Friday, July 18, 2014

LIFE Tip- It's Your Life You Get to Choose: 7 Tools to Help You Get What You Want

by Marilyn Tam
Waiting for something or someone to give you what you want in your life is abdication of your free will and choice. Yet we've all had occasions when we thought: "If only I had __X___ then I'll be _____," fill in the blank with one or more of the following: happy, rich, famous, good-looking, self-assured... Wishing and hoping that some outside force will show up and do for us what we actually can do for ourselves.
"I have not always chosen the safest path. I've made my mistakes, plenty of them. I sometimes jump too soon and fail to appreciate the consequences. But I've learned something important along the way: I've learned to heed the call of my heart. I've learned that the safest path is not always the best path and I've learned that the voice of fear is not always to be trusted. -- Steve Goodier
What are the secrets of successful people who keep moving forward instead of falling into wishful thinking, fear, or despair? Having overcome daunting odds to success and happiness, and interviewing many accomplished people on how they achieved their dreams on my radio show, The Happiness Choice, let me share with you common traits to living one's dreams. These tools are available for you to use right now:
  1. Acknowledge your fears. Pause when you feel scared and or hesitant about making a decision or moving forward. Review why you are feeling tentative. Run the scenario through in your mind; outline the various possible outcomes. What are the probabilities of them happening? You'll find that the most frightful ones probably won't happen, and you have solutions and/or can accept the others. Adjust your strategy and actions steps based on your new perspective.
  2. Look at failure and rejections as temporary. Setbacks? Everybody encounters them; learn from them and treat them as something that will help you succeed by knowing what doesn't work. And you will find what will.
  3. Seek advice and insights from mentors, people with experience, and research. What you are embarking on may have been done before in a different format, industry or situation; you can learn from them.
  4. Allow your true passion and mission to guide you. Weigh the information from evaluation and research, and then make your decisions based on what your inner guide prompts you to do. Choices made according to your true purpose will motivate you to fully dedicate yourself to what you have resolved to do.
  5. Smile and move your body. The weight and confusion dissipates when you take charge of your circumstances and remember that you can only change what is here now. Drop regrets for things past, and release anxiety about the future. Smiling and physical movement will bring you into the present; they disrupt the whirring thoughts in your brain.
  6. Believe that you are worthwhile. Most everyone harbor thoughts that they may not be good enough, and that perhaps they don't deserve to achieve their dreams. Recognize that this is a common apprehension and affirm that indeed you are fine just as you are, and that you deserve to attain your dreams. Repeat this to yourself regularly and especially when you feel fear. Yes, you are good enough!
  7. Gather support for your mission. Enlist encouragement and assistance on all levels, professionally, physically, personally, energetically and spiritually: business associates, vendors, friends, family, spiritual teachers and your global community network can help. Remember you are surrounded by advocates in many ways. You don't have to do it all on your own.
Living the life that you dreamed about is not only possible, in fact that is why you were born - to fully express your gifts, to grow and flourish and to have a happy and thriving life! It's your life you get to choose.

Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dreams. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dreams. -- Lao Tzu

Thursday, July 17, 2014

INVESTMENT Tip -Suze Orman’s three tips for beginner investors

By Lawrence Lewitinn

Suze Orman is synonymous with personal finance. The two-time Emmy-winning host of The Suze Orman Show has helped countless individuals improve their financial situations. But while most associate her with saving, what many don’t realize is that she knows more than just a thing or two about investing and building lasting wealth from humble beginnings.
Her story is legendary: she went from being a 30 year-old waitress earning $400 per month to becoming one of the top brokers at Merrill Lynch. From there, she moved on to become a Vice President at Prudential Bache Securities.
Now, in a rare interview with Talking Numbers, Suze’s sharing her advice on how to succeed in investing. And you don’t need to be an expert to follow her tips. In fact, she breaks it down into three easy steps.

1. Don’t put all your investment eggs in one basket.
Suze says: “Most people when they’re beginning to invest don’t have a lot of money. So, you don’t want to buy just one individual stock because if that individual stock happens to go down – and it can happen – there goes all your money. Diversification is the key.
“How do you diversify if you don’t have a lot of money? By buying either a no-load mutual fund or an exchange-traded fund (ETF). An exchange-traded fund operates like a stock but it’s really a tracking index. Either one of those two is a great way to give you diversification.”
2. Dollar cost averaging is the key to success.
Suze says: “Nobody is going to be able to call the market correctly at the moment it’s happening. You’ll never buy at the lowest point and you will never sell at the highest. But, what you will do to be a winner is to do dollar cost averaging.
“What that means is decide on a specific dollar amount that you want to invest – let’s just say it’s $500 a month, or $200. It doesn’t matter what it is. You take that specific amount of money every single month and you invest it in your no-load mutual fund or an exchange traded fund if there isn’t any commission to buy that exchange-traded fund. You do that every single month. When the market is up, your dollars will buy less shares. When the market is down, your dollars will buy more shares. But, over time, you have averaged the cost of those shares and, in the end, you will have accumulated more shares. When the market goes up, you will have made more money. Dollar cost averaging is the way to go!”
3. Start early and start right
Suze says: “The sooner you can start investing, the better you are. There’s the timing of the market – when to buy and when to sell – but the most important time in every single one of your lives is the time to start investing. Time is the most important ingredient in any financial freedom recipe. Time will determine how much money in the long run and really get to keep as well. So, the sooner you begin investing, the better off you’ll be!”

Thursday, July 10, 2014

MONEY Tip- 9 Money Habits That Can Help You Build Wealth

by Marissa Torrieri
Learn Vest

While a six-figure inheritance or high-paying job can land you in the top 1% of earners, it’s the little things—your money habits—that often make the difference between a life of prosperity and one of constant financial stress.
Just ask Learnvest Finanacial Planning CFP® David Blaylock, who doesn’t simply advise his clients on the merits of good money habits—he practices what he preaches.

For example, “I do a periodic review of all the subscriptions I have—the ones that hit my credit cards each month,” says Blaylock. “You’d be surprised at how many subscriptions we all have and how many go unused. You could create some significant savings each month just by looking at those things.”
Taking inventory of your recurring subscriptions and services is just one habit that can get you on the road to better fortune.
“If you look at the average amount of money you will earn over your lifetime, and figure out how many years you are working—most people earn more than a million dollars over their working life but very few people become millionaires,” says Nancy Butler, a Certified Financial Planner™. “How they manage what goes through their fingers usually makes the difference.”
So what are these easy changes that can help move you further along the road to prosperity? We asked two financial planners for their favorites.

1. Reverse Your Thinking

We know: After taxes are taken out and the bills are paid, your paycheck can seem a little anemic—which can make the idea of having to save for retirement too seem like a real stretch. But to build wealth, a change in mindset is required. Namely, instead of spending the rest of your take-home pay, you’d actually take another cut of your paycheck and put it toward your biggest financial goals.
“Most people spend some money, pay their bills and save what’s left,” says Butler. “And that’s backwards: You should be saving for your financial goals first, paying your bills and and then consider spending the money you have leftover.”  Another trap is putting your good money habits off till “later,” when life will get easier. The thing is, somehow the minute your income increases, the demands on your money seem to as well.
Now, keep in mind, we’re not suggesting you sock all of your money away and live on rice cakes. As Blaylock puts it: “I’m not asking you to put $1,000 away a month, I’m asking you to put away $50, or a small amount that you can afford. We really can’t underestimate the power of starting small, because most of the time that momentum builds, and once we see progress, we tend to repeat behaviors.”

2. Look Where You Want to Go

Just as performance athletes imagine themselves making the shot over and over again—check out this study for how goal setting improves motivation in athletes—knowing what you want your money to do for you gives your goals a better chance of being reached.

To get going on saving for the future, financial experts often suggest having a five-year plan, where you create specific money goals you’d like to achieve in five years and what you need to achieve those goals.For example, saving six months of income for an emergency fund, or saving for a big event, like a down payment on a house.
“Anytime we have a specific goal in mind, that helps us to save,” says Blaylock. “Whether that goal is emergency savings, or saving for a trip, or saving for college, it doesn’t matter.”

3. Adopt Your Own Private Mind Tricks

What if not spending $1,000 on a designer purse or new must-have gadget were as easy as following a rule that dictates you can’t spend more than $300 on something that isn’t essential to your life? The good news is you can create financial rules just like that for yourself; in fact, doing so can be a great habit to get into.
Also known as “heuristics,” these rule-of-thumb strategies we create for ourselves—such as not spending more than $15 on an item of baby clothing, or more than $50 on a pair of shoes—can help simplify the many choices we make in a day. Behavioral economists believe that adopting good heuristics can help one develop good money habits

If creating a great heuristic seems like an overwhelming task, Blaylock suggests starting with something simple, such as eating out only twice a week, or “not getting a cart at Target,” a heuristic that helped one of his colleagues save money.

4. Live Like a “Secret” Rich Person

For some, the image of a millionaire conjures visions of sprawling mansions and shiny Bentleys. But most millionaires don’t live large like that—rather, they tend to live well below their “means” and do more saving than spending. In other words, they’re not flashing their money, according to Dr. Thomas J. Stanley, co-author of " The Millionair Nextdoor; The surprising secrets of America's Wealthy” Stanley’s book, which details more than two decades worth of surveys and personal interviews with millionaires, reveals that much of the wealth in America is more often the result of hard work, diligent savings, and living below your means.

 Las Vegas–based David Sapper, who owns a successful used car business, and his real-estate broker wife make a combined income of $500,000 per year. Yet they live like “secret” rich people, only spending $2,500 per month on all bills and extracurricular expenses like eating out, unlike many of their peers. By putting 90% of his income into savings and investments, Sapper says he’ll be able to retire early.

His advice? “Find the point that you get what you need and you’re happy and comfortable, and just stay there,” says Sapper. “I had an ‘aha!’ moment when I was watching MTV, and LL Cool J was saying, ‘I lease a Honda Accord for $399 a month,’ while other rappers are going broke.”

5. Tackle Retirement Now

If you’re in your twenties or thirties, retirement can seem eons away—and saving for it might not seem like a priority. It’s easy to understand: In between paying to attend weddings (which average something like $600 per guest), saving for a down payment on a home, and using anything leftover to put toward “necessities” like vacation, how are you supposed to save anything for retirement?

Unfortunately the later you start saving, the more you’ll have to save. But the sooner you sock money away, the more time it has to compound and grow.
If, for example, you’re 30 and putting $50 a month into a retirement account with a 7% rate of return, that $50 a month would turn into $56,000 in 30 years, says Blaylock. Should you wait to age 40, you would need to contribute $110 per month to get to that same goal. This is because your money has less time to grow which minimizes the impact of compound interest.

6. Know What’s Coming in, and What’s Going Out

Most of us have good intentions when it comes to saving money. But if you don’t know what’s coming into your bank account and what’s going out, chances are you don’t know how much you can devote to your goals. And most people generally don’t track their income and spending, says Blaylock. “It really is shocking to me that clients I work with don’t always review their pay stub,” he says.

You can track your expenses for free with an app like Learn Vest that helps you budget, set goals and save. Remember: Knowledge is the first step to lasting change.
“If I don’t know how much you spend on eating out, how can I expect you to change that?” says Blaylock. “You kind of have to become the chief financial officer of your household.”

7. Getting Out of Debt

Everyone has debt at some point in their life. But if you have bad debt—not student loans and mortgages, but credit card debt, where you’re paying high monthly interest rates—nixing it and getting out of the habit of being a debtor—should be priority number one. “I want somebody to develop a plan to have them out of that debt in 36 months or less,” says Blaylock. “It’s hindering you from making progress on your other goals.”
At the same time, emergencies happen—and a $600 car repair can hit anytime. That’s why Blaylock advises putting half the money you could put into paying down debt into an emergency savings account. So, for example, instead of paying $600 toward credit card debt, consider putting $300 toward emergency savings and $300 toward credit card payments. While this means it will take longer to get out of credit card debt, you’ll have money stored up for an emergency.

“Credit card debt is a result of the ‘uh-oh’ moments,” says Blaylock. “We still don’t have any savings built up because we put it all toward our credit card. So while you’re also working to pay your credit card down, you should consider putting an equal amount to an emergency savings account. I often tell clients that their emergency savings are their insurance policy against falling into credit card debt ever again.”
After you get out of debt, Butler suggests only having one credit card, and come to an agreement with yourself (or your significant other) that it will only be used during an emergency. “Let’s say the car broke down and you can’t fix it—that’s an emergency,” says Butler. “Something’s on sale, and I know I’m going to need it in six months—that’s not an emergency.”

8. Increasing Your Earnings

There are two ways to increase your net worth: Spend less or save more money. “And spending less is only part of it – you have to save, and when appropriate invest, the rest,” says Natalie Taylor, a CFP® with LearnVest Planning Services. “Earning more often doesn’t lead to higher net worth because lifestyle expenses grow along with it.” 
But if you grow your income, and set some of those earnings aside, you can grow your bottom line. Aside from getting a raise or winning the lottery, there are a few ways to get more money flowing in.
One suggestion: Diversify your income streams by working a second, part-time job doing something you love. As far as earning more, there are a few things one can do. “For those who cannot cut their expenses enough, I love the idea of working part-time,” says Blaylock. “I have a great friend who is an attorney. She has a big travel habit that she is unwilling to pull back on. So, she works at a flower shop on Saturdays during wedding season. It’s a win for everyone: The flower shop has a dependable employee, and my friend loves flowers so she does not think of it as work.”

Another idea: Look for investment opportunities—perhaps with the help of a financial planner—or other ways to get income to come to you. “I think retirement income should come from multiple sources such as rental income, part-time income and retirement assets,” says Blaylock.

9. Consider Consulting an Expert

There are times in life when consulting an expert pays you back in spades. Even if you’re doing everything you can to start good money habits, using a qualified financial planner can help keep you on track—and help you see the big picture.
“Often times most of us are too emotionally involved in our finances to make really good decisions,” says Blaylock. “So what you’re looking for when you’re getting a professional is accountability and an outside view of what you’re doing. I look at your finances very objectively, where you can’t because you’re that person.”