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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

16 Creative Ways to Save More Money in 2016

7 Smart Financial Steps to Take in 2016

by Marty Jerome

DECEMBER 27, 2015

Is this the year you want your financial picture to shine? We’ve got some good news: There are no tax increases looming, and the banking, housing and labor markets are solid. That means this is the perfect time to shore up your personal finances and prepare for the long haul.

Here are some steps you can implement when opportunity, cash flow, existing debt and mental fortitude allow. Barring a sudden global economic or personal meltdown, you could wake up next January with a satisfied smile on your face.


1. Lower your income; secure your future.

If you’re over 50, consider setting up a defined-benefit plan to reduce your company’s taxable income -- and ultimately yours. As earnings rise, you may be able to contribute more than with a defined-contribution plan, such as a SEP (simplified employee pension). Defined-benefit plans provide a fixed, preestablished benefit for employees at retirement. There is also an age-weighted profit-sharing plan you can set up for you and your employees that follows a similar structure. If that sounds too complex for you, then make sure to take these tax deductions (which many people overlook): sales taxes, healthcare premiums and expenses for charitable work and education.

2. Wake up -- retirement will cost more than you think.

Ego makes a bad rudder for retirement planning. Even if your business is thriving, you should maximize what you can set aside in SEP IRA accounts -- regardless of your age. The old rule that you’ll need 70 to 80 percent of your current income for retirement ignores unexpected business costs and reversals that will eat into your assumed nest egg; long-term healthcare costs not covered by Medicare; and the possibility that your children might not be as financially independent as you’d like them to be.

3. Dump bad debt for good debt.

Your credit cards are killing you. “Bad debt is anything that is not being used to build your net worth: clothes, furniture, vacations or dinners out,” explains Steph Wagner, Entrepreneur’s personal finance columnist. “Beyond avoiding wasteful spending, it is important to be strategic with interest rates. While today’s average APR [annual percentage rate] is 15 percent, you might be surprised to learn that you have a card in your wallet that charges significantly less. Personally, I have one at 5.1 percent.”

Wagner’s advice: consolidate. However, don’t be duped into other seemingly cheap sources of credit. “I am not a fan of borrowing against retirement accounts [IRA or 401(k)]; it should be your absolute last resort.”

Given current rates, a home equity line of credit may be your cheapest source of capital. If that isn’t an option, consider borrowing against your permanent life insurance policy (assuming it is whole or universal). This type of policy builds up cash over time, which can be borrowed against tax-free. Another benefit is that you don’t have to pay back the loan (instead, your death benefit is reduced by the borrowed amount) -- but if you do it pay it back, the interest rate is generally 7 to 8 percent, much less than the average credit card.

4. Go ahead, touch the principal.

Unless you’ve socked away millions in stocks and cash, it’s not realistic to live off interest and dividends alone. So plan now, not later, to use stock-price growth as part of your total investment picture. “I know it’s scary for most people to think about drawing down principal,” says Rob Williams, director of income planning at the Schwab Center for Financial Research. “A better way to think about it is that you’re tapping capital gains and reallocating them into something more secure [like bonds].”

Williams is quick to remind that capital gains are “a source of returns as much as interest and dividend payments. A portfolio balanced between equities, bonds and cash can deliver all three.” Over time, they should beat the average 2 percent yield on bonds, as well as inflation.

So how do you begin putting this to work in the next 12 months? “Consider dividend-paying stocks for up to 60 percent of your portfolio’s allocation. Blue-chip dividend payers are a good place to start,” Williams advises. “Then 40 percent in cash investments and bonds or bond funds for stability and income. Intermediate-term bonds or bond funds provide just such an anchor.”

5. Crowdsource your kids’ college education.

If you haven’t done so, set up a 529 (college savings) plan and ask friends and relatives to contribute money. Surveys show that most grandparents would contribute to a 529 plan if asked. Another tip: Don’t stop contributing once your kid is enrolled. Paying tuition through the 529 ensures the tax break.


6. Ease up on rebalancing.

You already know to periodically rebalance your holdings, cashing in star performers to buy more of the laggards. But how often? The old wisdom—every quarter—has given way to the new: once a year. “There is no one optimal rebalancing strategy,” says Colleen M. Jaconetti, a senior investment analyst in Vanguard’s investment strategy group. “Having said that, we believe that for most investors, implementing a rebalancing strategy based on reasonable monitoring frequency, such as annual or semi- annual, and rebalancing only when the portfolio has drifted beyond an allocation threshold of 5 percent (e.g., your holdings in, say, international growth funds have dropped from 20 percent of your portfolio’s value to 15 percent) is likely to produce a balance between risk control and cost minimization.”

Jaconetti acknowledges that rebalancing can be tedious but says, “What some investors don’t realize is that they may not have to do many actual transactions in order to rebalance their portfolio. In practice, portfolios can be rebalanced using the existing cash flows.” These cash flows include using dividends, interest payments, realized capital gains and any contributions or withdrawals in the portfolio. 

7. Hire an honest accountant.

The Internal Revenue Service is cracking down on unscrupulous tax preparers. Hiring the wrong person can trigger audits, costs for revising statements and other headaches. “The tax code is huge,” says Kay Bell, author of The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes. “The key here is credentials. You want someone who stays on top of tax-law changes.”

Seek recommendations from people who share your specific tax situation. “If you have a small manufacturing business, you want a tax professional who works with small manufacturing businesses and knows the intricacies of the tax code in this area. Plus, having a preparer who is familiar with your business needs is particularly important now, with all the Affordable Care Act tax ramifications,” Bell explains.

Friday, December 25, 2015

This Detroit Entrepreneur Is the First African-American Woman to Score a Patent for a Natural Haircare Product

This Detroit Entrepreneur Is the First African-American Woman to Score a Patent for a Natural Haircare Product

DECEMBER 18, 2015, Amanda lewan


At the time when Gwen Jimmere invented a new haircare product, she didn’t know it was going to be a success. She also didn’t know she’d be the first African American woman to hold a U.S. patent for a natural haircare product.

The natural hair industry is estimated to be a $2.7 billion industry, and it’s under a resurgence. For Gwen, when she saw the documentaryGood Hair by comedian Chris Rock, she quickly realized how unhealthy most hair products were to use. She also learned how the industry was often led and owned by those not purchasing the product.

All of that is changing, and Gwen is helping to lead the way.

“I grew up in a household where if you can’t find it, you can make it,” she says. “I created the Moroccan Rhassoul 5-in-1 Clay Treatment out of necessity. Having natural hair can be very time consuming and expensive, taking two or three hours to complete your haircare regimen on what we call wash day and costing hundreds in haircare products each month.”

As a new mom, she didn’t have time anymore for two to three-hour wash days, so she developed something that would allow her to cut time. Gwen was also troubled that many products labeled as natural actually didn’t appear to have many natural ingredients. So she invented her own, and when friends of friends -- and strangers -- started to buy her product, she knew she was onto something. In 2013, she formed her company NATURALICIOUS.

It was soon after, when she found herself laid off from her job as a global marketing director at Ford while being just a month away from finalizing her divorce, when the newly single mom put all of her effort into taking the leap. Now, two and a half years later, her company has hit the seven-figure mark with a product that’s patent protected and sold around the world.

But obtaining a patent was no easy feat. As a single mom, Gwen couldn’t afford the fees to hire a patent lawyer. Instead, she spent six months researching and studying how to file one for herself. She did spend what was needed on filing fees and hired help researching prior art. It also helped that Detroit also has a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office -- one of only six in the country.

“I saved between $8,000 and $18,000 by filing on my own, but it did take me six months to learn patent law,” she says. “I made really good friends with the librarians who helped me during that time.”

The approved patent is for the new application of the clay based product imported from Morocco, which is a cleanser that also works as a conditioner, deep conditioner, leave-in conditioner and de-tangler all in one. The product cuts down a traditional wash day to a less than an hour. Gwen also guarantees a two-month trial period. If you don’t like the product, she’ll gives 100 percent of your money back, and buy you a competitor's’ product to replace it. That’s a big guarantee -- but to date she hasn’t had to take anything back.

Gwen hopes to encourage all entrepreneurs to consider ownership over their products, to think in terms of trademarks and patents and not just to share a product with friends.

“The patent gives me leverage and can be a part of wealth building. I really want women entrepreneurs to start legally owning our creations via intellectual property. We innovate incredible things all the time,” she says. “Consider patenting these inventions. Think about protecting yourself, your business and your legacy.”

Thursday, December 17, 2015

7 Tips to Becoming a Millionaire

by Daniel Ally, Self-Made Millionaire, Dec. 8, 2015


Becoming a millionaire is easier than it's ever been.

Many people have been writing me with the notion that it's an impossible task. They say, "It's pure luck. You have to be born into a rich family. You'll have to win the Lotto. Your parents have to help you out a lot."

A single mother with five children wrote the following, "Daniel, I read your article and I believe in what you're saying. However, I'm 50 years old and work long hours at two dead-end jobs. It's Christmas time and I barely have enough money to buy gifts for my children. What should I do?"

Another man wrote, "Well, if you work for the government or a non-profit, you cannot expect to become a millionaire. After all, you're on a fixed salary and there’s little time for anything else. By the time you get home, you've got to play with the kids and entertain yourself."

These queries got me thinking of the true possibilities of wealth all over the world, particularly in America. I've seen people come to America who speak little to no English, have no connections, no money, or formal education, but have still been able to create fortunes for themselves and others. 


The truth is that all of us can become as wealthy as we decide to be. None of us is excluded from wealth. If you have the desire to receive money, whatever the amount, you have all of the rights to do so. There's no limit to how much you can earn for yourself.

Money is like the sun. It does not discriminate. It doesn't say, "I will not give light and warmth to this flower, tree, or person because I don't like them." Like the sun, money is abundantly available to all of us who truly believe that it is for us. No one is excluded.

Here are 7 tips to becoming a millionaire: 

1. Change Your Thinking


You have to see the bigger picture. When most people see just trees, you need to look at the entire forest. This way, you'll be able to chart your own course and get to where you want to be. By having a vision and the goals to attain that vision, your possibilities are endless.

You'll have to go through plenty of self-discovery before you earn your first million. Knowing the truth about yourself isn't always the easiest task. Sometimes, you'll find that you're your biggest enemy and best friend -- even in the same day! Nonetheless, changing your thinking is a requirement for wealth.

2. Save Relentlessly


This will address the queries that I've recently received. For many individuals, there's too much month at the end of the money. However, you'll have to make your best effort to save as much as you can, even if it's a ridiculously low number.

There are many techniques for saving money. You need to find your own system and start building your wealth. Even if you're on a fixed income, you need to find the discipline necessary to save. Whether you start out with saving $50 or $500 per month, do the best you can and invest this money in the best way possible.


3. Learn from Millionaires

Most people are surrounded by what I like to call "Default Friends." These friends are acquaintances that we see at the grocery store, gym, school, work, and other places. We naturally befriend these people as trust grows. However, in most cases, these people aren't millionaires and cannot help you become one either.

If you truly desire and aspire to be a millionaire, these people may tell you that it's impossible. They'll tell you that you're living in a fantasy world and why you'll never be able to make it happen. Instead, learn from millionaires. Let go of these relationships and seek new ones that can help you get to the next level.

4. Indulge in Wealth

To become wealthy, you must first learn about wealth. This means that you'll have to put yourself in situations that you've never been before. For instance, you can test drive a new car, get a realtor to show you an expensive home, or get a brownie from the finest bakery in town.

Most of this will not break your bank. In fact, some of it is free. You'll have to go where 97 percent of people aren't willing to go if you want to make your financial dreams happen. Are there luxury golf courses, spas, or museums in your area that will allow you to indulge in wealth? If so, take advantage.

5. Believe It's Possible


If you believe that it's possible to become a millionaire, you can make it happen. However, if you've excluded yourself from this possibility and think that it's for other people, you'll never have money. Also, be sure to bless rich people when you can. Haters of money aren’t likely to receiving any of it either.

The best way to do this is to learn relentlessly about yourself and money. You can do this by reading books that have been written by millionaires themselves. By gaining a well-rounded education and staying inspired, you'll be able to get the wealth you've been looking for. 

6. Enlarge Your Service


Your material wealth is the sum of your total contribution to society. If you know my famous question, "How do I deliver more value to more people in less time?" then you'll know that you can always increase your quality and quantity of service. People are waiting to be served.

Enlarging your service is also about "going the extra mile." When it comes to helping others, you must give it everything you have. Don't think about if the people you serve will appreciate it or not. You just plant the seeds and nature will take care of the rest. 

7. Seize ALL Opportunities


In every neighborhood, no matter where you are, there are always opportunities to do good. Your community desperately needs your help. If you would only open your mind and heart to these opportunities, you'll find that they will be ready to reward you in due time.

Furthermore, you cannot say "no" to opportunities and expect to become a millionaire. You must seize every opportunity that has your name on it. Sometimes the monetary reward will not come immediately, but if you keep planting seeds, eventually you'll grow your fruitful crop.

Money is the harvest of your production. Everything that you have is in direct proportion to your actions. If you've done everything that you can do and have a purpose leading your life, you can expect to become wealthy. You must desire wealth and eventually the money will come when you are ready for it.

The more seeds (service) you plant, the more plants (money) you'll have.

Stop Dreaming and Start Doing

by Steve Tobak, Author and Managing Partner Invisor Consulting, Dec. 10, 2015

Want to know what happens to people who spend their whole lives dreaming about fame and fortune, reading about others’ success and accomplishments, and following a who’s who of the influential elite in the hope that some of their magic will rub off them?

Not a whole lot. Dreaming, reading, and following will get you nowhere. The only way to achieve any of that stuff is by doing.

If you fit the above description, you’ve essentially got two options. You can keep doing what you’ve been doing and end up poor and bitter, or open your eyes, change your behavior, and get out and make something of yourself, while there’s still time.

Judging by the demographics of Entrepreneur’s audience (your average age is actually 45), at least half of you still have time to change your ways. Maybe this will be your wakeup call.

Look, it’s fine to want to be successful, but success is not a goal; it’s an outcome of a lifetime of hard work and perseverance. It comes from years of education and experience developing an expertise and learning how things work. It comes from pursuing opportunities, building relationships, making smart choices, being disciplined, and focusing on what matters. It comes from hard-fought wins and gut-wrenching losses.

If you’re starting to get the picture that it’s a long, hard road to achieve such a lofty outcome, then you’re getting closer to the truth. And the truth is that you’ll never become rich and famous by obsessing over becoming rich and famous. You’ll only get there by focusing on the here and now. You have to work on accomplishing one thing at time in real time.

Now I bet some of you are thinking that it’s good to have goals to shoot for and that learning what worked for others will help you get there. That may be true, but for goals to be effective, they have to be far more practical and specific than that. And none of the popular click-bait content will tell you what it really takes to make it big.

This is how success happens in the real world:

1. First, your parents teach you about work ethic, personal accountability, and making smart choices.

2. Then you go to school, get an education, and learn the basics about a field of study.

3. You go out and get a job (hopefully in your field but maybe not yet) and learn how the real world works, how companies work, how business works, and most of all, how people work.

4. Over time, you develop some expertise, build relationships, gain exposure to new opportunities, and figure out what you really enjoy doing, so that’s what you decide to focus on. Most of all, you learn from experience and others.

5. You face lots of hurdles – some you overcome while others trip you up. You learn lessons from gut-wrenching defeats and gain confidence from exciting victories. And through it all you work hard, compete, and stick with it.

6. If you make smart decisions and follow a path that’s right for you, in time, you’ll do some great work and achieve some big things. And one day you’ll look back, realize you did pretty well for yourself, and feel good about it. Then you’ll get back to work.

It doesn’t always work exactly like that – we all end up screwing up and maybe repeating a step or two – but for the most part, that’s what success looks like in the real world. In one form or another, this is what everyone who gets anywhere in life goes through to get there.

Notice that nowhere does it say anything about screwing around reading silly self-help-style books and blogs, posting dumb quotes on social media, following self-proclaimed “influencers," or wasting precious time with popular fads about leadership, entrepreneurship, or the personal habits of millionaires.

Now, don’t get me wrong: We all have our moments, we all have our weaknesses, and we all make mistakes. Just don’t make it a habit. And, of course, we all need to have fun and have a life. But nowhere is it written that your work can’t also be fun. Nowhere does it say that your work can’t be a big part of what makes your life worth living.

We all have the potential for a fulfilling life, but only if we get out and live it. And the same goes for your work. So quit dreaming and start doing.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

10 Major Differences Between Rich and Poor People


Daniel Ally, CONTRIBUTOR, Self-Made Millionaire & Business Expert
DECEMBER 01, 2015


Join us at Entrepreneur magazine's Growth Conference, Dec. 15 in Long Beach, Calif. for a day of fresh ideas, business mentoring and networking. Seats are limited--Register now to secure your spot and receive exclusive reader rate (expires 12/8).

I've been rich and I’ve been poor. I know both sides very well.

Growing up poor, I knew that I wanted to be rich. At the age of 24, I earned my first million dollars. I came a long way and studied the subject all of my life. Over time, I have discovered that if you're not living in prosperity, you're living in poverty.

Wealth is a choice that we must all make. Bill Gates once said, "It's not your fault if you were born poor, but it’s your fault if you die poor." There's no reason why you should live in poverty. Wealth is waiting for you, but you have to make up your mind if you want it in your life.

For a long time, I struggled to believe that I could eventually become rich. It wasn't until I observed the differences in thoughts and actions between the "haves" and the "have-nots."


Here are 10 major differences between rich and poor people:

1a. Poor people are skeptical


I distinctly remember a former coworker of mine saying, "Those mechanics are a rip-off! They're always looking for the weak people. They'll charge you when you're not looking!!" He thought that everyone unjustly wanted his money and that everyone is out there to get him. 

1b. Rich people are trusting


Surprisingly, a great deal of rich people leave their car and house doors open. Conversely, in areas of poverty, you'll find that this behavior is highly unlikely to happen. Rich people have the tendency to trust those they meet (within reason) and give others the opportunity to be themselves.

2a. Poor people find fault


People who are poor are always looking for the problems instead of the solutions. They end up blaming their environment, circumstances, jobs, weather, government, and will make an extensive list of excuses as to why they cannot be successful. 

2b. Rich people find success


Rich people understand that everything happens for a reason. Rather than letting life happen to them, they take direct action and make big things happen. They put aside all the excuses and eradicate their blame lists because they have to do what must be done.

3a. Poor people make assumptions

When it comes to knowing the truth, poor people often make assumptions. If they want to reach out to a celebrity, they might say, "They probably don't have time to talk to me." Instead of checking the facts or asking questions, they never make a true attempt when it comes to getting what they want.

3b. Rich people ask questions


Many rich people ask the question, "What if?" For instance, "What if I wrote an email to the president and he or she answers?" If you begin to ask questions, you will save yourself a lot of hassle. The power is in the hands of those who ask the right questions. They don't answer your questions, question your answers.

4a. Poor people say, "They" and "Them"


In the grocery store, the woman at the register said, "They never have enough cashiers. I don't know what's wrong with them." Obviously, this woman did not take any ownership and responsibility over her job. She certainly did separate herself from the job that was paying her.

4b. Rich people say, "We"

At one of my favorite restaurants, the server said, "We take great delight in cooking our steaks in real fire." His sense of pride and ownership stimulated me, which allowed me to give him an honorable tip. Surely, you will be rich when you invest more into what you believe in. 

5a. Poor people want the cheapest way


I was once shopping with a friend who only wanted to buy if they could find the cheapest clothing. They would rush to the clearance rack and pick up clothes that they didn't even want, but ended up buying because of a "deal." Unfortunately, they ended up never wearing it since they only bought the price.

5b. Rich people want the best way


Rich people will go the extra mile to find quality material. They don't limit themselves to price and often seek service while they shop. Rich people want organized services and will never settle with items that are worthless and unusable.

6a. Poor people think money is more important than time
Millions of people all over the world are trading their precious time for money. You can always get $500 back, but you can't get 50 hours again. Nonetheless, the majority of people trade time for money and never realize their true potential because of it.

6b. Rich people know that time is more important than money


Rich people never trade time for money. Moreover, they seek fulfilling experiences that dramatically alter their lives. Their careers are more focused on doing what they love and helping others, instead of merely clocking in for a meager paycheck.

7a. Poor people compete

When a poor person sees an opportunity, they find out how others are doing it and emulates them. Most often, they never consider another way of doing it. Instead, they settle in the belief that doing what others are doing is the best thing they can do for themselves.

7b. Rich people create


My rich neighbors were disgruntled when they found that their Porsche did not come in a specific shade of green, which they deeply wanted. Because of this, they decided to custom build their green Porsche with unprecedented specifications. I've never seen such a thing!

8a. Poor people complain, condemn, and criticize

Most poor people have learned how to be poor from their predecessors. Their family members have conditioned them to believe that everything is "wrong" instead of right. If you're ever heard someone ask, "What's wrong?" you'll know what I mean.

8b. Rich people praise and enjoy their blessings


Rich people know that they have many privileges and they don't take it for granted. Because of their appreciation of gifts, love, and circumstances, they are able to generate more. Many times, what gets praised gets prospered.

9a. Poor people seek amateur advice

They often listen to the opinions of others and seek approval from acquaintances. They believe almost everything they hear without questioning authority. They accept opinions as facts and prohibit themselves from doing research once satisfied with an answer.

9b. Rich people seek expert advice

Those who are rich have learned to think for themselves. If they cannot figure out something, they seek expert advice. Usually, they pay for the advice and are given a wide variety of options. They learn the experts only make suggestions, which means that they aren't particularly confined to a specific action.

10a. Poor people have big television sets

Poor people take a lot of time to drift off to sporadic images of which they often have little to no control over. They use their free time to avoid the art of thinking (which is the most challenging task) and zone out to what many have conformed to believe is "entertainment." 

10b. Rich people have big libraries


Wealthy people are educated and read a lot of books. They use their knowledge in a way that benefits them. Instead of drifting off in random activities, they seek to get within their minds to understand themselves, others, and the world in which they live. In fact, as your personal library increase over the years, so will your home. I can attest to this!

To get a true perspective on how to become rich, you must study rich people. After all, you become what you study. If you're currently surrounded by people who aren't yet rich, just do the opposite of what they do. Soon enough, you'll be able to reach your financial dreams!

About Me

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Cathy Harris is an Empowerment and Motivational Speaker, Non-GMO Health and Wellness Expert, Self-Publishing and Business Coach.