5 Habits of Millionaires to implement today!

I have always been intrigued by the habits of millionaires and I wonder what they do that makes them different from the rest of us. On my quest to uncover their secrets, I have come across numerous articles that describe some of those habits.   Today’s blog will discuss the first 5 habits discussed in 10 Daily Habits That Will Make You a Millionaire by Daniel Ally found at (http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/247919). Next week’s blog will discuss the last five habits in the article.

We all know that discipline is key to so many rewards. Just think about it. Discipline is key to losing weight, running a marathon, completing a degree, reaching financial independence, etc. Without discipline, it will be difficult to face many challenges.

Habit #1: Studying – How many of you graduated from school and said, “That’s it. I will never have to study again,” but you quickly realized that wasn’t quite true? Learning should be lifelong endeavor. If we aren’t learning, we aren’t growing. What happens when something stops growing? Well, we all know the answer. Make it a daily habit to learn something new everyday. Maybe it’s a phrase in a foreign language or a financial term you aren’t familiar with that would be helpful to you.

Habit #2: Setting goals – I think you may already know how I feel about this one. Failing to set goals is detrimental to your financial future. Don’t just set goals in your mind, commit them to paper and look at them everyday to see where you are in the process.

Include goals in different areas of your life such as fitness, weight loss, financial, educational, and professional goals. Make the goals attainable and take steps that help you reach those goals.

Habit #3: Planning – Make a plan and stick with it when possible, if it is a good plan. You can always change it when necessary if it isn’t working as you had anticipated. Set long-term as well as short-term goals so that you can gauge your progress. Sometimes long-term goals can seem overwhelming, so break them into several short-term goals that are achievable in a short period of time.

Habit #4: Networking – I believe this is one of the most overlooked successful habits for many people. Get to know people from all different areas in life. You never know when someone in your network is the key to reaching your goals. Take every opportunity you can to meet people. Always have business cards with you so that you can share them with others. I usually make it a habit to email my new contacts within a few days of meeting them so they will remember who I am and where the met me. LinkedIn can be a great place to network for business people! It is free to use so take advantage of this great resource.

Habit #5: Journalizing – Writing your thoughts down in a journal helps you keep your mind clear. It allows you to look back on your day and reflect on what happened and what you were thinking. Looking back in your journal may help spark creativity.

I have found my old journal pages that were completely forgotten. Often, I can see how far I have come in my career and other areas of my life by looking back on things I wrote in the past. Make it a habit to keep a journal. It might be a good idea to have different journals for different areas of your life or for different seasons in your life.

Get started implementing these five habits this week to help you model your life after people who have reached the goal most of us hope to achieve. Next week, we will continue with goals 6 through 10. I hope you make these habits part of your everyday life!


Finding Your Money Mentor!

I recently read a great article on the Dave Ramsey website. The title of the article is “The Billionaire and the Money Mentor.” The article addresses the fact that even Warren Buffet had money mentors. One of the mentors was his father and the other was Ben Graham the author of the book The Intelligent Investor.

One of my money mentors is Dave Ramsey. I have actually spent time under his training at his headquarters in Tennessee and through his many books and classes. A saying Dave has is “if you want to be rich people, do what rich people do.” I definitely don’t want to be a poor person, been there done that already. Actually, I don’t believe I have ever heard anyone say, “When I grow up I want to work hard all my life and retire poor.” I want to become financially independent and my family is working toward that goal.

There are many financial experts that you can learn from and emulate in order to build your own financial strategy. We all come from different circumstances so our plans for financial success will be different, but these experts have spent years honing their skills. They have tested the waters and have developed strategies that worked for them. You may not be able to do exactly what they did, but why not try?

Three ways for making the money mentor relationship beneficial are:

1) Choose your mentor wisely – Find someone from whom you can learn

                                                                 valuable skills and lessons.

2) Take actionPut these skills and lessons to work. Don’t just read about them.

Apply them to your financial life.

3) Variety – As your progress through your financial life, find different mentors or

experts that can help your through each stage.

If you don’t have your financial mentor in place, begin reading personal finance blogs and find suggestions for authors and financial experts. Your local library should be a good resource for personal finance books and there are many articles you can read online. Some experts even give free advice to those seeking financial help. A good book to read to get started learning about personal finance issues is The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey which happens to be on sale as the date of this blog (www.daveramsey.com). It has great advice on how to get started down the path of financial freedom. I would also suggest reading The Millionaire Mind by Thomas Stanley. Here is a link to the website http://www.thomasjstanley.com/publication/the-millionaire-mind/.

In order to reach the financial success you desire, find yourself one or more money mentors. Make it part of your weekly tasks to read about personal finance topics in order to become better informed. Then, work on that financial plan and those financial habits that you should incorporate into your life. Put your financial life on track for success!


Tips for saving for a child’s education: Keep it debt-free!

Many of us have faced or will soon be facing the point in time when our children are graduating from high school and are headed to college. Often, we just seem to think the costs of college will be something we will deal with when we get there. That is definitely the wrong way to go about planning for college. We want to give our children the best possible start in life and one way to do that is to plan and save for their college education. They may not realize how fortunate they will be if they can graduate with a degree and without debt.

How should you start a college saving’s plan?

Tip #1: Start saving today! Try to find a few dollars here and there in the budget that can be designated for an education fund. Even if it is just a few dollars a week, try to make it happen. Once you get into the habit of putting aside that money each week, you will see that it isn’t as difficult as you may have imagined.

Tip #2: Set up a separate account for college savings. Make it specifically for college costs and don’t touch it unless it is absolutely necessary!

Tip #3: Don’t make the mistake of thinking your child will get a full ride. We all think or at least hope that our children will earn a scholarship to cover the cost of their education, but most scholarships will not cover all costs. Some scholarships cover the cost of tuition and nothing else. Other scholarships cover room and board but not tuition and books. Believe me when I say that I am speaking from experience here. We have a junior in high school so we are currently searching for scholarships. They are difficult to find and to earn.

Tip #4: Use those tax refunds to help fund the education fund. We often want to spend our tax refunds frivolously but take the opportunity to use if wisely. An investment in your child’s future will mean so much more than just unwisely using the money. Be intentional with it.

Tip #5: Talk with your relatives and let them know you have set up a college education fund. They may want to help contribute or may choose to give gifts of money instead of toys or items that children may never even use.

Tip #6: Have the college discussion with your children before their senior year of high school. Begin talking about college options with your children no later than middle school. They need to be aware of how important grades are and that you expect them to do their best and keep their grades up throughout high school and middle school.   College saving should be something that everyone is in on and your children will be more likely to understand the consequences of doing well in school if you have that open discussion with them. Make your children aware that you want to help them but they need to help you, too.

Remember to stay focused and determined throughout this process. Work to give your child the gift of a debt-free education. The ability to avoid student loan debt will be well worth your time and effort!

Smart money habits to start today!

Today is always a good day to begin thinking about your money habits and making positive changes. Sometimes we want to procrastinate when it comes to changing our habits, especially those that deal with money. The longer you want the harder it becomes.

1) Start tracking your spending. If you haven’t already begun to keep up with how you are spending your money you need to take the time to know exactly where your money is going. You can’t fix something if you don’t know where the problem is occurring. For example, a few years ago my son’s tire kept going flat.   We knew there was a problem but we just didn’t know where the problem was located. How did we figure out where the problem was? We had to find the source of the air leak. Once we found the leak we were able to repair it. Had we not found the leak the tire would have kept going flat. It’s the same with your budget. You have to find out where your money is “leaking” out and repair it or change what you are doing with it.

2) Start thinking like an investor would think. What would an investor do if he wanted to increase his net worth? He would find ways to make his money work for him instead of the other way around. Investors know you must have short-term and long-term goals in order to be successful with your investments. Do your research and determine what type of investments will help you reach your goal. Just simply putting money in a savings account won’t do it. You will not be able to keep up with inflation and your money won’t go as far as you need it to go. There is so much investing information available online, so take time to begin to work on your investment plan. Much of the research is available for free. One of the websites that I frequently use for researching different investment options is found at http://finance.yahoo.com/.

3) Don’t shop based on your emotions. For some people, shopping is a way to deal with emotions. I used to be an emotional shopper meaning I would shop to make myself feel better or so I thought. Now I try to shop based on things I need more so than just things I want. It isn’t always easy but I know it will pay off in the long run when we are ready to retire and when we can pay for children’s college education without using loans. Emotional shopping can be dangerous for your budget and your investing. It is certainly acceptable to reward yourself now and then but not every day or every weekend especially if you have debt that needs to be paid off. I have found that shopping no longer has the same emotional hold on me as it once did. Creating a financial legacy that will last for generations is now my goal.

4) Avoid impulse purchases. We making large purchase decisions take time to think through the purchase. Don’t simply walk in a store to look around then leave with a new washer and dryer. If you are considering a large purchase, do your research, consider the cost, and make a plan. If the items aren’t necessary, delay the decision for a while unless you can pay cash and do not have other financial issues that take precedence.

In essence, think before you spend. Make wise spending habits part of your everyday life!

Building a comfortable retirement portfolio even after age 50

Can you really build a comfortable retirement portfolio at any age much less after the age of 50? Yes, you can. Many people seem to put off retirement planning until they reach middle age. I think reality finally starts to set in during your 40s and people began to realize they have to plan for retirement if they ever plan to retire.  Believe it or not one day will be retirement day.

Often when I talk with people concerning their retirement, they tell me they don’t really have a retirement plan.   That is not something I like to hear because I know they are going to be in for a rude awakening unless they begin preparing and planning for retirement now.

How do you get started with retirement planning if you are in your 50s or older? First, don’t wait any longer. Sit down and realistically calculate what you feel you will need or want to have in retirement. Next, consider contributing 15% of your annual income, if possible. If not, contribute as much as you can at first and then increase it with each raise you receive. Instead of absorbing the raise into your budget, dedicate that amount to retirement contributions. Companies will often match from 3 to 6% of your annual contribution. The matching funds can help you gain momentum with your retirement saving.

Next, meet with a Certified Financial Planner that can help you consider all your retirement options. These professionals can offer advice you may not have even considered as being options that are available to you. Be prepared to answer questions about how much you anticipate your expenses will be during retirement, what age you plan to retire, what additional retirement plans and benefits will you have for retirement, etc.

A great tool to use for estimating your social security benefits is found at https://www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/quickcalc/index.html?__utma=176294311.231916975.1422388271.1422388271.1422388271.1&__utmb=176294311.10.8.1422388408292&__utmc=176294311&__utmx=-&__utmz=176294311.1422388271.1.1.utmcsr=investorplace.com|utmccn=%28referral%29|utmcmd=referral|utmcct=/wp-admin/post.php&__utmv=-&__utmk=213336532. Fill in the questions and the calculator will estimate your retirement benefits as well as your disability/survivor benefits. It takes less than a minute to complete and will give you a good idea of what you can expect for future retirement benefits.

The 2016 annual limit on contributions to a 401K plan is $18,000 per person. For individuals age 50 and over there is a catch-up contribution allowed of $6,000 per person over the $18,000 contribution (https://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Plan-Participant,-Employee/Retirement-Topics-Catch-Up-Contributions). This allows individuals and couples over age 50 to contribute up to $24,000 per year per person to a retirement plan.

For more information on the different types of retirement plans available, go to the IRS website found at https://www.irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Plan-Sponsor/Types-of-Retirement-Plans-1.

While retirement may seem a long way off it is imperative that you begin planning for it as soon as possible. Remember that time is on your side so don’t pass up the opportunity to get those retirement plans implemented. Keep in mind that not planning for retirement is a bad decision you will someday regret. Work on creating the best retirement plan for your situation so that you can enjoy retirement!