Robert Kiyosaki Blog

Financial Education Portal inspired by Robert Kiyosaki

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Learning good saving habits early in your career

Question: My 21-year-old daughter makes $80,000 a year working at a large firm. She has very low expenses, so I’d like to see her sock away a huge amount of money. I told her that if you get used to spending a lot each month on “fun” stuff, it will be much harder to save down the road. I’d also like to see her bypass the high-end investment firms in favor of less expensive alternatives. What do you suggest? –Tom F., Chatham, Illinois Answer: I’m with you, Dad. I think it’s a great idea to encourage the habit of saving regularly early in one’s career (or life, for that matter) so that it becomes almost second nature. But let’s not overdo it. As Cyndi Lauper once famously put it, girls just wanna have fun. (Boys too, I might add.) Nor does having a good time necessarily make you some sort of financial reprobate. I’m not sure how much you have in mind when you say you want your daughter to sock away a “huge” amount of money, but you don’t want her setting a goal that’s so high that saving becomes a privation and unsustainable. She would be making the same mistake as people looking to control their weight who go on a crash diet. Your aim here, therefore, should be to get your daughter to think of saving as a natural part of life, a regular expense you must budget for just like any other (which, in fact, it is, as I explained in a column about how to live within your means and lead a financially responsible life. So, how can one inculcate the savings habit in a way that avoids dealing with firms that charge onerous commissions and fees? Well, the first thing you can do is to encourage your daughter to sign up for her 401(k) plan, assuming her company offers one (as most large firms do). You might suggest that she contribute at least enough to get the full employer match. If doing that doesn’t bring the combined contribution from her and her company to 10% of her salary, then she should kick in whatever it takes to hit that goal, which is a decent starting point for someone her age. I can’t guarantee that her 401(k) plan’s expenses will be lower than those she’ll encounter at outside investment firms. But unless your daughter finds that, after evaluating her 401(k) plan, it is truly horrendous, it’s highly unlikely that she would be better off forgoing the tax savings, convenience and other benefits of a 401(k) to save outside the plan. In addition to her...

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Five Secrets Your Bank Doesn’t Want You to Know

Laura Rowley Banks are squeezing customers with historically high fees and penalties, from overdraft charges to account service fees to new surcharges on foreign debit transactions. But the pressures that have prompted the fee war with consumers started well before the financial meltdown, according to Jo Preuninger, a former management consultant who spent more than a decade in the consumer banking arena. I asked Preuninger for a little history, as well as some of the tricks of the trade that banks would prefer to keep secret. Secret #1: For many banks, the most profitable customers aren’t the mass affluent — they’re “Joe Lunchbox.” In 1999, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act allowed banks, insurers and securities firms to merge, breaking down barriers that had been in place since the 1930s. Following the new law, “if you took all the (deposit) checks written for $10,000 and above, most were written to institutions such as Charles Schwab, Fidelity or Merrill Lynch,” says Preuninger. “They took the best customers. The banks were becoming more like Laundromats, where you put money in for a short period because you still needed to pay with a check or (get cash).” At the same time, loans provided little profit as interest rates remained relatively low, prompting banks to seek consistent, non-interest income. “The focus was on how banks could not only identify fees they could charge, it was how to do a better job of collecting their fees,” says Preuninger. Middle-income customers presented the greatest potential to harvest fees. “There’s certainly a customer segment that could be called ‘Joe Lunchbox,’ who expect to be nickeled and dimed,” says Preuninger. “They are managing money from paycheck to paycheck. It’s someone who would prefer to pay an overdraft fee to get their mortgage covered rather than get hit by a mortgage provider with a late fee and a ding on their credit score.” Last year, overdraft and insufficient-funds charges totaled nearly $35 billion and comprised about 90 percent of banks’ consumer-fee income, according to a study by the consulting firm Bretton Woods Inc. Three-quarters of banks automatically enroll consumers in their “overdraft protection” programs without formal permission, and more than half of banks manipulate the order in which checks are cleared to trigger multiple overdraft fees, according to a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation study. “They are going to try to turn the best profit they can, which is why they post in the most attractive way they can while avoiding and minimizing legal exposure,” says Preuninger. Someone who overdraws a checking account a few times a year should choose a bank with a program that makes it easy (and free) to...

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Four Ways to Weather an Economic Storm

~ Andrew Beattie Economic conditions can be as temperamental as the weather. In this article we’ll look at some simple steps that can help keep the financial boat afloat during an economic tempest. Batten Down the Hatches Warren Buffet derides management that embarks on cost cutting, as good management shouldn’t need to be prompted to control costs – that should be second nature. People are less strict with their personal finances than Buffet is on management, but a downturn quickly provides the motivation needed for cost consciousness. There is always room for cutting frivolous expenses, or at least substituting them with cheaper alternatives. This applies to everything from the morning coffee to landscaping the backyard. Set in Stores Even if you have creditors banging on your door and ringing you at work, your first priority should be building or augmenting your emergency fund. When money is consistently flowing out of your bank account leaving a near-zero balance, there is no cushion for unexpected and unavoidable expenses – like a root canal or a new radiator. This forces people to take on yet more debt to make ends meet, and the outflow of cash worsens until it seems like they are working just to satisfy their creditors. The better alternative is to make minimum payments on your debt while building a cushion of at least one month’s wages, but preferably 3-6 months. The larger the emergency fund, the more secure you’ll be mentally and financially. With three or more months in reserve, it takes a pretty big emergency to shake things up. Building the fund should take precedence over investment as well as debt payments. Any automatic investment plan should be put temporarily on hold and that money funneled towards the emergency fund to help speed up the building. It may feel like you’re dodging creditors and robbing from your golden years, but with a proper emergency fund, you’ll be in a better situation to consistently make payments on your debts and regularly invest no matter what happens in the future. Patch the Hull When the general market is choppy, there is almost daily coverage of where the hot money is going. Investors rush out of cash and into bonds; out of bonds and into stocks; out of stocks and back into cash and bonds, and on and on. Rather than getting caught up in the stutter-step of fast money, most people would benefit far more from paying down existing debt than finding safe havens to park idle funds. If you are holding debt during a downturn, paying it back is one of the few places where you can put...

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Couples Quiz: What’s Your Financial Compatibility

Couples frequently avoid talking about money before marriage. That’s unfortunate, because sharing perspectives about money can help couples resolve the financial issues that doom many marriages. The following financial compatibility quiz can help couples planning to tie the knot discuss financial issues. Answer “true” or “false” to each of the following statements. 1.      We are aware of and comfortable with each other’s money personalities. 2.      We have discussed our short- and long-term financial goals. 3.      My spouse and I are well versed in personal finance. 4.      My spouse and I have discussed a plan to structure our finances. 5.      We have planned for the impact that marriage will have on our taxes. 6.      We have decided how to divide up the money management tasks. 7.      We understand the importance of establishing a realistic budget. 8.      I know my future spouse’s investment personality and risk tolerance. 9.      I know how much debt my spouse is bringing into our marriage. 10.     We have made a commitment to discuss money regularly. Answering “true” to eight or more statements indicates that you and your spouse are on your way to a stable financial future. However, it’s still a good idea to continue to communicate and work together. If you answered “true” to between five and seven of the above statements, you and your spouse need to devote more time to planning your financial future together. With a little luck, you can achieve financial compatibility.  If you answered true to fewer than five questions, don’t call off the wedding yet. Instead, make a sincere commitment to discuss these issues and consider meeting with an experienced financial planner who can help you start your marriage on firm financial footing.  Read on to learn more about the importance of each question. We are aware of and comfortable with each other’s money personalities. Some of us grew up in families where parents watched every dime; in other families money flowed easily. Some people measure self worth in terms of money and possessions. Some people are natural spenders; others are savers. Understanding your future spouse’s background and values can help avert problems down the road.   We have discussed our short- and long-term financial goals. Setting financial goals helps you develop priorities and define the type of lifestyle you will lead. Break down your goals into manageable pieces. If you want to buy a house in five years, determine how much you need to save monthly to meet the down payment. My spouse and I are well versed in personal finance. Parents and schools rarely provide training in personal finance. Work together to develop your financial knowledge and...

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How Deep Must You Dig to Pay the Mortgage?

Jack M. Guttentag As the unemployment rate rises, more mortgage borrowers must choose between default and making the payment out of savings. That can be an agonizing decision. See the letter below: “I was laid off recently but am reasonably hopeful of finding another position soon… We have stayed current by drawing down our IRAs, but there is only about $4,000 left, enough to cover us for one more month…Our family is counseling us to keep the $4K left in our IRAs and not make the next monthly mortgage payments. Do you agree?” Not making the payment will hurt your credit, but if the choice is between missing the payment this month and missing it next month, I would miss it this month and keep the cash. I would only use the rest of your cash to make the payment if you manage to get a job before 30 days after the payment due date. In that event, you have a reasonable hope of being able to work your way out of the jam you are in, so using your remaining money to save your credit makes sense. This question is heavily value-laden, which is why I answered it in terms of what I would do, which is not necessarily what someone else with different values might elect to do. Some, especially investors, could take the position that a borrower is morally obliged to make the payment if there is any possible way to do it. This is a defensible argument, but it assumes that the borrower’s only duty is to the investor. The borrower in question has a family to consider as well. The issue of a borrower’s obligation to continue making payments out of savings after their income-generating capacity has been impaired arises in connection with the government’s Home Affordability Modification Program. See another letter from a reader: “I have applied to have my loan modified, and am in process of filling out the financial questionnaire that my servicer sent me. It asks for the amounts in my bank accounts. Although my income has dropped, I have enough money in the bank to cover the mortgage payment for three years. Should I take it out, and where should I put it?” To be eligible to have your payment reduced under this program, you must document not only that your income is insufficient to meet the payment but also that you do not have “sufficient liquid assets” to make the payment. I have scrutinized the specs for this program issued by Treasury, and could not find a definition of either “sufficient” or “liquid assets.” It is a thorny...

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Banks Get Picky in Doling Out Credit Cards

When Edward Miller recently applied for a Charles Schwab Corp. credit card, a company representative asked him to fax in copies of his bank-account statements to verify his net worth. It was “a bit of a hassle,” says the 64-year-old retired economics and finance professor from Bethesda, Md. He complied and was eventually approved for the card with a $5,000 limit. After years of mailing cards out to just about anybody, banks are suddenly freezing out all but the most creditworthy customers. Those who do get cards have to jump through more hoops, such as sending in copies of their pay stubs. And they’re being hit with higher rates and fees. Banks always tighten credit standards in an economic slowdown. But the recently passed Credit Card Act of 2009 is forcing the industry to rewrite the play book it has used for years. The new legislation aims to limit fluctuating interest rates, ban some controversial practices and arm consumers with more information on their debts. Banks have until February 2010 to comply with the act’s key provisions, although some parts of the law have earlier deadlines. Beginning in August, for example, issuers have to mail bills at least 21 days before the due date and provide at least 45 days’ notice before changing any significant terms on a card. The result: Many banks are tightening things up now before many of the restrictions go into effect. For consumers, the tougher underwriting standards by banks may seem like a pendulum shift back to an earlier era when credit cards sported annual fees and double-digit interest rates. In recent years, issuers cast as wide a net as possible by offering credit to millions of customers, knowing they could always raise rates on those who turned out to be bad bets. That pricing flexibility helped firms rapidly expand their operations, as those with less-than-stellar credit many of whom carried a balance or paid late fees and penalty rates generated millions of dollars in revenue. Now, the industry is scrambling to figure out who its new profitable customer is. “Without the ability to reprice customers, raise fees or rates, the old profitability calculation won’t apply,” says Alan Mattei, managing director at Novantas LLC, a bank consulting firm. In recent months, banks including Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., have raised interest rates and fees, switched customers with fixed rates to variable ones, and dropped credit lines and closed accounts. Credit Suisse Group’s Moshe Orenbuch expects credit-card balances could shrink by 10% to 15% through 2012 as banks drop their teaser-rate offers and cut back on offering credit...

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The Rich Dad Real Estate Summit 2009

The Rich Dad Real Estate Summit 2009   How to find and analyze great investment opportunities in this economic climate. Great investments are made when you buy…not sell. This is the time to be buying. To achieve success in real estate you have to know how to find great investments, analyze, finance, and manage property. That kind of knowledge isn’t inherent – it has to be learned. Develop your inner real estate genius at the Rich Dad Annual Real Estate Summit. Regardless of whether you are an expert or just beginning in real estate, this event is for you. This event is exclusively designed for investors looking for long-term, positive cash flow.   [carousel keywords="rich dad cashflow"] Share and...

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Earn More Desire Less

Earn more and desire less. These are the words that have utmost importance when you want to achieve financial freedom. No matter how small your income is, if you desire less, definitely you will spend less and you can consider yourself to be “wealthy”. I believe our lifestyle determines whether we will be wealthy and financially free. There are a lot of persons out there who earns a lot but still because of their high lifestyle, however how huge their income is, all are spent and nothing is put into savings. I always say to some people whom I know that despite their huge earnings, they cannot save to remember the saying in Filipino: “Ubos ubos biyaya, bukas ay nakatunganga”. You might be lucky earning that huge income now but how sure you are that you will continuously receive it for the rest of your life? Life is full of uncertainties. Therefore, you must take advantage of that huge earnings. There are very few people who might be rich forever. There are few Paris Hilton, Tiger Woods, Ayala Zobel, Henry Sy, etc. I remembered during the financial planning seminar I conducted in our office, there was one person who asked me: “How can I save if there are a lot of bills to pay and other expenses and my income is not enough to support these? I just answered the four words – EARN MORE and DESIRE LESS. Earn more from its very essence means to have another source of income. You may take a second job, take a part-time job, or transfer to a job with a higher pay. But the great secret of the rich according to Robert Kiyosaki is not to earn more from active income but to earn more from passive income. For those of you who are new to these words, active income is you work for money and passive income is your money working for you. I wrote an article about active vs. passive income. But shifting from active income to passive income requires hard work. There is no other way to go to passive income directly except if you are born rich or inherited wealth. So for most of us, we need to educate ourselves about financial intelligence especially the cash flow patterns of the poor, middle class and rich persons. Remember that for the poor and middle class, they always buy liabilities that they think are assets so all their income eventually goes to expenses while the rich only buy assets that will provide them enough passive income in the future. It’s always us who are making our own destiny. So...

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Trust Your Gut

~ Kim Kiyosaki As my mind ran through all the mistakes I’ve made over the years, two thoughts came into my head. First, I don’t consider a mistake something bad or something I wish I hadn’t done. A mistake, to me, is simply an action I took that did not have the outcome I intended. Every mistake I make teaches me something I didn’t know. Human beings are designed to learn from mistakes. The more mistakes I make, the smarter I become. So even when I lose money on an investment, that loss tells me there’s something I need to learn. People who avoid making mistakes stay stuck, even trapped, by what they know. They rarely venture into untested waters and don’t learn anything new. Second, I found that my mistakes–where the actual results didn’t match my intended results–fell into two main categories: 1. when I lost money or 2. when I lost a good deal. These cases all had something in common. The mistake was not losing the money or losing the deal. That was the result. What was more important was what caused the result. That’s where the real mistake–plus the lesson–lies. It turns out that every memorable and costly faux pas I made was the result of the same simple but powerful failing: My biggest investment mistakes occurred at times when . . . I did not trust my gut. It was those times when I doubted myself: when something sounded so good it had to be true (that’s also known as greed) or when I allowed the so-called experts to talk me out of it. Not trusting your gut, also known as not following your intuition, can last just a moment. It’s when you see or feel something, as subtle as it might be, and you ignore it. “No, I must have heard him wrong.” “I’m sure this case is the exception.” “But all my friends have invested in this. They must know something.” My “mistakes” occurred when I didn’t listen to the warning signals going off, and that’s when I got into trouble. It may be as simple as a gut feeling that says, “Sell those ABC stock shares now.” Then the broker talks you out of it . . . and the shares go downhill. I’ve done that one. Or when I knew, from one snapshot moment, that I should walk away from a deal because my gut was screaming “No, no, no!” I went through with it because the returns being reported were better than anything I had seen–and I wanted those returns. Here’s the story that goes along with that scenario:...

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Understanding Money

The Australian Government provides a money-management site that is useful to people around the world. Understanding Money encourages readers to adopt a three-point approach to their finances: Prepare a budget plan – work out how much you earn and what you spend it on, to help you see where you could make changes. Set some financial goals – they don’t have to be big, but they’ll help you see what you could gain by being better with your money. Get into the savings habit – once you’ve set some goals, try to save regularly and as much as you can to meet your goals. Understanding Money includes a free, downloadable budget planner in Excel format; a financial health check with links to financial literacy resources; and a free, downloadable money handbook in PDF format. Though some of the details (such as the types of retirement programs) are Australia-specific, the concepts are applicable to anyone, anywhere. View post:Understanding Money Share and...

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