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I get grief from some family and friends that I take too much of a business attitude towards life. That may be so, but I believe that my tendency to look at things from a different perspective is what contributes to my successes.
That being said, let’s take a look at “You, Inc.” and what you are doing to improve your value for your shareholders (you, your spouse, and your children).
When looking at a company you generally look at two things:
- How are they doing today?
- What are they doing to improve in the future?
Here are some questions to ask yourself, some tasks to determine how you can improve, and suggestions on how to do it:
How are you doing today?
- What is your cash flow like? Do you have a stable job, with a steady stream of income? If not, what are you doing about it? Are you able to pay your monthly obligations and still have money left over?
- What does your balance sheet (aka what you own and what you owe) look like? Are you saving for retirement? Do you have an emergency fund? How much debt do you have? Are you paying it down, or are the balances increasing each month?
- What is your credit profile? Have you taken a look at your credit report and score lately? Would you qualify for a loan if you needed it or wanted it?
- Are you able to enjoy life the way you envision? Have you taken a family vacation in the last several years?
Once you’ve taken a few minutes to answer the questions above, think about it. Are you in a situation that you thought you’d be in today? If not, what are the issues that are stopping you from achieving the life you want to live?
Let’s take a look at some steps that will help you answer the questions above, help you make progress towards living the life you want, and have “You, Inc.” be the type of investment that everyone wants a part of!
What are you doing to improve your future?
- Most people have trouble keeping track of their cash flow (what comes in, and what does out). One great FREE tool is Mint.com (owned by Quicken). You enter your log-in information for bank accounts, credit card, loans, etc., and it will pull down the transaction activity to give you a better idea of where you’re spending your money.
- If you don’t like your job, or are having trouble finding a good position, you need to improve your skills and increase your value to the next employer. Put down the remote, and pick up a book, take some classes at your local Community College, or do some online learning. MIT OpenCourseWare and Lynda.com are great sources for learning new skills. MIT is free, while Lynda offers a free trial before subscribing.
- What does your balance sheet look like? Again, Mint.com is a great tool for telling you how much money you have in the bank and investments vs. how much you owe. It may not give you the whole picture, so you may need to visit sites like Zillow for home values and KBB for what your vehicle is worth.
- If you haven’t started saving for retirement, or are not satisfied with your investments, I would look at a company like Vanguard or T.Rowe Price. They specialize in low-cost index funds that mimic the market, rather than try and fail to consistently beat the market, like so many others do.
- Experts suggest putting away 3-6 months of salary in an Emergency Fund. Not too many people have done this, or can afford to put that much in savings today. Like most major tasks, it is best to break it down into pieces and slowly work towards achieving that goal. I use ING Direct for all my savings’ needs. I have about 14 accounts with them that are assigned to various goals and bills I have. One is an emergency fund and another is for my son, while the others are for the annual bills that come up, like life insurance, auto insurance, property taxes, and auto registration. Others are set up for long-term goals, like buying a winery (our current semi-retirement dream) or a fund to pay for home repairs (replacing the roof, painting, or new carpet). They’re fantastic, because I can open as many accounts as I want to fit my needs and there is no fees or minimum balances to maintain!
- A couple of sites help you understand what is going on with your credit, and how you are doing with paying down your balances owed. CreditKarma and CreditSesame offer a FREE service that gives you an estimate of your credit score. You never have to pay anything, unlike some of the websites and tv ads you see promoting free trials of their service. Additionally, they alert you when a new account is added or closed on your credit report, and what the changes in balances owed and monthly payments are when the information is updated. Once a year, the Federal Government has mandated that the three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and Transunion – provide you with a free copy of your credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com. You can get all 3 for free at once, or you can spread them out throughout the year.
- Once you have the information above, and are comfortable with you credit situation, I will teach you how to vacation for pennies, compared to what your friends are spending on their vacations. In 2012, through taking advantage of credit card, airline, and hotel promotions, I was able to earn about 1,000,000 miles and points and get approved for over $200,000 in new credit… even while refinancing to take advantage of the low interest rates! I’m still putting all of the results together (and will update this post when I finish), but these are approximate numbers.
- Taking vacations are important. Not only do they help you relieve stress, they are critical in bonding with your spouse and children. In 2012, our family took 21 trips (mostly weekend), have 15 scheduled for 2013, and are already working on some 2014 trips. We did spend some money, without a doubt, but what we spent for all these trips is probably what the average family spent/will spend on one or two vacations.
Follow me, and I will share my experiences with you, and I look forward to helping you achieve the success and good life that we all deserve as a reward for our hard work.
At the end of this process, your value will be going up… because, you can’t move forward properly, without first understanding where you are, where you want to go, and what steps are needed first to get you to where you want to be.
I’m going to continue investing in “Me, Inc.”… will you make the investment in “You, Inc.”?
I may be patting myself on the back, but I think this information and the results that will follow for you is worth of 5 out of 5 razors. Let’s make it happen!