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10 Reasons Why You Are in Debt

10 Reasons Why You Are in Debt

If you are young, just out of college, starting a business, or starting a family, chances are that money is tight. Education costs dollars, as do building a business and creating opportunities for your children. Managing money is not always simply about noting how much money is coming in and what expenses you have. Money management is about your relationship to saving and spending and your attitude toward sharing your resources with others. Do you love giving to others? Do you share what you have or does it feel easier or safer to hold back, perhaps from a fear that giving means there is less for you? Here are some reasons for why you are in debt, along with some ideas and tips on how you can improve your relationship with the dollars, pounds, or euros in your wallet.

1. You haven’t realized that saving money is about creating new attitudes and emotional habits

Saving money is about creating new habits and attitudes. In reality, it has very little to do with the actual amount of money you have in your bank account. You can put aside money each month, but if you constantly overspend, you will end up borrowing from yourself and saving nothing. Rather than seeing money as a value in itself, consider what it gets you in relation to your goals and plans. Create an attitude that everything in your life is about moving towards your goals. The wealthiest entrepreneurs view money not as something scarce that must be guarded at all times, but as a tool or asset to help them invest in their goals and dreams.

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2. You haven’t worked out what is really important to you and what you value

Money is a resource. Resources can be wasted, misused, or directed to create even more wealth. What do you value? At the end of your life, what would you like to be remembered for? Working out what your values are will help you work out how to spend your money. If you love a hobby, then investing money in that makes perfect sense. How do you know what you value? Exercises such as writing a personal mission statement can be very valuable. Money is a resource like any other — move its focus to create the life you want to have.

3. You haven’t set up an easy-to-use budgeting system

Do you know right now if you are in credit or in debt? Imagine that you see a pair of shoes or a new tablet that you don’t need but would love to have. Would you know if you have enough money in the bank to cover the cost? Create an easy-to-use budget tool. There are some online, and often a notepad and pen works well too. Credit cards do have to be paid off and you will need to plan how much a month you can afford to contribute to paying these off. Debts don’t magically resolve themselves, so get to know your spending habits and ask yourself if you can afford all these items you want but might not necessarily need.

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4. You buy when you could just borrow or rent

You want to dig up a plant, so why buy a spade if you can borrow one from a kindhearted neighbor? If you need a big saucepan for a dinner party, why buy when you can borrow from a friend? We love to justify purchases by saying that the item will come in handy in the future. Yet, how many times do you really use it later? If you love a movie, don’t buy it, borrow it — the same goes with books. Think of all the things you own and have used only once or twice. Borrow or rent rather than buy.

5. You fall for those too-good-to-be-true, get-rich-quick ideas

Sorry to say, but it’s really true that success is normally 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Not everyone wins the lottery, so don’t assume it will be you. Use your time to create value that will last and give you pride and lasting returns on your efforts. Building a business or working up the career ladder takes time and effort, but the rewards will come. Get-rich-quick schemes work well for the people who create them when they convince you to part with your cash to buy into the dreams they are selling, but real wealth creation is a slow process.

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6. You have money-sucking (and life-sucking) habits

Where do you actually spend your money? What activities do you do regularly which cost money and return transitory pleasure? Most things are okay in moderation, but when you are spending money on smoking, gambling, drinking, or other bad habits, it’s time to think about changing those habits. Why do we spend our time and money on these activities? The simple answer is normally that addictive habits help us to avoid our feelings. If you are fed up with work, then a few drinks in the evening helps you forget that annoyance. If you are feeling bored, then some chocolate or cake can relieve that frustration a little. Gambling is an addiction which itself involves money directly. Though many gambling sites acknowledge that gambling is addictive and have put policies in place to help problematic gamblers, it is generally not in their interests to actively stop you from gambling. For any addiction, you should seek appropriate help.

7. You use credit to buy items you don’t have the cash for right now

It’s simple: if you cannot afford to pay in cash right now, don’t put it on your credit card. For necessary purchases such as repairs to your car or paying tuition or other costs, work out a payment and saving plan so you can see how much you need to save or can afford to pay each month. Don’t allow yourself to get into debt that you can’t get out of. Also, don’t borrow money from a bank unless you really need to. Banks will charge interest and often want to encourage you to take out loans.

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8. You pay retail prices on everything you buy

There are sales every six months and often you can find stores selling very good clothing or other items at discounted prices. An online search will direct you to goods with price cuts too. Many charity shops have started selling “seconds,” or clothing from last season. These garments are perfectly fine but since they are now no longer the most up-to-date line, they can be purchased at a reduced rate. The same is true of cars. Buy a brand new car and pay a higher price. As soon as it is driven off the showroom forecourt, a car is automatically significantly cheaper than a brand new one with very little difference in performance or condition.

9. You pay extra for labels or brands as status symbols

Consider two identical white men’s shirts. One is plain and one has that small blue polo player woven on it. Both are made the exact same way and in the same factory, but which is more expensive? The fashion industry makes a large chunk of money from our desire to be seen wearing a particular brand. Remember that you are lovable and wonderful as you are, without the need to have a name or label to confirm that. Think about purpose rather than about what others will think of you. Dazzle people with your wit and charm instead. Also, store brands are nearly always cheaper than national brands.

10. You think too much about today and not about tomorrow

We love advice like “Live life for today” or “Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today.” Of course, have as many experiences as life affords you. However, the money you have now can be set aside or invested so that in the future you will have a financial cushion. We also need to save for retirement and it is estimated that most of us are simply not putting aside enough for our futures. We are now living longer, and so the years post-retirement are increasing too. Think about what your money can create for you long term rather than the immediate gratification it can get you in the present. Think about your long term life goals and save now, whilst you have the opportunity.

Featured photo credit: picjumbo.com via picjumbo.com

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Published on May 7, 2019

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

When it comes to stocks, I bet you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

Everyone who’s not a financial expert has been there. I’ve been there. But, time is passing and you need to be crystal clear with how you’re investing for your retirement.

Otherwise, it’s back to work until you can afford not to. So, how can you invest for retirement when you’re not a financial expert?

You take the time to learn the fundamentals well. If you do, you can grow your wealth and retire happy. The best part is that you don’t need to be a financial expert to make smart investment decisions.

Here’s how to invest for retirement the smart and stress-free way:

1. Know Clearly Why You Invest

Odds are you already know why should invest for retirement.

But, maybe you know the wrong reasons. It’s time you get clear on why you’d like to retire. Here are some questions to help you get started:

  • Will you spend more time with your family?
  • What does retirement mean to you?
  • Are you looking to launch that business you’ve been holding off for years?

Everyone wants to retire but not for the same reasons. Once you’re clear for why retirement is important for you, you’ll focus on making it happen.

Investing in the stock market allows you to take advantage of compound interest.[1] All this means is that your money earns money on top of its interest. A reason why investment in the stock market is one of the best ways to plan for retirement.

2. Figure out When to Invest

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”– Chinese Proverb

It’s true if you’d had started investing when you were 10 years old, you’d have a lot more money than you do today.

The reality is that most people don’t start investing until it’s too late. So, if you’re currently waiting for the perfect time to start an investment, it would be today. Open your calendar and block out 2 to 3 hours to choose how you’ll invest for retirement.

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A quick way to get a snapshot of where you stand is to use Personal Capital. Input all your personal information and spend some time setting your retirement goals. Once completed, you’ll know where you stand with your retirement.

Having a savings account for retirement isn’t planning for retirement. Why? Your money loses value when you factor in US inflation.[2]

3. Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance to Create the Perfect Portfolio

Investing your money well depends on your emotions.

Why?

Because when the market drops most people panic and withdraw their money. On average, the US stock market yields an annual 6% to 7% ROI (return on your investment.) But, this won’t happen if you’re worried about short-term loses.

Before you invest your next dollar, know your risk tolerance.[3] Your risk tolerance determines the number of risky and safe investments you’d have.

Regardless of your investing style, you need to view investing for retirement as a long term game. Know that some years you’ll lose money but recoup this in the long-term.

Avoid watching market-related new. Also, create a double authentication to log in your investment account. This way you’re less likely to withdraw your money.

4. Open a Reliable Retirement Account

Depending on your circumstance, you may need to open a new brokerage account. This is the account is where you’ll invest your money.

If you’re currently working for a company, odds are that they offer a 410K investing account. If so, here’s where you’ll invest most of your money. The only problem with this is that you’re limited to the stock options that are available.

You do have the option to open a separate IRA (individual retirement account.) Here are some of the best brokers:

  1. Vanguard
  2. TD Ameritrade
  3. Charles Schwab

5. Challenge Yourself to Invest Consistently

Committing to invest for retirement is hard, but continuing to do so is harder.

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Once you’ve started investment for your retirement, you run at risk from stopping. Often you’ll want to contribute less, so you’d have more money in your pocket.

That’s why it’s important that you create a budget that allows you to invest each month. If you’re working for a company, you can set a percentage for the amount you’d like to contribute each month. Most people by default contribute 1% but aim to contribute 10% to 15%.

Be the judge for how much you can afford to contribute after covering important expenses. To stay motivated, use Personal Capital to view your net worth.

A benefit to contributing money to your retirement account is not taxed. For example, if you earn $100 and invest 10%, you’d contribute $10, then get taxed on the remaining $90. As of 2019, the most you’re able to contribute towards your 401K is 19K but this can change.

6. Consider Where to Invest Your Money

The most common way to invest your money is in stocks, but it’s not the only way. Here are other ways to invest:

Robo Advisors

Robo-advisors[4] are fancy algorithms that’ll choose the best investments for you. Sites like Wealthfront make it easy for first-time investors to invest their money. You’d input information about yourself and set your risk tolerance.

Then, set your monthly contribution amount and your robo-advisor would do the rest. Robo-advisors charge a fee to manage your money, but less than regular advisors.

Bonds

Think of bonds as “IOUs” to whomever you buy them from.

Essentially, you’re lending money and charging interest. Like stocks, not all bonds are equal. Some will be riskier than others depending on their rating.

Here are the different types of bond categories:[5]

  1. Treasury bonds
  2. Government bonds
  3. Corporate bonds
  4. Foreign bonds
  5. Mortgage-backed bonds
  6. Municipal bonds

Mutual Funds

Picture a group of people dumping all their money in a jar that’s managed by a professional. This is how mutual funds work. The fund manager manages the money looking to earn capital gains (interest.)

One of the best types of mutual funds is index funds. Since these funds don’t try to beat the market and instead follow it, they need less research. Because of this they often charge the lowest fees and yield the best long-term results.

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Real Estate

Yes, buying a home is an investment when done correctly.

Imagine buying a home and using it as a rental property. After repairing it, you receive a monthly surplus check of $100 to $200.

This may not sound like a lot, but repeat this process enough times and you’d earn a large amount of passive income. That’s why real estate is one of the best investments to not only retire but become wealthy.

But, it requires a lot of money to start and you should expect losing money along the way as you learn the process.

Savings Accounts

Your money can still grow in a savings account. Nowadays most online banks offer a 2% annual return. Although the average inflation is higher your money will be available when you need it.

7. Master Disincline to Dodge Short Success

Investing for retirement is a long-term strategy. That’s why you need to master delayed gratification. All this means is delaying short-term pleasure for something bigger in the future. Research shows that those who have delayed gratification are more successful.[6]

So how can you master delayed gratification?

By building your discipline.

Think back to what retirement means to you. A clear purpose will help you avoid withdrawing your money during a market downturn. It’ll help you contribute more towards retirement when you’d want to waste it instead.

Your journey towards retirement will be long, so reward yourself along the way. Choose a reward that’s relevant and meaningful, so that you reinforce positive behavior. For example, after contributing more towards retirement, treat yourself to dinner.

8. Aggressively Invest on This One Investment

I’ve mentioned several types of investments but haven’t covered the most important one.

It sounds cliche but here’s why you’re your best investment towards retirement. The more you know, the more money you’ll be able to make. The more good habits you adopt, the more secure your retirement will be.

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More importantly, investing in yourself is an investment that no one can take away. There’s no market downturn nor tragic circumstance that’ll wipe your knowledge and experience.

But, how can you invest yourself?

Reading books, blogs, and anything that’ll help you learn new topics daily. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your commute to/from work.

Save money to buy courses and hire coaches. I used to believe hiring coaches was a waste of money when I could learn the subject alone.

But, coaches see your blind spots and hold you accountable. Hiring the right coach will help you achieve your goals faster than you would’ve alone.

Retire Happy with Excess Money

The key to a secure financial future doesn’t only belong to financial experts.

It’s possible for you and I. What if you were able to retire earlier than most people and weren’t a financial planner? What if you were able to focus on what you enjoy doing the most while your money was working hard for you?

I know this sounds impossible now, but the truth is you’re capable of taking charge of your retirement. I’m not a financial expert but I’ve learned how to invest my money by reading books and learning from others.

Investing your money is scary. So start small and invest a small amount of your money with a robo-advisor. Feel your money drop and rise for a month or two. Then, invest more and keep this up until you’re aggressively saving for retirement.

One day, you’ll wake up with a net worth you’re proud of – confident about your retirement. You now know a few strategies you can use to invest in your retirement. Will you take action to retire happy?

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Featured photo credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash.com

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