Friday, April 27, 2012

How to Get Rich - Convert Savings to Income (Part One)

Hopefully you have been following my advice and started saving at least ten percent of your income and placing it into your savings account.

Once you have saved enough to cover your emergency reserve (at least three months of your current living expenses) plus an additional one thousand dollars, it is now time to look for ways to convert these extra savings into an income source.

The simplest way to start would be to open yourself an online brokerage account with a local bank or other financial institution. I would recommend opening a cash account and not a margin account at this time. Borrowing on margin is something I will discuss in a later post as this can be risky and should be used only once you gain more experience.

Shopping for a Broker

Look for an online brokerage that will give you additional services such as research and investment screening capabilities. I personally use TD Waterhouse here in Canada. Make sure to check out all of your options before making a choice paying particular attention to fees and commissions. There can be a wide range of costs involved.

Your account will be very small at first and you need to find the best alternative for clients with small accounts.

Where To Start

The very first investment I would make in this new account would be to a Money Market Fund.  These are funds that do not fluctuate in value and should have no fees for buying and selling shares. They will pay a small amount of interest income and should be used mainly for parking your new deposits (and later on dividend income) until a good longer term investment is ready to buy.

This Money Market Fund will become your accumulator account within your online brokerage account.
Deposit your first one thousand dollars into your brokerage account and then into your new Money Market Fund account. All of your future savings should be deposited in this manner as well.

Learn While You Earn

You will now be earning a small amount of interest income each month from your Money Market Fund. I recommend accumulating at least five thousand dollars in this fund before you attempt to even look at the higher income investments.

While you are waiting for this amount to accumulate, take the time to learn how to use the research and investment screen sections of your new on line brokerage account. This way you will be able to build a list of interesting investment choices and to do proper research on them before making your initial long term investment.

This is the first step towards turning your savings into a long term investment income stream and the first building block for your secure financial future. Stay tuned for part two in a future post.

As always, I look forward to your comments and suggestions for future topics.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Real Estate Wealth - Follow Your Nose

Have you ever been able to smell a good deal a mile away ?

Do you have the natural instinct to sniff out a good deal ?

If you are like most , the answer is unfortunately no.

It takes Work

Yes, it really does take a lot of work to find the right real estate deal. If anyone tells you otherwise, their nose is likely too big ( like Pinoccio )  if you know what I mean !

Yes, there are unfortunately no easy ways to sniff out the good deals for most of us. It takes a lot of research and getting to know the markets you are exploring.

What To Look For

When looking for Real Estate, one must focus on the location and the area dynamics. For instance, look for an area that has an excellent potential for growth. Examples are, new and better access to an area, local infrastructure improvements such as schools and shopping centers etc. If the big money is willing to invest, so should you.

Stay away from areas that are declining in popularity as these will most likely become the future slums. You definitely want to be able to attract  good quality tenants and not ones that will destroy your investment.

Follow Your Nose

After time and with more experience, you will find that you may start to be able to smell a good deal. It will eventually become second nature to be able to find the good locations with growing potential for development.

In the meantime however you will have to learn as much as you can from those who have already done what you want to do.This will enable you to avoid the costly mistakes that they have made throughout their lives.

As in all investing, it is imperative to avoid a loss at all costs. The fewer mistakes you make along the way will ensure the smoother transition to a prosperous and brighter future.

Follow the leaders and learn from their costly mistakes. Learn as much as you can before taking the plunge into the real estate market. Learn to follow your nose.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions for future topics.

Friday, April 20, 2012

How to Protect Your Wealth - Look Into the Future

Have you ever wondered what the future will hold for yourself and your family ?

There are many that would like to know the future.However, this is not a realistic thought.

The truth is whatever will be will be. The future is not ours to see.

Protect What You Have

To protect our future wealth and the wealth of our loved ones, we must take the proper steps today to ensure a smooth transition to a future generation.

I know this may sound like a morbid topic, but to create true wealth we must ensure it will endure for generations to come. What better gift can you give to a future generation than one of continued comfort and well being.

The more wealth you create, the more important it becomes to protect that wealth. Without proper protection your wealth may become eroded by taxes, inflation or even mismanagement.

Trust Someone

At some point in your life you are going to have to trust someone to carry on your financial affairs once you are no longer able to. Whether it be from illness or your own death, you will not be able to manage your affairs forever. Find someone you truly trust and allow them to carry on for you.

This is a very difficult decision for many, as it gives up a portion of your absolute control. However, it is vital to find the proper person that you can trust without a doubt to do the best with your future wealth.

What To Do

Once you find this person, whether it be a spouse, a child, another relative or even a close friend, there are two thing that must be done immediately.

First, go to a lawyer and set up a General Power of Attorney between yourself and the person you trust. This will enable this person to act on your behalf if you should become disabled and not able to make decisions on your own. A General Power of Attorney is the best as this will allow the person to do anything with any of your assets or liabilities.

The other thing you must do is go to a lawyer and set up your will. Name your trusted person as the Executor of your will in order for them to carry out your wishes. Of course, a will only comes into effect upon your death. It becomes the legal direction as to how to divide your assets and provide for the future of your loved ones.

Don't Wait

The important thing to remember is do it now. Do not put this off until a future date. This could be the most important decision you will ever make when it comes to protecting your future wealth.

Remember, the future is not ours to see. Whatever will be will be. Tomorrow may be too late.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions for future topics.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How to Get Rich - Wear Your Own Slippers

Have you ever heard the saying that you don't know someone until you walk a mile in their shoes ?

Take it a step further and you can really get to know someone if you wear their slippers !

The second statement is something I learned when training to be a financial adviser. Basically, it means that you really have to get to know a client before you can help them the most.

The Problem

On the surface it sounds like a good thing to get to know your client very well before offering financial advise. For the well disciplined and ethical adviser it is a good starting point. How can you possibly help someone until you get to know them and wear their slippers so to speak.

The problem with the above approach from the clients' perspective is that the client can become very vulnerable. The client can very easily give up far too much control of their financial future. Far too many times the financial adviser has too much control of their clients' future.

Some clients in the past have even become victims of fraud because they put too much trust in their adviser.

The Solution

The one thing to remember when it comes to your money and your future is to retain control. Never get to the point with your adviser that you don't know exactly what they are recommending and why. Always fully understand what you are investing in and know the risks. All investments have some form of risk.

I am not saying that you should not work with an adviser. On the contrary, I am saying that in most cases working with an adviser can be very beneficial for the both of you. You just need to remember to retain control of your future.

Not Too Cozy

You must remember that all advisers report to a boss who wants them to do well for the firm. Whether they work for a bank, a trust company, an insurance firm or other financial firm, they all report to someone. Their first obligation will have to be to their employer or else they may lose their job.

Don't get too cozy and fall for the ads you see. All they really want is your money, because the financial  services business is all about the numbers.

Stay in control of your own future and learn what you need to make the proper decisions with or without the aid of an adviser.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions for future topics.

Friday, April 13, 2012

How to Start Saving - Learn to Say No

Have you ever gone to buy something and ended up spending much more that you wanted to ?

Were you sold add on items from a persistent salesperson ?

I have, and I know many others that have as well.

The Real Truth

The simple truth is that these add on items that sales people push on their clients are very good for them. They normally pay out very high commission rates to the salesperson. Even worse, their employers rank their sales staff according to how many add on items they sell. They make their employers a lot of extra money as well.

Two items that seem to be common are extended warranties on electronic items and rust proofing on used vehicle purchases. Think about it ! Most electronic items sold today are obsolete a couple of years (or sooner) after you purchase them. Why would you pay for a warranty on something you are no longer using ? And rustproofing on a used vehicle ? Give your head a shake ! The rusting process has already begun the moment a new car is driven off the lot. What a scam !

When deciding on your purchase, just learn to say no to the extra add on items.

Take Control

The key here is to never surrender the control of your purchase to the sales person. Know exactly what you want before you enter the store. Say no to their add on items. If they keep persisting after you say no, simply walk out and take your business elsewhere.Most will, however, back off once you tell them no a couple of times.

Another approach is to ask them directly how much of a commission they make on the add on item. If they seem reluctant to tell you, then you know it's high. Beware. Above all else, always say no to the extra add on items.

Know Your Prices 

 Before you ever get close to entering the store, you should always have done your homework. You should know that the store you are entering has the absolute best price for the item you want to purchase.

If a store has the best prices consistently, it may be a sign that they are hoping to sell add on items on every purchase to boost their profits. They may even be offering what the industry calls loss leaders to attract buyers to their store in order to sell their add on items. Remember though, always say no.

Say No and Prosper

Remember, by saying no to the extra add on items you will be saving money. This extra money can be used to boost your savings. This will enable you to grow your wealth at a faster pace.

It may seem like a relatively small amount in the big picture.However, a lot of savings in small amounts will some day add up to a large amount. It is all about learning the habit of not throwing your money away on things you will never benefit from. Make sure to get good value for everything you buy.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions for future topics.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How to Get Rich - Take Money When You Can

Would you rather have money in your pocket now or wait until the future ?

Most people will say that having money now is the better option ! They will be correct.

Take Money Now

When I say to take money now instead of waiting until a future date, I am not implying that you should not be saving for your future. On the contrary, you should always be saving and investing to increase your future wealth.

What I am saying is that if you are presented with the choice of having a lump sum of cash or a steady income today as opposed to taking it at a future date at an increased rate, choose the now option.

The reason being is that you will have use of that cash or extra income starting today. You will be able to do with it whatever you want today. Who knows what the future may bring for you. Many things can change in the future especially when governments are involved.

An example of this situation is when someone is approaching retirement. If they have a pension plan, there may be many options to consider. My recommendation almost always will be to take the money now. Enjoy the money now while you have good health and are able to enjoy it.

Don't Live in Regret

Whatever decisions you make in life, never look back and say what if I did this or did that. Make your decision and live with it. Look to the future for more decisions you will have to be making. It will  be much more productive use of your time.

Make the take money now decisions and live with them. Enjoy the new found wealth and use it to increase your future wealth and quality of life. Look forward to the future and forget about the past. There is nothing behind you that is worth worrying about.

Live in Balance

To be truly wealthy and enjoy life to the fullest, we must live a balanced life. We must have enjoyment of our life today as well as plan for a more comfortable tomorrow. Saving too much for tomorrow or saving not enough for tomorrow will put your life out of balance. Enjoy your life you have today and work towards a better future.

In the future, when you have that all important choice to make, take the money now.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions for future topics.

Friday, April 6, 2012

How To Start Saving Money - Watch Your Time Clock

What is the one thing that everyone on this planet has the same to start with?

No, it's not money ! Some are born into wealth, many more are born into poverty.

The one thing that is the same is your time clock set at zero and counting.

The Most Precious Commodity

The most precious commodity that each person has is time. Time is something that can never be replaced. Once it's gone, it's gone forever.

Therefore it is imperative that we make the best use of out time we have. Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Your tomorrow may never come.

Time and Money

Much has been written about starting to save money at an early age in order to provide a comfortable retirement. But what does retirement really mean for you ?

Does it mean working all of your life until some time in your sixties, then hopefully you will be able to enjoy your life if you can afford it ? How about retiring early, say in your mid forties, while you still have your health and more time to enjoy it ?

I think I know which option most people would choose if they had the choice. But guess what, you do have the choice and you can make that choice right now !

Your Time Clock

Whether your time clock is at twenty years, thirty years, or more, now is the time you must take action to build towards the future you want to have. Start saving now and you will be much better off than if you put it off for another 5 years (for example) on your time clock.

Be the one who retires in your mid forties and welcomes a future of enjoyment and pleasure. Don't be the one who is still working in your mid sixties and regrets never starting to save earlier on their time clock.

Use The Tools

Go to the Tools page of this site and enter a comfortable savings amount for a period of say five years. Compound it once per year at say 5 percent and write down what the final number is. Now change the savings period to ten years and note the difference. Now do fifteen years and twenty years. This will demonstrate how much it will cost you to not start saving now.

Your Choice 

The choice is now yours to start saving now or waiting to some time in the future or maybe never saving at all. Whatever you choose, the choice is yours right now. You will never have this choice again because your time clock is forever counting. This chance will be gone forever.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions for future topics.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How to Create Wealth - Be a Pit Bull

Have you ever heard the term that someone is acting like a dog with a bone ? Or have you ever seen a pit bull let go of anything without a fight ?

Well, we could all be a little bit more like that pit bull or a dog with a bone in general.

What Does That Mean

What I am trying to say is that whatever may be standing in your way to achieving a goal find a way around it, through it, over it or under it. Don't let it get in the way of where you want to be.

All challenging obstacles can be overcome if you are determined enough to find a way. If at first you don't succeed, try and try and try and try and try again. I think you get the point . Never give up.

You must focus on what you want to achieve and chew on it (like the bone) until you have achieved the results you want.

Avoid Distractions

Do not let someone, including yourself, distract you from your desired goal. Do not settle on a lesser goal just because it is easier to achieve. If you do, you will never be sure if your original goal was obtainable, because you simply gave up on it.

Focus on your desired goals and never give up. You may find that you become very creative and develop new methods to achieve the results you want.

The Worst Thing You Can Do 

The very worst thing that you can ever do is give up on your dreams and goals. Your dreams are what define you and your goals are what make you. Never give up on yourself because you are worth every ounce of blood sweat and tears you will need to shed to achieve your goals. Don't let all that effort go to waste.

Be A Pit Bull

Imagine yourself to be like a pit bull, grasping something in your vice like  jaws. You will never let go of it until you have used up every ounce of your body's energy. Even then, you will still find a way to hang on.

No matter where someone tries to pull you , hang onto your goals and never let go. It will truly lead you to the path of greatness.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions for future topics.