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Jeremy Schalf

Discreet Millionaire

Figures from the Tax Policy Center say if your annual household income is $107,628, you are in the top 20% of income earners. If you exceed $148,687, you are in the top 10%. The top 5% earn over $208,810. And if your household income is over $521,411, congratulations. You are one of those “1% ers” and likely demonized by those who view hard work and risk-taking as a matter of luck or good genes. However, like a company, your personal balance sheet should be the determining factor. If you make $200,000 a year it does you no good if you’re spending $210,000.

You may in fact just appear rich instead of actually being rich.

Take for example the recent news about NBA legend Alan Iverson. Shockingly, a man who before age 35 had amassed a fortune more than the average person will see in a lifetime had blown it all. To quote from the article: “Iverson blew through his money at an alarming rate on gaudy jewelry, expensive cars, and other frivolous purchases. In 2012, a Georgia judge garnished his wages to satisfy a $859,896.46 debt to a jeweler.”

Huh? Almost a million dollars to a single jeweler! Here is a man who not only looked rich but actually was rich. But because the desire to look rich overwhelmed him, he is now begging for change on the street. He does stand to get $30 million from a trust, but not until age 55. It will be interesting to see if he learns his lesson, if he can survive until then. My guess is that $30 million will be gone before he reaches “official” retirement age.

This is why net worth is a far better gauge of true wealth than income. The Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances indicates a net worth of $415,700 puts you in the top 20% of households. You are in the top 10% if your net worth is $952,200. (Dr. Thomas J. Stanley – author of The Millionaire Next Door – says that one in eight American households has a net worth of $1 million or more. That’s close) If your net worth totals $1,863,800, you are in the top 5%. And if you have a household net worth of $6,816,200, ta daa- you are in the top 1%… and possibly frowned upon by redistributionists who resent folks that live beneath their means, save regularly and handle their financial affairs prudently.

Most millionaires are quite the opposite of being big spenders. They spend far less than they can afford on all commonly owned assets. The want to-be’s, on the other hand, (people with average or higher than average income but little net worth) are merely “aspirational.” They buy expensive clothes, top-shelf wines, luxury cars and often more house than they can comfortably afford.

It’s ironic the very same thing that makes them APPEAR rich prevents them from ever BEING rich.

How then do you become rich if you aren’t currently? The basic formula is pretty simple: Maximize your income (by upgrading your education or job skills). Minimize your liabilities (by living beneath your means). Save the difference in an IRA or 401K (I know easier said than done.) And follow proven investment principles.

Sure you must learn to be frugal. But eventually becoming financially free, to be able to do and go wherever you want, not have to depend on a bonehead of a boss or the federal government is what I consider rich. What a feeling.

Some people refuse to change, but the bottom line is clear: If you want to be rich, you have to stop appearing like it and actually start living like the many real millionaires you won’t see on TV.

Going Debt Free

Interest on auto loans is known to vary as much as 10 percent. Finance companies often charge much higher rates than banks and credit unions. Credit cards and department store accounts can be insidious ways of incurring additional debt. That is, unless you use them properly.

In regards to challenging your every belief, it is a fact of the modern financial system that loans generally incur higher interest rates. For example, let’s say Ford Motor Company goes to your bank. The company pays interest that is a fraction over the prime rate, which is the lowest rate banks charge their favorite customers. You, for sure, are paying several points over the prime.

You may not be able to change the fact the bank gives Ford a better interest rate than it gives you. But you can control, to some degree, the interest rate you pay based on the amount of money you borrow.

Look at the interest schedules on your credit card bills. You will see information that tells you something like this: On the balance up to $2,000, the finance charge is 18 percent annually, while on the balance over $2,000, you pay 12 percent. Remember, these numbers are generalized.

You may owe $2,000 or more in credit card bills, but if that debt is spread over several cards with low but lingering balances, you are paying the 18 percent on every penny. And if you pay the minimum amount due to each creditor every month, you will carry 18 percent until all balances go to zero.

Mastering a debt free plan can be achieved by strategically refinancing your debt. In fact, you can renegotiate and finance smaller loans as well as larger ones. However, be careful. Make sure you can benefit from the refinancing before you renegotiate.

Suppose you have an auto loan at 10 percent, and your bank is willing to lend you the money to pay it off at 7 percent. Sounds like a good deal, right? Well, maybe. If a big part of the loan has been paid off, refinancing may not be worthwhile because the new debt is usually paid off over a longer period of time and will ultimately cost more.

Money Transfer Threatens

Money laundering

Sometimes scams are initiated with an email or a phone call, or even an advertisement in the newspaper, offering commission for work with minimal risk. All that is required from the prospect is a laptop, an internet connection and a few hours every week. It might be pitched like an opportunity to work from home or flexible working.

You will be asked to either deposit money to receive initial working kit or receive a hefty payment into your bank account, then redistribute the money overseas (laundering). Whilst the fraudsters may convince you that money is being used for legitimate purposes such as trading shares abroad, or helping a charity distribute funds – you need to be vigilant. Or you could find yourself unwittingly funding criminals or converting someone’s black money into legitimate funds. Further, once you are lured into this by commission, scammers may also try to access your bank account, using the details you have given them.

Don’t respond to such advertisements or give your bank details to strangers. Ever.

Gift card/phishing

This scam usually happens during the holiday season. Consumers receive special promotion or gift card emails that look like it comes directly from an authorised retailer. Unfortunately, the links to the special promotion lead to a replica of the real website. The fake site swarms with malware, virus and phishing worms of all kinds that invade your gadgets to retrieve your financial credentials.

Look out for a small security lock icon at the bottom of your browser or next to the HTTPS in the browser bar when accessing any profiles, user accounts or online forms that ask you for financial information.

Online shopping

There are many fake companies online that sell drugs without legitimate prescriptions, or weight loss products. If an offer seems too cheap/good to be true, it will most definitely be a fraud. So no matter what the seller says, never share your credit card details for payment. Don’t take chances on your health and wealth by sending money to a stranger without proper validation and research.

Be vigilant, check reviews and avoid payments by any means. In fact COD might be better than giving your credit card details on their website.

Find A Good Bank

The neatest thing to do would be to locate the top banks that can be in your area. Call all of them up and request some information from them. Ask them what type of fees they’ve, if they’ve online banking, and what kind of interest levels they give out to those who might want to take out a loan with them.

The more information you possess the better you will be capable of make a choice on who you should be working with. When unsure you should also sit down and speak with friends and family on the bank they are utilizing. Get a thought of what type of transactions they have had and how easy it was to work with them.

You might need to look for a bank that is not going to charge you a lot of money in order for it to keep a savings account wide open with them. You also want to be sure that they have an abundance of ATMs across the city and they don’t charge an increased fee so as to use them. Most won’t charge anything when you are a member with them.

It just isn’t always easy to understand how to discover a secure bank – but it can be possible. Ensure the fees are reasonable. If you overdraft you don’t want to have to be anxious about paying them $50 to purchase it. $30 is probably the most reasonable I have heard – but a couple banks will provide you with a feature to prevent any fees should you should ever have this difficulty for whatever reason.

The type of interest fees can often catch us completely off guard. That is why you need to ask in advance or else try to work with a bank that will at times give you the best offer and chance when you might ever need a loan. Also make sure that they would work with someone for whatever loan you might need in the future.

Direct Payday Loan Lenders

What can you do to make your life more successful despite money problems? First off, the last thing you want to do is ignore your debt. It is very important to at least make the minimum payments so you keep that part of your credit score on target. Find a way to reach a balance in your budget. Harmonize what you think say and do for your finances. Once you create goals and objectives to correct problems, it is important to focus your money management around them. You’ll see the balance come in small increments.

It takes courage to make hard decisions. Some folks find that the only way to balance the budget is to downsize their home or vehicle. Change is hard enough, but these are big ones. You have to take the challenge head on no matter how uncomfortable it makes your present life. Minimizing income output is your goal so do what it takes to make it happen.

During financial hardships of any size, relationships often get the brunt of frustrations and discouragement. If you are struggling to break bad spending habits or to get out of a reliance on direct payday lender help it’s best to work with your partner and/or family and make it a group effort. Everyone can help to encourage good changes while supporting each other during difficult moments. Be generous to your family at the end of the month in order to celebrate positive changes in your finances. It doesn’t have to cost money and frankly, according to your finances it shouldn’t. Time and love are priceless rewards. From a game night or a hike in the woods, your family will get the rewards they deserve.

Learn from your mistakes. The wisdom you get from correcting your wrongs will last a life time. Be open to hear your inner voice when you second guess a purchase, think twice about online payday lender applications or get disgruntled about the pile of debt you own. There is an inner voice letting you know it is time to wake up and make a change.

Keep all your financial documents organized and easily obtainable. The better you document expense sheets and track spending the easier it is to target an area that needs improvement. All your efforts to make changes and bring balance to your finances will show clearly on monthly budget reports. Pay attention to the ebb and flow of your money in order to predict potential problems. Make sure that one of your major goals is to save your own emergency fund so you are less apt to accrue additional credit card or fast payday loan debt. This money will be at your disposal free of charge. Money emergencies will no longer create stress or financial burdens. You got rid of that problem, learned from your mistake and no longer have to suffer.

When you get your finances back on track, it is a beautiful thing. You will be able to concentrate on saving money for your child’s education and your own retirement. Take one day at a time, but make it in the right direction. Your future finances depend on it.

Managing Household Debt

Many people are of the opinion that people who end up with insurmountable debt are irresponsible and only find themselves in that situation because they have made poor financial decisions in life. Although this may be true in some cases, there are many more cases where our spiraling debt is as a result of us being dealt a bad hand in life that we do not have much control over. Many hard working individuals with all of the right intentions sometimes just fall on hard times. The loss of a job, ones own serious health condition or the serious health condition of a loved one, student loans, ballooning mortgages, the death of a loved one, are among some of the main reasons where unforeseen circumstances lead us down the path to debt crises.

So what do you do when you have been dealt a bad hand? For many people we have to make a mental shift to move ourselves from where we are to where we need to be. I have spoken to so many people who know that they need to do something but feel so stuck that on their own, they see no way to get out of the vicious cycle that they have found themselves in. For those of us who have taken on our debt burdens and have made them more manageable, we tend to look at these people as irresponsible. Unfortunately, there are many people for whom debt management is not a priority.

They see it as a necessary evil. They go about spending on their credit card as if there were no end and are quite content to not make payments and dodge those debt collectors. On the other hand there are those who try to take a more responsible approach. Instead of dodging the debt collectors they religiously make only the minimum payments on their credit cards every month and still continue to spend as of there were no end. Credit card companies love those people who make minimum payments on their cards. Every time you make the minimum payment you pay the interest only on the card and you still owe the card company all that you have borrowed. What does that mean? It means that for as long as you keep on spending and making the minimum payment you keep the credit card companies in business. Something else to be mindful of is that there is a benefit to those who make minimum payments. It is called your credit scores. Yes, paying the minimum on your credit cards will keep you in good standing and your credit scores will improve. You will receive more offers from other credit card companies because you are not at risk of default and do you see what is happening? The cycle continues…

Now that you have all of this information and you are wiser about how you got there, how do we fix the situation? Below are a few simple things that you can do to change your situation. I know a lot of people who were serious about reducing their level of debt and have applied some of these techniques that actually work.

  1. Make a commitment to get rid of your debt and stick to it
  2. Identify all your debt. Make a list of everyone you owe whether individual or institution
  3. Write down the amount you owe and the interest rates on all your debts
  4. Take note of the minimum payment that you must make on all of your debts
  5. Decide on whether to pay off the debts with the smallest balances first or whether you want to pay off the highest interest rate debts first
  6. Put your plan in to action and stick to it
  7. Apply any extra income you have to paying off the first debt on your list
  8. When the first debt is paid off, add the funds you were paying on that debt to the next one on your list
  9. Keep repeating the process until all your debts are paid off
  10. Enjoy the financial freedom when all your debt is paid off from following these simple steps.

First Meeting With a Financial Planner

Organize Your Records

Your first step is making a list of all your assets, debts, and otherwise getting a comprehensive breakdown of your current financial standing. Most advisers will want to see tax returns, pay stubs, pension statements, investment and fund statements, and even your informal monthly budgets. If you can, try to have the past three years worth of records on hand before going to the meeting.

Decide What You Need

With your financial history in mind, you need to determine whether what you most need is financial planning, investment management, or both. Financial planning involves someone helping you create and execute a financial plan for your future, including IRAs and other tax strategies, as well as long-term investments to prepare you for retirement.

Investment Management on the other hand, takes a more aggressive approach to building wealth. If you are not interested in managing your own investments to aggressively build wealth, some people have had success using an investment manager to create a portfolio of stocks, bonds, and funds to grow your money so you have a bigger nest egg when you do retire.

Understand How Advisers are Paid

An important consideration when searching for a private banker is to fully understand how they are compensated, and in particular be on the lookout for any potential conflicts of interest they may have when managing your money. Some are paid by an hourly fee, or a flat price for services or a subscription.

Others receive a percentage of the assets they manage, or a percentage of the interest gained on the client’s account during a term. Still others receive commissions from companies selling financial products and mutual funds that may not be in their clients best interests. Know that you are getting a fair deal.

At The Meeting

When you go into the meeting do so with an open-minded and patient attitude. Be realistic in your expectations and do not expect answers to your problems to appear instantaneously. Also, listen to your instincts and initial feelings about the person you are dealing with. Do they seem straightforward and trustworthy? Or, in the worst cases, do they bully you into investments that you are not comfortable with? Be aware of anyone who promises the world.

Economize Your Life

  1. Do you leave a lot of lights on in rooms that are not occupied? You can use high efficiency bulbs in rooms that get a lot of long-term use so the bill won’t be so high. Look around at your local hardware store and ask questions for the best results
  2. Do you shop at stores that are very high-priced? We have Kroger in our area that have great specials, give you gas points to help you save on fuel, and the staff is very helpful. Maybe you have one of these in your area, but if not search for a store that has a gas station too, and gives you points like this. Every hundred points equals ten cents off your next fuel purchase. You can only use this once a month, but in the course of a prior month you can save 40 cents or more on one fill-up, depending on how many groceries you buy. Try to time your fill-up so that you can get the price that is lowest when you do it, then you save extra with the points also. When you see specials at a store that is high in price otherwise, stick to just the specials and then leave instead of buying higher-priced items you still need.
  3. Do you look for outdated merchandise in an area of the stores you shop at? I have saved on cat and dog food, all kinds of food items we need anyway, and also on taxable items that we use a lot. I make a point to do this area of the store as soon as I get there. Sometimes there are carts with merchandise located around the store that you save on also. Try to stick with items that you actually need, not others or your bill will go very high. It is easy to be impulsive when you find good deals but stick with what you and your family really need and it will conserve your money for what is really essential.
  4. Group your errands to a certain area each day so you are not going across town or whatever unnecessarily. Like if you have to take the kids somewhere, go to a store near where you are taking them and get what you actually need.
  5. Subscribe to just the Sunday paper if you can. Our subscription is about six dollars a month, so it saves us at least two dollars a month. The coupons inside will more than pay you back for the subscription price. Be diligent about how you do the coupons. Go through them often to weed out expired ones. Perhaps go online or to a coupon seminar that teaches you how to use coupons more effectively. You still have to watch that what you buy with the coupons is not higher than the store brand product, so take a calculator with you if you can.

About Money Changes Hands

There several different ways how money can be and can become an object. One scenario is if you needed funds back had a lack thereof, then that creates financial challenges. The second scenario is, if you have the funds available and you have access to it; to do want you want to do without hesitation of wondering where the funds would come from. Another scenario is if you have hired someone for certain services and have not compensated them according to the agreed amount for their labors, but you have withheld their wages, then this is fraud. James gives and ample warning to the rich who use these negative business transactions. James 5:1-6. We are to become wise stewards of all God has entrusted to us.

There is nothing wrong with having more than enough in material wealth. However, if the use of your financial status are not benefiting the need others, then as someone who has more than enough, you have missed the mark, because it is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35. Back in the early 70’s the American pop group the O’Jays had a smash hit record titled “For the Love of Money.” “It will keep on changing up your mind,” were some of the lyrics to this particular song. Don’t let money change or fool you; it do what it does, come and go.

Money itself is not the problem; it is a great tool to have access to, we cannot do without it. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” I Timothy 6:10. Who do you love the most; God or the money He has allowed you to have access to? “Lay up your treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Make Money Fast

Busking

Do you play a musical instrument?

Why not share your talent with shoppers or commuters and start busking in shopping areas or near bus or train stations. You will help brighten somebody’s day and can make cold hard cash while you do!

Do you have friends who play Digital signature online? Why not start a group or ban and play locally, many bars and restaurants are looking for new ways to attract customers and are willing to pay.

Sell Blood Plasma

Many blood banks and medical laboratories will pay cold, hard cash for your blood plasma. Check online or in Yellow Pages to see if there are any near you, and if you are in good health, this can even turn into a nice regular monthly income for you.

While we are considering this, you may also think about joining drug trials. Before new drugs can be approved for the market, pharmaceutical companies have to conduct human trials and are willing to pay for volunteers. This is not for everybody, but I just thought you needed to know about it.

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Rent Your Space

Is your home located near a town centre, train station or airport? Do you have space for somebody to park their car? Why not rent that space and turn it into a nice regular income.

There are agencies that put drivers and property owners together for a fee. Or you could simply make a sign and hang it outside your home.

If you have spare room in your home – maybe the kids have left and their rooms are empty – you can take in lodgers. If you live in a particularly picturesque place you can even let your space to tourists.

There are several websites that let you advertise your space. We use AirBnb – the link to our space is at the bottom of this page – we don’t make a fortune from it, but it does pay to run our home.

Sell Items on Craigslist or eBay

If your search Digital signature through your home uncovered specialised or hard to sell items, list them on the internet at Craigslist or eBay.

Both these sites have a global reach and are the “go to” sites for collectors or people looking for obscure items.

Get Paid for Grocery Shopping

Do you know anybody who hates grocery shopping, or doesn’t have the time to go? Why not offer to do their shopping for them.

I know that the major supermarkets offer online shopping and home delivery, however, I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust them to pick the freshest vegetables or products when the customer isn’t there in person. Also, you can deliver exactly when your client wants, so that they don’t have to make sure they are in between X o’clock and Y o’clock.

These days busy people are willing to pay for convenience and to free up their own time.

Which brings us to…