I do better with a to-do list than resolutions.
So here’s my 2020 to do’s:
Invest My Money Weekly: I tell you guys all the time to buy mutual funds and not stuff because mutual funds grow your money while you sleep. Oh, the stores will tell you “buy this, and you will make money!” Or “this antique/piano/furniture/dish is an investment!” WRONG. Stuff does not appreciate unless you own a Monet.
In 2018, I opened an online stock account because I love following and buying individual stocks. When I was in the 8th grade, I won a stock competition in my social studies class, where we had play money, but we bought real stocks. My dad helped me pick mine — Coca Cola and Disney were on the list — and every day, I tracked them in the newspaper. (Can you imagine?) At the end of the project, I made the most “money” in the class! I should have really invested.
Of course, my husband and I have retirement accounts, a 529 for the kids, and other investments together. (Good luck leaving with the younger chick, buddy!) (Kidding.) (Not really.) But this stock project is all mine. My mother always told me have my own money. So I research the market (Kiplinger’s Personal Finanance Magazine and Motley Fool are my faves), and I have a stock guru I meet with regularly. This year, I plan to invest weekly, and my desire is to have at least $100,000 invested in my stock account in the next few years. (Don’t worry, honey. If you are nice, I will ake you on a trip when we retire with my stock money!)
It’s easy for me to do this because I focus on minimalism. And if I am tempted to buy stuff, I plan to look at the amount it costs and invest that instead of buying.
What if you took the money you spend at the big-box stores and invest instead? Even if it’s $20. Start somewhere.
Invest in My Kids Mutual Funds Once a Month. I created mutual funds for my children because their savings accounts were stagnant since interest rates are so low.
I also asked the grandparents to stop giving them stuff, like stuffed animals or trinkets (NO MORE CRAP!), and either help us buy a quality, meaningful gift, like a bike, or just write checks. They’ve done both.
I put the checks, chore money and all my spare change in their savings accounts. (The tellers are used to me depositing $2 in quarters into their accounts. I even deposit the pennies I find on the sidewalk. It adds up!) Every so often, I clear it out to invest in their mutual funds. This year, I want to invest for them every month. I desire to give them $100,000 (or more!) by their mid-20’s, so they can have a down payment on a house or go to grad school.
Before you give all the excuses as to why you cannot do this, I am not doing this with a millionaire salary. I do it $10 and $20 at a time. It’s about prioritizing, and I want to teach my children to invest in themselves over buying the latest gadget. In fact, they don’t have video games, iPhones or iPads, and they are 11 and 10. Every month, I show them their statements and point out how their funds have grown.
Give More to Charities Every year, I make more money, which means I have more money to give to charities. Studies show giving money and time are more meaningful and makes us happier than buying more stuff. Currently, I am in love with NC Arts in Action and Visual Art Exchange, two non-profits in the Triangle.
Visual Art Exhange is an incubator for artists in Raleigh. I have attended their annual event and art auction for several years. Most of the art in my home was created by VAE artists. This year, they are celebrating their 40th anniversary. Why not make some memories and go to their annual event on March 7th (or better yet, make a donation!) instead of spending more money at Target? The VAE art is way better and more meaningful than the generic stuff at big-box stores.
NC Arts in Action brings dance classes and live music to 4th graders in public schools around the Triangle, particularly schools with large free-and-reduced lunch programs. Back in the day, when I did not know how to say no, I sat on a lot of volunteer boards that meant nothing to me, and the people were not very nice, either. When I sat with a business coach, during a session she had me call every single board and quit. I was taught you had to stick things out even if they were not working for you. Not true. You can quit!
I took several years off from volunteering, so I could find my voice and set clear intentions for what I wanted to do next. Then about two years ago I was invited to observe a NC Arts in Action class, and I was moved. I know how dance can affect a child because my own child is a dancer. But we can afford dance classes at a ballet school. Lots of the kids in NC Arts in Action programs cannot. By bringing classes to them at their schools, NCAIA can open their souls to dance, which can also improve their focus and academics. I knew in that class I wanted to be on the board, so I could spread the message and raise money for NC Arts in Action.
It is the only board I choose to sit on. And I am chairing the annual event on Feb. 29th at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. Come join us.
Or better yet, skip Target this week and make a donation to help kids get up and move, get introduced to the arts and feel loved. Just click on that sentence and donate!
Work Out Every Day I know this is New Year’s cliche, but it’s not to lose weight. I am already svelte. I want to stay that way because that will keep my medical costs low as I get older. I believe in spending money on gym memberships because either you pay now, or you really pay later with illness. I go to the YMCA and Burn Boot Camp. But some days I just don’t feel it. Especially when it’s cold. This year, I desire to feel it every day. To do that, I will focus on the endgame. As it says on the wall at Burn: “Fit is not a destination. It’s a way of life.”
PS — The other item I want to spend money on is a chef who comes into our home and cooks vegan, gluten-free food. I have a name and will reveal when we use her. Stay tuned.
So my focus for 2020 is financial freedom and health, which really go hand-in-hand. The healthier you are, the more money you have to invest. I invite you to join me.