4 Basic Steps to Growing Rich

This is one of the first articles I’ve written on personal finance. The basic steps to growing rich are the same no matter what your background, career, or experiences. Spend less than you make and make your money work for you. This article is the basis of what you need to do to make this happen.

Make a plan

If you’re like most people, you need a plan or structure to be efficient. Some people have that magic ability to shoot from the hip and everything goes swimmingly, but most people will just spin their wheels in a million different directions and never reach their destination. You know yourself better than anyone, so you know your abilities, wants, needs, capabilities, etc. You can tailor your own plan to best suit those characteristics. Read this article then take the time to make out a plan of attack. Start small with steps you know you can achieve. Then work up from there. Once you see that you are making progress, it’s easier to step up your game. Everyone who reads this will be at different points in their path to wealth, but we are all on that path and can all do things to improve our chances. Maybe your first step is cutting back a couple of Premium coffees a week, maybe it’s not buying the newest sports car at sticker price, maybe it’s opening that first investment account. As you become more and more educated, you’ll see what decisions you need to make that best suit you.

Spend less than you earn

The American Median Income is approximately $45,000. I know some of you are wishing they had that much income and others are well above this number. The bottom line is we can all manage our spending a little better than we are doing currently. This is the first step for growing rich. Americans are notorious for “living on credit” i.e. spending more money on stuff than they can afford based on their income. If you want to become financially independent you need to learn to enforce your own spending barriers. No one ever got rich by buying the newest coolest thing they couldn’t afford every time someone would offer them a line of credit. The bottom line from this is that if you can’t save the money and pay cash for something, you should attempt to do without it. If you are one of those people who love high end things, but doesn’t have the budget to afford it, try buying used items.

Now that we’ve addressed the issue of living within our means, let’s look at the things we can afford but don’t necessarily need. Everyone has their little guilty pleasures, but have you taken a look at what those guilty pleasures are costing you? Look at the things you buy every day, breakfast on the run, a coffee, a newspaper, lunch out, etc. These things may seem small, but even $3 a day is approximately $100 a month. If you were to invest that at a measly 5%, in 20 years you’d have nearly $50,000! That’s just a small example of what we’ll discuss later in this article.

Get out of debt

There are all sorts of opinions out there and different trains of thought. Good debt vs. bad debt, investing at a higher interest rate than your debts, etc. However, I like clear cut, simple ideas that work. A mortgage isn’t extremely relevant to this portion of the article because it’s a large expense that most people reading this wouldn’t be able to pay off, and it’s comparable to rent which is generally a necessity. If you are one of the lucky ones who have neither a rent or a mortgage, good for you! That’s a large chunk of money that you can apply elsewhere in your path to growing rich!

For the rest of us, once you’ve freed up a bit of money from your income, the first thing you should do is build an emergency fund. A good starting point is one month’s budget needs.  Then make a list of all your debts and the payments from lowest to highest. Start with the smallest one and focus any excess cash on eliminating it. Establish a consistent payment higher than the minimum allowed. Once it’s paid off completely, roll that full amount of payment over to the next smallest loan. And so on and so on. As you roll the extra money over to each new loan or credit card, they will go down faster and faster. For more information on this, reference the Dave Ramsey Snowball System. One note to make here is once you get your credit card paid off, DO NOT cancel it. Credit card history and available credit are very helpful in building your credit score. A good credit score can save you TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars over the life of a mortgage.

Make your money work for you

Investing

Investing is the single most important step for growing rich. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying investing in the stock market is the only way to get rich, I’m saying the overlying concept of investing. You can invest in yourself, in small business, in real estate, in the stock market, in all sorts of things, but if you can’t make your money work for you most people will never be able to save enough to be wealthy.

Compound interest is a beautiful thing. I want you to take a look at a compound interest calculator here. Play around with it. Put in some realistic numbers for you at this point in your life. Can you afford to invest $50 a month? Can you do $500 a month? Look at the difference between the 20 years I mentioned at the beginning of this article and 30 years! The thing about compound interest is that it increases exponentially. For most people who aren’t finance oriented, investing is a scary concept. And it can go wrong, especially if you don’t diversify. However, in recent years there has been the emergence of an investment vehicle for the not so savvy investor…. the “life cycle fund”

 

Life Cycle Funds

Where to invest? How to invest? Bonds? Stocks? CDs? Mutual funds? All these questions are overpowering for the person trying to get their toes wet. So overpowering in fact, most people never make the plunge. In the past decade though Life Cycle Funds have pushed their way into the market. These are funds designed to offer investors higher risk, higher returns when they have time to recover, then closer to retirement they become lower risk and more solid. They came into play after the recent collapse of the market where some people approaching retirement lost over half their savings right before retirement. That’s a tough recovery to make when you think you’re going to retire with a million to live on and then almost overnight it’s less than half of that.

Life Cycle Funds are gaining more and more popularity and are offered by most large investment brokers. There are different ways to invest in these funds. Retirement accounts(IRAs, ROTH IRAs, TSP, etc) or just a regular brokerage account. Retirement accounts offer tax advantages, where regular brokerage accounts are taxed on any realized gains(so your profits are taxed if you sell the fund). Life Cycle Funds start off with a larger portion in stocks(more risky, higher potential returns) and smaller portion of bonds(more stable, less risky, smaller potential returns) and that ratio begins to flip flop as the stock reaches the year of retirement. They are meant to be a no brainer, management free fund for the investor. Take a look at them and get your feet wet. Start small and as you learn more and develop more confidence, you can step up your game. LET’S GROW RICH TOGETHER!

This article was written by Val Dufour and is able to be distributed by any means requested as long as this signature block is in place. www.vetinvest.com 

If you don’t invest in your education, don’t expect results

There is a quote along the lines of “if you want to know the size of a man’s bank account look at the size of his library.” Another quote says “rich people have big libraries; poor people have big TV’s.” I don’t know who said these, but they are absolutely correct. 

Quite often, I meet new investors who tell me that they are not going to purchase any courses or buy any products until they get their first deal and have some money (I don’t even say anything to the people who are stupid enough to make a comment like this. They are just a waste of time, because they will never get it) 

Many of you know that when I first started in this business I was “duped” like many others and lost several thousand dollars. Of course I was royally ticked off, but I just kept going and investing in my education. That is one of the main reasons that I became successful. It is such common sense, but so many people don’t seem to understand. 

People don’t want to pay $997 for a course, even though the information in that course could help them buy one more house a year with an average profit of $30,000. Or, people forget that getting a mentor will save you from making tens of thousands of dollars in mistakes–they would rather lose $25,000 on a rehab gone bad, than spend a couple thousand to learn this business the right way. 

At a recent networking event, I was talking to an individual that heard me mention that I still invest thousands of dollars a year in my education. This person said “Jason if you are so successful then why do you need to spend all of that money, don’t you already know everything?” (another example of a small minded person). Successful people practice the principal of the “slight edge”. If I can get one good nugget of information that can help me buy more houses, or fill vacancies quicker, then it is worth thousands of dollars over the years to me. I am always looking for the edge over my competition and this is why I will never stop learning. 

So for those of you who are cheap (and who are less likely to be successful) go to the library and start reading all of the real estate books they have. Then begin to network like crazy. For those of you who have “guts”, put that boot camp or next course on your credit card (education stuff only, no flat screens) and then quickly do a deal from your education and pay off the credit card. 

Unfortunately, I know I am falling on deaf ears. The successful people completely understand what I am talking about and will never stop learning. The unsuccessful people claim that real estate investing is impossible yet they have never invested in learning how to do this business properly. 

So for the successful folks (cheap people stop reading here), I recommend doing the following: 

1. Read at least one book a month on success, selling, time management or real estate investing. 
2. Attend at least one boot camp a year (not only will this make you money, it will help keep you motivated) 
3. Never stop networking. You need to hang around successful and like minded people. 
4. Instead of watching TV or listening to the radio, read a book and listen to educational CD’s in your car. 
5. Instead of getting the usual junk for the holidays or birthdays get educational materials.
6. Stop hanging around negative people, no matter who they are. 
7. Listen to teleseminars, read ezines, read blogs 
8. Get a mentor. In fact, over your lifetime you will want to have several mentors 

And for you cheap people, how come you don’t want to be successful? 

Jason R. Hanson is the founder of National Real Estate Investor Month, author of “How to Build a Real Estate Empire” and mentor to students all across America. For more information on Jason’s one-on-one mentoring program with 110% money back guarantee, call 800-865-1702 or visit http://www.PrimoCoach.com .

5 Things You Should Know Before Buying Your First Home

A few years ago, a home buyer could almost buy the first home they looked at and be assured that it would be worth more when it came time to sell. In today’s real estate market, you have to be a more savvy buyer, you need to be more selective in what you buy, and where. In short, you need to know more now before you jump into a purchase. 

Here are five things you need to know, and do, before you purchase your first, or next, home. 

1) Know your Options for Financing 

Bad financing has burned many a buyer in the last couple of years. Your Realtor can refer you to a number of reputable home loan professionals in the area, home loan companies that have been around for a long time and will be here for years to come. 
If you have a loan representative help you determine how much you can afford, it will save you a lot of frustration and wasted time. There are dozens of loan programs available. Discuss your needs and objectives with your loan professional. Review the loans and rates available in your area, and based on your income and existing debt, determine how much you can afford. 

You need to make an informed decision about which loan is right for you today, and in the long term. Things to consider include: First Time Buyers programs, Government backed loan programs, Down Payment options, Locking in the Interest Rate, length of escrow, and direct payment options. 

2) Understand What A Buyers Agent Does 

The buyers agent works for you, and represents your best interests. Your agent should provide you with a Buyers Representation Agreement, which clearly outlines what the agent will do and how you will be represented. In most cases the representation of the buyers agent will not require payment from you, as the buyers agent is paid out of the commission charged to the seller of the house that you buy. 

3) Know What Affects the Value of Homes 

Real Estate is a major investment. Things change, neighborhoods change. People move more frequently today than they have in the past. You have surely heard it before, but the most important thing affecting the value of a home is LOCATION! Some other things to consider include: 

Is the neighborhood being kept up or is it slipping? 
How is the home in relation to others in the area? Is the home the smallest home in a neighborhood of big homes, or the most expensive home in a neighborhood of cheaper homes? 
How might things change in the future? Those open lots behind your home, are they zoned to become a park, a school, a convenience store, or more homes? 
How has the area appreciated? What is the future potential? 
Are there any environmental issues with the ground water? 
Any history of flooding? 

These are the kind of questions you need answered before signing on the dotted line. Which leads us to……. 

4) Have a Professional Home Inspection 

Sometimes called a “Whole House Inspection”, it can be written into your offer on the home that the offer price is based on the successful results of the home inspection. If the inspector finds a defect, the owner will have to fix it, or you can negotiate a modification to the price. If you can’t work it out with the seller, you do not have to proceed with the transaction. By having a professional “Whole House Inspection” you might save yourself thousands of dollars and many hours of frustration from future problems with the house. There are also available home warranties that a buyer can purchase. These cover the appliances in the home and other items for the first year after you buy the home. This allows you to relax knowing that if anything goes wrong with the house after you move in, it will be taken care of. Ask your Realtor for details. 

5) Know How the Purchase Will Affect Your Taxes and your Household Budget 

There are many tax benefits to owning a home including deduction of mortgage interest and loan points in certain instances. Check with your tax adviser or accountant to make sure you understand them. You need to know the effects on your taxes and budget before you buy the home to prevent surprises later on. The tax laws change frequently, so get the latest updates. And how will your new monthly mortgage payment impact your overall household budget. You may have to adjust your spending habits in order to adapt. 

Don’t go into the home purchase without being armed with the facts. It could cost you thousands of dollars! 

Vicki Walker is a Coldwell Banker Realtor, working with buyers and sellers of Davis California Real Estate. She has over 20 years of Residential and Commercial Real Estate experience.http://www.davishomes2sell.com/selling.php.

Are you wasting your home equity? 

The “American Dream” is and has been to own your home free and clear without any mortgage payment.

If this dream is still valid today, how can it be explained that thousands of financially successful Americans, who have the funds to pay off their mortgage, choose not to. The American Dream has been passed down to us by our parents and grandparents alike. Many Americans fear a home mortgage, particularly when they are at retirement age. This way of thinking is very outdated, although valid back in the 1930’s. During the great depression, banks were legally able to call a mortgage loan due in order to receive a much needed cash infusion. The stock market had lost over 75% of its value, un-employment was at an all-time high, and real estate values were falling dramatically. Many homeowners lost their homes because they did not have the funds to pay off their mortgage and they could not sell the home because there were no buyers at the time. Due to this horrific situation, a new way of thinking was born. “You should own your home and never carry a mortgage”. This way, if the economy dropped suddenly and you lost your job, you would at least have a roof over your head. Since then, laws have been past that make it illegal for banks to call your mortgage loan due. 

Today, it is no longer the case that we will live in our homes for 30 years and keep the same mortgage for 30 years until it is paid in full like our grandparents did. Today, the average person lives in their home for only seven years and according to the Federal National Mortgage Association, the average American mortgage lasts for only 4.2 years. People are moving to larger homes in better areas as well as refinancing for a better rate or to pull equity for home improvements and other expenses. These statistics show that it makes little financial sense to pay down your mortgage by applying additional principle payments and to have large amounts of equity in your home. 

Ask yourself these two questions: What rate of return do you receive on the equity sitting in your home? Would you burry $100,000 cash in your backyard? The answer to the first question is 0 or nothing! For question two, most people would answer NO, however, a vast majority of home owners across the US are basically doing just that by leaving the equity in their homes. 

Rather then allow your cash to remain dormant, pull that equity out and utilize it in any number of great investments. One option is real estate. You receive tax benefits such as depreciation, cash flow and property appreciation. Another option would allow you to invest those funds as a private mortgage loan secured by real estate and earn double digit returns on your money collateralized with real estate. Both of these options make you money! Isn’t that much better then having the equity sitting in the walls of your home making you nothing? 

Even if you were to pull $100,000 of equity from your home in the form of a Home Equity Line at an interest rate of 7% ($7,000 annual cost) and placed those funds in a safe interest producing asset which produced a return of 7% ($7,000 annual gain), would you be exactly even at this point? The answer is NO! The interest you pay on your equity line is tax deductible (mortgage interest is 100% tax deductible in most circumstances) therefore, the true cost of the 7% loan is actually only 4.55% (assuming a 35% tax bracket). It is not difficult at all these days to find an investment vehicle which produces a 7% return. 

Another problem with all that equity sitting in your home is that if sued you risk losing it. You want to look cash poor when an attorney looks at your assets. If liens show up against your homes and it appears you have very little or no equity then it may keep you away from a lawsuit. Most attorneys won’t work for free. If they can’t find a way to get paid through your assets then they won’t file the lawsuit. 

In closing and most importantly, it is a very wise decision to separate the equity from your home to prevent losing it. If you have an equity position in your home and the home values in your area decline, you will lose that equity. If you separate it from the home, via an equity loan for example, you secure the equity by converting it to cash which then may be used for safe & conservative investments. According to a recent study, 67% of Americans hold the majority of their net worth in personal home equity. If we were ever taught to diversify our investments, this statistic shows a failure to practice that advice.

Will Barnard – Managing Partner – Nationwide Property Investments, LLC – Jan. 08′.

Earn an extra $12,000 on deployment?!

So, you’re a single service member who owns their own home or condo? Or maybe you have a family but you have a second property? This post won’t be for everyone, but if you decide it’s for you, it could save/earn you a decent sum of money over the course of a deployment. Having a rental property isn’t as stressful as it sounds.

So you have a mortgage while you’re gone? That’s effectively lowering you net income on deployment. Depending on what type of property you have, it could be a substantial amount. This article is going to discuss renting your property out for a deployment and basically putting that money back into your pocket. Let’s say you have a $100,000 property which is costing you $650 a month. If you’re deployment is 1 year, that’s $7,800! Depending on the rental market in your area, you might be able to rent it for the same price as your mortgage or even higher! Depending where you live, a 3 bed/2 bath property could easily rent for $1000 a month, putting that money right back into your pocket. It can’t be that simple, right? Yes and no.

There are some considerations. The biggest being how to pull it off. What do you do with your furniture? How do you find renters? Who will collect the checks? Fix problems? Etc. It can be pretty intimidating. The furniture thing could be a big hassle. If you love your furniture and don’t want anyone else using it, you might want to put in in storage. Or if you don’t care that much you could advertise as a furnished unit, but there could be damage so be careful. Then there is the process of finding renters and all the logistics. Luckily there are people out there who want to do all that work for you. Property management companies specialize in screening renters, enforcing a lease, collecting rents, and repairing problems. Generally you can expect an upfront payment that will go into an escrow account(approx half a months rent), and then they collect 10% a month of the rent for their services. There are other fees involved, but that’s a good rule of thumb.

There are also tax considerations. The money you earn is considered taxable income so keep that in mind. You won’t be taxed on it up front, but you will have to pay Uncle Sam on tax day. But what’s better to you, $12,000 that you pay income taxes on? Or having a home that you’re paying for without using? The decision as always is yours to make, but I just wanted to point out a possibility you may not have considered before because you didn’t realize how easy it is. Hope it helped.

This article was written by Val Dufour and is able to be distributed by any means requested as long as this signature block is in place. www.vetinvest.com 

Here Are The Top 5 Insider Secrets For Credit Repair. 

1. Myth: To get an inaccurate item corrected, you have to personally dispute it with the credit bureaus and allow them 30 days to verify the accuracy of the information before they will correct or remove the item. 

While this is certainly the lease expensive method (it’s free if you do it online), it is also the most frustrating and time intensive. If you are looking to make a major purchase of a home or a car, or refinance them, there is a better way. Mortgage lenders and car dealerships have direct access to the credit bureaus through their credit report provider. Credit reports can be updated in as little as two hours utilizing a little known vehicle called a “Rapid Re-Score”. This service costs $25 per trade line per credit bureau. So, if an item is reporting incorrectly on all three bureaus, it will cost $75 to correct that account. All that is required is documentation from the lender with a contact name and number indicating the correct information. Upon submission, the information is verified, the credit report is updated and a new credit score is generated. Standard turn times run 48-96 hours but as previously indicated, it can happen in as little as two hours. 

2. Myth: If I pay my credit cards off every month my credit report will show the cards with a zero balance and my credit score will be as high as it can be. 

If you utilize credit cards every month and pay them off on your due date, your credit report will NEVER show a zero balance on these cards and your score will be negatively affected due to the ratio of utilization versus credit limit. 
Why is this? Because the credit card companies report balances owed on the date they generate your monthly statement. So, to “beat the system” you have to change the date you make your monthly payment to precede the statement date. In other words, if your statement is generated on the 15th of the month and your due date is the 25th of the month, every month you will need to go online around the 12th, get your balance and pay it to allow for time to process and register with the credit card company’s internal accounting system. Then, on the 15th when your statement is generated, your statement will show that you owe nothing and the credit card company will report your account with a zero balance owed. 

3. Myth: You cannot get legitimate derogatory items removed. 

There are a variety of ways to get legitimate derogatory items removed ranging from negotiating with the lender to simply disputing the item every month until they get tired of wasting the time and resources to verify it and remove it. 

4. Myth: If you have bad credit a bank won’t give you a loan. 

To rebuild credit, you can go to a bank and buy a Certificate of Deposit (CD). The bank will then allow you to borrow against the CD and make monthly payments. For example, you buy a $2500 CD. You then simultaneously get a loan from the bank with the CD as collateral for $2500. Your out of pocket is zero, but now you have a legitimate bank loan that will report to the credit bureaus. The obvious negative here is that you will pay interest on the loan that is higher than the return on the CD, but when your credit is in need of restoration and rebuilding, you have to “buy” it back. 

5. Myth: Closing credit card accounts will help my credit score. 

The credit bureaus actually run a ratio of utilization to maximum limit of revolving accounts (credit cards) and this percentage is utilized as a component of your credit score. Always leave credit card accounts open even if you don’t use them. Closing them lowers your available credit and negatively impacts your credit score.

Vincent Polisi, President The Wealth Consortium & Finance The Dreamhttp://www.thewealthconsortium.com http://www.financethedream.com[email protected]

The author has permitted the reprinting and redistribution of this article.
See our Terms of Use for more information on reproducing it.

3 Jobs to Get Right Out of College

Military.com| by Raleigh Duttweiler

 
 
 
A recent graduate holds a degree and smiles.

Getting a job right out of college is no easy feat — even for your civilian friends. For military spouses, the already complicated conundrum changes: You don’t just need a job, you need a job near a base (so probably not in America’s hotbeds of employment).

And you need a job that will add enough meat to your résumé in the next three years or less that you can actually leverage whatever work experience you have gained into a new and hopefully better job by your next PCS move.

For military spouses, having a degree but little experience is not a unique problem, but it does require unique solutions.

Many of the most-recommended “jobs straight out of college” don’t apply to you. Huge investment banks are not located right by the back gate. And because licensing can require some foresight, becoming a teacher is not necessarily an easy solve, either.

But we have done the research and have found three jobs you can get actually straight our of school — even at a military base.

1. Bank Teller.

While being a bank teller is not a starter job you would automatically think of, it is a great job straight out of college. There are plenty of banks near your base, wherever you are, and some front desk experience is a great thing to add to your résumé.

 

Don’t forget to look at USAA’s job openings first — it likes to hire military spouses. It was also just named the nation’s top Military Friendly Employer®, according to Victory Media. This is the second consecutive year USAA has claimed the No. 1 spot.

 

What you can expect to earn: About $22,500 annually.

How you can leverage it for your next job: Fluency with numbers, customer relations and familiarity with bank practices are all skills you can expect to learn as a teller. These are all things you can relay into sales management jobs or accounting positions for a number of different companies.

As a plus, you will get to know everyone in town when they come in to bank, so it can be a good networking opportunity too.

2. Social Media Manager.

Sounds like a fake job, doesn’t it? That’s what your parents might say, but they would be wrong. Social media management is a hot job field right now thanks to the boom that is social media advertising.

Every company — from your local grocer to favorite froyo place — knows they need a social media presence. They need to hire someone who actually knows what that means. Vine? Snap Chat? This could be you.

What you can expect to earn: About $42,500 annually.

How you can leverage it for your next job: From marketing and communications to computer know-how and IT management work, you can take the skills you learned and honed on the ground as the social media guru and move forward any number of ways.

Extra points go to the person who takes the time to add some coding into their experience while they are there — even if you just buy the book and teach yourself.

3. Real Estate Assistant.

The great thing about the frequency of military moves is that it means a strong real estate industry exists wherever you are stationed.

What can you add to it? You know the military community and lots of people constantly moving. And with a college degree in your pocket, you certainly possess all the skills to be a front desk manager for a local real estate office or a showroom sales rep for a new real estate development.

Entry-level real estate positions don’t pay much to start, but you can ask to shadow one of the lead sellers and learn from the pro. As you slowly build your own customer cache, you’ll be learning the skills you can apply to all sorts of jobs going forward.

What you can expect to earn: Somewhere around $20,000 to start and up to $51,000 annually.

How you can leverage it for your next job: Between on-the-ground sales and consumer relations experience, you can also use this time to develop a working knowledge of industry best practices and mortgages.

Look for a follow-up job in real estate development and licensed brokerage or, with a little more work, finance or law.

With a little creative thinking, relying on the industries around your installation for out-of-college jobs can land you the experience and know-how you need to aim for greater professional success going forward. Now tell us: What was your job straight out of school?

— Editor’s Note: This article is part of our series on the 10 kinds of military spouse jobseekers. This one is aimed at the Young and Educated and Dedicated Billpayers. If you are looking for a different kind of job, let us know in the comments box below.

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The VA Loan Benefit makes it easier to get a home loan of up to $417,000 and allows you to buy a home with $0 down or streamline refinance to a lower rate.

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Buy or Refinance with $0 Down

 

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Is now the right time to buy a house?

Comment, call, email, text, tweet.  Let’s discuss your options today.

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