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How Money Works Educator - JESSICA VALENZUELA LOPEZ

JESSICA VALENZUELA LOPEZ

HowMoneyWorks Educator

1314 G St
Modesto, CA 95354

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August 2, 2022

Is Your Cash Flowing?

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Is Your Cash Flowing?

August 2, 2022

Is Your Cash Flowing?

How much cash do you have left at the end of the month after you’ve covered the essentials AND treated yourself? (I’m guessing not much.)

Wish your paycheck went a little further? You’re not alone—not by a long shot. Most Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck and saving little to nothing. So how do you increase your cash flow so you can stop living in the Sucker Cycle and start saving and investing more?

In the book, HowMoneyWorks, Stop Being a Sucker, we attack this challenge head on in Milestone 5 of the 7 Money Milestones.

Here are a few tips to get your cash flowing towards your future…

Redirect your cash flow

There are a million little things that siphon away your paycheck. Credit card debt, monthly subscriptions, and your fast food habit all chip away at your income. This “death by a thousand cuts” is a foolish spending cycle that prevents you—and countless other suckers—from creating an emergency fund, protecting your income, and building wealth for the future.

That’s why it’s so important to make and maintain a budget. It’s like a map of where your cash is going. Once you have that knowledge, you can figure out where you need to dial down your spending and start redirecting your cash. Don’t get too detailed. You don’t need to get overwhelmed by spreadsheets. Try creating a one-page list of expenses, freeing up as much cash as possible. Take your budget to your financial professional and discuss how best to use this available cash.

Open up new income streams

Budgeting and cutting back on spending might not be enough. Life throws plenty of unexpected (and expensive) problems at us that might not have a budgeting solution. You may need to look for new income streams to maintain the lifestyle you want while also saving for the future.

You’d be surprised by how many possibilities there are to create additional income streams—many of which offer the chance to make money from home. Maybe now is the time to discover that your favorite hobby or area of interest is actually a way to earn some cash. That could look like a side hustle or weekend gig, but you might find that your skills and ideas are full-time business opportunities just waiting to happen! Research which of your ideas and skills are in demand, figure out how much time and effort it will take to get started, and decide how much time you’re willing to commit. (It could be easier than you think!)

Increasing your cash flow can open up a whole new world of opportunities. That extra money you have from cutting back on takeout and streaming services could be how you fuel the power of compound interest and finally start saving for retirement. That several hundred dollars you bring in from teaching guitar lessons each month could be how you pay off your credit cards and free up even more cash. There’s no doubt your options can really open up once your cash starts flowing!

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Exposing the Greatest Threat to Your Financial Insecurity

July 21, 2022

Exposing the Greatest Threat to Your Financial Insecurity

If you feel like your finances are teetering on the edge of disaster, there’s a likely culprit—financial illiteracy.

Do you agree or disagree with these statements?

1. I am one recession away from financial disaster. 2. It wouldn’t take much to derail my retirement strategy. 3. There’s a fine line between grand financial finale and grand financial failure.

The statements are adapted from research designed to test relationship security. They aren’t dependent on your income or savings level. Instead, they measure something far more relevant—how you feel about your finances.

And if you’re like many, you agree with most, if not all of those statements. It’s an indication that you feel financially insecure. And there’s a reason for that…

It’s because your finances are in grave danger.

It’s not your fault—nobody taught you how to create financial security. In fact, you may not have learned the basic building blocks of growing wealth, much less how to protect against losses, inflation, or tragedy.

So is it any surprise that your finances feel like a house of cards? And since you’re an intelligent, normal human, you can feel the looming threat of collapse. It weighs on you, makes you anxious.

And it should—your feelings are a blaring alarm announcing that your situation is precarious, and you need to act.

But you can’t respond to danger until you identify what’s wrong. And the greatest enemy of your financial security? Financial illiteracy.

Think about it—would your finances have reached this point if you knew how money worked? Of course not!

If you knew how to actually build wealth and avoid financial blunders, you likely would have chosen a completely different path.

So the antidote to your feelings of financial insecurity is simple—learn how money works. Then, apply your knowledge. You may be surprised by the new sense of security that appears in your life.

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Lessons from Las Vegas

June 28, 2022

Lessons from Las Vegas

Why are so many people so bad with money, even though they know it’s important?

There’s an article from Psychology Today titled “The Psychology of Money.” It was published in 1995, but the central question still rings true—why do people sacrifice so much for money, only to blow it all?

Michael Ventura, the author, asks the question in the context of Las Vegas, where hard earned money goes to die. He paints a vivid picture of brightly lit casinos packed with overweight middle-aged men in casual clothes hunched over blackjack tables and slot machines.

Not one of them looks happy.

They likely don’t talk much with their spouses.

They spend a few minutes each week in conversation with their kids.

All they do is work. Their income and financial resources define their social status.

And yet here they are, gambling it all away and hating every second of it.

And again, it begs the question of WHY? Why the insane urge to unravel everything they’ve worked so hard to create?

Here’s a thought—what they’re doing at the casino isn’t too far off from what the sucker does every day. They throw away money in hopes of a rush, and wait to see how the cards fall.

Think about it—they work and work and work for money, but for what? So they can buy a house, a car, and maybe take a nice vacation. Maybe they think it will make them happy. But what does that really get them? A bigger mortgage, higher monthly payments, and the constant worry about losing their job and being unable to make ends meet. They don’t know how to use their money to build wealth or a stable, happier life. How could they?

They’ve never been taught.

The casinos of Vegas call their patrons suckers. Banks give you a sucker on the way out the door. They both leverage the same Sucker Cycle, the same psychology.

So what’s the lesson from Las Vegas? That everyone’s a sucker? That you’ll never be good with money?

No.

The lesson is that you must learn how money works. You must realize that something better is possible with your money. With your life. That you actually have what it takes to make decisions. To write a story with a better ending than hunching over a slot machine with a blank expression on your face.

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Knowledge is Not Power

June 21, 2022

Knowledge is Not Power

Your financial education must include both knowledge AND what steps to take. It must teach you wealth building concepts AND wealth building strategies.

If you’re lacking knowledge, it’s impossible to start your journey to financial independence because the money decisions you make without it are likely to do more harm than good.

But knowledge alone is not enough. Knowledge without guidance leads to information overload and analysis paralysis.

It’s what all financial professionals hear: ”You’ve taught me about the Power of Compound Interest. Great! And now I know about the Time Value of Money. Wonderful! But where the heck do I find an account with the interest rate I need to reach my financial goals?”

Tony Robbins said it best. “Knowledge is NOT power. Knowledge is only POTENTIAL power. Action is power.”

So before you create a strategy to start building wealth, learn how money works. Discover the financial illiteracy crisis and its impact on your peace of mind. Learn about the Power of Compound Interest and the Time Value of Money and how those concepts can make your money earn more money. Realize the wealth building potential of starting a business.

Then, get with a licensed and qualified financial professional. Start working through The 7 Money Milestones. They’re time-proven steps that can move you from financial hardship to financial independence. The Milestones are…

Financial Education

Proper Protection

Emergency Fund

Debt Management

Cash Flow

Build Wealth

Protect Wealth

Why these steps? Because they apply what you’ve learned to simple strategies, like…

Securing proper financial protection for your family

Leveraging a side hustle to boost cash flow

Protecting your wealth with an estate plan

The Milestones take your newfound knowledge and transform it into action. They move you from having the potential to be wealthy to walking the path towards securing your future.

In short, they help unlock your power to create the future you want.

Learn how money works. Follow the Milestones. Take control of your financial future. With this education, you can be on the road to wealth in no time flat.

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Home Price vs. Interest Rate: Which Is More Important?

Home Price vs. Interest Rate: Which Is More Important?

Millennials, this one’s for you—a low interest rate DOES NOT balance out a high home price.

Millennials face a dilemma—pay greater home prices now but at lower interest, or hope that interest rates increase in the future which historically has lowered home prices.

Some Millennials are choosing to face the housing market head on, while others are waiting things out.

So which camp is “right”? And, if you’re a Millennial, which camp should you join?

The answer: None of the above. The real question is—and has always been—can you actually afford to own a home?

Let’s do the math…

Suppose you live in a fantasy where the housing market is semi-normal somewhere in the world. You have two potential homes in the running—one in the suburbs, the other in the city.

The suburban home costs $300,000 with a 30-year mortgage at a rate of 6%.

The city home costs $500,000 with a 30-year mortgage at a rate of 2%.

One Sucker sees a lower interest rate and ignores the price tag, while another Sucker sees the lower price tag and ignores the higher interest rate. Both think they’re getting an historic deal.

But get this—the monthly payment will be almost identical for either house.

The wealthy realize that high prices and high interest rates have the same result—you pay more for your home, and the bank profits.

Instead, the wealthy ask themselves questions like…

Can I afford my monthly payment?

Have I saved enough for an adequate down payment?

Will I have enough left for furniture and repairs?

Have I factored in the cost of property taxes and HOA fees?

The takeaway? The wealthy don’t lose sight of what matters most—their cash flow. Just because interest rates are lower doesn’t mean you’ll be able to make the monthly payments.

Do your homework.

Use a mortgage calculator.

Research your potential new neighborhood for any HOA fees or other costs you might incur.

Figure out how much you can afford to spend on monthly payments as a part of your overall budget.

Meet with your licensed and qualified financial professional to talk about your overall financial picture and how your new home will fit in with your current situation and your retirement strategy.

It’ll save you heartache—and maybe some money—in the long run.

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Market performance is based on many factors and cannot be predicted. This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to promote any certain products, plans, or strategies for saving and/or investing that may be available to you. Any examples used in this article are hypothetical. Before investing or enacting a savings or retirement strategy, seek the advice of a licensed and qualified financial professional, accountant, real estate agent, and/or tax expert to discuss your options.

How Consumers Prefer to Cover Long-Term Care Costs

How Consumers Prefer to Cover Long-Term Care Costs

It’s a fact—consumers prefer long-term care riders to stand-alone long-term care (LTC) insurance.

In 2018, 350,000 Americans bought long-term care insurance.¹

84% chose linked-benefit coverage. In other words, their LTC insurance was a rider on a life insurance policy or another financial vehicle.

Only 16% chose stand-alone LTC insurance.

If you had to guess why riders won out, what would you say?

  • Because LTC riders are often far more affordable than stand-alone insurance?²

  • Because LTC riders aren’t subject to steadily increasing premiums?³

  • Because stand-alone LTC insurance is growing harder and harder to qualify for?⁴

If you guessed any of the above, you’d be right! They’ve all contributed to the rising popularity of LTC riders.

For many, LTC riders are a no-brainer. If something’s more affordable, easier to qualify for, and less subject to change, wouldn’t you prefer it, too? And considering that 70% of people age 65 and older will need LTC, it’s a form of financial protection everyone should explore.⁵

That’s not to say an LTC rider is the perfect solution for your situation. If you don’t need permanent life insurance, then a stand-alone policy may be the way to go. That’s why it’s critical to meet with a licensed and qualified financial professional—they can evaluate your situation and what tools and strategies best meet your needs.

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This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to promote any certain products, plans, or policies that may be available to you. Any examples used in this article are hypothetical. Before enacting a savings or retirement strategy, or purchasing a life insurance policy, seek the advice of a licensed and qualified financial professional, accountant, and/or tax expert to discuss your options.


¹ “Long-Term Care Insurance Facts - Data - Statistics - 2019 Report,” American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, Nov 2019, https://www.aaltci.org/long-term-care-insurance/learning-center/ltcfacts-2019.php

² “Should I add a long-term care rider to my life insurance policy?” Nupur Gambhir & Rebecca Shoenthal, PolicyGenius, Jan 25, 2022, https://www.policygenius.com/life-insurance/long-term-care-rider/

³ “Should I Buy Life Insurance With a Long-Term Care Rider?” Sterling Price, ValuePenguin, Mar 14, 2022, https://www.valuepenguin.com/life-insurance-long-term-care-rider

⁴ “Knowledge Tracker: The Collapse of Long-Term Care Insurance,” Alexander Sammon, The American Prospect, Oct 20, 2020 https://prospect.org/familycare/the-collapse-of-long-term-care-insurance/

⁵ “How Much Care Will You Need?” LongTermCare.gov, Feb 18, 2020, https://acl.gov/ltc/basic-needs/how-much-care-will-you-need

Start Building Wealth in a Minute or Less

May 17, 2022

Start Building Wealth in a Minute or Less

Automation is the simplest—and perhaps the most powerful—move you can make towards retiring wealthy.

Imagine if you could automate going to the gym. You download an app, tap a few buttons, and then… do nothing. Over the next few weeks, you notice changes. Your legs get firmer. Your biceps bulk up. You walk past mirrors and think “darn, I look GOOD!” Friends ask if you’ve been going to the gym. You smile, because you know the truth—you haven’t been once.

It sounds too good to be true. But when it comes to building wealth, “bulking up” can become a reality.

That’s right—you can automate building wealth. And it only takes a few moments.

Simply Google search how to automate deposits in your wealth building accounts, and follow the steps. It should take you less than a minute once you know how it’s done.

And just like that, you’ve started building wealth. Your money will effortlessly flow from your bank account into your wealth building accounts. It’s that easy.

Here are a few prerequisites before you start automating…

Decide which accounts are best for your situation

This isn’t something to do alone. Meet with your licensed and qualified financial professional, and review your situation and your goals. They’ll be able to recommend accounts and wealth-building vehicles.

Review your budget

What’s the most you can automate towards building wealth without derailing your lifestyle? See how much money you have leftover each month. If the answer is zero, slash your spending and automate whatever you free up.

Know when you get paid

The best time to transfer money from your bank to wealth building is right after payday. Review your pay schedule, then automate transfers to go through a day or two after.

Wealth doesn’t appear overnight. It can take years. But there are simple steps you can start this afternoon to make the process that much easier. It just takes a little knowledge and a few seconds. So get started today!

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4 Simple Steps to Streamline Your Housing Budget

May 10, 2022

4 Simple Steps to Streamline Your Housing Budget

Decreasing your housing budget may mean more money in your pocket.

That’s because housing is the single largest expense for most Americans.¹ Reducing mortgage payments or rent by even a fraction can free up substantial cash flow.

The best part? You don’t have to move into a shack to make it happen. Here are a few strategies to increase cash flow by decreasing your housing costs.

Choose the suburbs over the city. On average, suburbanites save $9,000 per year on housing and child care when compared to city-dwellers.² By and large, the money you may save on the cost of living in the suburbs can outweigh the added transportation expenses. It’s not a shift for everyone, but relocating further from the city might make sense financially, at least for the short-term.

Rent until you’re ready. It’s worth considering leasing a house or apartment until you’re financially positioned to buy a house. Even if a mortgage payment seems cheaper on paper than renting, ownership can come loaded with unforeseen expenses. Flooded basement? That’s on you. Broken furnace? Also on you. Renting isn’t necessarily a permanent long-term strategy, but it beats potentially going into debt covering surprise repairs that are beyond your budget.

Find a reliable roommate. Sharing the cost of housing can free up a significant portion of your cash flow, especially in expensive cities. In New York City, for instance, having a roommate can save you up to $15,500 every year.³ Just be sure you take on a roommate that doesn’t flake out when rent is due.

Rent out a room. If you’re a homeowner with room to spare, consider leasing space to a trusted friend. The extra income can offset the cost of mortgage payments and result in more cash flow going toward saving, investing, or even paying off the house faster.

Contact me if you’re interested in learning more about how budgeting fits into an overarching financial strategy. We can review your income and expenses and make a game plan for how you can stop spending like a sucker and start saving like the wealthy.

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¹ “American Spending Habits in 2020,” Lexington Law, Jan 6, 2020, https://www.lexingtonlaw.com/blog/credit-cards/american-spending-habits.html

² “City vs. Suburbs: Where is Better to Live?,” The Perspective, 2020, https://www.theperspective.com/debates/city-vs-suburbs/

³ “What a Roommate Saves You in 50 U.S. Cities – 2020 Edition,” Nadia Ahmad, SmartAsset, May 11, 2020, https://smartasset.com/checking-account/what-a-roommate-saves-you-in-50-us-cities-2020

Why You Should Study the Wealthy

May 3, 2022

Why You Should Study the Wealthy

Want to be financially independent? Study the wealthy.

Why? Because observing the wealthy is one of the most effective guides for creating— you guessed it—wealth. By using the wealthy as your guide, you can reduce debt, increase cash flow, and protect what you earn.

To study the wealthy, pattern their behavior.

Start by observing your social circles. Ask yourself who in your contact list is building real wealth…maybe a friend, family member, or mentor. Got someone in mind? Talk to that person. Spend time with them, hang out with them, and ask them questions. You’ll begin to absorb their insights, habits, strategies, and ways of thinking just by being around them!

If no one in your circles fits that description, it’s not hard to study the wealthy from a distance. Read the biography of a successful businessperson, watch a CEO’s TED Talk, or follow respected financial experts on social media. Be consistent. It takes time to unlearn unhealthy habits and replace them with new, beneficial behaviors.

Also, consider reading the HowMoneyWorks: Stop Being a Sucker book. It’s the quickest path on the market today to learning how wealth is built. You’ll come away with a fresh understanding of what’s possible with your paycheck and the milestones you need to hit.

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What Millennials Need to Retire Wealthy

April 26, 2022

What Millennials Need to Retire Wealthy

It’s official—Millennials are serious about building wealth.

According to a recent study, Millennials (ages 25 to 40) have an average of $51,300 in personal savings, while their retirement accounts have an average balance of $63,300.¹

That’s far higher than it was just a few years ago. In 2019, they had saved just $23,000 for retirement.² They’ve nearly tripled their wealth in less than 3 years!

It’s no surprise. Few generations have gotten kicked in the pants quite like Millennials. Between recessions, pandemics, frenzied housing markets, and international instability, they’ve learned that wealth isn’t a luxury—it’s an absolute necessity.

But Millennials still have a long way to go before they retire wealthy. Here’s what they need if they’re going to arrive at their long-awaited destination…

Millennials must know—and use—the Rule of 72.

The Rule of 72 is a simple mental math shortcut that estimates when your money will double, given a fixed compounding interest rate. Here’s what it looks like…

72 ÷ interest rate = years to double

It’s simple, it’s powerful, and it might change the course of your financial future.

Let’s say you’re 35 years old with $60,000. That’s a solid start. But how can you turn $60,000 into $1 million by age 67?

Think of it like this—you need to double your money just over 4 times to reach $1 million.

Now, subtract your current age from your retirement age. That’s how long you have left to build wealth.

67 - 35 = 32 years

So you have 32 years to double your money just over 4 times. In other words, your money needs to double every 8 years.

Now it’s time to use the Rule of 72, but with a slight twist—swap the interest rate with the years for each double.

72 ÷ years for each double = interest rate needed

Plug in your numbers, and you get…

72 ÷ 8 years = 9% interest rate

In this scenario, you’d need just over a 9% interest rate to retire as a millionaire.

Armed with that knowledge, you’ll be better able to see through gimmicks like a “high-interest savings account” that offers .06% interest. You’ll also be left with just one question—where can you find an account with 9% interest?

Answer that question with your financial professional, and you’re on the right track for retiring wealthy.

Try the exercise above with your age and personal savings. What was the result? Then, contact a financial educator who can help you fine-tune a strategy to reach your retirement goals.

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¹ “Here’s how much money each generation has saved for retirement,” Nicolas Vega, CNBC, Aug 20 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/08/20/how-much-each-generation-saves-for-retirement.html

² “What Is “Retirement”? Three Generations Prepare for Older Age,” Catherine Collinson, Patti Rowey, Heidi Cho, Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, Apr 2019 https://transamericacenter.org/docs/default-source/retirement-survey-of-workers/tcrs2019_sr_what_is_retirement_by_generation.pdf

Can You Budget Your Way to Wealth?

April 19, 2022

Can You Budget Your Way to Wealth?

Budgeting is good, budgeting is great. But if you’re building wealth, it will only get you part of the way.

Budgeting is usually the first move for anyone getting their finances in order. It’s basically just tracking your expenses against your income, and then slashing spending.

Consider that 64% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck.¹ Low income isn’t to blame—48% of families earning over $100,000 also live paycheck-to-paycheck!² So for many, budgeting is an absolute necessity.

But will budgeting alone put you on the fast-track to wealth? Probably not.

Let’s say you earn $45,000 per year (after taxes), but you spend $45,000 every year. Congratulations! You’re living paycheck-to-paycheck. When you decide to get serious about building wealth, you’ll face a stark reality—you have no money left over to save!

So you start budgeting. You move from your apartment in midtown to a hovel in the suburbs. You stop going out. You cook at home. You walk to work. You swap lightbulbs for candles. You scrap Netflix, Spotify, and cable—and you start whittling random sticks you find in the yard to pass the time.

By the end of the year, you’ve spent only $30,000. Good for you! You have $15,000 to devote towards building wealth.

But what if you’re still short of your savings goals? You’ve cut spending to the core. Unless you’re willing to scavenge for food and live in a tent, cutting your spending further is going to be tough.

You only have one option—boost your income.

What does that look like? It could look like scoring a promotion. Or getting a new job. It could also look like starting a side hustle or becoming a part-time entrepreneur. You actually may be surprised at how many of your talents and hobbies have income-boosting potential!

That’s why for the 7 Money Milestones in the book How Money Works: Stop Being a Sucker, budgeting and boosting income are rolled together into a single Milestone—Milestone 5: Increase Cash Flow. Budgeting will get you started, but to truly supercharge your savings, you’ll need to increase your income stream, or create a multiple income streams.

Think about it like this—Jeff Bezos drove a Honda Accord for decades, but that’s not what made him a billionaire. Rather, he began with frugality and then built an income-generating empire.

So if you’re just beginning to build wealth, start with budgeting. Clean up your spending as much as possible before boosting your paycheck.

If you’re already frugal, good for you! You’ve made a great stride towards building wealth. Now, it’s time to consider boosting your income further.

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¹ “As inflation heats up, 64% of Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck,” Jessica Dickler, CNBC, Mar 8, 2022, https://www.cnbc.com/2022/03/08/as-prices-rise-64-percent-of-americans-live-paycheck-to-paycheck.html

² “48% of Americans making over $100,000 live paycheck to paycheck, report says,” Andrew McMunn, Action 5 News, Mar. 8, 2022, https://www.actionnews5.com/2022/03/08/48-americans-making-over-100000-live-paycheck-paycheck-report-says/

A Bold Strategy to Free Up Cash Flow

April 7, 2022

A Bold Strategy to Free Up Cash Flow

Need cash flow? Consider reducing your largest expenses.

Housing, transportation, and food consume more than 60% of the average American’s income.¹ If you’re willing to cut costs in those categories by just a fraction, you could save far more than eliminating smaller budget items. Think of it like this—cancelling a few unused online subscriptions is a good start, but it might not save you nearly as much as downsizing your apartment!

Here’s how it works…

You’re ready to get your financial house in order, attack your debt, and start building wealth. Let’s say you earn about $70,000 per year. $40,000 goes towards housing, transportation, and food, you spend $5,000 on non-necessities, and the rest goes towards insurance, healthcare, and education.

Looks good, right? But when you crunch the numbers, you realize you can’t put away enough each month to reach your savings goals. What a momentum-killer! How are you going to free up cash flow?

By totally eliminating non-necessities like coffee from the shop and streaming services, you could get back $5,000 dollars a year.² Not bad, but not great either.

Or—to save twice as much—you could scale back your housing, transportation, and food expenses by 25%. It might seem radical, but it’s worth considering if it can help get you to your goals.

The takeaway? Before you hack away at your lifestyle, consider your non-discretionary spending. It’s an aggressive strategy, but ask yourself if there are ways you could slash your rent, mortgage payments, car payments, and grocery bill. If so, take advantage of them—they could free up far more cash flow than by just cutting non-necessities.

Not sure how to cut back on your top expenses? Stay tuned for creative strategies for reducing your spending on housing, transportation, and food. Articles that outline how you can save money on the largest items in your budget are on the way!

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3 Painful Consequences of Minimum Payments

3 Painful Consequences of Minimum Payments

Do you send in more than the minimum payments on your credit cards each month? (The correct answer is ‘yes.’)

If you are making more than the minimum payments now—you’re thinking like the wealthy!

A minimum payment is the lowest amount you can pay on your credit card bill without suffering a late payment penalty. We all know making minimum payments may be necessary for a short period if you’re freeing up cash flow to pay down a bigger, more urgent bill. However, paying just the minimum for the long haul can lead to long-term negative consequences.

Just like any time you have to deal with challenges in life, considering long-term consequences is vital to success. It can wake you up from thinking and acting like a sucker with your money. It can give you the laser focus needed to pay off debts so you can start building wealth. What’s at stake? You know, just your future.

So what are those looming, long-term consequences of making only the minimum payments on your credit cards?

Consequence #1: You end up paying mostly interest forever. OK, maybe not forever, but it will feel like it. By making only the minimum payments over a long period of time, you’re basically giving the credit card company free money—your money. You’re not even paying down the principal for the item you originally purchased with your credit card. You’re basically paying a subscription to the credit card company for holding your debt—a monthly service for which you get nothing.

Here’s an all-too-common example:

Let’s say that an unexpected expense tightens your budget. As it stands, you owe $10,000 in credit card debt at a 20% interest rate with a minimum payment of 2%. In order to cover the basics like housing, food, and medicine, you drop your credit card payments to the minimum amount of $200 monthly.

In this scenario, it will likely take more than 30 years and interest payments of over $35,000 to fully eliminate your credit card debt. The credit card company becomes richer, and your financial future is squandered.
 Consequence #2: You can hurt your credit score. When you hold high debt on a credit card for a long period, even if you’re making minimum payments on time, your credit utilization ratio (or the percentage of available credit you’re using) can rise. If it remains above 30% of your credit card limit for long, your credit can take a substantial hit¹—hurting your ability to borrow for a car, education, or home mortgage—and hinder qualifying for lower interest rates on those loans. This all equals financial limitations for your future—less cash flow, higher interest payments, less money to save for the future.

Consequence #3: You never start saving. Today, the responsibility to save and build wealth falls on the consumer—that’s you! Your 401(k) and Social Security check may fall dramatically short of providing the income you need for the lifestyle you want during retirement. The earlier you start saving, the better chance you have of closing the gap on the money you need for the future. Paying minimum payments on your credit cards is a dangerous habit that can prevent you from saving enough.

You don’t have to fall victim to these consequences. You can create a strategy to knock out your credit card debt by paying more than the minimums. How much more? As much as possible—until your credit card debt is gone. That big sigh of relief and your new ability to save will be well worth it!

An important caveat: Paying the minimum on a credit card while you build an emergency fund or pay down another debt can be advantageous, as long as you’re working with a licensed and qualified financial professional to reduce debt methodically.

Learn more about reducing debt in the book, HowMoneyWorks: Stop Being a Sucker. Email, text, or call me to discover how you can get a copy ASAP!

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No One Has Money

No One Has Money

No one has money. You may think other people have money, but they don’t.

For each generation, it’s the same.

They don’t get taught how money works from K-12.

High school graduates head off to college. They don’t learn how money works there, either.

College graduates enter the workforce and start earning a paycheck… and spending their paycheck.

Soon, they enter a cycle of foolish spending. Earn a paycheck. Spend a paycheck. Earn a paycheck. Spend a paycheck.

They join the hundreds of millions living paycheck-to-paycheck. Always spending. Barely saving, if at all.

When retirement finally arrives or accidents or illness occur later in life, a terrible realization dawns on them…

They have no money.

According to a recent survey…1

◼ Gen Z adults have saved an average of $37,000 for retirement ◼ Millennials have saved an average of $63,300 for retirement ◼ Gen-Xers have saved an average of $98,900 for retirement ◼ Baby Boomers have saved an average of $138,900 for retirement

Only Gen Z and Millennials are even close to being on track for retirement. Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers fall short of bare minimum savings by over half.

It’s not for lack of income—many Americans make enough to put their money to work.

Rather, it’s because they lack knowledge. They just don’t understand how money works beyond earning and spending.

The takeaway? If you’re a Gen-Xer or Baby Boomer, the time to start building wealth is now.

But for your income and skills to translate into wealth, you need tools. You need concepts like…

The Power of Compound Interest

The Time Value of Money

Wealth Equivalency

These concepts will help you answer questions like…

◼ What interest rate do I need to close the gap between my savings and my retirement goals?

◼ How much do I need to save each month to retire with $1 million?

◼ Should you save a nest egg or start a business?

If those are answers you need to get, ask me how you can learn. I’d be happy to introduce you to resources that can set you on the right path towards discovering how money works and building wealth.

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¹ “Here’s how much money each generation has saved for retirement,” Nicholas Vega, CNBC Make It, Aug 20 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/08/20/how-much-each-generation-saves-for-retirement.html

The Knowledge Gap

March 17, 2022

The Knowledge Gap

Knowledge separates those who take advantage from those who are taken advantage of.

Why? Because knowledge translates to action.

This is especially true when it comes to money.

Think about it. The Sucker “knows” just a few things about money…

“I need money to buy things.”

“I work to earn money.”

“I will never earn much money.”

Now, consider what the Wealthy know about money…

“I can use money to start a business.”

“I can use money to earn compound interest.”

“I can use money to make my family’s life easier.”

“I can use money to leave my loved ones a legacy.”

The difference is simple.

Because the Sucker knows little about money, they see it only as a necessary evil.

But the Wealthy know money creates opportunity.

It all starts with knowledge. If the Sucker knew how money actually works, they would see it—and manage it—differently.

What do you think you know about money? If you’re not sure, scroll up to the top of my site and head over to the Learn section. There, you’ll find the HowMoneyWorks Challenge, a quick quiz that will reveal how much you actually know about money.

When you’ve completed the quiz, let me know how you did. Better yet, what answers surprised you? It may be that you’ve never been taught things like the Power of Compound Interest or Risk Diversification. And that can warp your ability to see money as an opportunity instead of a limitation.

It all starts with your thinking. It all starts with learning how money works.

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Preparing For Emergencies In The Face Of Inflation

February 24, 2022

Preparing For Emergencies In The Face Of Inflation

Your emergency fund may be rapidly losing value.

Despite your best efforts and planning, you and your family’s first line of financial defense might be eroding day by day. And it’s all because of inflation.

Here’s what’s happening…

Inflation is the steady increase of prices over time. A jug of milk that costs $2.85 one year could cost $3.00 the next. On average, prices have inflated at 3.25% annually since 1914.¹

But in 2021, inflation exploded. The market faced a perfect storm of low interest, pandemic-fueled supply chain problems, and consumers returning to stores. Demand soared while supply shrank.

The result? Consumer prices increased 7% in 2021, the highest rate since 1982.²

That means everything is increasing in price… including the services you need in emergencies.

But here’s the problem—it’s a challenge for your emergency fund to outgrow inflation.

Why? Because above all else, your emergency fund must be both accessible and stable. What good is an emergency fund if you can’t use it in a pinch or if it gets leveled by market fluctuations?

And good luck finding an account that’s accessible, stable, AND pays interest that’s greater than inflation. In today’s climate, it can be difficult to find a “high interest” savings account that pays more than .5%. Read that again. Not 5%. Point 5 percent.

The question then, isn’t if your emergency fund can outgrow inflation. It’s about minimizing the damage.

Here are two ideas that may make the difference between financial success and disaster in the face of emergencies…

Increase your income. It’s simple—the more you earn, the better positioned you are to navigate emergencies. Look for ways to increase your income through side hustles, a new opportunity, or even negotiating higher wages with your current employer.

Just remember—not all sources of income are created equal. The income from your job, for instance, has two critical weaknesses…

  1. It may dry up if an emergency stops you from working
  2. Wages haven’t kept pace with inflation for decades

In short, the best sources of income for emergencies work even when you can’t, and empower you to control your own wage.

Some options are…

Turning a hobby or passion into a side-hustle Starting a business that eventually becomes self-sustaining Creating and selling duplicatable items like books, courses, music, etc.

Split your emergency fund. If you have a substantial emergency fund you could split it between two accounts. One half would grow slowly but remain easily accessible and stable. The other half would grow faster but be less accessible and more volatile.

Be warned—this strategy will only work if you have substantial emergency savings. Before you opt for this approach, consult with your financial professional.

Shielding your emergency fund from inflation is possible, but it takes the right strategy. It’s always wise to consult with a licensed and qualified financial professional before committing to a strategy.

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¹ “United States Inflation Rate: Stats,” Trading Economics, https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/inflation-cpi#:~:text=Inflation%20Rate%20in%20the%20United,percent%20in%20June%20of%201921.

² “Inflation reaches highest level since 1982 as consumer prices jump 7% in 2021,” Paul Davidson, USA Today, Jan 12, 2022, https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2022/01/12/cpi-2021-consumer-prices-climbed-7-2021-fastest-pace-since-1982/9178235002/

³ “For most U.S. workers, real wages have barely budged in decades,” Drew Desilver, Pew Research, August 7, 2018, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/08/07/for-most-us-workers-real-wages-have-barely-budged-for-decades/

Will Your Savings Become Wealth?

Will Your Savings Become Wealth?

Not sure if you’re on track to become wealthy? The Rule of 72 can help!

The Rule of 72 is a simple mental math shortcut that estimates how long it could take your money to double. This is what it looks like…

72 ÷ interest rate = years to double

It’s simple, it’s easy, and it might change your life.

Here’s how…

Let’s say you’re done living paycheck-to-paycheck and you’re ready to build wealth. You’ve downloaded a budgeting app, and you’ve set aside $150 each month to save. Look at you! That’s a massive step towards building wealth.

But now you face a dilemma—where should you stash that money each month?

Your checking account? A savings account? Retirement accounts? NFTs? Each person you ask has a different opinion, fully backed with anecdotal evidence.

But have no fear! Enter the Rule of 72. It’s your gleaming sword that can slash through false perceptions and help you conquer your savings goals.

Let’s say for the time being, you’ve kept some money in a “high-interest” savings account earning .5%. How quickly will that account double your money?

Simple—plug that interest rate into the Rule of 72, and you get…

72 ÷ .5 = 144 years to double…

That’s right—your money will take 144 years to double with your current savings strategy. Yikes! That’s enough time to move from steam power to SpaceX.

But that’s not all—that interest rate leaves you helpless to inflation, which as of the writing of this article is about 3.25%.1 Luckily, you can use the Rule of 72 to discover when inflation will double the cost of living. Just replace the interest rate with the rate of inflation, and you get…

72 ÷ 3.25 = 22 years

Think of it like this—in 144 years, your money would double once. But the cost of living would double 6 times. Without the Rule of 72 to reveal this truth, your savings strategy might erode your wealth instead of increasing it!

But suppose you found an account with a 6% interest rate. Plug that into the Rule of 72, and you get a very different result…

72 ÷ 6 = 12 years

Over a 45 year career, your money would double roughly 3 times. The cost of living would only double twice. So your wealth would be above the rising tide of inflation.

The Rule of 72 isn’t a guarantee of success. After all, past performance can never guarantee future results. But the Rule of 72 can estimate if your savings are on track to become wealth, or if you’re heading towards financial disaster. Use it often, and discuss your findings with a financial professional.

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¹ “United States Inflation Rate: Stats,” Trading Economics, https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/inflation-cpi#:~:text=Inflation%20Rate%20in%20the%20United,percent%20in%20June%20of%201921.


Divide 72 by an annual rate of return to calculate approximately how many years it takes for money to double. Understand that most investments generate fluctuating returns, so the period in which an investment can double cannot be determined with certainty. Keep in mind that this is just a mathematical concept. The hypothetical examples do not reflect any taxes, expenses, or fees associated with any specific investment. If these costs were reflected the amounts shown would be lower and thetime to double would be longer. Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal.

Be Like Buffett

Be Like Buffett

Warren Buffett didn’t become a billionaire overnight. Instead, he leveraged simple concepts over decades to build a vast fortune.

These are the same concepts you can use too.

To demonstrate this, let’s review the history of Buffett’s wealth…

Buffett started growing his money at age 11. He bought three stocks at about $38 a piece.¹

By the age of 30 he had become a millionaire.²

He didn’t become a billionaire until age 56.³

But the vast majority of his wealth wasn’t created until he was past the normal retirement age.

Over the next 36 years, his wealth surged to over $100 billion.⁴ If you include the $37 billion he’s donated,⁵ his net worth increased over 10,000%.

That’s a staggering figure.

And it’s all because he leveraged two simple concepts—the Power of Compound Interest and the Time Value of Money.

The Power of Compound Interest explains the exponential growth of Buffett’s net worth. Buffett used money to earn money. The more money he made, the more he could also earn.

By the time he was 57, he had $1 billion at his disposal to build further wealth. In short, he unlocked a virtuous cycle of growth leading to greater growth.

But it’s the Time Value of Money that explains Buffett’s massive success.

Compounding requires time to get the maximum benefits. The longer money compounds, the greater its ability to build wealth.

And Buffett started compounding early. Very early. Age 10, to be precise.

What if he had started later? Let’s suppose he started at age 30 with $25,000, earned 22% annually (Buffett’s career average), and retired at age 60 to play golf.

His net worth in this scenario? $11.9 million. 99.9% less than his current value.⁶

The takeaway? Be like Buffett.

That doesn’t mean going down the finance nerd rabbit hole. It definitely doesn’t mean adopting the Oracle of Omaha’s diet of fast food and soda!

Instead, leverage the Power of Compound Interest ASAP. Then, be patient and let the Time Value of Money work its magic over years and decades. And rest easy—you’re following in the footsteps of the greats.

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¹ “How Warren Buffett made his billions and became the ‘Oracle of Omaha’” Tom Huddleston Jr., CNBC Make It, Aug 30 2020, https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/30/how-warren-buffett-made-billions-became-oracle-of-omaha.html

² “Here’s the most overlooked fact about how Warren Buffett amassed his fortune, says money expert,” Morgan Housel, CNBC Make It, Sep 8 2020, https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/08/billionaire-warren-buffett-most-overlooked-fact-about-how-he-got-so-rich.html

³ “How old 14 of the world’s richest people were when they first became billionaires,” Kathleen Elkins and Taylor Nicole Rogers, Business Insider, Aug 10, 2020 https://www.businessinsider.com/how-old-billionaires-were-when-they-earned-their-first-billion-2016-2#carlos-slim-51-3

Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/profile/warren-buffett/?sh=74048d724639

⁵ “Warren Buffett is ‘halfway’ through giving away his massive fortune. Here’s why his kids will get almost none of his $100 billion,” Nicolas Vega, CNBC Make It, Jun 23 2021 https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/23/why-warren-buffett-isnt-leaving-his-100-billion-dollar-fortune-to-his-kids.html#:~:text=Buffett’s%20note%20announced%20that%20he,donation%20tally%20to%20%2441%20billion.

⁶ “Here’s the most overlooked fact about how Warren Buffett amassed his fortune, says money expert,” Morgan Housel, CNBC Make It, Sep 8 2020, https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/08/billionaire-warren-buffett-most-overlooked-fact-about-how-he-got-so-rich.html

Is Financial Illiteracy the Secret Cause of Your Relationship Problems?

Is Financial Illiteracy the Secret Cause of Your Relationship Problems?

Your knowledge of how money works can make or break your relationship.

Not only can financial illiteracy cause soulmates to fight about money, but it can negatively impact your relationship in other ways.

Are any of the following consequences of financial illiteracy occurring with you or your significant other? Read on for some ways to avoid them.

You’re always on edge about money… and it shows. It’s no secret that money problems cause stress. And prolonged stress, no matter your mental strength, will eventually impact your mental health.

The financially illiterate are often destined for a life of struggle.

How could they not be? They haven’t been taught how money works, yet they desperately need this knowledge to succeed. The results are predictable—foolish financial decisions that, over time, can generate significant money problems and subsequent stress.

Eventually, prolonged financial stress will shape your actions. That could take the form of chronic anxiety, a quick temper, or even indulging in unhealthy coping mechanisms. And those, given time and lack of attention, will erode your relationship.

Conversations about money will be tense because you don’t have a solid basis of knowledge about your finances. Too many feelings of uncertainty and worry can cause words to be exchanged with fear, anger, or blame. They are bound to hurt. And like that, financial illiteracy has caused a rift in your relationship.

You avoid talking about money with your significant other. If you have enough arguments about money, you may decide it’s no longer worth it to “go there”. And it makes sense—financial illiteracy induced stress can make money conversations tense and unproductive, to say the least.

Financial illiteracy can directly disrupt your ability to communicate. The same underlying factor is at play—you don’t have the proper skills to talk about money in a healthy manner.

Soon, every discussion about the family budget degenerates into an argument. The topic of money becomes a lightning rod for blame and accusation. It’s easy to fall into this pattern. But it does nothing but hurt your relationship, because you’re both losing.

The result? You talk about your finances rarely, if at all.

You’re making financial decisions without your partner. All those failed conversations about money can leave you and your partner feeling isolated. Eventually, you may find yourself making critical financial decisions without consulting each other because it’s just too difficult when you try.

This is called financial infidelity. It represents a deep breach of trust. And it can have devastating consequences for couples.

Why? Because it seems selfish and sneaky. It raises questions like, What could your partner be hiding? Why do they need a separate bank account all of a sudden? Where did half of our savings go? Secrecy could be concealing a secret life of spending that will eventually undermine your family finances.

Trust is easy to lose, but difficult to regain. It could be a long time before you trust each other with money again.

These are just some of the insidious ways that financial illiteracy can harm your relationship. In order to have a healthy partnership, both parties need to know how money works. That way, you’re more likely to fight about putting pineapple on your pizza than how you’ll afford retirement.

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Gen Z Is Being Lied to About Money

January 25, 2022

Gen Z Is Being Lied to About Money

Gen Z, you’ve been lied to about money.

Social media is swarming with financial predators feeding you falsehoods about how to build wealth.

That tech-bro influencer hyping the “next big crypto” that made him “wealthy”? He’s running a pump and dump scam. You buy in, the value surges. He cashes out, the value plummets. You lose everything you invested.

The 18 year old with the Ferrari earning $10,000 per month using business secrets he’ll show you FOR FREE? He’s actually selling “courses” that give you nothing, but line his pockets.

The “investing wizard” who turned $100 into $1,000,000 using specialized secret algorithms that he’s willing to share—again, FOR FREE—at his upcoming seminar? He gambled on risky startups and got lucky. Now he needs your money to feed his addiction.

Each of these bottom-feeders scratch an itch that Gen Z deeply feels. Who doesn’t want to build wealth quickly? Who doesn’t want a better life for themselves and their family?

And if you’ve never been taught how money works, you might just believe their promises. They sure sound better than the bleak realities of stagnant wages and debt that Gen Z has watched Millennials suffer through.

It’s why 41% of Gen Z investors turn to TikTok for financial advice.¹ Traditional schools and institutions have failed them, and they’re desperate to learn how money works, regardless of the source.

But until they’re financially literate, they’re susceptible to schemers, frauds, and charlatans. That means more wealth lost to false online gurus, cryptocurrency roller coasters, student loans, and more.

You need to learn how money works today. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Today.

It’s the only way you’ll develop the savvy needed to see through scams and recognize real wealth building opportunities.

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¹ “Meme mania pushed Gen Z into the stock market - and now they’re learning investing fundamentals from TikTok and Instagram,” Natasha Dailey, Market Insider, Jun 15, 2021, https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/meme-mania-gen-z-pours-into-stocks-tiktok-instagram-advice-2021-6-1030524123

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