The personal finance habits you develop when you’re young will determine the standard of living you enjoy (or regret) when you’re older. Take it from me, adding just a couple of these to your financial routine can make a big difference at the end of the year when you look at your bank statements.
How many of these 50 ways to be smarter with your money do you commit to (most admit to less than half):
- Maintain only two forms of debt: Mortgage and (minimal) car payment.
- Donate your time, not your money. Getting involved is far more valuable to yourself and the organization.
- Don’t panic when good investments go down. Investing should not be based on emotion, stick with your strategies.
- Avoid any fees – they take from principal and reduce compounding.
- Get your spouse involved in family finances – it’s better for your marriage and for future financial decisions.
- Renting is cheaper than owning – we have a good 10 years of this staying true.
- Have a 3 month cash reserve for unexpected emergencies.
- Save up for your big purchases, don’t put them on credit – helps determine what you need/want and what was just an impulse buy.
- Lend family members your time and expertise, not your money – sorry.
- Max out company matching/contribution to 401(k).
Just the fact that you came to work today means you’re going to get less done than you could have. That’s right I said it, you’re less efficient working at the office than at home. More and more businesses are coming to the realization that it’s not just a great fringe benefit, it’s in everyone’s best interest to allow an employee to work remotely.
Both employers and employees should consider these 12 reasons to cut loose from the company office building:
- Add time to your day. The average employee commutes 1 hour per day to and from work. That’s 20 hours a month of wasted time. Just think what else you could accomplish if you had an extra hour per day added to your life!
- Increased creativity from better surroundings. Having the choice to work in a park, coffee house, library or from the comfort of your own home helps to relax and inspire you. Most design firms have already realized this and encourage their employees to experience new surroundings. Working from your deck is a lot more stimulating than your cubicle.
- Avoid distractions. Escaping chatty coworkers and office politics will help you to recapture a significant portion of your work time. Most of us have become so used to distractions that we don’t realize how debilitating these constant interruptions can be. Anyone who has had the opportunity to work remotely knows just how much more they get done in a shorter time.
- Work harder and smarter. Those who work remotely have to make it a point to show their productively. Now ‘working’ is transparent. There’s no room for manipulating perception by simply showing up early, leaving late or running around with your hair on fire – now your accomplishments/actions/results will define you. This is a good thing and one of the 7 Ways to Be Seen As An Expert In Your Industry.
- Global Reach. Now even small businesses are able to have ‘offices’ worldwide. Forget about just the local potential, imagine the perspectives (and resources) that employees located throughout the state, county or globe could bring to the company. Pretty neat if you think about it.
Any investor, whether beginner or expert, will typically own two general asset classes: Stocks and Bonds. The proportional mix of stocks and bonds is known as one’s Asset Allocation. Those with less experience should keep a simple asset allocation and start off owning only two things:
- A Total Stock Market Index Fund.
- A Total Bond Market Index Fund.
Being perceived as an expert in your industry is one of the Financial Tips I Wish Someone Told Me When I Was Younger as well as a great source of job security and profitability. As someone who has become an expert in a specific niche, having sold a successful information based resource website to a Fortune 500 company, I’ve seen the benefits of expertise first hand. I’ve also seen others expand upon their own expertise to create phenomenal entrepreneurial opportunities. Follow these initial steps to start down the path of becoming an expert in your industry:
- Be organized! I’m a huge believer in organizing your resources and information. To be perceived as an expert you don’t have to know every answer immediately, you just need to be able to access information in a timely manner. Throughout the day I have no problem telling a client that I’ll have to call them back – I’ll then review my notes or do additional research and formulate a focused and intelligent response.
- Ask for help. Experts become experts by learning from other experts. Mistakes can be good, but avoiding them can be better. Associate with people who share your same level of passion, even if it’s a different niche, and you’ll be inspired to achieve more. Excellent Read: Outliers: The Story of Success.
- Get your knowledge out there. This may be the most important takeaway – get your expertise out there in the marketplace. I have seen great results, including job offers, from non-monetized websites, twitter posts or Facebook pages. Volunteering to speak at a company seminar, submitting a guest article for your industry newsletter or writing an eBook will all work to get you recognized as an expert.
Business relationships matter. It’s the relationship that keeps your clients coming back and not going across the street to your competitor. The key to starting (and maintaining) a successful relationship is being likable.
Whether you’re already likeable or a real SOB, if you want to be successful in business you’re going to need to be liked. For some of us, that means playing dirty.
Here are some sneaky ways to trick people into liking you:
- Jump on a crisis. People never forget when you help them out in their time of need. Even small tasks like helping a busy co-worker make copies or filling in when they’re on vacation will make you stand out (and appreciated). Better yet, help a coworker or client who was recently laid off – I guarantee it will solidify a relationship for life.
- Bypass technology. Email is the enemy of effective communication. With everyone being so damn reliant upon email, most of us have become afraid to meet in person. A face to face lunch, an impromptu meeting at the office, or even just picking up the phone will go further than years of email communication.
- Open up personally. The more you share your passions, hobbies, and family stories the less likely you are to get fired and more likely you are to get the sale. People are suckers for a good “My kid started walking for the first time this weekend” story. Your life is interesting, I promise. Excellent read: “Rework”, by David Heinemeier Hansson.
- Show your sense of humor. Don’t be afraid to tell a cheesy joke or play a prank. Loosening up a client or coworker can help cut through inefficient formalities and accomplish what you want quicker. Humor is obviously a sign of tremendous intelligence.
- Grow a mustache. Just kidding…or am I?
Sooner or later most of us will be caught saying or thinking “If I only knew then what I know now”. I started diving into specifics, but eventually settled on a list to get us thinking. Look for the series to continue with expanded topics upon each of the following 18 tips:
- Work smarter, not harder. Follow an interest or passion. Focus your efforts on working to develop a way of life, not just a job or position. There will always be a company willing to trade you dollars for your time – pursue your interests and work toward making that your way of life. Excellent read: “Rework” by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson.
- Surround yourself with good people. Good people are inspiring, trustworthy and ultimately great for business. Not everyone fits into this category, but don’t be afraid to reach out and build relationships with those around you.
- Develop the habit of saving. Much like brushing your teeth or wearing your seat belt, saving should be a habit. You should feel guilty when you don’t do it - it’s one of 10 easy things to increase your net worth in 10 years.
- Auto-deduct from your paycheck. It’s not necessarily bad to spend 100% of the paycheck you receive – just make sure your savings are taken out before you get it. Most employers who allow for direct deposit allow you to specify multiple accounts. This makes it easy for your living expenses to go into a checking account and a set amount to go directly into a separate savings account. If this is not an option for you, automatic monthly transfers from checking to savings can also be effective. $50 a check can add up quickly. Recommended best-selling read: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg.
- Transfer, pay down, then eliminate your debt. We all know that credit card interest rates are sky high. If you’ve run up a high balance, consider transferring the balance to a new card (cancelling the old one) to take advantage of the lower, introductory rates. Follow this up with paying off the balance, then allocating what you were paying in credit card bills to amounts you’re contributing to savings.
- Contribute to a Roth IRA account. Most people do not realize that there is typically NOT a penalty to remove the funds you’ve contributed to a Roth IRA. Since the government also allows for qualified contributions to be withdrawn for education, housing and medical, why not contribute (get the tax benefits) then withdraw down the road if you need to? See IRS Site for the complete list of qualified distributions*
- Pay extra mortgage principal. A typical new mortgage payment is comprised mostly of interest ($1100 payment can be $960 interest, $140 principal). An efficient trick is to pay extra principal each month to avoid paying interest on it in the future. Paying an extra couple hundred bucks per month could allow you to pay your 30 year mortgage off in 15 years.
An often less talked about portion of the massive legislation known as ObamaCare is how the government is going to pay for it. The great majority of the bill pertains to matters that have nothing to do with healthcare. It may surprise you, but some of the needed revenue will come from the sale of real estate – kind of.
Effective January 1, 2013, a new 3.8% tax on investment income will be imposed. This tax does not affect all real estate transactions, only when certain conditions are met.
Here’s what you need to know from a capital gain/real estate perspective:
- Is your AGI greater than $200,000? The 3.8% tax is on the LESSER of your investment income amount or the amount in excess of Adjusted gross income (AGI) over $200,000 (Individual) or $250,000 (Couple). Therefore, if your AGI (which includes real estate sale gains) is less than $200k (or $250k) you are not affected by the new tax.
- Your AGI will include the sale of investment income (or real estate). Say you make $100k salary and sell your vacation home for a profit of $225k – your AGI will be $325k and you’ll be subject to the 3.8% tax on $125k ($325k-200k).
- You get a $500k deduction for the sale of your primary residence. If you sell your primary residence for a gain of $550k, you get to deduct the first $500k and are left with a gain of $50k to be added to your AGI.