Monthly Archives: June 2015

How to Become a Financial Superhero

15713223772_e234c1a9b5_z
photo by tom_bullock

Wouldn’t it be great to be Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent? Except instead of swooping in to save citizens in distress you were able to help your family, friends and colleagues with their personal finances?! Okay, maybe it’s not as sexy as having super powers or an awesome bat cave. But I’d like to think that becoming a financial superhero is equally rewarding. In fact, it’s the primary reason that I started this blog.

Finances are universal. Everyone we know is affected by finances in one way or another. I’m a proponent of the idea that everyone has the ability to be financially successful, no matter what your background is. Whether you’re a natural finance guru or you’re just starting out. Anyone can learn the keys to financial success.

Research and Education

The first step is to get educated. I’m not talking about majoring in finance or attaining a certification (although that will never hurt). There is an abundance of finance information and research all around us. In fact, I started this blog specifically to provide as much personal finance information as possible. Before I started this blog, I followed hundreds like it and gained valuable (and different) information from each one. Here are a few great finance blogs that I follow to get you started:

I became a CPA in 2010 and in all honesty I’ve learned more about personal finance from my own research than passing the CPA exam. Don’t get me wrong, having a CPA background has been very beneficial, but I have no doubt that there is more than enough information out there for the average individual to educate themselves and become a financial superhero. Continue reading How to Become a Financial Superhero

Why Investing is NOT Like Gambling

5857835480_fa4df9162a_zHave you ever heard someone say that if you invest in the stock market you mine as well be gambling?  Although there is risk with any investment I always have to pause when someone says that the stock market is like one big casino where investments are wagers and returns are based on chance. As someone who has worked in the casino industry as an auditor and regulator, I will be the first to tell you how untrue that statement is and here’s why:

 The Power of Longevity

In a casino environment, it’s imperative to keep guests within the facility as long as possible. Have you ever noticed that there are typically no windows or clocks around the gaming floor? In addition, most properties strategically place their restrooms and restaurants in locations where you have to walk across the gaming floor to get to. Go to some of the bigger Las Vegas casinos and they manage to design the floor plan to easily direct you into the gaming area with signage placed a bit more discreetly showing you the way out. At the end of the day, as a player you are statistically at a disadvantage to the house in every game on the floor. Therefore the insider casino mantra will always hold true: “the longer you play, the greater you lose.”

Investing in the stock market is exactly the opposite of this idea. History has shown that the longer you invest, the greater your returns. Since inception, the average annual return for the S&P 500 is approximately 10%. Year over year there will be fluctuations and bear markets, but over the long-term you have to stay in the game to reap greater returns. Warren Buffet said it best, “over the long term, the stock market news will be good.” Maintaining a disciplined saving plan and continuously invest with a long time horizon in mind. In fact, unless you are re-balancing your portfolio you shouldn’t even look at your investment performance day to day, week to week or even month to month. Trust the process and the insider investor mantra will always hold true: “the longer you invest, the greater you win.” Continue reading Why Investing is NOT Like Gambling

IRA Investing: How We Diversify and Balance Our Portfolio

 

chart

Everyone has an image of their ideal retirement. Maybe it’s retiring on white sand beaches, days at the golf course, or maybe it consists of a more modest idea of working part time and enjoying your grand kids. Whatever it may be, it will take savings discipline to get to your end goal.

For our household, my wife and I each have a 401K through our current employer. In 2010, I also opened a Roth IRA for both of us. Since 2010, we’ve been able to max out our Roth contributions annually (which is $5,500 per year for 2014). Without a doubt, this is the most difficult aspect of building net worth: SAVING. Once you’ve managed to open a retirement account and save some money; now what? The key is determining what your ideal asset allocation is, investing your balance in line with that allocation, and re-balancing periodically. Let’s take a look at my wife and my Roth IRA accounts as an example:

#1 Ideal Asset Allocation

This is a difficult question for most people. What is an ideal portfolio? What it all boils down to is risk. What is your individual risk tolerance and how close are you to retirement? If you are young and the type of person that will keep their money in the market through bull and bear markets then you probably have a higher risk tolerance than someone that is nearing retirement and is likely to pull their funds out of the market when there is volatility. I adhere to the 120-rule. Subtract your age from 120 and that will give you the percentage of your portfolio to invest in stocks, the remainder in bonds. I’d note that some people adhere to the 100-rule, but I’m a bit less conservative and tend to lean toward investing in stocks over the long-term. For me, since I’m turning the corner on 30, then I invest 90% of my portfolio in stocks and 10% in bonds (120 – 30 = 90%). Continue reading IRA Investing: How We Diversify and Balance Our Portfolio

Establish a Financial Plan in 5 Quick Steps

6551520247_ae0315efb8_z

There is a myriad of ways to establish a financial plan for your household. In its simplest form, financial planning consists of assessing your current financial situation, determining where you want to go, and establishing a plan to get there long-term. Here are five quick steps that you can take to put together a simple financial plan:

#1 Perform a Financial Assessment

You don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been. It may seem like a painful process, but it’s important to do a financial assessment. I’m not talking about creating a budget; that comes later. The first step is determining where is your paycheck going month to month? What are your standard expenses each month? What sources of income do you have? The best way to do this is to track all monthly transactions through your credit card statements and checking accounts over the past three months. That will give you a fairly good benchmark of where your money is going and what your margin of safety is. Continue reading Establish a Financial Plan in 5 Quick Steps

4 Steps to Reduce “Daddy Pressure”

17121929770_f67059429b_zIt’s been a long day at work and you walk through the front door of your home. Your wife is cooking dinner and your kids are playing in the living room. You take off your jacket and slump onto the couch. As you let out a sigh of relief that the day has ended, you can’t seem to fully relax. You look at your wife and smile and watch your children as the play with over-sized Lego’s on the floor. All is well in your life but you can’t seem to shake an overwhelming sense of responsibility. A silent yet alarmingly urgent call to action. This is a common feeling for a young dad and any dad for that matter. It’s the constant pressure of knowing that you are solely responsible for your family’s financial well-being. I call it “Daddy Pressure”.

As a dad from the millennial generation I’ve felt all of this pressure. It’s the stress of being the provider for your family and the burden of ensuring that the future is secure. I’m not talking about putting food on the table and keeping the lights on. I’m talking about ensuring that you are building long term wealth in order to ensure that your family is positioned to succeed over the long haul. As a new dad with a young family you enter into a new level of responsibility. You are no longer accountable for only yourself. I have two boys (age 4 and 1) and I’ve been married for five years. It wasn’t until my first child was born that I began to realize that I have a greater responsibility than myself. As a man, as a provider, I have a responsibility for the entire family. The burden can be heavy, but there are ways to get your arms around it. Here are four steps to take control of your family’s financial situation and relieve some of that “Daddy Pressure”. Continue reading 4 Steps to Reduce “Daddy Pressure”