Blog about Personal Finances, Investments, Money Management and Financial Freedom

It’s time to change your attitude

The difference between success and financial failure of any person is in their attitude.

Everyone aspires to have a good financial situation, but although the rules are the same for all, only a few are able to achieve it. Most people, when they turn 65 years of age, live of the Government or their relatives, and even some must continue to work to meet their own needs or help their children financially. It is not luck or inherited capital; the financial health of a person does not depend on having accumulated many college degrees or having climbed multiple positions in a large company, earning a good salary and earning good remunerations. The difference between  financial success and failure is in the attitude. It’s your attitude that determines your financial success.

The fundamental reason why only a small percentage of the world population achieves financial independence (between 5% and 10%) is because most people do not possess the necessary attitude to put their finances in order, set financial goals , plan their budget, and even protect their current assets.

There is no point on knowing how to make money, if you do not know what to do with it beyond spend it or save it under the mattress to meet unforeseen expenses at home. It is true that formal education has not acknowledge the importance of financially educating people, but a change of attitude that drives you to set your goals and manage your personal finances is the first step to print a change in your life and achieve the welfare that you want.

This change of attitude should begin acknowledging how you perceive money, savings and investments, ask yourself what does money means is for you, is it the most important thing in your life, it is a necessity, or simply a vehicle to achieve your dreams? Once you have an answer to this question, evaluate what your goals, your priorities and the risks you are willing to assume are and how important it is for you to protect your assets.

And at this point, with all these answers in hand, you are wondering ask: What do I do to change  my attitude? Where do I begin? I won’t suggest that you go to a bookstore to buy books on the power of attitude in the world of finance; in return Instead I’ll ask something easier without a cost: think of the five people who have the greatest influence on you, your way of thinking and your decisions; if you don’t have them, find them, but they have to be experts in the world of business and finance. They will be your reference group. Learn from their experiences, adopt their advice, focus on their ideas, study them, visualize yourself in their role as free and influential people and start thinking like them.

I assure you that’s the best way to start changing your attitude towards life, to business, to money and to finance; but you must do it now; you do not have to wait for anything. You must start to change your attitude right now, without further delay.

Join in and learn to invest with common sense

Do not settle for learning just the basic fundamentals of investment. Strive to learn something new every day.

Have you ever wondered what’s the reason you have not yet invested in the stock market? There may be many answers: “It has never interested me”, “If I don’t have enough money for monthly expenses, less I have it to invest”, “I know a friend who invested all their savings and lost them”, “I don’t like the idea of investing because I’ll only see profits after many years”, “I don’t trust anyone with my money”, etc. The truth is that people don’t dare, and if they do, then they may be tempted to quickly withdraw the money they have invested because they think they will end up losing it or that it could be intended for something more useful.

The investment road can be long and tortuous, but the final results will be worth the effort. The “wood” that an investor is made of can only be shown after a few years; therefore, to learn the art of investment, we must understand the way of thinking of those who have persevered to achieve their goals, and they all focus on the long term and invest in companies managed by honest people, with transparent business models, comprehensible and of course, with attractive prices and favorable prospects. Successful investors such as Warren Buffett or Peter Lynch, do not use large formalisms to make their investments, nor deal with macroeconomic analysis or detailed technical reports. Do not settle for learning just the basic fundamentals of investment. Strive to learn something new every day; they have mastered the art of investment, but if you are just taking the first steps, you should consider some tips so you start off right and so your intent to travel the long road of investment will not remain only as an attempt.

If you are already convinced that to succeed in investments one must make decisions wisely, you will have to learn from the best, and for that you don’t need to travel to Tokyo or New York to attend expensive seminars; you can learn from them by reading books and articles written by people with weight in the world of finance; for example Benjamin Graham, author of a wonderful book entitled “The Intelligent Investor”, in which the foundations of something very interesting called Value Investing are explained; in this book you will understand the art of long-term investing maintaining a margin of safety. You can also use multiple forums, blogs and social networks, where besides of meeting new people with similar interests, you’ll find good investment ideas.

But one thing is to learn the basic fundamentals of investments, and quite another is to master the art of investment; this requires much more time and effort of constant learning. Combining theory and practice is essential for good results; therefore, allow yourself to make some mistakes; any error can and must become a learning experience and as one learns to walk without falling, you must be consistent and reject the idea of abandoning the path; remember that you’ve failed the moment in which you decide to give up. A good way to not fall into the temptation of giving up and to not get out of the road at the first difficulties is to establish specific targets at very short notice, for example, weekly analyze a company listed in the S&P 500 or the Dow Jones. You can also commit to do daily monitoring of fluctuations occurring in certain stock market, and try then to find the causes that might explain these variations in prices, if you prefer, you can set as weekly target reading a specialized newspaper in economics and finance or gather market information of interest to understand and exchange reviews with other people with knowledge in this field.

Reached this point you may have noticed you need the discipline to stay on track with your investments. Perhaps you’re thinking this is not for you, but keep in mind that every beginning is a challenge and you’ll get more and more excited as you go taking the first practical steps.

Dare to invest and do it with common sense.

Let’s talk about financial intelligence

Financial intelligence incorporates multiple dimensions and transcends the mastery of the concepts of finance.

Robert Kiyosaki says: “Financial intelligence refers not so much to how much money you earn, but how much money can you keep, how hard that money works for you and for how many generations it has been preserved.” Obviously, obtaining financial independence by  constructing a business system (quadrant D) or by investing (quadrant I) requires that we have a degree of intelligence applied to the world of finance.

But financial intelligence is not only essential for those who live on the right side of the Cash Flow Quadrant; it is also needed by those at the left side: those who are not comfortable in their role of employees (quadrant E) or who independently and on their own work long hours to ensure economic sustainability (quadrant A). With certain knowledge and enough willingness to break emotional attachments, these people can begin to design a system of self-generating money and thus cross the threshold of their respective quadrants.

Obviously, financial intelligence is not limited to the mastery of the concepts of finance, but also is associated with leadership, strategic thinking, personal marketing, communication, negotiation, conflict management, social skills and management of emotional heritage, and others.

A good way to identify to what extent you possess financial intelligence, is checking the following items:

  • Your income is greater than your expenses (you have capacity for saving).
  • You manage to find new forms of income (in several quadrants simultaneously).
  • You have identified your financial goals and you have designed your task list to achieve them.
  • You know how to optimize and earn higher returns on capital.
  • You feel you are on the right track to achieve your financial freedom.

The people possessing a meaningful financial intelligence always think big, and regardless of the circumstances surrounding them, continually design plans to enhance their assets and reduce their liabilities, thereby obtaining greater profitability and liquidity while they improve their quality of life.

If you want to have a financial culture that is your ally in the life project you’ve designed, you must start by understanding the functioning of money as well as the psychological aspects that drive people to use it in a certain way.

Understanding the concept of Net Cash Flow

The more widespread and positive your Net Cash Flow is, the greater the leeway to deal with unexpected expenses will be.

One of the most basic terms of personal finance is the one known as the Net Cash Flow, so much so that your personal or family financial situation can be easily diagnosed by a quick glance at it.

The Net Cash Flow describes the revenues and expenditures of cash during a determined period of time (for example, a month or a year). If you spend less than you earn, your cash flow will be positive and will increase your net worth; on the other hand, if your expenses are greater than your income, your cash flow will be negative and you will be wasting your net worth, which is not sustainable over time and requires that you take a prompt decision.

The more positive and larger your cash flow is, the greater the leeway you will have to deal with unforeseen contingencies, as well as it contributing to obtaining the financial independence you want. Your peace of mind, freedom and quality of life will improve substantially.

To increase your cash flow, you don’t necessarily have to earn more money; you can increase it by reducing the amount of your recurring expenses (for example, the monthly utility bills), or decreasing unnecessary expenses (for example, buying the latest mobile phone or buying a bigger TV). Another way (maybe the fastest) is to reduce your debts (like Credit Cards or the loan for the purchase of your car).

In any case, always remember that what you are looking for with your financial decisions is to improve your quality of life and to progressively get closer to your goals. Maintaining your Net Cash Flow under control will help you achieve it.

What you need to know about money and stress

It’s said that money is the root of all evil. Some popular sayings like: “more money, more problems”, or “blessed are the poor” invite us to think that on occasions, it’s preferable to not have money because it changes people and, in many cases, it’s the root of severe personal and family conflicts.

At the same time, when you have enough money, you feel that life is more bearable, less worrisome; what previously overwhelmed you, now you see from another perspective. Having  financial freedom makes you see the world with more light, you live carefree, you breathe air of safety and self-esteem, you can afford to buy a house, a nice car, enjoy holidays and of course pay religiously all monthly receipts and obligations which you have committed to.

Historically, money has always been stressful, but lately, the list of elements that generate tension and anxiety is being led by issues related to money, and with good reason. If we recognize how difficult it is to earn a living, it’s no wonder that we are so sensitive about the issue of money, and there are so many people that suffer day after day, building irreversible consequences for their physical and emotional health.

Pay attention to these facts about how money impacts stress levels

  1. The lower the income, the greater the propensity to stress. The American Psychological Association (APA) has shown that in recent years, people with lower income are more likely to suffer from stress. This contrasts with a study in 2007, in which a significant correlation between income and stress levels experienced by people who participated in the study was not found.
  2. Feeling the inability to pay for health care can really make you sick. Money problems cause stress that can lead to health complications for two basic reasons: firstly, you become ill due to stress; but at the same time, you neglect your health because you are too focused on money problems and also because you’re convinced that you do not have enough slack to allocate some of that money to health care, or you feel you must save the little money you have to meet mandatory and extremely necessary expenses. Under these conditions, health rapidly deteriorates, increasing vulnerability to serious events such as strokes or heart attacks. Moreover, the loss of health, the burdens and concerns, significantly influence the responsiveness to overcome the crisis; you cannot think straight, much less evaluate opportunities and choices you have to take to make smart decisions based on your personal circumstances and family. This generates more stress and a tendency to eat in an unhealthy way, to overeat and to have irregular sleep patterns. As you can see you get into a vicious circle that is difficult to escape
  3. You will never be able to buy with money one of the best antidotes for stress. In most cases, emotional support from family and friends is the only truly effective way to reduce stress and combat its effects. The simple fact of having the support of people who may help you in your worst moments, increases your tolerance to uncertainty and dramatically reduces stress levels. A survey by the APA in 2014, concluded that 43% of people who reported not having emotional support, increased their level of stress in the last year, compared with 26% of those who acknowledged such support.

You may have noticed the importance of preventing stress from taking root in your life, and even more money-related issues. To prevent this, the American Psychological Association makes a set of recommendations which are briefly summarized as follows:

1) Do not panic or fall into negativity; on the contrary, you should remain calm and focus your mind on the solution.

2) Identify factors that really cause financial stress. This is a must to develop specific action plans to overcome each of these factors.

3) Assess the way you are handling money related stress (smoking, alcoholism, depression, abuse, violence, etc.) and establish the necessary corrective measures before the conflict becomes more difficult to resolve.

4) Avoid the routine and find new ways to help turn bad times into real opportunities for personal growth.

5) Ultimately, if none of these recommendations take effect and you’re still overwhelmed by your financial worries, it will be very useful and convenient to seek professional support.

In search of financial freedom

Always try to get the money you need doing what you really love

When you have the ability to satisfy all your financial needs, without relying on anyone nor doing something that you do not like, you may say that you enjoy an economic wellbeing and that you have financial freedom.

The opposite of financial freedom is the financial dependence, this is when people are dependent on others to provide them the money they need to cover the expenses for their needs and support their lives.