Finances, FIRE, goals, Growth, making money, Mindset, passive income, Retirement, Savings, Travel, Travel Hack, Universal Basic Income, wealth, Win

Universal Basic Income

Books I’m currently reading: “The One Thing” by Gary Keller

Biggest Investment Return: 2 SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) calls expiring 4/24/19 for a return of $104 (41.6%)

Instagram: Follow me for updates as I make trades on Instagram @stewardingfinances

On my mind: Innovative Progress

What is automation? How does it affect our economy? What is Universal Basic Income (UBI)? What would you do if you had an extra $1,000/ month to use towards your housing, groceries, car payments, student loans? These are some questions we will cover on this post.

With the adaptation of technological advancement in our economy, we are experiencing efficiency at a substantial rate. Where as before, when we would want to purchase a notebook or a new phone, we would go a physical location to purchase it, we now have Amazon. At the convenience of our homes or wherever we have internet access, we can jump on our phones or laptops to buy what we need.

We can expect our purchases online to arrive as usually stated, 1-3 days. As you might know, Amazon has an incredible system where hundreds of thousands of packages are sent to enormous warehouses which are then shipped to the consumer through individual drivers. This process is highly efficient but has room to be more so with the current wave of tech development.

Automation

With the example provided above regarding Amazon’s efficient system in providing products and services to consumers, there is only one path forward, automation. Although, there are various forms of automation, for simplicity sake, it’s the creation of process where human effort is minimized. In the example of Amazon, a potential next step of automation might be the introduction of drones to deliver packages to customers.

Automation’s Impact on Economy

Automation as stated before is the process of eliminating the need for human effort, which may provoke worry – rightly so. So what happens when jobs that are held by human beings are taken over by automation? Efficiency comes at a cost but there is an interesting take on this very issue by a potential presidential candidate for the United States, Andrew Yang.

Andrew talks about how the impact of automation is going to take over the jobs of 1 out of 3 citizens in the United States in the next 12 years. So, does that leave those who are not keeping with the trends and learning progressive skills hopeless? Not exactly…

Universal Basic Income

Universal Basic Income (UBI) is becoming an increasingly talked about concept. “Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a form of social security that guarantees a certain amount of money to every citizen within a given governed population, without having to pass a test or fulfill a work requirement.” (www.yang2020.com) Learn more about UBI here.

UBI is not a new idea. In 1969, President Richard Nixon introduced the idea of giving any family with $0 income annually to be given free income each month equating to about $11,000/ year today. However, it was rejected by both the Democratic and Republican party. The luxury we have to introduce UBI for all, regardless of income level is only possible due to automation.

$1,000/ Month for Everyone!

What would you do if Andrew Yang becomes president of the United States and you have an extra $1,000 in your pocket a month?

Would you travel more? Make sure to check out my post on traveling for free, “Traveling Free Made Possible”. Would you set aside an emergency fund? Would you use the money to pay for rent? tuition? groceries? Netflix?

So…

What would you do with an extra $1,000 a month?

Please note: We don’t have an affiliation with or personally endorse any of the services linked to in this post.

References:

www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/automation

www.amazon.com/Amazon-Prime-Air/b?ie=UTF8&node=8037720011

www.yang2020.com/what-is-ubi/

www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/07/09/who-really-stands-to-win-from-universal-basic-income

www.stewardingfinances.com/2019/03/26/avoid-financial-disaster/

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Discipline, Experiences, Finances, Growth, Habits, Mindset, Retirement, Savings

They Know What You Want Before You Do

Books I’m currently reading: “The Prodigal Prophet” by Timothy Keller

Biggest Investment return: 1 Apple (APPL) call expiring 4/18/19 for a return of $275 (57%)

Instagram: Follow me on Instagram for updates as I make stock trades @stewardingfinances

On my mind: The valleys God places in our lives have more depth than the peaks

Have you ever watched a fast food commercial and thought a burger sounds good right about now? Have you shopped online to find that the product you were looking at seemed to follow you in the ads section wherever you went?

All of these questions are to expose you to the genius and potential harm of marketing. It’s been in the work for decades but it’s only getting more advanced; to the point where they are using marketing strategies unknown to the ordinary shopper to nibble on the bait. Corporations are using psychology, behavior pattern recognition, facial recognition to identify how to better sell to you.

The Beloved Store

The beloved and re-known Target! The ever expanding and growing company has stronger growth than years past. In August of 2018, “Target report[ed] the strongest same-store sales growth in 13 years. The chain has been focusing on reinvesting in its business with a $7 billion plan to expand its e-commerce platform, bulk up its lineup of in-house brands, open new small-format stores and remodel existing locations. ” (CNBC). The mighty Target is only getting mightier. Is it because people just love the aesthetics, prices, quality and brand or is there something more to it?

As I was reading through The Power of Habit, I was blown away by information I only imagined were true. A little over a decade ago, Target started to build an enormous data warehouse for every customer that would enter its doors giving each person an identification code otherwise known as the “Guest ID number” which tracked buying habits.

Knowing Your Every Move

Disclaimer: this next part may make some readers very uncomfortable. Target would gather information from customer’s ethnicity, age, marital status, how many children in the household, location of home, distance between home and Target, recent residential moves, income level, website visited, credit cards carried, phone number, job history, the kinds of food and drinks they enjoy, etc… All this information is then used to persuade you and I, the shopper, to buy more products that we like and need even before we know it.

“Target’s goal was to start marketing to parents before the baby arrived… if they could identify expecting mothers as early as their second trimester, they could capture them before anyone else.” (The Power of Habit). Even before the mother of a child would know it, she would receive advertisements in the mail that would include baby products subtly amongst all the other items that were for sale so that it would register in her psyche to buy products as she would need them.

Stay Informed

All this information is not to make you hate all the corporations you shop at but to make you a more informed buyer. If you are aware of these factors at hand, you can be better prepared to enter these stores knowing what you are up against. So how do we, the buyers deal with this reality?

Stopping Impulse Shopping

This next section is from HiCharlie‘s post on “8 Ways to Stop Impulse Shopping“: Raise your hand if you’ve gone into Target just to buy a pack of toilet paper and left with a full basket of stuff. Hey, we’ve all been there. Impulse shopping happens to the best of people, but it can lead to blowing your budget, missing financial goals, and even going into debt. Worst of all, you may regret purchases, leading to those pesky emotions known as shame and guilt. If you’d like to read more, check out their blog by clicking here. You might also want to check out another article on the HiCharlie blog on faux deals by clicking here.

Some clear ways to avoid overspending is to start a budget as mentioned in a prior blog post here on Stewarding Finances, “Habits tell a Story“. Know what you are going to buy before you enter the store and stick to the list. Know that there will be many products that you don’t need but want that will grab for your attention and if you feel easily swayed by certain sections in the store, avoid that particular section altogether. Ultimately, you need to know why you want to stick to a budget. Is it to save towards you and your families future? Is it to invest for retirement or a college savings account? Give more money towards charity?

Did you know that big corporations like Target used this kind of marketing technique? If so, how has that affected your shopping experience? If not, how will it affect your shopping experience?

Please Note: We don’t have an affiliation with or personally endorse any of the services linked to in this post. We’re just trying to give you some ideas.

References:

www.cnbc.com/2018/08/22/target-earnings-q2-2018.html

www.amazon.com/Power-Habit-What-Life-Business/dp/1400069289/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=the+power+of+habit&qid=1554314174&s=gateway&sr=8-2

www.hicharlie.com/blog/8-ways-to-stop-impulse-shopping/

www.hicharlie.com/blog/when-deals-arent-really-deals/

www.stewardingfinances.com/2018/12/28/habits/

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Development, Discipline, Endurance, Finances, FIRE, goals, Growth, Habits, Mindset, No Pain No Gain, Retirement, Savings, Uncategorized, wealth, Win

Habits tell a Story

Last book read: “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek

Books I’m currently reading: “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg

On my mind: Listen.

Pause

There are so many distractions in our day. We have embedded habits in our mind that we engage in unconsciously. For example, today, I unlocked my phone 77 times and used it for 3 hours and 51 minutes in total. Can you relate?

Better Recognize!

Do you ever ponder why it seems so hard to stop your bad habits? Maybe you snooze the alarm 2 to 3 times before you wake up. The trick is to find the incentive for that bad habit or a certain reward you give yourself when you engage in bad behavior. Recognizing that is the first step.

You are what you EAT

Perhaps you are wondering why habits are the focus of a blog called “Stewarding Finances”. Habits form us and we become as the saying goes “what we eat” – this also applies mentally!

If you are like most people, you woke up and spent some time in the restroom then ate some food, got dressed and started your day. These behaviors, despite how basic they may seem, are vital. We take care of cleanliness: shower, brush our teeth, and wear appropriate clothing so that we can maintain the basic requirements for our job.

Well how about if you incorporated habits that can help you go beyond the minimum standard and bring you greater returns? Would you be willing to test these habits?

More than we can chew…

Can you guess what the average American’s debt is? drum roll… $137,063 (according to the Federal Reserve)! The average American rent is about $1,200 but in Los Angeles, CA it’s more like $1,700. Anyways, this means you could pay rent for 114 months or 9.5 years for the average American or 6.7 years of rent for the typical Californian.

Talk about a bad habit going out of control!

You might argue that a lot of that is going towards education and necessities as a home or car. Do you have to go into debt for education? For most occupations, NOPE. There are exceptions such as becoming a doctor due to the many years of schooling which is justified by the income eventually made. I would mention you can make this more affordable by seeking out scholarships or even joining the military.

I would say that education can be done without debt if you are resourceful and that a home or car is NOT a necessity and if you cannot afford it, don’t buy it!! This is actually the reason why we are in for a down market in this coming year. The Fed assumes due to job growth, it’s rainbows and sunshine but do they factor in the “sharp decline in oil prices as well as slowing in homebuilders, autos and retailers as signs?” (Jim Cramer).

Not only are the factors mentioned above playing into the harder times up ahead, we are also dealing with enormous amounts of student loans (which are NOT bankrupt-able) and car loans that are not being repaid. I will digress in future posts.

There is HOPE

Sam, what’s with all this doom and gloom you might ask? R.E.A.L.I.T.Y. friend. I don’t want to leave you hanging without actionable tips to guide you in your financial journey. It’s at times like this when you should be more intentional about how you spend your money or God’s money as how I like to see it.

Time for new financial habits! Try the following for the coming year.

  1. Budget
  2. Stick to the budget
  3. Save 15%+

Before your next purchase…

Simple things to consider before your next major purchase. Ask yourself, do I need this or do I want it?

Next, ask yourself, would the me 10 years from now appreciate that the present me bought X?

Replace bad habits with good ones and reward yourself! Until next time, learn, apply and share!

References:

https://www.npr.org/2012/03/05/147192599/habits-how-they-form-and-how-to-break-them

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2017/11/18/a-foolish-take-heres-how-much-debt-the-average-us-household-owes/107651700/

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/16/cramer-blasts-the-fed-i-know-more-than-they-do–do-more-homework-on-the-economy.html

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Real Wealth through Real Estate
Finances, goals, making money, passive income, Retirement, Savings, Uncategorized, wealth

Real WEALTH through Estate!

FIRE!!!

Can you build wealth through real estate? Absolutely! I aim to reach Financial and Time Independence by 40 years of age (sooner if God allows) and plan on involving Real Estate in my investing. In particular, I aim to use sales, stocks, this blog and real estate to build wealth. Just last year, after discovering the FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early; read more on FI here) community, I was off to the races for figuring out ways to optimize my income and wealth building. I met a financially independent blogger, Tim Kim, who shared publicly how he got to where he was and tips along the way. Through Tim, I discovered Bigger Pockets, where I found credible information on Real Estate investing.

Why Real Estate?

Diversification! It’s been said by Ray Dalio, Founder of Bridgewaters (world’s largest hedge fund) that portfolio of investments are at its optimal state at 15 streams of income. The wealthiest people in the world own Real Estate. Real Estate is a great retirement vehicle because it provides 1 of 6 of basic human needs for survival: shelter. We all need a place to live. When was the last time you paid for rent? Who does that money go to? For those who own homes, you understand this idea. Paying off your home is building your wealth (equity), which you could then use to invest in more properties.

3 basic ways to build Wealth through Real Estate

1. Own it. Even if you have a loan on your property, a portion of your mortgage payments each month is going straight to your equity. In other words, your home can be thought of as a piggy bank. If there is an appreciation or depreciation in your home value, you benefit even more. The concept of appreciation is clear; your home increases in value over time. On the other hand, depreciation can be written off on your taxes.

2. Rent it. If you own property, PITI (Principal, Interest, Taxes, Insurance), and other necessary expenses may amount to a sizable cut off your pay. Consider renting out a room either through Craigslist or Airbnb (this is an affiliate code that will give you a discount for your next reservation).

3. Keep it. Owning property should be a selective process. Therefore, choosing the right location is key to Real Estate investing. Consider buying a home in areas with low Capitalization Rates and hold on to your property, tend to it either on your own or through a property manager. If you chose a location near a college, an area with potential economic growth, and/ or you choose a place experiencing gentrification, you can benefit from property value increase.

Continue reading

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Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency, Finances, Retirement, Savings

Staying Crypto-Current


Banner Featured by my Financial Mentor Tim Kim

What is a Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is making the headline on news outlets all around the internet, but what is it? A cryptocurrency is simply a digital currency that is independent of centralized systems, namely banks. The very first cryptocurrency, the Bitcoin, was created in 2009 by pseudonymous developer Satoshi Nakamoto. We still don’t know who created it, but his/ her/ their creation has amassed a huge adoption by many around the world. Having been introduced in 2009, it’s price was nearly nothing, fractions of a penny; then it jumped up to nearly $20k. Today, a single Bitcoin costs around $13k and is one of over 1,000 other cryptocurrency, also called alt coins. The mainstream media for the years since Bitcoin’s inception have portrayed it in a negative light; though it has its share of objections, many are starting to invest in it.

The top three Cryptocurrency in the world:

  1. Bitcoin
  2. Ripple
  3. Ethereum

Uniqueness of Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency is decentralized, meaning that it is not controlled by conglomerates such as banks and government. In addition, it incorporates blockchain technology, which is an incorruptible digital ledger that keeps track of everything that has happened in the past and will happen with the coin in the future. The amount and the fashion in which the coins are distributed vary.

Ex) Bitcoin:

There are 7,200 Bitcoins produced per day, but there will be less and less as time goes by and will eventually halt in production at 21 million Bitcoins, in year 2140.

More Resources on Cryptocurrency

  1. Blogger Tim Kim: http://tubofcash.com/bitcoin-frequently-asked-questions/
  2. A list of Cryptocurrency being traded: https://coinmarketcap.com/
  3. Documentary on Netflix: Banking on Bitcoin

Buying Cryptocurrency

Coinbase is the most commonly used and user friendly platform for people to purchase Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin (ranked in the top 6 cryptocurrency).

 

Word of Caution

Although Cryptocurrency may be popular and have extensive reach around the world, it is very volatile. It has also been used wrongly for criminal purposes. If you are considering purchasing coins, you are doing so at your own risk.

 

Sources:

https://bitcoin.org/en/faq#who-created-bitcoin

https://www.coindesk.com/price/

https://coinmarketcap.com/

https://blockgeeks.com/guides/what-is-blockchain-technology/

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Emergency
Discipline, Finances, goals, Habits, Mindset, Retirement, Savings, Uncategorized, wealth

Build an Emergency Fund: Avoid Financial Disaster

Books I’m currently reading: “The One Thing” by Gary Keller

Biggest Investment Return: 2 Fedex (FDX) calls expiring 3/22/19 for a return of $733 (194.43%)

Instagram: Follow me for updates as I make trades on Instagram @stewardingfinances

On my mind: One task at a time

This week we have an informative guest post from HiCharlie on the very foundations of personal finances: Building an emergency fund. HiCharlie is a robo financial advisor free of cost to help you with money management.

Life’s usually pretty amazing. But when it throws an emergency at you, can your wallet handle it? According to a recent study by the Urban Institute, nearly 22 percent of adults struggled to cover a $400 unexpected expense. Folks ages 18-34 were hit the hardest and were more prone to using risky, high-interest means like payday loans to make ends meet, resulting in greater financial stress.

To avoid facing the same fate, you need to build and maintain a healthy emergency fund. What’s that? It’s a pool of money that’s only gets used when life throws you a major curveball. That way, when your car breaks down, your pet gets sick, or you lose your job, you’ll have the cash stashed away to deal with it sans taking on more debt.

Follow the steps below and you’ll be well on your way to dealing with the unexpected with ease.

Determine Your Needs

Since everyone’s situation is different, there is no hard and fast rule about how much you need to have in your emergency fund. However, the collective personal finance mind says that you should strive to save 3-6 months of living expenses. If you’re the breadwinner for your family or your income fluctuates, it doesn’t hurt to pad that number a bit.

To gauge your essential monthly expenses, take a look at your budget (or create one) and add up all of your must-haves like shelter, food, transportation, utilities, medicine, minimum debt payments, etc.

Remember, since some of your expenses can vary month to month, be sure to give yourself some wiggle room. Next, multiply your monthly budget by the number of months that you want to cover. The total is your emergency fund savings goal.

Tip: If you want some extra help, check out this emergency fund calculator, or this one.  

Open an Account

Your emergency fund should have its own account that you can tap into when needed, but that you won’t see or touch regularly. This will make it tougher to spend the money on other, less dire situations. And, although it may be tempting, avoid putting the funds into risky investments like stocks because you could lose money if the market declines. To get the best results, consider putting this cash into a money market account or a high-yield savings account. It will be safe, separate from your day to day finances, and will actually grow a little due to interest.

Stockpile the Cash

The first two steps are quick and easy to complete. However, depending on your needs and your means, you could be in this phase for the long haul. Saving thousands (maybe even tens of thousands) of dollars is a daunting prospect.

Don’t be discouraged! Start small and initially aim to get a few hundred in the bank. Then, work your way up and celebrate each milestone. What you’re doing isn’t easy. But when life inevitably throws a tantrum, it will be worth it.

Here are several ways that you can expedite the stockpiling process:

  • Cut expenses and bank the savings. Tight budget? Check out these tips.
  • Automate your savings. Set up a regular transfer from your checking account to your emergency fund.
  • Earn more cash. Think about starting a side hustle, working overtime, or selling your unused stuff.
  • Put windfalls to good use. Gifts, bonuses, and tax refunds can make your emergency fund balance soar.

Remember: Don’t stick your hand in the cookie jar unless it’s a true emergency. (Getting a last minute invite to go on a cruise doesn’t count!)

Tip: While building an emergency fund needs to be a priority, it’s OK to juggle more than one financial goal. For example, if you have high-interest credit card debt, it’s a good idea to get that paid off ASAP. It’s important to find the right mix of saving and debt pay off for your situation.

Move on to the Next

While congratulations are in order, you can’t sit on your laurels for too long. You’re in a great position to ramp up (or start) saving for retirement, put money aside for planned home repairs or upgrades, or open an account to fund the vacation of your dreams. You can also put more money toward your mortgage, student loans, or other debts. Of course, if you take money from the emergency fund, you should replenish it as soon as possible.

Conclusion

Building a solid emergency fund doesn’t happen overnight. Just like with retirement, it takes discipline and patience to save a large amount of money for “someday.” But — having that well-inflated cushion will allow you to rest easy and fully focus on living your best life.

What are your favorite hacks for building an emergency fund?

Please note: We don’t have an affiliation with or personally endorse any of the services linked to in this post. We’re just trying to give you some ideas.

References:

https://www.hicharlie.com/

https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/99771/financial_distress_among_american_families_0.pdf

https://www.thebalance.com/payday-loans-beware-of-these-dangerous-loans-1289623

https://www.bankrate.com/banking/savings/starting-an-emergency-fund

https://www.hicharlie.com/blog/build-budget-works/

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/banking/emergency-fund-calculator/

https://www.moneyunder30.com/emergency-fund-calculator

https://www.thesimpledollar.com/a-step-by-step-guide-to-building-a-big-healthy-emergency-fund/

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