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Ron Harris

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January 11, 2021

How Inflation Eats Up Your Savings

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How Inflation Eats Up Your Savings

How Inflation Eats Up Your Savings

Inflation is financial erosion, a slow and steady force that eats away at the value of money—YOUR money.

Here’s how it works. The trend is that over time, the prices of goods and services tend to rise. As a result, the purchasing power of your paycheck, your savings, and your retirement income is reduced.

The sucker ignores inflation—an abstract concept they may feel they have no control over. But the wealthy understand inflation and prepare for it—calculating the impact into their budget, their future purchases, and their retirement goals.

Here’s an example that drives it “home”…

Let’s say that in 1980 you received a $100,000 inheritance check. You were diligent enough to put the money into an account earning 2% annual interest. Your hope was that one day it would grow and be enough for you to afford a $200,000 dream home—a brick estate with a one acre yard, five bedrooms, three garages, and a pool in the back.

After waiting patiently for 40 years, retirement has arrived. The growth of your inheritance money had exceeded your goal—you now have over $220,000. Time to buy your dream home!

But while you waited, inflation was growing too. It increased at the average annual rate of 3.1%—more than tripling the average costs of goods… and houses.¹

Your $200,000 dream home with three garages and a pool in the back is now for sale at over $600,000.

The takeaway is that you can never ignore the impact of inflation on your goals for the future. You need to know how it could impact the value of your 401(k), the equity in your home, and the death benefit of your life insurance policy.

If you haven’t factored in the impact of inflation on your dreams for the future, there’s no time like the present. Consider scheduling a conversation with your licensed and qualified financial professional today to discuss strategies to beat inflation!

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¹ “Average Annual Inflation Rates by Decade,” Tim Mcmahon, InflationData.com, Jan. 1, 2021, https://inflationdata.com/Inflation/Inflation/DecadeInflation.asp

Face it. You’re a Sucker

December 7, 2020

Face it. You’re a Sucker

Most people don’t know how money works.

In 2018, a global survey asked over 100,000 people in 15 different countries 3 simple questions about interest, inflation, and risk diversification. 70% failed to answer all three basic questions correctly.1

The cumulative effect of that lack of knowledge can result in some sketchy decision making. So are you wondering how you’d do? See if you know the answers to the following questions…

• How much interest will you pay over the life of your car loan? • What about over the life of your mortgage? • How much life insurance do you need to protect your family financially? • How much do you need to save for retirement? • Are you on track with that? • If you’re not on track, at what age will your money run out? • How much will Social Security pay you each month? • How much monthly income will your 401(k) provide? • How old will you be when it runs out?

If you can’t answer questions like these, ask yourself if you’re like so many others who assume there will always be enough and hope everything will turn out OK.

How is that possible?

A lifetime of wild guesses and blissful ignorance explains why so many people facing retirement panic when they see how little they’ll be forced to live on for the rest of their days. Is this true for you? If so, you could find yourself saying “Wow! I thought it’d be a whole lot more.”

It’s time to face it. You’re a sucker.

Does that offend you? Good, it should. Let it be a wake-up call. When you don’t know how money works, you can be taken advantage of time and time again.

You’re a sucker. Own it and you’ve taken the first step toward not being one.

Being financially illiterate sucks. But knowing how money works will help you transition from sucker to student and from student to master. The whole point is never to be fooled again.

Not by banks.

Not by credit card companies.

Not by online offers.

Not by employers.

Not by family or friends.

Not even by the number one person in your life responsible for making money—YOU!

But how do you transition from sucker to student? Well, every student needs a teacher. YouTube videos and online tutorials are great if you need a quick fix around the home. But unless you’re REALLY handy, would you try to tackle a major plumbing job in your house based on a video you watched online? Of course not. It’s too involved and too important. You need someone with experience who does that sort of thing for a living—in other words, you need a plumber. In the long run, your personal finances are even more important than a busted pipe in your home. That’s why it’s critical to work with a licensed and qualified financial professional, who can help you repair your finances and keep them flowing smoothly.

Also, consider shadowing a money mentor. Who do you know that’s financially successful? Become their friend so you can discover what they did (and do) right. Observe their daily habits and how they make decisions. What time do they wake up? How do they use credit cards, if at all? Where do they put their money? Do they make financial decisions with their partner or separately? What you could learn from a financially-savvy friend could pay dividends down the road.

And if you need a beginner’s guide, consider the HowMoneyWorks: Stop Being a Sucker book. It’s a super-readable crash course on the basics of financial literacy that you can read in an hour but think about for a week. Just ask me how you can get a copy!

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¹ “The New Social Contract: a Blueprint For Retirement in the 21st Century —The Aegon Retirement Readiness Survey 2018,” Aegon—Center for Longevity and Retirement, May 2018, https://www.aegon.com/contentassets/6724d008b6e14fa1a4cedb41811f748a/retirement-readiness-survey-2018.pdf

Can You Teach Your Kids How Money Works? (Yes!)

November 4, 2020

Can You Teach Your Kids How Money Works? (Yes!)

Who will teach your kids how money really works? Don’t count on school!

Only 21 states in the U.S. require a financial literacy course to graduate from high school, and 4 of those states have some of the worst financial literacy levels in the country!¹,² It’s no wonder that only 28% of college students were able to answer 3 basic money questions about inflation, compound interest, and risk diversification.³ Think about it; many kids who don’t understand the fundamentals of money are also pulling out huge student loans that they have no clue how to handle. They’re getting taken advantage of before they even graduate!

Think that’s scary? Here’s where things get even scarier. The simple fact is that many people don’t start learning about money until they’re already in deep debt and sense a looming crisis. By that time, even if it’s not too late to avoid a catastrophe, many of those people can face a lifelong struggle to achieve robust financial health. What’s the solution? People should start learning how money works in their twenties? Nope. As teenagers? No way. People need to start learning how money works as kids—long before they’re in charge of their own personal finances.

Researchers from Cambridge discovered that our money habits are basically formed by age seven.4 The deeply indebted college freshmen of today spending 50 bucks a month on lattes and energy drinks are the result of financial under-development. It’s like tossing the keys of a $200,000 sports car to a teenager with zero driving experience and saying, “enjoy.” The most likely result down the road—disaster. ($200,000 also happens to be the cost of a 4 year private college in America: tuition plus room and board.5)

So what are your kids learning about money?

First, ask yourself what they are learning from YOU. If you’re like many Americans, your kids may think that money is supposed to be spent on what makes them feel good—right now. They might be completely unaware of the full power their money possesses to grow and build wealth and help them achieve their dreams.

Many parents do talk to their kids about working hard and earning money. They can, however, fail to bring them into the process of creating personal finance goals and showing them how to protect and grow their money to hit those goals.

Roll up your sleeves and consider showing your kids how money really works while their minds are little sponges and they haven’t made any money mistakes yet.

Here are nine tips to get you started:

  1. Read the book, HowMoneyWorks: Stop Being a Sucker, together.
  2. Discuss the concepts and 7 Money Milestones in the book.
  3. Let your kids in on some of your financial decisions and share a bit about your home budget with them so they understand the decisions you make for the family.
  4. Help them figure out ways to make money, save it, protect it, and watch it grow.
  5. Show them that putting all their money into a savings account is an opportunity for the bank to make money—not them.
  6. Explore smart tactics to avoid the impact of procrastination, inflation, losses, and taxes with their money.
  7. Use imaginary money and investment scenarios to teach them financial principles.
  8. Open an account for them with real money and take them through the entire process. Watch the money together each month as the balance changes.
  9. Have them accompany you to your next meeting with your financial professional, so they can ask a few questions of their own.

Perhaps your kids are older or maybe even have kids of their own. Know this—it’s never too late to start learning about how money works and teaching your kids about it too—no matter how old they are.

Let me know if you don’t have a copy of the book, How Money Works: Stop Being A Sucker. I’ll get you one ASAP! It’s packed with all the information you need to jumpstart your family’s financial literacy journey.

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¹ “How many states require students to take a personal finance course before graduating from high school? Is it 6 or is it 21?,” Tim Ranzetta, Next Gen Personal Finance, Feb 12, 2020, https://www.ngpf.org/blog/advocacy/how-many-states-require-students-to-take-a-personal-finance-course-before-graduating-from-high-school-is-it-6-or-is-it-21/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIzdDgiKnL6wIV0_HjBx0h7ALCEAAYASAAEgItWvD_BwE

² “How Financially Lit(erate) Is Your State?,” The Ascent, July 20, 2019, https://www.fool.com/the-ascent/research/financial-literacy-by-state/

³ “Financial and student loan (il)literacy among US college students,” Johnathan G. Conzelmann and T. Austin Lacy, Brookings, Oct. 15, 2018, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-chalkboard/2018/10/15/financial-and-student-loan-illiteracy-among-us-college-students/#:~:text=Overall%2C%20undergraduate%20students%20in%20the,percent%20got%20all%20three%20correct.

⁴ “The 5 Most Important Money Lessons To Teach Your Kids,” Laura Shin, Forbes, Oct 15, 2013, https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2013/10/15/the-5-most-important-money-lessons-to-teach-your-kids/#4a5f97006826

⁵ “How Much Does College Cost?,” CollegeData, 2020, https://www.collegedata.com/en/pay-your-way/college-sticker-shock/how-much-does-college-cost/whats-the-price-tag-for-a-college-education/

The Rule of 72 Explained

October 5, 2020

The Rule of 72 Explained

In our book HowMoneyWorks: Stop Being a Sucker, we introduce the Rule of 72, a mental math shortcut for estimating the effect of any growth rate—from quick financial calculations to population estimates.

This formula is especially useful for financial estimates and understanding the nature of compound interest. Rates of return may not be the easiest subject for consumers since it isn’t taught in schools, but this simple rule can help show the significance of a percentage point here or time horizon there.

Here’s the formula: 72 ÷ Interest Rate = Years to Double. If you know the interest rate (or rate of appreciation) or the time in years, dividing 72 by that number will give you a good approximation of the unknown number.

When will your money double?* 72 ÷ 1% = 72 years to double 72 ÷ 3% = 24 years to double 72 ÷ 6% = 12 years to double 72 ÷ 9% = 8 years to double 72 ÷ 12% = 6 years to double

Here’s an example: If you’re receiving a 9% rate of return, just divide 72 by 9. The result is 8. That means your money will double in approximately 8 years. Maybe that’s not fast enough for you and you prefer your money to double every 5 years. Then simply divide 72 by 5. The result is 14.4. Now you know you need a 14.4% return to achieve your goal.

This rule, long known to accountants and bankers, provides a close idea of the time needed for capital to double.

If you think that a difference of 1% or 2% is insignificant—think again! You seriously underestimate the power of compound interest. If one account appreciates at 9% and another at 12%, the Rule of 72 tells you that the first will take 8 years to double while the second will need only six years. This formula is also useful for understanding the nature of compound interest.

Examples:*

  • At 6% interest, your money takes 72 ÷ 6 = 12 years to double.
  • To double your money in 10 years, you need an interest rate of 72 ÷ 10, or 7.2%.
  • If inflation grows at 3% a year, the prices of things will double in 72 ÷ 3, or 24, years. If inflation slips to 2%, it will double in 36 years. If inflation increases to 4%, prices double in 18 years.
  • If college tuition increases at 5% per year (which is faster than inflation), tuition costs will double in 72 ÷ 5, or about 14.4, years.
  • If you pay 17% interest on your credit cards, the amount you owe will double in only 72 ÷ 17, or 4.2, years!

The Rule of 72 shows that a “small” 1% change can make a big difference over time. That small difference could mean buying the house you want, sending your kids to the college they choose, retiring when you wish, leaving your children the legacy they deserve, or settling for… something less. Doing the math with the Rule of 72 can give you critical insight to hit your goals down the road by shifting your strategy accordingly.

By the way, the Rule of 72 applies to any type of percentage, including something like population. Can you see why a population growth rate of 2% vs. 3% could be a huge problem for planning? Instead of needing to double your capacity in 36 years, you only have 24. Twelve years were shaved off your schedule with one percentage point faster growth.

The Rule of 72 was originally discovered by Italian mathematician Bartolomeo de Pacioli (1446-1517). Referring to compound interest, Professor Albert Einstein (1879-1955) is quoted as saying: “It’s the greatest mathematical discovery of all time.” He called it the 8th Wonder of the World—it works for you or against you. Make sure you put this shortcut to work the next time you consider an interest rate. When you save, it works for you. When you borrow, it works against you!

— Tom Mathews

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  • The Rule of 72 is a mathematical concept that approximates the number of years it will take to double the principal at a constant rate of return compounded over time. All figures are for illustrative purposes only, and do not reflect the performance risks, fees, expenses or taxes associated with an actual investment. If these costs were reflected, the amounts shown would be lower and the time to double would be longer. The rate of return of investments fluctuates over time and, as a result, the actual time it will take an investment to double in value cannot be predicted with any certainty. Investing entails risk, including possible loss of principal. Results are rounded for illustrative purposes. Actual results in each case are slightly higher or lower.

2 Concepts the Million Dollar Baby Strategy Puts to Work

September 14, 2020

2 Concepts the Million Dollar Baby Strategy Puts to Work

Most parents want their child to have a better life than they had.

While some parents are concerned they won’t have enough money for their own retirement, they have no idea what they can do to help their child’s retirement in 50 or 60 years. The good news is that they can do something now to put money to work for their child over those 50 or 60 years. What if you could start a small account now that has the potential to grow to $1 million dollars by the time your child is ready to retire?

The Million Dollar Baby takes advantage of 2 financial concepts:

Time Value of Money

The time value of money is the concept that money available to you now is worth more than the same amount in the future because of its potential to earn interest. Money saved today is worth more than money saved tomorrow because the money you save today has the potential to grow. That growth potential over time means you can save less today.

The Power of Compound Interest

The power of compound interest refers to the growth potential of money over time by leveraging the magic of “compounding,” which is interest paid on the sum of deposits plus all interest previously paid. In other words, interest earned on interest plus principal, not just principal.

Let’s consider a few hypothetical^ examples:

If at their child’s birth, parents put away $13,000 in an account that grows at an annual rate of 6.5%, compounded monthly until the child reaches retirement in 67 years, the account would grow to $1,000,042.

If they had waited 18 years before setting aside the $13,000, the account would grow to just $311,486 when the child reaches retirement at age 67. The loss of that 18 years leaves the child with almost $700,000 less for retirement.

For parents who aren’t able to set aside $13,000 at birth, they can still leverage the time value of money and compound interest by taking a more incremental approach. If at their child’s birth, parents put away $2,500 in a lump sum and then $250 every month for 4 years in an account that grows at an annual rate of 6.5%, compounded monthly until the child reaches retirement in 67 years, the account would grow to $1,008,059.

If they had waited 18 years before setting aside the $2,500 plus $250 every month for 4 years, the account would grow to just $313,857 when the child reaches retirement at age 67. Again, the loss of that 18 years leaves the child with almost $700,000 less for retirement.

How to start your own Million Dollar Baby program?

Step 1. Create a trust to own the account. If a parent owns the account, the account will pass through the parent’s estate upon death. With a trust, decisions are made by the parent trustee but the account will survive the parent’s death. The child can only access the trust account upon retirement or in an emergency medical situation before retirement. Depending on your budget, you can use a local attorney or an online service to set up the trust. NetLaw Inc. established a special Million Dollar Baby Trust just for this program.

Step 2. Select a long-term investment that will maximize the time value of money and the power of compound interest. Find a financial professional who will help you choose the right investment for you and your Million Dollar Baby.


– Kim Scouller


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^This is a hypothetical scenario for illustration purposes only and does not represent an actual product and there is no assurance that these results can actually be achieved. The hypothetical scenario does not take into account certain risks and expenses associated with an actual product such as performance risks, expenses, fees, taxes or inflation, if it had the results would be lower. Rate of return is an assumed constant nominal rate, compounded monthly. It is unlikely that any one rate of return will be sustained over time. Numbers are rounded to the nearest dollar in some cases. Retirement needs vary by income and cost of living - $1 million isn’t an adequate goal for every saver.

Your Money Is Worth More Now Than Ever

September 10, 2020

Your Money Is Worth More Now Than Ever

Your money is worth more now than ever.

The rich know that. They’ve conducted the surveys and done the market research to figure out how to convince you to fork over as much of your cash as possible right now while it’s at its maximum potential.

But… why?

Besides inflation, why is your money any different today than it will be tomorrow? It comes down to a simple concept that has the power to change your life. Allow me to explain.

Let’s pretend inflation didn’t exist and that your money today will have the exact same buying power as it will in the future. Someone offers you $100 either today or in 5 years. Obviously, it would be nice to have the money now. But, technically speaking, it wouldn’t really make a difference when you got the cash. In our inflation-free imaginary world, that money could get you the exact same amount of stuff today as it would at any point in the future.

Or would it?

What if you took that $100 payment and put it to work? You put it in a place with 8% interest that compounds annually. At the end of a year that initial $100 will have earned you $8, bringing your total to $108. The next year you earn 8% of $108, bringing your total to $116.64. After 5 years, your $100 will have grown into $146.93. That’s nearly a 50% increase!

In other words, your money has more time to grow today than it will tomorrow. It has more earning potential right now than in 10 years or in 5 years or even in a week! This simple but powerful truth is called the Time Value Of Money.

So what does that mean for you? What’s the bottom line?

It means TODAY is the time to put your money to work.

The clock is ticking. The earning power of your paycheck is slowly ebbing away. The time to stop being a sucker and start building your future is right now!

To learn more about the Time Value of Money, refer to the chapter by the same name in our book, “HowMoneyWorks, Stop Being a Sucker.” Don’t have a copy of the book? Contact me to get one—TODAY!

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This is a hypothetical scenario for illustration purposes only and does not represent an actual investment in any product. Actual investments can fluctuate in value and there is no assurance that these results can or will be achieved. It does not include performance risks, expenses, fees or taxes associated with any actual investment, which would lower results. Rate of return is an assumed constant nominal rate, compounded annually. It is unlikely that any one rate of return will be sustained over time. Investing entails risk, including possible loss of principal.

3 Practical Ways to Put the Rule of 72 to Work

3 Practical Ways to Put the Rule of 72 to Work

The Rule of 72 is useful for all kinds of financial estimates and understanding the nature of compound interest.

Here are a few examples of how the Rule of 72 can be utilized in the real world to get an estimate about how money will compound in various situations.

Example 1 - Estimating the Growth of an Inheritance.
You inherit $100,000 at the age of 29. What interest rate must you earn for it to become $1 million by the time you turn 65? You’ve got 36 years for your money to grow to $1 million, so it will take 3.25 doubles to grow $100,000 to $1 million dollars. Dividing 36 years by 3.25 doubles equals 11. Your money must double every 11 years. Knowing that, now you can run the formula to find your interest rate: 72 ÷ 11 = 6.54.

There you go. You need a financial vehicle that can offer no less than a 6.5% rate of return to hit your goal.

Example 2 - Estimating the Growth of an Economy.
Let’s say you want to approximate the growth rate of your country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). If your GDP is growing at 3% a year you can use the Rule of 72 formula: 72 ÷ 3 = 24. Therefore, in approximately 24 years, your nation’s GDP will double. Unless of course it changes. Were it to slip to 2% growth, how many years would the economy take to double? 72 ÷ 2 = 36 years. Should growth increase to 4%, GDP doubles in only 18 years (72 ÷ 4 = 18).

Example 3 - Estimating Inflation, Tuition, & Interest.
If the inflation rate moves from 2% to 3%, the time it will take for your money to lose half its value decreases from 36 to 24 years. If college tuition increase at 5% per year, costs will double in 14.4 years (72 ÷ 5 = 14.4). If you pay 15% interest on your credit cards, the amount you owe will double in only 4.8 years (72 ÷ 15 = 4.8)!


– Tom Mathews & Andy Horner


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