Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Creating $$ Worth Talking About

Creating a life worth living is important.  Since many of us need material goods in order to have a "good" life, there is always a need to manage one's material resources, namingly money, well.  As writers, authors, dabblers in the art of words, and freelancers, the money generally comes in a feast or famine manner.  How do we keep a steady stream of money coming in at all times to ensure we can take care of life's basic necessities?

According to Robert Allen, we need to have multiple streams of income coming in so that we are never dependent upon just one thing.  "Wealth is when small efforts produce big results.  Poverty is when big efforts produce small results" (pg. X).  "How to Earn an Extra Million in Your Lifetime: The real key is to keep socking away the money.  Let the numbers whisper their silent but relentless message.  Consistency.  Day in, day out.  Save. Invest. Save. Invest. Save. Invest.  It might be boring.  It might be dull.  It might be hard to do.  No matter.  Just do it."

In addition to this basic, yet fundamental advice, Allen encourages the reader to look at network marketing companies as an additional source of income.  Choose a product, or service that resonates with you, check that their payment structure is sound and not based on front-loading products or getting people to come in and that's where the bulk of the money is (that's a pyramid scheme!!).  There should be a viable and consumable product that people have to purchase regularly that provides a needed and valued benefit.  This is the crux of this book.

But if this sounds like the more advanced version of increasing one's wealth, then start off with Kathy Kristof's Complete Book of Dollars and Sense.  It's an oldie, but a goodie.  This book provides the groundwork for basic calculating of your life's expenses, it teaches you about banking basics, seeking credit, buying vs. leasing a car, dreaming about all the things you want then planning for them!

For a modern, up-to-date version of this basic financial primer geared to women, try Suze Orman's new, The Money Class.  You can also visit Suze's website and get free resources that will help you begin sorting out your finances.

What if you're beyond the basics and are ready for the stock market.  You have 3-6 months of living expenses socked away and have an extra $1-5K to spare/spend.  This is the opportune moment for you to get in on the stock market.  For savvy investors, recession means fire sale on stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other financial instruments.  This is the time to buy large cap and mid cap company stock at a fraction of their cost.  It's not as fab now as it was last year, but many of these stocks are not at their historical highs.  Do your research on choosing the best stocks by reading Jason Kelly's The Neatest Little Guide to Stock Market Investing.  Rated at 4.5 stars with 84 customer reviews this is a little gem filled with practical formulas that are easy to master, wisdom from today's stock market geniuses including Warren Buffet and Peter Lynch, William O'Neil and several others.

For those of you who are beyond this, let's go to the man many of us have heard of Richard Kiyosaki famous for Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money -- That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!  Whether you love him, or hate him, he has a lot of information that would be of value to at least take in and evaluate to see if they have a place in your life.  One major thing that is very controversial is Kiyosaki does not feel that a family buying a home for its own use is an "asset".  For him, it is a major liability.  If that property is not producing income, it is a liability PERIOD.

To get away from this trap, the family home should include some aspect of rental, or income coming in through the use of the grounds around the property (garage, land, basement for rental, attic, something!).  Any and all property should pay for itself on a month-to-month basis.  Also, borrowing money (or leveraging other people's money) is not a bad thing if it helps to put true assets in your life.  Thus, buying a fancy car is a LIABILITY unless that car is paid for by the net profit through selling one of your assets, or the money thrown off of your assets that is free and clear after all expenses.  Very controversial stuff, but interesting if you look at it without society's normal lenses.

Why the gung-ho, "going in" on finances?  No particular reason other than sometimes we writers have to put our feet on the ground (just for a few minutes!!) and secure those we love around us.  This does not exclude the basics -- getting life insurance to cover our family's need in case we expire earlier than we anticipate, health insurance/benefits for the family, 401K (403B, etc.) to cover retirement, college savings plan(s) started EARLY (like when your child is a toddler is ideal).  The earlier you start, the easier it is because now you can save less since you have more TIME to compound what you are putting in each month or year.  The real power is compound interest over time.  That's where millionaires are made.

So if you learn nothing from this piece except this last thing that's the most important.  Teach your children (and yourselves!) to save REGULARLY no matter how little as soon as possible.  If you start saving in your teens, by the time you're in your 30's your retirement is a breeze.  You have almost 1/2 of what you need already.

Remember, finances are not scary.  What really scary is not finding out about how money really works.  And if you feel you're really in trouble and your debt is so unmanageable, try finding out about Debtors Anonymous, an organization that helps teach regular people how to manage their money and it's totally cost-free (that's right - FREE!).  Find out about them here.

In the meantime, keep writing because you are creating literary assets that can bring in untold wealth for generations to come like J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, J. D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts) -- need I go on??


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