woman-putting-money-into-her-purse

Okay, that’s fine. But here’s the problem. It’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking that 1) and 2) are the same. They are not unless of course, you stop by the bank to actually deposit the difference between what you would have spent had the stuff not been on sale, right into your savings account or wherever it is that you stash cash.

Actually, that is one clever way to boost your savings this year. Here are eight more:

1 Tax yourself

This year assess yourself a specific “tax” each time you make an ATM withdrawal. It might be $5 or $10, you decide. Whatever the amount, make sure you become a tough tax collector AND that you carry through and put the tax you collected into your safe savings place. No slacking, no IOUs.

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Want a simple, pain-free plan to increase your savings this year? CPA, author, and blogger Mike Piper says to save 1 percent more. “Increase your savings contributions by 1 percent of your gross income,” suggests Piper.

It might be difficult to imagine how such a small change could make any difference at all, but according to Piper, this strategy can work wonders, especially if you are young. I could not agree more.

Yellow piggy bank and calculator with 2019 year on window

Anything you can do to become a consistent saver is going to come back to bless you in many ways in the future. A personal program of consistent savings does more than increasing your bank account. It changes your attitude. It quiets your insatiable desires and moves you away from the edge where it is easy to worry and panic.

Money in the bank changes everything. Read more

You hear it all the time, but do you know what it means to live below your means? Have you figured out how to do that?

To live below your means is to choose a lifestyle you can pay for with the money you have and still have some left over. 

hand with a calculator. money saving concept.

Living below your means in this high-pressure, credit-based, gotta-have-it-all-right-now culture is not exactly easy.

It takes skill and determination to go against the tide and buck a system that encourages spending all we have now plus what we hope we’ll get in the future. Read more

If you are among the millions of people in this country who don’t really know how or when they will see another paycheck, chances are you’re either unemployed or self-employed—which now that I think about it, being self-employed can be a lot like being unemployed except for an unemployment check.

If you are a freelancer, a consultant, work in commission sales, the arts, or some other form of self-employment and don’t know when, how, or how much you’ll get paid from month to month, the word rollercoaster may bring more to mind than something in an amusement park. 

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Some months you work yourself nearly to death but produce absolutely no income. Then a deal closes or you have a pretty good month, and it takes nearly all of that money to pay last month’s bills.  

Then miracle of miracles, you have a $10,000 month and suddenly in your mind, you’re making $120,000 a year. Time to call the travel agent and book a European vacation!

Does any of this sound familiar?

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I was late to the party but somehow managed to catch up quickly. While Hobby Lobby has now expanded to California, I’d never stepped foot into one of the more than 800 stores until moving to Colorado.

How I lived for the greater part of my life without Hobby Lobby remains a mystery. Remarkably, somehow I survived.

Hobby Lobby Store Thornton CO

Hobby Lobby is basically an arts-and-crafts heaven but also includes hobbies, picture frames and framing; jewelry making, fabrics, floral and wedding supplies, cards and party ware, baskets, wearable art, home accents and holiday merchandise. And let me tell you, this company runs a tight ship.

Generally, the prices at Hobby Lobby are good. But if you know the secrets—these hacks, tips, and tricks—you’ll never pay the full price on anything at Hobby Lobby again. And you’ll routinely be saving 50% (sometimes up to 90%).

Know the Hobby Lobby Sale Schedule

Just about everything in the store goes on sale for 50% off at some time or another. Knowing how to anticipate those sales is the secret for saving big.

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I’m crazy about gadgets—everything from quirky can openers to smartphones. Hand me a Swiss Army knife and I’m in heaven—the more blades and utensils the better.

Swiss Army Knife

 

And how about that One-Second Needle? It was a great idea, but sadly that is one gadget that needs to be put out of its misery, in my humble opinion.

My favorite gadgets, of course, are ones that actually help me to save money and/or time. I’ve been fooled from time to time, spending good money on things that just did not perform well. Or the gadget turned out to be so cumbersome using it actually complicated rather than simplified my life.

But now and then I strike on a gadget that is so magnificent in its functionality and money-saving properties, I can’t wait to tell you about it.

Today I want to tell you about four gadgets for the kitchen that I consider to be wise investments—money savers!

All four are inexpensive enough to pay for themselves in a short period of time—and then to continue paying off in food savings, which is saying a lot as food costs continue to soar. Read more

When Gordon Gekko, the main antagonist in the 1987 film, Wall Street declared in no uncertain terms that “Greed is good!” people flocked to the theaters. And cheered.

Please don’t base your belief system on a movie line that might have been memorable and entertaining, but is dead wrong.

greed-is-never-good

Greed is like a cancer that when left untreated can destroy individuals, families, businesses, governments, and economies. Greed makes financially ignorant people putty in the hands of the consumer credit industry. Read more