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How Money Works Educator - Lionel Brock

Lionel Brock

HowMoneyWorks Educator

3410 Briarfield Blvd
Maumee, OH 43537

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October 4, 2022

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Two Rules for Creating a Watertight Emergency Fund

September 22, 2022

Two Rules for Creating a Watertight Emergency Fund

So, you’ve got a shiny new emergency fund. Congratulations! You’ve officially completed Milestone 3 of the 7 Money Milestones.

It’s a turning point in your journey towards real wealth. You now have the resources to extinguish financial fires without resorting to debt.

But just because you have an emergency fund doesn’t mean that you can start pulling from it willy-nilly. If your emergency fund starts leaking money, you may find yourself staring down a financial forest fire with an empty bucket.

Here are two simple rules for creating a watertight emergency fund that can be there for you in your hour of need…

Rule #1: Your emergency fund is ONLY for unexpected emergencies.

That’s all. It’s not for last minute birthday presents, much needed spa days, or irresistible Black Friday sales. It doesn’t matter if it sits in your checking, savings, or a separate account—as long as it doesn’t tempt you to use it for anything but a true emergency.

Rule #2: If you need it, use it.

If you’re facing a broken down car, a leaking refrigerator, or a kid with a knocked out tooth, use the money in your emergency fund. Fix the car, replace the fridge, pay the ER fees. That’s what it’s there for. Just make sure that afterwards you add back a little money every month until your emergency fund is full again.

Follow these two rules and your emergency fund will be there when you need it most. It’s the foundation of financial security as you conquer the remaining Money Milestones without fear of unexpected setbacks.

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Are You Brave Enough to Answer These Two Big Money Questions?

August 16, 2022

Are You Brave Enough to Answer These Two Big Money Questions?

Let’s get right to it. Here’s question one: Are you building wealth?

If you answered, ‘yes,’ good for you! Now, let’s get a little more specific… Are you building enough wealth to afford the lifestyle and independence you want until the end of your life?

If you’re like many Americans, you can’t answer that question for two reasons. First, you haven’t calculated how much wealth you’ll need. And second, you don’t know if you’re saving enough now. Have you run the numbers on your 401(k)? You might be shocked at how fast it might run out in retirement. What about Social Security? Any clue how much that will add up to? If your future financial security hinges on these two income sources, you might freak when you realize how little you’ll have to live on each month.

61% of Americans across all ages fear running out of money in retirement.¹ And it’s no wonder! We’re living longer than ever, meaning we need enough savings and passive income to last what could be 20 years (or more).² Being able to jazzercise and waterski with the grandkids at 75 is great—unless you’re broke.

Rather than thinking like a sucker and assuming you’ll somehow have enough for the future, it’s time to start thinking like the wealthy. They don’t put their heads in the sand and “hope it all works out”. Money—to them—isn’t anything to be ignored. They learn everything they can about how it works and start developing strategies to make it last. To the wealthy, money is not boring, mysterious, scary, or frustrating. They consider the lifestyle they want and then backwards engineer how to get there, by making money work for them.

To the wealthy, money equals possibilities, goals, gifts, and solutions to problems. Once they have the knowledge, they do everything they can to take control of their future. Money becomes wealth.

But if you don’t know how money works, your money can also become… someone else’s wealth.

Here’s question number two: How do you think about money? Do you think about money like a sucker? Or like the wealthy? It’s not a criticism. It’s a choice.

If money still seems mysterious, confusing or intimidating to you, take these two steps immediately…

Read the book, “HowMoneyWorks, Stop Being a Sucker.” (You can contact me to get a copy.) Then, sit down with a financial professional and find the answer to question one, “are you building enough wealth to afford the lifestyle and independence you want until the end of your life?”

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Sources:

¹ “Reclaiming the Future,” Allianz, https://www.allianzlife.com/-/media/files/allianz/documents/ent_991_n.pdf

² “How Long Will Your Retirement Really Last?,” Simon Moore, Forbes, Apr 24, 2018, (https://www.forbes.com/sites/simonmoore/2018/04/24/how-long-will-your-retirement-last/#5b6be5c77472)

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 Roots of Your Financial Insecurity

July 21, 2022

Exposing the Roots of 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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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

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

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

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.

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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Why the Wealthy Start Businesses

December 17, 2021

Why the Wealthy Start Businesses

It’s a fact—the wealthy start their own businesses.

Here’s a breakdown of the top ten richest people in the world…

One investor.

One CEO.

One heir.

Seven entrepreneurs.¹

That’s true further down the totem pole as well. Fidelity Investments research revealed that 88% of millionaires are self-made entrepreneurs.²

Why? Because businesses can create wealth that equals or surpasses savings, often in a quicker time frame.

Here’s how it works…

Let’s say your ideal retirement income is $5,000 per month. Just enough to rent a beachside condo, enjoy a night on the town once in a while, and visit the grandkids whenever you want.

But where will your retirement income come from? Not a job—remember, you’re retired!

Standard procedure is to save a nest egg and live off the interest. In this example, you would have to save $1.4 million at 5% interest to generate $5,000 monthly income.

That goal is fine if you’re 25 with enough cash flow to put away some each month. But what if you’re closer to retirement? You simply don’t have the years needed to unleash the power of compounding interest to grow your savings. You need retirement income, and you need it now.

That’s where starting a business can help.

As the business grows, the hope is that your income will too. If and when you reach your target income, you should have a strategy in place to step away from active operational management of the business and still enjoy cash flow. After all, you’re the one who took the risk of starting it!

This concept is called Wealth Equivalency. Simply put, building a business can create an income stream equal to living off the interest of your savings.

That’s why the wealthy start businesses. They know it’s an opportunity to create an income that’s equivalent to saving millions for retirement in a much shorter time frame.

So here’s the question—which one is more feasible for you?

Saving a nest egg that generates a $5,000 monthly income?

Or building a business that generates a $5,000 monthly income?

If you’re young, the answer might be saving. With time and compound interest on your side, you can build the wealth you need to retire with confidence.

But if you need income NOW, consider imitating the wealthy and starting a business. It may create an income that rivals saving on a far more realistic timetable.

Best of all, with the right mentorship and strategies, entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be a leap of faith. In fact, it can leverage skills, relationships, and hobbies that you already have!

If you want to learn more about creating a sustainable income for retirement, let’s chat. We can review your situation and see what strategies you can leverage to face the future with confidence.

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¹ “The 10 Richest People in the World,” Dan Moskowitz, Investopedia, Dec 8, 2021, https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/012715/5-richest-people-world.asp

² “The Ultimate List of Entrepreneur Statistics 2022,” Jack Steward, Findstack, Dec 5, 2021 https://findstack.com/entrepreneur-statistics/

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

Are You Keeping Your Checking Account In Check?

October 14, 2021

Are You Keeping Your Checking Account In Check?

There are many culprits that can hamper your ability to build wealth.

Believe it or not, your checking account might be one of them.

A checking account is designed to give you quick, flexible access to your money—not grow it efficiently. That’s why the interest rate for an average checking account is negligible—less than .06%.¹ It might as well be zero if you’re considering it as a savings tool for the future.

But you may already be thinking, “no one would consider their checking account a savings vehicle.” Then why do Americans have so much of their money stashed in them—$2.2 trillion in 600 million checking accounts, to be precise. ²

The answer can only be that they don’t know how money works. Otherwise, they would have moved their cash to an account that leverages the power of compound interest with a higher interest rate long ago.

The sucker likes seeing a big balance in their checking account. The wealthy like seeing big deposits moved into their wealth building vehicles.

Do you have too much money sitting in your checking account?

As a rule of thumb, only keep enough cash in your checking account to cover everyday expenses like utility bills and groceries. Move what’s leftover into accounts and vehicles where it can accrue interest at a faster rate. And consider scheduling a conversation with a licensed and qualified financial professional to discuss which saving vehicles are best for you!

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¹ “Average Bank Interest Rates in 2019: Checking, Savings, Money Market, and CD Rates,” Chris Moon, ValuePenguin, Dec 9, 2020, https://www.valuepenguin.com/banking/average-bank-interest-rates#:~:text=and%20CD%20Rates-,Average%20Bank%20Interest%20Rates%20in%202019%3A%20Checking%2C%20Savings%2C,Money%20Market%2C%20and%20CD

² “Checking Accounts Shrink by Nearly 100 Million Accounts Since 2011,” Tina Orem, Credit Union Times, May 8, 2018, https://www.cutimes.com/2018/05/08/checking-accounts-shrink-by-nearly-100-million-acc/#:~:text=Using%20bank%2C%20thrift%20and%20credit,or%20about%202.2%25%20per%20year.

How Rockefeller Made His Billions

October 7, 2021

How Rockefeller Made His Billions

I’ll bet you don’t think you have much in common with John D. Rockefeller.

After all, he was America’s first self-made billionaire.¹ At the time of his death in 1937, he was worth over $340 billion in today’s money. How rich is that? If you combined the wealth of Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos, Rockefeller would still be richer. We’re talking hard-to-imagine rich. Think Scrooge McDuck doing the backstroke in his money vault—but even richer.

But Rockefeller wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Before he became a mega-wealthy oil tycoon, Rockefeller grew up in a humble country home in upstate New York. The only thing that set him apart from his friends and neighbors (and you) is that he learned a pivotal lesson about how money works when he was just a kid.

At 14 years old, Rockefeller had saved up $50 ($1,500 in today’s money) selling turkeys and doing chores for neighbors. Like many 14-year-old boys, young Rockefeller received some shrewd advice from his mother.

She encouraged him to lend his $50 to a local farmer. It was arranged that the money would be paid back in 12 months with 7% interest. A year later, the farmer made good on the deal, returning to Rockefeller the $50 plus $3.50 in interest.

It was around this same time that a neighbor hired Rockefeller to dig potatoes for three days. Rockefeller was paid $1.12. Rockefeller’s New York Times obituary said that “on entering the two transactions in his ledger he realized that his pay for this work was less than one-third the annual interest on his $50, and he resolved to make as much money work for him as he could.”1

What if you had learned that your money could make money when you were fourteen? I’ll bet you would have spent less on movie tickets and clothes and done everything you could to put your money to better use! But many parents aren’t as savvy as Mrs. Rockefeller. Which is why their kids become adults who end up “digging up potatoes” their entire lives so to speak, just like their parents did.

Many adults have never discovered the power of compound interest. So they can’t show their children how to put money to work to build a future they could never earn with just hard work. But they should.

It’s not too late to get your family to start thinking like the Rockefellers.

Here are two practical, very doable things that you can use to leverage the power of compound interest for you and your family, starting today!

Find a high-interest account and start saving. You probably don’t know any farmers who need quick cash. But that doesn’t mean you can’t put your money to work. Actually, the problem is usually that there are too many options! Fortunately, you, like a young Rockefeller, have wise counselors you can turn to. Contact a licensed and qualified financial professional to have a conversation about your vision for the future. They’ll have insights into which strategies and steps best align with your goals. There are many amazing ways to take advantage of the power of compound interest, even if you only have a small amount to put aside each month.

Teach your children about how money works. Would Rockefeller have stopped digging potatoes and built an oil empire if he hadn’t discovered the capacity of his money to grow? We’ll never know. But the same is true for your kids. The sooner they learn that their money can earn money, the better chance they’ll have to stop wasting time and start seeking how to put their money to work.

Ask me for a copy of the HowMoneyWorks: Stop Being a Sucker book.

It explains concepts like the Power of Compound Interest and the Time Value of Money at a level that anyone high school age and above can understand. You might enjoy reading it yourself!

You have more in common with the wealthy than you’ve been led to believe. Their techniques can be yours. Don’t wait for financial wisdom to knock you on the head from out of the blue. Meet with a financial professional and start learning and teaching your loved ones about how money works.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll really be thinking like a Rockefeller!

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¹ The New York Times Book of the Dead: Obituaries of Extraordinary People, edited by William McDonald, 2016.

You Are Richer Than You Think

You Are Richer Than You Think

The sucker believes that becoming a millionaire is next to impossible without a 6-figure annual income.

The wealthy know that nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s time to start thinking like the wealthy by recognizing that YOU are richer than you think.

Discovering your hidden wealth begins by following these three simple steps:

  1. Reduce Your Debt
  2. Increase Your Cash Flow
  3. Save More Money

Zoom in to unpack each of these steps…

Reduce Your Debt. Regardless of your salary or income, the first step to becoming a millionaire is to take control of your debt, rather than cursing the bills when they arrive in the mail each month and mindlessly paying the minimums. Taking control requires rethinking, organizing, evaluating, and reducing debt efficiently.

Rethinking means removing the emotion attached to your debt, whatever it may be—anger, embarrassment, shame, frustration, hopelessness. It’s like washing the dishes. A stack of plates and a period of time. It’s just another task to complete.

Write down all of your debts, total balances, monthly minimum payments, and interest rates for each. There they are. You can see them all. Now it’s time for war.

The next step is to evaluate which one to pay off first. Choose the debt with the highest balance or lowest balance—OR choose the one with the highest interest rate. With the first victim selected, start putting all the cash you can muster toward paying off this debt. Instead of buying lattes, burgers, lottery tickets, and that cool new graphic t-shirt—dump your cash into debt payments. You’ll have the rest of your life to fill your closet with new tees. Make sure you continue paying the minimum payments for all your other debts too—on time.

When you make the last payment for the first debt do a little happy dance (really important). Then select the next highest debt or lowest debt, whichever strategy you choose—and put as much monthly cash toward paying it off as you can. Include the money from the minimum monthly payment from the debt you just finished paying off. This gives you a compounding effect to your debt reduction strategy. The more debts you pay off, the bigger your debt paying power becomes and the faster you’ll start reducing those debts. The process will actually become fun as you feel the power that comes from knocking each debt out. Trust me.

Along with paying off your credit card balances, student loan debts, and car loans, you should also take a look at your mortgage if you’re a homeowner. If you can refinance your home for a 1% lower interest rate or even lower, it may make sense as a way to lower your monthly payments and lower your mortgage debt. Make sure you work with your financial professional to see if this is a fit for you.

Increase Your Cash Flow. Now that your debt is moving down, you should have more cash freed up. But when it comes to cash flow, more is always the merrier. Here are some tactics for freeing up even more cash flow so you can make the jump from sucker taking a licking to millionaire in the making.

First, look at your monthly spending. Take the last two or three months and categorize everything that isn’t a necessity. How much did you spend on eating out, clothes, entertainment, impulse buys, home improvement, travel, and gifts? With the total in hand, cut the amount in half. You should also take a close look at your monthly subscription payments—how many streaming services do you really need? Cancel services that you’re not using.

So now you have your new non-essentials budget. Congratulations, you just increased your wealth-building power and simultaneously stopped living above your means!

Second, if you’re employed, request a meeting with your boss and ask for an increase in salary or wage or ask for more hours. All they can say is ‘no.’ If they agree, even if it’s just by a small amount, you just increased your cash flow once again. You’re on a roll.

Third, consider starting your own business. You may have thought about starting one in the past but it wasn’t the right time or you were too busy. Now is exactly the time to seriously examine the possibilities. What have you always wanted to do? What are your talents and abilities? What new business opportunities do these times present?

Fourth, you may not want to start a full-fledged business, but you could have a side gig or hustle to earn a little extra in the mornings, evenings, or weekends. Do you like making things, organizing, cleaning, serving, driving, crafting, zooming, or talking on the phone? What can you do with your time, enjoyments, and skills to make a little extra dough? There are endless opportunities out there for entrepreneurs. Find your fit and boost your monthly income—even if it’s only by a few hundred a month.

You have reduced your debt and increased your cash flow. Now you can use that extra monthly cash to start building wealth. The next step is to save like a millionaire.

Save Money. Saving money on a consistent basis, regardless of the amount, is the true secret to financial victory. The strategy is simple. You take all the monthly cash flow you can spare and start saving it into an account with the best interest rate, growth potential, tax advantages, and principal protection you can find. This is where a financial professional is key. Don’t go it alone.

These habits have created more millionaires than any other story, company buyout, or stock market windfall in the history of the world. The 8th wonder of the world—the power of compound interest—is the magic dust that will always work in your favor if you’ll put it to work.

Saving money is more about the decision than anything else. Just like breaking the cycle of foolish spending, you must DECIDE to save money on a consistent basis. When you do, over the years and decades, you will win because you’re employing the Time Value of Money and the Power of Compound Interest. This is the one-two combo that millionaires use to reach their status.

With a little less debt and a little more cash flow, you can start saving a little bit over a long period of time to become richer than you think—perhaps even a millionaire!

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