Creating (and sticking to!) a Financial Calendar

financial planning calendar
Source: Estée JanssensUnsplash

Organization can be an essential to creating a better life for yourself. When you make a plan, you’ve already taken the first step to impact your life. When you’re ready to take control of your finances, organization is key. To start you need clear goals and a financial calendar can help with that.

How do you get started? 

Step One: Examine your Expenditures
Take a look at your monthly expenditures and see how your spending changes from month to month. Weather patterns, travel, personal expenses, holidays; each can play into how your spending changes from month to month. Listing them on the calendar can help you understand your fluctuations and your fixed yearly expenditures.

This is the beginning of examining your financial status!

Step Two: Examine the Changes You Wish to Make
Now is the chance to look at what you intend to change. Is there an area that needs more financial support to grow? For example you could set a goal to have $10k in retirement savings by next year. Is there an area that has been growing but you now need to cease or cut spending? Maybe you choose to schedule your nights out with friends less often to save for a few months. All of this will be clear when you lay out the calendar.

Make sure to think ahead, and even though a year can seem like a far plan, look at a five or even ten year plan if possible. Each item you input into the calendar.

This should help you prioritize your financial goals!

Step Three: Stick to Your Plan!
Nothing changes until you do. Change is hard, but if you can stick to it, the financial rewards are generous!

How Much Are You Worth?

large house
Image via Alison Hinch

We talk about it often with celebrities or famous entrepreneurs and CEOS, but have you ever thought about your own net worth?

Your net worth is the total wealth of you as an individual, your company or your household, taking account of all financial assets and liabilities.

This sounds more complicated than it really needs to be. First thing on the agenda, make a list of all your assets (home, car, savings accounts, investments, etc.) The second step is to make a list of all of your liabilities (mortgage, personal loans, etc.). The third step in finding your net worth is to take the total for your liabilities and subtract it from the total of your assets. The remaining number, whatever it may be, is your net worth.

This list is constantly growing and changing so it helps to track it all on a spreadsheet or through an app. Some recommended resources include: 

Your net worth is smart to track. If you have a good idea of where you are standing financially, you can make more educated decisions about your financial future.

Get a hold on your financial future today!

Learn How to Live on Cash

Source: Tracy Olson

While having cash on hand may not always make sense in an increasingly digital world, learning to live in a cash based economy can be a great way to practice control and restraint. It is the best way to imagine how far a dollar (or sometimes a quarter!) can really be stretched.

Pick a System
Create a budget and spending system. Living on cash only means that you need to monitor what has to be paid every month, week and day down to the penny.

As you categorize and track your budget you would perhaps have one space for rent, 4 spaces for grocery shopping (1 time per week), but 30 spaces for daily expenditures. Some people use envelopes to separate and control their cash, but you can adopt any system that allows for organizing your money. This can also prevent overspending.

Size Up Your Cash
If you have a large bill ($50/$100+), then you are more likely to save it then spend it. Smaller bills are easier to spend, and splurge. It’s the same mentality as going to the Dollar Store for one item and spending $100. Those small bills add up when you’re spending. But they add up just as fast when you’re saving. Swap out your singles for $5s, $10s and $20s and watch how much less you spend on random things you don’t need.

Speaking of the smaller based currency, using cash means a lot of change! If you store this change, it will pile up quickly. Another great opportunity to save!

This is just a start, but if cash based is the way for you, there are other resources to follow and communities that live this way. Happy cashing! 💸

The Second Renaissance – NFTs

Michaelangelo’s Doni Tondo, Image via Artnet

Michelangelo, whether you’re talking about the artist or the Ninja Turtle, will now have something other than a name in common – NFTs!

The Uffizi Gallery sold a Michaelangelo’s Doni Tondo NFT for $170,000 and has begun to mint more masterpieces from its collection including a Botticelli and Titian NFTs. At the same time artist Jacob Shedevrs minted the piece TMNT Facing Backwards, which also sold, albeit for a fraction of an Ethereum.

Shedevrs’s TMNT Facing Backwards, Image via Mintable

Taking a look at current cryptocurrency trends, NFTs are becoming more and more popular by the minute, for everything from art to real estate to retail goods and more. NFTs, being non-fungible tokens, or unique digital assets, are created and minted to the blockchain, which publicly certifies its authenticity and ownership.

Galleries who mint Renaissance paintings and other famous pieces of art are not only creating quite the PR buzz for themselves these days but they are opening up the world of art for those who may not be able to afford the millions upon millions of dollars needed to afford an original work by one of the masters. The beautiful part is that buyers will also know they are purchasing something authentic as the NFTs encryption or “signature” is near impossible to duplicate.

So how does this work? First, the gallery has to create a digital copy of the painting. Everything is perfectly placed down to precise proportions of the original painting. Next, the digital copy is placed for auction. Whoever the winning bidder is receives their copy of the digital work with a Certificate of Authenticity. Then an NFT token is created and sent along with the Certificate. As the token is created, it is added to the blockchain. Now, the winning bidder owns the only official digital copy of the original painting and the world knows who the owner is.

Imagine the boost to your social status in the art world if you’re a collector!

The Future Renaissance of NFT

Although it looked like a trend at first, NFTs appear to be here to stay. With the 2020 pandemic forcing so many people into a digital culture, the presence of a purely digital art scene makes total sense.

Paintings are not the only art that is being traded through the use of NFT’s. Musicians are trading beats, sounds, and samples to both enthusiasts and other artists. We have read stories about videos being created that are being sold. You’ve probably heard of the now infamous Top Shot’s. Over $230 million has been traded in these videos of basketball’s greatest moments.

This is really what art is about! Art is meant to be a mirror to society, a reflection of the times that we are in. People really were inside their houses around the world for over a year. Minimal outdoor activity, most people stayed together with the people that they lived with. So did the artists! They went into their homes, their studios, the “lab”, their offices, and did what they knew how to do, which was create art, and in these digital times they made digital pieces.

Since the revolution of the internet (minus the Dot Com Crisis), the human race has been fortunate enough to actually connect with people around the world. For the first time, we as humans, can truly see what a person is doing right now on the opposite side of the globe. This opens up a new life for Renaissance paintings and all art, music, videos and more that came before.  Millennials and Generation Z / Alpha Generations who may not have discovered certain Renaissance artists may have a newfound passion for them as NFTs, while old school art traditionalists may find this a fun foray into the modern art world.

In the end, this is an exciting new way for galleries to fund their exhibits, for collectors to showcase their purchases to the world, and for artists to find a new audience and a new way to capitalize on their talents. Whether it’s the Mona Lisa, ever alluring, or your notebook that has doodles on it from every airport you’ve sat in, the history of art is part of what makes it important, and NFTs a way to preserve these pieces in a digital way.

Have you purchased or minted an NFT? We’d love to hear about your experience in the Facebook group.

Can NFTs Turn You Into a Real Estate Billionaire?

NFTs (Non Fungible Tokens) hit the real estate market in March of 2021 when artist Krista Kim posted the first NFT house for sale on SuperRare and sold for over $500,000. The crypto property, named the Mars House, was a digital piece of real estate, but it got people thinking about how NFTs could be used in real estate – and if there is real money to be made in this crypto-world phenomenon.
Photo courtesy of Krista Kim
Then in April a real estate broker named Shane Dulgeroff decided to sell one of his listings, a house at 221 Dryden Street, in Thousand Oaks, California, along with an NFT of a psychedelic video of the house, and the housing market was officially on the blockchain.

No one bid on the property so perhaps this isn’t your straight path to billions, but it shows there are some incredible applications of NFTs in the real world!

So how do you make money in real estate with NFTs?

First, you have to understand what an NFT is. NFTs, or Non-Fungible Tokens, are digital assets verified by blockchain technology. They can be anything from digital art or gifs to sports highlights and and yes, even contracts for real world houses and other assets. Each NFT is “minted” on the blockchain which provides proof of authenticity and ownership.

Now if you’re already in real estate, that makes sense because ownership is always important when it comes to land and property.

Growing up with games like Monopoly made us all dream of being real estate tycoons. Developing each piece of property, building house after house until finally you get the hotel that can house your top hat and provide space for your opponents to rent as they travel the board.

Just like in the game, the bank normally handles this process and determines who owns the property, and the buying/selling conditions. There are also the options of things like fractional ownership, for instance, owning an office space within the Empire State Building. Or even the purchasing of a condo within a building. NFTs remove the banks and simplify the entire process with embeddable contracts that use the blockchain to verify ownership.

One key to becoming the first cryptocurrency real estate tycoon is what is in those contracts.

If Homeowner A creates an NFT (perhaps a 3D scan or a gif of their home) and attaches the contract for ownership to the home, transferring the NFT to the new party Homeowner B. Homeowner A can also place a royalty deal into the contract that if Homeowner B ever sells the home again, Homeowner A receives a % of the sale. If Homeowner C sells, Homeowner A again receives a % of the sale. And all of this happens automatically through the transfer of cryptocurrency, through verification on the blockchain – pretty cool, right!

Now if you aren’t ready to buy an entire property, On a small scale, people will be able to quickly and easily sell their own property, without interference from banks and with all assortments of possibilities embedded into the home contracts. On a large scale, this means that investors can own parts of larger buildings as well. Imagine owning the pool at the Versace Mansion, or a hallway in the Louvre. Maybe one day people will be able to purchase a portion of the Chrysler building. NFTs will also allow you to buy part of a condo or iconic building, taking your investment opportunities to the next level without ever leaving your desk.

The options for NFTs in this capacity are limitless.

Real estate will always have a strong market. The ownership of land, property and space is one of the core essentials of survival; warmth, food, and shelter. We as humans will continue to value land because of its necessity and the metaphorical sense of peace it can bring – not to mention the financial security possible with successful ventures.

Comment below and let us know, do you feel safer with the long history of the banking institutions, or does the idea of truly keeping ownership transactions between buyers and sellers without third parties like the bank appeal to you? Where do you see NFTs going in the real estate market and beyond?

Get Started in Real Estate Investing in 5 Easy Steps

How to become a real estate tycoon? 
 
Buy a house. Sell it for more than you bought it for. Easy, right? 
 
Okay, there’s a little more than that. But if you want to know how to do anything in life, every single step can be simplified into the phrase made popular by Nike – “Just Do It”. In this case, it’s about starting, and where do you start? Good news is that by reading this article, you have already started, so I’ve solved your problem already. You don’t need to worry about starting, you’re already on your way.
 
Education
 
The first step (as with any endeavor) is to educate yourself on real estate. What kind of investor do you want to be? Are you looking to be a sole proprietor? Or are you looking to invest as a syndication? Other styles of real estate investing can include simple partnerships between yourself and a few others. There’s also the option of buying stock like shares of property that multiple people can invest into. You could even invest in a real estate NFT with cryptocurrency. (LINK TO NFT ARTICLE) Whatever your plan moving forward is, there’s an option for you.
 
Just keep in mind that you don’t have to stick to one style of investing. Diversity breeds success. Sometimes, it helps to invest in partnerships or as part of a syndication. These can allow other (hopefully more experienced) people to make decisions while you watch. Yet another chance at education
 
So, you’ve educated yourself about real estate, learned from the successes and failures of the people before you. Next you have to have some capital. 
 
Save Money
 
While educating yourself on real estate, you can start stockpiling money. The idea that you need millions or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to get started is completely false. Having a small nest egg is incredibly important, and you want to put money aside for your emergency savings first, but then begin pinching pennies where you can for your down payment. 
 
The average down payment on a piece of property is 20%. A property for $50,000 would only need $10,000 to start. $10,000 in a year is roughly $27 per day. Even saving over two years would give you enough time to properly educate yourself by watching first hand how the market moves from month to month and year to year. You’ll know more, you’ll have funds in the bank and you’ll understand the markets. Now, you choose what housing market you want your investment property to be in.
 
You will have a new best friend, and your friend’s name is Google. A simple search will provide you with all the information you need, ranging from population and its growth, local job growth/salaries/wages, crime stats, etc. 
 
Finding a Deal
 
Here it comes, the first truly scary part about real estate investing, making the first decision about a piece of property. You have to actually go through, look at the property and analyze whether or not this deal is the right one for you. 
 
First things first, you have to crunch the numbers. Based on the local information that you have researched, is this the right property for you? Will the numbers add up in your favor? After monthly costs, and average rental prices, will you have money left over? If you want to become an investor, this is the most important part.
 
If you’re going to rent out the property you also want to look at the expenses that will occur every month, is there any way to improve them? Could you find more efficient bulbs? Better irrigation? Any renovations that could increase property value therefore increase the rental charge?
 
All of this is moot if there is not a strong rental demand in the area. When doing your research and asking yourself important questions, this one should always remain at the top of the list. 
 
But ultimately, you need to be able to answer one important question, “As an investor, is this a property you want to invest in? You have to feel passionate about your investment before anyone else will. 
 
Creating a Network
 
When it comes to buying property, there are multiple people involved. This process takes a few people to complete, so it’s smart to create a large network. Get to know people across the industry and make good friends. Some people you may want to find are:
 
Real Estate Agents
Insurance Agents
Lenders
Property Managers
Real Estate Attorneys
 
And the list goes on. Most likely, in one deal, you will interact with each of these people directly. These are people that are going to make your job so much easier because taking on multiple jobs in any industry is difficult. Now, coincidentally, because real estate deals with land, and land is….well…everywhere, it is not hard to find a referral. You can start with whoever sold you your house, property, the rental you live in, etc. Whoever is in charge should be able to give you at least one referral to someone in the industry. Start networking now to have a leg up when you buy your first property!
 
Make an Offer, then Close the Deal!
 
Once you are prepared, you know the property, you know your financials, you have to take the final step, MAKE THE OFFER! This is where fast decision making backed by all of your research will come in handy because if you take too long to make the offer, someone with slightly more gumption than you could already have found the property you were trying to acquire. 
 
Did you know that it’s free to make an offer on a property? So if it’s free to make an offer, then why not? If they say no, you’re in the same position you were in before. But if they say yes, well then, you are on your way to becoming a real estate investor.
 
Real Estate Investor Extraordinaire 
 
At this point, you should not rush yourself in moving forward. I know I just said to not hesitate when finding a good deal, but you are going to build an empire and no good empire is built in a day. There is no timeline for greatness, so take your time in educating yourself. Take the time to research the different markets and really create your network. You are building something that will continue to grow (in size and in profits!), and that growth will only be possible with a solid foundation, and that foundation is YOU.

10 Booming At-Home Businesses You Should Have Started Sooner

Let’s be honest: COVID-19 hit many of us close to home. While some professionals were let go from their jobs or furloughed without pay, others were faced with having to vacate their offices and work entirely remotely. This is quickly becoming the norm as companies shifted their focus from in-office to home office, hiring for an influx of remote roles. In fact, employees are reportedly happier and more productive when working from home, with the median salary for remote workers approximately 8.3 percent higher than non-remote workers in the same role. If you work in an industry you don’t like, however, now is the perfect time to launch a business from home.

Luckily, it is easier and more affordable than ever; since future trends indicate that remote work is here to stay. Why not seize this opportunity to finally be your own boss? Gone are the days of rolling out of bed before the sun comes up, only to realize it’s Saturday and not a workday. No more stepping on Lego blocks on your way to the bathroom. No more spilling coffee on your blazer on the way to the office. Pandemic or not, let’s get out of our own way and take charge of our financial future.

Firstly, it is important to note that you simply cannot just up and quit your day job. You need to devise an exit strategy so that, when the time comes, you have a plan in place (as well as some savings) to make the transition a smooth one. Try sitting down in a quiet place and put pen to paper, creating both a timeline of events as well as actionable steps you can take on a daily/weekly basis to initiate your business plan, establishing an overview of your market positioning, financial projections and your unique competitive advantages. Who knows? If you find that you have a knack for it, perhaps drafting business plans for fellow entrepreneurs is your calling.

Here are 10 tried and true money making businesses you can start TODAY:

Affiliate Marketing For those unfamiliar with affiliate marketing, it’s simply referral marketing where you earn a commission. Let’s say that you have a website and write a review on a book you loved with a link to it on Amazon. Without affiliate marketing, Amazon would receive 100% of that sale, but if you are a registered affiliate with Amazon, when the visitor clicks the affiliate link and buys the book, Amazon will pay you a percentage of the sale. People love affiliate marketing because they can start earning money passively with few startup costs.

Begin a Blog  Blogging is inexpensive and easy to start doing. It can be as simple as just writing about your favorite music or food and, eventually, you can start generating money from your site. You have many options for getting your blog up and running – but we recommend you use the free WordPress option or Blogger, which is a commercial-free platform. Both have similar features regarding functionality and design, and both can be monetized, but only through their respective ad networks. Using a free platform may limit your earning potential at first, but it gives you the initial foundation for building an audience.

Get Coding Frontend, backend and every type of code in between, coding requires zero in-person interaction with your clients – it is truly a remote option for work. One skill you will want to carry over from the in-person world, however, is active listening. Developing a solid connection with the client is just as important as developing the code for their website. If you keep them top of mind, you can ensure that you’re going to meet their development needs and exceed their expectations.

Social Media Pro Do you have a talent for social media? There are a lot of organizations who need someone to manage their social media accounts, and some may even want you to completely develop a social media strategy for them. As a social media manager, you can also use your skills to manage the social media accounts for individuals. Influencer marketing has quickly become a multibillion-dollar industry, and many influencers rely on agencies and remote marketing professionals to help them run their social networks.

Audio or Video Editor As of March 2021, there were 1.75 million podcasts available to listeners. For this reason, brands are turning to audio and visual content to connect with consumers. The catch 22 is that many do not have the time to invest in the production of this content. If audio and video editing blow your hair back, your demands will be met in this fast-paced industry. And haven’t you always wanted that at-home recording studio?

Writer You don’t need to be an English major to be a freelance writer, but it’s actually an excellent way to make a living if you enjoy it. A writer must be versatile, as assignments can range from technical to creative and everything in between, based upon your given skillset. Writers typically earn per word, which increases with years of experience. After you’ve been freelancing for a few months, you should have enough samples, testimonials and experience to give you the leverage to go after better-paying clients.

Graphic Designer Many businesses are in need of someone to assist in designing their logos, websites and visual ads. If you have a degree or certification in this area, you can make a comfortable annual salary of $45,000 or more. The more skilled you are, the more you earn and the more clients you’ll likely get through word of mouth.

Virtual Recruiter This is pretty much the same as an in-house recruiter except you get to work wherever you want. The other major difference is that you search the web to find the right employee for the right position. You’re responsible for screening the applicant and being a part of the interviewing and negotiation process. Some recruiters are paid upwards of $125 an hour for building resume templates.

Internet Security Specialist As an internet security specialist, you monitor networks for security threats and implement security standards. You may also install data protection systems as well. Given the attention that online security has been receiving, this job is expected to grow steadily over the next several years.

Consulting If you have experience and knowledge in a specific area, then consider sharing it with others. For example, if you’re an accountant or lawyer, you can provide advice to small businesses for a pretty penny. Ca-ching! You can also consult with businesses on how to use a new software program or even how to become more environmentally friendly. Yes, we’re green now people. Interested in more work-from-home options? Follow us on social media HERE and we will share some resources and tips to find the right remote work job for you!

Fun Facts About A 401K

You’ve heard of a 401K. Maybe you even have one. A 401K is an investment in your future. It is a nationally understood investment to protect your quality of life as you get older and into retirement. Yet, there are a lot of things people still don’t know about 401Ks. Here are some interesting facts on 401Ks.

  • Did you know that even though a 401K is tied to your job, you can start one even if you’re self employed!
  • Of the people that are investing in a 401K, over two-thirds of them are under 40 years old, making up a good chunk of the workforce. Another 11% are over 60 years old, proving that you can continue to pay into your later years. (*When you reach 72, you must start reaching into your 401K.)
  • This is one of the few investments that is almost guaranteed to grow with your age. The average portfolio of workers in their 20’s with 5-10 years was only $19,00; while the average of workers in their 60’s was nearly $275,000 according to 401KTV. 
  • In the United States, there is $4.3 trillion dollars (or a whopping 64%)  accounted for within DC’s economic accounts for those investing in a 401k. This is definitely an investment you are not alone in!
  • One of the interesting things about the 401K is that it helped some participants begin to think long term instead of just day-to-day and paycheck to paycheck. 

Do You Have Too Much in Savings? (Start Investing)

It takes months, even years of dedication to reach certain goals, and saving can be one of them. It is exciting when you hit your savings goals, but can you save too much? You want your money to work for you, not stand still. So, what do we do when we have too much in savings? Start investing! There are a lot of investment opportunities out there. Where to begin depends on several factors including how quickly you’re looking to make money, how hands-on or hands-off you want to be with your investment, what risks you’re willing to take and more.  Here are some suggestions to help you get started: 

Stock Market

Wildly unpredictable, highly volatile, but a lot of potential. Research patterns, follow company breakthroughs (or break-ups), and of course you can always turn to reddit and follow the trends if nothing else (hello, GameStop millionaires!). Big risk, big rewards! 

Cryptocurrency

Similar to the stock market, cryptocurrency goes up and down everyday. Those who invested early in Bitcoin are celebrating the chance they took on this platform for investing. There are many cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin and the well known Dogecoins, Ethereum, and other popular currencies. Start researching up and coming cryptocurrencies and maybe you’ll be the next crypto billionaire!

Real Estate

Owning a piece of land means owning something of constant value. Renting out the home can provide extra income. You can “flip” homes, which is the fun way to say you will renovate and sell a property. Either way, real estate is a great way to turn your savings into a growing stockpile!

Business Investment

We are surrounded by business opportunities. Local businesses are also looking to grow too! From friends to local diners, they may have the chance for you to invest some of your hard earned cash and change not only your life, but your community too!

5 Ways To Know If You’re Ready to Invest in Cryptocurrency (And How To Get Started If You Are)

Get Started In Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that is secured by cryptography (the science of keeping information secret and safe by transforming it into a form that unintended recipients cannot understand.), which makes it nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend. Many cryptocurrencies are decentralized networks based on blockchain technology—a digital ledger enforced by a large network of computers. All of this is done publicly, making every transaction on the blockchain verified and transparent. 

Whether you have a large amount of capital to invest or a little bit of extra cash you’re looking to dabble with, cryptocurrency is an investment worth exploring. Here are a few of the pros and cons associated with investing in crypto:

  1. PRO: Huge Returns are Possible. $1,000 invested in Bitcoin in 2013 would be worth over $400,000 today.
  2. PRO: Cryptocurrency is fast becoming an extremely liquid asset making it easy to sell crypto for ether or dollars quickly and stress free.
  3. CON: The market can be volatile. Be ready to take a risk. While it is rare there may be issues with hacking or a market drop which could cause a big hit to your investment. 
  4. CON: Even though crypto is becoming more popular, there is still limited acceptance from retailers and service providers who are wary to take this new form of currency.

How do you know if an investment in cryptocurrency is right for you? Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you have enough money (6-9 months of expenses) in an “emergency fund” savings account? 
  2. Have you paid off your student loans and other debts? 
  3. Do you have a retirement savings strategy in place?
  4. How willing are you to take risks?
  5. Have you researched the various types of cryptocurrency to find the one that is right for you?

If the answer is “no” to any of the above questions, perhaps it is not the right time for you to invest in cryptocurrency. If you answered “yes” however, then you’re ready to begin your new digital investment journey! 

Getting started in cryptocurrency is actually relatively easy. 

  1. Open a brokerage account with a company that allows crypto investments
  2. Deposit funds into your account
  3. Buy the cryptocurrency and then later sell the crypto for a gain or loss (It is all very similar to the stock market, only regulated by the public not the banks!).

Some of the top cryptocurrency brokers to check out include Coinbase, eToro, Robinhood, and Charles Schwab among others. 

If you’re truly worried about the risk, there are also some ways that people can begin to invest in cryptocurrency, particularly in the technology behind it, without holding any coins or crypto tokens themselves. 

Instead of investing in something like bitcoin, find a publicly traded company that is related for example, to the blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrency. There are also companies you can invest in that allow users to trade cryptocurrency on their platforms like Square and PayPal or big tech giants like Google, Amazon and Microsoft that all use blockchain technology in some aspect. It’s a great way to invest in crypto with a little more security than doing something like mining bitcoins.

Whatever you do, don’t get caught up in cryptocurrency craziness if you’re not ready. There are no ways to tell if it will have staying power, which means assets are not 100% safe so make sure no matter what you’re diversifying your investments!