The Importance of Understanding your Expenses

A big part of maintaining personal fiscal responsibility is understanding one’s actual financial position. That includes understanding the relationship between one’s income and the expenses they incur on a monthly basis. 

Understanding Personal Finances 

They don’t spend much time in school teaching people how to manage their finances. If you feel a bit lost on this topic, you are not alone. With that said, you really do need to invest some time and effort into understanding how to better manage your personal finances. Part of the process should include learning how debt affects your life and how learning to create personal budgets can keep you in good financial position. 

The Importance of Preparing a Monthly Budget 

If you plan on having good control over your finances, you need to control your spending. For most people, the amount of monthly income they have to manage is a fixed amount. It’s the individual’s expenditures that can vary from one month to the next. 

The best financial tool you have at your disposal is preparing a monthly budget. Using your income as a guide, you can determine how you want or need to spend that income throughout the month. When budgeting, you need to make sure you always put away some for savings. That comes first. After that, you’ll want to make you handle your statutory financial responsibilities like rent and any installment loans for which you may be responsible. Those are your highest priorities because not making said payments can result in long-term legal and financial issues. 

As part of the budgeting process, you would take all the above items into consideration and anything that’s remaining would be discretionary income you can use on variable expenses like food and entertainment. That’s how you set up your finances to assure you don’t get over-extended. 

Enjoying a Financially Secure Life 

The last thing you want in your life is to deal with stress related to your finances. That’s one sure way to affect the quality of your life. For that reason, you want to always focus on doing what’s necessary to give yourself as much financial flexibility as possible. 

As you contemplate your current situation, there’s several things you need to understand. First, you should only take on installment debt as long as you have the ability to make timely payments on a regular basis. It is quite common to carry some form of installment debt – for example, both mortgages and auto loans are types of installment loans. Short-term installment loans are intended for times of emergency, like unexpected medical expenses or urgent unavoidable home repairs. As long as you can make the payments on time, this debt should not be alarming. 

Second, as you manage your expenses, you should do all you can to position yourself to pay off debt as early as possible. By doing so, you could be opening the door to other financial opportunities. This can also have a positive impact on your credit score, which open up opportunities should you find yourself in another financial pinch down the line.  

All of the above information is a road map to financial sovereignty. Bottom line: If you control your expenses then you control your financial future. 

Don’t Freak Out About the Volatile Stock Market – Here’s Why

If you haven’t felt any apprehension about the stock market in the past year or so, then you likely haven’t been paying attention. Many investors feel they’ve been riding a roller coaster recently, but at the end of the day, it’s not a great idea to unbuckle your seat belt or give up just yet.

Let’s talk about the stock market’s volatility and why it shouldn’t panic you just yet.

How the Stock Market Has Been Acting

Ever heard of the VIX? That’s the Chicago Board of Exchange’s Volatility Index. It’s how we tend to measure how much the stock market is fluctuating.

Last month, the VIX rose as high as 24.59. That’s not excessively high, but that’s the highest the VIX has been in 2019. Therefore, some people have been a bit nervous about what’s to come in the latter half of the year.

Why You Shouldn’t Pull Your Investments Now

When the stock market becomes volatile and begins to fall, you might feel the temptation to sell all of your holdings and get out while you still can. It’s only natural – you want to remove yourself and your assets from a situation that could potentially have a terrible outcome.

However, various studies over time have indicated that people who pull their funds in times of volatility actually suffer more than those who ride the waves. The stock market is always ebbing and flowing, and if you want to see long-term benefits, it’s often better to buy and hold diversified portfolios for as long as possible.

In all honesty, it’s impossible to time the market just right. Why do you think there are so many people making different guesses and providing different investing advice at the same time? No one can say for certain what’s going to happen, and by trying to predict when you should sell your holdings during a downward slide, you set yourself up for failure.

How to Avoid Feeling Stressed About Stock Market Fluctuations

If you don’t want to spend hours every day monitoring your investments and worrying about what you should do with them, I have a few suggestions for your strategy.

Step one: don’t invest for short runs. When you buy a bond or stock, tell yourself that you’re in it for the long haul. Even when things start to get rocky, hold on and remind yourself that this is a long-term waiting game.

Step two: invest at different times rather than all at once. Because the stock market is always changing, you can take advantage of its fluctuation and invest at different times. This allows you to buy stocks at better prices and continuously diversify your portfolio.

Step three: speaking of diversification, don’t ever put all of your eggs in one basket when investing. Although market gains will almost always outpace standard savings rates, your chances of making a solid return on your investment are higher if you distribute your investments well.

Step four: stop checking your accounts every day. Ever heard the saying that a watched pot never boils? Checking on your funds every day only makes your more likely to have a knee-jerk reaction and sell when volatile times come around. Take a step back and let the market work its magic away from your watchful eyes.

In Conclusion

Investing always carries some risk, whether you’re investing one dollar or a million. Accept that early on and you will save yourself a lot of pain and worry when the market becomes volatile.

Remind yourself that, overall, you’ll come out ahead if you don’t sell at the first time of trouble. Invest in a well-diversified portfolio, then plan to stay with that strategy for years to come. Bailing at the first sign of trouble certainly won’t make you rich, so don’t listen to everyone else who’s trying to time the market just right.

6 Unique Ways to Invest Your Money in 2019

When someone tells you that it’s time to invest some of your hard-earned cash, you might automatically assume that it’s time to browse the stock market. But investing in stocks isn’t your only option. Not by a long shot. There are tons of investment opportunities available in 2019, some that are even more lucrative than stock market investment.

Invest in Real Estate

Investing in real estate is the ultimate tangible investment, no matter where you are in the world. Many people choose to invest in houses, apartments, condos, and commercial buildings because the investment is right there in front of their eyes. But that is definitely not the only perk of investing in real estate.

Real Estate is a Real Asset

Real estate is a real asset that will always have value, no matter what. Purchasing a property isn’t like taking a risk at or another online casino; it’s basically a sure thing that the property will at least keep its original value. But it is more likely that the property will go up in value, especially if you make the purchase at the right time.

Even if you make a property purchase in an area that ends up going downhill, your property will always hold some value. If you do your research and the real estate market value goes up, you could end up doubling, tripling, or quadrupling your investment in a short amount of time.

Real Estate Has the Potential to Earn Income

Another perk of investing in real estate is that it offers the potential to earn an income. In today’s booming vacation rental market, there’s a good chance you can turn a quick profit with short term rentals. Long term rentals are another great choice, and this requires way less effort than renting out to vacation guests.

Real Estate is a Smart Tax Investment

Investing in real estate doesn’t just provide the potential for an income, but it also serves as a potential tax write-off. Depending on the nature of the real estate you have invested in, you might be looking out some favorable tax write-offs relating to depreciation and capital gains.

Invest in Collectible Items

If investing in real estate isn’t for you, there are other options. One of these options is to start investing in collectible items. No, we’re not referring to outdated coins or stamps. Instead, we’re talking about more profitable collectibles, like valuable artwork and antiques. Maybe you don’t see the value in investing in collectibles, but it is actually a lot like investing in penny stocks.

Penny stocks don’t always pay off, but when they do, they tend to pay off big. The same goes for collectibles. You’re not always going to experience a major return, but the chance is definitely there. In order to up these chances, you need to know exactly what you’re dealing with before making an investment. Many investors choose to invest their money in collectibles as a hobby rather than a necessity.

Invest in Precious Metals

Investing in precious metals is a bit of a controversial topic. This is especially true when it comes to investing in gold. Some people stand by their belief that investment in precious metals is wise, while others aren’t so sure. But the truth is this: it’s all about keeping track of the value of the USD.

The value of precious metals is directly correlated to the inflation and deflation of the dollar. When the dollar is weak, the value of precious metals goes up. When the dollar strengthens, the value is likely to go down. The main issue is relating to precious metal investment is that knowing the exact future state of the dollar is impossible. The nice thing about this investment is that it is 100% tangible, similar to real estate.

Invest in Fine Wine

Perhaps you love to drink fine wine, but have you ever considered investing in it? When you think about it, investing in wine is actually one of the smartest things you can do. This is one of the only consumable items that increases in value over time, rather than down. Recent research is showing that you can increase your investment into a vintage bottle of wine by 15% per year.

However, it is important to understand that not just anyone should go about buying expensive bottles of wine for investment reasons. You need to have a wide knowledge of wine, like how it is created, but more importantly, how to properly store it. Storing it in the wrong conditions can mean you lose money instead of earning it.

Invest in Small Businesses

Not everyone is cut out for owning and operating a business. Not only is this a risky venture, but it takes a great deal of hard work and determination. If you’re not up for starting your own company, there is another option – invest in someone else’s business.

There are so many small business owners out there that are in need of silent partners. A silent partner is basically someone that invests in the company but doesn’t actually have to do anything. In exchange for the investment, a silent partner receives a certain percentage of the company’s profits.

Invest in Yourself

Try not to forget about the most important investment opportunity of all… yourself! Invest in education, career counseling, or certifications that will help to further your career. Sure, it’s great to invest in real estate property and fine wines. But one of the best ways to spend money is by improving your own personal value.

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