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The 5 Pillars of Financial Health

The 5 Pillars of Financial Health

Getting on your feet financially isn’t rocket science. It’s simple, but it requires a proactive and persevering mindset. Here are five principles that apply to every person on the planet when it comes to their financial health. I call it the BISEED and you’ll see why.

1. Budget

The first step to taking charge of your finances is understanding where your money is coming from and where it’s going. Once you’ve painted this financial landscape of your situation, you’ll be ready to strategically move forward, get out of debt, and go further. The second step of budgeting, has to do with deciding what’s a priority, how you can spend less on expenses, and then plan and project your short and mid-term financial situation. There’s nothing new here. But then again, most people get budgeting right and then just stop. That’s a financially fatal mistake!

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2. Invest

Your budget may not look great. Money-sucking-black-holes (personal loans!), high mortgages and lots of unexpected expenses makes you wonder, “How in the world am I ever going to get out of this!?” Glad you asked: make your money work for you. This is also how you break free from the mentality that money buys you things. Money’s power isn’t in how much it can buy—and really, it can never buy the most important things of life; love, joy and health—but money’s power rests in it’s ability to be multiplied. That’s what investing is: money multiplying.

How do you invest then? You first invest by giving because that breaks the powerful hold of money on you. And then, wherever you are, whatever the economic situation and whatever your budget—invest in any of the millions of ways you can.

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Now, most people just jump in the water without knowing how to swim. Why traumatize yourself? Before you invest, spend time—days, weeks, even months—learning about investing and exploring opportunities that come your way.

3. Save

But never for the long term! Saving cash in an account will always generate a loss—we’re talking years here. But saving is an excellent strategy, not to build wealth, but to reach specific, short and mid-term goals. Saving is also good to smooth out the rough edges of your monthly and yearly budgeting cycle, as life happens and that means many unexpected expenses arise.

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4. Entrepreneurial Endeavors (EEs)

A huge lie many people swallow is the belief that they’re not cut out to start or run a business. They come up with all sorts of excuses to convince themselves this, but the truth is, it’s all about what you are willing to do and learn. Being an entrepreneur is different from being an investor, because you are doing the work that you love, preferably, to earn money. Many times people jump into EEs because they have no other choice, but why wait till the pressure builds like that? (Speaking of which, I highly recommend the great movie Joy!) And why deny yourself the personal rewards of running a business? There are a virtually infinite number of ways you can start engaging in EEs. Whether you start something on the side or even grow further to the point where you quit your day job, dream big, and enjoy the journey!

5. Debt

Debt is last because if you focus on debt, it’s bound to bring you down, down, down. So before you drown, face your dragons head on. Debt is just a number, it’s not who you are. Speaking of dragons, why are you in debt? Because you spend more than you earn. So, the answer is easy, right? Spend less! Not really. Go out there and invest and make business. You’re most powerful weapon is your mind, so exercise and nurture it to grow financially. That said, the real way to get out of debt is to both increase your income (investing and EE’s or even getting a better job) AND spending less.

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BISEED. Buy Seed. That’s what money is. It’s a seed, and like the seeds you sow, when handled correctly, money will multiply.

Here’s to your bright financial future! Cheers.

Featured photo credit: Dogancan Ozturan via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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