Is Your Time Valuable?

Each of one of us makes hundreds of decisions about our personal and financial life based on our daily and future needs. The concept of time value and opportunity cost are important if you know how valuable your time really is. The way conceptualize this idea is by taking my hourly $20/h and assigning a value of what I am doing and if its worth my time to do it. Essentially, I am checking if I am paying myself enough to do this activity.

Every decision has an effect on our personal and financial lifestyle and needs to be taken seriously. Think about it, every decision you make is a choice of not doing something else.

Financial & Personal Costs

We all should have remembered these concepts in our very first economics class. First financial costs are those directly affecting your money. Whereas, personal costs are types of activities that you do instead of another. All in all, it’s about trade-offs of every decision you make.

Everyone should be thinking about what they do financially every time they choose to spend, save, invest or borrow money. The time value of money is an important idea because it allows you see the cost of your decisions in a quantitative manner. Since interest rates are slowly beginning to rise, holding your funds in a savings account that pays you 0.02% or 1.5% has huge consequences.

Example 1: Let’s take you have $20,000 in the bank at 0.02% APY. You have earnt yourself $4.00 for holding your money in a savings account. 

Example 2: Let’s look at $20,000 in the bank at 1.5% APY. This is where it gets a little juicy you have earnt $300.00 

There are online banks that are offering these kinds of interest rates and even higher rates if you put them in a certificate of deposit (CD) locked in for a year or more! Allybank.com and marcus.com are offering these rates and it’s a no-brainer why I would stick my money in an online bank! PAY ME MORE and ill give you my business banks! [I don’t get any referral fees for saying that, just saying your stupid if you don’t do this]

Here’s the difference between financial opportunity and personal opportunity costs, I think about what certain activities will generate future sources of income or more income like earning a bachelors degree, learning a new skill, or cutting costs like cooking more at home. If I do something that benefits me in the future that has a direct benefit to my lifestyle and income I will TRADE the time to earn money to learn the skills and gain the knowledge to earn me more money in the future.

 

 

Are you DAFT?

Developing and achieving financial targets is a great way for anyone living in the wealthiest countries to really feel wealthy. We live in one of the greatest countries on earth [America?] with the potential to earn a comfortable life, but there are two really important factors that hinder this opportunity.

I’ve talked a lot about forming sustainable habits and minimalist thinking in order to reduce poor planning (goals) and money management (budgeting) in all areas of our lives. In a consumer-driven society, companies spend enormous amounts of money on advertising to encourage overbuying through product placement and availability which all add to less money in your pocket! Let us consider setting up some goals and defining what each goal represents with respect to how much time it would take.

Time Frame Goals

There are really only three types of goals anyone should set and it’s all based on the amount of time someone is going to spend achieving them.

  • Short-term goals are goals that are going to be achieved in less than two years 

These types of goals include paying down small amounts of debt on your credit card or going on a trip (my favorite type of spending)

  • Medium-term goals are goals between two-five years

These goals are for building a sustainable emergency fund, credit card debt using balance transfers, or upcoming large purchases (think new gadgets, furniture, etc)

  • Long-term goals are considered more than five years 

The goal here is to think of planning for your kids, retirement, massive purchases that take a considerable amount of planning and thought and requires you to leverage all your small and medium goals to achieve the big goals (snowball effect)

How To Define Your Goals

The key to successfully achieving your long-term goals is by coordinating the short and medium-term goals to coincide with the longterm goals (I know I just said that but its very important). We are playing a game on inches and achieving our small goals keeps us moving forward in the right direction.

I want you to think of what types of goals your setting are they personal or financial. Consider two distinct buckets: Short-lived and durable goods.

Short-lived goods to me are considered things that don’t last very long like wearables, entertainment, and travel.

Durable goods are usually more expensive and last longer such as furniture, homes, cars, and equipment

Why is this important? your goals are the focal point for defining your plan and ability to track your progress in saving and spending. Using a commonly known approach: SMART. We can further define the goals into actional steps and can be used for life events too.

Specific – define your goals and tailor it

Example: I want to save for my vacation to Brazil

Measurable is being able to quantify ($$$) the goal

Example: I want to save $5000 in 12 months for my trip that covers the cost of accommodation, airfare, and transport.

Actionable – What steps are you going to take

Example: I will buy a metal container that can only be opened by breaking it and put $420 into the container each month.

Realistic – Base the goals on your financial situation and don’t make them absurd

Example: Don’t kid yourself and save you will save an amount you know you will burden yourself with and break the habit of saving!

Time – I already said this, but define the time frame you want to achieve the goal.

Full Example: I want to save $5000 (M) for a trip to Brazil (S) in 12 months (T) and I’m going to buy a small container from Amazon for $10 that cannot be opened without breaking it (A). I can do this because I will save only $420 dollars a month and I have no debts to pay besides my mortgage and car payment (R).

Playing with your insurance premiums

I sat down one night and looked into my insurance bill and figured out how to lower my bill by leveraging my emergency fund to reduce some of my expenses, I didn’t want to lose the coverage I had but tweak with my deductible to lower my costs and move most of that money into either savings or other investments.

My insurance is astronomically high because I have a family of six and with varied ages. I have a great insurance provider which gives you the cheapest rate and best coverage, but that doesn’t mean I cant squeeze a few more dollars out of them. I really hated the fact of paying $2910 for my car insurance and $1250 on my home insurance because it seemed an unfairly high, but what can you do? its INSURANCE, peace of mind and all that other blah we get pitched about every day.

The Strategy Explained

If you have a small emergency fund set up this is the opportunity for you to really start making money in the bank passively begin working for you in a number of different ways. Insurance is the transfer of risk and you must pay a premium for that risk to be taken by your insurance provider.

If you have $1,000 or $10,000 dollars saved in your bank account, its time to earn more than 0.02% interest.

Step 1: Review your insurance carrier and shop around every year for a new one carrier 

Every business is competing for your money and why should you be loyal to a company if at the first insurance claim they begin to raise your rates. So, feel free to shop around and now that everything is alone it is very convenient too! Ask for the same coverage you are currently provided and try to beat that price!

Step 2: Adjust the deductibles and take out any unnecessary coverage you don’t need

Deductible affects the price of your premiums and while no one wants to get in an accident tomorrow you need to ask yourself how likely you are to get into an accident and if a higher deductible make sense. If you can save $50-100 dollars per payment then you could cover the cost of the deductible in a year if you had chosen the $1,000 deductible.

Also, look at services you wouldn’t need a rental car or towing services. I personally don’t need those services because I have a large family and we can manage without a car for awhile and I have a lot of friends in the towing industry that can give me a reasonable rate.

Step 3: Don’t underinsure yourself just to save a buck on the big-ticket items

Your house is your base of operations for everything and that type of insurance requires you to understand the vulnerabilities of your home, but if you raise the deductible for this could translate into a lot of cost savings in the long run.

Step 4: Move the money saved into another income producing vehicle or emergency fund

The last step is the most important and the reason we are changing insurance companies in the first place. Usually from the money saved you can move the money into the emergency fund to keep it at an acceptable level in case something goes wrong or move it to an investment vehicle that produces more money for you in the future like a higher yeilding savings account.

 

How do I manage my credit cards

Budgets and debt go hand in hand when your talking about the long term effects of paying too much interest over time because it also affects the growth of your savings balances.

Consolidation is key 

There are many cards out there competing for your wallet space and its time you took notice on how much power the consumer really has when deciding what type of card they are going to carry and what type of perks and benefits they are going to offer. I only know of one credit card that there is a zero balance transfer fee any amount you consolidate into it barring any existing debt with the institution. The Chase Slate credit card is by far the best cards out there to get a good handle on your balances and the interest deferral for 15 months is a nice perk to boot [take it while it lasts].

Sometimes this option isn’t available, but if you followed the other steps in my blog regarding  minimalism you are on the right track because patience is truly key to success and it all begins with a strategic consolidation effort. You can also find out which card has the lowest interest rate but that’s pointless because they take on usually a 5% balance transfer fee.

Minimalism isn’t about minimum payments

This is true for your credit cards! we don’t make the minimum payments here. What we do is maximize the payments to cards we strategically want to pay off and that means pushing for maximum payment to the credits we choose to rid the balance. You can focus on one card and apply the minimum payments to other cards in an effort to pay down one as quickly as possible and move on to the next

The debt dependence mountain

This is the hardest climb down you will have to ever experience, I know it can be tough stop depending on your credit cards to maintain your lifestyle but you need to stop and need really cut those cards up or stash them somewhere out of reach. The best way to do this is cold turkey because if you notice on those credit card statements. You make payments, but you usually end up spending the equal amount of the payment or more!

This isn’t an overnight climb down but a long journey you have to take before you get down this mountain but by the time you do, you will feel lighter and more money in your pocket (picking it off the trees). The first step is creating that budget we discussed and also looking at making realistic goals to make that celebrity status you have been living non-existent.

 

Are you paying too much for your debt?

One of our biggest enemies in life is our debt whether it is recurring bills, credit cards and our loans. In a world where instant gratification is now an expectation and not a privilege, these debts are beginning to exploit that expectation and charge you a hefty price for it too. You might ask yourself why I classified recurring debt under this particular section. Well, it’s because we are underutilizing the services we are often provided and therefore overpaying on bills we can reduce or completely eradicate.

You Wouldn’t Leave Money On The Table 

You’re burning through cash without realizing the potential in managing your debt effectively to completely alter your wealth, well-being, and cash-flow. It’s important to look at any type of bill and say to yourself what is the maximum value I can reach for all the dollars spent. It’s easier said than done of course because you have to look at all your bills and figure out what types of perks, incentives, t.v shows, programs, or whatever is available to you. Now, you don’t have to go as far as me and read the disclaimer and call every 1 (800) number to find out the exact specifications, but just know a little bit about the products you use and how they work will give you an advantage over the company and over your debt. Strictly, your recurring bills should be put on a rewards credit card that earns you some cashback as these are fixed expenses that you must pay anyway and should be earning ‘free’ points on these purchases, but it should be done AFTER you have demolished the debt.

Those Bags Under Your Eyes Are Because Of Interest

Have you found yourself staying up late expecting your check to be direct deposited into your back account to make sure your bills go out on time? This isn’t how life should be for anybody. I hate the word interest. Its debilitating, chronic disease that takes the money out of your pocket and into someone else’s, I’m going to show you how you can quickly tackle debt based on how I’ve shown a lot of my good friends how to eliminate their debt strategically while not having to sacrifice to much of their own social life.

Step 1: Track your spending as much as possible

Thanks to advances in technology we can easily track our daily, monthly, and yearly spending habits through bank statements, loan statements, and reward summaries on our purchases. This is an important first step because wondering where your money is going starts by itemizing where your money is going on a monthly basis. Each person may have a different expenses based on their own life stage and its necessary to put in every cent you spend into tracking it. It can be as vague or complex as you like but first we need to be aware of how much we are spending. For instance, my friends and I found out how much exactly we were spending on food a month. I didn’t spend more than $100 whereas they were above the $800 range!

Step 2: Define what discretionary income you can allocate to your debt

This part is easy to calculate because its taking into consideration taxes and mandatory payments leaving you with the discretionary spending balance. So, you add up all the minimum payments on your debt and monthly bills this will give you an accurate indicator of how much money you actually can put towards the debts. Just because you are paying more on some cards than others doesn’t mean its an effective strategy.

Step 3: Find out how much interest your paying on each card or loan

This is the critical stage and where a lot of people trip up and where most of our strategies are going to be most at play. Some say pay your biggest debts, some say start with your smallest, and some in the middle. From a dollar savings perspective the higher the interest rate the higher probability you’re going to want to pay down that first because its technically hurting you the most

  1. I personally feel we should have small wins to keep ourselves inspired and motivated. I don’t see the point at winning 1 battle when there is a credit card war going on. Pay down the debts that you can see is having the balance go down. I noticed that keeps people inspired to continue this good pay
  2. Pay down the debt with the highest interest first
  3. Pay down the debt with the lowest balances

Its important to compound your payments once you finish paying on debt off. So, if you finished paying down one credit card. Apply the same payment to another card and so on.

Rinse Wash Repeat

Understanding how much your paying to your creditors is the first step in becoming debt free. You have to consider living a minimalist lifestyle to dig yourself out of debt, but once you see the fruits of your labor there is nothing going to hold you back from making your financial security dreams come true.

Please feel free to comment below or message me, I love helping others figure out where, how, when, and why to start paying there debts off and living a manageable lifestyle.

Keep Life Simple

Does your lifestyle cost to much?

A common problem I’ve found once we establish a set our rules for saving money and create ourselves a budget. Is that after the point where you begin to feel comfortable again with your savings balances, debt, and cash flow, many of us began to quickly slack off and revert slowly back to our spending habits again.

It can be subtle when you begin to slowly creep back into the era of living pay-check to pay-check, but other times you tell yourself “I’m good this month, I can spend a little extra” or “I’m comfortable now. I don’t need to be so frugal with my money” and there is the problem. For many of us, its easy to back to living from hand to mouth because we have known it all our lives, but it is much harder to tell yourself “no, I have to keep going this is not enough” thinking like that really changes your behaviors and the core of the problem of living beyond your means.

Lifestyle over style

Once we recognize we are not saving, pay a debt off, or managing our cash flow. We can tackle the real beast: our lifestyles. I know how hard it is to see your neighbor pulling into the driveway with a brand new car or a co-worker buying the latest iPhone while you’re still stuck with that flip phone from the dinosaur era. Now really think about it for a second, your neighbor had to finance that car with probably very little down payment and will be charged interest for 5 or 6 years and your co-worker probably just wanted a new phone while he still had a perfectly good phone that could have lasted him a good two years more before it became truly obsolete.

The Buddy System 

I learned to overcome my lifestyle choices by finding a like-minded friend that also wanted to spend less and save more. We fed off each other on monthly successes by saving an excess of $1000 a month (at the minimum) on incomes ranging from $55,000-$65,000 because we became highly frugal about the way we wanted to spend our money. Instead of going out each and every day we would hang out at each other’s houses and smoke hookah, play cards, watch movies, play some Call of Duty, or just study together because we are both attending school and working full time.

Strategically making our lives busier resulted in going out less, less gas, and less needless spending helped us each achieve the yearly goals we established ourselves. Obviously, we both have different motives for spending I wanted to save a little emergency fund and he was looking to put a great down payment on a house.

We began mid-January and running right into the most expensive time of the year December.  I saved roughly $21250 whereas, he saved $26400 the best part about all of the massive savings is we were both able to take trips that did not affect our savings goals! I went to Dubai and Vietnam for a few weeks with a budget of $5k and did a smaller trip to Cancun which cost $1500 and that was the only major expenses we had for the year!

All in all, find a buddy to keep you accountable and on track with your savings target, or debt pay down schedule if that’s what you’re intending to do. Keep life simple.

Born To Spend

Social Spending Addiction

One of the greatest disadvantages of living in a consumption-based country is that we lean towards living beyond our means. Social spending temptations is a real problem for all of us and can be incredibly difficult to overcome. We lack self-control when we are out with our friends, colleagues, or wants using our credit cards to borrow for our future funds we intend to receive and the interest we pay to on those credit cards, lines of credit will really dig a very big hole that will take a long time to get out of. These days we have a lot of companies competing for our wallet space in hopes that you use their cards to buy stuff we get very little value from but end up paying an arm and a leg for it.

It can be challenging at first to stop the habit of spending on frivolous things and people, but if you master this discipline of strategically reducing your expenses it can alter the course of your life. I had a friend who was drowning in about 60k worth of loans, credit cards, and student loan debt that was crushing him financially all with interest rates well above 20%. Although, none would be the wiser to know this about him because he was always going out, partying, enjoying life to its full potential. Finally, we got together to discuss his finances and most importantly his mindset of what he wanted to do in the next 5 years [he had maxed out his life].

For someone in his situation, opening a savings account wouldn’t be the best approach, so we tackled his biggest and most expensive obstacle which was his debt. We got 2 months of bank statements and all loans, credit cards statements and began computing what type social spender and find the areas opportunity to address. He was spending over $789.57 on restaurants, $42.23 on Starbucks a month! That’s no way to really enjoy life. The budget was created and my constant pestering insured he had the right tools and support to make sure he would get out of debt in about 2-3 years [No one said this was a quick fix!]

Lifestyle Debt

Some of us enjoy living beyond our means and accumulating debt to maintain a lifestyle that isn’t affordable or realistically represents who we are, but more of who we want everyone else to see us as. One the factors that influence unnecessary spending stems from social media and its role in our spending habits, we tend to show off our new cars, phones, adventures, travel destinations, clothes in order to feel good about ourselves and affirm that we are something more than we are. I’m sure everyone can relate to a daily barrage of Snapchat, Facebook posts, Instagram feeds, and Twitter assaults of your friends living luxurious lives. I’m sure you have stopped to ponder the possibility of how the finance this type of living considering you have relatively the same disposable income.

We can make small adjustments now, to change our lives in the future in dramatic ways that will not only benefit the way we derive value from purchasing something to what experiences we want to purchase!  What I am proposing is making these simple changes to your daily habits and this will snowball into a life where you have that emergency fund, you can handle a financial setback, or you can just have the discipline to reach your own goals you set.

Keep Life Simple!

3 Steps to Create a Simple Budget

Understanding standing your spending and saving is the first real step to getting yourself out of a deficit each month! Let’s face it a lot of our worries come from the fact we enjoy spending our money and spend very little time actually thinking about how hard we worked to earn it. When I first started to help my friend I made him get all his credit cards, bank, and loan statements in one massive pile to tackle the task of understanding where his money is going!

Step 1: Find out where all that money is going

Track Your Spending

This may sound easy, but don’t underestimate where all your money goes in a day because we usually earn a livable wage, but blow it quickly over the weekend or spending it on certain days when we lose sight on how much time we used up to get it! Remember that the most important thing is to consider every single purchase you have made. I want you to include every small payment and every penny in your calculation. Otherwise, we aren’t going to have the accuracy we want!

Step 2: Make a list of where your money goes

Categorize where you are spending 

Break down your expenses into blocks where you can easily find out where all your money goes in a month. You can make it as simple or as complicated as you like, but I want you to think that if you make the list more detailed and specific the greater the potential for you to truly find out where your money goes in a month and what you are spending on. Make it simple or complicated, but you will find out the most important thing of all. Are you spending more than you are earning

Step 3: Make it realistic and budget accordingly 

Build the Budget

Collecting all that raw data has really shown you where all your money is going and now its time to really build that budget that you can follow. Here is the trick, I don’t want you to go cold turkey on me. Build a realistic budget that you can create and reinforce a good habit of saving or paying down your debt. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t squeeze every penny you earn into a budget that isn’t going to work. The best way to do it calculate your disposable income and take 10% of it as start and gradually increase it to some number that you are comfortable to put away without touching or feeling like your social life is in ruins because you went over budget and cant go out!

Keep Life Simple!

The 5 Principles of Money

I’ve created this site for those of us who have attempted, explored, strived, ventured, and moved heaven and earth to begin savings, stop living paycheck-to-paycheck, and being heavily indebted. Financial freedom starts with small incremental steps that anyone can take, but they have to set themselves up with realistic milestones and find a community of like-minded individuals that are passionate about saving, investing, and spending the right way.

My hope is that we can build a community together and can share ideas on how we can improve our lives through spending, protecting, investing, life events and savings.

  • Spending
  • Protecting
  • Investing
  • Life Events
  • Savings 

In a particular order these form the acronym SPILS, these five categories are the fundamental elements to anyone wanting to improve their financial well-being by diving into these core elements further we can really begin to formulate a plan to better ourselves. There is a particular order we are going to follow to maximize the value we create from saving, investing, or protecting our hard earned money.

Spending 

It’s America’s favorite past time. We enjoy spending more than any other activity and its silently ruining our lives one monthly bill at a time. It’s not your fault, it’s my belief that you were born into a consumption-driven society where you need the latest phone, newest model car, and everything that someone else has. We enjoy spending on things we derive very little value from and that has been creating a big hole in your pocket one interest payment at a time.

Over the years working in various financial institutions, I’ve seen thousands of people who willingly make the minimum payments on their credit cards, mortgages, personal loans, and home equity lines of credit that complain that they seem to get deeper and deeper into debt without contemplating the true cost of their borrowing and spending habits. Moving forward I will show you some incremental steps you can take right now to take control of your finances and truly have that feeling of financial security.

Step 1: Tackle your spending habits and demolishing our debt!

Saving

There is no point in opening a savings account if you are bombarded with a bunch of debt that you are paying interest on or haven’t formed the discipline of maintaining a budget. If you were to put $50 a month into your savings account, but regularly pull that money right back out to purchase something we just have defeated the purposing of saving. Even worse, if you have mountains of credit card debt and fail to pay your credit cards off in full and pay on items that you bought months ago are you truly saving or are we just trying to kid ourselves that we are actually trying to save.

In case you were wondering there are a plethora of savings methods we can utilize and maximize you can begin to take advantage of based on your current habits. It’s not just about having money stuffed under your mattress, savings account, or your 401(k) at work. We need to understand that our lifestyle choices are deterring us from saving comfortably.

Step 2: Understand how much we can realistically save and the maximizing our efficiency rate of saving!

Investing

When we think of investments our minds drift to the financial markets and a hectic roller coaster ride pertaining to stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments, but I think we should consider the word investments as the creation of value over time through meaningful changes to habits and resources that create passive income or value.

There are a lot of different ways one can invest to create value that is tangible or intangible. Purchasing a home would be a tangible instrument that you can physically hold and grow through the equity created over time or taking the time to learn new skills to increase your ability to diversify your income.

Step 3: Live your life with the idea of creating value from what you do!

Protecting

Naturally, once we control our spending patterns, create a disciplined savings strategy, and live for the value we need to consider some of the possibilities of how we protect our new found wealth and riches. It can be challenging and expensive, but there are some ways we can really reduce the probability of losing our financial freedoms through careless and reckless behaviors.

Protecting your money begins by asking yourself what your priorities such as succession, tax consequences, creating a trust, insurance, and shielding your current assets from others looking to take what you have taken so long to earn.

Step 4: Safeguard your assets now and when its time to pass them on to our loved ones!

Life Events

This topic could go on for ages but our most important events would be changing jobs, marriage, having a baby, and transitioning into retirement. Each event if planned incorrectly could lead right back into you dependence on maintaining a life you were custom too, but couldn’t afford. With that being said, these events are some of the best times in your life and as our community grows I hopefully have others share some of their experiences in how the dealt with these transitions.

These disruptors in your crafted savings and spending strategies can entice you to go back to your old comfortable habits. Now with you are armed with knowledge that you can get out of debt and into financial freedom there maybe some of us that begin to slack as we begin to grow our emergency funds and balances and begin down that cycle of indebtedness

Step 5: Don’t lose focus on your spending and savings strategies. Life events are special, but they also can be a huge expense.

All in all, I am hoping to show that a life lived for value is a much more rewarding method living on borrowed money. Being frugal doesn’t need to be associated with being cheap, but rather finding the highest amount of value from the things that you do each and every day. The reward for having a frugalist mindset is an appreciation for life and the financial freedom to do whatever you want at any time responsibly.

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