15 Financial Life Lessons Your Parents Forgot To Teach You

Written by Sam on . Posted in Inspiration, Personal Finance. 6856 views.

Whether it’s matters of money, love or health, certain life lessons transcend all boundaries.  Some of us are looking for guidance to follow ourselves – others are searching for advice to pass on to their kids.  By blind luck some of us had parents who instilled most of these life lessons into us as we grew up – unfortunately, others weren’t as lucky.

Regardless of if you’ve heard these before or not, from today on you have the chance to better yourself and those around you.  Here’s a list of life lessons to both follow yourself and to pass on to your kids:

  1. A good reputation is more valuable than money.  Warren Buffet once said: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”  Putting people first is some of the best financial advice you can follow.  It’s people that help you get that promotion or keep customers coming back to your start-up business.  Don’t forget that along your way – it’s one of the Things Successful Entrepreneurs and Executives Do Differently.
  2. Nothing worthwhile comes easy.  Human nature is to take the easy way out – try to fight this.  Why?  Because I guarantee that you’ll only achieve true happiness through accomplishment and realizing your potential.  Anyone who’s inherited or been given money has learned this lesson.  Easy money won’t earn the self-respect you desire – hard work will!
  3. Patience is the best remedy for every trouble.  Like anything worthwhile in life, nothing good happens quickly.  Sometimes it’s the raise you’re looking for at work.  Other times it’s the adoption papers you need finalized.  Recognize (and accept) when events are out of your control – embrace the fact that the marathon of life is made up of thousands of small steps.
  4. Avoid the “unknowledge” trap.  Do your best to avoid ruts of “unknowledge”; where you’ve quit learning within your professional and personal lives (one of the 25 Things to Stop Doing At Work Today).  Keep maximizing learning opportunities within your industry, but also set a personal goal to obtain a new license or skill outside of your profession.  Invest in yourself – I try to think of new knowledge gained as a unique perspective which can serve to further enlighten you!
  5. Debt is the slavery of the free.  Most simply, avoid credit card debt you can’t immediately payoff!  Nowadays it’s so easy to just put it on credit and worry about it later – fight this urge.  The only form of personal debt you should see as acceptable is a Mortgage/Deed of Trust – everything else is financially wasteful.
  6. Persistence pays off.  If ambition is the path to success, persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.  You’ve undertaken this venture, now don’t be discouraged by the lack of immediate results or success.  It’s those who keep with it after the excitement and newness wears off that reap the long-term benefits.  Remember, if it was easy and happened overnight, everyone would be doing it.

12 Essential Apps Every Small Business Owner Must Own

Written by Sam on . Posted in Inspiration, Small Business Owners. 3168 views.

Are you looking to better incorporate technology into your personal finances?  Want to save yourself time and money while looking impressive to your customer?  Your mobile phone/tablet currently offers a wide variety of options to do just that.

There are plenty of apps out there, but these are the top apps any small business owner should have:

  1. TeamViewer HD.  Now this is cool.  TeamViewer allows you to control your desktop computer from your iPad or iPhone.  This is perfect for when you need to access an application or file that is on another computer.  The app lets you easily log into your computer, move the mouse around like you were actually there and launch programs and access documents.  App Cost:  Free.
  2. Line2.  Want to tap your dedicated business line into your iPhone?  Line2 is a VoIP service which adds features like virtual receptionist, call conference/waiting/transfer, SMS text messaging and others to your phone.  This is a very cool feature which competes with other services that require a physical phone at your home or office.  Service Cost:  $10 a month.
  3. Dropbox.  Everyone loves Dropbox – the free cloud service that lets you store, share and backup your files seamlessly.  The Dropbox App serves another function, it provides a solution for the inability to store documents on your iPhone.  Simply save your files to Dropbox and you’ll be able to access them from the Dropbox app.  App Cost: Free.  Not into dropbox? Google offers a similar service/app called GoogleDrive.
  4. HootSuite. HootSuite is a cool service which allows you to manage all of your social media accounts at once.  It’s great for those who want a one-stop-shop to publish posts, status updates, etc. for Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Foursquare.  When you’re on the go you can manage all of these functions with the HootSuite for Twitter App.  App Cost: Free (4 accounts), $6 (for more).
  5. Wi-Fi Finder.  Are you cheap like me and don’t want to pay for cellular service for your iPad?  Wi-Fi Finder is a handy app that uses your phone’s GPS to identify where the closest Wi-Fi hotspots are.  App Cost:  Free.

8 Things Executives and Entrepreneurs Do Differently

Written by Sam on . Posted in Career Advice, Inspiration. 3125 views.

Success is not always about what you’re doing, sometimes it about what you could be doing differently.  Not everyone can run a profitable company.  In fact, it takes a special set of skills to be a true leader.  

Executives and successful entrepreneurs do things differently than you do.  We’re not talking about middle level management here, we’re talking about real decision makers.  Here’s a list of things successful business people do differently:

  1. Put people first.  Climbing the corporate ladder or maintaining a successful business is rarely done alone.  It’s the coworker that tells your boss how you jumped in when people were spread thin, or your assistant manager who works a double shift when your new employee calls in sick, who sets you apart.  These people put themselves out there for you, because you’ve shown them they’re appreciated or valuable.  Do right by the people around you, no matter how “small” they are, and they’ll do right for you.
  2. Work harder.  You probably occasionally get to work early and leave late.  When asked to do a task you do it.  Overall you’re a hard worker.  We’ll here’s a terribly kept secret – your boss’s boss works harder.  It’s those employees who take the initiative, without being asked, who rise through the ranks.  Is there something this week that you could proactively get involved in?
  3. Stay focused.  It can be easy to get distracted by the noise that surrounds your business day – becoming overwhelmed and inefficient.  Most successful higher-ups have the ability to decipher information, discarding the noise, to identify problems and focus on solutions.  When today gets chaotic, slow down and focus on the important tasks – leaving the non-priorities for tomorrow.
  4. Exude confidence.  You don’t have to be an expert for people to think you’re one.  Most positions of leadership require the respect of those around you.  Formulate your plans and ideas, keep the course, and stay confident.
  5. Change it up.  Don’t be afraid to innovate.  Just because the company or industry does it a certain way doesn’t mean you have to.  Look at companies like Virgin, Google, Dyson and Apple, who diverted paths of entire industries simply by trying things a new way.  If it ain’t broke, break it!  

12 Things Every Investor Should Quit Doing

Written by Sam on . Posted in Investing, Investing for Beginners, Personal Finance, Retirement. 1479 views.

Things Investors Should Quit DoingI’m sorry to tell you, but nature has programmed you to be a bad investor.  It’s true, investing is counter-intuitive.  Your brain wants you to sell when a stock is going down and buy when it’s going up.   Even worse, some of the best investors in the world have learned this fact and actually make money by betting against what retail investors like you are going to do.  Warren Buffet said it best: “Be greedy when others are scared and scared when others are greedy”.

Don’t worry, there’s hope for you.  Here are 12 things you should quit doing when it comes to investing and how to fix them:

  1. Quit chasing sexy investments.  As humans we want to be part of the “In Crowd”.  Whether it’s the latest gossip, the hottest style, or definitely the hottest stock – we want in.  Facebook was a great example of this.  Most retail investors ignored (if they even looked at) the fundamentals and shockingly low earnings to be apart of the hype.  How to fix this:  Simple, if your uncle, co-working or momma, tells you to buy a stock just because they did – get as far away from the stock as you can.  I promise, you’ll hear all about their sexy stock…until the bubble bursts.
  2. Quit buying or selling after it’s too late.   Most of us remember when we had the idea to buy a stock, only to see it go up after we passed on buying it.  Then some of us made the critical mistake of buying it after the move already occurred.  Fight this urge, it’s too late.  How to fix this:  If you’ve missed your opportunity, take note but move onto the next investment.  However, it’s ok to continue to monitor the investment to see if it drops back down to your attractive buying range.
  3. Quit 0wning individual stocks.  Unless you are an employee of the company and involved in their stock purchase/option program, don’t own individual stocks!  Plain out crazy right?  No. Individual company stocks have something called “Diversifiable Risk”, or risk that can be eliminated by diversifying your assets.  Think of a scandal within the company or their key patent expiring.  How to fix this:  Target sectors as a whole.  Say you like ConocoPhillips because you think think energy will go up.  Instead of buying the stock, buy an energy ETF which tracks multiple stocks in that sector (Vanguard Energy ETF, ticker VDE, in this case).
  4. Quit paying too much in fees.  Investing really pays off when your returns start to compound upon the returns you’ve earned the previous years.  Every percentage you pay in fees will result in less of a return, ultimately lessening your compounding effect. How to fix this:  Only pay a fee when you can answer exactly what you’re getting.  Paying a fee to a mutual fund for their expertise in the bond market can be ok.  Paying for a mutual fund which replicates the S&P 500, when you can just buy an ETF which accomplishes the exact same thing, is not ok.  This is one of the 18 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I Was 18.
  5. Quit being too proud to sell.  This is a common one so pay attention…Just because a stock went down does not mean it is going to come back up.  Pause and ponder this.  I’m not saying to emotionally sell when your investment goes down, I’m saying to recognize when the environment has changed and it’s time to get out.  How to fix this:  If you bet wrong or were hit by an unforeseeable event, cut your losses and move on.  There are plenty of other investments out there, don’t let emotion take influence over your money.

6 Companies That Will Inspire You To Be Better

Written by Sam on . Posted in Inspiration. 1855 views.

Many of us are content with the comforts of an eight-to-five job. It’s hard to imagine quitting it all for a passion or cause. Yet, there’s a subliminal believe that life is more than just trading your hours for dollars. Because of this, I find it so inspiring to learn about individuals who weren’t afraid to put their product or cause out there for the world to see.

Here’s a list of 6 stories which will hopefully motivate you to put yourself out there and be someone:

  1. Teach for America.  Wendy Kopp proposed the idea for Teach For America in her Princeton University undergraduate thesis in 1989.  Her program requires a two year commitment (usually from a recent college graduate) to teach in underprivileged areas of the United States.  The teacher gets paid a modest salary, but more importantly is trained how to teach effectively and become a leader in the community.  After the program is through, the teach is given access to the program’s vast leadership database – providing a great network to pursue careers in other industries.  In 1990, a charter corps of 500 committed recent college graduates joined Teach For America and began fueling the movement to eliminate educational inequity.  The program is designed to train mainly recent college graduates to be lifetime leaders in their industry and the community. After completing the two year commitment, Teach for America helps alumni build leadership skills, develop networks, and connects them to opportunities where they can make an impact throughout their careers.

    Why you should be inspired:  Since starting in 1990, nearly 33,000 participants have reached more than 3 million children nationwide during their two-year teaching commitments. They have sustained their commitment as alumni, working within education and across all sectors to help ensure that children growing up in low-income communities get an excellent education.
  2. Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Nancy Goodman Brinker watched her sister Susan Komen die from breast cancer at the age of 36.  Convinced that her sister could have survived if there was more awareness for the disease, she founded Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  Whether or not you agree with their recent stances on abortion and planned parenthood funding, it’s hard to deny the unbelievable amount resources and attention they continue to provide for research and support.

    Why you should be inspired:  Starting as a promise to a sister, the foundation has donated over $2 billion, working to end breast cancer in the U.S. and throughout the world through ground-breaking research, community health outreach, advocacy and programs in more than 50 countries.
  3. Toms Shoes. In 2006, American traveler Blake Mycoskie befriended children in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One. Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by TOMS customers. Interestingly enough, the “Buy One – Give One” business model turned out to be extremely profitable and motivated others to do the same thing (funny how that works…).  Warby Parker Glasses , Bobs by Sketchers and OneMillionLights are just a few of the successful start-ups utilizing buy one give one -  It’s nice when capitalism and philanthropy align.

    Why you should be inspired:  It’s fascinating to hear about individuals who are so affected by others in need that they start companies focused on being profitable, not to further the founder, but to further (and hopefully eliminate) their cause.  Since starting in 2006, Tom’s has given away over 2 Million pairs of shoes.  What are you so passionate about that you’d dedicate your life to raising money for it?

9 Reasons Why a Woman Should Be Managing Your Personal Finances

Written by Sam on . Posted in For Women, Inspiration. 2430 views.

Sorry men, we were just passed by women as the better manager of family finances.  Recent studies are showing that personal finances are shifting from a primarily male dominated responsibility to one now being managed (effectively) by females. We all know that money problems can ruin a marriage.  Conversely, having joint involvement and ownership of accounts decreases the chances of miscommunication and misinformation – transparency in family finances is essential.

Yes (OF COURSE!), there are exceptions to all of these somewhat sexist statements, but until societal norms diverge toward equality, these reasons apply to more situations than they do not.  If you’re a woman who isn’t currently involved in family finances or a man too proud to ask for help, maybe the following will persuade you to try a new approach.  Here are 9 reasons why a woman should be involved in the management of your family’s personal finances:

  1. Women run the day-to-day of the household.  Whether working full time or not, most women oversee the daily operations of the household.  Subsequently, amounts spent on some of a family’s biggest expenses such as groceries, maintenance and entertainment are left to them.  It only makes sense that the overseer of these matters be exposed to and involved in the budgeting/financial aspects.
  2. Women are more afraid of debt.  The latest studies tell us that women are more intimidated by debt than men.  Women tend to save up for big purchases instead of putting them on credit.  Debt is the #1 killer of family finances, it’s good to put someone who is leery of debt in charge of spending/budgeting.  Avoiding debt is also one of the 18 Financial Tips I Wish Someone Told Me When I Was Younger.
  3. Women have less of an ego when it comes to investing.  Any successful investor must exercise both patience and discipline when seeing investments go up and down – especially in today’s market.  Ego, pride and over-confidence (traits more likely found in males) must be removed from the equation. Women are typically less likely to show these emotions and panic sell if an investment goes down.
  4. Women are better at finding value.  U.S. News reports that, on average,  men dramatically outspend women on things like holiday shopping.  Being able to identify value and needs (as apposed to wants) is valuable in both investing and budget management.  A dollar saved at Target is a dollar earned!
  5. Women bring a unique perspective.  A family unit should be a partnership with each spouse having an equal say.  Women need to be equally involved in spending and investing decisions, offering a checks and balances approach to the partnership.

25 Things to Stop Doing Today at Work

Written by Sam on . Posted in Career Advice, Inspiration. 16284 views.

Often times we can fall in a rut at work.  We start accepting unhappiness as our destiny and quit fighting it like we did in our twenties.  Make it a point today to identify some of the hindrances you’re facing with your company or position and take a step to get past them.

Personal growth should be something you’re looking to accomplish each and every day. No one likes change, but how many of these 25 things can you stop doing at work today?

  1. Stop bottling up your talent.  The 21st century is perhaps the most exciting time in history to possess unique knowledge and talent.  There are so many outlets for you to showcase your talent.  Whether it’s a blog, eBook, podcast or other form of expression,  get your knowledge out there – it’s one of the 7 ways to be seen as an expert in your industry.
  2. Stop being afraid to fail.  I know it’s become a cliche, but failure can be extremely valuable.  Do you really think that successful people never fail?  Of course this is not the case, they’ve just worked through failure and ended with success.  No one should strive for failure, but I’d rather swing and miss than never be in the game.
  3. Stop being unorganized.  Start making lists and setting goals for yourself.  It’s easy to lose sight of what you want to accomplish if you don’t keep in front of you.  Try to organize the tasks you must complete today as well as those which are not priorities – your day will be more efficient and less stressful, guaranteed!
  4. Stop shrugging responsibility.  You should be the first to volunteer for a new project.  Not only will you probably learn something new, you’ll gain the respect of those around you.
  5. Stop being afraid to socialize with upper management.  Manager’s want to promote and hire well rounded, likable people.  While it’s always important to be respectful, don’t wait around for executives to notice you, put yourself out there to be noticed.  Take the initiative to setup a happy hour or group lunch – it will be noticed.

6 Effective Ways to Ask For a Pay Raise

Written by Sam on . Posted in Career Advice. 4503 views.

How to ask for a raiseKnowing how to ask for a raise is a skill that can be perfected.  Like other forms of negotiation, having a set plan is essential to a favorable outcome – so get prepared.

Now that the economy has started to stabilize, most of us should realize two important things.  First, you’re still here, so you must be valuable to the company.  Second, you haven’t received a pay raise in at least 3 years.  Depending on your situation, now may be a great time to ask for a pay raise.  Take the following six steps into consideration when formulating your plan on how to ask for a pay raise:

  1. Evaluate the situation.  Ask yourself: Is this a good time to ask for a raise?  Obviously if your company is in the middle of layoffs, it may not be a good time.  However, a lot of companies are now back in the black and reporting good quarterly earnings.  Know that these earnings are available to be paid out to valuable employees, like yourself.
  2. Frame the conversation/request.  Never ask for a pay raise because you need it, rather because you’ve earned it.  Framing the conversation by setting up a review or evaluation to discuss your accomplishments since your last pay increase is a very effective way to start the conversation.  Be prepared to answer questions on why you deserve it and if you’re willing to take on additional responsibilities.
  3. Stay confident.  The downturn in the economy lead to layoffs and hiring freezes.  Chances are if you’re still at your company, you’re valuable and would be missed.  Your competitors, who are also now making money, would love to lure away under appreciated (but valuable) employees.  Have confidence that your company realizes your value and does not want to lose you over a (deserved) pay raise – don’t be afraid to ask for something you deserve!