Tag: Finance

I wrote a previous blog on money management where I shared some tips on how to identify where you are wasting money and then gave my own personal formula (via an downloadable excel spreadsheet found here) the gauge all of your spending. If you are coming from that blog, then you are in the right place. If you are just looking at this blog for the first time, it may be prudent to go back and check out the previous one I wrote or at least download the excel spreadsheet because you will need it for the next step.

Step 2 – Formulating a simple budget that you will actually follow.

It was told to me early on in life by a very wealthy mentor of mine who I respect dearly that if I couldn’t manage $1, then I couldn’t manage $1 Million dollars. This is so true, I meet people all the time who’s personal finances are garbage even when they are making great money in their career.

It all comes down to money management and budgeting. Again, this is another common thread among all wealthy people I have ever met; they all have a budget based on a formula that uses money as a tool never spending it emotionally. Here is what to do.

Take that excel spreadsheet you just downloaded. (or get it here)

The idea here is very simple. Manage any and all money that you get. EVERY SINGLE CENT! If you know what your monthly income is, it becomes very easy to budget, if you are like me and get paid in lump sums sporadically then disciplining yourself to a system like this is crucial!

Ok so here is how it works: For every dollar I take in, it gets split up and put in to different bank accounts. Each bank account represents a different aspect that I am saving for. In my case I have 8 Bank accounts. I explain what I use them for and the benefits.

  1. Wells Fargo Checking / Savings account – This account is used for daily spending, and paying bills. Think of it as your most active account, all money is deposited here before it goes to other accounts.

For daily spending and bill payment, I like Wells Fargo. The important thing to remember here is to bank with a bank that is convenient to for you with lots of locations and low fees across the board. As of right now, I pay NO FEES with Wells. I think B of A is the worst, and Chase Bank is in the middle when it comes to big banks.

  1. Discover Bank # 1 – Taxes (This is where I said aside money for taxes every year)
  2. Discover Bank # 2 – Emergency Fund account (Save for a rainy day)
  3. Discover Bank # 3 – Long Term Savings (Use for large purchases like a house or car etc.)

I use Discover bank because they give you the highest rate of return for a savings account. 0.95% to be exact and…

  • No minimum deposits
  • No Account Fees
  • Open as many accounts as you want
  1. Capital One 360 # 1 – Annual Expenses account (Money set aside for annual expenses like car insurance, property tax etc.)
  2. Capital One 360 # 2 – Vacation Fund (Saved money for Vacations)

I use Capital One 360 because they pay a pretty good rate of return on money in savings and my account doubles over as my top pick for a travel debit card that has

  • No minimum deposits
  • No Account Fees
  • Open as many accounts as you want
  • NO foreign transaction fees
  • No ATM banking fees.

(If you are interested in opening up a Capital1 360 Account and want $20 for free just for doing so, click this link.)

  1. Wealthfront Account – Managed Portfolio Long term investing account

(Click here to learn about wealth front and why I recommend them. Clicking this link will get your first$15,000 managed for FREE!!)

  1. FXCM Account – This is my active foreign currency trading account as I trade currencies daily. If your are interested in learning how to trade I wrote a blog about it here,  otherwise, dedicate the 5% I am setting aside in this account to some other find or investment.

Now take some time to look it over the excel spreadsheet. If you need to open a couple accounts, don’t worry, this can literally be accomplished in an hour, follow the links above to use my recommendations, or feel free to open up accounts where your want to.

Keep in mind that I am a 1099 independent contractor that means I pay my own income taxes each year. If you are a W-2 employee, then you can zero out the taxes line because your taxes are collected before you get paid. Personally I set aside 18%-20% a year for myself, you may pay less or more depending on how much you make and what your tax liabilities look like.

  • Enter all of your monthly and annual expenses. (You will see some numbers starting to populate)
  • Replace my bank accounts with your banks and match them closely as possible, meaning if you have a normal B of A or Chase Checking and savings account, that should be your main account at the top. If you have an E*TRADE, Schwab or IRA, replace my Wealthfront account with yours etc.
  • If there are some areas where you will need to set up new bank account, leave them blank for now
  • Now enter in your monthly income at the top in the yellow (total monthly Colum)
  • By now you should see some of the boxes populating. I will explain what’s happening here

The Breakdown.

Ok by now you probably have a good idea of what I am driving at here, but I will explain anyway. This formula is partitioning all of your income into different savings columns to give you a well rounded and financially savvy money management system.

The breakdown as seen in my excel sheet looks like this.

  • I earn $100
  • $20 (20%) is saved for taxes and taken right off the top (Skip step if you are a W-2 employee)
  • Now I have $80 Left
  • $40 (50%) Goes to my living expenses, i.e. rent, mortgage, car payment, food, gas etc.
  • $10 (10%) – To the emergency fund, after all shit happens.
  • $10 (10%) – Long-term savings fund. This could be for a future large purchase like a car or house down payment.
  • $8 (8%) – Annual Expenses Account – Like car registration or medical/life insurance. Things that get paid once per year
  • $7 (7%) – Vacation Fund – To broke to take a vacation, do this for a year, and I promise you that you will have enough to take a vacay!
  • $10 (10%) – Long-term investment account – YOU NEVER TOUCH THIS MONEY! This is for your retirement. You may be thinking I’m way to young to start saving for retirement, but the difference between starting this habit at 20 years old compared to 30 years old will mean a difference of hundreds, yes I said hundreds of thousands by the time your retire. So don’t fuck around with this one, set the 10% aside and forget about it.
  • $5 (5%) – For me it goes to an active trading account that I personally trade. If you have no desire to learn how to actively trade, you can simply put this money towards some other kind of investment short term to medium term, but this money is not for bullshit, it’s money set aside for short-Medium term investments with a bigger return on the short side.

Conclusion

This whole idea was adopted after first reading the age old book The Richest Man in Babylon. When done correctly you will learn to pay yourself first and then save and invest the rest of it leaving a little hear and there for having a good quality of life.

My parents generation saved about 20%-30% of there income on average. My generation saves a measly 5%-10% and knowing that we are going to need a least a cool million to retire on (4 times as much as my parents will need) we need to get on this today. There is literally no time to waste.

Again, if you are in debt, or not making a lot of money, apply this formula anyway. Rework the numbers to make them fit your situation. If you are in some serious debt, check out my blog on &^%&^%&*^%&* if you are just not making that much or spend money stupidly, then I challenge you to try this for 90 days. If after 90 days you don’t feel like you have a better handle on your finances and that you are heading in the right direction, comment here and I will jump out of an airplane to promote what ever you want me to.

Money is a tool. It is only emotional when you don’t have enough of it. It controls you, or you control it, simple as that.

****And as a bonus, if you are still not convinced, Acorns is a nifty little app that allows you to invest pocket change from rounded up expenditure in to the market as a long term investment. Follow this link to check it out and get $5 for opening an account.

Did you mis part 1 of this blog? Read it here!

 

In my last blog I wrote about the Joy’s and freedoms of working remotely. If you missed it, read it here! This will give you a little better context of what I am writing about in this 5-Step process to finding the perfect remote job to keep you traveling and experiencing the world all while making money from your lap top.

Here is my 5-Step Process.

1 – Find a job, skill, or way that you can actually do that will produce income with out you physically needing to be there.

This is going to be your most difficult task. You may be saying to yourself “well I am a doctor, how could I possibly practice medicine from a laptop?” Well this comes down to how resourceful you want to be. My dad is doctor, a Podiatrist to be exact and he has been looking into what is know as “tele-medicine” which is basically on call and on demand video conferencing from doctors to patients. Say you have a foot problem, you go on the site, set an appointment, my dad would accept it, you are instantly connected, he gives your advice and recommendations and your done. The system charges the patients credit card and they go on their way. Booya, there is a way a doctor can work 100% remotely. You may be surprised what you find if you really start thinking of all the different ways you could monetize your skill sets right from a computer from anywhere in the world, don’t worry, we will get to that in number 2.

2. Get really good with technology.

If you are going to have any chance at being an entrepreneur on the road, then you are going to have to get really good with leveraging technology and automation. What do I mean by this. Well put it this way, I can pretty much run all of my business from my iPhone. Everything from a CRM to a VOIP telephone system that allows me to communicate effortlessly through WIFI any where in the world. This means that if you are planning on getting in to a business that has to ship “real” goods and logistics as well as a customer service dept. will be necessary, than you are going to have your work cut out for you. I am not saying that it is impossible, just going to take a couple extra steps of strategic planning and utilization of technology that automates the process.

3. Simple is better.

A good business is not necessarily a complex business. I would consider a solid business to be one that is profitable, allows you to live the life you desire and takes care of it’s employees and it’s customers. Some of the best businesses that I know of were born out of the simplest ideas or needs by a consumer. Take for example the work we do at the FX365 Institute, we teach people how to trade currencies all over the world from office in San Diego. We have students in 20 U.S. States and 4 countries that take our course 100% remotely and learn a skill set that allows them to make money in the foreign currencies market anywhere in the world from a laptop.  Don’t over complicate this part. The less you need to run your business, the better off you will be.

4.How much do you really need to make?

My favorite part of explaining these concepts to people is conveying the fact that a business only needs to make you a “enough” money in order for it to change your life. If you added up all of your expenses annually, and then added in the costs to live in another country or to travel a couple months out of the year I think you will be surprised to find that you don’t need to make $300K per year to achieve your goals. In fact, I have been able to travel about 2 months out of every year for the past decade making around $100k per year. The best part is that I only really needed about $60K to sustain so any extra money that I make on top of my yearly nut goes in to savings and investments. This allows me to stay diversified, active in the markets using online portfolio managers, and open to new ideas and businesses while I can keep the quality of life I have come to enjoy. The point is to make enough and then a little more. You don’t need to be a millionaire to pull this off.

5. Multiple Streams of Income remotely

 I know you have heard this one before, but maybe not through the lens of doing it remotely. Every book I have read on this topic is about real estate and multiple businesses that would require you to physically be somewhere to manage those streams. When you start to venture down the road of working remotely you start looking at businesses in a whole new light.

I have come up with a couple of questions that I use to test the remote possibilities of a business. These days, if they do not get passed these questions with a yes, then I am probably going a different direction. I wrote two articles that may give you more context when it comes to working remotely, follow the links below to check them out:

Do you ever dream of being able to run a business from anywhere in the world? Have you ever found yourself looking online for different ways you could travel abroad and somehow make an income while you were half way around the world.

Over the past decade I have been perfecting this skill. The truth is that it is not as easy as it sounds. This is especially true if you are used to a 9 to 5 standard day job. The dream of one day quitting that job and breaking free from the chains of the corporate world can be elusive and fleeting.

When I was 22 I left the country for the first time. I had always wanted to travel but I was a troublemaker growing up and spent the later part of my teen years in rehab getting sober. By the time I was 20, I had been sober for a couple of years and my life was back on track, so I decided to leave America and embark on an adventure.

I signed up for a study abroad trip to Spain, paid the money and prepared to leave home. To be perfectly honest, this trip wouldn’t be my first time out of America, I frequently went to Mexico in my teen years growing up in San Diego. None of my trips to Mexico had any real cultural importance. In fact, I don’t even really remember what transpired during most of those trips and never really made farther the the Tijuana bars on Revolution Blvd. This trip was going to be different, I was with college kids, and there was some structure, so I figured that was a good place to start.

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I remember getting off the plane in Madrid. I was bustled away from the group with my host mom who didn’t speak a lick of English and was given a room in her little apartment. I was super jet lagged and had never been on a flight that long in my life so I passed out immediately.  When I woke up it was dusk outside. I walked down the 4 flights of stairs and sat out on the side walk in the neighborhood I was staying in listening to all of the sounds of the city and taking it all in. The smells, the cars, the food, everything was different, I didn’t know anyone around, and I was far from home. I was in LOVE.

This first encounter of Wanderlust was intoxicating to me. I vividly remember it and I was so grateful to be in that moment experiencing life again in a new way for the first time.

I thought to myself, what if I could do this all of the time, what if I could just travel a lot? It was sometime on that trip that I decided I was going to need to find a line of work that was going to allow me to do this. About a week before the program ended, I told my professors running the program that I wouldn’t be accompanying them back to America, and stayed in western Europe an additional 4 months traveling around Spain, Italy and France.

Once I ran out of money, I came home. At that time I was running a Mortgage office which surprisingly was still standing after my almost 5 months of me being gone. It didn’t matter though because I came home in September 2008 just in time to watch the housing market collapse completely. I was screwed. I had done really well for a kid who dropped out of college to get rich but it was all back firing now and traveling was the last thing on my mind.

After the dust settled I was about $190,000 in debt and in need of a new career. I had decided to go back to college a year earlier and had about a year and a half left for my undergrad degree so I figured I would spend the next 2 years finishing college and finding a career that would set me up to travel the globe and make money while I was doing so.

The first business that I found that worked really well for me was multi-level marketing. It seemed like a great fit, I was recruited in to a company being sold the dream that if I spent a couple years working hard at building an organization, it would eventually take off and continue to pay me residually. This was PERFECT. I could build the business for a couple years to about $100K per year then disappear to Indonesia

For a first timer in MLM, I did incredibly well, and I build that $100k per year income in a short amount of time but it was short live. The first company I was with asked me to leave and the second company I joined eventually went belly up. Also every time I would leave the country on a trip, I found myself on my phone or laptop the whole time putting out fires and that was just plane stupid.

When I finally walked away from the industry I decided to put my entrepreneur hat back on. I had raised some money for a tech start-up and was actively learning how to trade currencies in the FOREX market.

I never lost site of my desires and dreams of being able to make money from a Laptop; I just needed to be a little more resourceful. I found that as long as I can offer real value to a client even being a great distance away, that my capability to earn money anywhere where I was in the world would be there.

So over the past 5 years I have been doing just that. Most of the consulting work that I do is never from an office, maybe my home office. I do keep an office at the Currency trading school that I have a long-term contract with but they have always been cool with me leaving and making my own schedule. Again, I attribute that leniency to the results I am able to deliver. The moral of the story is that there is a million ways to make money and add value to a person, place or business, however you need to be resourceful if you are going to do this from a laptop half a world away.

I have put together my top 5 tips to finding your own way to take your business on the road with you for good. Read “Top 5 Tips to Working remotely.” To see what it’s all about

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Being in debt sucks, you should get out of it. America is HIGH on credit cards, loans and just living way beyond our means in general.  It’s got to stop because it’s simply a vicious cycle of madness, and will only end if you make the personal choice to do it in your own life.

“When you get in debt you become a slave.” -Andrew Jackson

It has been a long time coming for writing a blog on this topic. I write a lot about life-style and ways to accumulate wealth, but there is another side to the wealth coin and that side is DEBT. We all know what it is because at one time or another we have all been in it. For most people I meet, being in debt is a part of everyday American life that 99% of Americans live in day in day out. The other 1% owns all the wealth, and we can’t get to where they are because they are the ones lending the money 🙂 Imagine if we lived in a world where you couldn’t get a credit card or a loan. Think of how different the world would be, how much stress would be lifted off of you or your loved ones. What if you woke up tomorrow and you were magically at $0. How would that change your life? Here in America, we start getting credit card offers weeks before we turn 18 years old, with banks enticing you with instant gratification telling you to buy now and worry later. Sadly it has become a way of life here in the U.S. and I believe it will ultimately lead to our downfall. The powers that be do an incredible job keeping us in a constant state of denial, and for good reason too, because it’s hard to sell you on the idea of being ok with getting in to debt if they actually told you what you were really getting yourself in to.

Let me throw a couple of stats at you real quick on the US debt situation, then we will get in to your shit! * As of April 1, 2014, the official debt of the United States government is $17.6 trillion ($17,578,141,920,036).cols_ventura-39636 This amounts to:

  • $143,543 for every household in the U.S.
  •  103% of the U.S. gross domestic product.
  • 559% of annual federal revenues.
  • $55,372 for every person living in the U.S. (not including Americans Individual’s personal debt which is indicated below.)

U.S. household consumer debt profile:

  • Average credit card debt: $15,191
  • Average mortgage debt: $154,365
  • Average student loan debt: $33,607

James Quin from financialscense.com  writes: “The average hard-working, taxpaying American has been enslaved in debt of such proportions that they will never be able pay it off. Your share of the $17.6 trillion National Debt is now $55,372, and growing by $4,500 per year. Your share of the future unfunded liabilities, created by the people you elected, is approximately $350,000. This crushing burden is in addition to the $13.8 trillion of mortgage, credit card, student loan, and auto loan debt Americans have accumulated in the last three decades of delusion. Forty percent of all credit card users do not pay-off their credit card every month and carry an average balance of $16,000 at an average interest rate of 15%. Good to see the Wall Street banks passing along some of their 0% borrowing windfall to their “customers”. ” So what does this all mean? Well it’s simple, as a country we’re F*&%ed. As an individual, you may have a chance for redemption if you choose to take the hard road and opt out of the vicious cycle, but it won’t be easy. In this blog, I am going to share with you some of the key ideological changes I underwent as well as the actions that I took to get my debt managed, and eventually paid the f%^& off. If you do exactly what I tell you to do in this blog, you will be well on your way to getting out of debt for GOOD! I will explain how to cut your interest rates in 1/2 if not more. Here are the steps.

stop-bleeding-save-your-own-life1. Stop the bleeding – Ok, if you are serious about doing this, it’s time to make some hard decisions. I don’t mean like you need to tighten your belt a bit and cut back a little, I’ll equate this to a obesely overweight person that needs their stomach stapled, and triple by-pass heart surgery to stay alive. This means fire sale time. You go through your house and collect everything of any value that you don’t use. My indicator is: unless it’s a seasonal item like a snowboard, if it hasn’t been used for 6 months, sell it, thrown it out or give it to goodwill for a tax credit. Anything you own two of needs to be reduced to only one, after all, why do you need 2 anyway? This includes big ticket items like cars, motorcycles etc.  Next you need to look through your bank statement and find any subscriptions or monthly reoccurring charges that you don’t use on a regular basis. For example, expensive gym memberships, magazine subscriptions etc. Be vigilant, we are talking about things you don’t absolutely need, if you need your gym membership, I”l tell you how to save on that later on, but for now, just follow the directions. If your a person like my mom who needs to hold on to everything, than you need a close friend to help you through the process like a drug addict needs a sponsor to keep them in check, you can’t be trusted.

reality-check2. Reality Check – Time to get out of denial and face the truth. Gather all the statements of debts you have. College loans, car loans, credit cards, mortgages etc. Then start an excel spreadsheet to lay it all out. I’ve included the one I used that gave me a clear picture of what I owed and the percentage rates I was paying. (StevenEwolf.com Debt Worksheet). Once we have it all laid out on paper we have “THE NUMBER” meaning the price you will have to pay for freedom. For me that number was $160,000 in 2010, and I got it under control without a bankruptcy or credit help bullshit company. It can be done, if I can do it, you can too.

3.Budget time – Here is where you sit down with your loved one, or by yourself if your single and simply find out how much you are making imgres and how much you are spending. To get an idea of this, I strongly suggest you use a budget program like Mint.com. I used mint.com and still use today to mange my income, expenses and investments, it does all that for you in one simple program by collecting all your financial data and putting it in one easy place for you to see and manage. It will give you a snap shop of your current cash vs. debt as well as up to date information about every asset and liability you have. It will also allow you to create a budget based on your income so you can track and see exactly how much you are spending and what you are spending it (or wasting it) on. This can only be done once you figure out what your income is. If you are like me, and never had a constant pay check, this will give you data collected over a period of time to help you balance out your income as you receive it. 

Piggy-Bank-e13684380021284. Savings Strategy – What is savings you ask, well that’s money that you don’t spend, something that is not a familiar practice to my generation. Here is what it needs to look like, I’ll give you an example for an income of $5,000 per month. (I adopted this practice from the book The Richest Man in Babylon & Secrets of the Millionaire Mind  and customized it to fit my needs to get out of debt and build wealth)

*****Note, a tax savings account is necessary if you are a 1099 guy like me, if not don’t worry about, the government steals it from you already every pay period at your W-2 job. So for the sake of this example Red will indicate W-2 Person, and Green will indicate 1099 person.

:::EXAMPLE:::

Total Income $5,000

-20% ($1000) in to separate bank account specifically set aside for taxes.  Capital1 – 360 gives you free Savings and Checking account with no  Capital-One-360-Checking-Special-Offer minimums or ATM fees, that pays you a .75% yearly APR yield (5 times national average). If you follow this link to the right and you will get a $50 referral credit just for signing up through my link! (You see, pays to read my blog!) So do it NOW!

50% of whats left after taxes ($2,000) ($2500) Goes in to you spending budget. This is to be used to pay the mortgage/rent, gas utilities, car payment, food etc.

20% Goes in to savings. ($800) ($1,000) // This is money that you will invest in to something later, but don’t worry about that just yet because you don’t have any money yet, so just save it and if you are in serious debt, all of this money will go to pay off debt starting with high interest credit cards and loans 🙂

10% Goes in to the “emergency/big ticket item fund” ($400) ($500) // This is money for a new car or a trip, something you may want but don’t necessarily need so if shit hits the fan you can use the cash to get you out of a pickle, but the hawaii trip is not gonna happen this year as a result of it. 

10% Goes in to the “Play” fund ($400) ($500) // This is your money to blow on what ever you want. 

10% Goes in to the “Charity/Education Fund” ($400) ($500)

budget-clip-art(3)4. Budget Review – By following the example above you easily get a hold on your own personal spending, not lets cut some more monthly costs. Time to sit down, look at everything you decided to keep: memberships, subscriptions etc. If they don’t fit in to your budget, you need to cut back even more. It is however worth calling all of the entities and seeing if you can reduce the membership costs. I called my gym, they cut my membership rate in half, then I called some magazine I subscribed to, they gave me a year free, then the cable company, then my cell phone provider and so on. By the time I was done calling every single entity that I had a subscription with, I managed to hang on to one or two things I would have had to get rid of by just calling them and asking for a discount. Once you have accomplished getting this all together and knowing that you are at least not going negative every month, we can go to the next step.

credit-card5. The Credit Card Shuffle – Ok let do some plastic surgery. First pull out that debt sheet that you have downloaded from above. Remember the one where you wrote down the total amounts you owe. Ok, now pull out all of your credit cards and start calling each one, here is what you need to find out, and do this exactly like I tell you to here!

1. Call the CC company and find out what you actual rate is on the card.

2. If you have balanced transferred money or have a promotional rate of some kind, find out the rate and when the promotional rate ends and then indicate it on the sheet just like the example I have set out.

3. Ask the customer service agent if they can lower your rate. If they say no, ask them if they can waive this months interest charges as a courtesy. Most companies will do this at least once per year.

4. Ask them if they have any promotions on Balance transfers, don’t do it yet just find out if they do. (It’s usually 0% for 6-12 months or 4.99% for 18 months. They will charge you between 2%-5% to move the money)

5. Repeat this step until you have called every single one of your credit cards and recorded the information on the sheet provided. Now that you have an idea of how badly you are being raped by finance charges, we can start the shuffle. Looking at all of your existing credit left on cards, figure out if it would make sense to transfer balances to cards that have room. Take in to consideration that it will cost you money to move the money, so if the benefits of savings don’t outweigh the costs to move the money or you simply don’t have enough credit left, you will have to choose another option. The main idea is to try to get any credit card balance to 0% or as close to 0% as possible. Some of you may still have good credit if that’s the case, use the following method, if not, read on, there is options for you. If you can swing, pay your highest APR% cards off immediately, meaning any card that only a couple hundred bucks or something on it, just pay it and check that one-off the list.

If you have a good credit score or are a home owner:

1. Ask each CC company to raise your line of credit, explain that you need the credit for business travel.

2. Try to move all of the balances ton ONE card so it’s easily manageable and at the lowest rate. If you have to spread this out over 2 cards, do it, but make sure it makes sense.

3.  If you weren’t able to get the CC companies to extend you more credit, try to get a personal consolidation loan. I used one of their and it drastically helped me get out of debt faster. The best company with the lowest rates is Lending Club. Lending club will beat any other lending_club_logopersonal loan service or big bank on unsecured debt consolidation loans. If you do this, you can get a secured loan for 3 years that can be paid off early with no pre-payment penalty. Otherwise, try a HELOC on your home or a refinance to wrap the debt in the equity if you can do it.  If your debt is only a couple thousand it may be a good idea of doing a “used-car refinance loan” and wrapping some of the debt in to that if you have some equity in a vehicle.

If you have bad credit or have no home. 

1. See what you can do to move balances around to 0%. If the CC companies won’t extend you credit then try the personal loan from Lending Club like I mentioned above. They still have some great rates with people who have below Prime credit scores.

2. Get a copy of your credit report and find out exactly what you have going against you that is affecting your score.

3. If you can’t get more credit to move balances, and you can’t get a personal loan that makes sense it’s time to start playing dirty with your creditors. The following advice is the last option that you will before you have to start looking at bankruptcy as a viable option. (I will not be covering bankruptcy in this blog because if your situation is that bad, you need to get in touch with an attorney and discuss your options.) 

4. Credit card consolidation companies are bullshit. There is nothing that they can do for you that you cannot call your credit card company do yourself. They basically charge you money to “go to bat for you” but what they are really doing is serving as a middle man between you and the CC company and make a little money off of your hard ship. I’ll share my story explaining below at the end of the blog.

6. Sticking to the plan no matter what – The hardest thing that you will encounter when trying to follow these steps is the feeling that there is no end in sight. That you feel so far away from $0 that you want to give up or just say F%^&* it. Understand that it was that exact attitude and lack of discipline and knowledge that got you in to this situation to begin with. In fact, you have probably spent years getting your self in to this situation, so don’t think that this is going to get fixed over night.

What I am proposing here is a long-term and effective strategy to recognize and asses the problem, reconcile the damage done, and then install a system of ideological principles to live by. Taking all of the actions I have laid out here is a start but the ultimate idea here is that you change your mindset, and that you do it long-term because if you use what I gave you here to get out of debt just to do it all over again that we have failed. So, be brave, be sturdy, and most of all, find some gratitude and accomplishment in the fact that you are doing something about it. Just that is a huge step that you should be proud of.

Summary and a Personal Story.  

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Me in Bali living the life of my dreams. You can to!!!!

As I indicated before, this guide isn’t something I thought up last night, this knowledge comes from years of experience going through this myself. I have been through some very scary times, and if I could, I would love to help you avoid some of those pit falls in life. When the market turned in 2008 I went from owning a house, with a brand new BMW paid with cash to $160,000 in debt ducking creditors and conducting a fire sale with any assets I had left to try and cover the losses. I didn’t do it all correctly and I wish I had seen a blog like this one to help me out of that horrible situation. As my good friend Rob Guth says “ask me how I know?” I love the saying because it comes from experience, and it the experience of the good and bad that has allowed me to learn from my mistakes and come back from some dark times with hope and re-energized spirit to not only continue on when things go south, but to always have hope that tomorrow is a new chance an opportunity to turns things around if they not going well, or continue to rise if they are.

I hope that you take what I wrote here to heart because these nuggets of information have cost me years of my life and hundreds of thousands of dollars to obtain. Learn from it, apply it, and execute it in your own life and enjoy years of time and lots of money saved because you were wiser that I was to look. If this blog speaks to you, share it the information with your friends, family and people you care about. If you have questions, comments, concerns, feel free to post in the comments section or contact me via the contact page

I wish you the best of luck!

See you at the top.

Steve W.

Solutions Links as indicated above.

1. Debt Worksheet 

2. Capital 1 360 Free Savings and Checking account with no minimums or ATM fees. 

3. Mint.com

4. Lending Club

5. If you are looking where to go after this, check out my book that will begin to give some great insight on how to go in to business for yourself and build some wealth. 

jack-nicholson-the-shining

So, as most of my readers know, my blogs have a lot to do with business, working hard, making a life for yourself an most importantly living. All to many times, we get caught up in our day-to-day grind and lose perspective. If you lose perspective for too long, the mind starts to slip and unless you do something about it, you might end up like Jack smashing through doors with an axe trying to kill your wife and child.

Although that may be an extreme example, a life of monotonous mediocrity is really no life at all, or at least to me it’s not. Think of all the movies you have seen with this type of protagonist plot-line, Fight Club, The Shinning, Life of Walter Mitty to name a few, These stories are so commonly told because they relate to so many people.

You see, you don’t need to take a trip around the world, or start a fight club to break out of your daily grind, however, if that is what you want to do, then go for it and I will come with 🙂 Most people simply miss the little things. I know, because I do it too, it’s easy to get caught up in your daily grind, but today I intend to explain how to escape it.

Today, I am up in San Francisco, with a very busy week of clients to see, things to do, and deals to sell. The days can fly by real quick. The funny thing is that my performance across the board is in direct correlation with how I am feeling. If I am in a place of scarcity, I am may very well come off desperate blowing a sale or a potential investor. People have an innate sense for that kind of thing. If you walk in to place to sell anything gleaming with anything else but confidence and a bright smile, the person will know something is up with you automatically, and it will severely hinder your chance of success.

A sale by definition is “a transfer of energy,” and that is my favorite definition because at the end of the day, it’s a performance, and if you blow it, the customer is not going to buy your product or invest in your company. Why? Simple, because no one want to buy or invest in to a person who suck, is sad, desperate or incompetent. What ever your product is doesn’t really matter, nor the company you represent, it is you who they are buying, and if they don’t like you, they probably will not buy or invest.

Here is a great example of what not to do…. Love this movie

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1EyN9xTK94

So, if getting to correct state of mind is imperative,  what you do before and after your performances (aka sale / investment pitch). Coming prepared and making sure that you are in a peak state will change the game. Whether or not you get the investor to invest, the buyer to buy should have no effect on you.

So how does one get there? Well in order to come to the table calm, collected and prepared, you have to take care of your mind, body and soul. For example, if you spend all of your time hustling and making money, you probably don’t worry about what kind of food you are putting in your body. I know this all to well especially when traveling, some days I get going, get caught up in appointments and realize I haven’t eaten anything all day and it’s already 3PM. Not good.

Then what about my body, sometimes after being out all day long driving around the city and using all of my brain power to convince customers and investors to buy me, the last thing I want to go do is shed my suit and tie, and take my ass to the gym. You see where I am going with this?

The hardest thing I have found to do especially when traveling for work is keeping a routine, and of course it is, you are away from your comfort zone and everything you know. It’s ok though, because if you can find out how to manage this routine even while your on the road, then it will become even more reinforced when your back on your home turf. The point is that you can’t afford to get caught up in the hustle, you have to take time for yourself and make sure you are taking care of your body, exercising, eating right and taking small breaks to appreciate where you are.

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Look how beautiful Pacifica is

It can be as simple as taking an afternoon to yourself and enjoying the beauty of the place you’re in. I did it just the other day. Again I’m in San Francisco on business, so there is plenty to see but the city doesn’t calm me, it’s fun to hang out in and catch up with friends, but it doesn’t put me at ease. So what I did was took the afternoon off in Pacifica (That’s a little city in south San Francisco on the beach) and spent some time just watching the waves and taking in the beauty that was surrounding me. I was a little worried because I was really trying to get another deal closed for the week, but knew that if I didn’t give myself some down time, it would hinder my performance.

I also found a Krav Maga Gym in San Francisco, for those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a style of hand-to-hand combat / Mixed Martial arts that I have been practicing for almost 2 years. Click here link for an explanation. It beats going to the gym and I go about 4 times a week back at home so to be able to keep that in my routine while traveling up here has been a bonus, usually I’m stuck going to good ol’ 24 hour fitness or if I am lucky finding a boxing or jiu-jitsu gym that will allow me to drop in for a couple of days knowing very well that I am not going to buy a membership or even return there in the near future.  Either way, taking care of my fitness is also crucially important to my sate of mind, so adding that in with my day in Pacifica was healing to my soul.

Then, just like that I closed a deal later that day. Went back to the hotel, got a good nights sleep, woke up at 5 AM to trade on the FOREX market and then closed another deal that day!!! AWESOME, absolutely crushed it this last week, and it’s not just because I am a good sales guy but I attribute much of that success with being able to keep the routine and take care of my mind and body which always comes before making money!.

So here are a couple of tips for what to do to stay in a positive peak state while traveling

1. Get situated – When you arrive, go to google, plan your week, figure out where everything is, the gym, appointments, dry cleaners, post office, basically all of the places that you will need to go through out the week.

2. Pick out some fun things that you want to do in between appointments while you are there. This includes catching up with friends who live where you are traveling and things you are interested in that you can only see or do in that place you are traveling, something you couldn’t do back home. For example, I am going to see Alcatraz on Sunday! I have been to S.F. many times, but have never gone, so I’m doing it!

3. Get to bed early! I am up at 5 AM everyday trading on the FOREX market, I’m not saying you need to get up at 5 am, but I will tell you that I have a huge competitive advantage over any competition simply based on the fact that I have been up using my brain, showered, ready to go with all my shit together for literally hours before I see my first client. It’s a very empowering feeling.

4. Take pictures and Check-in on Facebook – Duh, you want to remember the experience, bottom line is even if you had a bad sales week, at least you got to travel to a new place on the companies dime and saw/experienced some cool stuff so have fun with it!

5. Work-out! You always feel better after you do, not only will your body love you for this but it is a great way to network to meet new people and get out of the hotel room.

6. Eat right, and if possible, never eat alone. A meal is a great opportunity to have someones attention for 30-45 minutes. Also when dealing with clients, they can tell a lot about you by what or where you eat, and vice-versa for them. Never eat alone if you can help it, it a waisted networking opportunity or simply a reason to meet someone new.

7. Check in Back home – Whether your married, have a significant other, or are a single person, checking in with familiar people back home will always raise moral! I do this often for a couple of reasons but mainly to reconnect because hotel rooms can get a little lonely sometimes and it’s important to remember that you are there on a mission and will return home soon, a friends and supporters back home remind us of this.

8. Have Fun. If you leave on a trip and go to a new place and don’t have fun, the only one to blame is yourself. I can find something interesting, exciting or beautiful about any place I have ever been, and I have been to some shitty places. The beauty is in the ey of the beholder. Boring people get bored. You can look at it as a shitty work trip in Wichita or an exciting adventure to a place unknown on a mission to find something cool about. That is up to you, but even I can’t fix a person who doesn’t want to be fixed, and I sure as hell can’t make a person who is hell-bent having a horrible time have fun.

I hope this brightened up your day! Ok now Im off to go explore the city, enough blog writing for today!!!

-Steve

301851282PART 2

3 Weeks ago, I took a sales job to help keep me going while I continue to bootstrap my start-up company. Sure I still make a little money from my Multi-Level-Marketing company, but not nearly enough to live off of and definitely not enough to take any kind of Mini-Retirement Vacations. I have never been an advocate of full-time multi-level-marketing anyway, that is NOT the model! A good MLM company gives the person who has a day job the ability to add income and then after about 18-36 months produces enough income to replace what ever that person was making at their job. This idea of being a full-time networker with no experience in that space is a bad idea, you will most likely run out of money and burn through your savings before you get profitable forcing you to go back to your job with your hat in hand. Trust me, I know, I’ve made that mistake before.

All to many times I see people jump from company to company trying to “Find the right one” and that is just a bad way to go about. Do I believe in MLM? Yes, from the bottom of my heart, but I don’t believe that putting all of your eggs in to one basket in life is ever the correct path.

I think the correct path should look something like this, and keep in mind, it doesn’t matter how young or old you are, this still applies.

  1. 1. Preparation – Get a money plan for any and all income, if you a 1099 guy like myself here is what I use for all income……
    •     – Say I make $10,000 from work, investment, play what ever
    •      – 20% ($2,000) – Goes to interest bearing savings account for Taxes
    •      – of the 8K left it gets divided as follows
    •      – 50% (4K) for living expenses i.e. Rent, mortgage, gas, food, travel etc.
    •      – 20% ($1,600) Savings / Retirement / Long-Term-investments
    •      – 10% ($800) – Education i.e. books, audios, personal development/investing seminars etc.
    •      – 10% ($800) – Big ticket item saving i.e. new car, toys, vacations etc.
    •      – 10%  ($800) – Play fund money to spend on what ever I want, when it’s gone, I’m done playing
    •     – If you have debt to pay off, take 20% off the top before you adjust for Education, Big ticket items and play fund. Put it towards your highest interest debts 1st eliminating any all debt 
  2. 2. Job – Income coming in on a weekly/bi-Monthly basis (30-40 hours a week / 3-10k per month)
  3. 3. Find the balance – Mind, Body, Soul, Relationships, Pocketbook. If these aren’t in balance, the next steps wont matter because you will never get there.
  4. 4. First 2nd Stream of income w/ little to no investment – This can be an MLM or a side business like flipping cars or selling stuff on eBay. This should make you money fairly quick, and the start-up cost should be small. A couple thousand dollars that you will see a return on in a couple of months. Any proceeds from the business.
  5. 5. Do Something Your Passionate about that Makes Money! – This could be from a side job you started or something that you always wanted to do. With enough money coming in and savings in the back subsidized with side income you now bought yourself the freedom to quit your job and find something that you’d much rather do.
  6. 6. Deals – Once you have conquered all of these areas, then it’s time for you to graduate from Owner to Deal maker, meaning that by now, making money has become easy to you, it’s no longer emotional and trivial, it jut is. When you get there, and you will know when you do, then life becomes more about the challenge instead of making money to survive.

Now, if at any point, you get knocked on your ass which you will, you simply start the steps over. It is what I am doing in my life right now, what I’ve done in the past and what financial_planning_processI will do in the future. Why, because none of my financial decisions are based on emotion, if they are, you’re losing at the money game. Even when I’m down, I still strive to make logical decisions when it comes to money. That kind of delayed gratification is what allows wealthy-minded  people to stay rich, and poor-minded people to continue to stay poor or loose you wealth. If you are anything like me, you will find that you become much more resilient to the ass kickings life throws at you once you have been through a couple of them. For me, it’s never about how hard I fall or what I lose, it’s all about how quickly I can get back up. This time around, I didn’t lose much as I was 10 times more subsidized and protected than I was when I went through some similar circumstances at the age of 23. I predict it will take me less than 6 months to clear all debts, and be in a cash flow positive situation traveling around the world by the end of 2014.

How am I so sure? Great question. Let me ask you this, if you were 23 years old and woke up one day and found out you were all of sudden $160,000 in debt, what would you do? If you make 50k a year, you would be shitting bricks. What if I gave you the same scenario, but you made $190,000 a year before. Probably not so bad right? Ok set that aside for a second and let’s assume that you have been in debt most of your young adult like I was and like most Americas are. We’re conditioned from a young age that it is ok to live like this. This is why you get credit card applications in the mail @ 18 years old and high schools, colleges and employers never even teach the most basic of finance. “The Man” i.e. your boss, the government (IRS especially), super rich people and the owners of banks and lending institutions etc. don’t want you to figure this out. They want you broke, tired, hungry and pre-occupied with shit that doesn’t matter like video games, American Idol, and spectator sports so that you are not paying attention to the fact that they are ROBBING you blind. If you don’t believe me, enjoy this video.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPKKQnijnsM

Debt, should be used as a tool, not as a way to get instant gratification to buy yourself things that you cannot afford, or even need in most cases for that matter. With the exception of college loans (Which I think is another racket anyway) you shouldn’t have any debt unless you own a business that produces income, or own a home. The fact that no one ever told you that you shouldn’t be in debt isn’t really an excuse and if it is, I’m telling you now. Don’t worry, it’s not like our country leads by example, they’re 16 trillion in debt, so don’t worry about them, because policy isn’t going to fix our problems here on the ground right now today as it pertains to you and your family or future family.

robert-kiyosaki-network-marketing-cashflow-quadrantThe point is that all those institutions make money off of our continued ignorance. Why does everyone hate them? Simple, because they’re smarter than us and no matter what recession we go through, the good people at Goldman Sachs or in Congress don’t seem to mind all that much our struggles doesn’t affect them. While were slaving away everyday trying to collect their scraps going to work every day to run on the mouse wheel they are taking million dollar bonuses from our bail out money and buying yachts. Do I not believe in Capitalism? Of course I do, and in order to achieve the types of results that they have been able to achieve you simply must understand their game.

Solution: Stop borrowing money. If a bank sells money, and we’re not buying it, the bank can’t make money. If we bought houses cash, we wouldn’t need a mortgage. If we cut up our credit cards, we could only spend what we had incurring no negative interest. If we took a job we didn’t like as a means to buy us some time to find something better, then we would all be doing things we liked and wouldn’t get stuck in the rat race. If we were always educating ourselves with the same materials the richest people in the world did, wouldn’t that level the playing field a bit? If we could all wrap our heads around this idea of delayed gratification, wouldn’t we become less impressionable to consumerism thus driving all prices of consumer goods down substantially because fewer people are “willing” to buy.

Ask yourself, do you really need a new car every year? Do you feel so left out because you don’t know who won the game on Sunday? Would it kill you to watch a little less TV and maybe read a book? Don’t you think you were put on this earth for more of a purpose than running on the hamster wheel, getting your food pellet, drinking water, playing a video game and getting back to running on the wheel again?

So lets start moving in the right direction, let’s stop trying to look good and actually do good. Nothing makes me happier than seeing my friends, and people I love find themselves in life and achieve great success. So much to the point that I have dedicated a large part of my own life to help people do just that. The help is there for those who seek. I sought it out when I was young and it got me to where I am today. As it turns out, all the successful people I met growing up were happy to help guide because they saw my willingness to learn and the way I sought out enlightenment. Let’s stop lying to ourselves and get honest with each other about where we a really at now, and get very clear on finding just what our real purpose is here in this life.

The One Thing Successful People Never Do , top_of_the_mountain , Success comes in all shapes and colours. You can be successful in your job and career but you can equally be successful in your marriage, at sSo if you have a Job, work your ass off at it, find something you actually love doing and then get out of there before you forget your dreams. There are no shortcuts in life that lead to the top of the mountain, you’re going to have to climb it, and the first time is always the hardest and scariest. I know because I have tried a couple of shortcuts while climbing the mountain and they always led back to the hamster wheel. The irony is that once you master that mountain and you can afford to buy a helicopter to fly to the top, it doesn’t seem all that hard to climb anymore anyway 😉

I wish you the best of luck out there, and take it because you’ll need it.

-Steve