financial

How to Increase Your Financial Literacy This Month

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April is Financial Literacy Month! Now that we’re done with Q1, this is a great time to check in with your finances, set goals for yourself for the next quarter (and the rest of the year), and improve your knowledge about finances!

Here are three different ways to increase your financial literacy this month:

Read, read, read!

Physical books, blog posts, news articles - just keep on reading! Here at Milborn, we have a curated feed of news articles and blog posts all about personal finance, so we can stay on top of the latest reads! You can start your own free curated feed at Feedly.

Don’t want to stare at a screen all day? Make this your excuse to head to your favorite book store! Some good ones to start with include The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey; Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki; and Broke Millennial by Erin Lowry (her new book, Broke Millennial Takes on Investing, comes out April 9th!).

Arm Yourself With the Right Tools

Are you doing anything outside of checking your statements? Do you even check your statements? Now’s the time to start.

If your bank has a mobile app, download it. If you aren’t tracking a budget, start (If you don’t want to do it yourself, apps like Mint can make it so much easier)! If you want to get into investing, research investing sites or apps (Robinhood or Acorns are great ones to try if you find investing a bit intimidating).

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Create a Team

This one is so important - make sure you have a good support system, and check in with them if you haven’t yet. This includes making sure you have a strong and capable financial advisor. At Milborn Advisors, we are your guide, as well as your allies - we make sure to give you the best possible advice for your current situation, without any hidden fees or tactics. You’re as much on our team as we are on yours, and we want to see you succeed.

Want to take us for a test-drive first? Contact us today for your free first consultation.

Are you trying anything else to increase you financial literacy this month? Comment your tips below!

My 2019 Financial Goals

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By Amy Lancaster

Me 5 years ago would have never believed that I would have this much control over my money situation. I always thought I was doomed to forever live from paycheck-to-paycheck, stuck in a small apartment eating ramen in the dark and only traveling in my dreams. But, I will say – working at a financial firm has seriously changed my life in terms of my finances. Just from being at Milborn for less than a year, I’ve managed to keep a consistent budget since August and put away over $2,000 in savings.

Still, there’s always room for growth – and, as a millennial always being told to live her “best life”, I know I can’t settle for my current situation. While I am in a much better position than I was just a couple years ago, this momentum has given me motivation to aim my goals a bit higher and start experiencing life the way I’ve always wanted.

With that being said, here are my financial goals for 2019.

  1. Save over 3 months’ worth of income in an emergency fund. I’ve done a lot of research into what exactly I should have in my emergency fund, and it’s ranged from $1,000 all the way to one year’s worth of income. Of course, I believe that having more in there is better, but at some point, I don’t want to spend the rest of my career putting away money into an emergency fund and instead put that money to work, so I’d like to have a cap-off. While the finish line will be six months for me, this year it’s more realistic for me to get to three months.

  2. Put money away towards my July trip to Japan so that I don’t have to dip into money from any other accounts. This is a goal I am very excited about. I’ve wanted to go to Japan for a very long time, and it’s been years since I’ve left the country. I never thought I’d be able to properly budget my money or make enough to make it a reality to actually save for a trip, but now that I’m in a more comfortable position financially, I want to take advantage of that. The goal is to have $3,710 (which, according to Money We Have, is an ideal budget for a  two-week trip), which means I’ll need to save $742 a month from now until July (along with the $530 I already have put away).

  3. Buy a new computer. After my big financial save for Japan, my next savings goal will be to get myself a new computer. While the one I have is good for day-to-day work and school, I want a computer that can handle my photography and creative endeavors, and one that I know I can rely on for years to come (whereas I’ve had this computer for less than two years and the keyboard is already broken, as well as the laptop-to-tablet switch feature is glitchy). The model I’m eyeing up – MacBook Air 256GHz (in rose gold, of course) is $1,399, which means if I want it by January of next year, I’ll need to put away roughly $117 every two weeks starting in August.

  4. Start putting away 10% of income towards retirement. After that goal, I will think of another savings goal (probably save up for an iMac, because I’d also like a desktop computer), but I know I really need to look into saving for retirement because – I’ll be candid – I have nothing saved. Stocks, IRA’s, and all that jargon really scared me until I started working for Milborn. Now, I have a better understanding just from hearing the day-in-day-out talk between Mark and Drew. By knowing I can save for retirement and still have fun in the present, I can be a little more willing to, you know, actually save.

  5. Invest? Actual investing, however, still intimidates me a little bit. I don’t have to start paying off school loans until I graduate (summer of 2020), so I may hold off on this until I pay those off – which are thankfully as of right now my only source of debt. Nevertheless, I will continue to do my research so that I have a clear plan of how exactly I want to invest when the time comes.

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Writing down goals always helps me stay on track. Plus, sharing goals keeps me accountable! What are you financial goals for 2019? Comment them below!

How to Follow Your Dreams With a Financial Mindset

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By Amy Lancaster

Before I got into this totally foreign world of personal finance and investing (shout-out to Mark and Drew for hiring me), I was on a completely different path in my life. The 4-year-old in me was burning to come out, and at the age of 23, I decided to respond to that desire by pursuing a dance career.

 I was classically trained in ballet since I could walk, but, unfortunately, I missed the boat on becoming a principle dancer at a company, so I thought that door had closed.

Enter the world of ballroom – a new style of dance to me. One that would give me the best memories of my life. One that would provide a celebrity-status lifestyle that I never even dreamt I could have. One that would let me live my dream of being a professional dancer in an entirely new world.

And one that nearly killed my wallet – and me.

While I enjoyed the ride, it was the most unstable rickety roller-coaster I had ever ridden. And the end result left me physically detesting dancing and cutting it out of my life for a good period of time.

If you’re struggling with the idea of whether or not to pursue your dreams, know that it’s not too late, and know that you should at least give it a try. You should, however, give it a try in the right way. Here are the mistakes that I made that led me to have to walk away from my dream, and here is what you can do to (hopefully) prevent that, and if not, how to overcome walking away.

1.      Have a cushion.

This was my first mistake. I should have known that pursuing a dancing career from the beginning meant literally being a starving artist. I went into my adulthood with no savings, and, because I was only 23, still had no savings to speak of. As if you’re starting your own business, I would make sure you have at least six months’ worth of expenses in your bank account before making any career change this large. I thought the job that came along with ballroom dancing would take care of it, and it would have – if I had put the work.

2.      Make sure your day job will pay for it.

The competing itself was fun. I loved staying at the studio until the late hours of the night perfecting my craft for my own dancing. The job itself, I loathed. As much as I prefer to tell people I was a ballroom dancer, I was truly, at the heart of it all, a ballroom instructor. Because I didn’t think this way, however, I didn’t succeed. If you’re teaching enough and have enough students competing, you can absolutely afford your own competing (we paid for everything out of pocket – travel, entries, coaching, hotel, costumes, shoes, hair and makeup – all of it). I was absolutely not teaching enough. Because I had the mindset of being a dancer, and not a teacher, I never perfected my skills to make sure I had a steady income. Most of my days, if I wasn’t teaching the maybe 2 out of a possible 10 lessons I could have had that day, was spent sitting on my butt wondering why I couldn’t keep a student to save my life. It was all about my mindset.

It took me a long time to come to resolution that I needed some sort of stable income to pursue what I really want to do – even if that meant working a “day job” to make that happen.

So young, so innocent, so…broke.

So young, so innocent, so…broke.

3.      Don’t fall for the lavish lifestyle.

This may be dependent on what exactly your dream is – but this was certainly true in my case. Ballroom dancing is a very glamorous lifestyle. I had some of my fanciest, richest, elbow-rubbing-est life experiences in this job. I wore $3000 dresses like they were a pair of jeans. Necklaces donned my décolleté that were worth more than my rent. Could I afford any of it? Absolutely not. But, you had to look the part. It was expected to be well-groomed, high-fashioned, and lavish at all times. The other, more successful instructors wore Jimmy Choo’s and carried Louis Vuitton bags, so I tried to keep up with my knock-offs. Turns out, knock-offs cost money, too.

Keeping up with the Joneses is never a good idea. It’ll just make you unhappier, not only with your lifestyle, but with your finances as well. Plus, you may end up putting yourself in a more dire situation – like losing your apartment.

4.      Know it’s O.K. to ask for help.

As I got older, and my parents became more strict on giving me money (which, thank you for that, by the way. Seriously.), I grew this perception of being so independent that I didn’t need help, and that asking for help was a sign of weakness. I also got this idea in my head that my parents wouldn’t help me as an adult, because they did not “help me” as a teenager. Now I know that, as a person who was a late teen during the housing bubble burst, they financially could not help me. They are still recovering from this. I know now that of course they would help me – but financially, they just could not. And this stung during my dancing days.

Don’t be stubborn about asking for help. Even if you don’t think you do, there is a very good chance that you have someone in your life who will help you get back on your feet, whether it be financially, or giving you a place to live, or even driving you to work to save on gas money. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People want to help, believe it or not.

Unfortunately, in my case, it was too little too late – by the time I admitted I needed help, I was already at the head of my career, and I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life.

5.      Know when to quit.

I still remember vividly the day that I quit, despite it being almost three years ago. I left my apartment intentionally early so I wouldn’t have to face any of my other co-workers, and I still didn’t get there until about an hour before work was meant to start because traffic was unusually heavy that day. I attempted to convince myself that it was a sign that I shouldn’t leave, but I wasn’t thinking logically at this point. I was about to lose my home. I couldn’t pay my bills. I hadn’t slept in weeks. I was losing weight to the point where people would ask my dance partner if I was okay. It was killing me to stay.

It took me a very long time to get over it, but I will say – it was quite possibly the best decision I could have made for my mental health and my financial health. I’m still slowly climbing back up from the effects, but the direction is upward, and that is what is important.

Now, my work-life balance is much more stable; I have savings, I can actually budget because my paychecks are consistent – I have even been able to go back to school because I can financially afford it and I have time for it now. So, while I miss dance and what could have been, I know that this is better for me in the long run.

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I do want to figure out how to budget dance classes into my finances, however. I think I’m finally ready to go back – and this time, for fun.