Category : savings

Easy Keys to Building Wealth

The 4 Easy Keys to Building Wealth

It seems that there is a short list for everything these days. Top 10 things to never say on a first date. The 5 best foods for your toddler. Top 20 places to travel to in your lifetime. And my personal favorite – any list that has the top 10 fails!

I would like to offer yet another list. But unlike providing just the entertainment value of my favorite “Fails” list, this list will serve you in a much more life-altering way. If followed, I am confident it will change your financial future.

This list did not come out of the pages of academia but rather from my last 2 decades working in Financial Services. I have spent 20+ years sitting kneecap to kneecap with real human beings helping them shape and plan for their financial futures. I have seen the whites of my clients’ eyes amidst the dotcom bubble burst in the late 1990s and again, with many of those same clients, in the financial crisis of 2008-2009.

It often seems that the financial industry in general wants to make investing and building wealth seem more complicated than it needs to be, so I hope to simplify what you really need to know. There are many things with investing that are out of our control – the economy and the stock market to be specific.

The great thing about this list is that all 4 things are areas of your life that YOU CAN CONTROL.

I hope that by boiling the millions and millions of google search results down to just these 4 key points that maybe, just maybe, a number of people reading this article will see their lives changed for the better.

So … drumroll please for the 4 Easy Keys to Building Wealth …

#1: Spend Less Than You Make (i.e. Save Money)

This is the one I am most passionate about. I have seen first-hand countless numbers of my clients retire with more than $1 million in their portfolios – and they never made even close to six figures in their careers. They didn’t inherit it. They didn’t sell a business for millions of dollars.

The one constant was that whatever they made, they spent less than that. Simply, if their monthly take-home pay was $4,000, they only spent $3,000. They most certainly didn’t maintain balances on a credit card. And when they had to borrow money (for a home or car), they worked to pay it off as soon as possible.

I put the “spend less” attribute #1 on the list because it is the most difficult for many people.

The next 3 are much easier to follow, but the act of spending less than you make is probably the single trait that will have the most impact on your financial life – both now and in the future. Very few people have the discipline to spend less than they make. It is main reason why few people in this country are financially secure.

#2: Get Your Allocation in the Ballpark of Being Right (Stocks vs. Bonds)

Too many investors spend an inordinate amount of time stressing over the selection of individual mutual funds while simultaneously neglecting what may be the single most important decision in investment selection an investor can make in their lifetime – the balance of stock funds vs. bond funds.

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Hawaii Hammock Retirement

How to Treat Your Retirement Planning Like Spring Break

IMG_5937.JPG Every year, the activity most college students look forward to is spring break. It’s the halfway point from Christmas to summer vacation and, let’s be honest, it’s a week of freedom from exams, boring lectures, and responsibility.

Depending on how excited you are about your spring break, planning can start as early as October – finding available houses or condos, coordinating travel and learning about the local hot spots. Hopefully around that same time, the savings start, as well. Each year, college students get to spend a week away from their parents, surrounded by their closest friends on a beach – or some other Instagram-worthy destination. That’s something worth saving up a bit of extra spare change.

Unfortunately, once college has ended and you are off in the real world, spring break becomes a thing of the past. A week-long vacation where you can forget about your responsibilities and sit on a beach sipping an adult beverage is no longer a given each March.

But this year, when the weather began to warm up, I started thinking about those days and how I can relax from work and other daily stresses, and I asked…

WHY CAN’T THAT BE MY RETIREMENT?

Trick is, like spring break, retirement – and the saving for it – requires planning and the need to start saving early.

Now, I can already hear your thoughts: “I have debt I need to pay off,” or, “I’m only in my 20s, why do I need to start planning for retirement?” Trust me, I get it. At 21 years old (almost 22!) and finishing up my Master’s degree, I feel like I have a lot of other ways to spend my money than putting it towards my retirement. But I’ve learned that the longer my money has to grow, the more it can do for me in the future. That’s the power of compounding interest

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Sir Isaac Newton…astronomer, mathematician, physicist…and super crappy investor.

Newton made a huge impact in the 1700s with his contributions on the Law of Motion, gravitation and by being the inventor of the first reflecting telescope. Stay with us here…he was also a fellow of Trinity College, a member of Parliament, and was knighted by the Queen in 1705.

By all accounts, the man was a freaking genius.

But, Boy Oh Boy, Did He Suck at Investing.

Think about that? How is it even possible that a person this smart could be bad at investing? Simple. And here is the story:

Enter the South Sea Company. This was a company that was established in the early 18th Century. In exchange for assuming England’s war debt, the company was granted a monopoly on trade in the South Seas.

Bingo. Investors loved this. They smelled a huge money making opportunity.

Sir Isaac Newton was no different than any other investor. He too had been charmed into purchasing shares of the South Sea Company and by 1720 after seeing the stock rise rapidly without reason at a fever pitch he rationalized, “I can calculate the movement of stars, but not the madness of men.” So, he cashed out. And profited big time from his investment.

Then he watched as the stock continued to soar THREE times higher than when he sold his shares. We can only imagine the regret he was feeling. As evidence, he went on to repurchase South Sea Company. Only this time he was buying it THREE times higher than when he last sold it.

Briefly, the stock continued to rise. We’re sure Newton was feeling wonderful about his decision. And then things started to go awry. The stock peaked weeks later and then cratered. Newton ended up losing £20,000 (nearly his life savings) which in today’s dollars equates to roughly $3,000,000.

Let That Sink In. Astronomer. Mathematician. Physicist. And….Broke.

Newton, a genius by all accounts, couldn’t pull off investing without letting his emotions get the best of him. Where does this leave you?

Simple. You need to find a professional that can help you navigate the emotional ups and downs of investing. We don’t care where you get help, just get help! Many traditional advisors have $1,000,000 account minimums before they’ll talk to you. Luckily for our clients, we don’t have a minimum and we focus on the ever confusing 401k that you might have set on “auto-pilot”.

Look, this isn’t about your IQ score. 1000s of folks using blooom are super smart people – doctors, teachers, firemen…shoot, we even have financial advisors using blooom for their own accounts! Yes, they are all smart. BUT they’ve come to the realization that it’s best to have someone hold your hand through the inevitable ups and downs you will see as an investor.

Don’t let your investing experience become a history lesson for someone else.

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Hamburger Helper Really Helped Me

For the past 30 years – pretty much all of my adult life – I have been a planner and a worrier.  I am the type of person that starts packing two weeks before a big vacation.  I am the type of person that starts putting a Thanksgiving grocery list together in OCTOBER.  It isn’t that I plan to worry, I just worry if I don’t plan.  These traits are deeply embedded in the genetic code of my family going back multiple generations.  At times it can be a good thing to keep me on track, but often it can be overwhelming and take up too much of my day.  If I get this worked up prior to a beach vacation or family holiday, you can only imagine how I feel when it comes to retirement planning.

One of my biggest fears in life is running out of money in retirement.  The idea of working in my 70s and becoming a burden on my kids has caused me to lie awake at 3AM more than a few times.  I know how hard retirement planning is going to be for today’s youth so I do not want to add taking care of mom and dad to their plate.  Now I am not just worrying about my own retirement, but the retirement of my children 50+ years away.

How have I learned to deal with this and prevent what is left of my hair from falling out?  By identifying which factors I have control over versus the factors I do not.  I have no control what the market is doing, at what age I die (outside of eating less Kansas City BBQ…not happening), or what the federal tax code is going to look like in 20 years.  What I can control is my savings rate, which funds to invest in, and doing my best to eliminate debt.

I was lucky growing up that my dad was also a planner/worrier, and he taught me at a young age to save and then save some more.  He worked for the same large company for 33 years, working long hours, often travelling more than he was home, and missing valuable family time for the good of the company.  At the age of 53 the company decided he was too old and “retired” him.  It was a scary time and had he not saved for a rainy day, our family would have been in the middle of a monsoon.  Thankfully he was a third generation planner and was prepared by saving, living below his means, and reducing debt.  I’ve always admired him for taking control of his financial situation and not leaving his later years to chance.  He has been retired now for 23 years and is still going strong.

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Fitness & Finances: When Help Helps the Most

Now that we’re a month into 2017, how’s that New Year’s Resolution going for you? If you’re like 80% of the population, my guess is you’ve already called it quits or will by Valentine’s Day. Let’s face it, life gets in the way. It’s not easy.

By far the most common resolutions we all hear about or set for ourselves will involve getting in shape, eating better or losing weight. All those things sound great, but take a lot of time, energy, and dedication to accomplish. And this is especially true if you’re planning to go it alone.

As someone who’s had some success prioritizing my own health and fitness into a daily routine, I see it all-too-often at my gym, especially early in the year. There’s generally two kinds of what I call the “New Year Newbies”, the tortoise or the hare. The hares start out of the gate pushing themselves way too hard. They generally end up hurting themselves or making themselves feel like such a pile of you-know-what afterward that they never want to come back. And then there are the tortoises. They got themselves to the gym but they think that’s all it takes.  Tortoises typically spend their time reading through three gossip magazines while throwing their legs in slow circles on a bike for an hour (without ever breaking a sweat). But hey, can you believe Tarek & Christina (HGTV) are getting a divorce?!…

In this story of the tortoise and the hare, neither win. Because while those people may have taken the right first step by getting themselves to the gym, they probably aren’t going to make much progress. They’ll end up like nearly everyone else when it comes to their resolutions – just another statistic. Let’s face it, this stuff takes time, patience, and a ton of mental strength. And it’s often a process that can feel like lots of small baby steps forward, followed by falling flat on your face repeatedly.

Having someone by your side (that knows what they’re doing) is the key to training.  Specifically, those that seek help from a trusted source, like a personal trainer, tend to achieve far better results than those going it alone. There are several reasons to hire a personal trainer, and it’s not just the motivation that they will charge you if you don’t show up to your work out.  Personal trainers give you individualized workouts that are more likely to provide tangible results. Personal trainers are there to supervise you, tell you when you are using the correct form so you don’t injure yourself. They also provide consistency and a sounding board when you’re not sure your training is going in the right direction (or even progressing like you want).  Trainers are trusted partners who want to see you reach your long-term physical goals.

Now, as you’d expect, herein lies our investing analogy…

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