Tag Archives: independence

Two Twenty-minute Tasks That Will Boost Your Financial Confidence

Most of the financially successful people we read about in magazines, books or see on social media are often portrayed as charismatic, energized, stage magnets. While a lot of them share many of these characters, what these men and women share more than any other trait is confidence. How did they get this confidence?

Confidence is often portrayed as something you can act or be or do. But while you certainly can “be more confident” simply trying to act this way won’t create the lasting change you’re looking for. When trying to build more personal confidence in yourself you have to be drawing this confidence from somewhere.

For example, while hosting at a sushi restaurant I have often heard fellow employees give me advice to “be more confident.” While I was certainly able to heed their advice and stand up straighter and with more confidence for short periods of time, I never was quite able to stick with it long term.

However the days I found it easy to be confident were the days I was diligently working, succeeding in customer service, and completing restaurant tasks with excellence. In a lot of ways it was a self-feeding cycle. I’d begin my shift with energy and confidence in my abilities and as the shift progressed my confidence would be reinforced by continuous action.

In our financial lives as well confidence can’t come from self-talk alone. Your mind has to feel both the emotional side as well as the logical side telling you to be confident. When you know that you are working hard, and have a plan it becomes easier for your emotional mind to reconcile the feeling of confidence with the logical one. Here are two major tasks you can do that each take about twenty minutes to complete:

1. Make a general (very rough) outline of where you want to be financially.

This doesn’t have to be complicated or long. Just take a piece of scrap paper out or grab your tablet and start brainstorming what kinds of things you really want to get out of your financially life over your lifetime. This task isn’t a one time event. You should be reinforcing this plan as well as refining the details of it, over the course of your life.

However this first basic exercise should catch the gist of where you’d like to be in the next year or two to help you get where you want to be with your long-term goals (5, 10 or more years down the road).

Organize your finances to see where you are

This step is just to catch a brief overview of where you money stands at this point. Get out your bank statements, look at your investment accounts, estimate the rough value of your home and the mortgage you have on it. Once you know your assets, liabilities, and the rough monthly budget you take in (income) and the expense you take out (expenses) you’ll have a very general picture of where you are.

These two, first steps alone will give you a sense of clarity about what really matters to you and where you are financially, thus what is needed to get you to the next step.

4 Aspects of Creating a Financial Forcefield

Who doesn’t like defense? We always talk about it when it comes to football, politics, war and most importantly our personal health. But how often do people talk about defending their finances?

Nearly all the financial advice is geared towards offense (how to make more money and make it grow) but hardly any time is spent on defending what we have. While nothing can ever be 100% safe, there are four steps or assurances you can take that will put you in the best financial position to succeed in your financial offense.

First though, what kind of things are their to defend against? There are three main groups that can sabotage your financial future: The government, other people/businesses and yourself. The four steps I will outline address each of these potential risks…

1. Documentation

While certainly the least exciting form of protection, keeping your records organized can go very far in keeping your legal, and tax responsibilities clean and clear.

2. Legal Entity or Investment Accounts Choice

Where you keep your money can be even more important than how you invest it. Whether you’re a business looking for legal protection (deciding between an LCC or C Corp.) or you’re an individual deciding how to protect your assets against taxes (Taxable Account vs IRA vs Roth IRA), deciding where to hold your resources can become increasingly important as assets grow.

Proper Reserves

Most people in the U.S. don’t have even a couple thousand dollars in case of emergency. What kind of protection do you think they have against unforeseen financial bumps in the road? Not much. Businesses need reserves as well. Setting aside money each month in what’s called a sinking fund (an account designated for a specific purpose) is a responsible step for any business or person.

Insurance

The last of the four main lines of defense is insurance. Why isn’t insurance first on the list? Because by nature, insurance is meant to be a last resort. Using the first three steps and therefore not relying entirely on insurance is a fantastic way to secure yourself. However if all else fails insurance is a great last line of defense.

Conclusion

In each of these categories there are many specifics that I don’t have space to get into. However talking with your financial  or tax advisor about these things is certainly an overarching prerequisite to each of these forms of defense. Never take anything for granted. Finance is just as much defense as it is offense.

Can Debt Ever Be Good?

Most people have heard of Dave Ramsey. His financial advice has helped millions of people get out of debt and free up their financial inflow (their income). So is this simplistic advice the whole picture when it comes to debt?

The list of successful people who have made fortunes with debt says otherwise. When’s the last time you heard of a wealthy person who built a massive business without borrowing money in some sort of way? It’s not very common. In fact, the three richest people in the US, and the world for that matter (Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet) have all built businesses or bought businesses that used debt regularly in their operations.

But why is Dave Ramsey so against debt? While I can’t get into his head, there are three legitimate reasons I can think of why he dislikes the idea of borrowing money entirely:

  1. Debt has to be payed back. While the future ability to pay off debt is uncertain, the requirement to pay it back is definitely certain. This represents risk.
  2. Debt gives control and responsibility of part of your financial life to someone else. While you are still responsible for taking care and utilizing whatever you purchased with the debt, you are no longer owning this thing altogether by yourself.
  3. Debt costs money and time. To borrow money it usually takes time and complications. On top of that there are costs associated with borrowing like origination fees, legal fees, and (of course) interest. While the rate of return you get on your money might be greater than the interest rate, you are involving more risk into your financial picture.

So, after close examination, do Dave Ramsey’s probable reasons and concerns for not using debt seem pretty well founded? I’ll leave that up to you. However they can be summarized in one word: Risk.

Debt represents risk. Whichever way you borrow money, whether for a home, real estate property, or college, recognize that debt is a risk that cannot be overlooked. While I believe debt cannot or should not be eliminated from our lives completely, taking a careful look at it can go a far way in eliminating pitfalls.

3 Things to Value More Than $1M

As the U.S. continuous its decade-long economic improvement, it’s hard for many of the younger folks to remember a time where fear was prevalent and jobs were scarce. While I was much younger in 08 and 09 I remember the feeling and conversation around money during that period.

Not only am I confident that hard times will hit the U.S. economy again, I suspect (based on history) that some sort of crash or drawback isn’t too far away. Simply looking back at the last couple decades of market crashes gives us some picture of how rare the past 10 years have been.

We’ve seen relatively low turmoil in the market, particularly stocks. Except for a few difficult weeks, the U.S. stock markets haven’t experienced a real drawback since the mortgage meltdown. But just 5 or 6 years before that the markets were down in 2002. And just two years before that the markets were down in the technology bubble of 2000.

Consistently throughout history we’ve had market crashes or corrections every six to 10 years. Here we are in 2018, with trade fears on the horizon, wondering if another crash is near. It’s been about a decade.

With all the turmoil, fear, anxiety and uncertainty in the markets, it’s very easy to become focused so much on the world of money that 1) we lose historical perspective on a potential loss, but 2) we lose life perspective on the true importance of money as it relates to our life.

Which matters more, a 50% drop in the Stockmarket (which won’t be a permanent loss unless you panic and sell) or a loss of a close loved one? While most people would value the close relationship above a temporary financial loss, it’s strange that so many of us put more energy worrying about areas of finance we can’t control and less time improving our current relationships.

Don’t get me wrong, money is important. Money has power, both in our life (to buy things and help others we care about) and in politics (to influence people), but there are three big things more important than money we can’t forget:

1) God

2) Close relationships (friends and family)

3) Health (physical and emotional)

Deepening these areas of your life both in depth (deepened commitment and improvement) and in length (time spent improving and investing in) is a great first step in not only improving these three areas but also setting yourself up to improve the 4th area: Money.

Next time you’re planning or prioritizing your life in a way that isn’t consistent with your values, remember in what order your values lie.

What Every Single Rich Person Has – And How To Get It

As the years roll by most people find that they continue to need to pay the mortgage or rent, buy food, and pay insurance. But There is a moment in everyone’s life, whether in college, after a life changes, or in old age, when the money coming in is less than the money that needs to go out.

Rich people don’t have this problem. While they certainly have their own financial problems coming in many different directions and flavors, lack of cashflow isn’t one of them.

However, no matter how much wealth, or how deep their pocket book, rich people all have one thing in common. This similarity runs through the tech titans, the real estate tycoons and the financial gurus. What is this key ingredient? Leverage.

Leverage, is actually a general term. There are many contexts in which leverage can be used and what it can mean. This kind of leverage to which I am referring is in the context of effort and resources – not necessarily debt.

In this context we use googles definition. Leverage is to: “use (something) to maximum advantage.”

You’re probably wondering what leverage has to do with Mark Cuban, Donald Bren, or Bill Gates. Mark Zuckerberg, for example, utilized the leverage of personal engagement to bring attention to his platform, in a way never seen before.

Leverage in the context of the rich is the act of utilizing resources in order to maximize and grow the results. The Rich in every industry have learned to use their effort, along with the effort of others to build great companies. Warren Buffet leveraged his money (in a non-debt way) to turn it into something bigger than he could have every achieved on his own by working a regular job.

So, how can you utilize this strategy of leverage? It starts with finding your “niche” or the thing that you believe you can provide the most value to people than any other. Pick thing one thing and begin building your skills and network in this area. As soon as you see some progress begin to leverage other people’s time, money, resources and connections in a way to build your brand.

Don’t make this one-sided. These should be give and take relationships in which you provide as much value or more to the other person. Often leverage involves borrowing each others skills in a net positive way. Begin learning about your area of interest and learn how best to use the power of leverage…

Financial Steps to Take in Every Economic Season

As the US economy continues its steady recovery from the 08 crash, many people have started to worry about the next economic disaster. When will it happen?

To be honest no one, not even the Fed Chair or the Billionaire class, or economists know when a crash will occur. However, simply looking back at history, it wouldn’t be far fetched for a crash to happen sometime in the next few years.

Going back to our Nation’s founding, we’ve experienced all seasons of the economic cycle consistently over and over again. Some cycles have been longer than others, some have been more dramatic, and various sectors and asset classes have experienced the results at slightly different times. But we know a crash is coming – sometime.

The following are the four economic seasons and where we’re at right now:

Spring: A period of time in which business recovery increases, job growth rebounds, home foreclosures slow, and generally consumer confidence and credit stops diminishing.

Summer: A period of months or years in which the economy, stocks, real estate prices, and even consumer confidence grow. This period usually lasts the longest of the four seasons.

Autumn: The season in which consumers are overly, even extremely confident. Disposable incomes are rising, stocks are selling rapidly higher, and home mortgage applications continue to rise. At the end of Autumn a cooling in economic expansion begins. That’s when the temperature starts dropping…

Winter: This period is by far the most difficult on the average consumer and investor. Prices in real estate and stocks drop, consumer confidence plummets, credit dries up and the media starts panicking.

Which season are we in? While it’s difficult to say, we certainly aren’t in Spring or winter, which means we’re either in late summer or early autumn.

How do we deal with change? Is there a way to behave in each economic season?

The answer is that number one you shouldn’t behave in a groupthink mentality. Don’t follow the heard. In fact when everyone is behaving a certain way, consider doing the opposite. When everyone is selling stocks, consider buying. When people are retracting and reacting to the disaster, try to expand.

While this strategy isn’t best 100% of the time, even seeing things through this perspective can open your eyes to which actions are best to take.

Outside of being a contrarian, simply focusing on your life and less on the economy can go a long way. Just because “everyone” is getting laid-off at work that doesn’t mean you won’t find work. You might have to work extra hard, but try to get out of that mindset of thinking that what’s going on in the world has to be true for your life – it doesn’t.

The ultimate outcome of your financial life in both great and horrible times is up to you.

7 Financial Levels – And How To Get To The Top

Here in the US, with higher standards of living than pretty much any other place on earth, Americans have surprising difficulty getting their finances to a healthy point. But here’s the truth: I believe with all my heart that it is possible for anyone who has time, mental health, and true commitment to become a multi-millionaire, and even potentially a deca millionaire within their life.

I have broken down the levels of net worth by category. The numbers I chose are somewhat subjective. But I believe they paint a picture of what true riches look like here in the US.

Before I start the list, I want to clarify what net worth is. Net worth is the value of everything you own, minus what you owe. For this example I have decided to focus solely on financial assets (not clothes, furniture, or cars), which are things like that can be sold at roughly what they’re worth (like houses, stocks, bonds, etc…)

1. Upside-down Wealth – Net worth anything less than $0:

This is a position that many young people, particularly college graduates find themselves in. They get out college with loans, no money and therefore are upside-down with wealth. How can you move up to the next level? Work your way into a job, continue to live like a college student and pay off those loans.

2. Poor (real or fake?) – Net worth between $0 and $10,000:

If you find yourself in this circumstance you have to pick one of two decisions: 1) are you going to stay here forever, or 2) are you going to make the move to the next level? This is a position many people are in. Maybe they have a house, but have only a few thousand dollars of equity. Or maybe they are just starting out in the workplace. Either way, being “poor” should not only be a temporary situation, you should run from it as fast as possible.

You know what you need to do: get a better job, live on less, and begin paying off consumer debts.

3. Currently Broke – Net worth between $10,000 and $50,000:

No one I know wants to be here long. At this point you have enough to feel a little room in your finances, but even just a new roof and a few bad emergencies can wipe you out completely. While stopping by broke on your way up the levels is a necessity, staying here for longer than you need to is too risky.

4. Middle Class – Net worth between $50,000 and $500,000:

The most sought after class of all the classes is the middle class. This is what the “typical” two parent, two kid household is supposed to look like. Maybe you own a home, a couple cars, have a retirement account, yet carry a small credit card balance.

Middle class can feel nice… while you’re working. But what happens when you’re 70 years old and think, “I can’t keep working forever”? You need more wealth to be able to have the flexibility and peace of mind that’s necessary for a happy life. Here you can stand on your two feet financially speaking, but you know there’s something more.

5. Upper-middle Class – Net worth between $500,000 and $1.5M:

Almost everyone knows it – $1M isn’t as much as it used to be. But it definitely isn’t easy to achieve. When you’re net wroth approaches $1M it’s easy to think, “I’ve made it.” But really you haven’t – yet.

The truth is, what happens when you want to help someone else out financially? Or what if you want to explore Europe for a few weeks? Or what if you want to retire a decade early? It’s harder than ever to do those things on $1M.

6. Well-Off – Net worth between $1.5M and $10M:

It is completely feasible for most people in their mid 20’s or 30’s to reach this level in their lifetime. It simply takes hard work, steady contributions to retirement accounts, and a full-blown commitment.

7. Rich – Net worth anything more than $10M.

By now you know what you’re doing. You may not know everything, but you have a skill set that is very useful to say the least. You have discipline. Use this discipline into the future on whatever goals you set for yourself.

I hope this exploration of levels has helped you conceptualize where you’re at and what you can become. It’s never too late or early to start. Right now has never been better.

The Bad Thing About “Following Your Dream”

Whenever I hear someone say they’re trying to live their dream, I wonder, how many people out there have truly reached the point where they can fully pursue their interests?

I know I haven’t fully embraced my passions but over the last two years I’ve certainly gotten better. In two weeks I plan to take the second step towards pursuing “my dream”. The first step I took was this April when I took my 10 day road trip that drove me through Jacksonville, FL.

The second part of this pursuit will take place when I take my second trip there. I plan on leaving in two weeks. The trip will involve a drive from Michigan down to Nashville, TN, then a 2 day visit to Jacksonville, FL. On the way back up I plan on hitting Forsyth Park, Savanna, GA..

The question you might be asking is, why Jacksonville? That’s a very good question. It has more to do with my future than it does with my present. Currently I’m in college. I work nearby and have friends nearby. However somewhere down the road – maybe in 3 years or 10 years – I will move somewhere better.

It’s been a big thing for me to truly feel that the place I’m living in is right for me. I don’t feel most of Michigan is. For starters I like warmer weather. On top of that I’m looking for a city with more social and economic activity – unlike most of Michigan.

Explaining this often takes up a great deal of time. People will criticize my interests and goals. The dream I have certainly isn’t a common one. What should I do then?

What do you think, should I share “my dream” with the world or keep it inside my head?

Do you have a dream that most people around you think is stupid or weird? Feel free to jump into the comments below…

3 Things Wealthy People Tell Themselves

There are a lot of things that define success. Some value family, others experiences, still others put popularity and fame above everything else. But here in the U.S.(and I’m sure other countries) people emphasize wealth in the tier of importance.

When it comes to making wealth, building wealth and keeping wealth, there are certain activities and habits that set certain people apart from others. One of the biggest habits is internal dialogue. What we tell ourselves, and thus act upon, is the biggest factor that determines where we end up in life.

If you keep telling yourself that your opinion doesn’t matter or that no one will ever listen to you, this will probably come true for you. If, however, you optimistically believe, deep in your heart, that you deserve to be listened to by others, there’s a good chance more people will listen.

In the same way, what you tell yourself about money will probably, for the most part, become a self-fulfilling prophecy. So be careful. Here are three things that I have seen firsthand from a couple millionaires I have had the pleasure of meeting:

  1. You deserve the opportunity to be wealthy (if you put in the work)

Notice I didn’t say you deserve to be wealthy. This isn’t an entitlement mentality. It’s more of a self-worth manifestation. If you truly believe that you are worth it – you will put in the work. If you don’t think that you deserve a shot at becoming wealthy, you are less likely to put the work that goes into making that happen.

2.  Becoming wealthy isn’t luck, it’s a combination of work, smarts, perseverance, and time

One thing that the millionaires I have met, read from, and learned from have all had in common is a true belief in cause and effect. They never thought luck was something to lean on or be expected. While they did get lucky at certain points, they recognized that the luck was more a consequence of years of hard work, and less a result of blind chance.

3.  I don’t have to be like everyone else.

It’s true. Some people think that being like everyone else is just a given. If people sleep in to 10am, eat crappy food, and watch youtube in their free time, that doesn’t mean you have to. The truth is that most people in the U.S. as well as the world, haven’t made the true commitment to excellence in every area of their lives that millionaires have. You can be different.

These three things are just a start. Not only is it in the realm of possibility to become a millionaire, it is becoming easier than ever. Granted, it isn’t going to be easy.

How I Drove 2,300 Miles Without My License (And Why You Shouldn’t) Part 3

As I left Dallas I realized the trip was almost over. “What’s next?” I thought as I drove up towards Oklahoma City, OK.

Later that night I decided I would be traveling up through Kansas. Sounds like a cool place right? So off I went, driving late into the night. I was ready to explore Wichita and Kansas City as soon as I found a place to stay for the night.

At this point I was in southern Kansas, near Wichita. It was near midnight. Out on the country road it was 65mph but as I entered a little town I didn’t see the sign that said 45…  oops.

Lights flashed behind me. Even though this was my first time being pulled over after four years of driving (I’m not a bad driver btw) I couldn’t help feel a little discouraged. Was it a speed trap?

As the female officer walked up alongside the vehicle I pulled out my registration and reached for my wallet. “Hello,” she said, “I just wanted to let you know you were speeding. Not by too much, though. Can I see your license and registration?”

I handed her the registration. Opening my wallet I fumbled as I opened up where the license normally is supposed to be. I pulled out the enhanced license slip that holds the license. Opening up, I looked inside… my license was gone.

“Umm,” I awkwardly said, still looking through my wallet to see if it was somewhere else. “I can’t find my license.”

“Ok,” she said, “Can I see maybe student ID or something with a picture on it while you keep looking?” “Sure.” I handed her my student ID.

I continued to look as she went to her car. A few minutes later another police car showed up. This time a man stepped out. He and the woman walked up alongside the car. “Did you find it?”

“No luck I said,” glancing up. I got out of the car and started looking in the back. “Where is it?” I thought. I was so confused as to where it could have gone. I continued to look. “Here, can you use this?” The man officer held out a flashlight. “Thanks,” I said, realizing I also had a flashlight somewhere in the car.

After a little while they told me to pull up a few hundred yards to a little gas station. Shortly after parking they asked me to put the car keys in the car and get out. “Look,” the man said, “from our perspective this whole situation is bizarre. It looks like you’re telling the truth, but it’s taking a lot time for us to look you up in the Michigan Driver’s records.

Finally, fifteen minutes or so later they were able to look me up and get my drivers license number. I wrote it down and we said our goodbyes. The male police officer, George, shared his name and we shook hands. They were very nice and considerate.

Whatever happened that day, I’m very glad for kinder, understanding police officers.

By the way, I did find my license a few days later, but that’s a whole different story. At the end of the day we can take one big lesson a way: Even if you think your license is in your wallet, it never hurts to double check.