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Economic Recovery Is Bypassing Many Households: Can You Still Increase Your Wealth?

If you are caught up in the pursuit to increase your wealth, you are certainly not alone. A lot of us strive for financial abundance – it is something that we seem to be trained for from the moment we start our education. After all, that is the main reason why we get an education right? We want to put our future selves in a position wherein we can earn a living that can financially sustain all our needs.

Since we live in a consumerist society, we need money to pay for our basic necessities. If we want to be comfortable, we need to earn more. That is the mantra that we have been fed since the beginning of time. This is the main reason why you are trying to improve your personal wealth – just like everybody else.

But despite our best efforts, our financial success is tied up with the country’s economic well being. If the national economy is in trouble, you can expect that your own personal finances is in jeopardy as well. In the same way, if the collective personal finances of Americans are in trouble, you can be assured that the economy is in the same condition.

If that logic is in effect today, then the average American household should be in a great position to improve their wealth this year. According to an article published on CNBC.com, the US economy is expected to grow further in 2015. It was steadily growing in the past few years but this year, it is expect to grow at a rate that is considered the fastest in the past decade. The National Association for Business Economics predicted that the economy will enjoy a 3.1% increase this year – which is the first to reach the 3% mark since 2005. Experts are predicting that this will help sustain the global economy.

That is good news for the American household right? After all, if the US economy is expected to sustain the global economy, it can surely sustain you as you try to increase your wealth this 2015.

Apparently, that is not the case.

Study shows that many households do not feel the economic improvement

While the signs are there proving that the economy is on its way to recovery (if it is not yet there), a study revealed that a lot of households do not feel this improvement. It may be true that the American household debt crisis is no longer evident, but that does not mean the overall financial situation of consumers have improved. The jobs may be there and the means to finance a more comfortable way of life is also available. You have most of what you need to increase your wealth but there are statistics that show how a lot of households are not riding the economic recovery of the country.

That is not to say that the statistics are wrong but if you think about it, the cost of living may just be too much for most people to keep up with. This is probably the reason why some people are not feeling the improvements in our economy.

According to the study published on CFED.org, the website of the Corporation for Enterprise Development, there is evidence that millions of households are being bypassed by the economic recovery. This statement is based on the findings of the 2015 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard that uses more than 100 measures to check how households fare when it comes to the pursuit of financial security. While there are some households that are improving, these are oftentimes limited to the wealthier homes and specific races. The difference between the high-income and low-income households are just too great to be ignored.

Among the findings from this study include the following:

  • 44% of US households live in liquid-asset poverty. This means when a household is in sudden need of liquid assets (e.g. cash), they do not have anywhere to get it from. That means if an emergency strikes, they are more than likely to be in debt or spiral down into a financial crisis. Those who are not in liquid-asset poverty are those who have cash reserves, stock investments and retirement funds.
  • The average annual pay decreased in 36 states and in DC. Those in the lower 20% of the income bracket earn one-fifth compared to what the top 20% is earning ($21,159 vs $106,196). Not only that, 25% of the employment opportunities in the country are low-paying jobs. This is 4% more than last year. The data revealed that women and colored races ar at a disadvantage in the statistics.
  • Those with low credit scores (subprime) have reached 56% which makes them unable to get good terms in credit applications.
  • Despite the news that the housing market is stable, the rate of homeownership is only 63.5%, which is a low rate for the past 20 years.
  • In terms of education, the number of graduates have increased in the past couple of years – probably because of the availability of student loans. But then again, these loans are putting graduates at a financial disadvantage early in their career.
  • For health care, the Affordable Care Act is helping to improve this problem but some states have not expanded Medicaid and that left a lot of financially challenged households without an insurance.

If you look at your own finances and compare it with what you see here, you can see how you will fare as you try to increase your wealth. These indicators show how capable Americans are when it comes to saving and wealth building. Despite the increase in job rates and the strengthening economy, it is apparently not affecting all the households in this country.

Tips to help you improve your net worth

While the apparent recovery of the US economy is enough to make you feel confident that your finances will follow suit, you need to stop being too complacent. According to an article published on TIME.com, the economy may be improving but the foundations of that improvement is not as stable as we would like it to be. Although the job growth and the GDP is at its strongest, how sure are we that we can withstand a global crisis that could loom in the future? The article explained that the recovery that we are experiencing today was kickstarted by low interest rates and a $4 trillion budget that were orchestrated by the government. It was not a recovery built on stronger foundations like an aggressive housing market or high wages.

Given that, let us remind ourselves of the importance of securing our own personal finances – regardless if the economy is doing well or not. Here are a couple of tips that you can use.

  • Build up your emergency fund. Most of the data that we got from the CFED are only made dangerous because these statistics increase the chances of consumers turning to high interest debts to make ends meet. If you have an emergency fund, no situation will ever lead you to debt – not unless the financial need is very expensive. So build up your liquid assets so you have something to dip your hand into when you need it the most.
  • Always be cautious of credits. While credit is a risky move, there are instances wherein it is necessary in our lives. For instance, using your credit cards will help you improve your credit score so you can avail of low interest loans that could finance a new home or a start up business. But it should all be done wisely. Make sure that your credit has a purpose and that you can commit to the payments no matter what. Planned credit transactions should be a must before you take on any debt.
  • Invest your money but be aware of the market trends. Investing is one of the ways that you can increase your wealth. However, you need to be aware of the market trends so you know how you can lower the risk that you are putting your money through. According to the 5 rules of wealth building, you need to track your money. That includes your savings, spending and your investments.
  • Strengthen your assets. If you have to buy something, it should be assets that grow in value over time. This includes real estate properties and jewelries. You can also invest in your education since your skill is also a great investment. The economy may falter but it cannot remove the value of your knowledge and skills. Buying things like a car that depreciates over time may not be the wisest investment to make – not unless your old car is ripping out more money out of you because of repairs.

It is possible to come up with a plan to help you increase your wealth despite the conditions of the economy. The thing is, you need to start now. Do not wait for things to turn for the worse before you start preparing your finances. Build your wealth as soon as possible.

5 Ways You Can Use Your Tax Refund To Improve Your Personal Finances

tax refund ahead signYour tax refund is something that you can actually use to improve your personal finances. You just have to figure out the best way to use it based on your unique financial situation.

In February of 2015, the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) will start distributing tax refunds. After you have sent your tax return, your refunds will follow after less than 21 days. This means you can expect to receive this money in your bank account very soon – at least, if you have filed your returns accordingly.

According to Treasury.gov, the average refund that can be expected from the returns of 2014 is $2,696. This is a 1.5% increase from the refund back in 2013. This average tax refund is quite a hefty amount. You can really do something about this money.

It is very important that you use this money wisely. Regardless if your finances is in good shape or not, you cannot just splurge this amount without thinking about your future. As we have learned in the past, things can turn for the worse anytime. One moment everything is okay and the next thing you know, you are neck deep in debt.

Since this is basically an expected amount (although we are unaware of the exact amount), most people already have plans on how to use it. There are both smart and dumb ways to use your income tax refund. If you wish to improve your personal finances, you need to figure out the smart ways to use this extra money.

5 tips to help improve your financial situation through your tax refund

There are actually many ways for you to use your tax refund but in this article, we will only discuss 5 of them. Some people may only need to use it on one of the items on the list while others may choose to split the money and use it in more than one. It really depends on you. It helps to take a look at your financial priorities and your goals to determine which of these will help improve your personal finances the most.

Pay off your high interest credit cards

One of the best ways to put your tax refund to good use is to pay off credit card debt. You may be thinking – why are we prioritizing your credit card balance? First of all, it accrues interest at a rate that is faster than most debts. You are wasting a lot of money because most of your payments will go to the interest alone. It will continue to capitalize as long as you are carrying over a balance each month. The longer it takes for you to pay off your debts, the more you will end up paying on interest. So try to get rid of these high interest debts and please – keep your credit card spending to a minimum. Unless you are sure that you can pay off the balance in full at the end of each month, then do not spend through this plastic card. Learn the proper way of credit spending so you do not have to put yourself under so much debt. If you already have a balance, you can cut back on it by using you tax refund to significantly reduce what you owe.

Get rid of debts with small amounts

If you have two to three debts that can be covered by your tax refund, you may want to use it to eliminate these debts completely. In some cases, people who have successfully paid off a debt end up being more motivated to eliminate the other debts that they have. If you think that you need this motivation to get through all of your credit accounts, then by all means, use your tax refund to close off the smaller debts. This can also help you concentrate on the few remaining debts that you will have left.

Save the money in your emergency fund

Some people would say that saving your money should be a priority because it is the proactive way that you can improve your personal finances. However, paying off your debts usually ends up saving you more money because of the high interest rate that you will eliminate in the process. While this is the logical assumption, you need to look at one part of your savings – your emergency fund. Make sure that before you choose debt over your savings, you already have sufficient emergency funds in the bank. This should help you be more financially secure. At the same time, it will also keep you from the need to incur more debt.

Save for the future

By future, you know that we are referring to retirement right? Your future self deserves this. It doesn’t matter if you are still young and retirement is decades away. Some people are able to retire by 30 because they used their money wisely. The earlier you start, the less you have to contribute. The less you have to put away each month for your retirement, the less of a burden it will be in your budget. It will also help you save more if you start early. According to an article published in CNBC.com, HSBC conducted a global study about retirement trends. Based on the results, they are too much into debt to be able to save up for retirement. This is a sad situation for the Americans and their very bleak future. This is why your tax refund might be of better use to your future.

Save for your improvement

The fifth and final tip for your tax refund is to use it to improve your skills. It may be to get a college education or attend a seminar that will enhance your knowledge and expertise in the industry. You can even use it to buy an equipment that will help in your business. Anything that will give you leverage so you can ask for a higher compensation from your employer. If you get a higher pay, it will really improve your personal finances and may even allow you to fund the other items on this list.

Any extra money that you have – tax refunds, commissions and any monetary gifts may be used to finance any of the items on this list.

How to set up your finances to achieve security

One thing that you can gain when you improve your personal finances is financial security. It is not really about how much you are earning, but how much of your finances can be used to bail you out of a tight spot.

There are so many ways for you to do this year that will help you improve your financial situation. According to IBTimes.com, Americans are expected to save a lot in 2015 because of the falling gas prices. Around $75 billion is expected to be saved this year. You could take advantage of this savings by allotting your budget on something else.

That extra money can be used to grow your savings or invest. If you want to build a better financial future, you need to consider carefully how you can save money especially when there is an abundance of it. That means getting extra funds like your tax refund should be used wisely. Do not increase your spending. Instead, keep your lifestyle as it is and increase your savings.

Although the economy is showing signs of improvement, we should never be complacent. Preparing for the unexpected is the best way to secure not just our finances, but our very lives and those around us.

Tell Us Your Generation And We’ll Tell You Your Financial Mistakes

We don’t have a crystal ball but if you tell us your generation, we’ll tell you the mistakes that you’ve made or are most likely to make. That’s right, there are some mistakes that every generation makes.

frustrated woman with a paper and calculatorFinancial mistakes made by twentysomethings

People in their 20s have a number of things in common besides their age. Most have just either left home or finished college and are starting out on their real lives. They also tend to make the same mistakes. For example, one of the biggest mistakes made by people in their 20s is putting off debt repayment. You need to start paying off your student loans as quickly as possible as this will keep you from having to pay extra interest over the years. Plus, do you really want to still be paying off your student loans when you’re in your 40s or even your 50s?

A second financial mistake made by twentysomethings is not thinking about retirement. We understand that age 55 or 65 can seem like a long way away but that’s actually a good thing. The more time you have to save for retirement the more money you will be able to save and the more money you will earn in interest. You should be putting at least 3% of your annual salary into a 401(k) or a Roth IRA. Do this and the future you will be eternally grateful.

A third mistake is to avoid making investments. You may not have a lot of money to sock away but it’s important to get started. Your bank probably offers a free investment advisor to help you choose your investments. If not, just pick an index fund and get started. But above and beyond all, get started.

The mistakes made by thirtysomethings

If you’re in your 30s one mistake you may be making is short term financial planning. Whether you think this or not, you are going to really zoom into your 40s. Don’t let these next years slip by. You should be setting goals for the next five, 10 and even 20 years. As an example of this, your unborn or very young child may be years away from college but now is the time to start preparing for these expenses.

Trying to keep up with the Joneses is another mistake that’s almost always made by people in their 30s. You might think it’s fun to compete with family members and your peers but you need to understand that when that relative or friend comes home with a new car all he or she is doing is taking on new debt. The fact is that people who have nicer things are not necessarily better off financially than you and in fact might be worse off.

What’s better is to take pride in how your savings account is growing and not that you have the newest car or toy?

Many thirtysomethings have made the mistake of going back to grad school. In some cases it can be a good idea to get an advanced degree. And in today’s economy, many people are finding it hard to get a job in their field and they are returning to school to try to fix this. The problem is that this only increases your student debts and you might find your new degree doesn’t really lead to a better job or a higher salary.

Have you bought more house than you really need? This is another mistake commonly made by people in their 30s. We understand that it can feel great to buy that first home. And it’s a good investment. But don’t make the mistake of buying a house that’s too big for your budget and your needs. Do this and you’ll not only have a bigger mortgage, but you’ll also have higher taxes and bigger utility bills. A better idea is to start smaller and then move up as your needs and your net worth change.

House with cash on the roofFinancial mistakes made by fortysomethings

By the time you reach your 40s you’re probably well entrenched in your career and the idea of changing to a new one can seem very scary. But it’s a mistake not to consider this. If you want to change careers you don’t necessarily have to start at the bottom. You have good, valuable experience that should help you land an equally good job in a new career.

A second financial mistake made by people in their 40s is about their mortgages. You’ve probably been paying on your mortgage for so many years that it’s just become automatic. However, you should now start looking at your end goal. Could you do something to payoff your mortgage even faster? Maybe you would like to pay it off before you become an empty nester. If this is the case, you need to determine to increase your monthly payments to achieve that goal.

If you still have credit card debt this is yet another mistake made by people in their 40s. What you want to do at this time of your life is to get rid of your debts as much as possible. There’s no way to know what will happen to you in the next decade. You might lose your job, see your kids go away to college or be hit by big medical bill. To prepare for these emergencies, you need to not have any debt hanging over you.

Finally, people in their 40s often make the mistake of not having a will. We understand that thinking about your own death is not a fun subject. However, you need to have a will. This is the only way you can control what happens to your money and your other assets when you die. A will also makes sure that your loved ones are not left confused as to what they need to do if something were to suddenly happen to you.

Fiftysomethings and their mistakes

Unfortunately, one of the most common and worst mistakes that people in their 50s make is dipping into their savings. You should have a retirement fund that’s fairly impressive by now and it can be tempting to use some of that money, especially if you’re facing a financial pressure such as paying for your kids’ education or helping support your aging parents. What’s best is to leave your retirement money alone and figure out some other way to deal with any new financial pressures.

It’s also a financial mistake to underestimate what retirement will cost you. Today, the biggest cost most retired people face is healthcare. Whether you like to think about this or not, you have to plan that you might need long-term care in your 80s. This can cost as much as $6000 a month so it’s important to understand this and plan accordingly.

Third, it’s a mistake to let your children use you. We understand that you want to help your kids but they do need to develop some financial independence. You could start with small steps such as refusing to pay for their car insurance or taking them off your family cell phone plan. And, of course, they should eventually pay you rent, which can be a great way to encourage them to move out on their own.

How To Dramatically Improve Your Financial Life In Just Six Weeks

paying through a card in a pubWhen you look at your financial life what do you see? Do you see a big stack of unpaid bills? Bank statements you never bothered to open? A checking account that’s just about bottomed out?

Well, the good news, if you see this as good news, is that most of us have problems with our money. Our lives are demanding, we have busy stressful careers and our families eat up most of our calories and our energy. Again, if you’re typical you probably just don’t feel that you have either the desire or the time available to get your finances under control

Getting started

In your heart of hearts you probably want to have a better financial life but it’s tough to know where to get started. Fortunately, it’s not really that difficult. What you need is a monthly schedule to get your finances on track. It’s really not much different from having a daily and weekly routine for yourself. You need to develop a plan that will help keep you concentrating on accomplishing your financial and personal goals. And you can really get the majority of your money problems behind you in just six weeks.

Here’s the blueprint.

Week one: Create two or three personal goals

Sit down and think about your life and organize your future by creating a series of short-term goals. Then make an action plan to achieve those goals that has a timeline with some small steps to get you to where you need to go. Start saving money for those goals and you’ll reach them quicker. If you have a problem setting goals here’s a video courtesy of National Debt Relief that could help …

Week two: Make a spending plan

You’ve probably heard this 1000 times but if you’re now in a money in/money out cycle that leaves you grasping for pennies at the end of a month, this is the time to take the guesswork out of it. If you want to reach your goals and in time you will need to find ways cut your spending. Good places to start are entertainment, dining out, clothing and groceries. These are the areas where it’s usually easiest to cut spending. In comparison, it can be very difficult to reduce your spending on fixed expenses such as your rent or mortgage and any auto payments. The category of groceries is one where most people find they can reduce their spending without really sacrificing anything. All it takes is menu planning, careful shopping and some coupons.

If you find you’re having a hard time making a spending plan, you might book a session with your local, nonprofit credit-counseling agency. You would be assigned a counselor that will review all of your spending and help you create a plan for reducing it. Most of these agencies charge nothing or very little for their help and sometimes the most important thing you can do is have an objective, third-party person analyze your spending and help you develop a plan for cutting it.

Week three: Work on reducing your debt

Unfortunately, it’s easy to overspend especially when it comes to credit cards. When you don’t have enough cash to pay for something it’s just too darn easy to whip out that piece of plastic and charge it. But if you’re carrying a big load of debt, you may be paying so much interest that it’s weighing down your finances. Make a plan to get rid of any debt you have that that isn’t fixed such as a mortgage. You need to find ways to simplify your payables. If you have high credit card debt, you might check into a debt consolidation loan. The upside of one of these loans is that you would then have just one payment to make a month in place of the multiple ones you’re probably making now and that payment should be lower than the sum of your current payments. However, there are a couple of downsides to a debt consolidation loan. First, it will have a longer term such as seven or even 10 years, which means you’ll end up paying more interest over the life of the loan. And if you don’t have good enough credit to get a personal loan you may have to get a homeowner’s equity line of credit (HELOC) or homeowners equity loan. In either event, you would be putting your house at risk because if you were to default on the loan, you could end up out on the street.

Week 4: Consolidate your credit cards

How many credit cards are in your wallet? If you have three or more, this is just making your financial life that’s much more complicated. This means you have to keep track of all of those different transactions and balances and which days of the month you must make your payments in order to avoid missing one, which would damage your credit score. Instead, try to consolidate down to just one or at the most two cards. For that matter, you could transfer all of your credit card balances to a new 0% interest balance transfer card. You should be able to find one of that offers as many as 18 months interest free, which would give you a year and a half to pay down your balance before you would be required to pay a cent in interest. Plus, you would then need to remember and make just one payment a month.

Week 5: Put everything on autopilot

Take sometime this week to put your savings and your bill paying on autopilot. You know you need to pay yourself first and that you want to have a decent retirement. When you set up an automatic transfer each pay period from your checking to your savings account, it’s money you hardly miss because you never really see it. Ideally you should begin with an emergency fund equivalent to six months worth of living expenses. If that seems too daunting, try for at least three months worth. You should be able to pay all or virtually all of your bills automatically and electronically. That way you could stop worrying about missing a payment and having your car repossessed or your electricity turned off.

Week 6: Review your insurance policies

Take a few hours to sit down and review all your home, life, and auto insurance policies and their coverage so there will never be any unpleasant surprises. Do you know your coverages especially when it comes to disability? They might have changed recently. Even if you’re content with your current insurer you should comparison shop at least once a year. This is relatively easy to do through sites such as esurance.com and netquote.com. Be sure to check your auto insurance’s liability limits to make sure you would be adequately covered in the case of an accident.

If you have a will get it out and review it. This is especially important if your family situation has changed due to marriage or a birth. And if you don’t have a will you need to get one. It’s the only way you can control what happens to your money should you die suddenly and without warning. Otherwise, a court will likely be required to do this for you, which could be a very bad thing.

You might not be able to solve every money problem in just six weeks but if you follow this program you should be able to take much of the stress out of your life and get your money under control. The important thing is to focus on these easy-to-implement strategies. This will free up time for you because you’ll be worrying less and more able to focus on what really matters the most – which is living your life to the best today.

17 Nuggets Of Wisdom That Could Help Improve Your Financial Life

Couple Using Laptop And Discussing Household Bills Sitting On Sofa At HomeLet’s face it. Thinking about personal finances isn’t much fun unless you’re a member of that fortunate 1%. Of course, if you’re a member of the 1%, you probably don’t have to think much about your financial life anyway. But if you’re like us and are a member of the other 99% then finances are something you think about a lot. You’ve probably read articles or even books about personal finance with advice about creating a budget, having an emergency fund, paying down your debt and so forth. Beyond this, there are some other things you could do that would help improve your finances and here are 17 of them.

Create a roadmap of your goals

Just sitting down and asking what are your goals can get you on the path to realizing them. Don’t be afraid to think big and pursue those really big dreams even if they don’t seem doable. If you want to increase the chances that you will succeed, create a spreadsheet and do some number crunching to make sure you will have enough money to fund those adventures.

Drive less

This may seem a bit radical but the less you can drive your car the better. While driving is very handy, it can also be incredibly expensive when you take into consideration the oil and gas, insurance and depreciation. Automobile accidents are very common these days and if you get into one – even if it’s not your fault – you would have to at least pay the deductible. If you do have to drive a lot, make sure you do regular oil changes and all of the maintenance recommended by your car’s manufacturer.Avoid products that could be dangerous

Avoid products that could be dangerous

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is now issuing hundreds of product recalls a year. This makes it hard to keep track of all of them. It’s easier if you sign up for alerts from the Commission or download an app that will alert you when a recall occurs. Be particularly careful when it comes to used baby products, as there has been a number of crib, stroller and highchair recalls.

Cut your spending dramatically

If you focus your attention on monthly expenses such as cable, phone and Internet, you should be able to reduce them and your spending dramatically. Once you’ve done this, get to work on some of your variable expenses like groceries. We know of one person that did all of this and managed to cut his spending by $1000 a month.

Use the new online tools

There are a wide variety of web-based tools and apps available to help you manage your money. The company Corporate Insight recently found there are more than 100 new startups with apps or software that could help you manage your finances. In addition, there are apps such as Shopular, RetailMeNot and RedLaser that make it easy to use coupons and discounts when you’re making purchases.

Commit to earning more

If you’re one of the many Americans that are under-earners, commit yourself to earning more money. The best first step is to promise yourself to earn more and to make sure you say “yes” to any opportunities you come across that would allow you to do it.

Keep your finances off of Facebook

While it might be fun to brag about your high credit score on Facebook, it’s much better to keep that kind of information off the Internet. Facebook and other types of social media are very public and are places where the scam artists hang out and look for financial information they could use to defraud you. When it comes to your personal finances, a good rule is that less sharing is better.

Review your auto and life insurance policies

Automobile insurance policies can have different deductible amounts, coverage limits and important limitations. These are things that could surprise you if you’re in an accident. Review your policies and make sure you understand them including your life and disability insurance. If there is insurance available where you work think about supplementing it with your own policies.

Be ready for an increase in interest rates

Interest rates are now very low. However, most financial experts say they will eventually rise and possibly more sooner than later. To get ready for this, you need to pay off any debts where your interest rates could rise, and if you are a homeowner you should think about refinancing if you haven’t already done so. If you are a first-time buyer and are looking to buy a home, you might want to think about doing it very soon so that you could get rates that are still low.

Reduce your tax bill

The ugly fact is that many people pay more in taxes than they really should. If you put money into a retirement account that is pre-tax, buy some municipal bonds or start your own business, you will pay less in taxes. If you’re part of a gay couple you might also check to see what refunds you’re entitled to for the past two or three years as the Internal Revenue Service now recognizes same-sex marriages for income tax purposes.

Trade for or rent a high fashion dress

While you may not be aware of this, you can rent and trade for high-end clothes on the Internet. For example, Tradesy makes it very easy to sell and buy seldom-worn fashion items including designer dresses. This gives you the opportunity to wear fancy clothes without buying them. There is also a number of websites growing in popularity such as Bag Borrow or Steal and Lending Luxury where you can rent accessories and dresses for that big party. While it will cost you some money, you will spend a lot less than if you were to purchase the items and will still look like a million bucks.

Kick something off on Kickstarter

More than one hundred thousand projects have been launched on this site and about 44% achieved their goals as of December 2013. You don’t have to be a celebrity to use Kickstarter to fund that creative idea of yours. If you do go for it, promote your project first on Facebook and Twitter and to your friends. Make a great video and, above all, have a very appealing product like the Coolest Cooler that just raised millions of dollars.

man holding credit cardsGive gift cards

While gift cards might seem a little soulless, they really are an ideal gift in a lot of ways. And this reduces the time and strain of gift giving. The majority of people say they really like to get these cards. If you choose cards that are retailer specific (think Cabela’s or Ace Hardware), they generally don’t have fees or penalties for delayed use. Be careful about gift cards from the credit card companies as they generally come with fees that can range from $4 to $6.95. Also, you can get some additional protection by registering the card in the event it is stolen or lost.

Watch out for online scams

It’s easy to buy items on websites like Craigslist but there are fraudsters that prowl these sites. To make sure you’re safe, always arrange to meet the person face to face when paying cash for goods. Be sure to meet some place public and if possible bring along a friend for added protection. And under any circumstances do not wire money before you see the item, as this is how much fraud occurs

Talk to your honey about money

Finances are one of the biggest reasons why couples end up splitting. You should always be honest with your spouse or partner. One good idea is to make a periodic “money date” to review your finances, talk about the big decisions and consider each other’s financial mindset. Do this and you should be able to work together to set and reach big-money goals whether it’s buying a home or traveling to Europe.

Stop worrying and be happier

Finally, sitting around and worrying about money can waste a lot of time. One recent study found that 36% of the people queried said that they spent at least two hours a day worrying about their money or managing it. There are a number of free resources available that can help reduce some the strain of personal finances and save you time to boot. So get busy, find a few apps and stop worrying so much.

11 Financial Things You Should Have Done Before Turning 30

woman smilingIf you’re close to or about to turn 30, this is a fairly significant milestone. Your youth is behind you and you are now definitely an adult. With adulthood comes some great responsibilities and number one on your list should be to take charge of your finances. We understand this doesn’t sound like much fun and that personal finance can sound like a very dry topic. But it cannot be denied that financial things play a huge part in our lives, that money is always one of the top stressors and that it can cause the biggest discord among couples. In fact, every report we’ve seen ranks finances as the second biggest reason for divorce – right behind communication or lack thereof. We hope that you already have your personal finances at least somewhat under control. You should have a reasonably good idea as to where your money’s going and how your spending stacks up against your earnings. Beyond this, here are 11 goals you should have achieved by now. These goals are, of course, not for everyone and some of them may not be feasible for you. However you should keep these in mind as general guidelines. And if you haven’t yet achieved them, it might be time to sit down and write out a plan for accomplishing them.

You should have saved up for the big expenditures of life

You should be thinking about, anticipating and saving up for the big expenses of life. You will need to factor in your wedding, children, a pet, a house and other similar big ticket items. If you plan for these events, you’ll be adjusting your lifestyle, you will be able to afford those expenses and you will not have to go into debt to pay for these items. You should probably try to budget a realistic amount to cover these expenses so you don’t have to go into debt. Of course, another good idea is to forgo some of these expenses and question if they really are necessities.

You should be living within your means

By now, you should know about living within your means and also enjoying life. You should be able to put priorities on your spending and then save in other areas so you can enjoy those “guilty pleasures”. Even if that pleasure is just a daily latte, you should be able to indulge yourself so long as you’re cutting your spending aggressively on other items. Also, be careful about comparing yourself to other people. What they skimp on may not be what you want to give up.

You should have emergency savings

We hope you already have an emergency fund. Most experts say this fund should be the equivalent of six month’s worth of your living expenses and some say it’s even better to have a year’s worth as a better buffer. Of course, it’s easy for those experts to say this. If you find that it’s extraordinarily difficult to save the equivalent of six month’s of living experiences, try for at least three. Life is full of unanticipated issues such as an automobile accident, a serious illness, a friend or family member who suddenly needs financial help or losing your job. If you don’t have an emergency savings fund your only alternative will be to go into or further into debt.

You should be maxing out your 401(k) contribution

If your employer offers a 401(k), you should max out your contribution or at the very least meet your employer’s match. A 401(k) is really the workingman’s best friend. The money is taken out of your salary before you even see it – making your donation practically painless. If your employer does match your contribution this is like free money. While the stock market probably won’t continue to grow the way it has the past several years you could still earn good money by choosing the right stocks or mutual funds for your 401(k). And if push comes to shove you could borrow from your 401(k), which means you would be borrowing from yourself and the interest you would pay you would be paying yourself. And that’s not a really bad deal.

You should be a master of automation

You should by now have learned how to master the art of automation. If you send a chunk of your salary automatically to your savings every month you would be paying yourself first. And when you save money, you can tap into the power of compounding interest. This is when you earn interest on your savings, which is added to your savings and you then earn interest on it. If you automatically save as little as $50 a month for 30 years you would end up a millionaire – thanks to the power of compounding interest.

You should have a Roth IRA

If you have a conventional IRA, good for you. That’s money that you save pretax, meaning it’s money you don’t have to pay taxes on. However, the downside to this is that you will have to pay taxes on the money when you begin withdrawing it. In comparison, with a Roth IRA you pay taxes on the money you deposit into the account but it’s then tax-free when you withdraw it.

You should have written a will

None of us wants to think about our “final destination” but there’s no way to avoid the fact that your life will ultimately come to an end. If you don’t have a will, you will die intestate. If this occurs, a person will be named as your executor and will decide what happens to your property. Under intestate succession laws only spouses, and registered partners (if you live in a state where that’s an option) and blood relatives can inherit. This means any friends, unmarried partners or charities would get nothing despite any intentions you might’ve had to the contrary. So, if you haven’t done this already, go to an attorney or a site such as LegalZoom and get a will prepared That way you will be able to control exactly where your money and your properties go.

You should be paying off your high interest debts

If you haven’t done this already you need to sit down and make a list of your debts in order from the one that has the highest interest rate down to the one with the lowest. Once you have your debts prioritized, you need to concentrate on paying off the one that has the highest interest rate. Of course, you will need to continue to making at least the minimum payments on your other debts. But when you pay off the one that has the highest interest rate, you automatically save the most money, which you can then use to begin paying off the debt with the second highest interest rate and so on.

You should have a decent credit score

If you’ve been handling your finances sensibly, which means keeping your credit card debts under control, you should by now have a fairly decent credit score – of 750 or above. Most lenders look at credit scores in ranges as follows.

  • Very good or excellent – between 700 and 850
  • Good credit score – between 680 and 699
  • Average credit score – between 620 and 679
  • Low credit score – between 580 and 619
  • Poor credit score – between 500 and 579
  • Bad credit score – between 300 and 499

If you haven’t seen your credit score recently, you can get it from www.myfico.com for $19.95 or free if you sign up for a trial of the company’s Score Watch program. It’s also possible to get a version of your credit score at sites such as www.creditkarma.com. If you have a credit score lower than 680, you may have some work ahead of you to get it raised. The reason for this is because there’s an indirect ratio that exists between your credit score and how much interest you will be charged on a credit card or a loan. In other words, the higher your score the lower interest rate you will be charged.

You should have already read several good personal finance books

While some people like to think you can master personal finance instinctually, this is just not the case. If you really want to be on top of your personal finances you need to have by now read several books. If not, you need to get to work. You should probably start with Your Money or Your Life ($12) and Total Money Makeover ($18). Beyond these, the simple fact is that you just can’t read too many books about money management.

You should know how to negotiate

Finally, by now you should have had some practice negotiating – over your salary, with service providers and others. While there are areas where it’s simply impossible to negotiate – like at your neighborhood supermarket – there are also many other areas where you can save money if you know how to negotiate successfully. If not, here’s a video with some good information about the art of negotiating.

How To Quit Living From Paycheck to Paycheck

man looking tired with workIf you’re like many Americans you live from paycheck to paycheck. We can empathize because we’ve certainly been in that position. But when you’re living this way, you’re skating on thin ice and peace of mind becomes a very elusive goal. One recent study revealed that 38 million American households live like this – spending all of each paycheck. Of course, many of these 38 million households own their homes or have retirement accounts but very little or no cash on hand.

What happens when the unforeseen occurs?

The biggest problem if you live from paycheck to paycheck is what happens in the event of an emergency. You could have an auto accident or lose your job. There could be a natural. If you have no cash to fall back on what do you do in the event of an unforeseen occurrence? The fact is that if you live from paycheck to paycheck this can be a disaster. It’s not good from an emotional standpoint, either. When you do have an unforeseen event your only option is to get into or fall further into debt. Debt has a way of ballooning and your stress level can balloon along with it.

How can you break the cycle and quit living this way? Here, with our thanks to Lifehacker, are 13 real life stories of people and what they did to stop living from paycheck to paycheck.

We started a small emergency fund

One couple said their first step was creating a small emergency fund. They felt this gave them some peace of mind in the event of an unanticipated problem. They said this was the biggest part of stopping the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. They understood that it requires time to create a true emergency fund but felt that even a small one could help them whenever unexpected expenses came their way. They kept the money in an easily accessible savings account. It was in a separate account because that almost made it “out of sight, out of mind.” When they check their account balances on their main accounts the money isn’t there so they aren’t tempted to use it. However, they did know that it was there and available if they needed it.
For this couple, step two was to start paying down debt. They felt this was another big part of getting out of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.
Finally, this couple said that a large part of breaking the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle was creating a spreadsheet to track daily expenses. This allows them to keep track of all expenses and income on a day-to-day basis. This also permits them to plan ahead as they can see exactly how much money they will have in two months or even two years.

I opened a second bank account

In addition to just “saving” and “making a budget” another guy we’ll call John calculated just how much money he would need to live plus a few additional bucks to make things comfortable. He then had his direct deposit salary split into two bank accounts. He put the money he needed to live comfortably directly into one account and the extra money into a new secondary account. He knows like the previous couple that there is other money available should he actually needed but that it’s a mental thing — that it’s just much easier to save money when it’s not in the same bank account he uses every day.

We flattened our monthly spending

A second couple sat down and calculated what their annual expenses were, which included things such as Christmas spending, school fees, car repairs and maintenance, vacations and so forth. They totaled these expenses and then divided it by 12. This resulted in a “monthly payment.” As an example of this if they budgeted $1200 for vacation and divided it by 12, they knew they had to save $100 a month. Once they knew this monthly total, they deposited that amount into their “Annual Savings” account. What this did for them was flatten their monthly spending so that they knew exactly whether or not they had enough to eat out that month or do something that wasn’t in the budget. It also made it possible for them to pay off their mortgage years early so they now use cash to pay for everything they need and even a few things they just want.

I paid off my student loan debt

One young man said that his finances had been a struggle mostly because of his student loan debt and that he wanted to get rid of it as quickly as possible. He has a graduate degree but works in a nonprofit so his paycheck barely covers his living expenses. Despite this he tries to save a couple of hundred dollars a month out of his main income. He is trying to build an emergency fund so that he won’t be wrecked by an unexpected expense or forced to use credit cards. He is eating very cheaply including a lot of lentils, beans and rice. He watches for supermarket deals on meat and lives in a small studio apartment. All this has helped him not only save money but also break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.

I started doing freelance writing

A really good way to break the paycheck-to paycheck cycle is to find extra ways to make money. One woman did this by doing freelance writing. She is unable to do this full time to develop a client base as her regular day job often requires 60+ hours a week. But this certainly does help. In addition her boyfriend will soon be moving in with her. They make about the same amount of money so if they share the rent, car payment, utilities and food costs they will be able to lighten their financial load considerably. She reports that this should allow them to start saving in earnest fairly soon and break out of that cycle for once and for all.

I cut the cable

Do you spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 a month for cable TV? A guy we’ll call Robert totaled this up and realized he was spending $1200 a year to watch TV just a few hours a day. He eliminated his cable service and changed his cell phone plan, which got him down to $15 a month while his friends were still paying from $50-$100. He also stopped eating out and learned to cook. He found that this also helped him make new friends. He discovered that when he shopped at farmers markets and places where you can get real food, it opened his eyes to a lot of tastes beyond cheese, sweet, salt and deep-fried – and he has save massive amounts of money.

My wife is becoming an electrician

How would you feel if your wife became an electrician? A woman in Oregon got sick and tired of working retail. She was earning the maximum for her type of job at $14.50 an hour and couldn’t earn any more without going into management, which she felt was its own special hell. Her husband encouraged her to get training that was offered for women interested in the trades. She took this training and is now three years into an apprenticeship as an electrician. The schooling she got to learn her trade was free and she gets paid about two times as much now as previously, and will make even more after she’s completed her training. Her husband advises people to look to trades and trade schools instead of colleges these days. They need more people, pay really well and offer great benefits. It’s way better than what the service industry and retail jobs offer and at the same time you end up with a profession you can be really proud of.

I live off of other people

One man admits that he makes ends meet by living off of other people. He also rents rooms dirt cheap instead of apartments. These rooms are usually cramped and small but they cost less and sometimes there are odd rules like the time he lived in a commune where everyone shared everything. He preaches you should watch what you spend and spend only on those things you really need.

I have a small savings habits

While you might be able to save big by cutting out those large expenditures like cable or entertainment, it’s also possible to do as this man did and develop small savings habits. He learned to cut his hair with a buzzer rather than paying for a haircut every month or so. He asks his friends and family to give him Amazon gift cards for Christmas and his birthday and uses them when he needs to replace something such as work shoes. He also learned the value of eating an early dinner and buying his drinks pregame instead of at the sporting event where you pay lots more. He also now walks to work.

budget on top of moneyYNAB has been a godsend

YNAB or You Need A Budget is a program designed to help people create and stay on a budget. “Jim” says it has been a godsend. It helped him go from being in serious trouble every month to having a surplus and a savings account for expensive trips. He found that it was amazing how much control he had over his finances when he could see where his money was going. He feels YNAB is better than most other budgeting systems because it links his home computer to his cell phone enabling him to enter all information about this spending immediately. If he sees that one of his budget items has gone red (spent more than he had budgeted) he just moves money around to fix it.

I had a “realization”

One person commented that his break through was when realization stepped in – and he realized he was just living from paycheck to paycheck. What he did to break the cycle was to first learn minimalism — that possessions don’t make you happy. He had always hated the thought of having to stay accountable but has learned the benefits of it. He tracks every single dollar he spends. He reports that there are plenty of apps out there that do the job very well. He also maintains a large gap month in and month out. This is the gap between his income and his expenses and, of course, the larger the gap the better.

I paid off my auto loan three years earlyMan leaping with joy Rev 1

One person stopped the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle when he realized that his money was being spent on a lot of little things over the course of a month. He stopped buying little trinkets because they were just a dollar or a shirt because it was on sale. He eliminated cable TV and switched to a cheaper phone plan. He said he has also gotten better about shopping for groceries. By doing all this he was able to save several hundred dollars a month and used the money to pay off his debts. He was able to buy a car and pay it off three years early. He now makes sure that he has at least $2000 in the bank for unexpected emergencies. He found that one of the best things about paying off his car is that he could then raise the deductible on his insurance to a higher amount, which has also saved him money.

I pay myself first

This is an idea that was popularized by Warren Buffett. The secret according to one commenter is to make savings and investments part of your budget. Know how much you’ll invest each month in your 401(k), in paying down your debt and putting in your savings account. Put these funds into their respective categories immediately. If at all possible set it up so that the money is automatically withdrawn from your checking account and deposited into those other accounts. He found that if the money isn’t just sitting there all month he’s less tempted to spend it on a whim.

10 Things Your Parents Didn’t Tell You About Personal Finances

Girl looking worriedIf you were fortunate your parents sat you down at some point and you had “the talk.” No, not the talk about sex. The talk about personal finances. Or maybe you were like me and your parents never discussed money with you. I guess mine thought I’d either figure it out on my own or just sort of pick it up by osmosis. In any event I finally did learn the important lessons about personal finances but in some cases it was definitely the hard way – like the time my wife and I decided to have a home custom built for us when we hardly knew what a mortgage was.
Even if your father or mother did have “the talk” with you, the odds are that there were some things they neglected to tell you that are important and here are 10 of them.

1. Being in debt is like indentured servitude

If you’re not familiar with the term indentured servitude the online encyclopedia Wikipedia defines it as, “a voluntary labor system whereby young people paid for their passage to the New World by working for an employer for a certain number of years”. The reason why debt is like this is because basically what you’re doing is sacrificing future earnings (working for a credit card company) in exchange for instant gratification (passage to the new world). How do you avoid going into debt? It’s pretty simple. If you have a credit card make sure you pay off your balance on time every month. Ditto store charge cards, and an auto loan – if you have one. I understand that it takes a certain amount of self-discipline to do this but it will pay off in the years ahead when you’re not sending 20% or 30% of your hard earned income off to a credit card company or companies.

2. If you need to ask your boss for a raise, you need a new employer

Assuming that you come to work every day on time and are good at your job you should earn a raise without having to ask for one. If you work for a corporation you probably get an annual review accompanied by a raise of some kind. If not, you’ll be at the mercy of your employer. But, again, if you’re doing a good job you should earn a raise without having to beg for one. And if you do have to beg for one, you might want to think about finding a new employer.

3. You can’t manage your money if you don’t track your income and outgo

The cornerstone of good money management is to know how much you earn and where your money’s going. Most of us do know how much we earn but if you’re not tracking your spending, it’s like playing baseball without keeping score. You may believe you’re ahead but you could actually be falling further and further in debt. There are a number of smart phone apps available today that make tracking spending drop-dead simple. Alternately, you could just use a pen and a notepad. But whichever method you choose it’s important to note all of your expenditures right down to the penny. Add them up at the end of the month and you’ll then know whether you’re winning or losing. If you find that you are losing – or spending more than you earn – you will need to find areas where you could cut costs.

If you would like more information about tracking spending here,  courtesy of National Debt Relief, is a video  that reveals three ways to do this.

4. Only suckers play the lottery

If you’re carrying a boatload of debt don’t think that playing the lottery is your way out. A very smart person once said, “Lotteries are for the mathematically challenged.” We have radio commercials for our state’s lottery that generally ends with words like, “chances of winning the Powerball lottery are one in 25.4 million”. You have a better chance of getting struck by lightning than winning a one of those lotteries.

5. Shun those credit card “convenience” checks

“Convenience” checks are those that you receive periodically from your credit card company or companies. They might seem like a convenient way to get cash but the interest rate on these things are often anything but convenient. Convenience checks usually come with a fee of 3% or 4% of the amount you’re borrowing, plus a very high interest rate. Most credit card companies charge the same interest rate on a convenience check as cash advances. This means the interest on a convenience check could be twice that of purchases.

6. A spreadsheet can help even the most disorganized

Even if you’re a very disorganized or scattered brained person a spreadsheet could help you successfully manage your personal finances. You could use one to track your spending, create and stick to a budget and help you pay off your debts. If you don’t have a spreadsheet program such as Excel, there are free ones available through OpenOffice.org, Google Docs, Kingsoft and a number of other sources. While it may take you 30 minutes or an hour to set up a spreadsheet once you’ve done this it probably won’t require more than a few minutes a week to keep your personal finances under control.

7. Patience is a huge virtue when it comes to saving money

You’ve undoubtedly heard the old story about the tortoise and the hare. When it comes to saving money, the tortoise is clearly the winner and by a wide margin. This is due to compounding interest. You could put as little as $50 a month in a savings account and end up with several hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you’re not familiar with compounding interest it’s basically where you earn interest on interest. For example, if you put that $50 into a savings account that pays 2% annually, you would have $612 at the end of the year and $1236 at the end of year two – or your $612 plus $600 plus 2%.

8. Money won’t buy happiness

A friend of mine used to say that while money won’t buy happiness it will rent a bunch of fun until happiness comes along. But that, of course, isn’t really true either. Real happiness doesn’t come from having enough money to buy a bunch of stuff. Nirvana comes from financial freedom. You might think that the guy that drives an almost new Lexus is better off then your friend who drives an old beater but this is often not the case. The guy in the Lexus may be up to his belly button in debt while the friend in the old beater has more than $100,000 in his 401(k). If you live prudently and save a good portion of your income the day will come when “no man will be your master” and you will be financially free, which is true happiness.

9. Not everyone needs a budget

We don’t know of a single financial guru that doesn’t preach the importance of having a budget. But the truth is that not everyone needs one. Some people just instinctually know how much they’re spending versus their income and how to keep the former from getting ahead of the latter. You may also not need a budget if your finances are relatively simple.

10. Frugality is not the be-all and end-all

You may have read some of the many articles regarding the importance of living frugally. Of course, living frugal is never a bad idea. However, frugality has its limits. You could cut your spending to the very bone and still not have enough money to create an emergency savings account or to invest. The best answer sometimes is finding ways to earn more money. For example, this might be harsh but you could get a second job. Our economy is mostly back to what it was before the Great Recession and there are many companies now hiring part-time employees. These jobs generally don’t pay much – usually nine dollars or $10 an hour – but 20 hours a week could go a long ways towards funding your savings account or making investments.

4 Good Financial Habits That Can Go Too Far

woman looking at her credit cardYour financial habits are hands down, the key to improve your financial situation. It does not matter how much income you earn. If you implement the wrong habits because of incorrect financial concepts, then you have no chance of getting out of a bad economic situation.

Some people have grappled with the idea of what habits should and should not be implemented in their personal financial condition. There are so many misconceptions out there that it can be quite confusing to know which should be followed or not.

Take for instance our belief that credit card debt is caused by irresponsible spending. While it is true that your spending can lead you to unmanageable credit card balances, that is not the whole reason why you have credit card debt. According to a study done by Demos.org, there are other factors affecting your credit card spending. Things like your education, insurance coverage and children are part of the reasons why you are currently suffering from credit card debt. You have to understand these things before you can truly and completely be free of your compulsion to spend using your cards.

Just like this misconception, there are also a lot of things that you should know about financial habits. It is not a simple good and bad habit. You have to go deeper than that concept to truly understand what is right and wrong for you. Sure it is easy to say that you should practice only good financial behavior. But you have to know that there are certain habits that although they have good motives, can turn out of be really bad for you.

4 good habits that can ruin your finances

In truth, anything in extreme is never good for you. It is true what they say – too much of a good thing can also be bad for you. That being said, let us discuss 4 financial habits that will not do you good if exaggerated.

Saving too much for the future.

A lot of people might disagree here. In fact, financial experts love to preach this: we need to always think ahead into the future because we owe it to ourselves to have a good retirement. They say that we need to pay ourselves first – meaning we have to make sure that our retired future self will be well provided for. There is some justification to this but remember that you should also let yourself enjoy the present. We need to save but not to the expense of our present life being too miserable. What need do you have for millions of dollars in your retirement if you will only spend it on expensive medical treatments because you exhausted your body trying to earn money to save? Saving can save your life but you need to set a limit. Plan what you need to save up for and cut your present self some slack once in a while.

Cutting back on your unnecessary expenses.

This is another of the financial habits that can really tear consumers apart. Some people believe that cutting back on that latte is imperative if you have a lot of debt to pay for. There are also people who will tell you not to treat yourself to a spa or a massage because that money could go to your savings. If you think about it, these make a lot of sense but here’s what you should consider. Some unnecessary expenses are needed for you to be motivated enough to pursue your financial goals. People may think that the morning latte is a waste of money but if it gets you going in the morning, then indulge yourself. If that is important to you, then buy that unnecessary item. Just make sure that when you do so, it will not make your expenses bigger than your income or it will not put you in debt. But if you have the extra cash to spare without making your savings contributions for the month zero – then give yourself the needed pampering. You do not have to completely let go of these things to find financial happiness. In fact, it might be just what you need to be motivated.

Comparing prices.

We all want to get the best value for our money. However, you do not want to spend forever trying to figure out and compute what product to use. While we do not want to waste our money, you do not want to waste your time either. Take for instance couponing. It is true that this can help you lower your expenses but it is just too tedious and time consuming to do. If you have the option to work longer hours to earn more, wouldn’t you want to spend it earning instead of clipping coupons? Are you really saving if you are too obsessed with saving pennies on each purchase you make?

Forgoing professional services.

DIY – this is another of the financial habits that we are being encouraged to pursue. There are things like debt relief or financial planning that we can do on our own but this is not always applicable for everyone. Again, time is a factor here. But even if you have the time to work on something on your own, make sure that you can do it properly. There are certain tasks that are best left in the hands of  professional because the cost of making a mistake will end up making you spend more that you should. While it is a great idea to do it yourself, make sure that you really have the capabilities to do it correctly.

Learning to balance your present needs with your future goals

We are not saying that these financial habits are bad. We are just saying that they should be done in moderation and with a deep regard for present circumstances. Being wise with your spending and saving more money are great habits to have. However, you have to learn how to balance your present needs with that of your future goals.

There is this article on Forbes.com that discussed how even spending on experiences instead of material things may not make you happy. The article mentioned that if you focus on life experiences, it does not necessarily mean you will be happy with your spending. You have to take into consideration what is valuable to you as a person.

For some people concentrating on buying for the sake of experience could work but for others, it may not. For instance, buying clothes is more of materialism than experientialism. However, if you are in an industry wherein you need to portray your professionalism through your outward appearance then buying clothes is something that you know you have to do.

What we are trying to point out is this. The financial habits that you should pursue may or may not be according to what the majority is doing. Sure saving for retirement is a good idea but if it is keeping you from enjoying your life today, then you need to rethink how you can save for retirement without depriving the present.

All it really takes is to know what is in moderation. Even the good financial habits, when done in extreme can do you more harm than good. Do not be too blinded by your need to succeed financially. First and foremost, understand yourself and your financial personality. Once you have that knowledge firmly in place, you will know what you truly deserve out of your money. After all, it is just a tool to help you thrive in this life. Everything else, the rules, the control, the plan and the implementations are all up to you.

Want To Be Super Rich? You’ll Need To Have These 8 Traits

money raining on womanWho doesn’t want to be super rich? If you were to stop 10 people at random on the street and ask them if they’d like to be super rich, we’d be willing to bet that all 10 will say, “Yes.” The fact is that being super rich could be really fun. If you don’t believe us, just check out the mansion that Robin Williams is now selling or the fact that Steve Ballmer can pay $2 billion for a basketball team. For further proof there’s the yacht owned by David Geffen with its five floors, 82 rooms, and a basketball court.

Of course, most of these people did not become super rich overnight. They worked long, hard hours and they had these seven traits.

1. An entrepreneurial spirit

There’s an old saying that you can’t get rich on someone else’s paycheck. And this is basically true. Most of the super wealthy got that way by going into business for themselves. There are plenty of doctors, lawyers and corporate executives who are in the group of $5 million-plus but those who start their own businesses tend to end up being worth even more.

2. Always on the clock

People who have built successful businesses tend to view the 40-hour workweek as a sort of part-time schedule. The typically work 60-to 80-hour workweeks. And working vacations are usually the norm.

3. Very high energy

If you don’t have a high energy level, it’s unlikely that you will ever become super rich. Most very wealthy individuals have a ton of energy, don’t require much sleep and generally have upbeat attitudes.

4. Visionaries

Most of the super rich are visionaries. These are what are called “force of nature” people. They have the ability to look at situations and see possible futures. Once they spot a possibility they also have an incredible ability to focus their energy and efforts on it.

5. A high level of confidence

One psychologist says that most of his super rich clients got their wealth by possessing an “expansive, healthy grandiosity.” This means they have a sense that they can do anything. These people are also open to creative ways to achieve their goals. They have a great deal of confidence in themselves and others and totally believe that the world will accommodate their business ideas. Also some of the very wealthiest have what’s called a “narcissistic personality disorder.” In other words, they think they’re very special, require a lot of admiration, have a high sense of entitlement and don’t have much empathy for others.

6. Discriminating

Many of the super rich understand they are not the smartest person in the room on every possible issue. However, they know to surround themselves with people who are and who will help them realize their vision. Here’s an interesting fact — those who do best are those that move past sole proprietorships and partner with others to expand their companies.

7. Modest

Despite what you might see in movies or on television most multi-millionaires actually live very modestly. Some of the very richest have chosen to not increase their lifestyles in lockstep with their growing wealth. Some even continue wearing old plaid shirts – or at least the men do.

8. Tolerant of risk

If you start your own business, by the very nature of things you will need to be a risk taker. However, there’s no need to be an investing gambler. Most of the super rich have short-term investments but a longer time horizon than other investors. Like Warren Buffett, they will invest in a stock or companies then stick with it as long as it makes sense to them. However, they won’t go all in on one bet. Of course, there’s always the one person who bets it all on something, gets lucky and then gets out. However, this is not the recipe that works for most people.

Getting started on the road to being super rich

As noted above if your true goal is to become super rich your best bet is to start your own company. Of course, there is a negative to this and that’s the fact that in most cases you won’t have money to start that venture. As many people have discovered you can have the greatest idea in the world since the Internet but if you don’t have the money to put it into effect, you’re doomed to failure. The good news is that there is now a way to raise money to fund your amazing idea. It’s called crowdfunding.

What is crowdfunding?

This is where you collect money from backers – that’s the “crowd” – to fund your initiative. This is usually done on an Internet platform. Your initiative could be anything from a nonprofit to fund schools or emergency funds for an ill person to creating and selling a new product. It could even be for financing your startup company.

As you might guess, crowdfunding models require a number of participants. This includes the people such as yourself that propose the idea or project to be funded and then the crowd of people who support your proposal.

450 platforms

As of two years ago, there were more than 450 crowdfunding platforms. Of course, if you have a project you want to crowdfund you will need to do your own due diligence in order to determine which platform would be best for you depending on your project. This is because there are some important differences in the services provided by the different crowdfunding platforms. As an example of this, CrowdCube and Seedrs are both designed to help small companies issue shares over the Internet and then receive small investments from registered users in return. However, there is even a difference between these two as CrowdCube is meant for users to invest small amounts and then acquire shares directly in startup companies. On the other hand, Seedrs pools funds to invest in new businesses as what’s called a nominated agent.

Other platforms such as SellaBand and Kickstarter replace traditional intermediaries such as venture capitalists. They link project initiators, designers and new artists with committed supporters who believe strongly in the persons behind the projects and provide monetary support.

Recent Kickstarter projects

As an example of projects that were successfully launched on Kickstarter, there was the Pebble: E-Paper Watch for Android and the iPhone. The total amount pledged by supporters of this project was $10,000,845. A total of $8,596,474 was pledged in a Kickstarter campaign in support of Ouya, a new type of game console. A role-playing game titled Project Eternity raised $3,986,929 and Form 1, an affordable, professional 3-D printer garnered $2,945-885 in crowdfunding.

As you can see from these examples, the initiatives that do best on Kickstarter tend to be those in the technology sector. But don’t despair if your idea does not fit in this category. The movie Gosnell was crowd funded on the platform IndieGogo as was Canary Home Security and the health scanner Scanadu Scout. The movie Road Hard was crowdfunded on the platform FundAnything and the Tesla Museum found its crowdfunds on Indiegogo.

Finally, here’s a video courtesy of National Debt Relief on the Where Next, How Far, and What Are the Limits of Crowdfunding?

But the net/net of this is if you have a brilliant idea and the ability to sell it to others you could get crowdfunding, turn your dream into a reality and be well on your way towards becoming super rich.

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