Category: rules to live by

Do you Own it or do you Owe it?

A personal net worth statement is a snapshot of your financial health each year.  It is an overview of what you own and what you owe.  Begin by listing the current value of everything you own, then subtract the balances of items you owe to come up with your personal net worth.   Your goal is to have a positive net worth and to increase your net worth each year.    

Behind the Scenes:      

Each January, you should create a net worth statement which lists all your accounts and asset values and then subtracts everything you owe to come up with one net worth figure.  Why is this important?  It helps you to see how much you have grown from the previous year and tracks major accomplishments.  It also serves as a barometer to track your financial health and plans for the upcoming year.     

Your goal is to have a positive net worth and to increase your net worth each year  

Create this document in an excel sheet and save it in your 2021 finances file.  You can also print a copy to put behind your financial binder behind tab one for quick reference.   

Look at the example below.  The assets list everything owned and the value if you were to sell it or convert to cash.  If you are married, this is a joint statement include all your assets.  The liabilities look at the total remaining balances (not your monthly payment) of every item you have outstanding.  Use your year-end December financial statements to gather this information.   In the example below, the home is worth (could be sold for) $250,000, and the mortgage balance owed is $185,000. The difference helps your net worth because the home is valued higher than the amount you still owe.

Assets:  Liabilities: 
 (Value/Balance)(Amt Owed)
Home Value $       250,000Mortgage balance $     185,000
Vehicle One $         20,000Vehicle One loan balance $       15,000
Vehicle Two $         10,000Vehicle Two (paid off) $               –  
Checking Account $           2,500Credit card balances $         8,000
Savings Account $         15,000Student Loan 1 $       19,000
401K balance (you) $         40,000Student Loan 2 $         4,500
401K balance (spouse) $         30,000Personal Loan $         2,000
Roth IRA $           6,000
Investments $           1,000
Subtotal Assets $       374,500Subtotal Liabilities $     233,500
Net worth Jan 1 2021 $   141,000
(Assets less liabilities)

Some annual net worth increases may happen because your home value increases or you contribute to your 401K and the stock market had a great year, but it is also affected by choices you make during each year.   Decisions to pay off and keep a vehicle, to pay down debt and a plan to not take on additional borrowing.    Seeing this data in one place, gives you a snapshot of your financial position. It lets you see your big picture status all in one place and it will help you to make better choices and think about where you want to be in the next year.  If you have a negative net worth, what do you need to do to begin to build wealth?  If you have a positive net worth, congratulations and keep it growing this year!

Rules to live by…. READ!

Many of us are dealing with the Coronavirus, school and work closings and social distancing.    In times like these, finding a few minutes of escape, might be as simple as making time for the things you love in life.    One of my favorite escapes is reading.  

Reading has been a passion of mine since I was a young child.    I remember walking up and down the rows of books at my elementary school library, just pulling books at random.     Today when I go to the library, I still do this random strolling and pulling off shelves, but most frequently I hit the new book release section first.     There I find all types of books and usually come away with a half-dozen books. 

Is it any surprise that I love to read books about budgeting, money, savings, and most recently, college planning?   I’m currently reading “The 30-Minute Money Plan for Moms”, by Catey Hill, and “Smart Couples finish Rich”, by David Bach.  But I also love to read fiction, autobiographies, how-to-books, youth and teen books, picture books, blogs and magazines.    Books on tape and podcasts are another form of reading when I am driving around town.    

I will read almost anything.  Often, I am reading what my kids read.    My fourth grader just read a graphic novel called “I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912” by Lauren Tarshis.  It was my first graphic novel and I loved it.   A few years ago my son and I loved “Okay for Now” by Gary Schmidt

On my phone, I keep two lists “Great Books” and “Books to Get”.   Whenever someone mentions a good book, I add it to my list and then go to the library ap on my phone to request the book for free.  If it is not available at the library, I will look at ordering from Amazon, new or used.

On the great books tab, I keep a list of books to recommend to others.   Here is a link to a list of some books that made the list.  You can also access this under the “My Favorites” tab.   I also have a friend who enjoys reading and we often swap books.  

Although my local library is now closed due to the virus, we can still use the drive-up window to pick up books.   I may need to call and ask the librarian to head on over to the new releases and grab me five books that look promising!  I will always find ways to keep reading😊  Pick-up a book today and escape into an adventure, a drama, an autobiography or a mystery.    

Rules to live by March 2020…. READ!

A few books that made my “Great Books List” 


Okay for Now, by Gary Schmidt

The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah

All the Light we Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr

The Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grissom 

The Funeral Dress, by Susan Gregg Gilmore

Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly

Inside the O’Briens, by Lisa Genova

Sycamore Row, by John Grisham

Sarah’s Key, by Tatiana De Rosnay  

Stella Bain, by Anita Shreve 


Everything is Figureoutable, by Marie Forleo

On Fire:  The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life, by John O’Leary

When to Jump; If the Job You Have Isn’t the Life You Want, by Mike Lewis

If You Want to Walk on Water; You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat, by John Ortberg

Project 333:  The Minimalist Fashion Challenge that Proves Less is So Much More, by Courtney Carver

The Proximity Principal:  The Proven Strategy That Will Lead to a Career you Love, by Ken Coleman

Wyatt Earp: The Life behind the Legend, by Casey Tefertiller  

I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912” by Lauren Tarshis (Scholastic Graphic Novel)

February Finance Tip

February Emergency Savings Tip

Life happens day after day; the car breaks down, you get an unexpected Doctor’s bill, your hours get cut at work and you can’t make the rent or house payment. How do you handle these emergencies financially?   You need an Emergency Fund of at least $1,000 to $1,500.    These funds should be in a separate savings account.   They should not be touched except for emergencies.      

February Behind the Scenes:      

If you had an emergency and needed $700.00 for a car repair today, do you have the funds without using credit cards?    Many people don’t have funds to handle even a small emergency like a car repair and must turn to a credit card or payday loan.     If you charge $700.00 on a credit card and make payments of $25.00 it will take you 39 months to pay it off (over 3 years) and you will pay a total of $950.00 due to interest.   Having an emergency account, greatly decreases the stress in dealing with these types of emergencies.    

In fact, having an emergency fund is initially more important than paying off debts.    So, find a way to build this up fast.    Make minimum payments on your debt short term to stockpile cash for your emergency fund.   Why is this important?

If you don’t have an emergency fund,

you will continue to go into debt

for every emergency that occurs.    

Keep inspired by using this Emergency Savings Printable.    Print it out and post on your refrigerator, on your desk or in your planner.  Color in each level until your account is fully funded.   Then save this page for your finance binder (more about this next month!) and as a reminder of your journey and the importance of an emergency savings account.    

Want more details:

Rules To Live By… Be a Lifelong Learner

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In addition to setting goals each year, think and plan out how you will continue to learn and grow every year.   Be a lifelong learner by adding skills, interests and knowledge every year.   Not only will this expand your mind, it will also inspire others, allow you to develop new relationships, make you a more interesting person and can even help develop your career and personal story.

Many years back, I decided I wanted to become a better speaker.   Whether just being able to talk at church, in front of a group at work, or someday become a professional speaker; I recognized that I needed more skills to be able to speak effectively in front of a crowd.   As a child, I was very shy, but as an adult I’ve realized I have a lot to say and share!    To expand this skill, I read about a local group that met at a nearby library called Toastmasters (  Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs.   I joined and over the next year, I jumped in and learned how to prepare a speech and to speak confidently to groups.  But there were many more benefits:   I built additional self-confidence, formed new friendships and came more-and-more out of my shell.   Since this time, I have given countless speeches on parenting, faith, finances and other areas to many groups of people.  

So, what do you want to learn this year?  A new language, a new craft, a computer program, how to change a flat tire, start a blog, to grow your business, to start a side hustle, learn to cook, start a new career?   

Pick one thing and take the next step.   Find a class, a course on-line, a book at the library or a mentor who can teach you the ropes.   The sky is the limit.    Be a lifelong learner!

Rules to live by…. Set Goals

It’s a new year and many people start out with new year’s resolutions which are often broken by mid-January.  I would rather think in terms of goals.   I love January, because it feels like a new start every year.   A new beginning, a new opportunity to start something fresh.  It may be something you have done many times before, but January is a time to press reset and start again.  

If you are here, one of your goals may be to start looking closer at your money.    As much as I love my spreadsheets, planning and organizing around money, I still have at least one or two financial goals every year.   I like to look at what I have done the past year or past few years and think:  How can I do it better this year?     Maybe it is setting a savings goal, or planning to pay off a credit card, or planning for a new vacation or simply starting to track my money closer.   What are the steps I need to take to make it a reality? 

Choose your goals for the year and put them

on paper.    The simple act of writing a goal down

helps you take the next steps to achieve your goal.    

You need to keep your goals visible, front and center.   Post them on the refrigerator, or on your phone or in your planner.   Writing them down helps to make it a firm commitment.   I think broad and create goals in six areas of my life:   Personal, Professional, Family, Financial, Spiritual & Social.  Each of these areas has one or two or three goals that I want to work towards during the year.   Some are simple and some are more involved.    Here is an example:

Sample Goal Setting sheet

  1. Personal (include personal goals and health areas)
    1. Prepare more healthy meals
    2. Start a blog, learn a new language
  2. Professional
    1. Join a professional organization/take a class
    2. Learn a new software program/learn a new skill
  3. Family (include home and travel goals)
    1. Plan a Summer vacation to the beach
    2. Home projects:   paint the living room & organize the basement
    3. Schedule family dinner nights with extended family monthly
  4. Financial
    1. Review and update all insurance policies
    2. Organize and complete an emergency binder
    3. Track monthly expenses on spreadsheet
  5. Spiritual 
    1. Keep a gratitude journal throughout the year
    2. Adopt a family bible verse for the year
  6. Social
    1. Monthly date nights with hubby
    2. One extra-curricular per child each month/quarter
    3. Coffee with a girlfriend each month

I’ve created a printable for you “Jump Rope finances goal setting sheet” to create your goals.

Give some thought to goal planning this year!    


Jump Rope Finances: Origin

Cinderella, dressed in Yellow

Went downstairs to kiss her Fellow

Made a mistake and kissed a snake

How many Doctors did it take?

One. Two. Three.  Four……..

I learned this jump rope song when I visited my nieces about 20 years ago.    They were, and still are, one of the greatest joys of my life!     Today, the original seven are all young women and I’ve added many more nieces and nephews along with a few kids of my own to the mix.     One of my nephews was recently engaged, and when I saw an article about marriage and finance, I sent it to him telling him of my love of all things personal finance and offering any help or words of wisdom as needed.     Fast forward six months, and I thought I could share this same love of finances with a few of my southern 20 to 30 something nieces via monthly text of financial tips.   Just one more way to stay connected to them and to share what I love.    So, I sent them a tip and they seemed to really like my once a month financial tip idea.    The tip generated some great questions back, but the answers were too lengthy to answer in a text.    As I started thinking it through, I mentioned my monthly tips to another young woman who immediately asked to be added to my text list and I thought… maybe I’m on to something here.   Maybe I should write a blog and Jump Rope Finances was born. 

The story of Cinderella is a story of rags to riches, much like how your finances might play out.   Perhaps now you are struggling with debt, no savings and no retirement and have no idea where to start.    Like the jump rope song, you might have come here to get some answers, but have made mistakes along the way and will probably make a few more.    Personal finance is one of those things that you must work at again and again.    But if you keep at it, you just might turn into a Prince or Princess yourself.    Just like jumping rope, the more you do it, the better your become.   So I hope you’ll check back monthly for some quick and easy tips to get you headed in the direction of living happily ever.