Improving Financial Skills Through Literacy

Financial management has been defined as understanding the financial consequences of your actions and ensuring you only do those things that enhance profitability. However, I would add financial failure to that definition, as it’s an important part of the industry and my work as a merchant banker.

In short, you can’t expect all of your investment to result in significant returns. So you need to condition yourself to deal with the failures and continue your work with the same passion you had prior to the disappointing outcome. That’s what makes a successful merchant banker.

But let’s take a step back. It’s been said that 90% of business failures around the world are due to financial mismanagement. Not poor marketing, not labour problems but plain old bad management. So how do we resolve this problem? We need to focus on financial literacy, one of the world’s biggest challenges.

Although there are many worthwhile financial literacy initiatives happening today all over the world, too many of us don’t have a basic understanding of things like budgets, inflation and rates of return. Although it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to possess sophisticated financial knowledge, it is broadly agreed that some financial knowledge is necessary to make important life decisions related to money.

Building personal financial capabilities early in life can give people the foundation for financial well-being in the future. Schools are an important channel to provide the education that can improve financial literacy. Studies in the U.S. have shown that financial education, when done properly, leads to an improvement in financial behaviour.

But there’s a long way to go. According to a survey of 13 million U.S. high school students, only one in six received mandatory financial education. And only 17 states require personal financial content to be included in educational standards.

Of course, people want to make good financial decisions that set them up for success but most haven’t had the opportunity to learn. For instance, a significant number of American adults can’t pass a basic financial literacy test with three questions on stocks, interest rates and inflation. Here’s an example:

Suppose you had $100 in a savings account and the interest rate was 2% per year. After five years, how much do you think you would have in the account if you left the money to grow?

  • More than $102
  • Exactly $102
  • Less than $102

Although 43% earned scores of three, meaning they correctly answered all the questions and another 36% received scores of two, 21% got only one or zero questions right. Across all households, the average score was 2.2. Considering that the questions are relatively simple, those scores aren’t good enough and show why financial literacy needs to improve, and not only in the United States. The correct answer in the sample question, by the way, is more than $102.

Financial literacy can be a hard sell for educators, many of whom don’t see the importance of adding it to the curriculum. But it’s a skill all of us need to succeed in life. If you teach a child about financial literacy, odds are he won’t come back to live in your basement after college.

Healthy Eating on the Keto Diet

After hearing all the buzz, seeing all of the before and after photos, the rave reviews, and the temptingly delicious recipes, you finally decided to start the popular Keto Diet. You eat all of the right ‘Keto friendly’ foods and you reduce your carbohydrate intake but as you stand on that scale, you find yourself getting more and more disappointed. It’s been two weeks, four weeks, six weeks on the diet and … nothing. At this point, you may have given up and decided that this diet just isn’t working for you and isn’t helping you lose the weight. Although, it may be time for a little reality check. It isn’t the Keto Diet, it’s you.

Board-certified physician of internal medicine, Dr. Limansky says that the diet is about more than food, “It’s a lifestyle.” Dr. Limansky is also the co-founder of a company called BiohackMD, a platform created for the sole purpose of teaching others about the diet and how to do it well. He says, “There is so much that goes into the diet that in order to maximize it’s “hack” and get the benefit, all factors must be taken care of.”

What Is the Keto Diet?

The Keto diet is just that, a diet. It is different from most diets out there because it is a sustainable practice that encourages eating real, whole foods. When it comes to the Keto diet, it really isn’t about not eating; it’s about eating the right foods. And what many people don’t realize is that it takes a holistic, 360 approach to do so. If you take the supplement, for example, but are not eating properly, the diet won’t work and the weight that you wish to target will simply not be lost.

The Process of Ketosis

The purpose of the diet is to burn fat using the process of ketosis. ketosis is a state in which the body lacks a store of glucose to burn for energy, leading the body to burn fat instead. This leads to a buildup of acids called ketones, hence the Ketogenic diet. What this ultimately does is it “hacks” the body into burning fat and losing weight. Although, the only way for ketones to work is if there is mostly fat available in the stomach. If you are consuming too many carbohydrate-rich food products, the body will be unable to achieve this state of Ketosis and if the body is not in ketosis, the fat will not be burned. It’s really that simple. So, the next time that you give the Keto diet a try; you should keep this one mantra in mind, “high fat, high fat, and high fat.”

What Should I Be Eating, Anyways?

Even if you have tried the diet before, you still may be wondering what the heck to eat.

Along with a low carb diet (not eating more than 50 gram per day), a moderate amount of protein is necessary to the Keto diet. Protein is especially important for a healthy body as it gives you strength, keeps you full longer, and supports the proper functioning of your cells. Unfortunately, however, too much protein can halt the process of ketosis, turning amino acids into blood sugar and keeping you from burning fat. What you want to do is eat just the right amount of protein. That’s 60-120 grams of protein per day, depending on your weight.

Just Say No to Processed Foods

Now that you know which ratio is conducive to successful Ketosis, there is one big word that you should cross off your grocery list. That word is “processed.” Any food that is processed does a lot more damage to your body than you would think. In order to give processed foods a longer shelf life, food companies will pour chemicals and additives into their products. Not only is this unnatural and unhealthy to the body but it also keeps you from entering the state of ketosis.

Luckily there is an easy way to avoid processed foods, and that’s by focusing on eating real, simple foods. Your grocery list should mostly consist of low carb vegetables. Although, it’s important to note that potatoes, yams, and beets are incredibly high in carbohydrates. In fact, in just one potato, there are over 30 grams of carbohydrates. Your go-to vegetables should instead include broccoli, spinach, zucchini or cabbage. Avocados are the miracle vegetable of the Ketogenic diet. Avocados are naturally low in carbs, high in fat and packed with a variety of essential vitamins and minerals including Vitamin K, B-6, folate, potassium, and more. Other healthy options include eggs, meat and fish to fill you up and energize your day.

The Keto diet is a lifestyle and like any lifestyle choice, it requires a conscious effort towards your goals. That means putting in the work to sustain the diet and to keep the weight loss going. The Ketogenic diet is really what you make of it and with a holistic approach; you will find a major transformation.

Advice for Getting Your Money Organized

Do you have trouble organizing your money? If you’re like most people, then it’s not something that you enjoy. It feels like it takes a lot of effort to find out where all of your money is, where all of your income is coming from, and where all of your expenses are going to. You know that you have cash and credit and debt, but you don’t necessarily understand how they are all related, and you consistently feel like your bills are getting out of control. If this sounds like you, it’s time to take some necessary steps to put yourself on a more efficient financial pathway.

Think of three pieces of advice if you want to improve your situation. First of all, don’t hesitate to use a tax service. Use accountants and lawyers to your advantage. Secondly, digitally organize your budget. Install budgeting software. Keep digital copies of your receipts. Do everything that you can sew all of your transactions or monitored electronically, and you’ll find that everything starts to make more sense. And lastly, if you want to organize your money, figure out how to save as much as you can. If you put as much money every month in your savings account, that means that you’re not spending that money on other disorganized activities elsewhere.

Use a Tax Service

The most professional way to organize your finances is to use tax services. Maybe you talk to a consultant. Perhaps you speak to a financial lawyer. Perhaps you open up a line of discussion with an accountant of some sort. The point is to trust the professionals who have advanced knowledge of money, taxes, and accounting. If you try to figure out this realm on your own, your disorganization will only increase exponentially.

Digitally Organize Your Budget

Another smart step to get organized is to digitally collect all of the pieces of your budget in one place. In other words, install a budgeting application on your phone or your desktop, and fill in all of the necessary information. Once you start linking your credit cards, your debts, your loans, and your bank accounts all in one place, you will find that you can neatly label your activities, giving you a much better idea of what your overall economic situation is.

Save as Much as You Can

One way to stay organized is to have the fewest possible transactions overall. In a real sense, this means that you should spend less money on random purchases, and instead put that money instead into a single entity of savings. When you open a savings account, it helps you figure out how much money you have for emergencies, major purchases, or just as a sense of financial consistency. By saving money, your organizing your thoughts in a specific manner. You will find that the more money you save, the less you feel disorganized and scattered about all the other purchases that you are making.

3 Tips For Starting A Garden As A Way To Save On Your Grocery Bill

If you’re wanting to become more self-reliant and save money on your grocery bill each month, starting your own garden at home is a great way to accomplish both of these goals. However, if you have little to no experience with gardening, starting your own garden can seem like a very intimidating task, and one that might cost you more time and money than you’re willing to shell out. So to help you feel confident in your gardening abilities and increase the chances of your garden flourishing, here are three tips for starting your own garden.

Only Plant What You’ll Eat

Before you start making some real steps toward preparing your land for your garden, you should first determine what plants you want to grow in the first place. Depending on where you live, certain plants might have an easier time growing than others. But regardless of this fact, Laurie Neverman, a contributor to CommonSenseHome.com, advises that you only plant foods that you’ll actually eat. There’s no use in planting a whole row of zucchini or cabbage if no one in your family likes eating those veggies. If you plant food that you won’t eat, either because they’re just easier to plant or you think you might be able to give that food away to someone else, you won’t actually be saving yourself any money and you might just be wasting a whole lot of food in the process.

Find The Best Spot And Clear The Land

Once you’ve decided what fruits or vegetables you’re going to try to grow in your garden, you now have to prepare the ground for them. As a part of this, it’s important that you pick the right place on your property to put your garden. According to the editors of Better Homes and Gardens, you’ll want to choose an area that gets quite a bit of sunlight and will be close enough to your home that you won’t easily forget about it. After you’ve found the right spot, you’ll need to physically prepare the earth by removing grass—which can be done inexpensively through laying down newspaper in layers—and then tilling up the area—either with a tractor or by hand.

Invest In The Right Tools

To really get your garden ready and to properly care for it while your plants are growing, you’ll need to have the right tools to help you get the job done. According to Marie Iannotti, a contributor to The Spruce, some of the best and most basic tools you’ll want to have on-hand while gardening include gloves, pruners, and a hand shovel. With these three inexpensive items, you can get most of your beginning gardening done with relatively little financial investment.

If you’re wanting to start your own garden as a way to save money and eat better, consider using the tips mentioned above to help you learn how you can do just that.

3 Tips For Finding The Best Car Loan Offer

While it’d be great if you could buy a new car without having to take out a car loan, this just isn’t a reality for most people. But if you do it right, you can secure a car loan that will work for you in both your monthly payments as well as help you to save money over time. So to help ensure that you make a wise financial choice the next time you buy a new car, here are three tips for finding the best car loan offer available to you.

Improve Your Credit Before Applying

Before you start applying for a car loan, you should spend some time building up your credit score. The lower your credit score is, the worse your car loan offers will be. The interest rates will be higher, you won’t be able to get approved for as much money on your loan, and you might have to go with less reputable lenders. To help you in improving your credit, NerdWallet.com recommends that you focus on being consistent with all your payments on your current lines of credit. If you can pay down your current debt ratio, that could drastically improve your credit score as well, giving you a much-needed boost right before you begin applying for car loans.

Heavily Weigh The Length Of The Loan

Once you’ve found some options for your car loan, it’s important to know how to weigh the variables in order to uncover which loan is actually going to work out the best for you. When looking at a loan offer, Jon Linkov, a contributor to Consumer Reports, recommends that you heavily weight the length of time that you’ll be paying on the loan. While a longer loan might be lower monthly payments, a shorter loan will often have you paying less money in the end. Additionally, a shorter loan will allow you to avoid being underwater on your loan for an extended period of time. So if you’re able, try to get a loan with a shorter repayment period to save you money long-term.

Look For Low Interest Rates Along With Added Benefits

Ideally, you should try to get the lowest interest rate possible when looking for a car loan. By doing this, you’ll be paying less in interest throughout the life of your loan, which can save you thousands of dollars over time. But not only should you be looking at interest rates, according to Mackenzie Maxwell, a contributor to The Balance, you should also consider other benefits that your lender might offer in addition to low rates. Especially if you’re getting the same low rate from two different lenders, start looking more into the details of the loan or the financial institution itself to learn which one is actually the best option for you.

If you’re wanting to buy a new car soon, consider using the tips mentioned above to help you find the best car loan option for you.

3 Tips To Help You Create A Realistic Budget

For most people, their financial health depends on having some type of budget. Even if you’re not living paycheck to paycheck, having a budget can help you ensure that you’re not overspending in areas that aren’t necessary and that you’re saving or investing appropriately. But when you are having a hard time paying your bills each month or you find yourself getting easily into a lot of debt, having a budget can help immensely. So to help ensure that you’re not over-budgeting yourself to the point where you can’t stick with it, here are three tips for creating a realistic budget.

Know How Much Money You’re Actually Bringing In Each Month

Before you can start figuring out anything else within your budget, you first have to know exactly what your income is. Until you know how much money you’re actually putting into your account each month—not the salary you’re told you’re making—you won’t be able to create a realistic budget. According to Trent Hamm, a contributor to The Simple Dollar, just because you think you’re making $50,000 a year doesn’t mean you’re taking home all that money. You need to account for things like taxes and other benefits that you might be paying for before you see the total amount you’re actually putting in your pocket. Make sure you’re using this number to base your budget off of, not just what you think you’re making or should be making.

Take The Time To Track Your Spending

In order to know where your money is going each month and if you’re comfortable with spending that amount, you have to know what your current spending habits are. To help you learn this information, Paula Pant, a contributor to The Balance, advises that you spend at least two to four weeks tracking your spending. This means that you track where every cent that you’re shelling out is going. At the end of your tracking period, you can then see patterns in your spending that will help you craft a budget that will be helpful to your financial goals while also being liveable for you.

Adjust Your Budget Each Month

While it would be great if you could create a budget one time and then have that work for you each month for the rest of your life, your finance simply won’t always be consistent. Because of this, Rachel Cruze, a contributor to DaveRamsey.com, recommends that you adjust your budget each month. For some people, the money they’re making will vary from month-to-month, making it necessary to adjust your budget accordingly. And for most people, there will be months where your budget will need to change, like around Christmas or when you get an unexpected bill. By looking at your budget each month, you can account for all of these variables.

If you’re wanting to save for a big purchase, avoid bankruptcy, or just get your spending under control, consider using the tips mentioned above to help you learn how to create a realistic budget.

Deciding Whether Cosmetic Surgery Is Worth It

One thing about cosmetic surgery is that it is often a very personal decision. So people will always ask if cosmetic surgery is worth it. The thing is, every individual will have a different answer that means a different thing in a different context. You have to treat each decision within its own parameters.

Think of the different kinds of cosmetic surgery that people go through. Women will choose to have breast implants. People will decide they want to get a lip injection to alter the look of their mouth. Often as people age, they choose to get cosmetic surgery to lift their face. Through all of this, people have to self identify the value of what they believe themselves to look like. It is a very complicated matter, which is why it’s crucial never to judge anyone else’s decisions.

Breast Implants

One of the most significant self-image issues that women have relates to the size of their breasts. Commercial TV will tell women that their breasts are too small, too big, or the wrong shape and size. Because of this, women will often make a choice at some point to get breast implants to fix, shape, or adjust the size of their chest. When choosing to get breast implants, it’s important to consider the pros and the cons. There are financial considerations, and there are long-term health concerns because different types of breast implants have different amounts of permanence associated with them.

Lip Injections

A minor type of cosmetic surgery that is possible is to get a lip injection. Especially for people who rely on their appearance for professional reasons, getting lip injections may seem like an ideal solution to look better on camera or on film. When you do a cost and benefit analysis, you’ll have a better idea of the logic behind your decision. Lip injections are typically a low-risk operation, which means you can be a little more experimental with your decision-making.

Facelifts

As people age, the skin on their face will naturally fall. The skin below your chin will start to sag. The skin around your eyes will begin to form bags. It is a natural result of gravity and aging. So, if this process makes you feel old or it makes you feel undesirable, it might be time to consider a facelift. There are a large variety of operations that you can choose from when it comes to getting a facelift, but none of them are cheap, especially if you want good work done by a reputable doctor.

The Value of Self-Image

Any decision in the realm of cosmetic surgery will necessarily coincide with your self-image. If you feel confident about how you look, you’re much less likely to research cosmetic surgery as an option for yourself. But, if something about your appearance lowers the quality of your life and you can’t get past it, that’s when the value of adjusting your appearance will start to bring itself to the surface of your mind.

5 Ways To Find The Money To Pay Your Lawyer

There are numerous reasons why you might need a lawyer at some point in your life, and you probably already know that good legal representation isn’t cheap.  Free or court appointed representation doesn’t usually turn out the best.

There’s no question you’ll need to come up with a couple grand for a lawyer, should you ever find yourself in the position to need one.  Here are a few ideas for how you might go about wrangling up several thousand dollars for a competent lawyer.

Understand the different types of legal fees

There are several different types of charges you might encounter working with a lawyer.  Here is a quick description of a few key legal fees you should understand before entering a legal office.  

  • Hourly rate – This is the most common type of payment lawyers use.  Clients pay by the hour, and it can be quite expensive.
  • Flat fee – You will get a flat fee to pay when you need a lawyer for formulating your will.
  • Contingency fee – The legal fees will be paid out of the sum awarded to you from the case.
  • Retainer fee – A sum of money is placed in an account for your lawyer to use during the case.  When the case is resolved, the remaining funds go back to your account
  • Statutory fee – When the court sets a fee ahead of time.

Negotiate for a contingency fee

Sometimes you will have the right type of case to request a contingency payment for your legal representation.  If you suffer a personal injury from an accident, you will likely have a sum of money owed to you.  Your lawyer will simply take a portion of your winnings.

Contingency payments are a lifesaver when you don’t have the money to hire a lawyer.  Just make sure you’re getting a fair deal. The cost of representation wavers drastically, so do your research.  

Try raising money online for costs

You could try raising money for your legal fees by setting up a crowdfunding campaign.  Crowdfunding will allow you to plead your case to hundreds of different people at once. If you build a convincing crowdfunding campaign, you can have your legal fees paid in full.  

Take out a personal loan

You may not have good luck with the law, but you do have good credit.  You could consider going to the bank to inquire about getting a personal loan.  This way, you’ll just have a payment to pay each month.  The payments will also do your credit some justice, so you could turn a bad situation into a beneficial setup.  

Charge it to a credit card

You could consider using your credit card to pay for your legal fees, but you’ll have to have a high credit limit.  You may even need two different cards to cover the damage.

Main Financial Tips Millennials Have To Know

It is a common theme among millennials to feel overwhelmed when it comes to finances. Getting the most out of personal finances is not at all easy to do. Financial literacy is something that is not taught in most schools. It should be no surprise to notice that most millennials have no idea how to properly manage finances. When they get out of college, real life can be daunting.

Millennials are now at a point in time when major financial decisions are right around the corner. This includes long-term investment and home ownership. If you fall into this category, you need to remember the following financial tips that will do wonders in making you more financially sound.

Take An Online Financial Course

Is it time to work with Summit Gutter Systems Denver to get some work done or should you wait until you have more money available? Making such a decision is so much simpler when you know how to manage your finances. This is where an online financial course can do wonders. Some basic courses in accounting, economics and numerous other financial topics are going to help you much more than what you imagine right now.

Embrace Suitable Technology

There is surely an app out there that will make it a lot easier for you to manage your finances. Look for one that allows you to categorize spending habits so you have a full glimpse into what is happening with your money. Getting insights is vital to saving money every single month. It can also help you to see how much you can save when the month is over. If you do not want to use a smartphone app, at least use an online financial app.

Examine Bank Accounts

Most millennials pay numerous fees every single month and they have no idea what they are for. You can avoid most of them if you know how to. Start with your bank accounts. See if there are some fees that you pay. Minimum balance and maintenance fees should never actually be a fee that appears on account statements. You can consider free checking accounts, especially those offered by credit unions.

Build Credit And Credit Score

Many millennials only have a credit card or a student loan on the credit report. Even so, it is never too late to start building credit. Look if there is a special credit builder loan available at a credit union in order to jumpstart credit building. In the event that there are active loans in place, make monthly payments at the right time.

Really good credit history is going to be needed in the future, for when you make larger purchases, like renting an apartment, buying a car or getting a home mortgage.

Tactically Repay Debt

The last thing that should be remembered is that it is possible you have a credit card that has a high-interest rate. If this is the case, it is the very first debt you need to pay. Strategically manage your debt so that you can end up paying less and less every month while quickly reducing your overall debt.

4 Tips for Dealing With a Sudden Emergency Expense

4 Tips for Dealing With a Sudden Emergency Expense

If a sudden and unexpected expense appeared on your horizon, could your family cover it? The unfortunate truth is that most American households are incapable of facing an emergency without having to absorb some serious consequences.

Despite the fact that the median household income in the U.S. falls right around $61,372, an alarming 40 percent of adults say they don’t have enough money to cover an unexpected expense of $400. When you recognize that $400 expenses happen quite often — from a doctor’s visit to a vehicle breakdown — this isn’t a good position to be in.

Knowing how to handle an emergency in a deft manner could mean the difference between success and a major setback in your life.

Try These Four Tips

Life may be going great right now, but rough patches could be on the way. No household can dodge financial setbacks forever, so it’s vital for you to be prepared for them before they happen. Here are four helpful ways to go about this.

1. Build Up an Emergency Fund

Financial advisors recommend that every household maintain an emergency savings fund that equals roughly three to six months of expenses. Thus, if your monthly expenses are $4,000, this means you need to stow $12,000 to $24,000 in a savings account.

Obviously, many households aren’t able to put away thousands of dollars a month with ease, so this may take time. The crucial thing is to you start right away. A few hundred dollars per month will add up quickly. (Even having “only” $1,000 set aside will put you ahead of most people.)

The best way to build up an emergency fund is to create a budget and automate the savings. Meet with your employer’s HR department and ask them to route a percentage of your paycheck automatically to a separate savings account.

Even three to five percent is better than nothing. And once that money is safely stashed, don’t touch it until you experience a legitimate emergency.

2. Get Clear on the Definition of “Emergency”

Many people struggle with keeping their hands off their emergency fund … particularly once it grows to several thousands. But in order for your fund to perform its job as an insulation against the potholes of life, you have to practice discipline.

When friends suggest you join them on a vacation to the Bahamas, that doesn’t count as an emergency. Neither does a kitchen remodel or Christmas gifts for the kids.

An emergency is an expense that surfaces unannounced and that must be addressed in a swift manner to ensure the health, safety, or financial well-being of your family. Typical emergency expenses include a broken-down vehicle that prevents you from getting to work or running essential errands, a medical bill, a home repair bill to fix an essential system or component, or a funeral.

3. Obtain an Emergency Loan

If you don’t have enough money to cover an emergency expense, don’t simply ignore the bill. An alternative option is to apply for an emergency loan, which typically ranges from $500 to $5,000.

The beauty of emergency loans is that they usually involve a quick approval process and generous repayment terms in regular monthly installments. They also feature much better interest rates than credit cards and other debt instruments to which people too often avail themselves.

4. Be Proactive With Creditors

You certainly don’t want your emergency expense to force the rest of your personal finances into a tailspin. It’s crucial that you approach the matter proactively and avoid the temptation to tip-toe your way around it.

“If you know you will have trouble paying your bills because of your emergency, contact your creditors and service providers immediately,” personal finance expert Jason Cabler writes. “Many people have a tendency to put this off, which results in tons of late fees and nasty telephone calls from creditors.”

Focus on What Really Matters

By being financially prepared for an emergency before it strikes, you can spend less time worrying about how you’ll scrounge up money and more focused on the true issue at hand.

Now’s a perfect time to start building your emergency savings so you’ll be ready to handle whatever comes your way.