pexels-lalesh-aldarwish-167964

Let’s disrupt generational poverty

Everyone has been preaching for years that people need to focus on creating generational wealth for their families. During my time as a financial services practitioner, I’ve read hundreds of articles, research papers, and studies, all of which shed light on the fact that the wealth disparities in the United States continue to widen. So, are people focused on creating wealth or just earning enough to get by? The wealth data I continue to review year after year seriously disappoints me, which prompted me to start The #BuildWealth Movement™

I can see the problem, clear as day. Our society speaks about how this is the land of opportunity, how you can create generational wealth, how you can “live the American dream.” Well, that dream isn’t a reality for millions of people, and it looks more like a nightmare. So, how about this? Let’s focus our attention on how we can disrupt generational poverty™.

Disrupting generational poverty isn’t something that my Movement can do alone. I’m just one person who is working to change the way people THINK and FEEL about money. During any interactions with individuals or groups, I feel that I’m doing my part to help disrupt generational poverty simply because I’m an expert. I’m giving really good advice. What people decide to do with that advice is up to them.

The way people THINK and FEEL about money causes you to do one of two things, make a decision or not make a decision. Notice that I didn’t say good decision or bad decision. Every decision you make has consequences one way or another. But, the thoughts and emotions around money play out in our everyday lives, sometimes to the detriment of future generations. Let me give you a few examples to drive home this point. I’ve had someone (actually, multiple people) say the following to me:

“My parents didn’t leave me anything, and I don’t plan on doing that for my kids. They’ll figure it out.”

“I had to work two jobs and I took out loans for college. I want my kids to learn the value of hard work.”

“I make good money, but I still feel like I’m living check to check.”

“Growing up, talking about money was always considered “grown folks” business.”

“My bank isn’t paying me much in interest, but if I put my money in the stock market, I could lose it all tomorrow.”

Now, how do you think hearing things like this makes me feel? In my earlier years as a financial planner, I used to get upset. Over time, I used such remarks as fuel to my fire, continued to work my plan, and ensured that people never EVER say such a thing like that again. 

I also realized that many people don’t have examples within their families or community of what wealth looks like. It just doesn’t seem to be obtainable. Think about the kids who grow up in the hood. They idolize drug dealers, gang-bangers, professional athletes, or entertainers. Why? Because that’s all they see or hear the people talking about in their hood. If that kid is lucky enough to get some exposure to the outside world, they’ll most certainly aspire to do something different.

The same thing happens to adults. Many of us have been deemed successful by our peers or family because we have a fancy job title, nice car, and a house. You “appear” to be successful, but when you begin to delve into your financial situation, you realize the ugly truth. The job stresses you out, and you always fantasize about your dream job, but you’ve got bills, so those dreams get put on the back burner. You have a massive student loan balance, and you feel like it’s going to take decades to pay it off, if ever. The car is nice, but you have a huge car payment each month, and the car’s maintenance is a cash drain. The house, maybe it’s a decent spot, but you’ve got that mortgage and other expenditures coming out of your bank accounts just to maintain the place. Now, you’re left trying to figure out how to invest for retirement, paying for more life insurance, or saving money for a child or your children’s college education. Then you might be considering making an investment into more real estate, building an emergency fund, making sure your credit stays above a 720, meeting with an attorney to get your wills and trusts done, or maybe even starting a business. 

Whew!! That’s a lot huh?

No wonder people can’t disrupt generational poverty. There just isn’t enough time in the day (so “they” say) or enough money coming into our bank accounts to handle all of this stuff. If you don’t personally know someone taking care of business, you don’t believe it’s possible. And, if nobody in your family or community is living the life you dream about, then YOU MUST BE THE FIRST! 

Here’s my strategy on how we can all disrupt generational poverty. I am going to keep it as simple as possible. Experience has taught me that more people can adopt simple, as opposed to complicated. So, here it goes!

  1. Write down the financial goals you want to accomplish. Be sure to segment them out based on time – – short-term (less than one year), intermediate-term (1 year – 5 years), and long-term (5 years+). 
  2. Take inventory every quarter; the best tool to do this is called a balance sheet. If you need one, send an email to info@ready2buildwealth.com and write “Balance Sheet” in the subject line.
  3. Do a budget; I don’t care if you use pen/paper, an app, or some fancy software. Pick a budgeting strategy you can commit to doing.
  4. Strive to get all your credit scores above 720
  5. Have a FULL understanding and leverage ALL employer-sponsored benefits
  6. Get PLENTY of life insurance; If you’re single, you should get some. And, the coverage you have through your job isn’t enough, or it’s only enough while you still have employment with that company. Life insurance from your job is rarely portable.
  7. Invest for retirement outside of what your job offers. (If your budget allows)
  8. Have a non-retirement based investment account (If your budget allows)
  9. Buy real estate 
  10. Have good tax person
  11. Start saving/investing for your child’s college education right after their birth; (Everyone gets an 18-year head start, so what are you waiting for?)
  12. Have a good estate planning attorney
  13. Review and update your plan WHENEVER you have a life-altering event.
  14. Start an investment club with your family or friends
  15. Read this book called The #BUILDWEALTH Challenge: 8 Challenges to change the way you THINK and FEEL about money

Imagine if everyone followed these 15 steps. Of course, there are probably more things I could’ve listed, but this list is pretty solid. I even feel confident enough to guarantee that we could disrupt generational poverty for sure if everyone followed those 15 steps. But, I know people will make the conscious decision to do something different, even though I’ve given them the “cheat-code.” 

Where do we go from here? Well, I need your help in spreading the word. I will not be able to disrupt generational poverty all by my lonesome. It’s going to take an army. I have many ideas on how to address this issue of generational poverty, and if you’re open to having a conversation and helping me out on this quest, shoot me a note to info@ready2buildwealth.com, and in the subject line, write “Let’s Work.” 

giorgio-trovato-IBT-XUcH2vc-unsplash

The Project 100 recap

I had this crazy idea that I acted on as 2019 concluded. I wanted to kick off 2020 with a challenge and not some fitness or dieting challenge. I wanted a challenge that would focus on spreading financial literacy to the masses. I decided that I would attempt to conduct 100 free financial planning workshops. I would focus specifically on non-profit organizations, and I figured some for-profit entities would come along (and perhaps even pay me). Either way, I had a number, and I was going to focus on hitting it.

I determined that non-profit organizations would be a great target because they generally don’t provide (or have the budget) to conduct comprehensive financial literacy training for their staff. Yes, I realize some non-profit organizations have a huge bankroll, but I know that many non-profits don’t. Not only did I want to assist the staff, but I also wanted to extend the effort to any people in the community that the organization served. I had one stipulation, for any session that I was going to conduct, I required (20) people to attend. I assumed that it wouldn’t be hard for twenty people to gather and talk about money. I mean, so many people complain and are upset about the wealth disparities in this country, so people should flock to a free financial planning session. Right?

I knew doing this challenge alone would be silly, so I reached out to my Urban Financial Services Coalition – SF Bay Area Chapter (UFSC) family and explained the challenge. They were onboard and specified that I do something unique just for them. We decided on doing a Project 100 session every 2nd and 4th Wednesday virtually. This way, I could open up this opportunity to anyone across the world who had an internet connection. And, since I had all these Wednesday’s, this would give people ample chances to attend at some point. I would do something different for these virtual sessions since I was in full control. I set a deadline for getting the twenty people. Since the event was happening Wednesday nights, I put a deadline for registrations. The deadline was always at 6:30p PT on the Monday prior. If I got the twenty, the session happened. If I didn’t, the session wouldn’t happen. Since this was a free effort, I wanted people to help promote it because I knew that I alone wouldn’t always be able to muster up the twenty. Plus, if ten people registered and brought one other person, that would get us to twenty. Easy right?

So, here are the final numbers from the Project 100:

Number of sessions conducted – 54

Number of people impacted (attendees) – 892

At first glance, yes, I failed miserably. The goal was to conduct 100 sessions, and I fell short by 46. So, if I were in school, a grade of 54% would be an F. Luckily for me, this isn’t school, and despite this grade, I looked at this project as a huge success. 

Success #1: This Project forced me to create a marketing plan and stick to it. Part of that plan was putting together a short video clip where I laid out “my ask.” I recorded a short video stating (1) the purpose of my effort and (2) encouraged people to register for one of those Wednesday sessions or schedule a time to discuss the details of speaking at their organization. I posted this video EVERY…SINGLE…DAY on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook. I dialed things back in November, but I went “hard in the paint” for ten straight months!

Success #2: Some people couldn’t believe what I was attempting to accomplish and thought it was quite admirable. They repeatedly asked how else could they support me, so I sent them the link to purchase copies of my book The #BUILDWEALH Challenge – 8 Challenges to change the way you THINK and FEEL about money.

Success #3: I kept showing up on people’s social media feed so much throughout the year, that I landed new clients and customers due to my marketing efforts. (They opted to skip my workshop and just wanted to get down to work. I love people like that!)

Success #4: I made connections with leaders of organizations that I probably would have never had the pleasure of meeting. These leaders have taken it upon themselves to do this incredible work within their respective communities, and now I can say I have a personal connection with them. 

Success #5: I helped almost 900 people begin their journey to becoming a financial rockstar or enhance their current financial plans.

Despite the awesomeness this project produced, it also served as a valuable learning experience. The things I took away from this project will definitely shape future efforts for The #BuildWealth Movement™.

Learning #1: People don’t value free financial planning information.

Learning #2: More people commented on my videos about how much my hair grew over 2020. (As a result of the pandemic, I didn’t spend much time in the barbershop during the year) Many of those same people never attended a session.

Learning #3: Even when you’re a credible person who is adequately licensed and has over a decade-plus experience within the industry, people will still think you’re a snake oil salesperson if you’re giving something away for free. 

Learning #4: People will get to work on their financial plan when THEY are good and ready. Many people registered for multiple sessions throughout the year and never attended. I guess they think waiting is the answer to their financial struggles. (Insert slapping yourself in the face emoji)

Learning #5: I have a gift. That gift lies in my ability to break down the complexities of financial planning in a way that is easy to digest. I also sprinkle in a bit of humor, which always goes over well with any audience. And lastly, the activity that I conducted during those 1-hour sessions blew people’s minds! (Multiple people gave me that feedback after the sessions)

I thoroughly enjoyed this Project 100 experience. I haven’t the slightest clue what wild ideas my brain will draw up next, but I know that I will act on it when it happens. Plus, I feel really good inside because I was able to impact so many lives. I may not always get validation from people after a session, but I know that my message was and is being shared with hundreds of people that I’ll probably never have the chance to meet. That’s why I do what I do.

I’ll conclude with this. Suppose your organization (not-for-profit or for-profit) is looking for a dynamic speaker who can assist you with your financial education efforts. In that case, I’d love to connect and take you through the workshop that so many experienced in 2020. Just send your request to info@ready2buildwealth.com.

credit explained

Credit Should Have Been Explained This Way

Credit is really, really important. Don’t agree? Take a look at the United States National Debt figures. This country wasn’t built on paying for things with cash. Yes, our government hasn’t done the greatest job of managing debt over the years. The inability to effectively manage it has had a lasting impression on individuals when it comes to managing their credit.

For starters, most people have serious trouble defining credit. If someone were to ask you what credit is, would you be able to rattle off a simple definition? If not, don’t worry. Credit can be summed up with this acronym, O.P.M. (Other People’s Money). Simple right? Depending on what source you reference, you may see a definition similar to this; credit is the customer’s ability to obtain goods or services before payment, based on the trust that payment will be made in the future. But why is something so fundamental to our country’s existence such a misunderstood concept?

The Urban Financial Services Coalition (San Francisco Bay Area chapter) was hosting a workshop on understanding the importance of credit. During the Q&A portion, a young man wanted to comment on how he learned about credit. He stated that his story was simple and one that should be shared with everyone. The young man’s story starts with him being in college, and his mailbox was full of credit card offers. He knew that establishing credit was essential but didn’t know the first thing about it. Up to this point, he only heard something like how credit was bad and that you should avoid at all cost. Note: for those of you who believe that, please consider changing your opinion. The young man decided that he needed to seek counsel as it applied to get this credit card, and he reached out to someone he knew was good with money – – his mother. Note: when seeking financial advice, please consider a professional or, at minimum, someone who is good with money.

During this brief 10-minute conversation with his mother, the young man learned how to ensure that his credit would always remain stellar. His first question to his mother dealt with which card he should select and from which financial institution. He had offers from both banks and credit unions. His mother said pick the card that you think looks the coolest. Why on earth would she say that? The mother knew that any financial institution sending such mail wouldn’t offer a college student any great credit card deals. It would be their basic student card, which probably wouldn’t have an annual fee. And for applying, they would probably get a t-shirt or some other tchotchke.

The young man didn’t think picking a card was that easy and expressed to his mother that he “heard” that he should be concerned about the interest rate before applying for a credit card. The mother gave him a great lesson about interest that all should take heed. The interest rate will never apply to you if you pay off your bill in full each month. In case you missed it, it’s worth repeating. THE INTEREST RATE ON A CREDIT CARD WILL NEVER APPLY TO YOU IF YOU PAY OFF YOUR BALANCE IN FULL EACH MONTH.

Reader Challenge: Go out and survey 10 people. Ask the question: What is the biggest thing for you to consider when shopping for a new credit card? The chances are that 8 or 9 out of the 10 people you ask will say the interest rate is THE most important thing. The sad thing is, if the interest rate is their top concern, then they have already lost. They tell you that they don’t manage money well and are okay with overspending/living above their means and, as a result paying their financial institution more money than they deserve.

Next, the young man asked his mother how he should use his brand new credit card. She said to make a few small purchases each month and pay off the balance in full when receiving your statement. She informed him that his credit limit would probably be pretty low (it was $200) since he was new to credit, plus the fact that he was a college student. And unless it was a real emergency, he should NEVER get close to that $200 limit. She reminded him that spending on a credit card is like getting a 30-day, interest-free loan. If you don’t pay off your balance in full, that dreadful interest will most certainly kick it. She went on further to explain that as a result of him sticking to this simple process, the financial institution would probably raise his limit. She warned him that just because they raise his limit doesn’t mean he should spend more. He should stick to his simple plan of making a few small purchases each month and pay off the balance in full, no matter how high is limit may become.

As a result of that conversation with his mother, the young man never had credit issues. Of course, his mother didn’t share with him all the moving parts when it comes to credit; like there being 3 credit bureaus, the credit score and how all 3 bureaus report it different, how your credit score is calculated, why checking your credit report from all 3 bureaus each year is critical, etc. The biggest thing the mother did for this young man was keeping it super simple. Many of us tend to complicate financial matters, causing a ton of stress in our lives. This young man has always viewed credit positively, primarily because his credit was indeed stellar. He learned how it worked and adopted a great habit early on. It also helped that the person he received the advice from was a great steward of credit.

Not all of us will be fortunate enough to have parents who understand credit and how the game works. 

Imagine what if everyone had someone break down credit before getting their first credit card as this mother did for her son. Debt (credit card debt specifically) probably wouldn’t be much of an issue.

taking inventory

Taking Inventory

Getting your financial house in order is a goal that most people set for themselves. Of course, not everyone will get things in order at the same stage in life. Like anything else, most people will do things when they are ready, not when some financial professional tells them to do so. Or they will decide to take action as a response to a life event. Here are a few examples.

Let’s say you have a friend (who has young children and a spouse) that passes away unexpectedly. After witnessing that, you decide to get serious about having adequate life insurance to protect your family. Or you have a co-worker who is getting well into their golden years but still HAS to work because they didn’t save/invest appropriately for retirement. Only then do you decide to start taking retirement planning seriously.

No matter your excuse or fear around financial planning, you must take it step by step. You have to crawl before you can walk, and you must walk before you can run.

Completing a personal balance sheet is the “crawl” step that everyone should take. This document, which you can find pretty much anywhere on the Internet, is easy to complete. It’s going to require you to list everything you own (assets) and everything you owe (liabilities). With some basic math (assets – liabilities), you will be able to determine your net worth.

Taking this “inventory” enables you to focus on where you need to start related to your financial plan. Plus, as you continue to move forward with your financial plan, this can serve as your barometer of financial fitness. The goal is to continue to grow your assets while decreasing your liabilities.

Some experts will recommend that you update your balance sheet once a year. However, if you are the type that needs more frequent feedback, perhaps you should consider updating your balance sheet quarterly or twice a year.

settle

How to Settle A Negative Account

Many people struggle with debt. Sometimes, you may not be sure how to attack it, especially if you’re delinquent on multiple accounts. Typically, the creditor will make various attempts to recoup the money that is owed to them; however, at some point they may give up and charge-off what you owe them. A charge-off means that the creditor has given up on trying to get the money from you. After that, two things occur…1) they refer the account to a collection agency (either an in-house firm or third party) who then becomes responsible for recouping the money, and 2) it’s reported as a negative item on your credit report.

Trying to settle that account in some form or fashion with any long-overdue account may be your best bet. Sometimes, if an account has gone to collections, they may even send you a letter stating that if you pay 70%-80% of the outstanding balance, then you’re good to go. For example, if you owed $10,000 and you can settle by paying $7,000, then that’s a win!

But if that’s not the case, here are some things you NEED to know about settling an account:

  1. You have rights under the Fair Credit Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Sometimes creditors and collectors can appear to be a nuisance, but keep in mind they are just doing their job. However, they have guidelines that they must adhere to and being abusive and or harassing is a big no-no.
  2. Make them validate the debt. Collection agencies purchase debt from the original creditor or they are working on behalf of the original creditor. If the collection agency contacts you and asks for repayment, ask them to verify that you owe the money. Per the FDCPA, collection agencies assigned a debt are not the creditor; therefore, they cannot prove that you owe the money. Why? Simply because you never signed a contract with them. However, there is one exception; if the agreement you signed with the original creditor has the insertion “…debtor agrees to be responsible for payment of this debt to a creditor or its assigns”.
  3. Build rapport with your creditors/collectors. Dealing with creditors and collectors can be intimidating, but you created the debt and owed the money. Explain to them that you’re unemployed or that an unexpected death or illness has occurred. They need to know something and understand that life happens, but leaving them in the dark about your situation is NOT the thing to do.
  4. If negotiating payment arrangements, make sure you have the money! Having the money to negotiate with is essential. Knowing this dollar amount will allow you to discuss a realistic payment schedule that fits your spending plan. Also, the terms you discuss will, of course, need to be acceptable to your creditor.
  5. While negotiating, keep your emotions in check. Again, your creditor has a job to do, and you owe the money. But they will be more willing to listen to you if you stay cool, calm and collected during the entire process.
  6. DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT! You must get everything in writing once you have negotiated a settlement payment or plan. Once that’s complete, ask your creditor to fax, scan/email or mail the plan to you.
how can a planner help

How Can A Financial Planner Help Me?

Having a conversation about financial matters is a struggle for most people. We all understand that it’s imperative to have your financial house in order; however, most people typically don’t. The fear that you face around this issue will never subside until you decide to take action. You either need to do-it-yourself (which most won’t commit to doing) or enlist the aid of a financial planner.

Financial planners don’t get a ton of fanfare, but they should. The issue stems from the fact that people don’t understand the value that a financial planner can provide. People don’t know that a financial planner may be the solution to all of their money woes. People don’t understand that a financial planner needs to be cherished just like your barber or hairstylist. Wait, like your barber or hairstylist? Yes!! When you need your hair done for an event or before you go on a trip, you will move mountains to get that appointment. Or if your person doesn’t do appointments, you will wait as long as it takes. Why?? Because looking good is non-negotiable!! However, when it comes to financial matters, you’re okay with NOT taking immediate action and continuing a life of financial misery. There isn’t a sense of urgency in interacting with a financial planner, nor is there typically a quick (there are exceptions) outcome received. Thus, people tend to shy away from meeting with a financial planner or constantly reschedule their appointment.

Now that we’ve addressed the psychology behind why people avoid financial planners, let’s move on and look at what you need to consider when you are ready to find your go to person. For starters, whoever you decide on, you need to like them. It doesn’t make much sense to do business with someone that you don’t like. Next, it’s recommended that you should interview 2-3 candidates before making your decision. Before finishing that first meeting (which is typically the free consultation that most will offer), you should know precisely how they get paid and what they can do for you.

Here’s a menu (of sorts) that you should consider when walking into that first meeting. A financial planner usually works in one of 3 ways:

Transactional-based business (Needs Analysis):

Think of this level as the basic package. You need a solution, and this planner can sell it to you. The planner will capture the necessary information as it applies to your need, conduct an analysis, and conclude by recommending a solution(s). It doesn’t require much follow up after the transaction is complete. The planner will be in touch at a minimum annually to review or be in touch periodically for service-related matters. The planner earns a commission on the solution that is sold.

Managed Money (Wealth Management):

This can be considered the “I’m in it with my client” level. You are entrusting the planner to manage a certain amount of money for you. The services at this level may involve the following as it relates to your money: 1) how your portfolio is allocated amongst the different asset classes 2) managing risk within the portfolio 3) enhancing (growing) your portfolio and 4) tax planning. You will probably meet with your planner quarterly to review your account. The planner will charge a quarterly fee based on the solution chosen and the account size. A fee-based relationship requires the planner to act in the client’s best interest because their compensation is tied directly to performance. Good performance, better pay, poor performance, less pay.

Comprehensive Financial Planning:

This level is like the deluxe service at the car wash. The planner will assist you with an in-depth analysis of some or all of the following areas: Net Worth and Cash Flow, Investment Planning & Allocation, Risk Management, Retirement Planning, Income Tax Planning, and Estate Planning. At this level, you will meet as necessary to help ensure that you understand your financial plan. At a minimum, you will conduct an annual review of your plan. Compensation at this level is two-fold. First, there will be an agreed-upon fee for the financial planning service. Second, the planner’s commission or fees will be earned if you decide to purchase any solution(s) to implement your financial plan. Some people choose to have the planner produce their financial plan, pay the fee, and opt to implement a solution(s) with another planner.

bw challenge write up

The #BuildWealth Challenge Results Are In

How did this #buildwealth challenge come about? Simple, I was trying to determine what financial areas were causing the most issues for people. Was it a lack of understanding of the complexities of the various insurance and investment-related products? Or was it dealing with basic money management skills and credit? I set out to see if I could get 500 people (ended up with 510) to respond to my brief survey.

Please note that I am not an academic, and this research project wasn’t as thorough as I would have liked. I didn’t capture any detailed demographic information (I got plenty of feedback about that); however, the respondents of this survey come from various age ranges, ethnic backgrounds, educational backgrounds, professions, etc. Despite all of that, I think the results we very revealing about the relationship people have with money. I have plans for future #buildwealth challenges. I will most certainly do a better job of capturing more detailed information.

Without further ado, let’s jump into the results!

No alt text provided for this image

I know some may argue that they track their financial success somehow, but I felt strongly that someone’s net worth tells the “real” story. You can determine your net worth by using a simple formula, Assets – Liabilities = Net Worth. This formula can be found on an important financial document called a balance sheet. Please familiarize yourself with this document because it’s a significant first step to getting your financial house in order. Completing a balance sheet will require you to gather all your financial information as it applies to what you own (assets) and what you owe (liabilities). Think of this (taking inventory) as the all-important first step on the road to financial rockstar status.

No alt text provided for this image

For starters, the fact that two people skipped this question is kind of crazy. I’m not sure what to make of it. For the 9% who put “neither,” that intrigued me because it says a couple of things; 1) they don’t have the slightest clue about where their money goes on any given month, or 2) they just don’t care about knowing where their money goes. So, who is in control, you or your money? People feel like they are living check to check because they haven’t taken the time to do some form of a budget, which would provide some level of control. If the old school way of budgeting doesn’t work for you, try the 50/20/30 plan or some other budgeting method. The key is to figure out what method works for you and stick to it. Also, don’t be so hard on yourself if you can’t master the budget right away. Keep in mind that you have to crawl before you can walk.

No alt text provided for this image

Understanding the importance of credit is critical to living a decent life in this country. I was happy to see that over 60% of the respondents were in the good/great category. For the small percentage who stated they have “no idea” about their status, I hope they exercise their rights by obtaining one free credit report (no score) from each of the three credit bureaus once a year. The interesting thing about credit is that you can screw it up, then clean it up, then screw it up again, then clean it up again. And you can repeat that for as long as you would like. Once you clean up your credit, unless there are some unforeseen circumstances (i.e., job loss, divorce, becoming disabled), it should not be hard to maintain a positive credit standing.

No alt text provided for this image

This question wins the prize for “most skipped,” and that wasn’t a big surprise. The way the question is phrased probably has something to do with it, as I didn’t specify what type of insurance. Plus, most people don’t truly understand why insurance is the cornerstone of their #buildwealth plan until something goes wrong. Let me ask a question. If you were going to build a house, where would you start? If your answer was anything other than the foundation, we need to talk! When it comes to building a home, a solid foundation sets the tone for the remainder of the house.

Regarding your #buildwealth plan, not having a strong insurance foundation may jeopardize your saving, investment, and retirement plans. If you were to get seriously sick or injured, your bills don’t stop just because you’re not working. Unless you have adequate savings, I seriously hope you have the proper amount of disability insurance. How about if your spouse/significant other (who happens to be the breadwinner) dies unexpectedly? Again, unless you have savings or other assets that you can liquidate immediately, I seriously hope you have enough life insurance. I’ll stay away from medical insurance because I know everyone who has medical coverage is grateful. Clearly, the insurance conversation isn’t a fun one to have, but hopefully, I’ve shed some light on how insurance can affect your overall financial well being.

No alt text provided for this image

There’s going to be a day when you don’t want to get up and go to work. When that day occurs, hopefully, you have more than enough money to survive. Retirement, whether you’re just starting your career, a seasoned professional, or winding things down, should be on your radar. The younger you are, the more time you have, the older you are, the less. It’s scary to know that some people have worked 30 or 40 years and have nothing to show for it. Or they are in their early 70’s or even 80’s and “have” to work because they can’t afford to.

Having your retirement plan in order is of the utmost importance. Back in the day, your employer typically took care of retirement planning for you; however, the responsibility now falls on your shoulders. Many companies have done away with pension plans (because they are expensive to manage). The long-term viability of social security seems to be an issue. Still, I’m optimistic that our government will figure out how to make it last. Some employers don’t provide a retirement account. That’s okay because there are plenty of avenues for you to open one up on your own. There isn’t a good excuse as to why you shouldn’t have an account (be it with your employer or on your own) that’s dedicated to retirement. If you are one of those struggling with the question of “how much should I save for retirement,” the answer is simple…A LOT!

No alt text provided for this image

Risk is another area that more of us need to discuss when thinking about our #buildwealth plans. Let’s get one thing clear; there is risk in every single type of account that exists. The big question when it comes to risk is how much can you tolerate? If you’ve ever worked with an investment professional or opened any type of investment account, you’ve taken a risk questionnaire. Some experts will say that if you’re young, you should be aggressive, and if you’re older, you should be more conservative. And, of course, there is everyone else in between. The theory makes sense because if you’re young and you’re investing aggressively for the long-term, you will probably be satisfied with the growth in your account despite the ups and downs of the market. Just search for any historical data about the stock market’s long-term performance, and you will understand. On the flip side, when you’re older, you may be relying on those funds to live; thus, it’s all about preservation. You might not be able to live comfortably if a major dip in the market occurs, and your account balance is cut in half.

Managing risk will ALWAYS be a work in progress for everyone. Life will cause you to think differently about risk. When you’re young and single, you make different choices in relation to someone who is older and has a family. When your salary is $150,000/year, your investment decisions are different from earning $80,000/year. When you are an educated investor, you’ll tend to make riskier investments instead of a novice investor. I could go on with examples, but you get the point. Be mindful of the risk that you’re taking and make sure you are the one that’s driving your decisions on risk and not your emotions or some outside influence.