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Income Optimization

If you're reading this page, most likely you have some desire to use your dollars efficiently. You may have one lofty goal like buying a house, reaching retirement, or leaving an inheritance to your kids. Or, like most, you may have several goals ranging from immediate action to long-term planning. However, one thing that everyone with any range of goals has in common is the need to optimize their income.

This may look different for some people than for others. The way that a single-income household with several kids approaches this will look different than the dual-income newlyweds with no dependents. However, both of them need money that can be allocated towards whatever goals they have set in front of them.

Budgeting

Nothing brings a family closer than sitting down and putting together a monthly budget. Well, maybe not. But it is important, especially if anyone wants to accomplish anything financially. People have long been making lists, keeping notebooks, and creating spreadsheets to track their income and expenses. However, with the rise of readily accessible technology and apps, many have started tracking their budgets by syncing their bank accounts with programs that monitor their spending and then report it back to the customer. This creates something novel in the budgeting world: accountability.

When using an Excel document or a notebook, there is no instant feedback or reporting, unless someone is daily going to their sheets and analyzing their spending. Meanwhile, many of these apps give you monthly, weekly, and even daily updates so that you can spend within the goals that you have set for yourself. Mint (until its absolution in 2023), Rocket Money, and YNAB are all examples of budgeting tools that allow for account tracking across several different companies, banks, and brokers.

Expense Shopping

Sometimes increasing cash flow is just looking at the monthly expenses someone already has and finding ways to bring costs down. Sometimes consolidating debt can give us a lower interest rate which can dramatically reduce monthly payments (and still bring down the total paid over the course of the loan). People often forget what monthly subscriptions they have, they overpay for insurance, overspend on groceries, and miscalculate their daily needs. This can cost someone hundreds of dollars a month in misallocated costs, which means it's less money in their future pocket.

When we work with our clients, our first goal is not to change their lifestyle. If that's something that a client believes needs to happen, then we will help them put a plan in place, but first, we want to start with what we have. Are there costs that we can eliminate and reduce that someone may not even notice they're missing? If so, that may change the way that we approach a budget, if we can free up several hundred dollars right from the start.

Cost of Living

Another cash flow variable comes in the form of location. For example, I live outside of Chicago. My costs of living are significantly higher than my fellows who reside in Kentucky but less than those who reside in Washington. Gas, groceries, rent, insurance, taxes, and other items can all vary by state and even city. This also may require some clever solutions from the client. For example, having some sort of self-employed income (even if just part-time or on weekends) can open you up for several tax advantages.

No matter where someone is located, there are always ways to work with what someone has. Usually, these cost of living variables aren't as lopsided when you also factor in the average household income in these areas. People in states like Louisiana make significantly different numbers than those who live in New York.


 

At the end of the day, optimizing someone's cash flow is a means to an end. We don't reduce our spending just because we want to reduce our spending. It's to free up money that we can put towards the things that really matter to us. Becoming a first-time homeowner, planning a long vacation with the family, and ensuring retirement stability are things that matter to us more than that extra meal out.

Here at Dominion, we make that a personal mission for our clients. The first thing that we do when someone is interested in using our services is ask a basic question: what do you want? For us to do our jobs well, we need to find out the things that you value. What is important to you? Who is important to you? If I wrote you a million-dollar check, what would you do with it? When we have a clear picture of our goals, the steps we take to get there make sense.

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