Robert Kiyosaki Blog

Financial Education Portal inspired by Robert Kiyosaki

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8 Ways To Help Family Members In Financial Trouble

What do you do when a family member becomes unemployed? Or suffers an unexpected injury and can’t work or has insufficient insurance to cover mounting medical bills? How do you respond when you learn a loved one can’t pay their bills? Let’s take a look at a few options you can consider to help your family members in trouble – without hurting yourself financially. 1. Give a cash gift. If your loved one is having a short-term cash flow problem, you may want to give an outright financial gift. Decide how much you can afford to give, without putting yourself in financial jeopardy, and then either give the maximum amount you can afford all at once (and let your loved one know that’s the case) or perhaps give smaller gifts on a periodic or regular basis until the situation is resolved. Make sure it’s clearly understood that the money is a gift, not a loan to be repaid, so you don’t create an awkward situation for the gift recipient. If you’re considering giving them a substantial sum of money, you’ll need to keep an eye on the annual gift exclusion set each year by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 2. Make a personal loan. Your family member may approach you and ask for a short-term loan. Talk frankly, clearly write out the terms of the loan on paper, and have both parties sign it. This helps both parties be clear on the financial arrangement they’re entering into. Some loan details you’ll want to include are: the amount of the loan whether the loan will be one lump-sum payment, or if it will be divided and paid out in installments upon meeting certain conditions (i.e. securing another job, paying down existing debt, etc.) the interest rate you will charge for making the loan and how it will be calculated (i.e. compound or simple interest) payment due dates (including the date of full repayment or final installment due) a recourse if he or she doesn’t make loan payments on time or in full (i.e. increasing interest charges, ceasing any further loan payments, taking legal action, etc.) If you are going to lend more than $10,000 and/or you’re going to charge an interest rate that is substantially different than the going rate for most borrowers, you may want to talk to a tax professional. There can be unique tax implications for low interest loans among family members. If you’re worried about potentially straining your relationship by having to administer the loan (i.e. collect payments or call when the payment is late), consider using a service, such as Prosper.com or VirginMoney.com. These companies can draw...

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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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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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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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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...

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Making Money is not evil

It’s a quote from a book I just finish reading : Cashflow Quadrant: Rich Dad Poor Dad. It’s an interesting read – I know I’ve read it twice and the reason why I bring up this topic “Making Money” is because of the economy. Really – I look at my kids and I wonder … have I wasted my life. Have I been so busy in the pursuit of my own happiness that I can’t offer more for my children because I thought wanting to make more money was “evil”… or maybe because I was scared or too lazy to try? This kind of book – how to make money or the mentality behind it really makes you think. Yes I know – I’m not trying to make it rich or even become rich over night. But I do have that urge to do more, make a little extra so my kids can have it easy. If anything – learn a couple of money managing or wealth building skills I could teach my kids so they don’t end up like dear old dad – a slave to a job – always wondering if this recession or hard time will destroy all my dreams [ if I have any ]. What parent doesn’t want the best for their kids and who doesn’t dream of “making money effortlessly” … I mean seriously! It’s not like it can’t be done – People today are making money sitting at home. You have people who make six figure incomes because they came up with some lame application for the iphone that millions just had to buy. The other reason I bring up the “money and how to make it” plus the mentality behind how you think and spend your money – is because of my loving wife. We are on opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to money. I am more of a saver thinking of tomorrow and she is more of a “lets have fun today before we die tomorrow” kind of person. Which really makes it difficult when it comes to money and our finances. I’m trying to get my daughter to read – Rich Dad Poor Dad , by Robert T. Kiyosaki… Not because I want her to be money hungry but rather I want her to think differently when it comes to money. In today’s economic crisis – millions of people are learning that having a job is not having security. We are all learning that depending on the government truly is more riskier than playing the stock market. Wanting Better for your Kids Financially Really is it...

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3 Free Financial-Planning Tools

These new interactive Web sites give you advice — some better than others — to help you reach goals. Online financial-planning tools are getting more personal. Plenty of Web sites crank out cookie-cutter plans, but three recent entrants give users more detailed advice. Voyant, SimpliFi and ESPlannerBasic provide something more than a quick-and-dirty look at your financial state of affairs — for free. These three sites cannot replace the personalized service of a financial planner, but they are helpful to most investors. You can use them to get a general idea of your finances and benchmark your progress without shelling out thousands of dollars for a session with an adviser. Those who use an adviser can treat the sites as a way to double-check their adviser’s plans. Voyant Pros: Voyant is the best of the bunch. Its slick interface lets you map your financial goals, such as buying a home or saving for your kids’ college, along an interactive timeline. It takes less than five minutes to enter the information needed to create a graphic display of your expected income and retirement savings. You can test what-if scenarios quickly without entering much new information. For example, you can easily adjust the growth-rate assumptions of your investment portfolio with a sliding bar on the right side of the planning tool. Most calculators make you plug in a different rate each time you want to test a new scenario. Voyant also supplies a menu of events, such as starting a business or having a child, to see how those decisions will affect your finances. Cons: But some of Voyant’s premade options are a little too cute. For instance, you click on an icon of a sports car to “plan” a midlife crisis. (If you could prepare for such a scenario, it wouldn’t be a crisis.) No Web site would be complete nowadays without an attempt at social networking — in this case, a feeble one. Voyant lets you communicate with other users on the site’s forums. A button on the tool lets you contact financial advisers who use Voyant’s planning software. (The site is still struggling to sign up advisers. When I pushed the button, I was told “financial professionals” in my area — Washington D.C. — were not available for an online chat.) Simplifi Pros: As the name suggests, SimpliFi is not complicated. The site does a decent job at the broad strokes of financial planning. Spend a couple of minutes entering your data and you get a snapshot of how your goals match up with your savings and investments. An animated guide named Sophie grades your financial well-being from...

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Ask the Dolans: Tips for unemployed seniors

According to the Labor Department, the June unemployment rate for those 55 and older hit 7%–the highest on record. That’s bad news for seniors who are out of work or being forced to re-enter the work force to make ends meet. The Dolans have some job hunting tips for the 55+ crowd, including good news about some advantages you may have over the younger competition. Dear Ken and Daria: Thanks to the investment losses I’ve suffered, I have to come out of retirement and go back to work. Do you have some job hunting tips for seniors? –Maureen See the original post: Ask the Dolans: Tips for unemployed...

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