Fund the Life of Your Dreams: Focusing on Finances in 2013

Now’s the time, ladies. The New Year has rung in, and 2013 is projected to be a big year for women everywhere. So you cannot afford to postpone getting your finances in order any longer. Perhaps you are 22 years old and finishing school with student loans, lower-than-anyone-would-like base salaries, rent, and bills all looming around the corner. Maybe you’ve been at your career for a few years now and are considering buying a car, moving cities, or switching careers (even starting out on your own!). Or perhaps you’re in a place where you can really think about investing in the market, buying property, saving for retirement, or blending finances with a significant other. There’s no doubt you have a lot to consider.

Regardless of your age or place in life, money is the tool that helps us create and fund the life of our dreams. You cannot and should not rely on parents, relatives, or a significant other to hold your hand in the financial world. Take your financial life by the reins, get educated, and take action this year!

And what better way to get fresh and focused in your financial life this year than to review all that we have learned last year? We’ve covered a lot of ground since The Everygirl launched in February—from creating a budget to learning to invest to the psychology of spending–and it’s worth reviewing each of those articles again (especially if you’re a new reader!). So treat yourself to a Money Date this week and freshen up on all the previous finance columns I’ve shared over the past ten months. After all, you may now be in a new mindset, life stage, or financial position; for example, if investing wasn’t relevant to you six months ago, perhaps you’re now in a place where you can get started in the market. And stay tuned, as we have a number of exciting finance features coming up in the new year.

1. The Everygirl Budgets
So how does a modern woman like you actually learn how to live within your means? Well, you first need to start with mastering your cash flow (income and expenses). Meaning, learn to understand where your money is coming from and where it’s going each month… click here to read more

2. How to Curb Your Spending Vices
It could be the morning latte at the coffee shop, online shopping, Prada shoes, last-minute weekend getaways, or grabbing a cab instead of taking public transport. Spending vices are the those things we spend our money on even though we know we shouldn’t. Just like it’s not good to reach for the extra bowl of ice cream every night after dinner, it’s not good to let your spending vices take control over your everyday spending habits.  Having a game plan will help you identify any spending vices and ensure you set healthy boundaries for them… click here to read more

3. Why You Need a 401k
We have all been there before. You start your very first job out of college, and they hand you a stack of paperwork to fill out and tell you that you need to enroll in benefits and your 401k in the next 2 days or else you will have to wait entire year to enroll again. You start to feel overwhelmed, stressed out by all the data and really confused by this account they call a 401k. You’ve probably asked yourself, What the heck is a 401k and why do I need it? A 401k is a type of retirement savings account offered by an employer in the United States. It allows you to save for your retirement, something that is extremely important and something many people in their twenties (and thirties!) don’t even think about… click here to read more

4. Why You Should Start Investing
I often hear many women in their 20’s and early 30’s say that they do not have enough money to start investing. I don’t believe it! I believe everyone has enough money to start investing as long as you make it a priority. Unfortunately, most women at this age do not make investing a priority because they don’t really understand how investing can help them in the long run. Investing in the stock market allows you to potentially grow your money at a higher rate than a savings account. And if you can grow your money faster than a savings account can, you will have a lot more money for your various financial goals over time. But how?… click here to read more

5. What You Can Invest In
After reading Investing 101–Part 1 you should now understand why investing is so important. Now let’s move on to what you can actually invest your money in. For the purpose of simplicity, let’s review only a few major types of asset classes or investment options; stocks, bonds and cash. Let’s start with the latter. Generally, most people know this asset category. Cash can be the dollars you hold in your wallet, in your checking or savings account, money market account, or even under your mattress. Typically, cash is the safest kind of investment and therefore offers lower returns than stocks or bonds do. However, the amount you set aside in cash vehicles can act as a cushion to fall back on when life’s unexpected expenses or emergencies arise… click here to read more

6. How to Start Investing
One of the most frequent questions I receive about investing is “How do I actually select the right investments for me?” With all the options available to us these days, choosing the right investment can be an overwhelming endeavor. Of course, the criteria for making the right choice for you comes down to:

• your personal risk appetite
• the purpose of your money
• your age
• and time frame of your ultimate investment goal… click here to read more

7. Drink Lattes, Spend Money, and Find Happiness
Have you ever noticed how some people just seem to have endless amounts of money—like that one friend who always has the latest iPhone, Louboutin shoes, and fancy new car? You sometimes find yourself feeling jealous, wondering how your friend can afford it all—until you realize that she doesn’t seem happy or fulfilled in life, leaving you even more confused. “But she has everything,” you think. “How can that be?”

Well, if you’ve ever felt this way, you’re not alone (and you might even be that friend). I think this is a huge epidemic in our society. People are spending money left and right and have no clue what they’re actually spending it on. I see it all the time. It’s what I call  “unconscious spending.”… click here to read more

8. What Do You Want for Yourself in 2013?
Let’s all come together to dream big and make 2013 the best year yet—in all areas of our lives!

1. First, allocate time in your calendar to dream about your desires for next year. What do you want to add into your life next year?
Document the goals, words and pictures of your desires in each area of your life–love, career, health, money, friendships, travel, community, etc. Give yourself permission to visualize the life of your dreams, and remember: You don’t have to justify your wants to anyone.  You can want something “just because.” This is your life, so dream big!… click here to read more

9. Are You Afraid of Becoming Wealthy?
One of the things I’ve noticed through my research and one-on-one work with my clients is that a lot of women still shy away from the idea of wealth—myself included.  It’s almost like we’ve been subconsciously trained to think of wealth as a bad thing, and to label ourselves as greedy, selfish or wrong for wanting to become wealthy. Well, guess what? That’s not true. Being wealthy is not a bad thing. It’s actually imperative to our overall happiness and fulfillment in life. When we’re wealthy, we have the ability to fully express ourselves, which is a goal we all share… click here to read more

This post was contributed by Brittney Castro, a Los Angeles-based CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner and founder of Brittney Castro, CFP® specializes in working with busy professional and entrepreneurial women who are passionate about life and want to gain clarity about their money. Brittney’s mission is to help women plan and create the life of their dreams, free from anxiety about money. Brittney Castro is not affiliated with Brittney A. Castro is a registered representative with and securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. California Insurance License #0F33895. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.