Principles of a veteran CPA and a financial literacy instructor
Cindy Legg, a CPA for 22 years (now retired from public accounting), has always been interested in finance and helping people build a strong financial foundation. During her years helping people with their taxes, finances, businesses, and trusts she has seen a few problems and successes which has helped her develop some core principles for developing a successful financial plan for achieving financial goals. “Having a financial plan in place will help you reduce risks and grow your assets over the long term,” she says.
One of the things she saw regularly over the years was that the wealthy people didn’t necessarily make a lot of money, and the people who made a lot of money weren’t necessarily wealthy. “I believe that it also has a lot to do with your mindset and the way you live. What I’ve seen is that often people who become wealthy and achieve financial peace are dedicated to living frugally from a long-term perspective. They enjoy life fully, but they don’t carry credit card debt, they drive modest cars, and live in more modest homes. This enables them to use their money wisely to invest and save for things like retirement or children’s education,” she explains.
Here are a few principles Cindy has developed over the years
Have a roadmap in place.
Know where you’d like to go, and implement steps to get there. My approach is principle-based: avoid credit card debt and save first.
Have a financial team.
I recommend that most people have a CPA, a certified financial planner/financial advisor, and an estate attorney. They will be able to guide you and offer advice based on your needs and circumstances. They are experts in their respective professions and their advice can be invaluable and time-saving. As your income and estate grow, it becomes even more important.
As a Christian, I believe in tithing 10 percent off the top, giving that back to God first. But after the tithe, save first. Determine the needs that you want to save for and put as much as you can toward these goals. Saving is addicting. You’re going to see your money grow. You’re going to get excited and want to save more.
“Wealthy people don’t necessarily make a lot of money, and people who make a lot of money aren’t necessarily wealthy.”
Develop a habit of avoiding debt.
I have never believed in credit card debt. If you carry a balance on your credit card, you are basically leveraging your future income to pay for something today. It is a very bad habit to develop and can lead to a very challenging financial future. When you carry debt on a credit card, you are paying an outrageous interest rate that can cause you to “pay” many times more than the original cost of an item. But, no need to worry if you have debt because you can fix this. If you have debt, I highly recommend taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University program. His debt snowball method of debt reduction offers clear steps that guide you in paying it off.
Have a budget and hold yourself accountable.
Sounds very simple, but it’s important to know your cash flow: income less your expenses each month. Having a budget can help you plan for the unexpected, it can help you save for emergencies, vacations, children’s education, retirement and your future. It helps you plan for the future and stay out of financial trouble. It’s best to prepare a budget with a spouse so you’re both agreeing on it (one of Dave Ramsey’s principles). It will help you see unnecessary expenses that you pay each month and places where you can look to trim expenses and use that money elsewhere.
Live on less than you make.
For married couples, try to keep your expenses low enough so you can live on one income. I may be aging myself here as I know that can be a stretch. But, there are many benefits to doing this but one of the biggest is to avoid a financial crisis should one person lose their job. It will also allow you the opportunity to be smart with the other income: saving for retirement, children’s education, and investing for the future. But there is a secondary benefit-a more joyful lifestyle and more time with family etc. This will take sacrifice in the short term but will pay off dividends in the long term. The same principle of spending less than you make applies if you are single. Remember, save save save and give give give. Truly, blessing others will give you much joy.
Start saving for retirement as early as possible.
This is when it helps to have a CPA, a certified financial planner, and a certified financial advisor to help you optimize your tax situation and future savings potential. The value of compound growth over time is irreplaceable. If your employer has a retirement plan, you’ll want to contribute enough to maximize the employer’s contribution. Investing is addicting. You’re going to see your money grow over time. The more you invest, the more the money compounds and increases exponentially. You’re going to get excited and want to put more money in. It snowballs. The earlier you start investing in the future the more you will be able to save.
Have a positive mindset.
Believe in yourself that you can accomplish your financial goals, and take a long-term perspective that will help you stay on course.
Financial Literacy Classes
Cindy’s passion for helping people with their finances led her to start teaching Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University Program through her church, which are financial literacy courses based on the Dave Ramsey Program. His principles greatly align with her own, but he takes them much deeper. She explains, “What I like about the Dave Ramsey Program is that he has a clear order of steps to take, and people often need structure, especially those with financial challenges.” She recommends the financial literacy course to everyone, especially younger people. “If they can start out on the right track right when they start earning a living they can avoid making common mistakes,” she says. “But people of all ages will benefit from financial literacy classes. There’s always something to learn,” she says. Cindy plans to teach the Dave Ramsey program again this fall.
About Cindy Legg
Cindy Legg, Founder of Inspired Success, is a certified executive-level leadership and business coach who blends two decades of business wisdom with executive coaching to help her clients build sustainable organizations they love, develop exceptional leaders, and achieve greater impact and joy. She brings the same level of passion as a coach and works with purpose-centered and faith-based women leaders and entrepreneurs globally. She loves working with individuals pivoting to a new level of greatness. Inspired-success.com