5 Mistakes That Can Lead Young Filipinos to a Financial Nightmare

A key focus of my blog is Financial Literacy/Money. Our overall financial health come down to a number of factors but decision making plays a major role. This is true for all ethnic groups. The following guest post is entitled, 5 Mistakes That Can Lead Young Filipinos to a Financial Nightmare.

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Today, more and more young Filipinos are paying attention to their finances thanks to the increasing accessibility to financial tools and knowledge sources, something that their parents and grandparents were not lucky enough to have. However, there are still a lot of youngsters in the country that are committing the same mistakes that their predecessors did, as well as some new ones that came with modern technology.

Here are some of the most common ones, and how Filipinos, both old and young, can avoid them:

1. Taking out unnecessary loans

Whether it’s because of “petsa de peligro”, an expensive gadget, or an unexpected expense, many young Filipinos turn to payday loans to make ends meet before the next paycheck. While these types of loans may provide quick and easy cash, they also come with exorbitant interest rates that make borrowers pay more than half of the original amount. The result? Blown up debt that can make one’s finances even harder to manage.

The best way to avoid this problem is by establishing an emergency fund and practicing delayed gratification. With an emergency fund, one can pay for unexpected expenses without draining their main bank accounts and resorting to loans. And by practicing delayed gratification, one’s ‘wants’ won’t be a good enough reason to take out a high-interest loan.

2. Waiting too long to take out insurance

When it comes to insurance, many Filipinos display the “I don’t need it yet, I’m young and healthy” attitude, mostly because they don’t want to lose part of their income to something intangible or something that won’t immediately benefit them. However, no one knows when sickness, accident, or death can befall someone; health or life insurance plans and other types of coverage help protect the insured and their family in case something were to happen.

Moreover, insurance premiums increase with age. By waiting too long to take out insurance, young Filipinos are missing out on lower payments while they are still considered low-risk.

3. Spending too much on online shopping

With the massive popularity of online shopping platforms like Lazada and Shopee, it’s no wonder why so many Filipinos–both young and old–are finding themselves spending too much on their online purchases. Even with the frequent promotional ‘sales’ that these platforms offer, money spent is still money spent, no matter how big the discount is.

And that’s exactly the problem, too many online shoppers are blinded by sales, hefty discounts, and free shipping promos that they often buy things that they don’t even need. There’s nothing wrong with shopping online. In fact, it’s a safe and convenient way of shopping amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it may be causing shoppers to spend more money than necessary, and sometimes, money that they don’t even have.

4. Not planning for retirement

For the older generations, especially Filipinos, their children are their retirement plans. It’s a common tradition in the country to “give back” to one’s parents upon entering the workforce, and going against the grain is often seen as taboo or being ‘ungrateful’. Needless to say, this is a toxic belief that is putting too much pressure on young Filipinos and leaving them unable to prepare for their retirement at the same time. As a result, these young Filipinos will also depend on their children for their needs in the future, hence, a generational financial curse.

That said, it’s crucial for Filipino millennials and Gen Zs to break this cycle by planning for their retirement. This could mean taking out long-term investing plans, making contributions to pension plans, and building their nest egg as early as now. Contrary to popular belief, it’s never too early to start planning for retirement–even if it’s forty or fifty years away.

5. Succumbing to lifestyle inflation

Lifestyle inflation is a problem not exclusive to Filipinos, but it certainly is a common issue in the country, especially with a culture that makes people believe that when they move up in life, they should have something to show for it. For many Filipinos, this means buying a bigger house, taking out the latest car model, buying more expensive clothes, or going to high-end sources of entertainment when they start earning more money.

Lifestyle inflation, to a certain extent, is acceptable. However, when the expenses start equating to income, you’re probably spending too much and may be well on your way to debt.

These are just some of the financial mistakes that a lot of young Filipinos are guilty of, but are definitely some of the worst ones. If you’re still committing one or more of these mistakes, it’s high time to start taking more control of your finances for a brighter financial future.

Recovering Financially From A Unique Set Of Circumstances

A key focus of my blog is Financial Literacy/Money. Most of us will experience a major negative financial event at some point in our lives. The key though is preparing for the recovery, and then recovering. The following contributed post is entitled, Recovering Financially From A Unique Set Of Circumstances.

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Pixabay (CC0 Licence)

The vast majority of people are conditioned to react to the word “debt” as though it’s a toxic, inextricable state of affairs. For sure, none of us wants to be subject to a financial burden that pushes down on us for an extended period, but it is worth developing a more sophisticated understanding of how debt works. Not only in terms of how it can be maintained safely, but also how it can sometimes be simply inevitable.

Let’s take the current situation as an example. Although different areas have opened up after the initial pandemic lockdown, to a greater or lesser extent, we are far from a “normal” situation. People have lost out on paydays, which means they have had less money to spend. This means that businesses have seen their takings reduced, and some businesses will not survive. Which means that other people lose out on paydays. Sound financial management – which is always worth practising – will not, on its own, prevent a lot of us from serious debt burdens.

So what do we do about this?

Usually, when negative circumstances arise, the smart advice is to tighten one’s belt and look for alternative income streams until it all blows over. As second waves of the pandemic develop in those countries fortunate enough to have managed the first wave, no-one knows when this will all “blow over”, but you wouldn’t bet on it being this side of 2021. That’s a long time to be in a financial holding pattern.

It is hoped, broadly, that some top-down plans will arrive at some stage to assist those of us worst affected, but again, it’s a waiting game. For some of us, the best bet may be to go on the offensive: looking for payment holidays from creditors; finding out about refunds we may be entitled to; reading a DTSS U.S. review or two to see where you might benefit from getting more proactive.

Working on future financial independence

Perhaps the most important element of recovering from this unforeseen public health crisis is being ready for it to happen again. This is a set of circumstances to which most of us have never been exposed, and it’s reasonable to imagine it wouldn’t happen again in our lifetimes. We shouldn’t count on that being the case – recent history shows us things can always get worse. So being ready to not rely on a single income stream is essential. Diversifying your revenue is a priority.

Right now, it may be tricky to find a way to ensure continued income; as we’ve said, all but the richest are experiencing anxious times right now. However, now is the time to think about how we can build back from this, work out how and where to invest money so that – if this all happens again sooner than expected – we can be confident that there will still be money arriving in our accounts every month. It may seem like a pessimistic way to look at things, but we’ll be grateful for some level of preparedness if we have to weather another storm.

4 Important reasons why women are more affected financially due to the COVID – 19 outbreak

Two focuses of my of my blog are Current Events and Financial Literacy/Money. There are so many layers to the Coronavirus/Covid-19 Crisis/Pandemic. In addition the human health issues, there have also been financial after effects in the area of jobs. Something that’s not being discussed in all circles is the effect of the pandemic on the finances of women. The following guest post is entitled, 4 Important reasons why women are more affected financially due to the COVID – 19 outbreak.

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The coronavirus outbreak has devastated the entire world economy and it has almost reached the middle of this year. But still, humankind is eagerly waiting for a cure to stop this pandemic. Till now, approx 2,941,218 active cases were found worldwide, and nearly 357,979 deaths were reported due to this pandemic. Doctors and healthcare providers are working day and night to provide good medical treatment to the infected people. Medical researchers and scientists are working hard to find an antidote to this virus infection. Unfortunately, we still need more time to get the results.

According to CNN, the COVID-19 pandemic has heavily affected health care associates worldwide more than common people. Most of those associates are young and among them 70% are women. Institute For Fiscal Studies (IFS) director Paul Johnson informed the BBC Today programme“There are those young people who are in those jobs at the moment or were in those jobs before COVID[-19] hit, and if they’re not able to get back into work then there may be longer-term consequences for them. We know that periods of unemployment when you’re young can have long-term effects. Traditionally you’re going to be looking to start work in September, [but] now couldn’t be a worse moment to be doing it.”

In China’s Hubei Province, about 90% of healthcare associates are women. In the U.S., that number is around 78%.

So, practically women are more exposed to the COVID – 19 virus than men. As a result, women are experiencing the impact of the pandemic more than men, on physical and mental grounds.

According to a report given by PayScale, financially women have faced the biggest hit from the COVID – 19 outbreaks within the last 6 months. Another report revealed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation And Development, new jobs are being created mostly considering the men, not women during this difficult economic situation. This might be a reason why women are financially getting down day by day. During the lockdown, it is also becoming difficult to find another income source.

In the UK, nearly 70% of the two million single parents are currently employed, but 3 out of 10 single parents working are living in poverty. Unfortunately, approx 90% of single parents are women.

These aren’t the only reasons women are experiencing hardship due to COVID – 19 pandemic. Check out the below-mentioned causes that should get your attention.

4 Important reasons why women are more affected financially due to the COVID – 19 outbreak

1. Women play a key role in family caregiving

After reviewing the above-given data, it is clear that women are the prime workers who saved time apart from their work, to provide care to their families. Due to the lockdown, most of the schools and workplaces are closed now. So, kids, elders, and other family members are at home 24-7. Due to this reason, most of the female workers have to be at home and away from work. They are attending family members who are ill or can’t take care of themselves.

When these female workers return to their work or try to rejoin, they’re being offered 7% less salary compared to male employees, who are working in the same designation. PayScale’s director of research, Sudarshan Sampath, verified this situation in PayScale’s 2020 State of the Gender Pay Gap report this way – “The coronavirus pandemic has exposed these cultural faults with our economic system. There is a strong likelihood they will not get rehired or they’ll come back on reduced terms.”

2. Unpaid sick leave creates a financial hardship

During the coronavirus outbreak, nearly 67% of private sector employees, and only 30% of low-wage workers who earn $10.80 or less/hour, may get the benefit of paid sick leave. Apart from that, only less than 50% of part-time workers may get the option of taking sick leave.

According to the report given by OECD.ORG“In some countries, sick-leave compensation only covers a small fraction of the previous wage and / or is shorter than the recommended period of self-isolation for people with COVID‑19 symptoms. For instance, Korea and the United States have no generally applicable statutory obligations for employers to continue wage payments in case of illness and also do not provide for statutory public sickness benefits (OECD, 2018[1]). Comprehensive spending data on employer-provided sick pay is not available for the United States, but a quarter of U.S. workers do not have access to paid sick leave at all (rising to one half for low-wage workers), and two thirds of workers who do accrue less than 10 days of paid sick leave per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019[2]). With the “Families First CoronaVirus Response Act”, the United States introduced two weeks of paid sick leave for workers impacted by the COVID‑19 virus, which will initially be paid by employers but be fully reimbursed by the federal government.”

Fortunately, from the very beginning of the COVID -19 outbreak, international organizations such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Salesforce, utilizing few problem solving tips for business and employees, agreed to provide help to their workers. The companies allowed their workers to get increased benefits during sick leave.

The American government has also worked hard on a bill that would help employees to get paid leave benefits. President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The bill is focused on providing paid leave to employees who did not have it and extending paid leave for employees having only a few days. The benefits are applicable to the employees stuck at home due to the pandemic.

“The new law grants two weeks of paid sick leave at 100 percent of the person’s normal salary, up to $511 per day. It would also provide up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave at 67 percent of the person’s normal pay, up to $200 per day.”

*Data courtesy – the washington post

But there is a catch! According to the emergency legislation, only 20% of employees can avail paid leave benefits. Apart from that, small and midsize companies may provide these benefits for employees impacted by the coronavirus. Companies having 500 or more workers aren’t allowed to provide such benefits to their employees.

As per a calculation by the Center for American Progress, approximately 19.3 million U.S. employees (about 12% of 159 million workers) may face financial hardship without getting paid during sick leave.

3. The wage gap and job loss trigger monetary problems

62% of minimum-wage and lower-wage workers are female. These workers may experience a greater risk of job loss when businesses such as restaurants, departmental stores, hotels, and airports are shutting themselves down and firing their employees.

Even if women perform well in their designation, and maintain regularity, they may lose their jobs due to the business shutdown. Though women are less paid compared to the men, working in a similar job profile and designation, the effect will be quite harmful. This is also a reason that women are experiencing too much stress, and unfortunately, they don’t know how to remove that stress at work.

Women are affected more financially as a disproportionate number of women work in industries that are severely affected by the lockdown. These may include retail, leisure, and hospitality sectors. 17% of female employees are working in lockdown sectors, whereas mem workers are merely 13%.

In the country, 1.4 million citizens lost their jobs in March., with a 0.9% increase in female unemployment and a 0.7% increase for men.

If you analyze the controlled pay gap, the difference in payment will be seen clearly between men and women, having a similar job profile. Women earn 98 cents per $1 earned by men. According to PayScale, women are now getting 81 cents for every $1 earned by men (the ratio of median earnings).

During this outbreak, the wage gap is getting bigger than before. Female elementary school teachers earn 92 cents per $1, and women doctors earn 94 cents per $1, compared to men doctors. Female registered nurses earn 98 cents as usual. Unfortunately, black women earn 62 cents on the dollar and Hispanic women 54 cents for the same designation.

With such low income, women employees often experience difficult financial problems, such as unpaid credit card debts, medical bills, utility bills, kids’ education costs, housing costs, etc. As low-income earners, women may opt for help from non-profit credit counseling agencies and seek options to become debt free again.

Fortunately, the discrimination between genders and the wage gap has been gradually changing in a positive direction. As per PayScale’s survey – In 2018, women employees earned 78 cents per $1 earned by men. In 2019 the amount becomes 79 cents (+1), and in 2020, 81 cents (+3).

4. Unpaid caregivers are mostly women

Women around the world provide most of the unpaid caregiving work. As per the International Labour Organization (ILO), women employees normally render 76.2% of total hours of unpaid caregiving work, and it is more thrice as much as men employees.

Women employees are experiencing a shortage of paid caregiver policies. Currently, only 16% of private-industry female employees are allowed to receive paid caregiver leaves. Due to this reason, women taking too much sick leave for family members may trigger monetary problems in their lives.

● Approximately 43.5 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to an adult or child in the last 12 months. [National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2015). Caregiving in the U.S.]
● About 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months. [National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2015). Caregiving in the U.S.]
● 65% of care recipients are female, with an average age of 69.4. The younger the care recipient, the more likely the recipient is to be male. 45% of recipients aged 18-45 are male, while 33% of recipients aged 50 or higher are male. [National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2015). Caregiving in the U.S.]
● Upwards of 75% of all caregivers are female, and may spend as much as 50% more time providing care than males. [Institute on Aging. (2016). Read How IOA Views Aging in America.]

Data courtesycaregiver.org

As health care services are getting unavailable day by day due to the increased number of infected patients, many COVID-19 positive cases need to be treated at home by women caregivers. This may also increase the possibility of becoming infected during such an awful time.

Endnote

So, these are the 4 prime reasons why women are getting the hit more than men. Women share a large chunk of employment in various industries such as healthcare, restaurants, social assistance jobs, preschool, kindergarten teaching, flights, etc. Due to the outbreak, most of these industries are shutting down their business. Due to this situation, women all over the world are experiencing huge financial difficulties to maintain their lives.

Author Bio- Patricia Sanders is a financial content writer. She is a regular contributor to debtconsolidationcare.com . Her passion for helping people who are stuck in financial problems has earned her recognition and honor in the industry. Besides writing, she loves to travel and read various books. To get in touch with her (or if you have any questions regarding this article) email her at sanderspatricia29@gmail.com.

Three Steps To Financial Freedom

A key focus of my blog is Financial Literacy/Money. Financial Freedom is a goal that many people aspire to but not everyone reaches. It’s not something one can do overnight and there are distinct steps and behavioral changes involved. The following contributed post is entitled, Three Steps To Financial Freedom.

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Financial freedom is definitely something that you want to try and reach, but have you got to the point where you feel like it’s never going to happen? Do you feel like you’re still living paycheck to paycheck? Or do you even perhaps feel as though you’re living comfortably, but you know it’s not the life that you want to live. Financial freedom is having the money to live the life you want to live, and to live without money worries. Money really does make the world go round and it’s no doubt something you will spend most of your days thinking about. If you are living paycheck to paycheck at the minute then you will definitely have the stress. So, we’re going to show you three steps that will point you towards financial freedom. There are so many things that we can do to change our lives and the way we have access to money. The three things below and just some of the things you can do!

Emigrate To A New Country

This is one of the best things you can do if you have already envisioned your life abroad. For some people the thought of emigrating and building a life abroad would have been a dream since a very early age. The possibility to earn more money abroad is often huge. One of the countries that people love to move to is Australia. It just offers so much. First you have the lifestyle and how amazing that is to live through. The boiling hot summers, the generally great weather all year round, the people who are loving their life. But most importantly the job pays well and you can get a lot more for your money in terms of real estate. It’s easy enough to move as well. You’d first have to decide location. Understand how easy it is to work. Figure out all the living costs vs wages. Secure a job, secure a home. Then all you need is a successful migration agent to make sure you can get a visa to live in the country. There are often stages to the visa and criteria that you have to meet. But the Australian lifestyle will definitely be one worth moving for.

A New Way Of Money Management

Money management is definitely what everyone could do with focusing on at the minute. If your job is unaffected by the virus outbreak, you might find that you’re able to manage your money and save more because you’ll be doing less. For those of you who are being affected, finances can become a big worry. Which is why we think you should use money management apps to manage your money. You can put your reduced pay in and split your money into categories. You can then monitor it throughout the month and make sure that you’re sticking to it. Using the apps when money does settle is also going to help a ton. It becomes a clearer way of seeing your money, making it far easier to manage. Often money management is all that’s needed for financial freedom.

How Can You Remain Financially Secure in Today’s Financial Times

A key focus of my blog is Financial Literacy/Money. In life there will be both good and bad financial times. It’s important to be able to survive the tough financial seasons. The following contributed post is entitled, How Can You Remain Financially Secure in Today’s Financial Times.

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Image: https://www.pexels.com/photo/bank-notes-1791583/

The recession, Brexit, the introduction of zero hour contracts, and now Coronavirus: there always seems to be something going on across the globe that puts us all at risk financially. When external crises and difficulties arise in the world, it has a knock- on effect on businesses as people either have less money to spend, stop spending or start spending their money on other things. Small businesses and low income workers in particular are vulnerable as they’re unable to cope with long periods of low profits before running out of money. If you’re wondering how you can stay as secure as possible financially, despite what’s going on in the world then here are some things to bear in mind.

Have multiple streams of income
Having multiple streams of income is always useful- if one method slows down or collapses completely then you always have backups to rely on. You could work a full time job while running a small business, this isn’t as time consuming as you think as you can outsource various departments so it’s pretty much run for you. From accounting to marketing to real-time network protection, there are companies out there that can keep everything running on your behalf. You could monetise a blog and Youtube channel on the side and work on freelancing projects as and when you get the chance. All of these will add up to give you a decent income, and if for any reason one of them stops earning you money you won’t be left out of pocket.

Have the ability to work from home (or anywhere in the world)
Being able to work from home is useful for many reasons. It saves you time and money and lowers stress, home based workers report feeling happier and healthier than those in traditional jobs. In times like now when there are health scares, being able to work from home is incredibly useful. There are many people that will potentially lose out on a lot of money if they’re forced to self isolate, however if you can earn from home then those checks just keep landing in your bank. If you ever need to move home or to another area, perhaps as a way to save money then when you work from home, your job comes with you.

Get out of debt and save money
Being in debt is expensive. Not only do you have to pay back what you’ve borrowed, but the debt will continue accumulating interest while you pay if off which makes it more and more expensive as time goes on. Get out of debt, and once you are you can start saving money. Having a rainy day fund if you need it can give you such peace of mind if you’re unable to work for a period of time, or need access to cash fast.

Buy your house
Finally, getting a mortgage now means that by the time you’ve retired, you’ll own your home. This means no need to pay rent or any other costs which is useful when you’re not earning money any more. Getting onto the property ladder gives you security, and is one of the best things you can do financially.

Introduction To Financial Modeling At Your Business

Two of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. Business is a science in itself and as such, sometimes financial models are used to project growth and future directions. If your business uses financial modeling or is considering it, there are some important aspects to consider. The following contributed post is entitled, Introduction To Financial Modeling At Your Business.

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https://www.pexels.com/photo/1-us-bank-note-47344

When you discuss your financial modelling options with professional consultants, they’ll be eager to extol the virtues of utilising different software for your financial modelling needs and why you should be using finance models to develop your business prospects at all.

Before you consider whether you want to adopt financial modelling within your business, it’s worth working out what the general benefits of financial modelling are. One of the key drivers behind businesses implementing financial modelling software is that they allow different scenarios to be tweaked without having to build the model from scratch every time you want to ask a new question. Similarly, the speed of financial modelling options ensures that quick answers are given when a question is asked. What may take months of calculation otherwise can be amended easily using formula and automatic alterations.

Equally, the data can then be presented visually. This enables people beyond your immediate circle to understand the data without detailed knowledge of the intricacies of your business. Once built in something like Excel, a financial model can be adapted and used over and over again to benefit your business objectives. The benefits of financial modelling can, therefore, be easily seen and utilising an effective program ensures that your models are robust and will be as accurate as they possibly can be. If you’re already using spreadsheets, you may wonder why an expert touch is required for financial modeling. Check out Why Should I Use A TEM Provider If I Have Spreadsheets? and you will find some great information on this.

Financial Modelling To Integrate Your Data

Financial modelling can help your business in various ways. These models should benefit your unique business and be developed by expert consultants in conjunction with you. Only by creating models with professional assistance will you end up with functional and useful models that will benefit your business.

Integrated financial statements are incredibly useful in business. It’s likely that your businesses utilises several different systems for various aspects of your work. This may be a deliberate decision on your part, or it may be a legacy from previous incarnations of your business. Either way, trying to report and forecast using data from various locations can be a nightmare. Pulling all this data into a program is one popular solution. In this way, financial models can integrate your data and show it all in one place. However, to do this, you need to have experts on hand who can manipulate these other systems in the correct way.

Once you have a system set up, you will often take it for granted that information is gathered from one source and transferred to your program. Perhaps this is something you already use within your business. If so, you’ll understand the power of transferring data into software and likely appreciate the benefits of financial modelling even more. It’s important to work alongside specialist developers when it comes to financial models. More than anything else, these models must be accurate and portray your business well to the world.

What Financial Headaches Are Hanging Over Your Head

A key focus of my blog is Financial Literacy/Money. To have good financial health, it’s important to know what steps to take and which ones to avoid to prevent getting yourself into long-term jams. The following contributed post is thus entitled, What Financial Headaches Are Hanging Over Your Head.

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There are few things as stressful as money. Even when things are going well, which isn’t all that often, we can be struck by a moment of panic, one that says, “it’s going well now, but you need to keep it like this for many years to come. Can you do it?” But of course, that’s nowhere near as bad as when things aren’t going as well as we’d like. They have the potential to rob us of the joy we should experience as living creatures, disrupt our sleep, and worse. Below, we take a look at some of the common financial headaches that can hang over a person’s head.

Source: Pexels.com

Too Much Credit Card Debt

Credit cards can be beneficial, of course; indeed, it’s recommended that you have one, so you can build good credit, which makes it easier to get loans at favorable rates. But credit cards usage can quickly spiral out of control, and before you know it, you can have a big bill, and your monthly payments are really only covering the interest. If that happens, then look at switching the debt to a card that offers an interest-free period. When the period runs out, switch the remaining balance to another card.

Big Bills and Reduced Income

Most people only have a pretty tenuous grip on their finances. Their security is entirely dependent on their income. But those people are just one injury away from being in trouble. If you’re involved in an incident and suffer an injury, you might find that you have to stop working. This will make it difficult to pay the many bills that you have. If this happens, the first thing you should do is pause any non-essential payments. If it wasn’t your fault, then get in touch with these accident lawyers, and fight for financial compensation. When you’re injured, the aim should be on getting better, not wrestling with your financial situation.

Expensive Homes

It is a great achievement to get the keys to your very own home. It can feel like a dream come true. But this dream can quickly turn into a nightmare if the house you bought is too big and expensive for what you can afford. The most important thing is to find more money – it is better, in the long run, to live a frugal lifestyle in order to afford the mortgage payments. Later on down the line, you’ll hopefully be able to renegotiate the terms of the deal, which will put more money in your pocket.

Everyday Expenses

Many people find that they can afford their home, but struggle with the everyday costs of living. If you’re in this position, then go through where your money is going – it’s possible that you’re spending far more than necessary on, say, coffee or eating out. A person’s shopping habits in the supermarket can influence their financial habits way more than they should. Don’t opt for the brand name stuff – it’ll taste the same, and you’ll have more money to play with.

3 Software Programs and Apps That Can Improve Your Life, Rather than Steal Your Time

Two of the major focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Technology. While there is a danger in becoming too consumed by the new technologies available to us, many of them can help improve our lives. Which ones are particularly helpful? The following contributed post is thus entitled, 3 Software Programs and Apps That Can Improve Your Life, Rather than Steal Your Time.

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Image via Pixabay

The modern world is rich in technology so advanced that it would have been unimaginable to the average person even just a few short decades ago.

No matter what our interests in life are, and no matter our jobs and hobbies, it’s possible to vanish down a bottomless rabbit hole of endless information, stimulation, and entertainment, at the drop of a hat.

But while many modern technologies have brought with them immense benefits — such as the ability to communicate with our loved ones on the other side of the world, or to acquire a Windows 10 pro key and create an entire business structure within days — there are plenty of downsides to be wary of.

There are predatory companies out there, and exploitative apps, games, and software programs that have been designed to hijack our consciousness and trap us in a psychological feedback loop.

Here are some examples of software and apps that can help you to improve your life, rather than just serving as a timesink.

RescueTime — to reduce procrastination and enhance your awareness of how you’re spending your time

If you’re even just so much as slightly inclined towards procrastination or a disorderly lifestyle, having a computer with an internet connection is something akin to leaving a hungry child unattended in a candy shop.

Human attention is easily hijacked by novelty, probably because in ancient days, noticing novel information could mean the difference between life and death. Is that odd shape in the pushes a vicious wild animal, or a tasty meal?

These days, Google, Youtube, and social media offer a never-ending stream of novelty, meaning we easily fall into a cycle of endless surfing.

RescueTime is a service and software program that can help to free you from that vicious cycle of procrastination and enhance your awareness of how you’re spending your time. It combines an activity tracker, with a web blocker, report system, and more.

Beeminder — to help you stick to productive behaviours and avoid unproductive ones

We are all largely defined by our habits, and we tend to revert to our familiar behaviour patterns whenever we zone out a bit or are put under stress.

For that reason, it’s a very good idea to carefully focus on developing productive behaviours, and avoiding unproductive ones. Repeated often enough, good acts become good habits, and bad acts become bad habits.

Beeminder is an innovative service that allows you to set habit goals, which you then commit to with your money. Every time you stray off course from your desired habit, you pay exponentially more in penalty fees.

You Need a Budget — to give you a clear bird’s eye perspective of, and control over, your financial life

Good financial management can be tricky, especially when it’s so easy to buy all kinds of glossy, attractively-advertised products online with a couple of mouse clicks.

You Need a Budget — also known as YNAB — is a budgeting tool build around the principle of “zero-based budgeting” and “giving every dollar a job”. It’s relatively straightforward to use, and it can give you a crystal clear perspective of what’s happening with your financial life.

That in turn, of course, gives you a lot more power over your financial life.

I still don’t have a car in 2018: A story about playing financial chess

“Most successful people operate off a healthy fear of failure!”

Three of the principles of my blog are: Creating Ecosystems of Success, Wealth Building and Long-Term Thought. Hell, I’ll also pull in both Creative and Critical Thought. As we’re riding into December of 2018, I’ve wondered what to write next. A friend of mine who runs her own magazine and has her own audience suggested that I write something about budgeting. I do intend to do that, but my mind thought back to something I wrote on the Examiner several years ago which will serve as a nice prelude to budgeting. It involves several important considerations when budgeting, and it might admittedly ‘trigger’ some people, but try to keep in mind the overarching messages.

I originally published a series called, You Still Don’t Have a Car Yet? around 2012. It was inspired by a question from a lady friend who went to my church and whom I briefly dated. We bumped into each other again one Sunday and she was surprised that I still didn’t have a car after getting rid of my old Saturn SL2 which was on its last leg. I heard in her voice that there was more to her question – something I’d experience again in the future.

Now, driving is expensive. It’s by no means cheap to get on the road. You have to undergo a series of driving lessons with a professional to ensure you have a proper license and don’t face issues revolving around Complaint Fraudulent License/ID down the line. When you get a car, it costs. On top of the original outlay, you need to make sure you can afford fuel, maintenance, tax, insurance and more. Upgrading really does require a lot of thought and financial commitment.

It’s a topic that never gets old, and instead of resurrecting and republishing the entire series, I’m simply going to pull out its main points and discuss why I still don’t own a vehicle six years later. Keep in mind that this piece was written from the perspective of a single man (due to life circumstances), and your life may be different. I hope you enjoy it and that it inspires discussion in your own circles. So, let’s dive in.

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My personal finances crashed and hit rock bottom right around 2011 – two years into my federal science career. I started my career with very little savings based upon my educational path and life circumstances. I was still a new homeowner and just paid out my entire $8,500 “Obama Tax Credit” for a condominium project I didn’t know about before closing – the first of many ‘assessments’ over the years which ended up equaling the price of a brand-new car. I also tried my hand in the investing world, at one point trying to do too many things at once, both money- and time-wise. The result was getting into a debt hole of greater than $20,000 on top of my student loan and other bills.

Around that time, I was fortunate that two friends shared Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace University (FPU)” with me and over the course of the next five to six years, they invited me to help teach the class with them at our church. I was also fortunate that I met a mentor who ‘adopted’ me into his group of proteges. He was very strong-willed and had a business background. He both taught me and stayed on me about some important aspects of money including: understanding what a ‘Net Worth’ is, saving into my retirement account and getting my ‘Matching Contribution’, and understanding the ‘Law of Compounding Interest’.

Now armed with this new information, it started guiding my decision making. FPU is admittedly just one of many financial programs out there, and it works very well. There are several others, but for the sake of my familiarity with it I’ll discuss it. A major pillar of it is budgeting – numerically think about your ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ with the aim of getting out of debt, building up an ‘Emergency Fund’ and then positioning yourself to stay ‘liquid’, invest, and give. To get a feel for why this important, I’ll once again refer you to back to Ylan Q. Mui’s 2016 article from the Washington Post entitled; The shocking number of Americans who can’t cover a $400 expense.

This is a good place to introduce the concept of ‘Cash Flow’. Cash flow is simply the amount of money you have left over once all your monthly bills and obligations are paid. The greater your expenses and debts are, the less cash flow you’ll have. The less they are, the greater your cashflow will be and the more life choices you’ll have. You’ll probably also have a healthier state of mind and body as financial stress can impact your overall quality of life.

When I looked at my budget in 2012, I sought to identify where I was trying to go in life and then what my needs and wants were. I wanted to live in a place of abundance, and I didn’t ever want to feel the shackles of debt again. I also didn’t want to be in position to have to ask relatives or friends for financial help ever again. Finally, I wanted to go that next step where I had an emergency fund, where I could get some investments, and lastly where I could help others – giving back to my alma maters for example.

While there were quite a few surprises in my condominium complex, it was a smart buy because it was right next to the metro. As such owning a car became less of a priority. Let’s unpack that a little bit. Keep in mind that I’m not telling anyone that they should get rid their car.

For you it might be something else and this would admittedly my approach may not work in cities like: Atlanta, Buffalo and Charlotte. In any case when I looked at my budget, getting rid of my car meant getting rid of: car insurance, gas charges, upkeep and maintenance, having to renew the vehicle’s registration, and any other associated costs. The state of Virginia charges personal property taxes on vehicles for example.

Yes, it was strange at first not having a car in my parking space and not being able to jump in a vehicle and drive off whenever I wanted to. As I describe later though I adjusted. It was a ‘trade off’ as the great Dr. Thomas Sowell says – giving up something in the short-term for what I saw as a greater gain in the long-term. I included the game of Chess in the title because like this, winning that game involves an understanding of the value of the pieces in your army, and in some cases, sacrificing your lesser pieces early on to ultimately win the game.

Let’s move on to some other important concepts. Among the things I learned from Robert T. Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad books were the concepts of ‘Assets’ and ‘Liabilities’. Under Robert’s definitions, assets are things that put money in your pocket every month, while liabilities are things that take money out of your pocket every month.

One of the things he described in his books under liabilities was cars. Was he saying not to buy cars? No, but he was encouraging his readers to look at finances in alternative ways – in this case while cars are symbols of power for some people, they also ultimately take money out of our pockets.

Speaking of which, something that’s been documented in numerous books and which wasn’t explained to me early on was that brand-new cars depreciate significantly as soon as you drive them off the lot. This is something I pondered as I decided to get rid of my car and not immediately get another one. I also realized that I was never really a ‘car guy’ meaning that I never really fantasized or obsessed over them. In fact, I got to a point where saw them as ‘necessary evils’ in a way which were put here to keep us dependent on the energy and auto industries, and at the mercy of those running them.

I’d like to now introduce the concept of ‘Minimalism’. Though this was always a part of my nature, I didn’t know what exactly it was though I had been called both ‘cheap’ and ‘frugal’ in my lifetime. Minimalism is basically the practice of getting what you need, and not wastefully looking to consume more. I credit writer and YouTube content creator Aaron Clarey for the term because I first heard it from him – something he encourages – something which goes against the grain of most of our society. If you’re in the mood for a laugh, his video content on culture and economics are both very funny and insightful.

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“If you live right next to the metro, why would you own car?” I’m going to say something controversial here. I’ve gotten this reaction from a certain group of people. It’s the same group of people who are content to eat soup and sandwiches according to my Dad as described in my piece entitled; Challenging Misconceptions in Wealth, Income and Privilege. I’ve gotten the ‘side-eye’ from another group of people, and for the single guys reading this, I’ll just say that many ladies frown upon a man who doesn’t own a car. Interestingly the other more important aspects I described above usually don’t come up in conversations about why I don’t own one.

I’ve also been ‘clowned’ about it in some instances. When you’re doing something like this, knowing in your heart why you’re doing it, and keeping your goals in mind is very, very critical when someone challenges you. Oh, and if you’ve thought it out and it’s working, don’t argue with anyone over it. It’s not worth it. This is an instance where even in adulthood, being the leader of your own life and not caving into peer pressure is key.

How does one get by without owning a car? Well again it helps to live right next door to a metro system. My first year of college at SUNY Brockport, I was amazed by the number of classmates from New York City who didn’t have their driver’s licenses. Where they were from, they just didn’t need them and openly admitted that.

Once I got rid of my car, I now noticed that there were quite a few other people in the Washington, DC metro area using “Zipcars”. Then within the last couple of years ‘ride share’ programs and ‘apps’ like “Uber” and “Lyft” became prevalent. Admittedly if you need to go to an area that’s further out, it usually requires some planning – maybe using a Zipcar, or maybe just renting one, but again you must keep your overarching goals in mind.

Again, it’s a tradeoff. There’s a definite convenience to getting in your car whenever you want to and zipping off some place, and that’s what you’re paying for when you own one unless of course it’s giving you some sort of social prestige or personal confidence boost. How much is that convenience worth to you?

So in summary, again I’m not telling anyone what they should do with their lives. I chose to make a tradeoff (a car and certain people) with specific goals in mind. Now that I had a grasp on money and finance as described above, my new ‘drivers’ (no pun intended) were:

• To become ‘financially peaceful’ and to build wealth;
• To be able to handle all the costs associated with homeownership – something I stumbled into which came with its own set of financial costs and surprises and;
• To maximize my cashflow so that I could save, invest and to be able to give.

In terms of giving, we often think about giving to our churches and alma maters but sometimes there are other needs. A fellow alumnus from Johnson C. Smith University recently needed to raise money to buy winter clothes for the students at his school in Grand Rapids, MI. Because of some of the personal choices I’d made, I was easily able to support his effort and help the kids in his community stay warm this winter.

Again, major components to all of this are long-term thought, and budgeting which I’m going to cover shortly in its own blog post. Another important piece is being a secure individual, following the beat of your own drummer and not being peer pressured into keeping up with other people’s thoughts of what’s acceptable for your life. The other piece is being malleable and willing to continue to learn more information and applying it to your life.

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I’m going to end this post with some quotes. The opening quote for this piece is from the popular and outspoken sports talk show host Colin Cowherd who weaves life parables into his sports commentary. This one involves our personal drivers and motivations. “My investing advice to the average individual, is don’t be average,” is a quote that has stayed with me from Robert Kiyosaki’s books. It involves thinking outside of the box and doing the opposite of the crowd.

Dave Ramsey’s famous quote is, “We’re going to live like no one else, so later we can live like no one else!” It involves making temporary sacrifices for greater gains later. Finally, one of the content creators on a YouTube show I regularly watch often says to, “Keep your savings high, and your overhead low!” I think you get the picture. What are your motivations and where are trying to go in your life?

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. If you enjoyed this one, you might also enjoy:

Your Net Worth, Your Gross Salary, and what they mean
A look at the Law of Compounding Interest and why you should care
My personal experience with Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball revisited
The difference between being cheap and frugal
We should’ve bought Facebook and Bitcoin stock: An Investing and technology story
Challenging misconceptions and stereotypes in class, household income, wealth and privilege

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Financial Decisions That’ll Help You Down The Line

Two of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy and Money. Our everyday behaviors and decisions impact our where we end up financially in the future. The following contributed post is thus entitled; Financial Decisions That’ll Help You Down The Line.

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Picture Source

When it comes to your personal finances, you need to think beyond your current situation. It’s essential to cover your basic costs, but you need to do so in a well-calculated manner so as to ensure that you’ve got savings for the future. In this article, we’ll discuss that point along with other helpful pieces of financial advice. If you want to protect your money then here are some financial decisions you could make right now to help you further down the line.

Investing some of your earnings.
The first financial decision you could make to help yourself down the line is to invest some of your earnings. This is something you should do on a continuous basis if you want to increase your wealth; it’ll bring you additional forms of income on top of your existing salary. And there are plenty of different investment routes you can take as a beginner. You might want to do some research on getting started in the property market. With the correct guidance and management advice, you could start buying properties to lease them out (that’d bring you a nice monthly income). You could even buy properties to fix them up and sell them at an increased value.

Of course, there are plenty of other ways to invest your earnings, too. Getting involved with trading can be very profitable if you do your research and learn how to monitor market trends carefully. You might want to consider spread betting over traditional trading methods. Earning tax-free profits is just one of many reasons to trade this way. Investing wisely is the type of financial decision that could really help you down the line. You’ll be able to start building up some savings for the future.

Creating an emergency fund.
Another financial decision that will help you down the line is creating an emergency fund. We all face unexpected costs at different points in life, so it’s important to have a backup plan in place for just such occasions. Your budget can only account for regular and predictable expenses, but you should also set aside a little bit of money on a regular basis for emergency costs. For instance, your house might need repairs after a natural disaster, or you might need emergency financial support if you leave one job and start searching for another. Creating a backup fund now could really help you further down the line. You don’t want to dip into your bank account for emergency costs and find yourself low on funds for necessities.

Spending your money sensibly.
This final suggestion is possibly the most important. If you want to improve your financial future then you should simply improve your financial present. By making a proper budget, you’ll be able to start tracking your expenditures accurately and making smarter decisions with your money. Calculate the cost of your essentials, and figure out how much income you need to devote to those necessary expenses. If you barely have any remaining funds then you could start reducing your basic costs in smart ways. For instance, you could save money on groceries by using coupons and start using price comparison sites to search for better deals from energy providers. You could reduce your monthly expenses if you did a little research. And it’ll benefit you in the future if you have more money to set aside for your savings.