bookmark_borderStop Putting Off Important Financial Decisions

It is never too late (or too early for that matter) to start addressing one’s financial issues. By recognizing the need for a sound financial plan, you will be able to stop putting off important financial decisions while meeting both your current and future financial needs in the process. For all intents and purposes, this is our some list of financial reasons people tend to put off:

  • Automating one’s finances – helps individuals get into the habit of automatically saving a small percentage of their income on a regular basis.
  • Building an emergency fund – financial advisors recommend finding a savings account that offers the highest yield and making regular contributions to it.
  • Deciding when to retire – if you haven’t reached your 40’s yet, you should start saving towards retirement now because the element of time will be your best friend.
  • Deciding where to retire – you should have a plan in place for where you want to retire, otherwise you may be forced into taking what is available.
  • Developing a debt pay-off plan and sticking to it – there are a number of ways that you can prioritize your debts and start paying them off, but no matter what type of plan you develop, you need to stick to it.
  • Having life insurance – this is another financial decision that people oftentimes procrastinate about and one that could financially cover their family members in the event of their demise.

bookmark_borderImmutable Laws of Money Control

One day, a boat filled with sailors rowed past the cliff. A sailor spotted the goat, grabbed a bow and shot at him. As the goat lay dying he gasped “I thought my enemies would come by land. I never thought to look out to the sea”

Wealth is only guaranteed when your personal money making machine is made up of effective money generation and money retention system. A defect in either of these systems makes you vulnerable to poverty and financial failure. Unfortunately most people intending to make money often concentrate all their efforts on generating money with little or no attention on controlling money. This is like trying to save the life of an automobile accident victim by doing everything to get him to the hospital without stopping blood flow from his body. The truth is: he is likely going to die faster due to loss of blood than due to the injury sustained. You will remain poor more as a result of lack of money control skills than due to lack of money generation skills. This is true for individuals as well as for organizations.

Think about it this way, every time you save $100, you are automatically $100 richer. But every time you need to make $100 you will need to spend some money in other to make it, sometimes as much as $ 80. Therefore preventing yourself from losing $100 might be equivalent to making $500 or more. The first and most important skill of enduring prosperity therefore is money retention skills.

If you ask most people if they are good at controlling money, their answers will be a resounding yes. But this approach will give the kind of result you will get if you ask children if taking ice-cream is good for their health. The best way to know if you have money control problem is to answer the five questions below as sincerely as you can with a yes or a no. No one else needs to know what your answers are, but being sincere with yourself will put you on the path of enduring prosperity.

  1. Do you regularly find yourself in short-term and long-term non-business debt? E.g. You always have to borrow money or apply for IOU before the end of the month
  2. Do you find yourself borrowing money from people who earn less income than yourself? E.g. Sub-ordinates or non-working parents
  3. Do you find yourself usually involved in regret expenses? These are expenses you incurred and wished you had delayed for more important expenses
  4. Do you find yourself usually involved in emotional purchases or expenses? Buying things or spending money not because you need to but because of what people will say
  5. Do you find yourself regularly unable to meet expected and predictable bulk expenses such as: Children school fees, Maternity bills, House rents, Major car repairs
  6. Do you find yourself regularly dreaming of jackpot or sudden financial breakthrough and therefore frequently participating in different types of lottery or lucky dips

bookmark_borderFinding Financial Advisor

The fiduciary standard legally obligates advisors to put your interest before their own. Advisors that work under a fiduciary standard must disclose any conflict of interests and share with you whether they benefit from recommending any products or other professionals. They must be transparent as to fees the advisors gets for that advice.

In contrast, the suitability standard is a standard requires advisors to suggest investment products that are appropriate for you. There is no standard to conclude that the investment will help you achieve your goals or is in your legal best interest. Also, there is no requirement to fully disclose any conflicts of interest, potentially allowing an advisor to recommend products that may provide higher commissions for themselves instead of similar products with lower fees.

There are wonderful advisors and poor advisors that work under both the fiduciary and suitability standard. We work under the fiduciary standard and highly value the trust we know it provides.

An advisor’s professional designations and experience matter. It gives you great insight as to the advisor’s knowledge and areas of expertise. There are over 100 different types of credentials and they can be very confusing. If you are looking for a financial advisor, you might be well served to at least be familiar with these three credentials that reflect a broad level of training and commitment:

CFP® – CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ®

CFP® professionals have completed university level financial planning coursework, met experience requirements, and passed the CFP® board’s rigorous exam covering 72 topics ranging from investment and risk management to tax and retirement planning, legacy management and the integration of all these disciplines. They also commit to ongoing education and a high ethical standard. More information: http://www.cfp.net

CFA® – Chartered Financial Analyst ®

To earn the CFA credential, professionals must pass 3 rigorous exams, each of which demands a minimum of 300 hours of master’s degree level study that includes financial analysis, portfolio management and wealth management. Professionals must also accumulate at least four years of qualified investment experience and annually commit to a statement of high ethics. More information: www.cfainstitute.org

CIMA® – Certified Investment Management Analyst®

CIMAs focus on asset allocation and portfolio construction. The program of study covers 5 core topic areas and applicants must meet experience, education, examination and ethical requirements. CIMAs must also commit to ongoing professional education. More information: www.imca.org

Make sure you seek out an advisor and firm that fits your needs. If you need someone to help you with your investing, you might seek out a firm that has a range of investment solutions such as an asset management firm.

If you need help assessing your current circumstances and creating a plan for you to reach various goals in your life, you might seek a financial planner. This advisor can help you consider retirement and college needs, tax strategies, risk management and possible wealth transfers.

If you need both financial planning and investment advice, then you should seek a wealth manager. This advisor has broad expertise and takes a holistic approach to guide you through comprehensive planning and portfolio management.

Don’t be shy; ask about fees! Every professional deserves to be paid for their expertise and services. By understanding how the advisor is compensated, you can determine whether the advisor’s interests align well with yours.

Commissions only – these advisors are compensated based on the investment products you choose such as mutual funds, structured products, insurance policies or annuities they buy or sell for you.

Fee only – Independent advisors often offer fee only advising. Their fee is often stated as a percentage of the assets they manage for you so that they, too, benefit if your portfolio grows and are penalized when it declines. They may also offer fixed fees for specific services.

Fee-based – these advisors may charge a fixed fee for financial planning services they provide and collect a commission on any financial product you buy or sell. These may include mutual funds, Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), annuities and insurance.

bookmark_borderMistakes Most Investors Make

Improper Asset Allocation

Most investors have their assets dispersed with several advisors and several financial firms. No single advisor knows what the other is doing resulting in an uncoordinated portfolio. One advisor in firm A might be selling the very asset that an advisor in firm B is buying. Unless there is one coach reviewing the entire portfolio, then your money is not coordinated.

Your asset allocation should always reflect your current position in life, your current goals, future, feelings and family characteristics. When your hard earned money is scattered to other advisors and institutions, you alone are left to properly manage your portfolio. Many individuals are not trained to monitor this correctly and consistently. Unfortunately, the overall plan suffers.

Improper Correlation Within Investments, Managers and Funds

Without saying, each investment needs to be excellent on its own. The investment, manager, or mutual fund needs to have a strong track record (I like a ten-year record). You might be able to select quality investments. That’s not the problem. Where the breakdown occurs is knowing how these investments interrelate. This is nearly impossible to track when one advisor is doing one thing, and a different advisor is doing just the opposite.

Let’s think about a recipe analogy. You might have the best ingredients to make your favorite dish. You might even have quality chefs at your beck and call, ready to make this dish for you. If you put all of these chefs in the same kitchen, but don’t let them know what the other is doing, a culinary disaster awaits. You can see that the likelihood of your dish coming out correctly is very low, no matter how good the ingredients were. Same is true with your investment portfolio.

Failure to Monitor the Consolidated Portfolio

You know life is not static. Life is constantly changing. Whether it’s your job, children, the economy, world events, new laws, unplanned expenses (and the list goes on and on), your world constantly moves. Your entire portfolio needs to be dynamic as well. When market forces move, the properly managed portfolio needs to move with it. I am not talking about day-trading, but rebalancing when and where appropriate. Additionally, your goals, future, feelings and family characteristics are changing as well. Every day is either a day closer to your goals, or not.

bookmark_borderBanking Transactions

Fixed deposit account

A customer can deposit his money with a bank for a fixed period. Such an account is called ‘Fixed Deposit Account’ . The period in fixed deposit account usually varies from three months to five years. The amount deposited cannot be withdrawn before the expiry of the fixed period. The bank normally allows as higher rate of interest on fixed deposits. The rate of interest increases with the period of deposit.

Saving Bank Account

A saving bank account provides limited withdrawal facility and carries a moderate rate of interest on deposits. Interest is allowed on the savings bank account on the lowest credit balance kept in a particular month.

Bearer and Order Cheques

A cheque may be made payable to a bearer or to order. A bearer cheque may be made payable to the bearer i.e. it can be encashed by any person who presents it to the bank for payment. The bank is under no obligation to ascertain that the payment has been made to the right person. An order cheque on the other hand is made payable to a particular person or order. An order cheque can be transferred only by endorsement and delivery.

Crossing Cheque

When a cheque is to be sent through post, it is desirable to draw two parallel lines with or without the words ” & Co.” between the lines. This is called crossing the cheques. Crossed cheques cannot be encashed at the counter but can be collected only by a bank from the drawee bank. If the payee has no banking account, he must get a person possessing a bank account to cash that cheque for him. Crossing thus provides a protection and safeguard to the owner of the cheque as by securing payment through a banker it can be easily detected to whose use the money is received.

Crossing may be general or special. A general crossing is one where two parallel lines are drawn across the face of a cheque with or without the words’ & Co.’ but not including the name of a bank.

Where a cheque is crossed generally, the paying banker shall not pay it except to a banker. Sometimes the words ‘Not negotiable’ appear in crossing. These two words do not meem that the cheque cannot be transferred. It simply means that the person holding such a cheque gets no better title than that of his transferor and cannot convey a better title to his own transferee. Sometimes the words ‘Account Payee only’ are inserted between two parallel lines constituting a crossing. This is a direction to the collecting banker to collect the cheque and to place the amount to the credit of the payee only.

A special crossing is one which requires the name of the bank to be added across the face of the cheque either with or without the words ‘not negotiable’. A special crossing makes the cheque more safer than a general crossing because the payee or holder cannot receive payment except through the banker named on the cheque. Special crossing may take anyone of the following forms.

Endorsement

Endorsement is the act of signing a cheque for the purpose of transferring it to somebody else. Under Negotiable Instruments Act it means the writing of ones name on the back of the instrument or any paper attached to it with the intention of transferring the rights therein. A bearer cheque can be transferred by mere delivery but an order cheque is transferred by endorsement and delivery. Endorsements are usually made on the back of the cheque, though they can be made on its face as well. If, however, no space is left on the instrument, it may be made on a separate paper attached to it.

Endorsement on the cheque must be made in proper fashion, otherwise the bank will not pay it.The endorser’ must sign his name exactly as it has been written on the cheque. He must sign his name with the same spellings as already appear on the cheque. He may, if he, likes put down the correct spellings after he has signed in the manner already appearing on the cheque. Where a cheque is endorsed on behalf of a company, a firm or some other institution, the person signing the endorsement must so sign as to make it clear that he is so doing on behalf of the company or the firm and not in his personal capacity.

bookmark_borderPersonal Finance Wealth Creation Strategies

IRA’s and 401k’s are two very common ways to put money away for retirement. When you put money into these two vehicles it is put away pre-tax. You don’t have to include the money you put into these accounts when figuring out your taxable income. The money you place in these funds will then be invested in stocks and mutual fund. Hopefully, by investing in these underlying investments your retirement account will continue to grow tax free. You will have to pay taxes on the money when you use it during retirement. For a full description of how this works, talk with your accountant or investment professional.

Investing directly in stocks and mutual funds. This is one of the most common ways of getting more savings for your retirement. Many people think that investing in the stock market is like gambling and that it is very risky. The truth is, if you are willing to take some time to learn a little bit about the process (no one is expecting you to become an expert, just know enough to ask questions and be informed) you will greatly eliminate much of the risk. Risk comes from making poor choices and making poor choices usually comes from lack of knowledge and just following along and taking advice from someone who often knows little more than you do. Mutual funds are professionally manged and you can find various funds to invest in. Again, knowledge is power. Even if you work with a financial consultant, having some knowledge of how your money is being invested is just a smart thing to do… after all, it is your money. No one is going to care about your money as much as you do!

Real estate. Again, many people will think investing in real estate is risky, but if you know what you are doing you will greatly reduce the risk. There are a few ways to invest in real estate one of the most common is to buy rental properties and rent them out. This provides you with an ongoing cash flow. That cash flow than can be invested in still other ways to ensure it’s continual growth. I personally feel it is a mistake to just turn your money over to some “professional” and hope for the best. I think it makes more sense to learn a few basic skills so you can be a partner in all wealth creation strategies. This is the best way to ensure your money grows the way you want it to.

bookmark_borderManaging Monthly Budget

Set up a budget and try to follow every step of it. The budget will show you the way you spend the money and the actual amount that you may spend this month. You will be able to save more funds for something bigger and more pleasant than just a simple pair of shoes or a new car tool. Compare the expenses with your salary. Are they the same? Or do you even waste more than earn?

Check the statement of account every month before posting your payment. Mistakes may occur everywhere. And the payment bills are not an exception. That is why it is so important to check all your bills and figure out the exact sum of money you owe. It may happen that you pay for something you did not buy. If you’ve found a mistake contact your issuer at once for figuring out the issue.

Managing of your finances does take some time but it is better to check everything than to fall behind with all the bills. At least you will be calm about your credit score.

Do not miss your payments as you may get into a trouble. If you do not pay all of your bills and loans in several months the debt collection notice may arrive and it will be a real trouble.

If an unforeseen situation has occurred to you, do not wait until your debt collector or a bank employee contacts you and reminds that you have not paid back yet. Let them know about your difficulties and maybe they will give you some extra time for coping with the issues.

In such situation there is an easy way-out – payday loans online. They have become very popular among consumers as they do not require a lot of efforts and time for sending a request for a loan. You will be able to get the required funds within 24 hours just sitting with your lap-top at home.

If you have got more than one credit card, focus on every bill. You can save much money if you pay back the full balance instead of keeping a revolving one.

bookmark_borderYear-End Tax Planning

Under no circumstances do we want to be old and broke in America and if one is single and female, that is a real possibility. Fortunately, there are good retirement plan options available to those with a few thousand dollars to spare and the discipline to save. Your contributions to most retirement funds are tax-deductible and taxes are not due until it’s time to draw down on the account (usually, age 59 1/2 the youngest and age 70 1/2, the oldest).

Contributions to self or employer-funded retirement accounts are guided by your net earnings. If you net $80,000 this year, then you may contribute 25% of that amount, or $20,000, to your retirement account. If you are age 50 years or older, most plans allow you to make a “catch-up” contribution of maximum $6500 (in 2016) that can raise your total allowed retirement fund contribution (and tax deduction). The maximum amount that one can contribute in 2016 is $53,000 and $59,500 for those age 50 years or older.

The Simplified Employee Pension Individual Retirement Account SEP IRA allows contributions of up to 25% of net earnings, for a maximum annual contribution of $53,000. Only business owners and the self-employed may participate. Employers contribute on behalf of employees (and that includes themselves, because business owners and the self-employed are both employer and employee). The percentage of employee earnings that the employer contributes must be equal for all participants in any given year and those contributions are tax-deductible. Salary deferrals and “catch up” contributions are not permitted, nor can a participant borrow from the fund.

The Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees Individual Retirement Account SIMPLE IRA is tailored for Entrepreneurs and all employers with fewer than 100 employees. Contributions, which are technically salary deferrals, are tax-deductible and are made by employees. Employers are required to make annual matching contributions to their employees’ SIMPLE IRA accounts, whether or not the employee chooses to defer salary and contribute every year. Employers can match a maximum 3 % of the employee’s salary and in certain circumstances, can limit the employer contribution to 2%.

If you anticipate growth in your business that will likely cause you to hire even one full-time employee, then consider a SIMPLE IRA, because adding employees to the plan is relatively easy. Employee contributions are limited to $12,500 annually and the “catch-up” contribution for Entrepreneurs and other business owners who are age 50 and older is $3000.

However, as an Entrepreneur and business owner, you may contribute to your SIMPLE IRA as both employer and employee. You may contribute a maximum 3% of your net earnings, maximum $12,500 this year, and add $3000 more if you are age 50 or older.

There are other retirement plans available for Entrepreneurs and Solopreneurs that merit investigation, most notably the 401K plans that allow contributions of pre-tax or after-tax dollars. Speak with your accountant or financial adviser for more information.

bookmark_borderBanks and Credit Unions Differ

Banks

The main function of a bank, of course, is to hold onto your money for you. It makes its profits by investing that money or loaning it to other customers. If you open a savings account you’re basically loaning money, which you get paid back in the form of interest. As with any other business, it is expected to show a profit for its investors. In order to beat the competition, it must engage in not only advertising, but also lobbying to make sure their profit margins are not harmed by governmental regulations. They also have to perform a great deal of risk assessment in order to make sure their investments don’t hurt the bottom line.

Credit Unions

Credit unions have been around in the U.S. since 1908, when the first one was founded in Manchester, NH. They differ from banks in that when you deposit money, you’re actually buying shares of the company. Membership in credit unions is always restricted to a certain group, such as workers in a certain industry, members of the military or people who live in a certain region of the country. However, it is extremely easy to find one to join.

If you open an account, it will probably be called a “share draft” or something similar. This is because you’re not a customer, but rather, an owner. Credit unions typically are not owned by any type of corporation, nor are they run for profit. Any extra money they make are used to offer better rates on savings accounts and loans, usually resulting in advantages such as lower fees. Whatever money is left over is distributed to members through dividends.

Because credit unions tend to be smaller and more locally focused, members may find it hard to withdraw money without going to a branch. Even using an ATM in another part of town could mean paying a significant fee. In addition, there are some services that may not be available, such as online bill pay.

bookmark_borderEffective Money Management

Master your inner thoughts and spoken words

Your inner thoughts are the start of everything that you create. What you focus on expands. Negative, fear based thoughts will manifest themselves into reality if you allow them to grow in your mind. You must focus on the things that you want so that it expands and manifests in your life. Your words are also important as negative words such as “I can’t afford it” or “I will never be rich” will send out the wrong message. The universe only responds to thoughts and words of abundance. From this moment forward stop yourself the second you think or say a negative word and immediately replace it with something positive. You must believe that you can be rich and live a life of abundance. If you have the mental capacity to read this article then it is your duty to get rich so that you can help those that are less fortunate than yourself.

Create a spending plan

A spending plan specifies exactly how you will spend and save your money. I prefer not to call it budgeting as this implies constraint and scarcity of choices. A spending plan on the other hand suggests mastery and control of your finances. It is vital to track every cent that you spend. The idea is to create a list of spending priorities that is aligned to what is most important to you. There is one thing that is non-negotiable. You may not spend more than your earnings and at least 10% of your income must be saved so that you can build capital for investment. You should have a short-term plan that covers the period of a month and a long-term plan that is for a year. This is because certain expenses like home improvements may need longer planning periods. Long term home improvements can also be managed by taking out a loan and paying a fixed monthly amount that fits in with your plan.

Simplify your lifestyle

You can save and live a life with lesser stress if you just simplify. An expensive car and dining out at popular restaurants is not a necessity. Don’t drink coffee at Starbucks or spend money on fancy branded clothing. Once you are earning your desired working income then you can treat yourself to luxuries but if you are struggling to save then really think hard about your lifestyle and spending habits.

Pay off your bad debt

Credit card debt is bad if you pay just the minimum amount every month. If you have a large credit card bill then do your best to pay if off quickly.This is because the high interest will keep you in debt for many years to come and will result in you paying more than the original amount. Sometimes it is necessary to take out a loan to take care of an emergency or a home improvement project. This is not avoidable but get the best interest rate possible and pay more than the required monthly amount so that the loan is disposed off quickly.

Create a balance sheet and income statement

This might sound like a scary proposition and you may think that these financial reports are just for businesses. This is not true, every person needs these drawn up so that they know what their net worth is. A person may be earning a really good income but can still have a very low net worth. Net worth is the total of all your assets such as cash, investments, properties and cars minus your liabilities such as loans. A person can have many assets but may still be in big trouble if they can’t pay back their liabilities. The ideal situation is to have assets that you own completely and liabilities that are not more than 40% of the value of your assets.

Financial Goals

If you have no financial goals then you have nothing to aim for. There is no point in saying you want to get rich. You have to specify the exact amount and the exact date you want it. What is the ideal working income that you want? Write down the exact amount then double it to take into account taxes. What is the exact amount of money that you wish to have in your bank account in five years time? What would you like your net worth to be in five years time? Write down all these figures and look at them everyday before you go to sleep and again when you awaken in the morning. This gives your subconscious mind something to aim for and manifest into your life.

Learn to invest

The interest your money earns in banks or financial institutions will never make you rich. It is important to earn more than 20% interest every year on your money. Financial institutions will never be able to do this for an individual. It is up to each person to learn the skills to invest in the stock market and residential property market. This is a long-term commitment which requires diligent study and application. You must read the books, attend the seminars and listen to a good mentor so that you can acquire the required knowledge. Once you have the knowledge then massive action and discipline is needed to execute the investment strategies. The work is hard but it will be worth it if you can retire early and not have to worry about whether you can afford the lifestyle you want.