Using a Personal Cash Flow Statement

If you’re often surprised when you open up your credit card and bank statements and see how much money you spent, or you worry that your cash outflow may be exceeding your cash inflow, there could be a simple solution: A personal cash flow statement.

Creating a personal cash flow statement can give you a clear picture of your monthly cash inflow (money you earn) and your monthly cash outflow (money you spend) to determine if you have a positive or negative net cash flow.

And while it may sound intimidating, creating a personal cash flow statement is relatively simple. All you need to get started is to gather up your bank statements and bills for one month (or more). Then, it’s a matter of some basic calculations.

Once you have your personal financial statement, you’ll know where you currently stand. You’ll also be able to use your personal financial statement to help you create a budget and goals for increasing your net worth.

Here’s how to start getting your financial life back into balance.

What Is a Personal Cash Flow Statement?

“Cash flow” is a term commonly used by businesses to detail the amount of money flowing in and out of a company.

Companies can use cash flow statements to determine how well the company is generating cash to pay its debts and operating expenses.

Just like the ones used by companies, tracking your own cash flow can provide you with a snapshot of your financial condition.

You might learn, for example, that you have less leftover at the end of each month than you thought, or that you are indeed going backwards.

Once you have the numbers down in black and white, you can then make any needed changes, such as reducing costs and expenditures, increasing income, and making sure that your spending is in line with your goals.

So, how do you set up a personal finance cash flow statement?

It might seem overwhelming to get started, but these steps can simplify the process.

Listing all Your Sources of Income

A good first step when creating a personal cash flow statement is to get out all of your pay stubs, bank statements, credit card statements, and bills.

Next, you’ll want to start listing any and all sources of income–the inflow.

Cash inflows generally include: salaries, anything you make from side hustles, interest from savings accounts, income from a rental property, dividends from investments, and capital gains from the sale of financial securities like stocks and bonds.

Since a cash flow statement is designed to give a snapshot into the overall flow of where your money is coming from and where it is going, you might want to avoid listing money in accounts that aren’t available for spending.

For example, you may not want to list dividends and capital gains from investment accounts if they are being automatically reinvested, or are part of a retirement account from which you aren’t actively taking withdrawals.

Since income can vary from one month to the next, you might choose to tally inflow for the last three or six in order to come up with an average.

Once you’ve collected and listed all of your income for the month, you can then calculate the total inflow.

Listing all of Your Expenses

Now that you know how much money is coming in each month, you’ll want to use those same statements and bills, as well as any statements for any debts (such as mortgage, auto loan, or student loans) to list how much was spent during the month.

Again, if your spending tends to fluctuate quite a bit from month to month you may want to track it for several months and come up with an average.

To create a complete picture of how much of your money is flowing out each month, you’ll want to include necessities like food and gas, and also discretionary expenses, such as trips to the nail salon or your monthly streaming services.

Small expenses can add up quickly, so it’s wise to be precise.

Once you’ve compiled all of your expenses, you can calculate the total and come up with your total outflow for the month.

Determining Your Net Cash Flow

To calculate your net cash flow, all you need to do is subtract your monthly outflow from your monthly inflow. The result is your net cash flow.

A positive number means you have a surplus, while a negative means you have a deficit in your budget.

A positive cash flow is desirable, of course, since it can provide more flexibility, and can allow you to decide how to best use the surplus.

There are a variety of options. You could choose to save for an upcoming expense, make additional contributions to your retirement fund, create or add to an emergency fund, or, if your savings are in good shape, consider a splurging on something fun.

A negative cash flow can signal that you are living a more expensive life than your income can support. In the future, maintaining this habit could lead to additional debt.

It’s also possible to have net neutral cash flow (all money coming in and going out is fairly equal).

In that case, you may still want to jigger things around if you are not already putting the annual maximum into your retirement fund and/or you don’t have a comfortable emergency cushion.

The Difference Between a Personal Cash Flow Statement and a Budget

A personal cash flow statement provides a comprehensive look at what is currently coming in and going out of your bank accounts each month.

A cash flow statement tells you where you are.

A personal budget, on the other hand, helps you to get where you want to go by giving you a spending plan that is based on your income.

A budget can provide you with some general spending guidelines, such as how much you should spend on groceries, entertainment and clothing each month so that you don’t exceed your income–and end up with a negative net flow.

Creating a budget can also be a good opportunity to check in with your financial goals.

For example, are you on track for saving for retirement? Do you want to amp up your emergency fund?

Are you interested in tackling the credit card debt that has been spiraling due to high interest rates?

Perhaps you want to work toward paying off your student loans.

Whatever your goal, a well-crafted budget could serve as a roadmap to help you get there.

Using Your Personal Financial Statement to Create a Simple Budget

Because a cash flow statement provides a comprehensive look at your overall spending habits, it can be a great jumping off point to set up a simple budget.

When you’re ready to create a budget, there are a variety of resources online, from apps, like SoFi Relay®, to spreadsheet templates and printable worksheets .

A good first step in creating a budget is to organize all of your monthly expenses into categories.

Spending categories typically include necessities, such as rent or mortgage, transportation (like car expenses or public transportation costs), food, cell phone, healthcare/insurance, life insurance, childcare, and any debts (credit cards/ loans).

You’ll also need to list nonessential spending, such as cable television, streaming services, concert and movie tickets, restaurants, clothing, etc.

You may also want to include monthly contributions to a retirement plan and personal savings into the expense category as well.

And, if you don’t have emergency savings in place that could cover at least three to six months of living expenses, consider putting that on the spending list as well, so you can start putting some money towards it each month.

Once you have a sense of your monthly earnings and spending, you may want to see how your numbers line up with general budgeting guidelines. Financial counselors sometimes recommend the 50/30/20 model, which looks like this:

•  50% of money goes towards necessities such as a home, car, cell phone, or utility bills.
•  30% goes towards your wants, such as entertainment and dining out.
•  20% goes towards your savings goals, such as a retirement plan, a downpayment on a home, emergency fund, or investments.

Improving Your Net Cash Flow

If your net cash flow is not where you want it or, worse, dipping into negative territory, a budget can help bring these numbers into balance.

The key is to look closely at each one of your spending categories and see if you can find some ways to trim back.

The easiest way to change your spending habits is to trim some of your nonessential expenditures. If you’re paying for cable but mostly watch streaming services, for example, you could score some real savings by getting rid of that cable bill.

Not taking as many trips to the mall or cooking (instead of getting takeout) more often could start adding up to a big difference.

Living on a budget may also require looking at the bigger picture and finding places for more significant savings.

For example, maybe rent eats up 50% of your income and it’d be better to move to a less costly apartment. Or, you might want to consider trading in an expensive car lease for a less pricey or pre-owned model.

There may also be opportunities to lower some of your recurring expenses by finding a better deal or negotiating with your service providers.

You may also want to look into any ways you might be able to change the other side of the equation–the inflow.

Some options might include asking for a raise, or finding an additional income stream through some sort of side hustle.

The Takeaway

One of the most important steps towards achieving financial wellness is cash flow management–i.e., making sure that your cash outflow is not exceeding your cash inflow.

Creating a simple cash flow statement for yourself can be an extremely useful tool.

For one reason, it can show you exactly where you stand. For another, a personal cash flow statement can help you create a budget that can bring the inflow and outflow of money into a healthier balance.

Creating–and sticking with–a budget that creates a positive net cash flow, and also allows for monthly saving (for retirement, a future purchase, or a rainy day) can help you build financial security and future wealth.

If you need help with tracking your spending, a SoFi Money® cash management account may be a good option for you.

With SoFi Money, you can see your weekly spending on your dashboard, which can help you stay on top of your spending and make sure you are on track with your budget.

Check out everything a SoFi Money cash management account has to offer today!

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Intrinsic Value vs Market Value, Explained

Intrinsic value vs market value refers to the difference between where a stock is trading and where it ought to be according to its fundamentals. The term “market value” simply refers to the current market price of a security. Intrinsic value represents the price at which investors believe the security should be trading at. Intrinsic value is also known as “fair market value” or simply “fair value.”

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word “intrinsic” means “belonging to the essential nature or constitution of a thing.” At times, stocks become overbought or oversold, meaning their market price can rise above or below their intrinsic value.

When it comes to value vs. growth stocks, value investors look for companies that are out of favor and below their intrinsic value. The idea is that sooner or later stocks return to their intrinsic value.

What Is Market Value?

In a sense, there is only one measure of market value: what price the market assigns to a stock, based on existing demand.

stock market crash, for example, fear may grip investors and the market value of many stocks could fall well below their fair market values.

News headlines can drive stock prices above or below their intrinsic value. After reading an earnings report that’s positive, investors may pile into a stock. Even though better-than-expected earnings might increase the intrinsic value of a stock to a certain degree, investors can get greedy in the short-term and create overextended gains in the stock price.

The rationale behind value vs price, and behind value investing as a whole, is that stocks tend to overshoot their fair market value to the upside or the downside.

When this leads to a stock being oversold, the idea is that investors could take advantage of the buying opportunity. It’s assumed that the stock will then eventually rise to its intrinsic value.

What Is Intrinsic Value?

The factors that can be used to determine intrinsic value are related to the fundamental operations of a company. It can be tricky to figure how to evaluate a stock. Depending on which factors they examine and how they interpret them, analysts can come to different conclusions about the intrinsic value of a stock.

It’s not easy to come to a reasonable estimation of a company’s valuation. Some of the variables involved have no direct physical, measurable counterpart, like intangible assets. Intangible assets include things like copyrights, patents, reputation, consumer loyalty, and so on. Analysts come to their own conclusions when trying to assign a value to these assets.

Tangible assets include things like cash reserves, corporate bonds, equipment, land, manufacturing capacity, etc. These tend to be easier to value because they can be assigned a numerical value in dollar terms. Things like the company’s business plan, financial statements, and balance sheet have a tangible aspect in that they are objective documents.

Calculating Intrinsic Value vs Market Value

There can be multiple different ways to determine the intrinsic value of an asset. These methods are broadly referred to as valuation methods, or using fundamental analysis on stocks or other securities. The methods vary according to the type of asset and how an investor chooses to look at that asset.

Calculating Intrinsic Value

For dividend-yielding stocks, for example, the dividend discount model provides a mathematical formula that aims to find the intrinsic value of a stock based on its dividend growth over a certain period of time. Here is what is a dividend: periodic income given to shareholders by a company.

market cap is:

Total number of outstanding shares multiplied by the current stock price.

Dividing market cap by number of shares also leads to the current stock price.

Sometimes companies engage in “corporate stock buybacks,” whereby they purchase their own shares, which reduces the total number of shares available on the market.

This increases the price of a stock without any fundamental, tangible change taking place. Value investors might say that stocks pumped up by share buybacks are overvalued. This process can lead to extreme valuations in stocks, as can extended periods of market euphoria.

The Takeaway

Using the intrinsic value vs market value method is best suited to a long-term buy-and-hold strategy.

Stock prices can remain elevated or depressed for long periods of time depending on market conditions. Even if an investor’s analysis is spot on, there’s no way to know for sure exactly when any stock will return to its intrinsic value.

Value investors try to understand stock volatility, using these periods as opportunities for rebalancing their portfolios, selling positions that might have increased a lot while adding to positions that may have fallen far below their intrinsic value. This contrasts to short-term day trading strategies or momentum swing-trading, which primarily uses technical analysis to try and predict and profit from short-term market fluctuations.

Found a stock you think is undervalued? Try SoFi Invest®, where investors can choose any of the most popular stocks and ETFs.

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What is Financial Therapy?

Financial therapy is a relatively new field that combines the emotional support of a psychologist with the money mindset of a financial planner.

Seeing a financial therapist can allow clients to begin to process their underlying feelings about money, while working out plans for retirement, savings, investments and other goals.

Financial therapists (sometimes referred to as financial psychologists) also work to lessen that stress that often comes with money concerns, and try to help their clients develop a more sustainable and healthy relationship to money.

Financial therapists can also help couples overcome differences in their approach to saving and spending, which can help mitigate money fights, and enable them to work together more as a team.

Read on to learn if you might benefit from this type of professional counseling, and, if so, how to find a financial therapist that is the right fit for you.

How Financial Therapy Works

According to the Financial Therapy Association (FTA) , financial therapy is a process informed by both therapeutic and financial expertise that helps people think, feel, and behave differently with money to improve overall well-being.

The profession sprang out of increasing evidence that money can be intrinsically tied to our hopes, frustrations, and fears, and also have a significant impact on our mental health.

According to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association , 72 percent of Americans reported feeling stressed about money at least some time in the prior month.

Money can also have a major impact on our relationships.

Indeed, research has shown that fighting about money is one of the top causes of conflict among couples, and one of the main reasons married couples land in divorce court.

And, while it might seem like bad habits and money arguments are things you can simply resolve on your own, the reality is that it’s often not that simple.

Many financial roadblocks, such as chronic overspending or constantly worrying about money, often aren’t exclusively financial. In many cases, psychological, relational and behavioral issues are also at play.

Financial therapy can help patients recognize problematic behaviors, and how various relationships and experiences may have led them to develop those behaviors as coping mechanisms or to form unrealistic or unhealthy beliefs.

Along with offering practical financial advice, a financial therapist can reduce the feelings of shame, anxiety, and fear related to money.

The reasons why financial therapy can help are the same as why traditional psychological therapy can help: It can lead people to understand that they can do something to improve their situation. That, in turn, can instigate changes and healthier behaviors.

Like conventional therapy, the number of sessions needed will vary, depending on the situation. A financial therapy relationship can last from a few months to longer.

Generally, a financial therapist’s work is “done” when you feel your finances are orderly and you have the skills to keep them that way in the future.

Financial Therapists vs. Financial Advisors

Financial advisors are professionals who help manage your money.

They are typically well-informed about their clients’ specific situations and can help with any number of money-related tasks, such as managing investments, brokering the purchase of stocks and funds, or creating a tax plan.

However, psychological therapy is not a financial advisor’s area of expertise, and if a person requires real emotional support or needs help breaking bad money habits, a licensed mental health professional, such as a financial therapist, should likely be involved.

A certified financial therapist (someone trained by the FTA) can work with you specifically on the emotional aspects of your relationship with money and provide support that gets to the root of deeper issues.

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of financial therapy, professionals that enroll in FTA education and certification include: psychologists, marriage and family therapists, social workers, financial planners, accountants, counselors, coaches, students and academics.

Do You Need a Financial Therapist?

If you’re considering whether a financial therapist could help you, you may want to think about your general relationship to money.

If you feel you have anxiety about money, or unhealthy behaviors and feelings when it comes to spending, budgeting, saving, or investing, you might benefit from exploring financial therapy.

Some red flags that you might benefit from a financial therapist include:

•  Chronically paying bills late.
•  Holding unhealthy spending habits (such as gambling or compulsive shopping).
•  Overworking oneself to hoard money.
•  Completely avoiding financial issues that need to be addressed.
•  Hiding finances from a partner.

Often, unhealthy saving, spending, or working habits are a symptom of other bad habits related to mental or physical health.

Keep in mind that it’s possible to have an unhealthy relationship with money even if your finances are good on paper.

Finding a Financial Therapist

Like choosing any therapist, you often need to shop around a bit to find the right fit—someone you feel you can relate to, trust, and you also feel understands you.

For those who may not have access to a financial therapy professional in their backyard, many offer services via video conferencing.

You can start your search with the Find A Financial Therapist tool on the FTA website, which features members and lists their credentials and specialties.

Your accountant or financial counselor might also be a good source of referrals.

As with choosing any other financial expert or mental health professional, it’s a good idea to speak with a few potential candidates.

In your initial conversations with candidates, you may want to discuss the therapist’s training and expertise, as well as your needs and situation.

Financial therapists have a wide variety of backgrounds, so it is important for consumers to learn as much as they can about that individual’s practice, expertise, and ability.

You may even want to ask them how they define financial therapy themselves because approaches and definitions vary from one professional to another.

It can also be a good idea to ask how long they have been providing financial therapy services, what their fees are, as well as if some or all of the fee may be covered by your medical insurance.

The Takeaway

Financial therapy merges finance with emotional support to help people cope with financial stress, learn to make better financial decisions, and develop better money habits.

If you frequently feel stressed and/or overwhelmed when you think about money–or you simply avoid thinking about money as much as possible–you might be able to benefit from at least a few sessions of financial therapy.

While it might seem like hiring a financial therapist is another expense that could complicate an already difficult financial situation, it might be better to view it as investment in your emotional and financial wellness, one that could help you build financial stability and wealth in the future.

Another way to get–and stay–on top of your finances (that you do on your own) is to open a SoFi Money® cash management account.

SoFi Money can help simplify your financial life by allowing you to earn competitive interest, spend and save–all in one account.

And SoFi Money makes it easy to track your weekly spending and saving in your dashboard within the app.

Check out everything a SoFi Money cash management account has to offer today!

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SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.



744: Big City Brokers: What It’s Like Selling Real Estate in NYC with Jay Glazer

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5 IRA Mistakes You May Be Making

This article provides information and education for investors. NerdWallet does not offer advisory or brokerage services, nor does it recommend or advise investors to buy or sell particular stocks or securities.

For some investors, IRAs may be long-term, hands-off investment vehicles. That doesn’t mean you should ignore them completely. This year, give a little love to your IRA and make sure you’re not making these common mistakes.

1. Not taking enough risk

We often talk about risk as a bad thing, but it isn’t always a four-letter word, financial advisors say. A young investor who isn’t planning to touch their IRA for 20 or 30 years should have enough time to weather near-term market swings, meaning they could take on more risk in exchange for potentially higher long-term returns. Advisors say such a portfolio could comprise mostly stocks — or even all stocks — instead of splitting the allocation between stocks and bonds. (Learn more about how to choose investments for your IRA.)

“When it comes to investing, the most powerful commodity is time. However, time is only useful if you know what to do with it,” says Dejan Ilijevski, an investment advisor at Sabela Capital Markets in Munster, Indiana. “Investing in an asset allocation that’s not right for you can be detrimental for your investment success over the long term.”

Simply put, too conservative of a portfolio now could potentially limit returns down the road, making it more difficult to hit your retirement goals. However, it’s equally important to rebalance your portfolio away from those riskier assets as you get closer to retirement.

2. Failing to fully fund your IRA every year

We get it. Long-term IRA investing isn’t as exciting as trading in a taxable brokerage account. But if you’re investing more in a taxable account without first maxing out your tax-advantaged IRA, experts might want a word with you.

By not fully funding your IRA first (that means contributing $6,000 in 2021 if you’re under 50 years old), you’re forgoing enormous tax advantages and the potential opportunity for that money to compound tax-free, says Robert Johnson, a chartered financial analyst and CEO at Economic Index Associates in Omaha, Nebraska.

“Too often people fail to realize the huge advantages of a tax-deferred account, instead investing in a taxable account,” Johnson says. “These advantages are greatest for those with the longest time horizons to retirement.”

Speaking of taxes, it’s also important to know the differences between traditional and Roth IRAs. In short, traditional IRA contributions are tax-deductible, while withdrawals are taxable. Roth IRA contributions are not tax-deductible, but withdrawals in retirement are tax-free.

3. Contributing slowly instead of all at once

In many cases, making regular contributions to your investment account — a strategy known as dollar-cost averaging — is sound advice. However, if you’ve got the cash, maxing out your IRA as early in the year as possible may be the way to go.

Any time a large amount of cash is involved, investing it incrementally over time may feel like the responsible thing to do. However, according to John Pilkington, a chartered financial analyst and senior financial advisor with Vanguard Personal Advisor Services in Charlotte, North Carolina, those positive feelings are generally the only benefit.

“Dollar-cost-averaging equates to taking risk later. While you may mitigate short-term regret, you’re more likely reducing long-term returns,” says Pilkington. “A better exercise may be reevaluating your asset allocation target relative to your risk tolerance.”

In other words, dollar-cost averaging could help you avoid the stress that comes from stock market volatility, but more often than not, it leads to lower long-term returns than lump-sum investing, Pilkington says. And if you’re still uneasy about investing all $6,000 upfront, consider a less-risky asset allocation — such as investing more in bonds — instead of spreading out contributions, he says.

4. Failing to explore your investment options

If you started an IRA by rolling over a workplace 401(k), you probably noticed you were no longer confined to the investments offered through your 401(k). This is a pretty big deal, and the influx of options shouldn’t go unnoticed.

“A lot of the IRAs I see are invested in a default investment option,” says James DesRocher, a financial advisor with Park Avenue Securities in Middleton, Massachusetts. “An advantage of an IRA is the flexibility you have of what to invest in. You can really dial in on a specific investment strategy that is tailored to you, and most people do not take advantage of this.”

5. Maintaining multiple retirement accounts

There’s no rule that says you can have only one IRA. As long as your annual contributions don’t exceed the limit, you’re free to disperse those contributions across any traditional or Roth IRAs you’ve opened. But that’s probably not a wise strategy, DesRocher says.

“Keeping multiple IRA accounts rather than consolidating into one very often leads to overlap,” DesRocher says, referring to investing in the same assets in different accounts. “It also takes away from the positive effect of rebalancing, which can reduce your overall risks.”

This goes for hanging on to old 401(k)s instead of rolling them over to an IRA, too. Not only will you avoid overlap and find more investment options with IRAs, but it’s also possible you’ll pay less in fees. (Learn more about how investment fees work.)