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How Money Works Educator - Bill Mitchell

Bill Mitchell

HowMoneyWorks Educator

November 23, 2021

The Scandal of the American Financial Education System

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Amplifying the Financial Literacy Message through National Media

Amplifying the Financial Literacy Message through National Media

Our mission is simple, singular in focus, and massive in scope: End financial illiteracy in America.

Ambitious? Yes. Impossible? No. In fact, with enough educators in force, an easy to understand guide book from which to teach, and the passion Americans have to control their own financial futures, we feel as though the odds are in our favor.

Yet even with thousands of energetic, excited educators, we realized from the beginning that our dream would require years, maybe even decades, to accomplish.

That wasn’t acceptable.

So we brainstormed. We lost sleep. We pushed ourselves for an answer, and then we finally realized what we needed to do, which was to amplify our message through the mass media. Not just social media, but mass media, meaning TV, radio, print, and online. We realized that with the implied endorsement and megaphone of the media, our dream could be attained in 10 years or less.

The question was: Would the biggest players in the press embrace the HowMoneyWorks book?

CNBC was first out of the gate to fact check the book and lend their support. ABC/WOR radio New York was next, calling it an “instant financial classic.”

In the opening months of the book’s release, the media has celebrated it at every turn. We’ve appeared on many TV shows, radio programs, and had hundreds of citations online.

As in any massive undertaking, one of the key requirements is credibility. People want to know that what they’re doing is widely accepted by experts with no financial connection to the product. After all, if you’re going to put your heart and soul into something, you want to be sure that it’s worthwhile. Fortunately, the press has responded exactly as we expected—with overwhelming coverage and support.

We’re predicting that the press coverage for this book will last until we end the scourge of financial illiteracy. This is when every American will be educated in the basics of personal finance, and will be fully equipped to chart their own course to financial independence and a comfortable retirement.


– Steve Siebold


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Is Diversification for Dummies?

April 30, 2021

Is Diversification for Dummies?

Do some digging, and you’ll find mixed opinions about diversification, especially among the wealthy.

Billionaire investor Mark Cuban said diversification is “for idiots.”¹ Warren Buffett claimed diversification is really just a “protection against ignorance” for novice investors.² Dozens of articles across the web reach the same conclusion—diversification can be an unnecessary precaution.

There IS a kernel of truth in their opinion… If you’re in that special class of billionaire investors.

Both Mark Cuban and Warren Buffett made fortunes by investing. And every investment they make is based on careful research, expert advice, and decades of experience. They have little need for diversification because their moves are calculated. To them, diversification would be like putting training wheels on a motorcycle—an unnecessary precaution for a fast and powerful machine.

But what if you’re still in first gear on the road to wealth?

Diversification can serve as a useful safeguard—your personal financial training wheels. Diversifying investments across multiple assets with varying degrees of risk can help soften the impact of losses within your portfolio. In other words, putting your eggs in more than one basket can help compensate for lack of expertise.

Are you leveraging the strategy of diversification? How diversified is your portfolio?

Contact a licensed and qualified financial professional ASAP and start planting the seeds of your future wealth.

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¹ “Robinhood and Reddit: A timeline of two apps tormenting Wall Street,” David Ingram and Jason Abbruzzese, CNBC, Jan. 28, 2021, https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/robinhood-reddit-timeline-two-apps-tormenting-wall-street-n1256080

² “Horizontal diversification in action,” Winnie Makena, The Standard, Apr 28, 2021, https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/business/article/2001411132/horizontal-diversification-in-action

The Rule of 72 Explained

April 26, 2021

The Rule of 72 Explained

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Examples:*

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

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

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

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

— Tom Mathews

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

5 Myths You May Still Believe About Long-Term Care

April 14, 2021

5 Myths You May Still Believe About Long-Term Care

When a loved one needs extra help to take care of herself at home or needs to go into a nursing home,

the costs—averaging a total of more than $200,000¹—can be devastating. But the impact on families can be felt far beyond the pocketbook: An estimated 34.2 million Americans provide unpaid care to adult family members,² leading to greater incidence of depression and heart disease among caregivers, the majority of whom are women.² Anyone who has seen first-hand the destructive impact of these situations has at least thought about the need to protect their family from the threat of long-term care. But the vast majority haven’t taken action.³ That needs to change. Since change starts with financial literacy and education, let’s review the five most common myths about long-term care.

Myth #1: Medicare and health insurance plans cover long-term care. Private health insurance does not cover long-term care. Medicare only provides extremely limited benefits in a few very specific circumstances. The Medicare.gov website clearly states that Medicare does not cover most long-term care situations. There is one government insurance program that does cover long-term care: Medicaid. But to qualify for Medicaid, one must have income at or below the poverty level⁴ and in most states have less than $2,000 in financial assets.⁵ So unless one plans on being absolutely broke in retirement, they need to have a long-term care solution in place.

Myth #2: Long-term care means that you go into a nursing home. When we think of long-term care, we often think of an old lady wasting away in a nursing home. While a nursing home is certainly an example of a long-term care setting, only about 1/3 of care takes place in nursing homes.⁶ The majority of care takes place in a private residence. So if your stubborn father says, “I’d rather die than go into a nursing home,” your response should be, “fair enough, but how are we going to care for you at home?” When planning for long-term care, you should focus on solutions designed to help keep you in your home for as long as possible. Because no one wants to go into a nursing home.

Myth #3: Long-term care is only for the elderly. Many people are shocked to learn that 37% of Americans receiving long-term care are under the age of 65.⁷ One of the major reasons for this is that long-term care doesn’t only arise from getting old or getting sick. Sometimes long-term care claims stem from accidents or injuries—not illness. So something like a car accident or a traumatic brain injury can suddenly put you into a long-term care situation—even in the prime of your life.

Myth #4: It won’t happen to me. None of us wants to picture ourselves in a long-term care situation. We recoil at the thought of being a burden to our family—whether that burden be financial, physical, or emotional. But the fact is that 70% of us will need long-term care at some point in our lives.⁸ So if you don’t want to be a burden, you need to start planning now.

Myth #5: If it doesn’t happen to me, I will have wasted money on long-term care insurance premiums. If there’s a 70% chance you’ll need long-term care, there’s a 30% chance you won’t. Since there’s a 100% chance you want to retire comfortably, a 100% chance you want your kids to be able to go to college if they want to, and a 100% chance you want to protect your family in the event you die early, you need to prioritize the sure things in life. By the time you allocate money to cover all of the absolute necessities, there may not be any money left over to protect against things that are likely, but not guaranteed, to happen. In response to this conundrum, the financial services industry has evolved to create new products that can allow you to focus on the sure things while also protecting against long-term care. If you need it, these new solutions will cover your long-term care costs. And if you’re one of the lucky 30% of people who won’t need long-term care, all of the benefit for which you paid can go to your family in the form of a large, tax-free, lump-sum payment. Often, you can kill two, three, or four birds with one stone. That’s how money works!

Don’t be a sucker. Refer to page 87 of “HowMoneyWorks, Stop Being a Sucker” to begin increasing your literacy on this important financial concept. Then contact your financial professional to get started.


– Matt Luckey


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¹ “Genworth Cost of Care Survey 2019,” genworth.com/aging-and-you/finances/cost-of-care.html and “Long Term Care Statistics,” LTC Tree, Dec 2018, ltctree.com/long-term-care-statistics/

² “Executive Summary: Caregiving in the US,” AARP, June 2015, https://www.caregiving.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/2015_CaregivingintheUS_Executive-Summary-June-4_WEB.pdf

³ “The State of Long-Term Care Insurance: The Market, Challenges and Future Innovations,” National Association of Insurance Commissioners, May 2016, naic.org/documents/ciprcurrent study_160519_ltc_insurance.pdf

“General Medicaid Requirements,” LongTermCare.gov, Oct 2017, https://longtermcare.acl.gov/medicare-medicaid-more/medicaid/medicaid-eligibility/general-medicaid-requirements.html

“Financial Requirements—Assets,” LongTermCare.gov, Oct 2017, https://longtermcare.acl.gov/medicare-medicaid-more/medicaid/medicaid-eligibility/financial-requirements-assets.html

“Long-Term Care Insurance Facts - Statistics,” The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, 2020, https://www.aaltci.org/long-term-care-insurance/learning-center/fast-facts.php

“The Basics,” LongTermCare.gov, Oct 2017, longtermcare.acl.gov/the-basics/

⁸ “How Much Care Will You Need?,” Oct 2017, longtermcare.acl.gov/the-basics/how-much-care-will-you-need.html

Your Money Is Worth More Now Than Ever

April 8, 2021

Your Money Is Worth More Now Than Ever

Your money is worth more now than ever.

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

But… why?

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

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

Or would it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Concepts the Million Dollar Baby Strategy Puts to Work

2 Concepts the Million Dollar Baby Strategy Puts to Work

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

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

The Million Dollar Baby takes advantage of 2 financial concepts:

Time Value of Money

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

The Power of Compound Interest

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

Let’s consider a few hypothetical^ examples:

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

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

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

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

How to start your own Million Dollar Baby program?

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

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


– Kim Scouller


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

Closing The Gap

Closing The Gap

Women earn 82¢ for every $1 earned by men.(1)

The median annual salary for men is around $50,000. At 82¢ for every $1 earned by a man, the median annual salary for women is around $40,000.(2) For someone taking care of a family, how significant do you think that extra $10,000 would be?

By the time a woman reaches age 65, she will have earned $1 million less than a man who stayed continuously in the work force.(3) Consequently, retired women receive only 80% of what retired men receive in Social Security benefits.(4)

Women tend to be the primary caregivers for their children, parents and partners.(1) So women end up taking time away from their careers to care for loved ones. These career interruptions can significantly impact women’s chances to climb the corporate ladder – promotions, raises, bonuses and full retirement benefits.(3)

Since women earn less, we have less money to set aside for our financial goals. Of the Americans who live paycheck to paycheck, is it a surprise that 85% are women?(5) As a result, women own just 32¢ for every $1 owned by men. We accumulate only a third of the wealth accumulated by men.(6)

We may not see the gender pay gap or the gender wealth gap close in our generation. But women can change the financial trajectory of their lives by learning how money works and applying the 7 Money Milestones. By understanding and paying attention to all of the things that make up our financial picture – Financial Education, Proper Protection, Emergency Fund, Debt Management, Cash Flow, Build Wealth, and Protect Wealth, we have the power to take control over our financial future and create equal wealth for ourselves.

And, women need to think about their career decisions. We should consider choosing a career that pays more to women and men equally. With a company that doesn’t penalize women for time spent taking care of loved ones. A place where women can create equal pay for ourselves.

Women have made a lot of progress in pursuing higher education and professional careers, but we’ve only made incremental progress in our finances. If we want to bring about profound change, we have to make it happen for ourselves. We have the power to close the gap in our lives for ourselves and our families.

— Kim Scouller

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Sources:

  1. “The narrowing, but persistent, gender gap in pay,” Pew Research Center, April 2018
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Jan 2019
  3. “Women & Financial Wellness: Beyond The Bottom Line,” Merrill Lynch and Agewave, March 2018
  4. “Fast Facts and Figures about Social Security,” SSA, 2019
  5. “Women Live Paycheck to Paycheck Roughly 5 Times as Often as Men – Here’s Why,” CNBC Make It, Oct 2019.
  6. “America doesn’t just have a gender pay gap. It has a gender wealth gap.,” The Washington Post, April 2019

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

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: <br>

(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)

How To Break Free From The Sucker Cycle

February 22, 2021

How To Break Free From The Sucker Cycle

Page 14 of “HowMoneyWorks, Stop Being a Sucker” reveals one of the biggest traps of financial illiteracy—the Sucker Cycle.

It’s a money whirlpool that sucks people into an endless loop of trying to spend their way to happiness and wealth.

Here’s how it works. You get a paycheck from someone wealthier than you. You spend it on lattes, lottery tickets, and a lot of other stuff you can’t afford—essentially handing the money back to someone wealthier than you. There’s little to nothing left to save—which is why it feels like everyone’s wealthier than you are. Every 30 days, the whirlpool races to the waterfall with the awful feeling that there’s “more month left at the end of the money.”

This financial phenomenon not only feeds the Sucker Cycle but also illustrates the very definition of financial disaster: “When your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep becomes your downfall.“

But here’s the good news. Any of us can break the Sucker Cycle. It’s not a matter of money. It’s a matter of priority. The wealthy people of the world live by the following basic mantra: “Pay yourself first!”

From now on, every time you’re handed a paycheck—before you pay bills, buy coffee, or order pizza—make sure you take a portion of your money and put it to work—for your future!

Connect with a financial professional and put goals in place that are specific and intentional—no matter the monthly savings amount.

Saving first and saving consistently is the formula for financial success—and future fulfillment. So if you find yourself stuck in the Sucker Cycle, make a decision to stop being a sucker and BREAK FREE. Form new habits. Think like the wealthy. Pay yourself first. Leverage the power of compound interest.

The results can be astounding—AND—can create the momentum to do even more.


– J.D. Phillips


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3 Practical Ways to Put the Rule of 72 to Work

3 Practical Ways to Put the Rule of 72 to Work

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

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

Example 1 - Estimating the Growth of an Inheritance. <br> You inherit $100,000 at the age of 29. What interest rate must you earn for it to become $1 million by the time you turn 65? You’ve got 36 years for your money to grow to $1 million, so it will take 3.25 doubles to grow $100,000 to $1 million dollars. Dividing 36 years by 3.25 doubles equals 11. Your money must double every 11 years. Knowing that, now you can run the formula to find your interest rate: 72 ÷ 11 = 6.54. <p> There you go. You need a financial vehicle that can offer no less than a 6.5% rate of return to hit your goal.

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

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


– Tom Mathews & Andy Horner


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Is Your Cash Flowing?

February 12, 2021

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 <br> 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 <br> 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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4 Simple Steps to Streamline Your Housing Budget

February 1, 2021

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

A Bold Strategy to Free Up Cash Flow

January 28, 2021

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

² “New Survey Finds Americans’ Spending Habits Are Ruining Their Retirement,” Cameron Huddleston, Yahoo! Finance, Jan 1, 2019, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/survey-finds-americans-spending-habits-100000015.html#:~:text=New%20Survey%20Finds%20Americans’%20Spending%20Habits%20Are%20Ruining%20Their%20Retirement,-Cameron%20Huddleston&text=GOBankingRates’%202018%20Retirement%20Savings%20survey,worth%20of%20expenses%20in%20retirement.

Why You Should Study the Wealthy

January 22, 2021

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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3 Painful Consequences of Minimum Payments

January 19, 2021

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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¹ “What is a Credit Utilization Rate?,” Experian, https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/credit-education/score-basics/credit-utilization-rate/#:~:text=Credit%20scoring%20models%20often%20consider,the%20scoring%20model%20being%20used.

5 Ways Parents Can Teach Their Children About Money Over the Holidays

December 22, 2020

5 Ways Parents Can Teach Their Children About Money Over the Holidays

The holiday season is an ideal time for your kids to learn, teach, and model how money works.

Yes, the long lines and Black Friday stampedes have become synonymous with the worst of consumer excess and foolish spending. But with its joy and light, the holiday stretch also brings high expectations to give generously. That’s a noble cause if you know how money works, but it can be a slippery slope if you don’t. Having a giving spirit is an admirable trait and considering the needs of others should be part of every family budget if possible. However, overspending on gifts, no matter how good your intentions, can throw you drastically off course financially, stealing from your future and creating hardship for years.

The holiday season is a great opportunity for families to discuss when to give with a heart that’s three times bigger—AND—how to make money decisions like the wealthiest Who in Whoville.

Here are 5 surprisingly simple ways for families to teach and model essential lessons for children about how money works this holiday season.

Give your child cash… and teach them to save it. <br> Opening up a card is always a bit of a letdown on Christmas morning… unless it contains some cold hard cash! Gifts of money are perfect opportunities to teach children about the importance of saving. Before they blow their “present” on a new toy, in-app purchases, or candy, sit down and have a money conversation with them. Explain that the dough Santa left in their stocking has the power to grow and grow via compound interest. You don’t have to be a grinch and make them hoard all of it. But you might be surprised at how eager they are to save once they discover the growth potential of their money to help them purchase something even bigger and better down the road.

Help your child with their holiday budget <br> This process starts well before the leaves change colors and snow covers the ground. Collaborate with your kids to guide them in deciding how much they should spend per person over the holidays. Help them develop a post-holiday budget as well. Work with them to nail down a percentage of any holiday cash gifts they’re comfortable saving (20% is a good starting point) and hold them to it! Don’t be discouraged if they give you a low number. That money has time to grow and could still make a difference for their long term goals like buying a car, paying for their education, purchasing a home, or even saving for retirement.

Wants vs. Needs <br> Explain to your kids that the holidays are not about things. They’re about remembering what really matters, like relationships, family, memories, and traditions. Model self-control for your kids this season. That might mean foregoing luxury gifts, especially those that depreciate in value. Practicing financial discipline not only sets a great example for your kids to follow later in life, it’s also good for them in the short-term. Removing the stress of overspending and holiday debt can open the door to realistic expectations, peace of mind, and meaningful experiences. And for your family, a light-hearted mood during the season of giving will be worth its weight in gold.

Show your kids how price tags really work <br> Price tags are liars. The true cost of that $500 you spent on trinkets, toys, or tech will be far higher if you factor in future earnings had you saved that money. Make sense? This is a radical shift in thinking—a wealthy way of thinking. Giving is good, but consider also teaching your kids that when you buy something you’re also giving up the time value of that money—its potential to earn more money for you over time. Teach them that one day they may be able to have far more by being smart with their money now.

The real spirit of giving <br> The subtitle of the HowMoneyWorks book is Stop Being a SUCKER—not Stop Being a GIVER. No one wants to turn their kids into little Scrooges. Once they have the knowledge to start building wealth, they have the potential to give back in ways that would have been impossible for someone trapped in a cycle of foolish spending (which includes giving gifts they can’t afford). Teaching your children how money works means positioning them to have more for themselves AND to provide more for others. They’ll be able to give—and receive the joys of giving—for a lifetime.

Ask me how you can get a copy of HowMoneyWorks: Stop Being a Sucker. It explains these concepts in a way that makes it easy for you to teach your kids all about how money works.

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When Crises Collide: 3 Ugly Financial Illiteracy Truths The Pandemic Has Exposed

October 7, 2020

When Crises Collide: 3 Ugly Financial Illiteracy Truths The Pandemic Has Exposed

A crisis will always expose truth.

The coronavirus pandemic has shown us all just how fragile our normal lives can be. But it’s also revealed the ugly reality of another crisis that’s been ravaging the world for years—the economic crisis of financial illiteracy.

The combined consequences of these two plagues will be with us for generations. Here are three truths that Covid-19 and the economic shutdown have revealed about the state of our financial education.

1. We’re not ready for emergencies <br> 26 million people have claimed unemployment over the last 5 weeks. That means 23% of workers currently don’t have jobs (1). Those numbers should stun you. That’s 26 million people with bills to pay, families to feed, and debt collectors to keep at bay with no paycheck coming in from their employers.

But it’s actually worse than it sounds.

44% of Americans don’t have enough cash to cover a $400 emergency (2). And that was before the economy shut down! What are millions of newly unemployed workers supposed to do without a financial safety net?

2. We don’t know how to use our money <br> The pandemic has conclusively demonstrated that too many people don’t know what to do even if the government quite literally puts money in their hands.

Given the unemployment numbers, it would make sense for people to use their Economic Impact Payments (i.e., stimulus checks) to cover things like groceries, gas, and rent. And some did. But only 29% of survey respondents planned to put the extra cash into savings and investments (3). While 35% plan to use their stimulus money to pay bills, 16% plan to spend it on non-grocery food, including delivery and takeout, and 5% plan to spend it on video games (4).

Buying groceries and paying bills is essential, but the fact that so few plan to save their stimulus checks exposes the massive numbers who have been living above their means with little to no emergency fund. Without knowing how money works, they live paycheck-to-paycheck—a lifestyle that prevents them from a perfect opportunity to put away a little extra cash for the future.

3. We want to learn more… But where are we looking? <br> The recent economic downturn has been a wake-up call for millions of Americans. 9 out of 10 respondents to a survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) reported financial stress due to the crisis, and 54% feared they hadn’t saved enough (5). 75% are trying to retool their financial strategy in the face of the crisis (6).

People are also reading about money and markets more than ever. Financial sites are seeing traffic soar as people try to keep up with the economy and learn more about preparing for the future (7).

Financial illiteracy is widespread, and it is devastating families across the nation. But people are also sick of it and want to take control of their money. The question then becomes who will step up to give families the resources they need to rebuild? Who has the cure for financial illiteracy and who can distribute it quickly and effectively across the country and eventually the world?

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The Middle Class Saves…The Rich Invest

October 7, 2020

The Middle Class Saves…The Rich Invest

Saving money is a good habit, but a bad strategy.

That’s why the rich focus on investing. While the masses are getting .09% interest on their passbook savings account,(1) the rich are pursuing returns of 5% or more on the same money. That means with a $10,000 investment paying .09% interest, the saver pockets a whopping $9 per year. That same $10,000 investment paying 5% interest yields a $500 return.

Wealthy people know that a little strategy goes a long way, and when it comes to money, that could make the difference between a comfortable and miserable retirement. The good news is that you don’t have to have a PhD in finance to become a competent investor; you simply have to know how money works. While the masses may be buying used luxury cars, second homes, and living beyond their means, the rich are more inclined to create assets that leverage the power of compound interest and other people’s time—such as retirement accounts that yield interest, part-time businesses, and property. The rich put their money to work, while the masses simply go to work.

The secret to better investing is maximizing returns while managing risk. The rich rarely get greedy, and usually settle for reasonable returns with minimal risk. They generally don’t expose their financial future to the wild swings of the market. They know that the enemy of the investor is losing money, so they lean more towards calculated risks where returns are respectable and losses are not likely. It’s the old professional baseball strategy: Forget about hitting home runs and just get on base. Sure, it’s not as sexy as knocking the ball out of the park or being able to brag to your friends that you made a 50% return, but it reduces your exposure while simultaneously providing you with the potential to become incrementally wealthier every day.

Start by learning the Rule of 72, the Time Value of Money, and the concept of Wealth Equivalency. Next, learn how to protect your family from the fallout of premature death while building cash value you can eventually withdraw tax-advantaged. Lastly, learn how to leverage long-term care insurance for pennies on the dollar by adding it as a low cost rider on a life insurance contract. More people go broke from medical issues than any other reason.(2) These basic strategies will start you on your way to financial success.

Our book, How Money Works: Stop Being a Sucker, will take you through the 7 Money Milestones. Study these milestones and contact your financial professional to put the proper strategies in place. If you take action, you can alleviate any worries about your financial future. It’s that powerful of a process. Once you’ve implemented these strategies, you can focus on the other things that really matter in your life. Give yourself the gift of financial security. You deserve it.

— Steve Siebold

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