It's a new year and time for a renewed commitment to financial fitness. Setting financial goals can be intimidating. I love setting them and I know how important it is, but at times, I find myself asking "How" questions. Like, "Ok, great goal, now how in the world am I going to do this?" However, it's far more powerful and motivating to ask "Why" questions. As in, "Why do I want to do this?"
"How" is a question that's bound to bring up negative feelings. Instead of getting you excited, it can leave you deflated. On the other hand, knowing your "Why" is what's going to help you figure out how. Your "Why" will also keep you energized when you encounter setbacks. There's nothing magical about it. It's a matter of perspective. Knowing why you want to do something shifts your perspective from negative to positive. Instead of getting that sinking feeling in your stomach because you're asking, "How am I ever going to be able to do this?" you'll be buoyed up by knowing, "I have to do this because...". And the more compelling the reason, the harder you will fight to acheive your goal. So, as author Simon Sinek put it best, Start With Why.
Here are 3 money tips to kickstart your year:
1. Put Your Financial Goals in Writing
Once I come up with the amount I want to invest in various accounts (i.e. retirement accounts, annuities, real estate, etc.), one of my favorite things to do is to write my total investment goal for the year on a sticky note and put it on my bathroom mirror. This forces me to stay focused. Each time I move money to an investment, I subtract it from my total goal. I used to do this with sales goals, and I find it works just as well for financial goals. It keeps me motivated to reach certain benchmarks that I mentally set for myself. For example, reaching $X by the end of the month or quarter.
You can use this same method for paying off a credit card or building up an emergency fund.
2. Set Up Automatic Investments
Just about every bank or financial institution can help you set up an automatic investment account. Simply put, if you want to max out your Roth IRA at $5500 this year (2017), you can set up your account to transfer $458.33 per month (X 12 months = $5500) to your IRA account. For those 50 or older you can max out at $6500 (or $541.67 per month). You can also set a reminder on your phone a couple of days in advance to help you remember when the transfer is about to take place. You don't have to max it out, so if you can only do $100 or $200 per month, do it. Your 70-year-old self will thank you.
Another way to set up auto investing is to select a percentage of your pay each week to transfer to a savings account that you plan to use for investments. The wealthiest savers in the world save 40% of their paychecks, however most experts will recommend at least 10-15%. Heck, you could start at 3% for now. Make it your goal to increase that by 1-2% every 4 months until you feel comfortable investing 10% of each paycheck. Or, if you feel more comfortable transferring the money manually, set a reminder on your phone that goes off every Saturday morning with your target % and make the transfer.
3. Find Money to Invest
It's safe to say, this is important. Your future, your retirement, and the lifestyle you dream about...it all comes down to your habits now. Whether you are on top of your game or you feel strapped for cash, there are some things you can do to invest more this year. Here are a few suggestions to find money.
Myth #1: To make a great change in your life, you must change who you are. Not so. You must become more completely who you already are." - Rick Smith, The Leap: How 3 Simple Changes Can Propel Your Career from Good to Great
Ahh...the first impression...a mere 90 seconds to win them over or, perhaps...it's over. So what do people say to themselves when they meet you? Do they say, there's something about this person that I really like? Whether you are trying to get a great deal on a Martin LX1E acoustic-electric guitar with a solid Sitka spruce top, mahogany high-pressure laminate back and sides, with a warm satin finish or you're in the first of a series of 'dream job' interviews or even asking someone out on a date (perhaps to join you around a glowing fire while you jam on your new guitar in celebration of your latest greatest career move), you need to establish a connection. Research shows that you have about 90 seconds to make a favorable impression. Here are 3 keys to making a positive, truly memorable, connection.
1. The Initial Greeting
3. Communication that Makes a Difference
Avoid these pitfalls:
One last interesting tip: 'Eye Cues' for detecting lies.
Check out John's books The No Shorts Book and Deciding to Thrive.
Starting in my early teens, I mowed lawns, delivered newspapers, and worked in restaurants. When I had money, I quickly found ways to spend it. I was 22 years old when I became a full time entrepreneur. Saving and investing were the furthest things from my mind. For my 23rd birthday, I bought myself a Toyota MR2. A hot little mid-engine two seater with T-tops. My payments were $500 per month. It turned out to be terrible in the snow. So living in the northeast, naturally I "needed" to lease a Nissan Pathfinder SUV with payments of $350 per month. I had two cars and the monthly payments totaled more than my apartment rent.
Eventually I got bored with those vehicles, so I bought a $65,000 Hummer H2. I put ½ down and financed the rest. My payments were $1500 per month, but I paid it off in one year. Sounds awesome so far! But…I had little money saved. I wasn’t building wealth at the rate that I could. Most people put off saving and investing, so I felt like I was in good company with my slow start.
After a couple of solid sales years, I finally got smart. I started taking money and investing much more seriously. I devoured dozens of books, magazines, and audios on money and wealth building.
I started investing $100 at a time, funding IRAs, SEPs. A little here, a little there. It ads up fast. The same thing used to happen to me with spending... a little here, a little there and you’re like…oh my…did I really spend that much?
Since those days, I’ve learned that when it comes to your future the car that you drive is not the vehicle that will get you to the finish line.
Here's a quick run down of what I've learned from all those books on building wealth as well as my own experiences (mistakes and course corrections).
5 keys to building your financial future:
1) Be an owner. Owning shares of stocks means you are part owner (a share holder) of that company. What about the risk? For millennials, at your age, there is virtually no risk in stocks or mutual funds. If you are older, a fiduciary can help you navigate the stock market based on your risk tolerance. Ask your bank if they have a licensed fiduciary you can talk to. In my book Deciding to Thrive there are two chapters on money and investing to guide you through it all.
2) Pay yourself first. Your future retired self that is. At least 10% of your gross pay each week (15% if you are starting later in life). If you invest it into a tax deferred retirement account like a Traditional IRA you won’t feel the pay cut as much since you will be able to write off the investment (at the time of this writing up to $5500 per year, $6500 per year if you are over 50 years old). You may choose a Roth IRA instead. You won’t be able to write off the investment now, but your money will grow tax-free, so you won’t have to pay taxes on the gains. Check with your accountant, fiduciary, or a trusted advisor.
If you are worried about making ends meet, you can start with a smaller % and work your way up to 10% by adding 1-2% every 4 months. This will buy you time as you either look for ways to cut expenses or use that next pay raise to get you to 10%.
Why pay yourself first? Compounding interest is our hero. Earning interest on interest on interest and so on.
Check this out:
$150 invested monthly at a modest 5% return, will grow into over $225,000 in 40 years.
$150 invested each month for 40 years at 10% annual rate of return will grow into over $900,000.
$150 per month for 50 years at a 10% annual rate of return and you're looking on over $2,500,000!
$300 invested each month for 50 years at a 10% annual rate of return = over $5,000,000!!!
Where can you cut expenses to save $150-300 per month? Phone bill, cable bill, eat out less? Find a way!
Even better: $1500 per month ($18,000 per year) at 10% annual rate of return will grow into over $9mil in 40 years, and over $25mil in 50 years!!! So you can see how those extra 10 years at the end make a huge difference. That's compound interest baby! And hey, if you only get a 5% annual rate of return, you’ll still be pretty stinking rich by retirement. So save those bonuses. Let's get this done!
Wondering how to get it all going? Where to invest? A fiduciary can help set you up for retirement.
3) Buy a Home – because they say you can’t get rich renting. Who are "they" you ask? Well, I'm not sure, but they own a home and they have a much greater net worth than the average renter. Aside from the real estate bubble that burst a few years ago, home values typically increase by an average of 6% per year. Now is a great time to buy with interest rates at historic lows. Personally, I would look for a pre-foreclosure or something in need of a little TLC. You can add a lot of value to a property in a short period of time. This is my personal opinion (and experience). Do your homework. I also recommend a 15 year fixed rate mortgage. More on this below. For now, check out Zillow's Rent vs. Buy Calculator. It will show you how many years it will take before the cost of buying equals the cost of renting - the breakeven horizon.
4) Stay Out of Debt. Debt = compound interest in reverse. The bank gets rich while we live paycheck to paycheck. I’ve tried that style of living. Gets old after awhile. Not cool.
If you can’t pay for it, in full, without negotiating in your brain whether or not you can afford it, you can’t afford it.
As I said in Deciding to Thrive, “Spending more than you earn and making up the difference on credit cards gives you a negative inner voice that makes it tougher to focus on business or family.”
(Chapters 8 and 9 are your user manual for money)
Debt happens. But why? Think about how our society views money. The national debt has increased by about $500,000 since you started reading this blog. What message does that send to our society?
Student debt happens too. Some studies state that the average college student has over $2500 in credit card debt while 10% have more than $7000 in credit card debt.
Trying to pay off $7000 in credit card debt at a typical 20% rate by making the minimum payment will take over 30 years and cost more than $20,000!
And, unfortunately, I’m speaking from experience. At one point, in my twenties, I had six different credit cards to keep track of, so six different payments had to be made on time. Had I continued I would have been destined to work for Visa, Discover, MasterCard, and American Express forever.
The other thing about being debt free is that it allows you to be a giver. If you are worried about paying off the mortgage in 15 years because you’ll lose the benefit of writing off the interest on your debt, I’d advise you to pay it off and then donate the same amount you were paying in interest to charity. Which, by the way, is also tax deductible. Look for 501 (c) 3 charities like the Children’s Dyslexia Centers (which is where my wife and I have decided to donate 100% of the money from our book sales).
Tips on crushing your debt:
- Create a spreadsheet of your debts. Include your monthly payments, the payoff, and goals to pay off your debt. Meaning, what day will you completely payoff that first card/debt? How about the second? How about all of it?
- Start with the smallest debt first. Each card you get rid of constitutes a victory.
- Stop with the instant gratification. While you are paying down debt, if you can’t pay cash, don’t buy it.
- Look at your statements weekly, not once per month. This way there will be no surprises.
- Keep attacking the debt until it’s gone. You can do this!
5) Dream Big. Victor Hugo said, “There is nothing like a dream to create the future.” Money is a vehicle to achieve what we want in life. Every single person reading this has the opportunity to launch their life by the actions they take from this point forward. I want you to be rich. You can get motivation from this blog if you can see how your actions get you closer to your dreams. The Decision happens in a moment. Every moment we are deciding. Deciding between weak thoughts and strong thoughts. Deciding to Thrive reminds me to shove the weak thoughts out and to fill my brain with strong thoughts. We attract what we focus on. If you choose to Decide to Thrive in the moment, how powerful is your life going to be? How powerful will you become as Deciding to Thrive becomes a habit?
"After reading over 200 books on leadership, self help, coaching, and mentoring I finally put it all together in one book. Deciding To Thrive is the distillation of what I learned about the nature of happiness, the meaning of success, the purpose of money, and the all-essential 'why' that helps great entrepreneurs create companies." - John Wasserman
Author John Wasserman is an executive with a $200-million-a-year international consumer-products marketing company. He has worked with thousands of 18- to 25-year-olds teaching them the basics of business: how to prepare, look for, find, and make the most of their first "real" jobs - the ones that don't require hair nets or rubber gloves.
John began his career in 1991 as a sales representative for Vector Marketing, selling CUTCO Cutlery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is CEO of Fast Start, LLC, a frequent public speaker and, as a Division Manager for Vector Marketing, responsible for more than twenty field office locations throughout the Philadelphia–New York metro region.
After reading over 200 books on leadership, self help, coaching, and mentoring
I finally put it all together in one book. Deciding To Thrive is the distillation of what I learned about the nature of happiness, the meaning of success, the purpose of money, and the all-essential "why" that helps great entrepreneurs create companies. The keynote was a blast to deliver at Vector Marketing's annual Strategic Leadership Conference in Atlanta.
The Deciding to Thrive book is available on Amazon.
100% of the proceeds go to the Children's Dyslexia Center.
Today is the day! "Deciding to Thrive" is now available on Amazon! Here is the link.
After reading over 200 books on leadership, self help, coaching, and mentoring I finally put it all together in one book. "Deciding to Thrive: Lessons Learned in My Search for the Meaning of Success - And How to Sustain It".
Every penny the book generates will be donated to Children’s Dyslexia Centers, Inc A charity I am quite passionate about. Anything for the kids, right? Studies show that about one in five kids have some form of dyslexia. I know we can make a difference.
Deciding to Thrive will have a profoundly positive impact on those that read it. A transformation for some, from being stuck to being successful and happy. And for others, the path to a dream life.
Written by special guest blogger Elyssa Andrus
John Wasserman wants to help you get a job. Yeah, you. A Philadelphia-based division manager for Vector Marketing, Wasserman has spent more than two decades recruiting and training college students. In that time, he’s interviewed thousands of people for their first “real” work experience. He knows a thing or two about what it takes to go from résumé to interview to wow-I-feel-like-a-grown-up because I wear a suit to the office. In his book, “No Shorts, Flip Flops, or Sunglasses – How to Get and Make the Most out of Your First Real Job,” Wasserman shows how to avoid some common job-search mistakes.
1. Putting all your eggs in one basket
An interviewer can get thousands of resumes and pick three to review, says Wasserman. Do you want to boost your odds of someone actually taking a look at your credentials? Then you need to get those credentials to as many companies as possible. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” he says. “Your goal shouldn’t be to find your dream job as your first job. What you need is experience. Go after the experience and upgrade to your dream job in the future.”
2. Unpolished résumé
Don’t let some dumb grammatical error screw up your chances of scoring an interview. Have someone with legit editing skills review your résumé for accuracy, correct grammar, and completeness. And don’t be THAT GUY (or girl) who sent out a résumé with no contact information. You need to make it ridiculously easy for interviewers to find you.
3. Inappropriate attire for an interview
“Leave your leopard print jumpsuit at home,” says Wasserman. Same with big, flashy earrings, short skirts, or grungy-looking clothes. Men should wear a tie to an interview. Ladies should wear a blouse with sleeves. (Armpits aren’t professional.) Dress better in your interview than you would dress for work every day. The interview is the time to be impressive. “You aren’t Mark Zuckerberg,” he says, “You can’t just show up in a T-shirt.”
4. Don't be gimmicky in the interview
So you’re awesome. Of course you are. And any position you take? Clearly, you’re going to rock that job. If you’re considering bringing an actual rock with your résumé, think long and hard about the cheesiness factor. “You want to be memorable for your skills, not gimmicks,” says Wasserman. Really, you’d be surprised at the things people do in an attempt to stand out that are actually a turn off.
5. Inadequate preparation
I bet you’ve heard this before. Take some time to visit the company’s website before the interview. Put together some intelligent questions. “You have to do your homework before you go to the interview,” says Wasserman. Take an honest, sincere interest in the company. Often you’ll find interviewers will take that same sort of interest in you.
6. Involving your parents
In his 20-plus years on the job, Wasserman says he’s seen parents call to set up interviews or negotiate pay for their children too often. And that’s all kinds of wrong. Leave your parents out of your search for work, says Wasserman. It’s ok for them to help you in your decision making process. But remember, it’s YOUR decision. Involving them in the actual interview can be a huge turnoff to recruiters.
7. Acting arrogant or unprofessionally in the interview
No matter how great that party was last weekend, keep that information on the down-low, says Wasserman. (Way, way down-low.) Have a firm handshake, wear a big smile, and leave any trace of arrogance at the door. Instead, be honest and polite to everyone you meet at the company. “You are interviewing the moment you walk into the building,” he says. “Your goal is to get the interviewer — and everybody you meet— to like you.” If you are polite and enthusiastic, chances are they totally will. Remember, the person that greets you could be a decision maker, too.
See original blog post on this topic here.
Elyssa Andrus is an author, speaker, parenting columnist, and TV presenter. A longtime print journalist, she has worked for the New Era Magazine, BYU Magazine and most recently the Daily Herald newspaper in Provo, Utah, where she was the features editor for 10 years. She is the author of the book “Happy Homemaking” (Cedar Fort, 2012) and contributes to the popular KSL-TV lifestyle show “Studio 5.” Elyssa has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and is a former adjunct professor of communications at Brigham Young University. Her parenting column “Because I Said So” (co-written with Natalie Hollingshead) runs Mondays on Utah Valley Magazine’s website, UtahValley360.com.
Looking for resume tips? Check out John Wasserman's blog:
7 Resume Blunders You Can't Afford to Make.
Also, check out John Wasserman's latest book:
Deciding to Thrive: Lessons Learned in My Search for the Meaning of Success - And How to Sustain It.
“That lesson has helped me advance in my field for two decades with a company that I love and lifestyle I cherish.” - John Wasserman
This is the book I've always dreamed of writing. I poured my heart and soul into it. I've gotten some great feedback so far. I believe this book will make a difference. Read the pic below to find out more.
Every penny the book generates will be donated to Children’s Dyslexia Centers, Inc. Every penny matters to these kids.
The book will launch on Amazon on July 21st. Set a reminder. Save the date.
EMAIL ME and I will send you Chapter One.
John Wasserman, an executive with a $200-million-a- year international consumer products marketing company, has coached thousands of people to create indispensable habits for personal and professional growth as they began their journeys to success.
John began his career in 1991 as a sales representative for Vector Marketing, selling CUTCO Cutlery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. To date, John has made over $75 million in career sales.
He is CEO of Fast Start, LLC, author of No Shorts, Flip- Flops, Or Sunglasses: How To Get And Make The Most Of Your First Real Job, a frequent public speaker, and, as a Division Manager for Vector Marketing, responsible for more than thirty field office locations throughout the Philadelphia–New York metro region. He also maintains a blog on personal and professional growth at JohnsShorts.com.
He and his wife, Gitana, have two children, Jack and Anastasia, and live in the Philadelphia suburbs.
Proceeds from John’s speeches and the sales of his books support Children’s Dyslexia Centers.
How hungry are you when it comes to taking your sales team to the next level? In this video I break down a simple plan. The lingo and metrics for our company may be a little different than yours, however the lessons will work for any leader with a team of sales reps or sales managers. In less than 10 minutes and I will double your sales.
I'm often asked for book recommendations. Ever since I took on the task of reading 50 books in a year in an effort to break out of a slump. It worked. Sales skyrocketed. Now, I don't think you need to read 50 in a year, but 10-12 will keep your business moving in the right direction. Fifteen minutes per day and an hour or two on the weekends should be enough for you read 10 books per year, even if you are a slow reader like me. In fifteen minutes you can read at least 5 pages. In an hour, 20 pages. So with 15 minutes per day and an extra hour or two on the weekends, that's 60-80 pages per week. Most self-help, leadership, coaching, or business books are 200-300 pages. So there is no reason you couldn't read 10 books per year.
The real key to growth is sharing what you're reading. If you read them, you will have a lot to share. This will impact everyone in your organization. Readers are leaders, and vice-versa.
So, here are my 12 favorite (in no specific order). I'd love to hear about yours.
Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable, Word of Mouth Movements by Robbin Phillips
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh
The Fire Starter Sessions: A Soulful + Practical Guide to Creating Success on Your Own Terms by Danielle LaPorte
Bury My Heart at Conference Room B: The Unbeatable Impact of Truly Committed Managers by Stan Slap
You Already Know How to Be Great: A Simple Way to Remove Interference and Unlock Your Greatest Potential by Alan Fine
Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
Go-Givers Sell More: by Bob Burg and John David Mann
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink
The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
Taking a mental break and in the mood for another great blog from author John Wasserman? Check out 6 Awesome Reasons to Choose a Career in Sales or Leading the Habitually Unpunctual. A new blog is posted every month. Scroll through JohnsShorts.com or check out the Archives.
Oh...and check out my book No Shorts, Flip Flops, or Sunglasses: How to Get and Make the Most of Your First Real Job - proceeds go to a great charity, Children's Dyslexia Centers, Inc. Thanks! You Rock!!
Are you growing in perseverance? A question that not only had I never been asked, but perhaps one of the best questions I've ever been asked. If you follow any of the thousands of success experts/life coaches/career gurus/etc, I'm sure you already know and agree with the idea that your growth as a person and as a professional must be intentional. If you stop growing, you start dying. Um...sounds dramatic...I'll choose growth please.
However, it is true. There have been times in my life where I really felt stuck. Career not going well. Not getting along with my boss or a co-worker. Gaining weight. Finances in a downward spiral. Testing my ability to persevere. You know, really sucking at life instead of crushing life. Those times were typically brought on by my own lack of growth. I simply got to a point where I thought I knew how to do everything that I needed to do to be good at everything I wanted to be good at. So I stopped doing the things that got me there in the first place. I stopped reading. Stopped reaching out to people for help at work. Stopped pouring into myself. This erosion caused me to have very little to pour into others. Once I snapped out if it, and put together a plan for growth, that's when things turned around. I started to do the things that would lead to growth. Read, reach out, attend seminars, listen to audios, and so on. I became a growth junkie for a whole year.
I've since slowed to a sustainable pace of reading once per day and reaching out to peers and mentors two to three times per month, but I gained so much momentum after that first year that the growth has been exponential. And because of that, I have so much more to offer others.
So, when I heard the question, "Are you growing in perseverance?", I lit up. Do the things that would have stopped you in your tracks last year, only slow you down this year? Are you being intentional about becoming stronger in this area of your life? I have a motto that I love to live by: You're Going to Get Over it Eventually... Why Not Now? This has helped me quickly focus on the things I can control.
I have learned that one of the most important things that separates the successful from the average is the amount of time they are willing to let themselves be bothered by setbacks. They tend to almost seamlessly suck it up, persevere and move forward, to embrace the challenge and work tirelessly on a solution. Successful people take more risks. Calculated risks. They know that setbacks are inevitable. You might be thinking, "I thought successful people were always positive." They are. They are positive that setbacks are inevitable.
Adversity is on every path to success. Because of this, successful people are mentally prepared for it, even though they have no idea what difficulties lie ahead.
Successful people 'get over it' quickly, with full confidence that the answers are out there, even though the path is unclear. This isn't magic. This is conditioning. Growing in perseverance improves overall effectiveness. Growth takes effort. Practice getting past misfortune/bad luck/disappointment quickly.
We have a mission on our team to help others "Think Like a Champion". We live by this ourselves. Many of my teammates wear this declaration on their wrist or have it hanging on their wall. It serves as a reminder that pain is temporary. It is a motivator to move forward swiftly, to make the tougher decision... in the moment... when it matters. To persevere is to stay on purpose (and off self) in spite of obstacles or adversity. Make this year your year to grow in perseverance. Think about the impact this will have on your life, as well as the lives of those you serve.
- John Wasserman, Author of No Shorts, Flip-Flops, or Sunglasses: How to Get and Make the Most of Your First Real Job, has worked with thousands of 18- to 25-year-olds teaching them the basics of business.
Taking a mental break? Check out Do You Have an Entrepreneur's Mindset?
by John Wasserman
Proceeds benefit Children's Dyslexia Centers