Know Thy (Financial) SelfFull Article
You’ve probably heard the phrase “knowledge is power” before. In fact, you may have even said it yourself from time to time.
And it’s true. Knowledge is power because it shows you how to act. The more informed your actions, the more likely they are to be fruitful and effective.
Here’s another quote you’ve probably heard and said a few times—“Know thyself.”
Why? Because there’s no greater power than power over yourself. The more you know yourself, the more able you’ll be to shape your actions, your habits, and your destiny.
This couldn’t be more relevant when it comes to financial matters. The more you know about your financial habits and tendencies, the better equipped you’ll be to control your financial future.
Here are some ways to know thy financial self.
Notice your emotions.
Like any other part of your personality, emotions can affect money. They’re especially important because they can cause you to act in ways that are counterproductive financially.
For example, have you ever felt anxious about checking your bank account?
Or felt a craving to blow money to destress?
Or swelled with pride when you see how much you’ve saved?
Those are all emotions, and they’re all related to money.
So the next time you’re spending money, or checking your bank account, or pinching pennies, take a moment. Breath. Notice how you’re feeling. Those emotions can give you valuable information that will help you make better financial decisions in the future.
Notice your thoughts.
Feelings almost always lead to thoughts. For instance, anxiety about looking at your bank account could lead to thoughts like this…
“Can I afford that? Oh, I bet I can’t. I WAY overspent the other day at… whatever, I never have enough money. I keep meaning to spend less, but I just can’t stop myself. Why do I even bother?”
See what happened? A feeling of anxiety led to a negative thought—that you can’t control your finances.
So what do you think about money? And that doesn’t mean the “opinions” about money that you share when you’re chatting with friends. It means the thoughts that flow through your mind when ever you encounter money in daily life.
Take a few moments right now and notice those thoughts. Are they positive? Are they negative? Are they just neutral?
Notice your actions.
Just like feelings almost always lead to thoughts, so do thoughts almost always lead to action.
Those actions might be to ignore, or repress, or get angry, or give in. But one way or another, thoughts will result in actions.
This is where budgeting helps. It’s like creating a journal of your actions, which are a window into your thoughts, your feelings, and who you are.
Notice lots of stress spending, snack buying, or binge shopping? That can reveal a facet of your financial self—maybe you think that spending will relieve feelings of stress and anxiety.
Or maybe you notice lots of thrifting and penny-pinching. That could reveal either a resourcefulness in hard times, or worry about going without.
Or maybe you notice wild, untamed spending. Perhaps this shows that you don’t prioritize money, and think of it as a tool to make you feel good.
The more you know about your financial self, the better equipped you’ll be to control your finances. You’ll see habits that you need to curb, and habits you need to cultivate.
Simple advice, but it goes a long way. Knowledge is power!
Money comes from solving problems.
Think about any business. It could be a lemonade stand. It could be Amazon.
Each of those businesses solves a problem.
The lemonade stand solves the problem of feeling dehydrated on a hot summer day. How? With a refreshing mix of sugar, citrus, and water. One sip, and you’re a new person. It’s a feeling people will pay big money to achieve.
Amazon solved a problem people didn’t even know existed—the inconvenience of shopping in stores. It turns out that driving from location to location is a time consuming hassle. Amazon eliminated that problem entirely with an all-encompassing online marketplace. And they’ve been richly rewarded—just look at Jeff Bezos’s net worth!
Your current job is likely solving a problem for your boss. You have skills that your boss needs to their business work, but that they don’t have the time to develop or apply. And in return for solving that problem for 40 hours per week, they give you a salary.
The takeaway? Don’t just develop skills—identify problems. Once you see obstacles, you can leverage your skills to overcome them. That’s where money comes from.
Finances are a challenge.
Whether you’re in your 20s and paying off student loans or in your 40s and trying to save for retirement, financial decisions can be complicated.
The good news? There are steps you can take to avoid the most common mistakes so you have more peace of mind when it comes to money management. Here are some of the most common financial mistakes people make, and tips on how to avoid them.
Caring too much about what others think.
This may be the tough love you need to hear. No one judges the car you drive. Or the watch on your wrist. Or the size of your home. And the one-in-a-million person who does? They’re a narcissist with WAY bigger problems than your car.
But that fear is powerful for a reason. It’s been carefully nurtured by TV commercials and Instagram accounts with a singular goal—to make you buy things you don’t need.
Know this—you’ll gain far more respect by attending to your own financial needs than by desperately trying to keep up appearances.
Not asking for help when you need it.
Let’s face it—you’re supposed to know how money works. Mastering your finances is symbolic of becoming an adult. There’s tremendous internal pressure to act like you know what you’re doing.
But were you taught how money works? Did a teacher, professor, or mentor ever sit you down and explain the Rule of 72, the Power of Compound Interest, or the Time Value of Money? If you’re like most, the answer is no. It’s a cruel double-bind—to feel good about yourself, you must master skills no one has ever taught you.
And that keeps you from asking for help. You get caught in shame, denial, and confusion. It’s hard to admit that you don’t know something that seems so basic, so essential.
But rest assured—you’re not the only one. And the right mentor or financial professional will listen to your story without judgement and seek to help you.
There are few things more daunting than staring at a pile of bills, an empty bank account, or an intimidating stack of paperwork. You know what you have to do. But it doesn’t happen because you’re so overwhelmed by the task ahead. And it’s especially daunting if you’ve never been how money works—you don’t even know where to start!
But nothing causes financial damage quite like procrastination. That’s because it causes exponential damage. Your bills pile up. Your interest rates rise. Your savings fall drastically behind, and you must save far more to catch up.
The antidote? Break the task down into smaller, manageable steps. Maybe that means signing up for Mint.com or working with a financial professional. That might mean automating $15 per month into an emergency fund, or cooking one dinner at home each week.
It doesn’t matter how small it is, as long as it puts money back in your pocket and stops the scourge of procrastination.
In conclusion, making financial mistakes is something that can happen to anyone. By knowing some of the most common financial mistakes people make and what you can do to avoid them, you’ll have more peace of mind when it comes to money management.
You can’t afford to live in a world of denial.
If you want to maintain your budget and save money, then you need a plan. The first step is understanding the basics—what is a budget? How does it work? What are the benefits of having one?
To effectively manage your monthly budget, you must take certain steps from day one. This article will provide some helpful tips and tricks on how to get started and keep going strong until payday rolls around!
What is a budget?
A budget is a plan. It helps you set limits for your spending, so that you can track your income and expenses. Having a budget is important because it keeps you aware of when you are spending too much or if there are ways your money could be saved.
It can also help you understand your spending habits as well as identify problem areas, such as overspending on credit cards or buying expensive lattes every day. With a clear understanding of how you spend money every month, you can reduce expenses and even start saving for luxuries or emergencies. You can’t have a goal of saving for your next vacation if you don’t know how much money you’re spending every month.
How to create your budget
The first step is to set goals for yourself for income and spending. When it comes to income, you need to consider all the ways you get paid. Do you have a job? Is your employer cutting back your hours? Do you have another source of income such as side jobs or freelance work?
Be completely honest with yourself about how much money you have coming in. Once this figure is known, you can assess your spending and determine how much of your income goes towards them every month.
Next, make a list of all fixed monthly bills, such as rent or loan repayments. Make a list of variable expenses, such as groceries or gas. Lastly, make a list of all your monthly discretionary spending, or ‘fun money’.
If you struggle with this last step, look at your bank statements. It’s the easiest way to find a complete record of your spending. This will help you pinpoint the areas that you could cut down on or even eliminate.
Leverage your budget
Now that you have your budget, you can take action. You can save money by leveraging your budget to meet your monthly goals.
The first way is to leverage your income. If you have a job, talk to your employer about working extra hours, or ask for a raise. This will give you more money without having to spend any more than you already are through increased expenses.
Beyond the extra income from a job, there are many other ways to add to your budget.
You can start small and pick up some side work—babysitting, another job or delivering pizzas etc. If you can turn your free time into money, go for it! This all depends on your financial situation and what you feel comfortable with, so take the time to plan accordingly.
You can also think about reducing your expenses. Cutting back on luxury items can save money every month without having to work an extra job. Just think of all the things you could do with the money that’s currently going towards cable TV or eating out at expensive restaurants!
Don’t forget to have some fun every once in a while. Just find creative ways to have it on a budget. Plan more outings with friends, rather than going out every evening, or go to free local events.
A budget is a way for you to track your expenses and income each month. You can leverage your budget in a number of ways, by increasing income or decreasing expenses. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to save more and plan for the future.
Need an income boost, but not sure where to start? Then you need to encounter the Cash Flow Quadrant.
It’s a concept pioneered by Robert Kiyosaki of Rich Dad Poor Dad fame. And it’s one of the best explanations of creating income around.
The employee and freelancer trade their time for money.
The entrepreneur and investor create or purchase income generating assets.
Think about what an employee does. They show up, punch in, and work for a set number of hours. In exchange, they either get paid by the hour or a set annual salary.
If they’re extra conscientious, they may get a raise or bonus as a reward. But their income is entirely dependent on the good graces and success of their boss. They never directly enjoy the fruits of their labor.
The same is true for the freelancer. Sure, they enjoy greater independence than an employee, but they’re still trading their time for money. Think of them as a mercenary rather than a soldier.
Compare that with the entrepreneur. The entrepreneur creates a system for delivering a service that’s duplicatable.
Let’s say you start a lemonade stand. You put up a few bucks to buy some lemons, sugar, cups, a cooler, and stand. It’s a risk—there’s no guarantee that’ll find any customers.
Fortunately, it’s a hit—the neighbors line up to enjoy your refreshing beverage!
After a few days, you’re swimming in cash. In fact, you earn enough to open another lemonade stand. So you buy the same supplies, and hire a friend to run the new location. Just like that, you’ve scaled your lemonade business.
Eventually, you have so many lemonade stands that you don’t have to manage one yourself. Instead, through initiative and upfront commitment, you’ve created an income stream. That’s how entrepreneurship works.
But now suppose that a friend comes along. She’s been eyeing your success and wants in. She’ll put up the cash to open another ten lemonade stands across the neighborhood (it’s a BIG neighborhood).
In exchange, she gets a slice of the profits from all the stands. She takes on some risk by giving you money in exchange for some income. In other words, she’s an investor. She’s using her money to earn more money.
There are two critical points to notice about the entrepreneur and the investor.
They take risks.
Starting a business is a risk. Giving money to an entrepreneur is a risk. Being an employee is consistent—you give X amount of time, you get X amount of money. Entrepreneurs and investors commit resources to projects with no guarantee of success.
They have far greater potential.
There are only so many hours you can trade for money. When successful, entrepreneurs and investors have far more resources at their disposal to trade for money.
Simply put, entrepreneurs and investors face greater risks, and greater potential rewards.
Which quadrant generates most of your income? Is there a quadrant you would like to explore further?
Failure is the greatest teacher.
That’s because nothing seizes your attention like failure. It’s hard to look away from a trainwreck. It’s even harder when you’re the one driving the train.
Failure leaves you reeling. It forces you to ask a critical question—”what went wrong?”
And that question can reveal powerful truths.
It reveals truths about your process.
Maybe your strategy for carrying about business is flawed and needs to be retooled.
It reveals truths about your assumptions.
Flawed strategies stem from faulty assumptions. What are you assuming about people or the world that led to your failure?
It reveals truths about your character.
Assumptions don’t appear from nowhere. They’re shaped by experiences and core beliefs about what’s right, wrong, and how the world works. Failure exposes those character forming beliefs like nothing else.
Simply put, failure cuts right to the core of who you are. And that’s a powerful experience, if you’ll listen to it.
So get out there. Drop the ball. Spill some milk. Botch something.
And be afraid to call it like it is—when it’s clear that you’re failing, acknowledge it and jump ship.
Then, ask yourself “what went wrong.” Be brutally honest. Take notes. Adjust as needed. And then get back out there.
You’ll find that you’re far stronger than you’ve been led to believe, and that you grow more resilient the more you attempt.
So here’s to failure. May you have enough that they pave the way to your greatest success.
Let’s face it—a side gig sounds like a dream come true. What’s not to love about being your own boss?
But if working for yourself is so awesome, why do so few take the plunge?
The reason is simple—uncertainty.
It makes sense. School taught you how to scribble notes and pass tests, not start a business.
And that uncertainty creates anxiety.
Picture yourself as a business owner. What would it look like?
If you’re like many, you saw flashes of expensive cars, meetings, and… nothing. Entrepreneurship is such a foreign experience that you don’t even know how to process it.
And that leads to the ultimate uncertainty—what if you fail?
What will others think if your business goes under? How will you feel about yourself? Will you be able to pay the bills?
In short, entrepreneurship feels like a black box of something that’s best left alone.
Sound familiar? There are two antidotes to the uncertainty of entrepreneurship…
1. Embrace uncertainty.
The next time you feel a twinge of fear, pause. What are you afraid of happening? What could go wrong? Maybe it’s something valid. Or likely, it’s something you can overcome. Train yourself to observe and question your fear. You’ll grow more and more confident taking calculated risks. You may even find yourself ready to start a part-time side hustle!
2. Find support.
Facing uncertainty is far easier when you’re surrounded by support. Friends, family, and mentors can provide an emotional safety net should things go south. They can also offer wisdom and counsel that can mean the difference between success and failure.
Where do you stand on entrepreneurship? Do you want to start a business, but can’t see what it would look like?
If so, let’s chat. Consider me your sounding board for your anxieties about the transition from employee to entrepreneur. I can help you process your fears and flesh out a vision for your business.
So you’ve decided to create a retirement strategy. Good for you!
Will your plans be durable enough to withstand your working years and sustain you through your retirement? The answers to the following questions can help give you clarity on if your retirement strategy has what it takes!
How’s it constructed?
Not all savings vehicles are created equal. For instance, stashing all your cash in a mattress until retirement is a great way to torpedo the value of your savings. Why? Because inflation will slowly but surely reduce the value of each dollar you earn today. The same goes for low-interest saving options like CDs, bonds, and checking accounts. Even a 401(k) might not be enough!
Realistically, you want to put your money in a place where it can leverage compound interest. That means the cash you save generates interest, and all the interest you earn also generates interest. Interest earning interest on interest eventually unleashes a huge tidal wave of wealth creation that can help carry you through your final years.
What percent of your income will you live on?
Nobody wants to take a pay cut when they retire. But that’s exactly what people relying on Social Security will do; it’s only designed to replace 40% of your annual income!¹ Instead, it’s better to live off of 80% of your salary.²
So what does that number look like now? Assuming you live 30 years after retiring, how much would you need to save before you hit that goal? If you make $60,000, 80% of your income is $48,000. You would need $1,440,000 saved to maintain your lifestyle for three decades.
Once you have that number estimated, determine how much you’ll need to save starting today. You can use a nifty compound interest calculator like this one to get an idea of how much that will be!
Is it tax efficient?
There are few surprises nastier than saving for decades only to have the government bite a huge chunk out of your nest egg at the finish line. We won’t dive into the details of taxes now, but you need to decide when you’ll pay Uncle Sam his share. You can either:
Pay now. CDs and Roth IRAs are options where you pay your taxes, then save the money. You end up only paying the tax rate of today.
Pay later. You don’t pay any taxes now, but you cough up a percentage of whatever you earn in the long haul at a future rate. This is how a 401(k) works.
Pay never. No, you don’t have to hire a Swiss lawyer and hide your money on an island to do this. Ask a licensed and qualified professional about legal ways to achieve tax free growth.
Whatever option you choose, make sure you understand its implications for how much you’ll have when you need it.
It’s always best to review your strategy with a licensed and qualified professional. They’ll have insights and knowledge to help you achieve the retirement of your dreams.
¹ “How Much Can I Receive From My Social Security Retirement Benefit?,” Wendy Connett, Investopedia, October 14, 2022, https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/102814/what-maximum-i-can-receive-my-social-security-retirement-benefit.asp#:~:text=The%20maximum%20monthly%20Social%20Security%20benefit%20that%20an%20individual%20can,the%20maximum%20amount%20is%20%242%2C324
² “How Much Money Do You Need to Retire?,” John Waggoner, AARP, Sep 17, 2020, https://www.aarp.org/retirement/planning-for-retirement/info-2020/how-much-money-do-you-need-to-retire/?cmp=RDRCT-3c5a7391-20200917
Debt is expensive.
Americans spend about 34% of their income on servicing their mortgages, car loans, and, of course, credit cards.¹
Assuming a household income of $68,703, that translates to roughly $23,359 going down the drain each and every year.²
Obviously, converting that money from debt maintenance to wealth building would be a dream come true for most Americans. But there’s more at stake here than retirement strategies.
The true cost of debt is your peace of mind.
Take the example from above. A third of your income is going towards debt and the rest is split up between everyday living and transportation expenses. You feel you can make ends meet as long as the money keeps coming in.
But what happens if a recession causes massive layoffs? Or if a pandemic shuts down the economy for months?
The sad fact is that the hamster wheel of debt prevents a huge chunk of Americans from saving enough to cover even a brief window of unemployment, let alone a shutdown!
That lack of financial security can have serious repercussions, including bankruptcy. And feeling like you’re always one unexpected emergency away from a financial crisis can result in a myriad of mental health issues. Numerous studies have shown that high levels of debt increase anxiety, depression, anger, and even divorce.³
Conquering debt isn’t about changing numbers on a page. It’s about reclaiming your peace. It’s about securing financial stability for you and your family. Your income is a powerful tool if you can protect it from lenders.
If you’re stressed about debt and seeking some relief, let me know. We can review your situation together and come up with a game plan that will recover the financial security that’s rightfully yours.
¹ “Study: Americans Spend One-Third of Their Income on Debt,” Maurie Backman, The Ascent, Mar 6, 2020, https://www.fool.com/the-ascent/credit-cards/articles/study-americans-spend-one-third-of-their-income-on-debt/#:~:text=And%20recent%20data%20from%20Northwestern,feel%20guilty%20about%20their%20predicament
² “Income and Poverty in the United States: 2019,” Jessica Semega, Melissa Kollar, Emily A. Shrider, and John Creamer, United States Census Bureau, Sept 15, 2020, https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2020/demo/p60-270.html#:~:text=Median%20household%20income%20was%20%2468%2C703,and%20Table%20A%2D1)
³ “The Emotional Effects of Debt,” Kristen Kuchar, The Simple Dollar, Oct 28, 2019, https://www.thesimpledollar.com/credit/manage-debt/the-emotional-effects-of-debt/?/186
We all know credit cards charge interest if you carry a balance. But how are interest charges actually calculated?
It can be enlightening to see how rates are applied. Hopefully, it motivates you to pay off those cards as quickly as possible!
What is APR?
At the core of understanding how finance charges are calculated is the APR, short for Annual Percentage Rate. Most credit cards now use a variable rate, which means the interest rate can adjust with the prime rate, which is the lowest interest rate available (for any entity that is not a bank) to borrow money. Banks use the prime rate for their best customers to provide funds for mortgages, loans, and credit cards.¹ Credit card companies charge a higher rate than prime, but their rate often moves in tandem with the prime rate. As of the second quarter of 2020, the average credit card interest rate on existing accounts was 21.44%.²
While the Annual Percentage Rate is a yearly rate, as its name suggests, the interest on credit card balances is calculated monthly based on an average daily balance. You may also have multiple APRs on the same account, with a separate APR for balance transfers, cash advances, and late balances.
Periodic Interest Rate
The APR is used to calculate the Periodic Interest Rate, which is a daily rate. 15% divided by 365 days in a year = 0.00041095 (the periodic rate), for example.
Average Daily Balance
If you use your credit card regularly, the balance will change with each purchase. So if credit card companies charged interest based on the balance on a given date, it would be easy to minimize the interest charges by timing your payment. This isn’t the case, however—unless you pay in full—because the interest will be based on the average daily balance for the entire billing cycle.
Let’s look at some round numbers and a 30-day billing cycle as an example.
Day 1: Balance $1,000
Day 10: Purchase $500, Balance $1,500
Day 20: Purchase $200, Balance $1,700
Day 28: Payment $700, Balance $1,000
To calculate the average daily balance, you would need to determine how many days you had at each balance.
$1,000 x 9 days
$1,500 x 10 days
$1,700 x 8 days
$1,000 x 3 days
Some of the multiplied numbers below might look alarming, but after we divide by the number of days in the billing cycle (30), we’ll have the average daily balance.
($9,000 + $15,000 + $13,600 + $3,000)/30 = $1,353.33 (the average daily balance)
Here’s an eye-opener: If the $1,000 ending balance isn’t paid in full, interest is charged on the $1353.33, not $1,000.
We’ll also assume an interest rate of 15%, which gives a periodic (daily) rate of 0.00041095.
$1,353.33 x (0.00041095 x 30) = $16.68 finance charge
$16.68 may not sound like a lot of money, but this example is a small fraction of the average household credit card debt, which is $8,645 for households that carry balances as of 2019.³ At 15% interest, average households with balances are paying $1,297 per year in interest. Wow! What could you do with that $1,297 that could have been saved?
That was a lot of math, but it’s important to know why you’re paying what you might be paying in interest charges. Hopefully this knowledge will help you minimize future interest buildup!
Did you know?
When you make a payment, the payment is applied to interest first, with any remainder applied to the balance. This is why it can take so long to pay down a credit card, particularly a high-interest credit card. In effect, you can end up paying for the same purchase several times over due to how little is applied to the balance if you are just making minimum payments.
¹ “Prime Rate Definition,” James Chen, Investopedia, Sep 25, 2022, https://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/primerate.asp
² “What Is the Average Credit Card Interest Rate?,” Adam McCann, WalletHub, Jan 3, 2023, https://wallethub.com/edu/average-credit-card-interest-rate/50841/
³ “Credit Card Debt Study,” Alina Comoreanu, WalletHub, Nov 17, 2022, https://wallethub.com/edu/cc/credit-card-debt-study/24400
Mortgage protection insurance seems like a great idea… on paper.
Afterall, you financially protect your home, your car, your health, and your life with insurance. Why not do the same for what’s typically your largest debt obligation?
But a MPI policy might not be the best way to help your family pay off the house.
Here are three questions you should ask before you buy mortgage protection insurance.
Will my payout change?
The fundamental weakness of most MPI policies is that their payout decreases over time. As you work down your mortgage, there’s technically less to protect.
That becomes a problem if your premiums don’t change even as your payout plummets. You’ll be paying the same amount for less protection!
Ask about policies that feature a level death benefit. They’ll provide you with the same amount of death benefit regardless of how much is left on your mortgage.
Will my premiums change?
Premiums for MPI aren’t always fixed. The amount you pay for protection each month might decrease or skyrocket. Your wallet is at the mercy of your insurance provider!
Just remember that fixed premiums might be a double edged sword. It may be useful to have a policy with premiums that lower over time if you don’t have a level death benefit. Ask about fixed premiums for your MPI before you find yourself paying more for less!
Would life insurance be a better option? (hint: the answer may be yes)
Term life insurance may be a better choice than MPI. Payouts are guaranteed by the insurance company and premiums are fixed. You won’t have to worry about paying more for less protection as the years go by.
It’s also flexible. A chunk of the death benefit may knock out the mortgage, while the rest can fund college, health care costs, and living expenses.
There are special circumstances where MPI is superior to term life insurance. It typically doesn’t have medical restrictions, making it a good option for people who normally wouldn’t qualify for term life insurance. Just remember to ask your financial professional these questions if you decide to learn more!
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to promote any certain products, plans, or insurance strategies that may be available to you. Before taking out a policy, seek the advice of a licensed financial professional, accountant, and/or tax expert to discuss your options.
Your life insurance coverage should be worth roughly ten times your annual income.
That’s not as crazy of a number as it might appear. Your income funds your family’s lifestyle and fuels their dreams. It’s how you pay for the house, the car, their education, and all the big and little things that make life run.
So what would happen if your income were to suddenly stop if you became ill or were to pass away?
Could your family afford to stay in the neighborhood? Would a child have to compromise their education? Would your spouse have to get an additional job to cover the daily costs of living?
Life insurance helps answer those questions in the event of your income disappearing.
So why buy a policy ten times your annual income?
First, it can act as a buffer while your family grieves and figures out next steps. A proper life insurance death benefit can allow your family to cover final expenses while they decide how to move forward.
Second, it can help your family pay off remaining debts and start funding future opportunities. This reduces the financial burden your loved ones will face in your absence.
Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule. A stay-at-home parent provides services and care that would be costly to replace and should be covered with that in mind. Families with medical concerns might need to consider a policy worth more than ten times their annual income.
But in general, a life insurance policy for ten times your income will help cover the major expenses your family will face.
Want a more precise estimate on how much life insurance you and your family need? Contact a financial professional. They can offer insights into how much coverage your specific situation calls for!
Successful businesses are good at solving problems.
The larger the problem to solve, the more rewards you will reap. We instinctively know this is true, even if we can’t articulate it. Just look at our spending habits.
Our favorite coffee shop solves our lack-of-energy-in-the-morning problem.
Music streaming soothes our rush hour stress with our favorite tunes.
A food delivery app removes the hassle of driving to a restaurant.
Your brands of choice provide you value by solving your problems. The more they fix, the more you love them!
So, imitate your favorites. Explore the problem you’ve identified until you’re an expert. Next, develop a solution that crushes the problem.
Training your sights on providing value won’t magically make you successful. But it can serve as a guiding light when you feel directionless and unsure of your next steps.
Can’t find your target market? Brainstorm which companies or agents would gain the most from implementing your solution. Be as specific as possible in explaining the benefits.
Struggling to discover a niche in a saturated market? Look for issues that competitors and industries have ignored or missed. It might be something they’ve accepted as the cost of business.
Trying to scale up? Diligently research the obstacles your new clients face and tailor your solutions to their specific needs.
Let me know if you’re hungry to start a business. We can talk about the problems facing some of the largest industries in the world and how you can provide much needed solutions.
Your paycheck makes everyone rich… except you. Allow me to explain.
Your labor actually is helping make your boss rich. He gives you a portion of earnings in exchange for your time and effort. No harm, no foul. But what becomes of that paycheck?
It goes right back to people just like your boss.
The owner of your favorite coffee shop gets a piece.
Whoever dreamed up your favorite streaming service gets a piece.
Your landlord gets a huge piece.
And your credit card provider? They gobble up whatever’s left.
Everyone gets rich while you’re left scrambling to make ends meet. You get another paycheck and the cycle repeats.
So how do you escape this endless cycle and begin building wealth?
Before you do anything else, you’ve got to pay yourself first.
Start treating your personal savings as the most important bill to pay. Here’s the simplest way:
• Decide how much you want to pay yourself each month and adjust your budget accordingly
• Set-up a recurring automatic payment from your checking account to your savings account. Schedule it right after your payday.
• Pay rent, utility bills, and buy groceries after your automatic transaction goes through
• Use whatever is left for your lifestyle
Remember, the most important person you owe money to is you. Prioritize your own savings and use your income to build wealth for yourself.
The goal of this article is to empower you to take bold action.
You want to increase your income and be your own boss. Who doesn’t? You just need the practical know-how to overcome your fear and start the journey.
So turn off the YouTube videos and fire up Google Docs. Here’s how to choose the right side gig for you.
Step 1: List your hobbies. Passions make excellent side gigs. Why? Because they leverage skills you already have, and likely command your attention and interest. Those are critical ingredients for success.
It doesn’t matter how niche or strange your hobby might be. Write it down. In fact, the more oddball your interest, the more potential you may have more monetizing it.
Step 2: Evaluate the market. Simply put, can your skills solve a widespread problem? If so, then you have a potential client base at your fingertips.
Those problems may not seem obvious at first. But you will certainly be surprised by what people will pay for.
Not knowing how to play an instrument is a huge problem for music lovers.
Lacking time to decorate and organize is a huge problem for type A personalities.
Social Media illiteracy is a huge problem for older people starting small businesses.
All of those problems are opportunities to boost your income, if you have the skills to solve them. It just takes some time and creativity to identify problems.
Step 3: Size up the competition. But here’s the catch—there might be hundreds, or even thousands, of others seeking to solve the same problems as you. In fact, your competitors might have a stranglehold on your target market.
However, if your skills or niche are highly specific you could have a rare opportunity on your hands. You could eventually scale your side gig income to replace your day job!
This leads to a critical principle for deciding which side gig is right for you…
Opportunity lies at the intersection of high demand and low supply.
The more people demand a service, and the fewer competitors already providing it, the greater your likelihood of success.
There’s just one factor left to consider…
Step 4: Weigh costs against rewards. Starting a business requires a combination of time, effort, and money. No exceptions. The question is whether—and when—the rewards will outweigh the costs.
Starting a car manufacturing business? Good luck—you’ll require a huge amount of capital, and won’t see profits for years.
Refurbing curb-side furniture with tools and skills your grandpa left you? Hats off—your start up costs are almost zero, beyond some time and energy.
In summary, you want a side gig that…
• Aligns with your skills and passions
• Solves a major problem for many people
• Lacks competitors
• Offers high rewards with small costs
Which side gig fits that bill for you? Whatever it is, let’s chat about it. We can discuss what it would look like for you to start pursuing it today.
You walk out of the office like a brand new person.
That’s because you’ve done it—you’re going to be earning a lot more money with that raise. The first thing that pops in your head? All the fancy new things you can afford.
Dates. Your apartment. Vacation. They’re all going to be better now that you’ve got that extra money coming in.
And to be fair, all of those things CAN get substantially fancier after your income increases.
But one thing may not change—you still might end up living paycheck to paycheck.
Why? Because your lifestyle became more extravagant as your income increased. Instead of using the boost in cash flow to build wealth, it all went to new toys.
This phenomenon is called “lifestyle inflation”. It’s why you might know people who earn plenty of money and have nice houses, but still seem to struggle with their finances. The greater the income, the higher the stress. As Biggie put it, “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.”
The takeaway? The next time you get a raise, do nothing. Act like nothing has changed. Go celebrate at your favorite restaurant. Keep saving for your new treat. But you’ll thank yourself if you devote the lion’s share of your new income to either reducing debt or building wealth.
Rest assured, there will be plenty of time to enjoy the fruits of your labor in the future. But for now, keep your eyes on the most important prize—building wealth for you and your family’s future.
Without careful planning, your money will never go the distance for your retirement.
Well, unless you win the powerball or stumble upon buried treasure.
The simple fact is that retirement can last a long, long time and often be expensive. According to the Federal Reserve, the average American can expect a retirement of almost 20 years, requiring $1.2 million.¹
How long would it take you to save $1.2 million? Even if you could stash away your entire paycheck, it would likely take over a decade. Factor in the daily costs of living, and decades may become centuries.
Unless, of course, you leverage two simple strategies…
Strategy One: Maximize the power of compound interest.
Strategy Two: Start saving today.
These are time-proven strategies that anyone can leverage. And they can mean the difference between your savings running out of steam or lasting as long as you do.
Let’s start with strategy one: Maximize the power of compound interest…
Compound interest can supercharge your savings. Instead of taking centuries, you have the potential to reach your retirement goals just in time!
That’s because compounding unleashes a virtuous cycle. The money you save grows on its own over time.
But here’s where the magic happens—the more money you have compounding, the greater its growth potential becomes. Even a fraction of your paycheck can eventually compound into the wealth you may need for retirement.
Think of it like changing gears on a bike. Savings alone is first gear—good enough for going down hills or casual jaunts through the neighborhood.
But for reaching greater goals, you need more power. Compound interest is those extra gears—it’s an advantage that can radically improve your performance.
That leads straight into the next strategy: Start saving today.
The longer your money compounds, the greater potential it has for growth. To prove this, let’s crunch the numbers…
Let’s say you can save $500 per month. You find an account that compounds 10% annually.
After 20 years, you’ll have saved $120,000 and grown an additional $223,650 for a grand total of $343,650. Not bad!
But what if you wait another 11 years? Your money will more than triple—you’ll have $1,091,660!
The takeaway? A few years could be the difference between reaching your retirement goals and coming up short. The sooner you start, the greater potential you have to get where you want to go.
No more sporadic saving when you feel the panic. No more burying your head in the sand because you don’t know what the future holds. No more fear that your finances won’t cross the finish line.
These simple strategies can help you go the distance and retire with confidence. Contact me if you want to learn more about building wealth!
¹ “Retirement costs: Estimating what it costs to retire comfortably in every state,” Samuel Stebbins, USA Today, Feb 11, 2021, https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2021/02/11/retirement-costs-comfortable-in-every-state-life-expectancy/115432956/
Wealth, simply put, is the stockpile of resources you have at your disposal.
The rarer the resource, the “wealthier” you are.
On a surface level, that definition conforms to the common stereotypes of wealth. Can we all agree that a stacked bank account is a rare and precious resource?
But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find that wealth takes many shapes and forms.
Your knack for finding the right word at the right time?
Your secret talent for creating with your hands?
Your indestructible support network that’s there for you, no matter what?
Those are all resources. Those are all rare. Those are all wealth. They just don’t have a dollar value… yet.
To be fair, you shouldn’t monetize all of your assets, especially if those assets are people. Leveraging your network for money is something that must be done with the utmost care and respect, if at all.
But the fact remains that you likely possess an abundance of resources that could be converted into increased cash flow. Your talents, your ability, and your time are all precious assets that have the potential to boost your income.
The takeaway? When you break it down, you’re wealthier than you may think. The real question is, how will you monetize the resources you’ve been given?
Self-improvement is big business.
In 2020, the self-improvement industry was estimated to be worth $10.4 billion in the United States.¹
But here’s the catch—most of the advice you get from self-improvement gurus is either really simple or generic to the point of useless.
So here are five completely free self-improvement moves you can make that can actually help you feel better, starting today.
Get some sun
Sunlight, especially in the morning, offers a host of benefits, including…²
- Stronger eyes (just don’t look straight into the sun!)
- Healthy weight loss
- Stronger immunity
- Boosted emotional well-being
- Higher quality sleep
As a rule of thumb, try to get sunlight before noon for between 5 to 30 minutes. Don’t wear sunglasses or view the sunlight through a window, and get out of the shade for maximum results.
That’s it. Spend 5 minutes each day in the sun and see if you notice results!
Optimize your sleep
Getting better sleep can transform your life. It can improve everything from mood to focus to your ability to build muscle.³
But it’s often low on the priority list. How many times have you heard your overachieving friend say “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”?
Don’t be like them! Implement these simple strategies to get the rest you deserve…
- Get sunlight early in the day, preferably within 60 minutes of waking
- Dim the lights before bed
- Keep your room cool and dark
Above all, aim for 8 hours of sleep each night!
Kick your self-improvement addiction
Let’s face it—self-improvement can swiftly become counter productive. At first, you get that rush. You’re setting goals and crushing them. You’re noticing improvements in mood, your productivity, your physique. It’s like the answer you’ve been waiting for!
But reality slowly settles back in. You start noticing inefficiencies in your routine. Bad habits creep back in. The world is still on fire. You’re still human.
That’s where you have a choice. You can throw yourself deeper into the self-improvement rabbit hole, optimizing every moment in the hope that one day, you’ll finally feel okay.
Or, you learn the ultimate self-improvement technique of them all—self-acceptance. Sure, you make tweaks and deal with problems. But you acknowledge that, at the end of the day, you’re still human. You take the good with the bad. You do your best to treat other people—and yourself—right.
So wake up tomorrow and get some sun, first thing. Before bed, dim the lights well in advance and turn on the fan. Wake up and see how you feel. And if these tips don’t fix all your problems, don’t sweat it—celebrate the improvement, and remember that you’re still human. And that’s a good thing, because that means you’re, well, you!
¹ “$10.4 Billion Self-Improvement Market Pivots to Virtual Delivery During the Pandemic,” John LaRosa, MarketResearch.com, Aug 2, 2021 https://blog.marketresearch.com/10.4-billion-self-improvement-market-pivots-to-virtual-delivery-during-the-pandemic
² “Sunlight and Your Health,” Poonam Sachdev, WebMD, Feb 22, 2022 https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/ss/slideshow-sunlight-health-effects
³ “Surprising Reasons to Get More Sleep,” Rachel Reiff Ellis, WebMD, Jun 12, 2021 https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/benefits-sleep-more
It can sometimes feel like there’s a life insurance language barrier.
Words and ideas seem designed to confuse and trick you. But you might be surprised by how simple the concepts and terms actually are once they’re explained.
Consider this article your personal life insurance phrasebook to help you cut through the lingo and better understand the products you’re exploring. Let’s start with the basics!
Policy and Policy Holder
A life insurance policy is a contract between you and an insurer stating that they will pay out a certain amount of money upon your passing (or another event specified in the policy). The policyholder is the person who owns and controls the policy.
The money that gets paid out from the policy when you die.
You, as the policyholder, get to decide where the death benefit will go. The people who receive the money are called beneficiaries. That could be a spouse, child, or anyone who depends on your income.
The payment you give the insurer in exchange for the life insurance policy is called the premium. You might have to pay these monthly or annually.
Term Life Insurance
Some life insurance covers you for a specific amount of time. Your beneficiaries only receive the death benefit if you pass away during that time frame. This is referred to as Term Life Insurance. It’s typically considered the most straightforward form of life insurance available.
Permanent Life Insurance
Another type of life insurance lasts for your entire life. This is called Permanent Life Insurance. There are multiple subcategories of permanent life insurance.
Some permanent life insurance options come with a savings component. This is called a Cash Value. You can usually borrow against the cash value and spend the money on whatever you please!
This isn’t an exhaustive list of life insurance words and phrases, but it should be the minimum to get you started. Consider reaching out to a financial advisor to act as your translator as you dive deeper into the language of life insurance!