personal finance

Curated - August 2019

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Here are some of our favorite financial reads and Internet finds we came across from last month!

Choosing when to claim Social Security benefits is an important decision that will affect how much you receive each month for the rest of your life.
— Katie Brockman, The Motley Fool

15 Steps to Take if You Were Affected by the Capital One Breach | Money Crashers | While this happened at the end of July, there’s still time to see if you were affected and read about what you can do to fix your situation.

Why Women are Less Prepared for Retirement than Men | CNBC | Mark found this and wanted to share it with our community. Read on to find out interesting facts about men vs. women with finances, and how, if you are a woman, you can better prepare for retirement.

What are Stocks? What are Bonds? | The Simple Dollar | Before you start investing, make sure you know the difference!

Which Financial Advice Should You Trust? | Get Rich Slowly | Everyone has thoughts about personal finance. Here’s how you can navigate these waters and determine which advice will best suit your situation.

5 Things You Should Know About Apple’s New Credit Card | The Motley Fool | Apple released their new credit card this month - are you going to use it?

What to Do if You Claim Social Security Benefits too Early | The Motley Fool | This one is quite relevant to the Lunch & Learn talks we’ve been having. If you find yourself in this situation, read on to see how you can remedy it!

ICYMI: How I Increased My Net Worth by $10,000 in One Year | Milborn Advisors | Amy decided to take her financial situation seriously - and it paid off. Here’s how she did it.

How to Have a Positive Mindset About Money

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Raise your hand if you’ve heard the phrase, “Money is the root of all evil.”

Did you know that this quote originated from the Bible, and the entire quote is, “The love of money is the root of all evil”?

Kind of changes the meaning of it a little bit, doesn’t it?

Because of its origin, this verse is warning us about the perils of greed. But here’s something to think about - can you love money without being considered greedy? What if your love of money was more so your love of being able to take care of yourself and not have to worry about financial troubles?

Allow us to get all woo-woo for a second and say this: Your mindset towards money can determine whether money is abundant or absent in your life.

When it comes to attracting more wealth in your life, there are two schools of thought: the scarcity mindset, and the abundance mindset.

The scarcity mindset is believing that you never quite have enough of something - in this case, wealth or money. This is mainly due to forces outside of your control, or because there just isn’t enough for everyone. “The scarcity mindset views things like wealth, success, and fame as something like a pie. There’s only so much to go around and if one person takes too big of a slice, everyone else gets less.” - Matthew Kent, Medium

Rich people are inherently evil, no matter how many good deeds they’ve done with their money, because they took too big of a slice, so now there’s not enough for the rest of us.

Abundance mindset, however, implies the opposite. “The abundance mindset says that we can create more value for everyone. Instead of viewing wealth and success as a zero-sum game, we can create win-win situations where everyone comes out better than they were before.” - Matthew Kent

This means that there is no finite amount of money or wealth, and everyone can have as much of the pie as they want. It’s basically dog eat dog versus collaboration.

Many studies have proven that people who are wealthy are more likely to have a positive, abundant mindset than those who are not. They believe that they create their own life and destiny, as opposed to being controlled by it. They focus on the end opportunity, rather than the obstacles that may have to be crossed to get there. They admire their fellow wealthy peers, rather than see them as competition. See what the pattern is?

By changing your mindset to an open, abundant one - not just about finances, but about all aspects of life - you can create the wealth that you want. Here are four steps to take to get started on having a healthier, positive mindset surrounding money.

Stop thinking of money as the enemy.

Money is not the problem. Money is just an object - a way to acquire needs and wants. It has no mental capacity, emotions, thoughts, feelings, or motivations. The perception you place on money is just that - your perception.

By putting negative emotions towards money, you’re going to have negative experiences. By thinking you’ll never have enough money, you’ll never have enough money.

You can get help your finances with money, or you can hurt your finances with money - it’s up to you to decide which one happens.

Realize what you can and can’t control.

In the same vein, realize what you have control over, and what is beyond your control.

You can’t control when your car breaks down. You can’t control when your spouse overspends. You can’t control when the market crashes.

You can, however, control your reactions. Or, better yet - your preventative actions.

Your car breaks down? Good thing you’ve been putting money away into an emergency fund. Your spouse overspends? Good thing you’ve been practicing a budget so you can adjust as needed. The market crashes? Good thing you pulled out when you did.

Even if these preventative actions weren’t taken, you can control how you respond to these or any situations. Instead of getting angry and thinking, “This always happens when I can’t cover the cost,” try thinking, “Ok, so I have to have x amount of money - here’s my plan to take care of the issue now and how to recover in the future.” Wipe your hands clean, and move on.

Make plans for what you can control, and practice controlling your emotions in stressful situations. Both will help you be more prepared for the unexpected.

Do actions that make you feel good about money.

Build a positive relationship with money by doing things that make you feel good that involve money. For example, if you find you have extra cash this month, consider donating it to your favorite charity, or buying a gift for a loved one. Make sure that the action you’re spending money on is guilt-free; it can be as morally good as you want, but if you feel guilty, you’re only adding a negative building block to your money relationship.

If investing or putting it away in savings makes you feel good, do that - you don’t have to spend to feel good.

Practice gratitude.

Spending five minutes a day writing down events or aspects of your life you’re grateful for has so many benefits - including for your wallet. According to Forbes, being grateful can encourage you to be more patient, which means you’re more likely to make smarter financial choices and less likely to splurge or indulge in instant gratification.

If you’re still having trouble being positive about money, spend time being grateful for what money has done for you. Maybe you were able to go to school because you had access to money, even if you may be in debt right now. Perhaps you are now finally able to afford healthcare. Even using money to buy groceries for the week is something to be grateful for.

Thank your finances - don’t shame them.

How is your mindset about money? What ways do you practice gratitude in your life? Let us know in the comments!

What Will Make You Rich - And What's Holding You Back

If you’ve ever wondered why you just can’t seem to get richer, you may want to take a step back and examine the daily habits in your life. The solution could be something as small as a mindless task you take advantage of every day!

Here are habits that you are most likely doing that are preventing you from increasing your net worth - along with habits you can start incorporating to set yourself on the path to wealth.

What Isn’t Making You Rich

  • Microtransactions and Subscriptions

Netflix. Spotify. Amazon. Skillshare. Gym memberships. Do any of these sound familiar to you? When was the last time you used these products? Do you still find value in them? If not, it’s time to ditch them.

On average, a person in the US can save up to $500/year by cutting back on monthly or yearly subscriptions. Chances are, you may not even know you’re still paying monthly for a service you haven’t used in years! Take the time to comb through your bank account for recurring transactions. If any make you ask, “What the heck is this?”, it’s time to cancel.

  • Impulsive spending

Another practical way to begin accumulating more wealth is to reign in any bad spending habits you may have. If you find yourself buying because of an emotional reason, or feel that if you ever have cash in your pocket you just have to get rid of it, now’s a good time to reassess your spending habits. Find your triggers that cause impulsive purchases and nip them in the bud before they can cause any problems again.

  • Complaining too much

Accumulating wealth isn’t just a matter of spending less or saving more. You also have to be sure to have the right mindset. As long as you’re complaining about not having money, you’re putting the signal out into the world that you don’t have money and you won’t have money. Studies have shown that rich people do not complain as much as poorer people - they’re more likely to own up to mistakes, try new things, and aren’t as afraid to fail. By complaining, you’re setting yourself roadblocks on paths that could lead you to more money. Negativity never reaps anything.

  • Surrounding yourself with the wrong people

There’s a saying that goes, “The 5 closest people in your life are a reflection of yourself.” Like attracts like, which means we naturally tend to gravitate towards those who are similar to us, be in in lifestyle, careers, or habits. When it comes to money habits, this can be detrimental if your 5 closest people are all poor, not managing their money well, or negative. Try to find people that you want to be like or can look up to and incorporate them into your life.

What Will Make You Rich

  • Prioritizing savings

If you had an unexpected emergency happen today, could you cover the cost? Studies show that 69% of Americans do not have enough in their savings to cover $1,000 of an emergency cost. When you prioritize your savings, not only are you paying yourself first, but you’re also ensuring that should an emergency come up, you won’t have to dip into credit and set yourself back even further.

  • Paying down debt

The more debt you pay down, the higher your net worth becomes. You’ll never be able to build riches if you always have that lingering loan number in the back of your mind. Plus - the longer you take to pay it off, the more you will have to pay off because of interest, so you’re setting yourself up for an endless cycle of owing money.

Start paying off any debt as soon as you can - and make sure you’re doing it in a way that you won’t be putting yourself in a bind for the rest of your monthly expenses. The last thing you want to do while paying debt is to take out another loan to cover other costs.

  • Thinking outside the box

When was the last time you flexed your creative muscle? Studies have proven that rich people tend to be more creative thinkers; they aren’t afraid to try new methods to make more money. You can practice creative thinking as soon as today by viewing a situation at work from a different angle; the more you work on your creativity, the easier it will be to think of new solutions that might very well earn you a pay raise.

  • Having a financial mentor

Similar to surrounding yourself with like-minded people, consider finding a mentor for your financial journey. Many people learn best by following example; find someone who is in the financial place you want to be in. They can help you with any questions you may have, and you have someone to visualize whenever you’re about to make a decision regarding money. Think of them as the “What would Jesus do?” of finances.

Another way to help build your finances is to see an advisor. We at Milborn Advisors are committed to helping you on every step of your financial journey - we want to see your wealth grow as much as you want to experience it. Contact us today for a free 60-minute consultation!


How I Increased My Net Worth By $10,000 in One Year

By Amy Lancaster

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Up until I started working at Milborn Advisors, I had no money. Seriously - I was living paycheck-to-paycheck, wondering how I was going to come up with rent for the next month. Now that I am involved in the financial world daily, I decided I wanted to grow my own bank account and really start taking my own personal finance seriously. From August 2018 to now, I’ve managed to increase my net worth by $10,000.

Of course, it’s not where I want it to be yet - but it’s been a huge help in my financial future. I’ve been able to begin to pay off student loans - something I’ve never done before. I’ve raised my credit score. I have health insurance for the first time in my life. I have an emergency fund that can cover me for up to six months. All in all, while I still have a lot of work to do, I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve accomplished in a year.

Here’s how I did it.

I researched.

Ask anyone - I love learning about things. As soon as I see a movie, I immediately look up random facts about it. If I have even the slightest question about something, I google it. So, when I first got interested in finances, I read all the articles. I created an RSS feed that updates daily with blog posts just from financial sites. I looked into phone apps that would help keep me on track. I made sure I knew the ins and outs about everything I was going to be doing for the next year so I knew what I was actually doing.

I still do this, as well - not as feverishly, of course, because I’m still in the building stages, but once I get to a place where I can start contributing to retirement for example, I’ll be researching all of my options to make sure I choose the right one.

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Arm yourself with knowledge.

I created a plan.

After having all the facts, opinions, and experiences laid out in front of me, I began to plan. What was my goal for this first year of finance overhaul? What did I want to accomplish? I decided on three things:

  1. Open a savings account and start contributing to an emergency fund.

  2. Get to a point where I can start contributing a large sum of money towards my school loans.

  3. Figure out a way to earn more money.

From there, I broke these steps down further:

  1. Open a savings account and start contributing to an emergency fund.

    1. Calculate how much money I can realistically put away each month.

    2. Divide that up by every pay period, and immediately put it into savings when pay day hits.

  2. Get to a point where I can start contributing a large sum of money towards my school loans.

    1. Determine if I can pay off loans while still in school.

    2. Determine what number this is that won’t put me in a bind for other expenses.

  3. Figure out a way to earn more money.

    1. How can I use skills I already have to earn extra cash?

I created a budget and started tracking my expenses.

All of these goals could not be completed unless I had set a strict budget for myself and tracked where every cent was going. I’ll admit - I’m the extreme case who has an Excel spread sheet color-coded tracking literally every cent daily - but that’s what worked for me. Whether you’re checking daily or weekly (and I wouldn’t recommend checking less often than that), be sure to at the very least keep an eye on your account balances.

I was also just genuinely curious about where most of my money went (hint: it’s food. It’s always food.)

Here is how I broke down my expenses every month:

  1. I wrote out where all my money would be coming from for the month and what my total post-tax income would be.

  2. I kept track of when that money hits my bank account.

  3. I took my income and tacked off 20% of it towards savings, setting a specific date for myself on when to transfer it over.

  4. I wrote out all my necessary expenses for the month (bills and loans), and determined that total.

  5. I subtracted that total from the amount of income left after my savings contribution.

  6. I tacked off 30% of that amount and transferred it to my “fun money” account.

You’ll notice I determine the amount of savings before I calculate my necessary expenses. This is important - you want to pay yourself first before taking care of anything else. You’ll also notice that with this method, I have a left over amount of money with no job. The first year I did this method, I didn’t worry about that money - I was more focused on getting this system in place and seeing if I did actually have extra money left over after all the payments and transfers were made.

I would not recommend doing this - if you can give every dollar a job, do it. I could have been putting all that extra money towards retirement, hitting two birds with one stone (retirement contributions and loan repayments).

I opened multiple bank accounts.

Before starting, I had one checking account with Chase, and one checking account with a mobile bank called Simple that I never used but just didn’t close. I also had a bank account from my hometown that had been open since I was 5. It had $6.00.

Here’s how I now allocate my accounts:

  1. Chase checking account - for bills, loan repayments, and other necessary expenses.

  2. Chase savings account #1 - for emergency fund.

  3. Chase savings account #2 - for long-term savings goals (I’m currently saving up for a new laptop, for example).

  4. Simple checking account - for “fun money”.

The childhood bank account is obviously closed. RIP. (I did get that $6.00 back though.)

I started paying attention to my credit score.

You’ll notice that I don’t have any credit cards or accounts. This is intentional. From personal experience, I’ve seen credit burn my family directly, so I vowed to not have to rely on credit to improve my credit score. Of course, you don’t have to do this - if you’re good with credit repayment, it doesn’t hurt to have one.

I do eventually want to be able to either open a mortgage or get a car or do things that rely on good credit, however, so I still pay attention to this. I’ve had my bad credit score bite me in the butt in the past, and I was tired of it. Because of my changes, my score has increased by 50 points in the last year.

I began tracking my net worth.

Now for the fun part! While I obviously could tell the health of my bank accounts because of my overly-obsessive budget tracking, I wanted to put everything together and see the progression as a total lump sum. So, I downloaded an app called Personal Capital and plugged in all my info. It’s nice because it tracks your bank accounts, loans, and investments all in one place and gives you your total net worth number, along with assets and liabilities. I believe you can also get your credit score on there. Seeing those numbers change and rise is a great motivator, and it’s nice to have all that info in one place.

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I compared last year’s amount to this year’s, and rewarded myself.

As of August 1st, one year has passed since I began this journey. Seeing the amount of money I had from last August compared to now is so amazing. I can’t believe it. So, I rewarded myself by (correctly budgeting for, of course) purchasing new work outfits.

Don’t be shy about celebrating your successes. You’ve worked hard, and you should be proud of yourself!

Let me know if you try this plan - I’d love to hear your progress! Also - are you an obsessive budgeter like myself, or are you more lax about your budget? Let us know in the comments!

5 Money Goals to Make to Build Your Future

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In most aspects of life, the journey itself is just as important as the destination. This includes the path you need to take to get your finances in order. It can be intimidating - but with the right directions and guides, it definitely doesn’t have to be!

Here are five goals you can get started on today to pave your path to financial success and stability:

Determine a budget

The first thing you want to do is collect all your statements, account balances, and any money hidden anywhere, and figure out how much you have on you right now. If you don’t want to crunch the numbers yourself, sites like Personal Capital can quickly do this and display everything nice and neatly for you - for free!

Once you’ve figured out what you have and what you owe, it’s time to set up a budget. There are a few ways to do this:

  • Flex those Excel skills and create a spreadsheet, where you can track monthly, weekly, or even daily;

  • Use a budgeting app like Mint, which can send you notifications in real-time about your budget (the “Set it and Forget it” method);

  • Set a meeting with your financial advisor (wink wink) and set up a budget for you together - this can allow for flexibility and you won’t be tracking it alone or relying on a robot.

Once your budget is set, you can see exactly how much you need to survive the day-to-day, along with how much you can allocate towards debt, savings, and investments.

Click here to read about how budgeting can change your life.

Prioritize your debt

The next step is to start ticking away at those loans. Your budget will show you how much you can spend monthly on your loans - now start applying it! The nice thing too is that you can adjust numbers here and there depending on if you want to be more liberal or conservative with your debt repayment - just make sure you adjust the rest of your budget to make up for the difference so you don’t end up putting more money towards your payments than you can actually afford.

Read our guide here on how to begin tackling your debt!

Decide how you will contribute to retirement

After setting a budget and paying off your debt, the next task you’ll want to tackle is getting yourself set up for retirement. What kind of account do you want to contribute to? Does your company have a 401(k), or will you need to open an IRA? Be sure to research all your options, and pick the plan that’s right for you.

Roth or Traditional? Which IRA Is Right For You?

Don’t forget to address these aspects of retirement that are often overlooked!

Figure out how to make your money grow

Congratulations! You’re beginning to set up a nice cushion for yourself. But - don’t get too comfy yet. While having a stable income is good, don’t you want to learn how to earn more?

This is where investing comes in. What is considered fun or a gamble to some can be intimidating for others - what if I lose all that I’ve worked up towards? More often than not, however, investing is worth it purely for the fact that you will walk away with more than you put in. As the old adage goes - “You gotta spend money to make money.”

Again, be sure to do your research: you can start with this article here.

Seek Guidance

Even if all your ducks are in a row, having an advisor or a mentor is a great way to stay focused and to be sure you’re making the right decisions. Many of the top successful people will say that they had a mentor, and wouldn’t have made half of their money-making decisions without them.

Whether you’re planning for retirement, looking to get out of debt, or just wanting a question answered - we can help. Click here to contact us and schedule your free 60-minute consultation today!

What are your goals financially to help build and secure your future? Let us know in the comments!

Roth or Traditional: Which IRA is right for you?

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There are many options when it comes to how to save for retirement, with one of the most popular being an Individual Retirement Account (or an IRA). With two different types leading the pack, it can be hard to determine which type of IRA you should go for. Here, we break down the differences between a traditional and a Roth IRA, as well as their advantages and disadvantages so you can determine which type is right for you.

What is a Traditional IRA?
A traditional IRA (individual retirement account) allows individuals to direct pre-tax income toward investments that can grow tax-deferred. The IRS assesses no capital gains or dividend income taxes until the beneficiary makes a withdrawal. Individual taxpayers can contribute 100 % of any earned compensation up to a specified maximum dollar amount. Income thresholds may also apply. Contributions to a traditional IRA may be tax-deductible depending on the taxpayer's income, tax-filing status and other factors.” - Investopedia

Pros

  • Tax deductions are made with pre-tax dollars

  • Flexible contribution restrictions

  • Extended contribution timeline per year (15.5 months instead of 12)

Cons

  • Required minimum distributions

  • Employer plans can interfere with tax-deductible contributions

  • Restrictions on investments

  • There are penalties for early withdrawal

What is a Roth IRA?
Roth IRAs are funded with after-tax dollars; the contributions are not tax deductible—although you may be able to take a Saver's Tax Credit of 10% to 50% of the contribution, depending on your income and life situation. But once you start withdrawing funds, qualified distributions (see below) are tax-free.” - Investopedia

Pros

  • Savings grow tax-free

  • There are no required minimum distributions

  • There is no penalty for withdrawing contributions

  • With right distribution management, you can diversify your taxes in retirement

Cons

  • Taxes are paid upfront, rather than when you withdraw

  • The maximum contribution is low - only $6,000/year

  • You have to keep track of your account and set it up yourself

  • You can only open a Roth IRA if you meet the income limit requirements

Is one better than the other?

Not necessarily - the biggest difference between the two is how the contributions are taxed, so, depending on your situation, this will be the biggest factor in your decision. Your income will also help - if you make too much to contribute to a Roth IRA, then the decision’s been made for you.

Typically, people will opt for a Roth IRA if they can, mainly because of the lack of restrictions for withdrawals and during retirement. Also, while you may be getting an immediate benefit of tax breaks now when you contribute to a traditional IRA, you’ll have to deal with that when you retire. In the end, it’s up to you to decide which IRA is best for your situation.

Which type of IRA do you contribute to? Do you think one is better than the other? Let us know in the comments!

Curated - June 2019

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Here are some of our favorite financial reads and Internet finds we came across from last month!

Remove temptation and the ability to act on it from your life as much as possible.
— Trent Hamm

My Biggest Retirement Fear | Can I Retire Yet? | We have many fears that creep up as we get closer to retirement. Darrow Kirkpatrick does an excellent job in breaking each of them down, along with what you can do to ease your worries.

12 Enemies of Good Spending Habits | The Simple Dollar | Does your budget suffer due to these temptations? Here’s how you can combat them.

How to Create a Budget-Friendly Spread for Fourth of July | Mint Life | Holidays and celebrations can get expensive, but they don’t have to be! Here’s how to save and still have fun.

Some Advice for New Investors | A Wealth of Common Sense | Don’t let investing scare you! Here are some tips on how to set yourself up for success.

When You Earn Extra Money, Don’t Save It All | Life Hacker | When was the last time you took a vacation?

ICYMI: How Much Should You Save in Your Emergency Fund? We’ve come up with some guidelines for you to evaluate your situation and figure out just how much you should have saved in your emergency fund before taking the next steps towards financial freedom. Check them out!