Last Saturday, I cleaned out my car…after putting it off for over two weeks! What is it about the smallest of tasks that we just cannot drag ourselves to do?
I mean, isn’t it crazy that we’d let something we’re putting off, sit in the back of our minds and eat away at our enjoyment of everything we’re doing until we get it done…just because it’s less fun than watching TV, reading your HOA rules and regulations, or cleaning the cat’s litter box?
What a nice feeling to have it done, though…I can actually get more than one person in my Yukon XL now…
Now that you’re thinking about the things you are putting off and how they are affecting your well being, I’d like you to take a step further into this thought and ask you how this relates to your current financial life, and your future plans…such as retirement. We all know the stock market is a mess, and that it’s scary to invest out there…even banks we’ve long trusted have taken nose-dives.
So what’s a hard working earner to do? Well, I can’t be the one to tell you that, but I am willing to share with you a few of the most critical changes I’ve made in my own finances lately. I am not a financial advisor, I am not an expert. I am simply a guy in his 40’s who refuses to start all over again, or watch his 401k and other investments dissolve, dilute, or shrink…and I don’t want to work past 50, so I have no time to sit this out and hope things change. I have to be proactive and aware of what is going on around me or I could be in some real hot water, and that’s just not an option at this point in my life.
So…first of all, in order to understand what you can afford to invest, you must first take a real inventory of your situation. I know what you’re thinking… “What if I don’t have ANY money?” Or, “What if I am in serious debt?” Or maybe even, “Investing isn’t a reality for me!” It’s ok…no matter WHERE you are in the list above, what I am going to share with you will help you snap out of your current state and into more control of your personal situation, so that you may pay off debt, reduce expenses, find better rates on your money, and help you feel free.
To get a clear picture of where you’re at, there are several resources I recommend! First register at www.Mint.com, it’s free and it could truly change your life if you are honest with yourself and take action on what you find there. This is a site that will allow you to see ALL of your money matters at a glimpse…every account in one place…and that’s just the start. I can’t begin to explain it all (and this is no infomercial), so just trust the author a touch, and go there and register…almost every one of you will be impressed, I am sure.
Second of all, consider setting up an electronic savings account with a good, solid, well reputed bank that offers superior rates to your local savings and loan. I am here to tell you, I have been investing cash into my ING Direct Orange Savings account for years at www.INGdirect.com, and have consistently earned rates far above ANYTHING my bank offers, and we run literally MILLIONS of dollars through the local bank every YEAR! I like to sweep about 3-5% of every deposit into a high yield savings account, or even a money market (as long as there are no fees). That way I can sweep some or all of it back into my business checking when needed for the business (tax time, crises, etc.). I also deposit a minimum of 10% — and try to push closer to 30% — of my take home pay into a separate higher-yield savings account or money market checking account.
Third of all, consider investing in metals. I personally like gold coins. I do not recommend numismatic coins…instead I do “semi-numismatic coins.” Those are the ones that are minted pre-1933, and therefore are not subject to government recall as they did with the gold bullion in the 1930’s (and could again)! I do not recommend how much a person should invest there, but have heard form very reliable sources that it should not be more than 5-20% of your total investments…so be careful. If you want a great broker that I have worked with for some time, email me and I’ll give you his number and name. The most important thing here, is to do a TON of research and talk to several people before you buy…be particular in your understanding of the “spread”, which is the commission you will be charged to purchase. It can be truly exorbitant, and ruin the chance of a decent return on your investment. Also avoid listening to all the hype on metals…find a good broker and start there.
Finally, I suggest that you list every budget item…all your monthly expenses and get RID of as many as you can. Start with the highest interest credit card you have. Take it out of your wallet or purse, and then begin to pay more off on that each month. Pay as much as you can while still saving some money in the savings account. You can find expenses that you do not desperately need every week…take the money you save form avoiding them and write a check every week to your highest interest debt. It will change your life and free you. I sold my ATV this year, which got rid of a $200.00 per MONTH storage unit! Now I can take that $200.00 and put it toward more important things, like SAVING and INVESTING in my FUTURE!
So…no excuses left…get at it, and PLEASE comment below and I’d really love it if you came back and commented over the next few months…lets help each other keep the commitment and make the recovery in our own homes!