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MAPPING OUT YOUR 8 STEPS TO WEALTH …
As you can see here at STEP 2 which we’ll be on for a little while, mapping out your path can seem a little, shall we say, crude? The whole path is a big ? and it sort of meanders here and there. And that’s okay.
Last month you took one of the BIGGEST steps on your journey – although you may look at it as small-stuff. But do you know how many people NEVER GET STARTED? NEVER think about where they’re going or whether or not that’s where they want to go? SO: CONGRATULATIONS! Let’s keep going!
I want you to love learning to use money as a tool to build your wealth, lasting wealth. Wealth to accomplish your real goal of FREEDOM. My hope for you is:
TO LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE TODAY, WHILE PLANNING & BUILDING FOR A
Now, although this series is about 8 Steps to Weatlth, I want to remind you from last month I told you that there are onlly 4 ways to build wealth. Do your remember what they are?
1. Earn more money.
2. Spend less money
3. Pay off debt
If you’ve forgotten, it might be good to go back and review last month’s post. Just head to our FRONT PAGE, find ARCHIVES in the right side column. I know. Isn’t the kissy lips cute? Select April 2021 from the drop-down menu. From the Posts Page that opens, scroll down until you see Step 1, April 2021: Click on that and you’ll be taken to last month’s post so that you can review before proceeding back here. How? When you’re all done and ready to come back, just scroll up to the site’s CONTENT MENU across the top of the pages. Find LIFESTYLE, and move your cursor down to hover over it. Another drop-down menu will appear. Move down to Personal Finance and by hovering you’ll see Step 2, MAY 2021 off to the side. Click Step 2, MAY 2021 and VIOLA you’re back here! See? We’re MAGIC!
If you haven’t used the Menu to navigate around the site before, now you know!
Okay, so you’re back with me. I want you to back up a couple of paragraphs to look again at that List of 4 Ways to Build Wealth: Earn More, Spend Less, Pay Off Debt & Invest.
Guess what? Lists and Steps, etc. are artificial. They’re just a way that we give some structure to our ideas.
But you are a Real Person and things aren’t so organized and tidy. Real Life is a lot like that Chart at the opening of this post – messy. Real Life meanders. Unexpected things happen. It gets outside the lines. It shows where you’ve “painted” out an error or two. Right?
I know what so much financial “help” advice out there does. It scares you with impossibilities for your Real Life. Like: Spend Less. How are you supposed to do that? They tell you. By cutting out your Starbuck’s Coffee on the way to work and forgoing the Dior gown for this weekend’s party. Excuse me? Why do they say such inane things? Because many of them are Investment Bankers and such, who are writing the book or article to make even more money for themselves. They haven’t lived your kind of Real Life in so long (if ever) that if they were going to cut spending that’s what they would do.
But that is them and this is you. My qualifications? I’m working with a Bachelor’s Degreed Economist, who also worked in a financial Institution and now runs a successful Money Coaching service. Drawback? She would charge you $500 for what I’m passing along to you for a $1.75 Subscription. And since you’re here on BW2W’S Summer Get To Know Us new customer drive — it’s for free.
I’ve been where some of you are. It was bad. There was so much debt and not understanding the system that as a result, I lost my home, illness cost my employment. Some of you just need to dig out before it gets so bad. Still others of you are where I am now – out of debt, wanting to stay there and move on to what you desire in life besides paying bills.
So, here we are. Real People living Real Lives. I’ll try to cover things that will help all of you, no matter where you are on the 8 Step Path to Wealth.
About that List. There is no Rule saying you have to follow it in order, or that there aren’t other “Headers”. For instance, I’m going to start here discussing something that’s not even on that List. Here we go …
A SAFETY NET TO PROTECT YOURSELF & YOUR FAMILY IS YOUR PRIORITY EVEN OVER DEBT RECOVERY
Of course a lot depends on your state of stability. If you have no food on the table… if you are in a current crisis such as a medical emergency or are losing your home a series such as this isn’t addressing your need. You need other resources and assistance more than management. I don’t think anyone I’m writing to is in this dire situation but I will be listing some things you can download later that will give some direction so that if you know anyone facing crisis you can offer a kind pointer,
But the sad truth is, many Americans are one or two paychecks away from crisis with little or no savings cushion and no real plan. Creating an emergency safety net provides you with a backup when times get tough. … Additionally, an emergency fund is important to maintain if you are already in debt (e.g., student loan debt, credit card debt, and more), as it can help you avoid “buying” more money at premium (interest owed). Because that is what borrowing or credit is … you are purchasing money or goods and promising to pay back MORE than the purchase cost. The fact it’s spread over time is what entraps many. It “feels like” you’re not paying so much, you can “handle” it. Sometimes, that’s true and we’ll discuss some strategic uses of credit later on — but that must be very planned use with greater asset in mind than the liability incurred. Otherwise you’re playing a zero-sum game on your side and it will eventually catch you making you the big loser.
Okay, so, create an EMERGENCY SAFETY NET? (I hear you. How? With WHAT? ) There are ways. Let’s think about it.
First, think about how much you need.
Most financial advisors will tell you 3 to 6 months of living expenses, as if you lost income. Others say 6 months, or even a year that you could live (cover expenses), if you lost income. Well, yeah, that’d be great. But for most people, it’s just too overwhelming. It would take them forever, they think, to build even a month’s worth of expense money. Especially if it’s to be in a fund they’re not supposed to tap into. Even if they could put $200 a month into it, which again seems an impossibility to many people, it would take time. So they — do nothing.
Starting now, if you’re serious about building wealth / financial freedom, then doing nothing is NOT an option.
DO SOMETHING! Maybe you can’t start out with 6 months, 3 months or even 1 month.
Something is better than nothing
Don’t think you can’t save “enough”? That’s panic thinking. That’s lack mentality thinking. You can build up to it by stashing away smaller amounts on a regular basis, like every week or every month or every paycheck. Or every opportunity. You never know what God is going to send your way. If you keep it up, over time you’ll eventually have that safety net. There’s a popular ad that runs on tv about car repairs. One woman is saying her repairs ran $1,500 (a conservative figure with todays computerized cars that make repairs more expensive). She intones, if I hadn’t had (product where you essentially have car repair insurance) I couldn’t have paid my rent that month.
So many of us are in that situation. Not 6 months of living expenses is between us and disaster. We’re one car repair away or one medical emergency away, or one child’s dental emergency away. If you have an unexpected expense of $80 and you had managed $100 in savings — that’s a safety net!
The important thing is that you’ve started saving something.
For instance, let’s say you set aside $100 a month in an emergency fund. Even without interest earned, at the end of 2 years, you could have $2,600 saved.
You can build your Emergency savings a little at a time over 2 years. Ok, maybe right now you think, ‘I’d do great if I could find even $10 a month!’ Alright, $10 a month, then. Even without interest that’s $120 in 12 months. And then? You take the next step. Don’t worry right now about having more than $10. And don’t worry about the next step right now. TAKE WHAT YOU HAVE and start. ‘Well, the bank has a minimum deposit of $25. I only have $3 that I could save. ‘May as well spend it.’ Well, no, I’m not going to let you get away with that kind of thinking anymore.
So do I want you to put the $3 in a piggy bank until you have the money to open an account? That’s not really a bad idea — except I don’t trust you not to kill the poor piggy next time you have a chocolate attack emergency! LOL
Notice that I keep calling this EMERGENCY or SAFETY NET money? This is not SAVINGS (although, yes it’s actually Savings, but for your purpose Savings and Emergency Safety Net are two different things.) We’ll talk about SAVINGS farther into the “Steps”. So right now we need to keep in mind that this is EMERGENCY money. Therefore . . .
There are 3 things you need to consider. 1) What is an “emergency”? 2) How much should you “save”? 3) Where should you keep it?
#1 – An emergency is a future mishap and/or unexpected expense.
A medical need, a car or home repair, the need to travel for a funeral… those are “Emergencies”. That to-die-for dress like Kate Middleton’s, the DVD of that movie you want, the expensive restaurant instead of Cracker Barrel is not an emergency.
#2) You should save … at least $1.
No, I am not being funny. Honey, I’ve seen times in my life when I walked the streets to find a quarter. Don’t talk to me about hard times. Been there, done that. Can you really start saving with a $1? You can. Is it hard? Well, yes and no. It’s easy to put it aside. It’s hard not to grab it and spend it if you’re really living day-to-day in crisis. And it’s more than the patience of Job to wait for it to build to an amount that would take care of any real emergency. But my readers are living a different lifestyle. So most of you I’d advise to try to start with $100. If you can’t do that, do what you can. The main thing is to get started. You want to have HIGH LIQUIDITY and ALMOST HIGH LIQUIDITY for your Emergency Fund. LIQUIDITY means how fast you can get your paws back on that money if you do need to, and also whether there is any penalty in case you do need to withdraw it. Here’s how I solved that. I have an account at my regular bank that does not charge a fee if I have $500 in my Savings account. It is HIGH LIQUIDITY because if I should need up to $500 FAST, I can by tapping out a few buttons transfer money to my checking account or spend directly out of Savings with an ATM or wire transfer. The only penalty is that if my balance drops below $500 and I haven’t replaced it by the next statement cycle, I pay a very small fee. If your bank is not as easily accessed FAST and charges greater penalties and fees, find another bank savings account with more favorable terms and put your HIGH LIQUIDITY savings there.
Why do I put just $500 in and not more? I’d put in less than $500 if I could and still avoid the small monthly fee, because … I don’t get paid any interest from my bank for holding (and using) my money. Granted I ain’t Rockefeller. But I keep an amount there, without incurring a fee, for the HIGH LIQUIDITY they offer. If I need some quick emergency cash – this is available instantly. they know I’ll more than likely be moving those funds fast if I need to. But still, $500 is a lot of money to me, even if it’s not to the bank and I’m certainly not going to have MORE that that there and not get paid for it. So I have an alternative. See #3.
#3) I have found a Savings Account that pays one of the highest interest rates in the country for a Money Market type account. They have a mix of plans depending on your goals and needs offered from among 3 Banks. For Emergency Savings I chose a plan with a New York bank that offers the highest yield and ALMOST HIGH liquidity – meaning that I can withdraw my money as often as I wish without penalty — but it does take a couple days to transfer back to my bank. It’s not instant. So, by keeping $500 in my regular bank that I can access instantly, I get the best of both worlds. The minimum deposit? $1. Penalties for withdrawals? $0 Limits on withdrawals (how many times I can ask for money back) NONE. I want my Emergency Fund and Savings Deposits to earn money for me, not just sit and lose value with inflation. And once I have enough in that account, I’ll purchase a CD which pays even more interest on my “investment”. I’ll move that money there and let it earn for the term of the CD while I continue to deposit more money in the Money Market High Yield account.
You might want to follow a similar plan for your Emergency Fund. If you have more money to deposit or already have a substantial Savings Fund, please do talk with a good financial advisor to make the best decisions for you and your family.
You can look at the products and plans I use at savebetter.com
Now that we have you set to do your financial feats with a safety net under you, next time we’ll move on to PAYING DOWN DEBT (REDUCING LIABILITY) and SAVINGS & INVESTMENT (INCREASING ASSETS).
See ya next month!