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Motivational posts are a big thing on social media. Type in hashtags like “motivation,” “inspiration,” “hustle,” “grind,” “quoteoftheday,” and so on, and a plethora of slick memes will show up with quotes from business leaders and motivational speakers through the ages. You will find many quotes from Jim Rohn, Robert Kiosaki and Tony Robbins, to name a few, extolling the virtues of persistence, focus, planning, how to build wealth, and the like. Entrepreneurship has exploded as the internet has made education more accessible than it has ever been. Technology has lowered barriers to entry for many industries in terms of knowledge as well as start-up capital. In theory the playing field of capitalism is far more level than it has ever been before. My inbox and social media accounts are flooded with offers to take a look at some idea to build wealth using the wonders of modern technology, usually with a rags-to-riches testimony.
Now we can “monetize” just about anything. Industries are growing for motivational speakers, business coaches and trainers, for which clever entrepreneurs will provide instruction on how to tap into the market, for fees small and large. Usually potential clients are lured into listening to the sales pitch with a free webinar or ebook download. Somewhere within the material, usually at the end, there is a sales pitch – an up-sell – to turn the free information into a revenue stream through memberships, subscriptions or further coaching. That sales pitch usually includes at least one quote from a “guru”, such as those mentioned above, to imply that the person shares that winning mentality; they have the thing that you don’t think you have. It is a very effective tactic as it taps into the deep-seeded self-doubt many of us live with; our desire to be perceived as and feel successful; and guilt over not achieving our full potential. When I was in network marketing we were taught to always search for the NEED and posit the product as the solution. The need that motivates many people to pour hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars into these trainings is freedom from the imprisonment of financial struggle.
But even with the abundance of opportunity at our fingertips there is still a pervasive sense of lack in our society. Increasing abundance of opportunity has not resulted in increasing satisfaction or happiness. Why is that?
As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them?
I decided to call this blog The Financial Fashionista in part because I recognized that I myself had a conflict between my desire to acquire things and my desire to establish a solid financial foundation. I have an economics degree and experience in high and low finance. (That’s a joke.) In my head I have a very clear understanding of how money works: the concept of compound interest, investing in the financial markets, financial products and services, saving, interest expense, depreciation, the difference between cost and value. In college my focus was mortgage-backed securities, the same product that brought down the world financial markets. But when it comes to personal finance emotion is almost inextricably linked. This is why most people pull their money out of the market during a correction, as happened in 2008, marriages fail, and even cause business owners to make poor management decisions.
I am now looking very closely at the ‘why’ in my spending habits and attitude toward money in general. What lessons from my past must I un-learn? How do I bridge the gap between my rational understanding and my emotions? I have rooms full of “stuff” that I never have to look at or touch for the rest of my life. The older I get the more I realize that it is all meaningless. Whatever satisfaction I receive from purchasing a new dress or some other thing is absolutely fleeting. And as such the process must perpetuate to reach the same high.
What motivates us to do this? I know I’m not alone.
And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Another thing that social media brings to the forefront is the deep desire to be simultaneously approved and envied by others. We lament the unrealistic standards of beauty and lifestyle promoted on the medium but those who do it best gain the most followers, by which they are able to creative highly lucrative businesses. Posts and hashtags about grinding and hustling extol the value of pushing to reach goals and measurable achievements; we respect most the people who seem to be accomplishing big goals and dreams and the wealth that comes with it. But that value system is based on outward signs of a success that can disappear even faster than it came; not character or the virtues of community, humility, patience, temperance and generosity. It is inherently inauthentic. No wonder it cannot bring forth lasting satisfaction and happiness.
Motivation in this day and age is temporary because it tends to be based on comparing ourselves to others and wanting what they have. Inspiration is more authentic and long-lasting because it is based on the vision and purpose that is uniquely suited to the individual. As the saying goes, “chase your passion and the money will follow.”
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I have attended many educational events – conferences, workshops, online courses and webinars – for several industries over the past few years. I was for a short time an agent for a network marketing company in financial services: I hold a Series 6 license and am life insurance licensed in ten states. Although I have gained eye-opening insight and understanding, attending these events has also been a very valuable lesson in the strengths and weaknesses of the mindset conditioning that the network marketing and real estate industries in particular use to “hook” reps and students, respectively. I have become very familiar with what I will call “motivational training.”
I believe that this style of training sprouted from the self-help movement of the eighties and early nineties. Susan Powter of ‘Stop the Insanity’ fame comes to mind. Her brand of tough love in encouraging people to change their eating habits to gain control of their lives and health earned millions from books, tickets to speaking engagements and exercise videos. During this time Tony Robbins’ star was also on the rise. He too had lengthy infomercials on how to take control of your life, but his approach was far more “gentle,” for lack of a better word, and holistic. Even though their approaches were very different, in my mind they built the framework for the motivational style of training so popular today. Ms. Powter and Mr. Robbins showed how profitable “motivation” can be.
Today, “gurus” are all over the place. They have learned to combine the tough-love and gentle approaches. They are usually people who have achieved demonstrable success at something and have built a following based on their story of how they accomplished their goals. The point and purpose of motivational training is the up-sell. These events follow very familiar layout that will conclude with an “ask” – buy a book, a course or series of courses or mentorship/coaching. Whether the story of the road to success is entirely true or not, clearly the story in and of itself can prove just as profitable, if not more so, than the work itself.
The following are four common “hooks” you may hear when attending educational industry events.
Hook #1: The Warning
The idea is that they will help you avoid the costly and painful mistakes that they made. This idea is reinforced by the altruistic desire help as many people succeed as possible. I am not doubting anyone’s sincerity. I just believe that we have to be our own teachers. When you have your own experience, including failures, then you are in the best position to know what works best for you, given your unique set of skills, talents and interests. And that is what a person will be able to make the most out of an investment in coaching.
- You can’t do it by yourself
- Mistakes can ruin you
Hook #2: Cost Versus Value
“If you paid $30,000 for coaching that leads you to 3 deals that earn $10,000 each or even 1 deal earning $30,000 and you can build a fortune going forward on the lessons you learned, what did it really cost you?” That would make the service in effect free. However, there is a huge caveat – “if.” If you’re given an action plan; if the coaching is personal; if the coach follows through with what has been promised; if you follow the action plan; if you are able to devote the time and effort necessary. The truth is, only about 5% of the people who attend such workshops will take action and of those few achieve the results they were expecting. For most it will be nothing more than a very large donation to that guru’s bank account.
Cost v. Value
- Hand-hold coaching from an industry expert
- It pays for itself
Hook #3: Impatience
We want to see results fast. Diet companies make a fortune every year on our desire to see results fast, with little effort. Patience requires discipline. Discipline involves consistent long-term implementation of a plan toward a goal. The gurus know how to tap into this tendency in our culture to want to jump ahead and enjoy the evidence of hard work, without actually doing the hard work. And that very well should be expensive.
- Huge profits in 30 or less days
- Be the envy of suckers slaving away for “the man”
Hook #4: Insecurity
Many of us don’t believe we can do great things. Guilt in knowing that we are not living up to our full potential is an extension of that self-perception. Flashes of motivational quotes and inspirational videos are meant to dig into the sore spot and bring home the point that the program, product or service offers a way out. The gurus know this feeling is fleeting. We are very good at settling back into a comfortable, familiar routine. So it is imperative for the speaker to pull on the string of insecurity to compel as many in attendance as possible to pull out the credit card or take out the HELOC or pull cash out of a retirement account to pay handsomely for the promise of finally attaining the success and feeling of accomplishment that so many lack. They also know that there is at least $3trillion sitting in liquid and a little less than liquid accounts in this country.
- Yes, this is great training, but you still won’t make it on your own
- Winners recognize opportunity and take decisive action
Now, there is nothing wrong with seeking help and inspiration. I am not at all against doing the weekend-long workshops on real estate investing or conferences by networking marketing and other companies. But I have also become hyper aware of the emotional and psychological hooks that can be very manipulative and often lead to disappointment down the road.
- Everyone starts at the beginning and there is no substitute for work.
- If the gurus could do the work to get where they are, so can you.
- Don’t let fear of making a mistake cost you. You can only grow from mistakes.
- Don’t worry about “advice” from people who cannot relate to what it’s like to take a chance.
- Take advice and get ideas from people who relate to fighting for a vision.
- Take advice from people who don’t give up.
- Take advice from people who have failed a million times but have the courage to get up and keep going; their failures have provided a treasure trove of wisdom and great ideas!
- Don’t take advice from people who talk nonsense.
- And please do not believe people who are boastful because they are likely embellishing to create envy and false authority.
The truth is that motivation comes from within. Nobody can give it to you. It requires constant self-evaluation to grow in the confidence that you are doing what truly interests you and for which you have the talent. Just because someone else has done tremendously well at something doesn’t mean that you will too, even when you give it 100%. No one thing is for everybody. We were each created for a specific purpose. If we are pursuing something that is not in line with our purpose it could remain an uphill battle. If we are pursuing things that do not engage our best skills and talents it will likely remain a very difficult journey, no matter whose advice we follow.
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One of the goal posts for what we have accomplished in this life is the ability to enjoy a long, happy retirement. But as the years go by and the horizon gets closer we look at what we have in cash and assets, and discover that we may not be able to retire comfortably and independently, if at all. If you add up your annual living expenses – including personal care, mortgage, groceries, car notes and insurance, all of your fixed and variable costs – you will likely find that if you retire at 67 years old and live another 20 to 30 years beyond that, you will need over $1million in today’s money to maintain your current lifestyle throughout your retirement.
Most Americans are looking for ways to supplement their income to try to make up for the shortfall. We max out our contributions to retirement plans at work. We hold 401K’s, IRA’s, money markets and other investments, hoping that the market will keep going up (which it won’t) and we don’t lose significant value in our accounts; the closer you are to retirement the less time you will have to make up for any losses. You may even try to adjust your lifestyle downward to conserve cash to save and invest but would you be able to make enough of an adjustment to make a real difference? Many approaching retirement age have to be concerned about which direction the market is headed in the next few years. In the stock market the investor has no control.
Mutual funds have for decades been heralded as the best way to benefit from the financial markets without a lot of knowledge about investing and without taking on too much risk. This investment vehicle is touted as the best way to earn double-digit returns on your money, but OVER THE LONG TERM. If you look at CD rates at bankrate.com you will see that the highest-yielding CD will return 2.3% compounded over a 5-year period. As for money markets, for a deposit of $5,000 one bank will pay a grand total of 1.11% interest for the first year only; then the rate drops to 0.61%. Meanwhile, what are banks doing with your money? They’re lending it back to you and your neighbors at higher interest rates; they’re investing it in multiple ways, including lending to other banks overnight, to earn a higher rate of interest than they’re paying you, and profiting massively from the difference.
Did you know that you have the power to do the same thing? It’s called Private Lending, and you can use the equity in your property to do it. Private lending a vital lifeline for real estate investors. And as a private lender you can participate in real estate investing without “getting your hands dirty” while earning a much higher rate of return than you ever will with banks or likely will in the stock market.
Since the market crash of 2008 real estate has picked up speed, and certain markets, like Philadelphia, are moving at a feverish pace. If you are in that region I am sure you have noticed and even been inconvenienced by the deluge of construction going on in and around the city. Somebody is getting very rich! Do you ever wonder how they do it? Do you ever wonder how YOU could get in on the action, without having “important’ friends and millions in the bank?
As a homeowner you are potentially sitting in a bank of your very own. If you have significant equity built up from years of paying down your mortgage you can access it through a home equity line of credit (HELOC). You use the proceeds to help real estate investors like fix-and-flippers, for example, fund deals while you earn returns in your sleep, often well into the double digits! It is perfectly legal and perfectly legitimate. Moreover, you will be paid back your investment plus interest in four to six months. It is as simple as agreeing on a contract that explicitly lays out the terms on each side. You hold either the first or second mortgage, and if for any reason the deal goes south the house is your collateral – just like a bank. Private investing can provide virtually limitless financial growth, as you are able to compound your returns by continually lending. Did you ever dream you’d grow up to own your own bank??
Sextant Financial Solutions, LLC (www.sextantfinancials.com) is a company positioned to take advantage of investment opportunities in some of the hottest areas of Greater Philadelphia, including Delaware County and Philadelphia County West and Southwest. If you would like to learn more about ways to earn significant returns using your home’s equity or cash sitting in low interest-earning instruments such as a 401K, IRA and CD’s call 484-461-0114 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“No man is an island. No man stands alone.” I will always remember singing that song in a choir competition in high school. It is a valuable message, always relevant. As I examine the things that have kept and are keeping me back in my business goals, it has become even more clear to me that the longer I keep doing everything myself the longer it will take to get where I want to go, no matter how hard I work. No one accomplishes great things all on their own.
I have seen the destructive consequences of a business owner relying solely on their own efforts to run their business. Ego, stubbornness and lack of education will stunt all potential. Everybody needs a team – and not only entrepreneurs. But for people in business for themselves especially, it is important to be willing and able to delegate responsibilities. Nobody is good at everything. Nobody knows all things. It takes humility, wisdom, and even common sense sometimes, to be willing to acknowledge our shortcomings.
For many of us it’s easier to contribute to other people than to allow others to contribute to us. But if you look at the greatest business leaders who are nearly universally admired, they all give credit to some mentor or colleague(s) – other people, whose input helped them to succeed. Working with a good team or partner allows you to leverage everyone’s time and get more accomplished. It also allows other people to fill in for your deficiencies.
Ego can cause a person to resist getting help in their business but so can past experiences. At a recent real estate event an investor warned me profusely about going into partnerships. He insisted on the importance of doing everything yourself. I’ve seen instagram posts regarding the same sentiment. Yes, when we put ourselves out there to trust someone else, with it comes the opportunity to be burned. But clinging to the past just keeps you stuck there. And you, the business owner, will waste time and money doing tasks that don’t generate income and can easily be done by somebody else.
I have spent a lot of time trying to find reliable help from people I know but find it frustrating as I discover that they are either not serious or mistake my offer as a request for advice. But I know I need help if I am ever going to really soar. So I have decided to invest in a virtual assistant. It suits my mobile lifestyle, is economical and there is no previous relationship baggage. It’s very straightforward.
In my corporate life I was able to increase both productivity and profitability of organizations by transforming the environment through team building. I know what can be accomplished with the right talents and the right leadership. I know it is impossible to build something great all alone.
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It is not hard to find advice on managing money. There are print publications, websites, gurus, apps, non-profits, licensed professionals and people we know who give us their ideas on money: saving it, investing it, making more of it and how to spend it.
One of the biggest concerns Americans have about money is debt. In our consumer-centric culture we rely on interest-bearing credit cards and loans to finance non-essential wants, in the process racking up mountains of debt that we end up struggling to pay. We are bombarded with ads while checking e-mail, on social media and elsewhere designed to trigger our impulse to purchase on a whim. Temptation to consume is everywhere. But for the small business owner, being mindful of discretionary spending is especially important; the consequences of personal finance habits can have a big impact on their business aspirations.
Debt & Delay
According to the 50/30/20 rule, 30% of your income should be allotted for discretionary spending.
A disheartening consequence of having unmanageable “bad” debt is delay in attaining goals and dreams. Bad debt is debt acquired for things that have no real value. (Good debt is that which is acquired for things that we can use to increase our net worth today that could also continue to provide resources in the future; for example, a home mortgage.) Money diverted toward paying the monthly interest on balances carried forward on credit cards represents an opportunity cost both in the moment and the near future. This is especially true for entrepreneurs. Access to capital is essential to start and grow a business. Many entrepreneurs will apply for a bank loan and solicit investors for this purpose. After loan officers and investors read the business plan, they will want to assess the owner’s financial credibility. They may look at the credit report and bank accounts among other things, and usually require that the owner have some “skin in the game” to share in the risk (a certain percentage of the loan amount.) The amount of his/her own cash and/or assets that the owner is expected to have invested in the business could be sizable. Besides that, business owners always need a cushion for unforeseen hits to their budgets. Even the most motivated entrepreneur with the best ideas can have trouble getting their business off the ground due to perpetual financial constraints. An entrepreneur can spin his wheels for years and years, missing out on opportunities and delaying plans, due to large amounts of avoidable debt.
Unmanageable, avoidable, high-interest debt can cause delay in living as well. We probably all have a wish list of things we’d like to do and things we’d like to see. Travel pages on Instagram are some of the most popular on the platform. They portray idyllic destinations both abroad and at home and we can just picture ourselves on that beach or walking those shop-lined streets. A nice trip to Morocco, Tanzania, Singapore or Brazil can cost thousands. But most Americans have less than $500 in their savings account. People put off weddings until enough money is saved to have the kind of wedding they would like. In so many areas we delay living our lives to work for money to pay debt.
Or as soon as we pay debt off or down we begin the cycle again. When we don’t have the cash to do and have the things we want we often turn back to our credit cards. When we in the habit of using credit there is always something else for which to use it. If we cannot save or save less than we should, we remain cash-poor and resort to credit once again.
2017 is the year to end this vicious cycle of debt and delay! It will require discipline, planning and keeping our long-term vision in focus.
There are behaviors to void and behaviors to embrace:
Impulse buying/Giving in to temptation Delayed gratification
Using credit cards Paying with cash
Lending money you can’t afford to not get back Paying Yourself First
Scrambling for money in an emergency Building an Emergency Fund
Spending Every Penny Saving 10-20% of Income
Spending for unnecessary things Spending for experiences
Expensive outings with friends & family Free to low-cost events
Delayed Gratification: Do you have a closet full of clothes that you hardly ever wear? A house full of belongings you hardly ever use? You were probably excited to buy them. But you got over it quickly. If we choose to take the time to save the cash for a purchase instead of whipping out the credit card, after a while that item may not seem as desirable.
Credit Cards: Take a look at the interest payment you make on each card every month. Have you ever added them up? Get a monthly total of interest you pay to make it viscerally clear how much your debt is actually costing you; money that you are not able to invest into your future. Remember this feeling every time you consider using a credit card to buy something you don’t need or could put off until you have the cash.
And have $1,000 saved before attacking your debt.
Lending Money You Can’t Afford to Get Back: Judge Judy would be out of business if people would say “no” to friends and family who ask them to borrow money that they cannot afford to lend. Such a loan is really a gift by another name. A generous spirit is beautiful, but it should not cause you stress and damage your relationships. Part of becoming successful is knowing when to say “no.”
Scrambling For Money In An Emergency: On the other hand, it doesn’t feel good when you have to resort to asking family and friends for money to bail you out in a pinch. Things happen. There’s no shame in needing and asking for help. Sometimes it’s unavoidable. The best thing to do is save as much as possible when times are good, not spend it all. An emergency fund should be at least three, but ideally six, months of living expenses. Start where you are towards a specific target based on a realistic idea of how much you live on every month. But strive to consistently save 20% of your net income (after taxes), before spending or paying bills. Visit www.bankrate.com to compare savings account interest rates. I like Barclay’s.
Don’t neglect to invest – and I don’t mean CD’s!
Redundancy: As stated above, many of us have lots of stuff we don’t use and eventually forget about. It is good to take an inventory of those junk drawers and crowded basements to avoid re-purchasing items we need down the road for a project or errand that pops us. Otherwise try to sell excess belongings, especially duplicates, on auction sites like ebay, apps like 5miles, or sites like craigslist.
Spending On Unnecessary Things: A lot of times when we shop, especially women, it can feed a need for satisfaction, accomplishment or escapism. How about putting that money and effort toward investing in experiences? Concerts, art shows, international travel, charity, lessons to learn a skill or develop a talent. Good experiences that allow us to de-stress, meet new people, learn new things and really LIVE can satisfy the same needs while also allowing us to grow as individuals.
Expensive Outings: I have a small group of girlfriends that I love spending time with. We schedule regular outings to eat, go to cultural events and hang out. I found myself spending much more than I would intend to and promising myself that the next time I will stick to a budget. In 2017 I am going to be more disciplined about this. Being honest with my friends about my need to reign in spending will help me to keep focused. I have a specific saving and investing goal for the year and I am going to be ruthless in achieving it.
It can be challenging for entrepreneurs to remain motivated and inspired. The things of life can distract us and make our dreams seem farther and farther out of reach. Controlling spending and debt can help to secure some peace of mind and allow us to leap forward when the right opportunity comes about.
If you’ve decided to be an entrepreneur you’ve taken a leap of faith in your vision and ability to create something out of nothing. You begin with enthusiasm, anxiety, excitement and hope for all the dreams and goals you want to achieve. You might even have a business plan; a home office; an LLC; client leads. You have all the pieces in place to get started. But then you come to a line of delineation, separating the known – what you can control: your knowledge, environment, all the elements required to start your business – and the unknown – market response, sales, the economy, the weather!
Being an entrepreneur is a test of personal character. One aspect of your character is the ability to persevere through the challenges you will face.“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” – Michael Jordan
Once the line is crossed from the known things that are in your control, into the unknown and out of your control, such as the first day in actual business, there are constant internal and external hurdles that test the agility of your will power, confidence and creativity. The word for this is ‘motivation’ and it is the fuel that drives perseverance. The entrepreneur must work on all of these elements simultaneously, limited by the confines of energy and time; and only one of those is renewable.
The main culprit in losing time (i.e., productivity) is fractured energy from a lack of focus. This is why a business plan is so important. It lays out priorities, milestones and expectations that are time-bound. So that when the personal obstacles of self-doubt, fear or lack of knowledge show up there is already a practical, impartial road map laid out before you, and all you need is to put one foot in front of the other: to persevere.
Perseverance embodies the concept of “Failing Forward.” It means using failure as a tool to propel you toward better decisions in the future. Fear of failure keeps us stagnant. But when we acknowledge the potential for failure, we put ourselves in a position of power to deal with it rationally. That is what a business plan is for and why it can be the most important part of the foundation of a business. There will be times when nothing seems to be going right or things don’t seem to be moving as fast as we would like. The plan provides a baseline and benchmarks to be able to track the progress that has been made at any given point: number of potential customers reached; strategy implementation; income goals. When we fail at achieving short-term objectives a plan helps to identify mistakes and strategize how to get back on track.
“Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” – Babe Ruth
No one who has achieved great success hasn’t failed. Sometimes a lot. The difference between people who achieve their dreams and those who don’t is that they didn’t quit. Successful people keep practicing, improving and adjusting, which takes focus and discipline.
“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan
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Sometimes in life a concept can either mean something good or mean something bad, depending on the person’s perspective. A word like “debt” can illicit pangs of dread or a spark of promise, depending on the listener’s mindset. The difference between the two is in some combination of observation, education and experience.
In our consumer-driven society, there is a lot of anxiety around debt. The media regularly reports on the financial habits of American households and how much we are beholden to creditors. The types of household debt of greatest concern seems to be credit cards (consumer) and mortgages. The data tell us that Americans do not save – for the most part – which is the inevitable result of the simultaneous accumulation of large amounts of credit card debt. At the same time, many homeowners are upside down on their mortgages or own homes they cannot truly afford. We are losing value hand over fist: first, to high credit card interest rates, then to loss of property value. We are trained to believe that debt in and of itself is bad, and there is no shortage of evidence that seems convincing.
But, this presidential election brings to light an important truth about debt that often goes un-reported: debt can also be good for you. One of the two candidates in this race is an unapologetic debt enthusiast. He has grown an empire built on debt (other business practices aside.) Almost anyone who has amassed a fortune in business has done so by utilizing the power of debt, but they call it leverage.
According to a recent Inc. article, “the only way to get rich rapidly is to understand the principle of leverage.” The author describes leverage as the financial secret of the super wealthy. In simplest terms, leverage allows a person the potential to exponentially increase the benefit, or return, received from putting an asset to work; it can be your time, energy, money or other resources. A person utilizing the principle of leverage has acquired more of what they need to accomplish a goal, but that additional resource is not derived from their own effort. In the case off money, the resource is, of course, debt.
Leverage is the bread and butter of the capital markets. There are many financial instruments (options, futures, etc) that increase the buying power of an investor’s dollar, thereby allowing the investor to own more shares of a company than would otherwise be possible. Businesses use leverage to operate, expand and improve when they borrow. In real estate, investors use leverage to acquire, rehab and flip properties. An investor or developer who pools funds from other investors will be able to do much bigger. Real estate investors even fund acquisitions and rehabs with credit cards (which for most people is on par with a 4-letter word.) The key to leverage in your finances is to “buy things that will appreciate in value. When you can leverage your time and your money and then put your money to work, you are on the road to riches.”
Leverage is a valuable mechanism for maximizing output and efficiency in the functions that impact profits. The author gives an example of how this works. It’s also the concept behind network marketing: on your own you will make a certain income. But if you duplicate your efforts via a team that you develop to work with you, each of whom will develop teams of their own, your income will expand exponentially. An entrepreneur may start off doing all the labor him/her self, but when he/she is able to hire staff to do the work instead, he/she will have created an opportunity to significantly increase both the client base and the amount of work that gets done within the same time frame. This way time, energy and money are leveraged, which can quickly escalate one’s income and grow wealth.
Last month, NBA superstar Kobe Bryant contributed to a series by The Player’s Tribune titled “Letters To My Younger Self.” What he wrote echoes many of the same messages depicted in shows like Survivor’s Remorse, which he produces, and Ballers. His letter addresses the management of personal relationships after coming into a windfall – especially at a young age.
The issue he points out is the need to ensure that his generosity toward his loved ones is enabling in a positive way. He tells his 17-year-old self that his new wealth can either be a help to their ability to step into their purpose, or a hinderance. There is a tone of regret as he warns that “handouts” will stunt their growth and self-reliance. Clearly as he matured he realized that he had to transform this dynamic in his relationships with his family, and he admitted that there is some lingering tension as a result.
The basketball star’s most revealing admission is that his willingness to give things so freely was, in actuality, all about his own ego. If it were up to me to coin a phrase, I would call this New Money Syndrome, or at least one of the symptoms of it. And you don’t have to be wealthy or even grown up to exhibit this very human tendency: I’ve seen it in my nephew.
Even at 5 years old my nephew got a little allowance. He was very proud to have his own money. In his young life he had seen struggle among some of the adults/care-takers in his life, as well as a lifestyle not so encumbered with financial woes. I remember once when he was going to visit his other grandmother and aunt and uncles, he wanted to take all of his allowance with him. He was entirely unconvinced by warnings about losing it, spending it all, or having it stolen from him. I remember him holding on to his $10 defiantly and proudly. It seemed to me that it was important to him to show that he had his own money – whether to brag, for his own self-assurance or to be able to help if need be. As he got older and gained more siblings he felt a strong sense of responsibility to be a good role model to his younger brothers, including them in his journey to fulfill his goals and dreams and sharing with them whatever he had.
I can only imagine the weight of responsibility involved in becoming enormously wealthy as a teenager with those same impulses and intensions, while having your entire family look to you as a “money tree.” When he signed his first million-dollar contract he became an instant leader for his family, for potentially generations to come. At some point he began to understand that. It is important to note that Kobe is not suggesting his younger self cut people off, but to be mindful of the way in which he shares his prosperity. Moreover, he puts the blame on himself. I believe it takes good character to do that. He learned to use his wealth to help those around him shine, not be diminished by his shadow.
I am in the process of becoming a 1st-time homeowner. I’ve been approved for a mortgage with a great fixed interest rate; because I’m getting a chunk of equity I won’t have to come up with a down payment; and I don’t even have to pay closing costs. Plus my mortgage payment will be very affordable. I got a great deal.
The decision to buy a home for the first time is a big one and once it is made the focus is usually on getting the paperwork and financials together to be able to apply for a loan. Applying for a mortgage itself is a bit of an intimidating prospect. And when we get approved for a loan our main focus is on what the monthly payment will be. But in reality, the mortgage is just the tip of the iceberg.
Owning a home for the first time will require an entirely new set of priorities that I have literally never faced before. Perhaps the most important thing will be to expect and be prepared for the unexpected costs associated with owning a home. There will be no super to call when the roof leaks, or the basement floods or the plumbing has a problem. I will have to have the funds on hand, know who to call when I have a problem and how much I should reasonably expect a service to cost. I will also have to be financially prepared for the things I should expect, such as property taxes, garbage and sewer fees, water and insurance.
Still, it’s a challenge I am excited about and I can’t wait to get the keys and step into the pride of home ownership!
I am a hard-core multi-tasker, in life and in business. For better or worse, I am happiest when I have several objectives to handle at once. So I like the idea of having multiple streams of (potential) income. I have a variety of really strong skills and I enjoy finding ways to grow and use them.
Last year I attended a very impressive seminar on real estate investing. It was held over 3 days in 8-hour-long sessions. The purpose was to show attendees how to become financially independent by investing in real estate, but at a higher level. The scope of the information and the extent of the detail provided was stunning, and frankly a bit overwhelming. So exceptional was the training and the skill of the trainer that a ballroom full of hundreds of people remained transfixed from the first minute of the first day to the last minute of the last day. Some attendees were seasoned renters, rehabbers and flippers who found themselves blown away by the eye-opening education.
One of the biggest take-aways from the seminar was that it is possible to get started in real estate investing with little to no money out of pocket. Even some of the most successful real estate investors began with hardly any money to their name. Below are a handful of ways that cash-poor self-starters can begin their journey to financial freedom through investing in real estate.
Wholesaling is a popular way to get started in real estate. A real estate wholesaler is someone who helps investors locate the types of properties they are interested in buying. The warehouser builds a database of homeowners who are looking to sell their properties as soon as possible, as well as active investors who have the funds to grab the right opportunity when it presents itself. When you see a sign on the road with an offer like, “WE BUY HOUSES, ANY CONDITION” that person is a wholesaler. A wholesaler is a type of real estate investing intermediary.
2. Creative Financing
This is for someone willing to take on a bit of calculated risk. There are quite a few ways that a budding investors short on funds can find money to get started. These methods may sound irresponsible because they contradict conventional wisdom. For example, if investing for retirement standard guidance is to invest for the long-term and NEVER make withdrawals so you don’t miss out on gains. But I have a saying, “It’s not the ‘what’, it’s the ‘how’.” In other words, it’s the ‘how’ in what you want to accomplish, not the ‘what’ itself that counts. With the right information and training, what may look like a questionable decision to someone else could be the best decision you will ever make.
One way to begin investing in real estate is to tap the equity in your own home through a home equity line of credit (HELOC). I won’t go into too much detail here but with the right amount of planning and skill to do it properly this can be a relatively safe way to begin investing without having to come up with cash out of pocket.
A similar method that successful real estate investors have used to get started without having to come up with extra money is by taking a short-term loan from their retirement accounts such as the 401K.
Private Money Lenders
Real estate investors must always have a Rolodex (so to speak!) of sources of money to acquire more properties. I call them the ‘investors’ investors’, but the official title for individuals who will lend their own money is ‘private money lenders’. A private money lender is anyone you may know – a family member; wealthy associate; property owner; etc, who has money that they are looking to lend to others with the expectation, of course, of a certain return on that investment. This is one way that individuals seeking to grow their portfolio can do so without having to go into the stock market, where value is largely arbitrary. Private lenders include people who lend from their HELOC.
Long gone are the days when people could park their money in a savings account and watch the interest pile up, and not even conventional investing wisdom from the stock market gurus are panning out as they did in decades of the recent past. Today there is a new paradigm. In this new world of constant uncertainty and upheaval it is imperative, in my opinion, to have a backup plan for our financial survival that is well-rounded and smart; calculated investing in real estate should one of the tools in that tool box.
There are many obvious ways that our efforts to save money and practice good financial habits can be sabotaged. High interest rates, late fees and even the opportunity costs of not investing and/or saving adequately are among them. But there are other subtle little bank balance busters that go unspoken in media on household money management. One of them is unwanted memberships and subscriptions from un-cancelled free trial or introductory periods.
In a consumerist culture like ours it can be hard to make a budget and stick with it. It takes an enormous amount of disciple to resist the incessant barrage of temptations that surround us almost every moment of every day, to keep spending money. One of the ways that savvy companies tempt us to put our guard down and hopefully spend money (we don’t have to spare) is the “free trial offer”. Trial offers can last days or even several weeks but the key is to obtain our credit card and contact information to allow us this temporary access to services and information for free.
The words “free” and “no risk” are a great way to peak interest in a product or service. Who doesn’t want something for free if they can get it and it can be of benefit to them? But we also know that there is usually a catch: that free trial will come with some expectation upon us to do something or give something up at some point. It can be referrals, which businesses often find even more valuable than a one-time sale, or the sale itself – subscription or membership. Not to mention that once we willingly provide our personal details the company has gained the ability to continue to market itself to us.
The problem with trial periods – for the consumer, at least – is that it can be difficult to remember to cancel on time. Many people take advantage of these offers with the intention of cancelling before it’s over. If you forget to cancel a trial membership or subscription you end up paying for something you don’t want, and if you don’t catch on for weeks or even months there is the potential for a substantial financial loss to you. Companies have different rules regarding canceling a subscription after the trial period has expired. Some companies will reimburse all of the subscription rate if you cancel within a day or two of the first charge; others will prorate the reimbursement based on how many days are left in the subscription. Others disallow reimbursement of funds but will cancel charges as of the next billing cycle.
Obviously there are ways to try to prevent this mistake from happening, like adding the last day of the trial period to your calendar, but of course the easiest way to avoid the problem is to not sign up for trial periods at all. There are times when you need to utilize a service but only for a short period of time to accomplish a specific goal. This is when trial periods are most useful and sensible. What you want to avoid is failing to discontinue a trial period for something you never even used or didn’t find beneficial anyway.
Thirty trillion dollars. “Trillion.” With a “t.” That is the estimated amount that so-called millennials will inherit from their baby-boomer parents over the next few decades. It is the largest transfer of wealth, possibly in human history. By the way, who are these people? Seriously. The fact is most people are entirely unprepared financially for retirement! Clearly these are not the kids of the millions of baby boomers who will be reliant upon social security to make ends meet. But I digress.Wealth managers today focus a lot of energy targeting the baby boomers themselves, especially to help them protect whatever wealth they have amassed, to sustain their lifestyle after retirement. It is a very large market. But apparently the wealth that is going to be transferred to millennials will be an even larger market, and investment advisors are beginning to position themselves to capture the opportunity. In the clip below, one such advisor talks about a program his firm offers called Backpacks to Briefcases. It pairs millennial clients with their contemporaries in the wealth management game, whom they may better be able to relate.
Financial literacy is woefully lacking in our education system, even among the well-off, so this is a great idea. The fortunate ones who will be coming into enormous sums of money will need the training that many of their parents didn’t receive in order that they may make wise decisions about managing, spending and donating their windfall.
You don’t have to inherit a large fortune for sound money management to be relevant to you. Any amount of money you have earned or inherited should be handled properly. True, we are more likely to blow through money that we have been given rather than money that we have earned on our own. But no matter the circumstance, sound financial practices matter. For example: a guy in his mid-20’s inherits the proceeds of a large life insurance policy, pension and 401K upon his mother’s passing, totaling several hundred thousand dollars. He uses his windfall to live the large – traveling, partying, and everything else. Fast forward five years, the money is gone and he’s worse off than he was before. True story. There is an expression one of my friend taught me: “It’s not what you make (have), it’s what you keep.”