How Old Do I Have to Be to Invest?

Updated July 31, 2019

Investing is a key money move that helps ensure you’re able to achieve all your financial goals. So you should invest as much as possible, but keep in mind that investing comes with risks.

To figure out that maximum amount for your unique financial situation, you need to make a plan. Most of your budget is likely dedicated to covering basic expenses, like housing, transportation and food—your needs. Another portion goes toward your wants, like hobbies, dining out, going to the movies—the fun stuff. But some of your budget should be allocated toward future goals, like building up an emergency fund, going on a big vacation, buying a home and retiring one day—and that’s where investing comes in.

So how much is that?

Only you can determine your actual hard numbers. One budgeting model many experts recommend is the 50-30-20 rule—putting 50 percent of your budget toward needs, 30 percent toward wants and 20 percent toward saving and investing for future needs and goals. Of that last 20 percent, you should invest whatever you don’t expect to need for at least a few years. That time-frame allows you to take on the risk of short-term losses and ride it out to capture potential long-term gains.

So, if your monthly budget starts with $10,000, that means you should work to set aside $2,000—and depending on your goals, that’s the maximum you’d want to invest.

But one formula doesn’t work for everyone. Especially when you’re just starting out, your entry-level salary may feel like just barely enough to cover the necessities. Don’t sweat it. Just do the best you can, and save whatever amount makes sense for you to start.

How do you figure out how much is right for you? First, you have to get your priorities in order. Beyond covering your needs, identify your goals and decide for yourself what is important to you.

Maybe paying off debts is a top priority. In that case, you want to make a debt-repayment plan, first tackling high-interest-rate debts, like credit-card balances. But then maybe you can prioritize investing for the future ahead of paying off low-interest loans on the books, like student-loan debt or a mortgage, faster. You’d continue to pay down that debt, but invest some of your money at the same time.

Or if establishing an emergency fund is a big goal, you can first shoot to set aside at least $1,000 to start—that’s likely enough to cover a common unexpected expense like a car repair or a minor medical expense. But once you’ve done that, maybe slow down your efforts to fully fund your emergency account (which ideally would hold enough to cover three to six months’ worth of expenses). Then you can redirect some small portion of that savings to investing for the future, even if it’s just $50 or $100 a month.

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Coffee                                                  $3.24

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How Much Money Should You Save?

The short answer: as much as you can.

The longer answer? It depends. But still probably as much as you can.

To figure out how much you should save, start with your goals and work backward. If you want to go on a $500 trip, for example, you might set aside $50 a month for 10 months. Or you could save about $55 a month for nine months. The exact way you go about saving is up to you–it can be more some months and less others—as long as your bill is paid in full by the time you leave for Aruba.

Seems easy enough, right?

What makes saving complicated is you’re often saving for multiple goals at once, while also trying to ensure you set aside enough to cover unexpected expenses that may come up in the meantime. And when you toss in a huge goal like retirement, things get even more challenging. How much is 70-year-old you really going to need to live? Will you have health-related expenses or a mortgage—and will you want money to travel? It’s hard to guess when it’s so far away. But there are some basic guidelines you can follow.

So how much will I need for retirement?

According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, most of us will want about 70 percent of our current income to live comfortably in retirement. To reach this, researchers recommend we save about 10 percent of our salary starting at age 25. Those of us who start later may need to put away a greater percentage to stay on track.

But while we’re saving up for retirement, we’ll also have other financial goals, like making a down payment on a house. That’s why most financial planners recommend we put about 20 percent of our income to savings. That 20 percent includes money saved for short-term goals, like that vacation you really want to take, and what we’re contributing to longer term goals like retirement.

That sounds like a lot of money…

If that 20 percent seems a little out of reach, don’t worry. If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably saving closer to 6 percent, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. What should we do then?

Start small. Forty percent of Americans can’t cover a $400 emergency expense. If you set aside $40 a month you’ll be better prepared for an unexpected expense in 10 months. From there, aim to save up $1,000. You can get there in just over two years if you keep saving $40 a month.

Then work your way up to saving enough to cover three to six months of expenses. (That way you can still cover the basics if you lose your job.) But along the way, remember to take advantage of opportunities that help your future self. Pay off high-interest credit card debt as soon as you can, and make sure you’re contributing enough to your 401(k) to get your company match, if you have one, as well as investing what you can for medium-term goals.

And if you haven’t already, work toward building a budget that will help you meet your savings and spending goals.

Click below to Find Out How To:

INVEST SPARE CHANGE WITH EVERY ATM PURCHASE

Example:

Coffee                                                  $3.24

Your Investment Account                   .76

Round Up the 76 cents  Into Your Investment Account.

Start Growing WEALTH Automatically TODAY!

The Money adds up very quickly And You Set It Up To Happen Automatically with each ATM purchase.

CLICK HERE TO START GROWING WEALTH AUTOMATICALLY TODAY

IMAGINE HAVING ENOUGH MONEY TO DO WHATEVER YOU WANT, DRIVING YOUR DREAM CAR, RETIRING SOONER RATHER THAN LATER!

CLICK: understandingmoneypays.com

WATCH THE FREE VIDEO THAT EXPLAINS

THEN CALL OR TEXT ME AT: (954) 317-0430 OR CLICK ENROLL NOW

THAT’S IT.

YOU ARE ALWAYS ONE DECISION AWAY FROM A TOTALLY DIFFERENT LIFE!

HAVE A AWESOME DAY!      DAVID GRAY

I used to manage money for millionaires: Here’s my best advice for building Black and generational wealth

“Wealth is built by habit, not simply by dollar amount,” says Empify founder Ashley M. Fox.

Published Thu, Feb 4 20214:51 PM ESTUpdated Fri, Feb 5 202112:33 PM ESTAshley M. FoxShare Article via FacebookShare Article via TwitterShare Article via LinkedInShare Article via Email

Ashley M. Fox is the founder of Empify and The WealthBuilders Community.

Ashley M. Fox is the founder of Empify and The WealthBuilders Community.Photo by Jarell Johnson | BeAbstrakt Photography

Growing up, and during my college years at Howard University, I dreamed of working on Wall Street. I knew I wanted to make waves as a profound African-American woman living in New York City. Wall Street seemed like the perfect way to do it. Once I graduated, I got a role in asset management. My job was to work with individuals who made $25 million dollars or more. 

In that first year, I learned all about the money habits of wealthy people: where they lived and traveled, how they saved, how they did their taxes, and where they invested. Working with these clients, I was inspired about what could be possible for me. 

Over the course of three years in asset management, I worked with more than 100 millionaire and billionaire clients and their families. But in 2013, I realized that in order to build the type of wealth they had, and build a legacy for my family, I needed to create something. 

I knew that helping other people maintain their wealth for the next 5, 10, or 20 years would not get me to a space where I’d be making $25 million. My biggest clients created something and worked for themselves. I knew it was time for me to go the moment I knew I deserved more and could also build something of my own.

Around this time, I also began to wonder why the money strategies used by the wealthy were so inaccessible. I wanted to show everyone how to build wealth and use the tools and resources that the wealthy have been using all along. So I left my job to build my own financial education company and never looked back. 

I named my business Empify, which is the words EMPower + modIFY merged together. Our mission is to educate, empower, and modify the mindset of every individual, inspiring people to achieve career, life, and financial success. Today, we have worked with more than 2,000 students in more than 50 schools and organizations across the country. 

As I have grown my company over the last 7 years, I learned some life-changing money lessons. 

When starting a new venture, pay yourself first

The first lesson I learned when it came to money and building my business was you have to pay yourself first. For so long, I put my all into building Empify, taking care of people, taking care of our community, and taking care of our customers. I felt like I wasn’t worthy of paying myself. I had this belief that if I paid myself, my business couldn’t survive. 

It was nearly 4 years before I started paying myself a salary. But once I started to honor myself and my work and pay myself first, I started to see significant changes — I landed 6-figure contracts, I was sought out by different schools, companies and organizations from all over the world, and our revenue began to grow exponentially. 

Another way I invested in myself and my business was hiring help. I hired a supportive CPA who helped me figure out how to grow my business. I also created my own personal financial plan that outlined what I wanted and goals I had for my personal money. I used online platforms like Goldman Sachs’ Marcus Savings Account, which automatically deposited a portion of my earnings into the account, which made it easier to save, rather than having to remember to manually do it. 

I learned that wealth is built by habit, not simply by dollar amount. One of the most important things you can do as a business owner is to take care of yourself. And when I started to pay myself consistently, it made my business stronger and made me stronger as a CEO.2:45Barbara Corcoran: How your hobby can become a side hustle

Video by Stephen Parkhurst

Surround yourself with like-minded people 

Think of building wealth like you would learning a language. Immerse yourself in the world: Read and study it and speak it daily. A great way to stay consistent and develop that muscle is to surround yourself with people who are speaking the same language. 

For those first couple of years, I was so locked into my business, and thought that I had to handle it all on my own. I didn’t see that there were people who understood my life and could add value. For me, a great way to build that broader support system is social media. 

I had to surround myself with individuals who were making money, running a business, and investing, especially because it’s not common for our community to talk about wealth building. So I started following fellow business owners, people who are in the tech space like me, and people who are motivated and goal-oriented.

Don’t be afraid to engage with people that inspire you online. I’ve found that authentic relationships can blossom even by just starting a conversation with a comment or a like. Online communities can be a great source of mental support and accountability.  

Embrace an abundance mindset 

You have to believe in yourself. In the beginning, I had doubts. I didn’t believe that I was worthy of creating Empify. I had worked on Wall Street and had years of experience in the financial world. But I felt like if you pulled the curtain back, I was afraid people would see I wasn’t perfect.

When I started Empify, I had over $100,000 in debt. I had mastered the art of ignoring debt collectors. I was ashamed. And at that point, I had no goals for myself, but I wanted so much to help other people who were in the same position I was in. But for 3 years of my life, working with those wealthy clients, I had seen what was possible. I just needed the world to see what I saw. 

It took a few years, and a lot of trial and error, but as my belief in myself started to grow, so did my business. Over time, I went from building a business and making a couple grand a month to bringing in 6 figures a month. As we scaled, I made a habit of paying my bills early. Now I’m on track to be debt-free by this summer. 

Your mindset is a major factor when it comes to money. When I let go of those limiting beliefs, and switched from a lack mindset to an abundant mindset, that was when I was really able to start achieving my dreams.7:42Maya May: How I left my corporate job to become a comedian

Video by Courtney Stith

You are the author of your own story

In the fall, the Empify team and I launched an app called The Wealth Builders Community

By providing easy to understand and culturally relevant financial tools and information, our goal is to break down the mental barriers created by social conditioning and even our own upbringings that make it tougher for so many of us to feel confident about money.

With my platform and this app, I want to show people, especially people in my community, how to write their own wealth-building narrative. It is so easy to feel worried and stressed about money. But we want to create an environment where people are constantly growing and learning, and are approaching their finances from a position of strength. I know from personal experience that when you change your environment, you can change your life.

Ultimately, we are unlearning what no longer serves us. Then the next steps are bolstering those skills with that abundance mindset, and a support system of people on the same journey. My hope is that making financial education more accessible will help everyone build the legacy they deserve. 

Ashley M. Fox is a former Wall Street analyst and the founder of Empify, a social enterprise created to modify the way people perceive themselves and the role of money in their lives. Through informative digital content and interactive events, Empify teaches basic wealth fundamentals to both adults and children by pouring belief into communities through financial education, inspiration, and implementation. Our WealthBuilder Community app shows working professionals and entrepreneurs how to confidently build wealth, so that they can live a stress-free, debt-free, and financially free lives. 

More from Grow:

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INVEST SPARE CHANGE WITH EVERY ATM PURCHASE

Example:

Coffee                                                  $3.24

Your Investment Account                   .76

Round Up the 76 cents  Into Your Investment Account.

Start Growing WEALTH Automatically TODAY!

The Money adds up very quickly And You Set It Up To Happen Automatically with each ATM purchase.

CLICK HERE TO START GROWING WEALTH AUTOMATICALLY TODAY

Working Wellness Into Your Budget

top view of a cup of tea on bedsheets

As the idea of “wellness” has become an increasingly popular trend on social media, companies across the globe are marketing expensive products to ensure that you too can live this seemingly desirable lifestyle. From essential oils to vegan beauty products and beyond, living a healthy and happy life seems like it should cost the average consumer thousands a year. But is this really the case?

Once you go beyond all of the fancy products and extravagant social media trends, the core of the wellness craze is actually quite simple. Expensive gym memberships are encouraging you to move your body daily, and nutrition supplements, protein products, and fancy food delivery services are reminding you of the importance of a balanced diet. 

Though some of these products can be beneficial, they aren’t required to improve your overall “wellness.” Fortunately, if you want to live a life centered around your physical and mental well-being, there are steps you can take and habits you can develop that don’t cost a cent. 

Meditation 

One of the most important parts of staying physically and mentally healthy is being cognizant of how you’re feeling at any given time. Meditation is a great way to improve your self-awareness and mitigate feelings of stress or anxiety. It is no secret that high amounts of prolonged stress can cause you physical harm, so engaging in daily meditations can help reduce your risk of stress-related illness.1 

Though you can subscribe to a meditation program or app for a relatively affordable monthly or yearly fee, there are a variety of guided meditations available on YouTube and other platforms for free. You can also find resources online to guide your own meditation practice, or you can simply sit in stillness and silence for a few minutes each day to reflect on your emotions.  

Podcasts

Another great way to stay up to date with all the science behind living well are podcasts. Podcasts have seen a recent increase in popularity, and you may find that there is a show that covers every topic you could think of. 

Fortunately, the increased interest in podcasts means that there are a slew of shows that discuss mental and physical health, in addition to some of the tactics you can use to live a more holistically “well” life. Interviews with scientists and leading professionals in the holistic healthcare field often make appearances, debunking the myths behind the entire wellness industry. 

Like the guided meditation videos, these shows and interviews are often available on your music streaming service of choice, or for free online with advertisements. A quick internet search will help you find recommendations for podcasts that cover the topics you’re interested in.  

Movement

Making sure you move your body everyday is one of the best ways to improve your overall health , and fortunately, it doesn’t cost a thing. Though workout trends like spin classes and boutique fitness studios have upped the expenses connected to fitness, there really is no need to break your budget by paying for all these pricey classes. 

Again, turning to the internet will help you find free resources that can encourage you to stay active. YouTube has a variety of videos that range anywhere from ten to sixty minutes long, and you can follow accounts on social media that post at-home or bodyweight workouts. All of these platforms have made it easy to stay fit and active without paying for a workout session or even leaving your house. And remember—going for a thirty-minute walk five or six days a week is a form of exercise that requires no research or payment. 

Family and Friends

At the end of the day, one of the best ways to boost your mood is to connect with your loved ones. Whether it is coffee with a friend or a phone call to your mom, regularly connecting with others has been shown to reduce stress and improve overall well-being.2 

Though social plans may sometimes come with an expense, such as an activity or dinner out with friends, you can reap the benefits of human connection without spending money. Pick up the phone, or combine two of your wellness goals into one and take a walk with a friend. Even a little bit of creativity can help you find ways to make time with your loved ones free or affordable. 

Final Thoughts

Though some of these suggestions may seem simple, implementing all of these little habits is what will ultimately lead to a more noticeable change in your lifestyle. Purchasing expensive supplements or high-end beauty products will give you short-term pleasure, but spending exorbitant amounts of money on products that could be replaced with free and easy habits, like drinking more water or staying active, could be detrimental to your financial wellness. 

Of course there will be times when you decide that a membership to a yoga studio or monthly massages are necessary for your overall happiness and well-being. As with every important financial decision, be sure to consult your budget and make sure you have the funds to cover those costs. Financial and physical wellness go hand in hand, so make sure any expenses associated with your healthy lifestyle fall within your means.

IMAGINE HAVING ENOUGH MONEY TO DO WHATEVER YOU WANT, DRIVING YOUR DREAM CAR, RETIRING SOONER RATHER THAN LATER!

CLICK: understandingmoneypays.com

WATCH THE FREE VIDEO THAT EXPLAINS

THEN CALL OR TEXT ME AT: (954) 317-0430 OR CLICK ENROLL NOW

THAT’S IT.

YOU ARE ALWAYS ONE DECISION AWAY FROM A TOTALLY DIFFERENT LIFE!

HAVE A AWESOME DAY!      DAVID GRAY

How A Budget Can Help You Save And Invest More

  • Get your finances in order with a budget, which can help you free up money to save and invest.
  • Once you are spending no more than you earn each month, try to save 3 to 6 months’ expenses in an emergency fund. Then put away a minimum of 10% of your income each year to invest for retirement. Next, save and invest towards your other goals.
  • Customize your budget to fit your own goals, priorities, and fixed costs.

Creating a budget is a big step toward getting your finances in order. You potentially can see some quick opportunities to up your savings game. 

Start with the numbers

Knowing where your money is going is key to getting on track, so be sure to monitor your income and expenses. Start by taking a look at a few months of credit and debit card statements to get a sense of your spending. 

Within your expenses, try to separate needs from wants. It’s important to define what is necessary and what is a nice-to-have for you. Groceries, rent or mortgage payments, car payments, and minimum payments on your credit cards are all examples of needs. For instance, while you might be able to spend less on groceries, you can’t stop eating altogether. Wants are fun upgrades: a nicer hotel on vacation, better seats at the game, or clothes from a more expensive brand. 

Needs vs. Wants

After you look at what you’re spending on needs and wants, you can decide if the patterns you see meet your priorities. Does your income just match your expenses, or is it less than what you’re spending? Are you surprised by anything you see? If you’re spending more than you make, you will need to cut out some of the wants on your list. If your income covers your spending, consider whether you can set a savings goal by dialing back some of your wants. 

If you’re making more than you spend, congratulations! Think about how you’re allocating that extra money. Are you saving it or investing it? Saving is the right answer for some goals (for example, your emergency fund or the down payment on a house), while investing may make more sense for others (for example, retirement or your kids’ education). 

Budget shortcuts

Once you’ve figured out your expenses, there are a set of simple rules that can help you make sure you’re spending your money wisely. Everyone’s situation is different and there are many ways to approach designing your budget; see if this works for you. First, try not to spend more than you earn on a monthly basis, even if you get a bonus. Second, buy yourself some freedom by building an emergency fund worth 3 to 6 months’ expenses. Plan to keep that on the sidelines and don’t spend it. Third, pay yourself forward by putting at least 10% and ideally 15% of your annual income away as savings and investments for retirement. Once you’ve done that, you can save and invest toward other goals like buying a house and paying for your children’s education. 

Tips to get started

  • Tweak your savings target: If you’re not used to saving, 20% can feel unachievable. Just start by saving what you can afford and inch up over time as you can. 
  • Consider automated contributions: directly depositing a portion of your paycheck into a savings account can help you contribute toward your goals in a seamless way. You can also set up automatic contributions into an investment account and use pre-determined amounts of money to buy specific securities on scheduled dates.
  • Check your transactions: Are you wandering over to the office snack machine every afternoon – even if you’re not hungry? Paying for a streaming-video service you rarely watch? See if you have a spending habit that you can try to cut back on.

What’s next?

Once you set a budget, it’s important to keep reviewing your account statements to see if you’re sticking to it. If you discover that you are overspending, take a second to understand why. It’s completely normal to go over budget sometimes, but if you find this happening all the time it might be time to hone in on the details.

IMAGINE HAVING ENOUGH MONEY TO DO WHATEVER YOU WANT, DRIVING YOUR DREAM CAR, RETIRING SOONER RATHER THAN LATER!

CLICK: understandingmoneypays.com

WATCH THE FREE VIDEO THAT EXPLAINS

THEN CALL OR TEXT ME AT: (954) 317-0430 OR CLICK ENROLL NOW

THAT’S IT.

YOU ARE ALWAYS ONE DECISION AWAY FROM A TOTALLY DIFFERENT LIFE!

HAVE A AWESOME DAY!      DAVID GRAY

Why Downturns Are ‘a Real Opportunity to Create Wealth’

Last week, the U.S. stock market finished its best week since 2009, with the S&P 500, a major benchmark for the overall economy, up 10 percent. In normal times, a move like that would be something investors would be more than happy to get in an entire year, let alone in a few days.

Of course, context is important. Amid concerns about the health and economic toll of the coronavirus outbreak, the S&P 500 remains in a bear market, defined as a decline of at least 20 percent from a recent high. And the index dropped again this week: as of April 1, the S&P was down about 27 percent from its February 19 high. But perspective is crucial:

“We will get through this,” says Skip Johnson, co-founder of Great Waters Financial.

He and other experts caution that selling right now could be the most expensive mistake of your investing career.

Here’s why.

‘Decades matter’

The current bear market is the sixth for the S&P 500 since 1970, according to data compiled by Yardeni Research. Looking back at those past five downturns, there’s been a consistent theme: The S&P 500 has always recovered and gone on to new highs. Within a decade of each bear market, the index had gone on to gain an average of nearly 240 percent, according to FactSet data analyzed by Grow.

“What’s happening now doesn’t matter; decades matter,” says Nick Yrizarry, president and chief executive officer of Align Wealth Advisors. “No matter, through thick and thin, you stick with it,” he says.

Investors who continue to invest will find a stock market with lower prices, offering a greater chance of future returns. “That’s where your success is going to come now,” he adds.

Learning from this sell-off

This may be the first bear market you’ve experienced as an investor. But you can expect a handful of these over the next decades.

“For those investors who are kicking themselves asking, Why didn’t I get out?” says Tom Stringfellow, the president and chief investment officer of Frost Investment Advisors. “The reason is simple: There was really nothing out there that said this could happen so quickly.”

Timing the market is nearly impossible. Remember: You’re investing for the long haul. “Changing market conditions doesn’t mean you change your investing philosophy,” Johnson says.

Seven Side Hustles That Anyone Can Do

There are dozens of ways to pick up some money on the side, and the amount of expertise and time required can vary widely. If you’re looking for some side gigs that don’t require a creative streak or a specific skill set, these seven are a good place to start. They’re relatively flexible, don’t rely on additional training and can pay out hundreds per month, depending on the time you put into them.

1. Dog walking

According to Angie’s List, dog walkers can charge up to $30 for a 30-minute walk. Staying active and petting cute animals? That’s a win. Find clients at dog parks or on neighborhood bulletin boards, by spreading the word to friends and acquaintances or signing up for apps like Wag! or Rover (which both take a cut of your earnings).

2. TaskRabbit

On the TaskRabbit platform, you can find hourly or project-based work for all sorts of chores and handyman tasks, from assembling furniture to picking up dry cleaning. Some TaskRabbit users will pay you just to stand in line on their behalf for stuff like theatre tickets or the latest iPhone. One survey estimates TaskRabbit workers’ earnings to average $380 per month.

3. Remote English teacher

If you’re fluent in English and hold a bachelor’s degree (in any subject), consider teaching English online. TeachAway estimates you can make $14 to $23 per hour working with high school students, especially if you’re available during hours that work for students in Asia (such as 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. on weekdays).

4. Remote customer service

Basically, you work as a customer service agent for a company for about $10 an hour—but from the comfort of your own home. Check out Remote.co, SkipTheDrive and Indeed for job listings.

5. U.S. Census Bureau temp worker

The Census Bureau is seeking temp workers nationwide to assist with the 2020 Census for roles ranging from census takers to clerical assistance. You must be a U.S. citizen over 18 and willing to complete a background check. Apply online here. Pay rates vary by area, ranging from $12 to $25 per hour.

6. Standardized patient

Standardized patients are used to help teach medical students. Basically, you’re given a list of symptoms to memorize and the students will try to diagnose you—kind of like you’re an actor on “House.” Earnings vary by location, but Nuevoo lists an average pay rate of $17 per hour.

7. Data entry

Typically, you don’t need any special skills or training to get started doing online data entry, which Time says you can make $12.70 per hour doing. Check out listings on Indeed and ZipRecruiter.

BELOW IS A GREAT SIDE HUSTLE. CHECK IT OUT.

IMAGINE HAVING ENOUGH MONEY TO DO WHATEVER YOU WANT, DRIVING YOUR DREAM CAR, RETIRING SOONER RATHER THAN LATER!

CLICK: understandingmoneypays.com

WATCH THE FREE VIDEO THAT EXPLAINS

THEN CALL OR TEXT ME AT: (954) 317-0430 OR CLICK ENROLL NOW

THAT’S IT.

YOU ARE ALWAYS ONE DECISION AWAY FROM A TOTALLY DIFFERENT LIFE!

HAVE A AWESOME DAY!      DAVID GRAY

How to Set a Plan to Pay Off Debt

Before you do anything, it’s important to know exactly what your outstanding debts are. Make a list of them, including key details like the interest rate, balances, lender and any important details like the expiration date of a promo rate. Mapping out your repayment needs will keep you organized and help you take charge of your debt.

Pick a pay-off strategy

The “avalanche” method, which prioritizes larger, higher-interest debts, is great for keeping your outstanding balance under control. The “snowball” method, which prioritizes checking smaller debts off your to-do list first, can give you a greater degree of confidence when it comes time to pay off the bigger debts. The “blizzard” method, which means alternating between “avalanche” and “snowball,” can also be really efficient. In addition, it’s important to know how much or how little you can realistically put toward any individual payments. While you consider a method, think about any debt-specific strategies that could help, like reevaluating your student loan repayment options, refinancing your mortgage, or even filing taxes separately from your spouse. Consolidating some of your credit card balances can also make debt repayment easier: You may be able to get a lower interest rate, and you’ll have fewer monthly payments to manage. Personal loans or credit card balance transfer offers (which allow you to move your outstanding credit card balance to a new card with a temporarily lower interest rate) can each be good ways to do this, too. Remember that it’s always smart to compare costs and terms.

Look to a debt-free, more secure future

While you’re paying down debt, keep your big financial picture in mind, and figure out how to avoid owing money in the future if possible. Doing something as simple as tracking your finances in a paper planner can help you visualize and better plan your daily expenses, experts say. Have a plan for any raises or windfalls that come your way, too, so you don’t fall prey to lifestyle creep. And balance debt repayment with saving and investing. Doing both at once means you can deal with unexpected expenses without taking on additional unexpected debt while you set yourself up for a financially secure future

By Ben Jay

IMAGINE HAVING ENOUGH MONEY TO DO WHATEVER YOU WANT, DRIVING YOUR DREAM CAR, RETIRING SOONER RATHER THAN LATER!

CLICK: understandingmoneypays.com

WATCH THE FREE VIDEO THAT EXPLAINS

THEN CALL OR TEXT ME AT: (954) 317-0430 OR CLICK ENROLL NOW

THAT’S IT.

YOU ARE ALWAYS ONE DECISION AWAY FROM A TOTALLY DIFFERENT LIFE!

HAVE A AWESOME DAY!      DAVID GRAY

Everything You Need to Know About Financially Going Green

  • Thanks to a demand from a large number of buyers, socially responsible options are more widely available than they used to be, making it easier than ever to live an eco-friendly life.
  • Living with less means you are consuming less and also downsizing to only what you require, so your energy costs and subsequent bills should reflect “living of less” without sacrificing lifestyle.

Global temperatures are up and sea levels are rising, yet we still need to purchase products and maintain a household. With that said, consumers are often faced with the difficult dilemma of how to be environmentally friendly, while still looking out for their wallets. 

However, now more than ever, environmental factors are affecting the minds of both consumers and producers, making saving the environment and saving money increasingly intertwined. We’ll help you navigate the best ways to save, spend, and invest your money while reducing your environmental footprint. 

Why Now?

Animation of multiple eco-friendly stores popping up with more people coming with each one

So, why now? Recently, consumers have started placing a high emphasis on not only the quality of products, but also on what the company that makes these products is doing for the greater good. Ranging from topics of equality to food security to the environment, it’s financially beneficial for organizations and communities to infuse products with a healthy dose of social responsibility. 

Thanks to this demand from a large number of buyers, socially responsible options are more widely available than they used to be, making it easier than ever to live an eco-friendly life as an avid consumer.

Shop Responsibly

Being eco-friendly does not mean you need to stop consuming. Yes—products require energy, but considering the environment does not necessarily mean you need to make sacrifices. 

New Products

When buying new products, the best thing you can do is your homework! Buying from companies that prioritize reducing their environmental impact during production will lead to eco-friendly buying. 

When investigating if a company is environmentally-friendly, it’s important that you do your research. Here are some tips to help you identify authentic environmentally friendly companies:

  • Look for specific claims such as “100% fair-trade ingredients” or “Made at a plant that reduces carbon emissions.” These labels are traceable and more tangible than descriptors such as “organic,” “all-natural,” or “environmentally friendly.”
  • Evaluate the packaging. If a company claims to be eco-conscious, yet uses 10 lbs of bubble wrap and Styrofoam to secure a small item, that raises a few flags. Read up on company news to investigate the organization’s history. Exploring recent press releases and news articles will give you an idea of how long this company’s commitment to the environment has been established, as well as results or reviews.
  • Use third-party apps and resources to vet organizations. There are many resources dedicated to externally scoring organizations on environmental impact, so you don’t have to do all the heavy lifting. 

Additionally, if you are unable to purchase from companies that are certified eco-friendly, buying locally can help reduce energy costs. Buying locally cuts distribution and shipping costs, thus reducing the impact on the environment. 

New-to-You Products

Even at the most environmentally friendly companies, producing anything still requires energy. Buying secondhand is a great way to cut down on both financial costs and environmental costs, as opting for used items cuts production and distribution waste. Additionally, if you are on a budget and cannot afford specialty items, buying used is a cheaper alternative that can garner results for the environment.

Local thrift stores, clothing exchanges, garage sales, swap meets/flea markets, local used dealers, and online marketplaces like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and OfferUp are all great places to start searching for recycled items. You can find and buy virtually anything—from clothes to household items to books and more—in great condition!

Sometimes the right option may not be practical, especially on a budget, but weighing your values and impact against cost will help you come up with a compromise to help reduce your environmental footprint.

animation of people shopping at a flea market/swap meet

Invest Responsibly

Environmentally conscious decisions don’t just happen at a register. When deciding how to grow your money in banks and considering investment opportunities, there are several options to allow for an environmentally friendly lifestyle to take root in your finances.

Banking

Ethical banks, also known as sustainable banks, are banks concerned with the social and/or environmental impacts of its business. When considering one of these banks, it’s important to not only choose one that’s socially responsible but specifically addresses environmental issues. 

“Social responsibility” means that individuals and companies have a duty to act in the best interest of society as a whole, so socially responsible institutions with an environmental focus will have greener practices in general. It also encompasses many social issues such as equality or workers rights, so if you are seeking a specific cause, you may consider checking to see if your bank addresses this specific issue. 

There isn’t a definitive standard as to what an ethical bank looks like, but generally speaking, banks that are Certified B Corporations or Members of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values are going to be ethical banks. To gain either of the titles above, the bank would need to be vetted by a nationally recognized third-party organization that specializes in grading organizations on social responsibility.

Joining an environmentally focused bank not only encourages good behavior, but can financially reward your green habits as well. Some benefits are:

  • Accessing exclusive or well-researched eco-investing opportunities
  • Having credit cards that can benefit charities on your behalf
  • Providing you lower interest rates for financing low emission cars or eco-friendly purchases

While these banks offer environmental benefits, they may come with a few trade offs such as charging fees for non-sustainable practices like printing statements, or being limited in scope and amenities due to their smaller size.

Investing

Eco-investing or green investing is a form of socially responsible investing that supports companies with environmentally friendly policies or products. 

Similar to ethical banking, there’s no official standard as to what constitutes a green investment, but there are several tools you can use to evaluate the impact of an organization. For example, several non-profit organizations do independent evaluations of mutual funds and stocks to evaluate them based on the company’s impact. 

Additionally, apart from investing in organizations with eco-friendly policies, there’s a wealth of opportunity to invest in green products. Some key fields or industries for eco-investing are1:

  • Water Conservation and Energy
  • Wind Power
  • Solar Energy
  • Pollution Control
  • Green Transportation
  • Waste Reductions
  • Organic Products
  • Aquaculture
  • Geothermal Energy
  • Green Policy Advocacy 
animation of wind turbines, solar panels, and green factories

Investing in a company in these fields can be a great way to put your money where your mouth is, and invest in your environmental agenda.  

Save Responsibly

If you’re living on a budget, you’re likely always looking for ways to save. Maybe that means going on one less coffee run a week, or transitioning to home-brewed coffee altogether. Either way, small changes can add up to big savings for anyone, so why not bundle cutting fiscal slack with reducing your environmental footprint? Let’s take a look at some ways to save responsibly. 

Energy Cuts

Making small adjustments to how you get your energy and use it can have large payoffs over time. In the field of energy, a little can go a long way, if you know how. 

  • Shorten your showers—With every minute you cut, you save 5 gallons of water!
  • Decrease your fuel usage by strategizing a route when planning errands, using public transportation, and carpooling
  • Unplug appliances such as toasters, fans, lights, etc. when not in use
  • Use smaller appliances such as a toaster oven or traditional toaster rather than an oven
  • Wash your laundry in cold water or in the sink
  • Recycle cooking water and use it to water your plants
  • Tap into alternative energy sources by installing solar panels at your residence, switching to an electric car, or exploring turbine energy
  • Eliminate using single-use items and opt for alternative items like reusable water bottles, silicone or metal straws, and/or sturdier storage containers

Some of these options may cost more upfront, but your investments will pay off in the long term!

Food Savings

With food having such a large impact on both our wallets and the world’s energy, it’s no wonder that grocery decisions are ripe for saving opportunities. 

  • Shop at local food retailers or farmers markets to decrease the footprint you leave from distribution and shipping costs
  • Start a garden—If you’re lacking a green thumb or the time to nurture a large garden, an indoor spice garden is a great way to get started
  • Buy dented or “ugly” produce to get a good deal and reduce food waste—Even if your local grocer doesn’t participate in ugly produce sales, there are several online resources that point you to places that do!
  • Make coffee at home—pour over coffee is in, and it’s a great way to brew your cup of joe without using any electricity!
  • Eat less meat—While this may not work for everyone’s individual nutritional needs or preferences, doing so can make large strides in both your environmental impact and wallet
  • Make a shopping list and purchase only what you need to reduce wasted food energy and costs

Live Responsibly

While there are plenty of options to shop and utilize your finances to be more eco-friendly, there’s also several lifestyle hacks that can be beneficial to the environment as well as your wallet. 

Less is More, Minimalism is In!

Living with less means you are consuming less and also downsizing to only what you require, so your energy costs and subsequent bills should reflect “living of less” without sacrificing lifestyle.

Minimalism, when carried out to its full extent, involves not only reducing the amount of items you own, but committing your environment, home, and amenities to its bare minimum. Some more extreme ideas for carrying-out minimalism are downsizing to a “tiny home,” reducing all clothing to essentials, and cutting out fuel dependency and opting for a bike. That being said, while these are all great ways to reduce costs, and environmental impact, these adjustments are large lifestyle changes.

One way to live minimally without overhauling your entire life is to evaluate your housing needs. Think about those tall ceilings in your house or that empty bedroom. Now think about how much it takes to heat or cool that space. Opting for living situations that have less “dead space” will cut utility costs as well as usage.

Another way to live minimally is to “Marie Kondo” your things, and do so moving forward. For those who aren’t familiar with this term, it involves going through your items, and only keeping those that “spark joy.” This is great for understanding what you use, or what you should buy. Adopting and maintaining this method can help cut new purchases and reduce the number of things you store. 

While this list may be small, it can have reaching effects in your life such as determining if a car in a new city truly “sparks joy,” or if paying more rent for a smaller place is actually a waste when you factor in wasted utilities. 

So while extreme minimalism may not be for everyone, small odes to the minimalist lifestyle can be infused to help save for most anyone.

Reduce, Reuse, but Above All, Recycle!

We’ve already discussed ways to reduce and reuse waste in the sections above, but in addition to that, the third R (recycle) is a key way to live responsibly. 

Recycling is the act of collecting used materials that can be used to make new materials, and it’s a way to continue to produce new products without paying the total cost of energy production.

Animation of a woman carrying recyclables and putting them into a slot which spits out new items created from the recycled materials

Now, recycling may appear to have little cost repercussions, but when you break it down, energy costs money, so by reducing the energy production cost of an item, the cost should decrease to the consumer. For example, recycled aluminum costs significantly less to make than new aluminum, so products reliant on recycled aluminum should cost less to the consumer. 

To make sure you recycle effectively, it’s important to understand what you can recycle and cannot recycle. Generally speaking, you can recycle rigid plastics and plastic bottles, paper, cardboard, metals (e.g. tin, aluminum, steel can), and whole glass objects (e.g. beer or wine bottles, jars, food containers).

On the other hand, things that are not usually recyclable are loose plastic bags, plastic stretch wrap, polystyrene (Styrofoam) products, soiled food items (food-soaked containers or paper products), and broken or sharp glass.

While this is just a basic list, it’s best to also research what can and cannot be recycled in your area, as this can vary from region to region. 

In addition to the literal sense of recycling materials, you can creatively recycle or “repurpose” obsolete household items into new items, giving old materials new purpose. Some examples of this kind of recycling are:

  • Using paper towel rolls as storage units or pen organizers
  • Melting old toothbrushes into funky jewelry
  • Reusing stale bread as a baking ingredient
  • Turning old soda bottles into a bird feeder
  • Making light decorations out of empty glass bottles 

All in all, there’s a wealth of opportunity available for living a fiscally sustainable lifestyle, so whether you’re looking to save, spend, invest, or just continue to form good habits, turning the green in your wallet “greener” is always an option.

IMAGINE HAVING ENOUGH MONEY TO DO WHATEVER YOU WANT, DRIVING YOUR DREAM CAR, RETIRING SOONER RATHER THAN LATER!

CLICK: understandingmoneypays.com

WATCH THE FREE VIDEO THAT EXPLAINS

THEN CALL OR TEXT ME AT: (954) 317-0430 OR CLICK ENROLL NOW

THAT’S IT.

YOU ARE ALWAYS ONE DECISION AWAY FROM A TOTALLY DIFFERENT LIFE!

HAVE A AWESOME DAY!      DAVID GRAY

How 5 Common New Year’s Resolutions Can Impact Your Wallet

It’s a new year, and everyone has big plans to finally do all those things they’ve been saying that they are going to do. However, according to U.S. News & World Report, 80% of Americans will fail by February.1 Trying to inculcate a more optimistic mental perspective will certainly be helpful in reaching those New Year’s resolutions, as will these tips that can help you save when meeting your resolutions. Let’s look at some of the most common new year’s resolutions and tips to help you stick to them and save on costs.

1. Working Out

For most people, their number one goal for the New Year is to exercise more. I personally am hoping to run a half-marathon for the first time this year. Obviously, exercising takes a lot of physical discipline, but it doesn’t have to require a lot of money. U.S. Today found that 67% of gym memberships go unused, and that’s an average of around $60 a month that people are wasting by not going to the gym!2

If your new year’s resolution is to work out, you might consider foregoing a gym membership. Instead, explore low-cost or even free options such as following exercise videos on YouTube, renting videos from the library, or looking up exercise programs on the internet. Often times, you can find effective exercises already put together for you, and you won’t have to do any thinking at all. 

You could then use that $60 a month toward a reward for yourself. Maybe if you know that you’ll get a nice dinner at the end of the month for staying consistent with your workout schedule, that may motivate you. Or you could use the extra money to pay for a race fee like I am. Since I know that I’ll be spending $100 to participate in the half-marathon, I’ll be motivated to reach my goal and not waste that money. 

2. Eating Better

Whether you want to cut down on all those sugary drinks at Starbucks or start a new paleo diet, eating better is another common new year’s resolution. But before you spend lots of money on a diet plan, you might consider looking into ways you can get those foods at your local grocery store. With Pinterest, Youtube, and recipes online, you are sure to find everything you may need for your new diet. If you purchase a diet plan through a company, it could be very expensive, but if you make the same recipes on your own, it could be a fraction of the cost of a diet plan. 

I would recommend finding a grocery store where you can get fuel rewards and can purchase a variety of produce and goods. Since you will likely be doing most of your grocery shopping at this store, you will become very acquainted with the store and their sales. You can save a lot of money if you base your meals for the week around their sales. When I lived in Virginia and North Carolina, my store of choice was Harris Teeter because I got fuel rewards, lots of discounts, and normally spent less than $200 a month on groceries. Don’t think that using coupons is too provincial! It may seem cheap, but I’ve found that it saves a fair amount of money in the long run.

3. Giving Up a Bad Habit 

No matter how long you’ve had your bad habit, the new year seems like a great time to make a fresh start. Cutting out a bad habit often means that you’ll be spending less money, and you should plan to reward yourself by putting that money toward a good habit or something you’ve always wanted to do.

While I’m not here to be a moralist, it’s true that giving up smoking is good for your physical and financial health. According to the University of Massachusetts Medical School, if you smoke one pack of cigarettes a day, that’s roughly $2,000 a year.3 By giving up this habit, you could have a substantial amount of money to put toward your retirement fund or go on that trip to New Zealand!

Similarly, your resolution may be that you want to spend less money on alcohol or even cut it out entirely. Huffington Post reports that one man was able to afford a down payment on a truck by not drinking for a month while another man saved $1,000 a month just by cutting out coffee and alcohol.4 If you are like these men, you could save thousands by cutting out alcohol. Even if you want to cut down your drinking habit by one less drink per week, you will see substantial financial benefits. Now you extra money to put toward paying down your debt or buying a house.

4. Expanding Your Mind 

If you’re a lifelong learner like I am, you might like resolutions that expand your mind. For example, maybe you want to read more. In 2017, I set a goal of reading 52 books, meaning that I would average one book a week. I’m proud to say that I met my goal, and I didn’t have to break the bank to do so. I read a lot of e-books on my Kindle that I got through my library. I also went to my local library and bought some books in the bargain corner for 50 cents to a $1 a piece. I probably spent less than $10 and was still able to meet my goal. If reading more is your goal this year, try these tips to save on costs.

If you want to learn a new language, renting books from the library is always a great option that is easy on your finances. Additionally, you can look into free apps like Duolingo, which I’ve been using to learn French, or Rosetta Stone. 

If you want to expand your cooking skills, there are many recipes available online that make it easy to learn how to cook. Youtube is also a great free resource.

On the other hand, if you want to try a new hobby, include that in your budget. For example, I decided I wanted to try rowing one year, so I budgeted about $100 and looked into a variety of rowing classes and organizations that would allow me to fit into the money I had set aside. 

If you want to dress with style, shopping sale racks and Goodwill are options to get great deals on clothing. If you want to be easier on the environment, Rent the Runway is an excellent way to try a lot of new clothing by renting instead of buying it.

Finally, if you want to travel more, seek out discounts. For example, you may be able to receive a discount if you fly on holidays, during the week, or during the slow season. You may also be able to get free hotel stays through a travel rewards loyalty program.

All in all, expanding your mind and developing a new positive habit doesn’t have to be costly if you look into inexpensive or even free alternatives!

5. Being Happier in Life

Every year, we hope that the next year is better than the last one, so maybe your New Year’s resolution is to be happier in life. Maybe you want to make new friends. It doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg, though. Consider looking into Meetup groups that will be inexpensive or even free like book clubs or social groups. If you’re religious, you may be able to find a small group where you can meet friends without spending lots of money.

In the end, though, what we need to be happy in life aren’t material things. It’s what money can’t buy: time with family and friends. As you begin this New Year with eager expectations for all that it could be, remember that you can make good financial decisions as you meet your New Year’s resolutions!

START THE NEW YEAR BY STARTING A BUSINESS THAT EVERYONE NEEDS!

IMAGINE HAVING ENOUGH MONEY TO DO WHATEVER YOU WANT, DRIVING YOUR DREAM CAR, RETIRING SOONER RATHER THAN LATER!

CLICK: understandingmoneypays.com

WATCH THE FREE VIDEO THAT EXPLAINS

THEN CALL OR TEXT ME AT: (954) 317-0430 OR CLICK ENROLL NOW

THAT’S IT.

YOU ARE ALWAYS ONE DECISION AWAY FROM A TOTALLY DIFFERENT LIFE!

HAVE A AWESOME YEAR!      DAVID GRAY