Looking to eliminate debt, become a millionaire, or just need financial advice? Start on the right path by checking out these secrets from the leading financial experts online.
Eliminate Nasty Habits
“Make no mistake about it. Bad habits are called ‘bad’ for a reason. They kill our productivity and creativity … They hold us back from achieving our goals. Even worse, they’re detrimental to our health,” writes online influencer John Rampton.
It’s not easy to ditch bad habits. Is your bad habit excessive eating, smoking, multitasking, or putting yourself in debt? Other bad habits that people often don’t consider is not having a savings goal or plan. One of the worst overlooked habits is making excuses.
“Don’t get me wrong. There are times in our lives that prevent us from reaching deadlines or completing goals. Instead of explaining why we failed, you have to own up to it. Remember, excuses aren’t going to help us become more productive or successful. They’re just a crutch that we use to explain our shortcomings,” says Rampton.
Stop making excuses “by setting realistic and attainable goals so that you’re not setting yourself up for failure. Then, establish your priorities and learn to embrace failure. Most importantly, when you mess up, hold yourself accountable. You’ll be surprised at how liberating it feels.”
Make the Right Decisions
Making the right decisions is dependent on the realization that everything you do now will affect your future. Justin Donald, Founder of Lifestyle Investor, puts it very simply: “To become a Lifestyle Investor and develop a successful cash flow investing lifestyle, you decide what that lifestyle looks like for you. What do you want in life? Why do you want it? How you answer these questions prepares you to work through the stages toward financial independence.”
He looks at the bigger picture as it relates to what he wants as a goal in life.
He adds, “I’ve gotten to a place where I understand what I want in life. That’s important because what other people want isn’t necessarily right for me. If I am clear with the outcomes I desire and am firm with my non-negotiables, managing my finances becomes more of a game. It becomes easier to be in control and manage my finances because I have an end goal = freedom of Lifestyle.”
Reconsider Investment ‘Rules of Thumb’
There are a handful of rules of thumb that have been considered to be absolutely unquestionable within the financial realm. Some of these standard practices were extremely valid when they were established but haven’t received necessary reconsideration as times and circumstances have changed in the decades that followed.
Henry Yoshida, CFP and co-founder of Rocket Dollar, thinks certain strategies should be adapted to modern realities. Among these strategies is considering alternative investments, examples of which include real estate, venture capital, commodities, and hedge funds. A relatively recent addition to this category is cryptocurrency.
“There are millions of Americans who have heard the rule of thumb where you subtract your age from the number 100 and the answer is equivalent to the percentage of your portfolio that should be in equities with the remaining balance invested in bonds. Considering bonds are facing two major headwinds that will likely continue for the next 10-15 years or more and are no longer negatively correlated to equities, it’s time for a new rule of thumb,” says Yoshida. “If you are 20-35 years old, you should have 30 percent in alternative investments; if you’re 36-50, you should have 20 percent in alternatives; if you’re 50 or over you should have 10 percent in alternatives.”
Alternative investments such as real estate, hedge funds, commodities, and even some cryptocurrencies haven’t been emphasized as stable strategies for small-time investors in the past.
“As a stand alone, alternatives may seem risky, but keeping them at a measured 10-40 percent of your entire portfolio may actually increase the overall value of your portfolio over time while decreasing the measurable risk, as shown by standard deviation,” explains Yoshida.
Navigate Awkward Money Situations
“Striking that balance between being a supportive friend and feeling taken advantage of is a tricky one. But navigating the minefield is definitely part of becoming a financial grownup,” writes former personal finance columnist Bobbi Rebell at Thomson Reuters. This author also wrote a great guide to gaining financial safety called, “How to Be a Financial Grownup.”
“Here are four situations that friends often have to deal (with). This advice will help you on how to maintain your friendships—and your money.”
- The money asks. “The key thing here is compassion and a willingness to help. Asking for money is tough. So hear your friend out. But also be honest with yourself about your own financial situation. If you can afford to help, consider a gift. If your friend insists on a loan, tread carefully. It will create a tension between the two of you, and you will always feel bad asking for the money back. Your friend may start to avoid you if he or she can’t pay it back.”
- If you need the cash. “Try to avoid asking friends for money.” Instead turn to other options like crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe or Kickstarter.
- The forgetful friend. “Take charge and help them download some apps that can store their payment information like Venmo and Apple Pay.”
- Ordering up a storm at dinner. Be subtle, like suggesting “those who are drinking, order by the glass, so they can try different wines. You can share a bunch of entrées to save room for the amazing desserts.”
- Giving money away makes you “wealthier.”
“When you give money away to support something that you believe in, you’re able to get outside of yourself and feel as though you’re helping someone whose problems are different from the day-to-day problems that you experience,” says Jean Chatzky.
Chatzky is a financial editor of NBC’s Today Show and the author of several books like, “Age-Proof: Living Longer Without Running Out of Money or Breaking a Hip.”
“That perspective is really important because it takes the focus off of the mundane problems that you deal with day in and day out and forces you to think bigger.”
“Whether that’s about the world at large, or a disease at large, or a community at large, your focus turns to where you can affect change. You’ll use your resources and help to accomplish something bigger than yourself. I think that’s what it’s all about, and that’s why people who do give back are often happier, healthier, and even wealthier as well.”
“You can make all the great money moves in the world, but if you’re married to someone who makes all the wrong moves you’re in trouble,” writes J. Money. Money is founder of the websites BudgetsAreSexy.com and RockstarFinance.com.
“You don’t have to marry Suze Orman or Dave Ramsey, but you do need a spouse who shares your financial goals and general outlook on money.”
“This was a VERY big part of our financial success.”
Money says that he was good at getting an advanced education in a valuable field, focusing on growing his career, and investing early and often. But a great help was a wife who is great at controlling spending and eliminating debt. “In words from The Millionaire Next Door, I was good at offense and she was good at defense.”
“Together we had a winning combination. We knew what we wanted to accomplish, divided up the responsibilities, and climbed up the money mountain together.”
Love Your Life without Credit Cards
“Credit is so easy. It’s just part of our culture but it doesn’t have to be part of your life. You can love your life without credit cards. I love shopping and spending money, but hate credit cards,” writes New York Times best-selling author Rachel Cruze. Cruze is the daughter of personal finance expert Dave Ramsey,
“The majority of Americans overspend partially because credit card companies make going into debt so easy. You end up spending way more money than you intended by the time the bill comes at the end of the month. It’s like you’re living your life through a rearview mirror! When your paycheck comes in, you’re living in the past. This is paying for things you’ve already done, movies you’ve already seen, and food you’ve already eaten.”
So, how can you enjoy life without credit cards?
Cruze suggests that you start with a zero-based budget. This is where you write down on paper, every dollar you spend. Before the month begins you subtract your expenses from your income so that it equals zero.
Once you have your budget in place, use the Baby Step plan to help you dI’ve heard some crazy financial stories. “The friend who borrowed against her retirement fund to pay to produce her own one woman show. The relative who had never opened up a credit card because credit is ‘pointless.’ (Well, good luck finding an apartment in NYC without it). Let’s not forget that former coworker who was all about leasing brand new BMWs,” writes Millennial money and financial expert and author Stefanie O’Connell.
Get More Money Flowing In
Entrepreneur and performance coach Josh Felber says that the “spend less than you earn” approach is only the first half of the equation.
Instead of trying to stretch dollars, “always have a consistent flow so you don’t have to stretch.” There’s no limit on how much more your income can grow if you focus and invest in earning more, such as side hustling.
Don’t Overlook 401k Fees
“People don’t know inherently, in any investment, there are fees and they have mathematical consequences over time,” said Tom Zgainer, CEO of America’s Best 401k.
“You have to know the difference between three percent and one percent. Know about two percent and one percent in fees. Fees can shave off 10 or 20 percent of your retirement savings over time,” says Zgainer. “It’s a massive amount of money, considering we’re living longer.”
You can start by reading the fine print carefully and making note of the expense ratio. If you can find a retirement account with a lower expense ratio, then you should dig deeper to see if you’re due to switch funds.
Frugal living and financial expert, award-winning author, and recovering spender Lauren Greutman says that the number one way to get everything you want in life is to stop wanting stuff. Sounds simplistic, but it makes a ton of sense.
“When you want stuff, it is an insatiable appetite that will never truly be quenched. Enter Overspending,” says Greutman.
“The simplest way I’ve found to help reorient my desire for more stuff is to consider one question—What if I had to choose? Among everything I value or own, what if it came down to me having to make a decision?” suggests Greutman. “Let’s say everything you own and everyone you love is in a burning building and you only have time to save three things. (I’m not saying only three people … you’re family can be one thing).”
“There’s no way you’d leave your spouse, kids, family, etc. in the building to save a car, or makeup, or handbag, or TV. Whatever or whomever you’d take out of the burning building is what you need to find your fulfillment in and be satisfied with.”
“Think about it, you just said you’d let everything else in your entire life burn to ashes to keep those few people with you. That is what you truly value. This is truly how you get everything you want in this life. Match your desires with these things. Stop wanting more stuff, and focus on those few things you just named.”
Assets Over Money
“Lesson No. 1 in ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ is the rich do not work for money,” says it’s author Robert Kiyosaki. “That opens your brain up. Well, what the heck do they work for then? If you act like a mule, chasing the carrot—the buck, the bonus, the paycheck, the commission, whatever you guys chase, you’re never going to ask the question: what are the rich working for? I work for assets.”
“Recently this one oil company crashed. Its stock was trading at $75 and dropped to $2 and I was ecstatic. Two dollars, from 70 bucks. When I studied the underlying analysis of it, they have huge oil reserves, they have assets in the ground, and the stock was trading at $2. So do I pay $2? No. I buy a 75-cent option to pay $2.”
“Money is the problem. Money is stupid. We’re printing it, we’re printing it, we’re printing it, and it’s corrupt. And it’s toxic. Stop working for money, start acquiring assets. Use your brain.”
Enjoy Hobbies while Saving for the Future
“You can go on vacation, collect coins, or go antique shopping … The key is to be strategic in how you save and spend your money doing those things.” This from financial coach and author of the best-seller “Retire Inspired: It’s Not an Age, It’s a Financial Number,” Chris Hogan.
Before you start, make sure that all of your debt is paid-off, you’re on a budget, your emergency fund is full, and your investments are in order.
After that make sure that you don’t go overboard with your hobbies by:
- Trying the hobby out before you commit.
- Saving up for the hobby.
- If you need physical items, like sports equipment, purchase used items.
- Search for cheaper options.
- Ask for hobby-related gifts.
- Make a profit from your hobby, such as blogging.
Look for Quick Ways to Make Money
Kyle Taylor, the founder of The Penny Hoarder, was able to go from broke to millionaire by making money quickly, such as:
- Earning cash back from shopping through rewards site like eBates or Mr. Rebates.
- Selling your photos on the the Foap app.
- Becoming a beer auditor, if you’re between 18-30, via auditing services like Corporate Research, The Source and Sinclair Customer Metrics.
- Going to the movies by attending premieres.
- Reviewing your shopping or dining experience as a mystery shopper.
Don’t Buy Too Much Car for Your Budget
“If your payments per month are too high to knock out the loan in 42 months, you’re buying more car than you can afford,” says personal financial expert Clark Howard.
“Forget about those 60 month and 72 month loans that people love to do.” The reason? “Stretching a payment that long means you’re ‘upside down.’ You’re owing more on the car than it’s worth. It becomes a vicious cycle where you’re always in a payment.”
Howard also suggests that you get an auto loan from a credit union. A credit union “usually writes car loans at 1.5 points below the banks and four points below what you’d pay at a dealership.”
Allow for Small Indulgences
Once you have created a budget, create a savings account with names. In this way “you know exactly what you’re saving for,” says author of the New York Times best-seller “Rich Bitch.” Nicole Lapin says, “I argue for the morning latte because it makes sticking to a budget more sustainable. If you allow yourself small indulgences, you won’t end up splurging on something super expensive later on.”
Buy a Smaller Home.
Steve Economides is a financial expert and best-selling author. Steve paid off his mortgage by making a larger down payment, having a written budget, and eliminating debt. He and his wife also did the unthinkable, they purchased a smaller home.
“We bought a small (1,458-square-foot) repossessed house and financed less than the bank said we could borrow. Many people think that buying a bigger house is better,” writes Economides.
“Larger houses cost more to heat, cool, insure, and maintain, and you pay more in property taxes. Don’t buy a larger house to impress your friends and family. They aren’t the ones who will lie awake at night worrying about making the mortgage payment. They won’t have to pay the higher utility bills or maintenance costs. Thinking small helped keep our mortgage payment manageable. Thinking small allowed us to pay extra each month. As a result we were able to retire our mortgage debt very quickly.”
Millionaires Aren’t Smarter or Luckier.
“People tend to put millionaires on a pedestal. They must be better or smarter than everyone else in order to achieve that goal. But that general statement simply isn’t true,” writes Jaime Tardy. Tardy has interviewed over 120 millionaires at EventualMillionaire.com.
“Millionaires are ordinary people who have achieved extraordinary goals, but they make mistakes like everyone else. They may misspell words, they may even have learning disabilities. They’ve likely been in debt and had to dig themselves out. They’ve had ideas and businesses fail. Most of the ones I interviewed for my book have worked their way up the ladder. Most have had to learn and stumbling along the way.”
“Rather than having lots of book smarts, what most millionaires have is a knack for setting goals for themselves and working toward them. They move forward without letting excuses get in their way. They, too, have to deal with unexpected expenses. Plumbing leaks, health insurance increases, car trouble,” adds Tardy. “They just keep moving forward despite the inevitable obstacles they have to overcome.”
Additionally, “Pure luck is not a factor in achieving success. Rather, truly successful people make their own luck. After all, a million-dollar idea is worth nothing without execution.”
“You’ve heard the expression countless times: Paying rent is like flushing money down the toilet,” writes Farnoosh Torabi, host of the podcast, “So Money.”
“I get it. There are strong reasons for purchasing a home. I’m a homeowner and can attest to the fact that it provides my family with more stability, knowing a landlord can’t kick us out. Purchased at the right time and in the right place, a home can also prove to be a solid long-term investment.”
“But lately, the case for renting has been strengthening. Maybe you prefer a transient lifestyle with no intentions of staying put for many years. Maybe you don’t like mowing your own lawn, have bad credit or all of the above. If you have those problems or thoughts, home ownership is probably not right for you … at least, not right now.”
So, why is renting a better option?
Torabi argues that it’s because:
- You can stay more liquid during hard times.
- There’s no “buyer’s remorse.”
- The cost benefit of owning isn’t as strong.
Be Careful with Student Loan Pay Ahead Status and Loan Forgiveness
Robert Farrington is founder of the College Investor. Farrington writes that it’s important “to be diligent and accurate when it comes to making payments on your student loans. Paying on these loans is especially important if you’re planning on applying for a student loan forgiveness. One forgiveness program is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness.”
This is where you pay more than the minimum due and that extra payment is applied to your next payment on your student loan. That may sound great in theory, but this essentially pushes your due date forward.
“Your payment is applied the same no matter what. By letting the due date roll forward, you just build yourself a cushion of time when you don’t have to pay. You might never need it, but a month or two of no payments could come in handy if you have a personal emergency.”
Furthermore, paying ahead prevents you from qualifying for a student loan forgiveness program.
Get Your Kids Involved
“There are several ways that the act of involving your kids in your financial life can help to improve it,” writes Philip Taylor, aka PT Money.
“First, kids (especially little ones) are naturally frugal when it comes to how they spend their time. I think if we followed their lead a bit more in this area, we’d spend a lot less on stuff and activities.”
“But kids can become a financial burden of their own in the teens if you let their spending get out of control,” warns Taylor. “Involve them in the family budgeting process, and by show them how you plan to spend your money in the future. Present your way to practice delaying gratification so they can get a proper perspective on their wants. Otherwise they think you’re just an endless well of cash, able to be primed if they whine long enough.”
“Lastly, kids can help ‘earn their keep.’ I’m not suggestion you break any child labor laws. Assigning chores for your kids or encouraging a part-time job or business won’t hurt them. It will lead to a more responsible kid who’s used to the idea of receiving their own money and making money decisions (with your guidance). The kids will know about where to spend, save, or give their money.”
Taylor suggests that you, “Make a commitment to bring your kids into your financial world. Not so they can worry about money, but so they can master it.”
Invest in Yourself
Grant Cardone, who made his first million by age 30, says, “The best investment you will ever make is in yourself. It’s a no-lose deal. It will always give you a return. Nobody can take it from you. It’s yours.”
While working at a car dealership, Cardone took this advice, which he received from his mother, to heart.
“Even though I hated the job, I decided I would throw myself into my sales job 100 percent.” I watched sales training videos while eating breakfast and listened to self-improvement tapes during his morning commute. Cardone was often the first employee to show up and the last to leave.
And, despite his success, he still follows this advice.
“Every time I read a book—every time I go to a conference—I walk away with something that nobody can grab from me. Competition can’t take it from me, it doesn’t cost me any more, and I don’t get taxed on it. The government can’t tax my self improvement.”
Using One Investing or Savings App Isn’t Enough
“Using apps to automate your financial life, increase your savings, and start investing became all the rage in the last few years. There’s nothing wrong with using apps to give your money a little boost. You shouldn’t solely rely on apps to get the job done,” writes Erin Lowry, the Broke Millennial.
“Digit is one such app that works well to help save money you probably weren’t going to tuck away in the first place. Apps shouldn’t be your only means of saving.” The app typically pulls money from checking to Digit savings in increments of $5 to $50.
Speaking from my own experience, Digit saves me an average of $110 per month. It’s not a significant sum, but the annual total is around $1,320. That’s a nice supplemental amount to fund a travel savings account or emergency fund buffer. Saving a percentage of a paycheck before it even hits checking (automating) should still take priority.”
Acorns is an app that connects to your “credit or debit card. Acorns rounds up each of your purchases to the nearest dollar and invests the change. The change goes into a diversified portfolio of ETFs ranging in risk based on your tolerance.”
Unlike Digit, there is a fee to use Acorns just like nearly any investing platform. It starts at $1 a month and increases to 0.25 percent per year once your portfolio hits $5,000 or more.
While it’s a strong way for a millennial to start investing if they wouldn’t otherwise be proactive, just contributing your spare change isn’t enough. Use Acorns to set up recurring investments. Moving beyond the spare change program alone needs to be your goal in order to make a real impact.
Don’t Spend Your Tax Return
Instead of spending your tax return, business coach and the Amazon best-selling author of “Make Money Your Honey,” Amanda Abella, suggests that you:
- Invest it by using robo-advisers like Betterment that help you easily invest.
- Apply it to next year’s taxes (or quarterly taxes if self-employed).
- Put it away in your emergency fund.
- Fund your retirement account.
“Be patient. Unless you’re incredibly lucky, you’re not going to get rich overnight,” says David Bakke, financial expert at Money Crashers.
“Invest for the long-term and don’t be swayed by short term market fluctuations. Review and adjust your investments once or twice a year, at most. Look at the long-term performance of any particular investment (five or ten years) rather than its short-term performance.”
“While you need to keep a sharp eye on your portfolio, checking it every day is not constructive. Checking daily can lead to bad decisions based on emotion, like panic selling,” says the host of “Money Matters.” Money Matters is the country’s longest-running live call-in investment and personal finance radio show with Wes Moss.
“Learn to breathe through market gyrations by remembering that you are playing a long game. A market tumble lasting a day or week will likely mean nothing to your portfolio in the long run.”
Start putting the advice of these financial experts into practice today!
By Chalmers Brown
The Epoch Times Copyright © 2022 The views and opinions expressed are only those of the authors. They are meant for general informational purposes only and should not be construed or interpreted as a recommendation or solicitation. The Epoch Times does not provide investment, tax, legal, financial planning, estate planning, or any other personal finance advice. The Epoch Times holds no liability for the accuracy or timeliness of the information provided.