When The Rich Act Like They are Poor (Part 2)

I hate to see those with resources squander them, simply because they fell prey to the rampant fear.

Watch out for it in your own heart, in that of your children and spouse — and avoid these behaviors of the poor:

*They use credit habitually for “lifestyle” purchases: Delayed gratification isn’t something that they’ve heard of, and if they want something they just put in on credit. After all — it’s at a 0% interest rate for the first 3 months! One purchase leads to another, and before they know it they’ve got thousands in credit card debt.

Debt loads in the wealthy can look different, but the principles remain the same. Avoid leverage these days; keep your powder dry. Your lifestyle isn’t worth expensive cashflow.

* Always pay more than they have to: Often people who are broke have gotten there because they don’t know how to shop for a deal, negotiate or ask for a discount. You can get a discount on just about anything — from electronics to health care. Never pay more than you have to.

Why is it that the wealthy take perverse pride in paying full retail? It goes before the fall, as they say … so don’t become pennywise/pound foolish — but neither should you eschew effective negotiation in multiple categories.

* Fall prey to lifestyle inflation and “keeping up with the Joneses”: This is a biggie for the wealthy. Even people with higher incomes have problems with staying ahead in their budget because they fall prey to lifestyle inflation. Instead of banking and saving raises, they raise their standard of living — buying a bigger better house, a new car and a new wardrobe. They feel like they have to keep up appearances with everyone in their neighborhood.

Take a good hard look at what motivates your purchasing, and clean out the dustbunnies of comparison, lest they fill your brain with poverty-thinking.

* They rely on others to fix their problems: We’ve probably all known someone who is always going to their parents, family or friends to bail them out. They create a pile of debt, and then rely on the kindness of others to get them out of their bind.

* They forfeit future gains for fun today: These people often have a hard time visualizing how saving and hard work will pay off down the road, and instead live for the fun and pleasures of today. They don’t realize how saving for tomorrow can improve their quality of life today.

Don’t sacrifice your retirement (or your eventual estate) on the altar of present-ease.

Obviously, I’d like to help you move past these behaviors, if any apply. You may not carry every one of these traits, but just one or two can get you into hot water.

If you feel that you’re slipping into any of these traps, please do let us know … we’re here to help as your Family’s Personal Financial Guide.

Posted on October 1, 2011 Read More

Halftime Adjustments

You have six months of financial info to use for some quick math about your year as a whole, and to prepare for a pleasant upcoming tax season.

To begin, all you have to do is take your cash flow for the first half of the year, and multiply by two. Add up your wages, dividends, interest, and any other income, and then–if this represents approximately what you’re expecting for the second half of the year–double the sum.

Once you have your estimated 2011 income, give us a call (or send me an email), and we’ll help you determine the appropriate tax rate and deductions to apply. Because once you’re armed with this info, we can help you determine the amount of taxes you might expect to owe for 2011.

By then comparing this against your projected withholding, you can adjust the withholding on your paycheck in advance as needed, and ensure a happy visit to our office in the early winter.

This can also be a good time to organize your financial records and/or get started with some financial software. (Quicken, Microsoft Money, or the free online utility www.Mint.com are some popularly available options for this.) Getting organized now can make gathering a report of all those deductions a breeze come tax time!

Posted on September 1, 2011 Read More

When The Rich Act Like They’re Poor

Now, as I do so, I also run into people’s attitudes about their wealth.

I’ve made a close study, over the years, of how money “works”, and just what it is that propels certain individuals and families into great quantities of resources … and what also brings them down.

You see, sometimes the very wealthy begin to act like they’re poor.

It’s the beginning of a bad problem. And, it’s also something to watch out for in your children — because it will give you a clear picture about what might happen should you bequest your resources to them without a clear estate plan, for example. I’ve compiled a group of behaviors characterizing the financially-strapped.

You may have resources NOW … but are you:

* Spending money on things you really don’t need: I’m sure we’ve all got one of those friends who just loves to spend money, and buy things just to say they have them. The newest iPhone just came out? They buy it even though they already have an older version. A new TV came out with a higher refresh rate than their current one? They buy one so they can say they have the newest and latest technology.

That may be fine for a certain amount of time, but there is something deeper happening in the heart, there, which if left unchecked, can signal a decline in wealth. Because it starts with the iPhones … but where does it end?

* Ignorant about where your money is going: Far too often people who are broke find themselves short because they’ve never tracked their monthly cash flow and their small expenses are adding up to consume everything they bring in. They really need to track their expenses for a month or two so that they can set up a plan.

But the wealthy sometimes begin to believe that they’re immune to such proletarian concerns, and allow the same bad habit to encroach into their portfolio. Don’t let up — but, of course, don’t fall into obsession (e.g., are you checking your accounts every day? That’s also a problem!).

* Blaming your problems on outside forces: People don’t like to see themselves as the source of their problems. While people certainly have problems that aren’t caused by something they’ve done, far too often they will also try to shift blame when they should be looking at themselves. They blame their friends, family and the government. They believe that “the little guy just can’t get ahead”.

Posted on August 1, 2011 Read More

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