TAX DAY REFLECTIONS with a PRO

Hi everyone. Happy After Tax Day!! If you’re like us, you’ve taken a look at your deductions, credits, spending verses saving habits and promised yourself to make changes in 2019.  I recently blogged about financial matters.  I was surprised how many of you visited the blog post, asked questions here or via email and wanted to know more. This is NOT a sponsored post. But, after chatting with Morgan McGovern, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share our conversation. CFP® professionals are held to strict ethical standards and take a holistic approach to financial planning, so I felt comfortable taking her your questions and reporting her answers.
As parents, we have to think about summer camps or childcare, vacations, saving for college, retirement, life insurance... it’s a lot. Money is a terrible master but can be an excellent servant. If you’re interested in ways to make 2019 a financially better year for your family, keep reading. 

Just a shot that was taken when I was going through questions on turbo tax a bit ago. This exact top is (so comfy, boyfriend cut) on sale in plus sizes. I linked exact cut and other options below;)

Just a shot that was taken when I was going through questions on turbo tax a bit ago. This exact top is (so comfy, boyfriend cut) on sale in plus sizes. I linked exact cut and other options below;)

MONEY AND RELATIONSHIPS For many married couples, money is such a trigger in their relationship. “Money is tied to emotion,” McGovern said. She encouraged couples to take the time to figure out what their values are independently, as a couple and as a family. “Your spending and your saving habits should align with your core values. You ideally should spend not only your money, but also your time and energy, on the things most important to you and your family.” When you understand this logically, it’s easier to implement when things get emotional. 

There’s a plethora of reading material out there about relationships and money. Get ahead of the game. Know what works best for you and your partner before it becomes an issue. Are your values currently aligning as a individual, couple and family? I think this is a great exercise for all of us to sit down and write out our values once a year. Values are based on our core beliefs that determine our priorities.

RETIREMENT VS SAVING FOR HIGHER EDUCATION I got a considerable amount of DMs from people stating they’re more worried about saving for their children’s college fund than retirement. I imagine this is true for many Americans. I appreciated McGovern’s response: Education costs are increasing but retirement costs and healthcare costs are also increasing. The most important thing to remember is that loans can be taken out for children’s education, but you cannot take out loans for retirement. That really struck me. And inspired me to add more to retirement every year. It’s a discipline; saving is a way of life. 

TAKING FULL ADVANTAGE OF TAX CREDITS AVAILABLE The “child tax” credit has doubled for 2018 to $2,000 per qualifying child. There’s also a family tax credit, now known as ‘The Credit for Other Dependents’. McGovern explained that it’s important to be well informed of all the potential credits and deductions offered to us each year. Professionals learn your family dynamic and history, and can help you understand the best way to implement new policies, as opposed to someone plugging numbers into a program.  No matter how little or much you make, there are opportunities offered to each of us which we should take full advantage.

For us, we’re a blended family and child tax deductions currently do not apply for both boys. It’s imperative to know legally what your options are. (Plus, I work in Canada sometimes, from home a lot of the time, have a corporation, etc.) I feel more confident having another set of expert eyes look over our taxes and help plan.

BUT WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL and start planning for retirement? What if I don’t have a lot of extra money right now? “The best time is now. It’s always better to do it sooner than later,” she said. “The more time you have to save anything, the better.” But it’s never too late, either. There are always OPTIONS. FIND out what ALL yours are! As far as being able to afford a professional, she explained there’s a number of different fee structures with a CFP® pro; there’s both comprehensive and modular planning options, and some advisors charge an hourly fee if that works best. Why not take a list of questions and sit down for an hour?

Specific Note for today: I’m heartbroken looking at the footage of Notre Dame today. My family and I had the privilege of getting to visit. I’ve luckily been able to go several times in my life. I look back and am grateful my mom and dad make it a financial priority to travel together. That didn’t happen without planning. Today is a sad reminder that there’s no time like the present to make a plan to make things happen. 

So, I hope this gets you thinking! If you want more info on a professional like Morgan, I urge you to check out letsmakeaplan.com. It’s an easy and very resourceful website. I like their blog. But, mainly I want us to continue this conversation often. Share your ideas and tips on planning for your future. A few of you had excellent advice in the comments of the last post. Do you make sure to put money in a pension or a 401K every year? Are you relying on property for your investments? How diversified are your investments? And (this has always been important to me) do you have a nest egg put aside for emergencies? Do your research and figure out what works best for YOU.

PLAN FOR THE FUTURE

I’m thrilled about our new sponsor: CFP Board. They’re shedding light on something I want all of us to think about and discuss – our finances. It’s not always comfortable, but it is extremely necessary.

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As you may already know from my other posts, Joel and I are thinking about expanding our family (eeep!); this has led to discussions about our finances.

Lately, I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night with my mind racing about these discussions. I know stress is not the best during this “process,” but it’s also hard to avoid.  Joel and I both have family in the financial world that have impressed upon us the importance of planning for the future. We were told it was time to get help and make a plan created by a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional.

First off, I’m learning that many people without the necessary qualifications call themselves financial planners, so just beware. It’s essential to get someone who has a CFP® certification upholding the ethical standards required of a CFP® professional. Just like you want a doctor that has the proper license, you want someone guiding your finances that has the proper qualifications.


Like my desire to KonMari style organize my house is strong, my desire to get organized financially is even stronger. Meeting with a CFP® professional near us (letsmakeaplan.org) can help Joel and I start working on all of those questions that keep popping up in the middle of the night. I mainly want to plan for education (from preschool to college) and know how much we should be putting away for retirement and life insurance. It must be our age, but retirement seems to come up in conversation a lot lately. It’s easy to get stuck in the day-to-day and be happy just making ends meet every year, but I know there is a way to WIN the rat race one day–and enjoy retirement–IF we stay on a targeted plan.  

AshandHuck.ashleyajones.com


Like most Americans, our financial needs range and change. The above thoughts are my urgent issues today, but I also have so many others. For instance, lots of little questions about our personal taxes for those of us with blended families. A CFP® professional will work with us today and grow with us as our needs change, especially if (and when!) another little one joins the family. How can we make our money work for us, not the other way around!??  My father gave me the best reason to work with a CFP® professional: worry less. He said money is a terrible master, but a wonderful servant.

Do you feel like your money is working for you? I hope so! But could it be working harder? I’m excited to let the professionals do what they do best, so I can be the best for those I love and be the best at what I love.

It’s so easy to just meet with a CFP® professional. Go to letsmakeaplan.org and find one in your area. The best part of CFP® professionals is that they work with you to build a plan to take care of a myriad of needs–both big and small. If you are starting your own family, there is NO better time than now to start planning ahead and securing your future. If you’re even younger, let me tell you: when I bought my first house in my 20s, I thought that was enough to secure my financial future, but in hindsight, I could have done so much more had I retained a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. See what they have to say!

If you’re interested, I hope to share our journey with you all–and show you how much financial planning can serve you in your lives. It can be a lifelong relationship, my CFP® pro and me!

As always, any comments below are welcomed! Have you ever worked with a financial planner?

xox

AJH

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Christmas Card Fail?

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It’s almost Christmas card season. How does time creep up on us! I never sent out photo Christmas cards (except for one of Scottie, my sweet doggie that passed a few years back) until I was married with my own kids. So far, we’ve had a few years to do this and EVERY YEAR December 1st hits and we haven’t started a thing. I’m also dealing with a little extra issue here: we don’t have Huck all the time or every weekend. Part of blended family life. So, we need to try and schedule the family shot around his schedule.

Needless to say, I thought it’d be great to try and set the timer on the camera, all jump on our unmade bed (cause we got a new headboard from World Market, so I thought it might make a decent, clean back drop!) and get some quick shots last weekend. But, best laid plans of mice and men… well, you know.

Hard to get all the kids to cooperate at once. So, we have some memories of the day, but not sure it makes for a pleasant card. Funny, maybe. At least I’m thinking ahead and starting early!!

Have you thought about your cards yet? Do you plan on sending any? Do you use candids throughout the year, or try to take an actual family group photo? Or have a theme? Sorry for the barrage of questions! lol

For those of you asking on my stories, I’m adding info on my dress and some other info below.

  1. Fall floral dress with see-through overlay 2. booties 3. Looney Tunes sweatshirt (similar to Huck’s) 4. RL polo (similar to Hayden’s) 4. Exact Headboard (loving it)

Also like the idea of the white booties with buckles showed in the picture. You just may see me wearing these very soon;) Love how the booties makes a vintage-type look feel so modern.

Off to finish some work. I’m viewing the Lifetime movie we just completed tonight. Eeeep!

Also, thanks to everyone that commented about my auditions last week. I will take ALL the good vibes. Hope all of you are having a great week….

it is feeling like fall here!

ps- adding a few other funnies below.

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Let Go, Let GOD.

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I mentioned a bit ago that I would write an update on "life and work." You all have been so supportive asking. You have no idea how much that means to me. So, here goes. 

A couple of great opportunities came my way work wise. I normally don't discuss this stuff, but for some reason, I feel compelled. Let me explain why. A wonderful role became available on a soap I've never been on (a network television soap, so if you do the math, it's easy to figure out). I ended up testing with a group of amazing women, most of whom you would know if you are soap fans. For those of you that are curious about the definition of testing? The casting directors, producers and network narrow down their choices to usually two or three (in this case it was more than a handful). Then, you show up on set and shoot a scene as if it were a usual tape day. The ladies testing worked opposite one of the show's stars (not sure if I'm allowed to say who yet, so I'll refrain). I woke up at 4:30am. Did a bit of hair...put on some makeup. I had my bag and dress I wanted to wear already in the car (I later wore the same dress to the Emmy parties the following weekend). My call time was 6am in Burbank at the studios where they have taped this show for years. You rehearse, then wait, then head to makeup for touch ups, then wait, etc. Finally, you're called to set and tape the scene. Around 9am it was all over. The tapes go to all the "heads of everything." Producers, writers, network people, etc. They figure out exactly what works for them at that time. You get one shot, by the way. No re-shoots. It's a lot of build up for about 2-3 minutes of delivery.

It was a great experience and you have to hope for the best once you walk away from your test. Any type of test. I've done this many times. Sometimes you get that job, sometimes life takes you in a "different direction."  The quotes at the end of the last sentence symbolize the words actors have heard for years when it doesn't go their way. They simply went "a different direction." 

I love the soap world. I love soap fans. I love getting up to go to work in LA and come home to my family. But, that role wasn't meant for me. I have to take a deep breath and let it all go. Let go, and let God handle it.  Not gonna lie, it's not always easy to swallow. But, it just means I am meant to be somewhere else. Or back on a show I've been on before? Maybe. Just maybe.

Then, another great opportunity came up to be considered for on Hulu. A-List actors. George Clooney directing. The script was stellar. But, there was nudity involved. For my own reasons, it wasn't right for me. 

UGH!!! Back to the drawing board. I know that every time a door closes, you can just open it again because, well--- it's just a door. Timing is everything! If you're in a frustrated spot too, keep your chin up, do your preparation, then open that door again.  

Something has came up for June. I have to get permission to discuss it, but it's fun and dare I say... creepy! Ha!

But, know that I am hoping to be back on your screens soon enough...one way or another. 

And personally, the last couple of months have been interesting. Hard interesting. Having a blended family can be wonderful. It can also present challenges. Since many of you have asked and DM'd why Huck hasn't been in pictures lately, I also feel compelled to bring that up, too. Let's just say we're hoping to have our family all together again soon. I know some of you have shared journeys going through similar experiences, which I have appreciated. I'm grateful for all the good going on in my life, too. My family. My friends. My husband. Hayden is PURE JOY. Our time in Texas was very special. 

If you're in a season of frustration, know that this, too, shall pass. God has something bigger in store for us. Beyond anything we could imagine.  It's one of my favorite verses in the Bible. Ephesians 3:20. And if you wanna share anything in the comments below so we can all encourage each other, please do. I will be reading them later today. 

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Big hugs to all.

xoxo

AAJ

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ps- the dress I discuss is on sale under $100 for those that need a fun wedding dress! 

And I there's this post with details on the pictures;) Or click below. 

BACK FROM TEXAS: traveling with a toddler

Hayden and I are back in California and I'm missing my family. I'm not typically a jealous person, but I have to admit, when I see other people with their family surrounding them all the time, I wish we had that! But, alas, life choices took me away from Texas years ago and our family lives here in California!

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1. My Exact white dress (comes in 9 colors)  2. Variation of the dress 3. V-neck dress & bell sleeves

4. Similar Option to Sister's dress

BLENDED FAMILIES

I've been asked about life with a blended family. I don't feel like an expert on the topic, so I rarely comment. However, I realized sharing my experience is simply that... I'm not trying to give advice. There are so many beautiful aspects of a blended family. We cherish the time when our whole family is together (Hayden and Huck are very close-- it's chaotic, but great). But, when it comes to schedules and trips and visiting family, it gets hard. Although Huck was on spring break while Hayden and I were in Texas, that time is split between Joel and Huck's mom. Since I want to see my family as much as possible, often that means I am in Texas with just Hayden. We make it work like many of you do. Family trips just take more pre-planning and time. Who went through something similar recently? 

TRAVEL TIME WITH A TODDLER

It's a joy to see Hayden with his grandparents and my siblings. He loves his Aunt Jordyn! As hard as it is flying by myself with him on my lap (oh.my.goodness!), it's worth it. I think we are at an in-between stage traveling with him. A little bit older and he'll want to watch a movie. A little younger, he'd sleep on the plane. Right now, he just wants to roam. I tried to be overly prepared with a kid's headset, downloaded movies, snack packs, etc. and it definitely helps, but if you guys have tips from your own experiences, I'd LOVE to hear. I do love the backpack diaper bag. It's genius for traveling and walking through airports while pushing a stroller. 

I don't know about you all with toddlers, but we always seem to get our groove of naps and bedtime the last day or so. I have yet to figure out the best way to handle time changes and sleep routines. Hayden has done well recently in his own bed. Outside of his own bed, it is challenging. I've heard other kids sleep like champs in a pack and play, but Hayden fights me! This explains the lack of sleep and why my hair is usually in a bun! Lol. Of course, the very last day, he slept in the pack and play. 

WEAR IT AGAIN? yes, and again and again!

Okay, if you all visit the blog or follow on social media, you are well aware that I like this dress. Yes, this is the same one I wore last year on Easter. I love a great new dress or item of clothing, but I also appreciate pieces I already own. I've talked way too much about this dress, like I did HERE, so I'll move on now. Oh, and my flats are washable, sustainable and I love the petal pink. 

My sister's dress is so cute on her. Love the style and type... she got it from chicwish, a site I like, but it's sold out. So, I found great similar options. ALL the dresses below are under $100. So great for summer parties, date nights, baby showers, etc. And the dress I'm wearing comes in 9 different colors!

1. My Exact white dress (comes in 9 colors)  2. Variation of the dress 3. V-neck dress & bell sleeves

4. Similar Option to Sister's dress

 

I promise to move on to other fashion options soon! Hope everyone is having a great day. 

xoxo