Posts Tagged ‘investing’

How to Find Solid Interest Rates for Savings

Been to a bank lately? If you’re a saver, there’s not much for you to smile about.RocketSavings

It’s frustrating, isn’t it? You work hard to save money, and then there’s nothing to do with it. While interest rates have been supposedly on a rising path, a quick look at comparison sites shows that there’s not much out there paying more than one percent.

Let’s look at some potential ways to earn better rates on your money and examine the pros and cons of the various options, so you can approach your choices with a critical eye.

Money Markets:

What worries me: you aren’t beating inflation. I’ve heard arguments that inflation may be nonexistent but look at how much you’re spending on your craft…supplies…classes… Have those prices risen? I’ll bet they have.

Why I like it: Currently, money markets pay between a tenth of a percent and just over one percent. That’s certainly better than a savings account! (more…)

Finding “Your Forever Pace” With Money

A good friend just finished his first marathon in Chicago. I’ve always envied people who accomplish big goals like a marathon. It takes so much time to train, and there’s no monetary payout… AND you know it’s going to require lots of effort and will be incredibly painful.

As a friend (and a student of asking “why” about everything), I had to ask, “What was your secret to success?”

He said, “I just had to remember that it was going to be exciting at the beginning of the race, then the hurt would come, and then I’d find my forever pace. After that, I needed to just keep it up until mile 20, and then gut it out the final six miles.”

Easy, huh? It sounds good, but we know that the key is in every moment of that plan… still, there was one phrase I didn’t understand.

“Forever pace?” I asked. “What’s that?”

He smiled and told me that after a few miles your body settles into a pace that you feel like you can run forever, without thinking. It’s an automatic pace, hopefully fairly fast, but ultimately one you can run for miles and miles.

I like that idea… between that and “gut it out,” the creative person in me can see plenty of connections.

When I’m working on an acting or writing project, I find my “forever pace” after awhile. Skill and training takes over. That gets me through until I’m applying the final touches, when really, in many ways, I have to “gut it out” and finish.

…but what does this have to do with money?

Because we want to focus as much as possible on our artistic careers, it’s important to find our “forever pace” with money. We need our financial plan to work for us in the background, so that we’re not constantly being distracted by financial worry. (more…)

A Beginner’s Guide To Buying Stocks

A Beginner’s Guide To Buying StocksStockMarketPencils

So you’ve decided that your craft isn’t exciting enough on its own and you want to buy individual stocks? Today I’ll help you with that. While we don’t give investment advice on this blog, I can help you open up your account and learn a little bit about research. We’ll also cover some of the big mistakes new investors make so that you’ll be well on your way to buying your first shares.

Choosing an Account

To buy a stock, you’ll need an account to hold your stocks, called “shares.” Just like there are many definitions of “great art”, there are many “best” ways to open up an account for your shares. What makes a good holding tank? It depends on your goals. (more…)

The #1 Hack to Help You Spend Less Money

I’ll admit it…as someone who tries to be creative, I often find myself looking for the most extravagant way to handle any money management issue. Then I can hear the voice of my mother in my ear:

The simplest solutions are often the most effective.

Isn’t that true? I can’t believe that the secrets to managing money are often the ones right in front of me… while I’m busy creating chaos and complexity.

I’ll share my hack for spending less money in a moment, but overall, it’s amazing just how many areas of our financial lives are managed by the very simple solutions that are right in front of us.

MoneyinWalletBudget

A good friend who’s a financial writer pointed this out to me at a networking meeting last week. She said, “Miata, I spend all this time writing about budgets and how to cut expenses… but it all boils down to one equation.” I couldn’t figure out what she was talking about until she told me:

The simple solution: Spend less than you make.

While that may seem TOO simple at first, it really is the heart of everything we do, isn’t it? Take out a pen and paper. Figure out how much is coming in. Cut expenses until they’re lower. Save the difference. Try to increase income more and spend less so your savings becomes bigger.

She’s right on: Budgets are a simple device that can be really, really powerful. (more…)

Buying a House? Now Might Be The Time

I was reading a Yahoo! Finance story this morning about housing prices and saw that for the first time in a long time, prices might be falling. Are you looking for a house? Now might be the perfect time.

HouseinaBox

What’s happening with the housing market?

Let’s talk first about the market. You definitely don’t want to buy a home when the market is hot….and the trend is in a seller’s favor. But if prices are dipping and the number of people buying is light, you’re more likely to find a steal. However, real estate markets are very much regional, not national, like the stock market. That means that while prices might be tanking in Las Vegas, they could be rising in Miami. It’s important to check with pros in your area to see just how weak your local market is before wandering off into the home buying scene.

A weak market means more desperate sellers, so do brush up on your negotiation skills. A few thoughts on this front:

  • Remember that the seller isn’t your friend. It’s up to them to put their best foot forward and make their best deal.
  • You aren’t trying to “put the screws” to someone when you negotiate. You’re only trying to adequately protect your interest, which means paying as little as possible.
  • Don’t expect your real estate agent to negotiate on your behalf. Studies have also shown that real estate agents prefer not to negotiate (mostly because when you consider how they make money….on the sale price….there’s no real incentive for them to bargain).

Okay, the market might be right, but should I buy?

(more…)

It Isn’t Enough to Care (a Guide to REALLY Perfecting Your Craft)

BrainFullA friend emailed me asking for help.

“I care so much about (my craft). Why does it always end up coming last?”

There’s a short answer to this question.

It isn’t enough to care.

I’d submit it isn’t even just about hard work.

It’s about systems.

Setting up systems to win is the key to your success. Financially, having systems for the right tasks is equally important.

The Sherlock Holmes Story

In one of the Sherlock Holmes books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, someone asks Sherlock about a piece of current events. Holmes replies that he has no idea what the person is talking about. The questioner is shocked. The great Sherlock Holmes doesn’t know something? Holmes replies that the mind is only so large. If you fill it with trivia, there won’t be room for the information you really need to be successful.

Practice The Sherlock Holmes Method of Systems

Your goal should be to fill your brain with your craft and the things that really matter to you. Therefore, everything that isn’t important shouldn’t take up very much space. (more…)

How to Save Money for Retirement Tax Free

RothIRAIn our last newsletter, I shared some tips on picking the right investment for your goals. But for many of us, another big question is this: “Where do I actually hold my investments?”

Much like artists generally have themes that run through their work, a prevailing theme you’ll find in financial planning is, “take advantage of tax shelters whenever possible.”

What’s a Tax Shelter?

Right now, the concept of a tax shelter might be as foreign to you as someone speaking an unfamiliar language. Honestly, for years I didn’t know the difference between a 401k and an IRA… However, once you’re able to work through this mumbo-jumbo of alphabet tax shelter soup, you’ll find that it isn’t as hard as it seems.

For most of us, the place to start is a Roth IRA.

(more…)

With Low CD Rates, Where Do I Save?

SavingLet’s face it, as artists, we take plenty of risks with our craft. We don’t need undue risks with our investments.

Looking at CD rates last week, there’s nothing to grin about. According to Bankrate.com, the average one year CD is paying 0.23%. Looking for a higher return? If you lock your money up for five years in a CD you still are only going to earn 0.80%

To use my son’s word for lima beans, “Yuck.”

So if you’re going to save, but you don’t want risk, what do you do? (more…)

Be Careful With IRA Rollovers

Be Careful With IRA RolloversMan protecting his savings

Research.

Research plays a huge role in your art. Whether you’re exploring the motivation for a character you’re about to play, scouring the net for new textures and ideas for a painting, or digging into the history of any revolution for your next book, research is at the base of most artistic pursuits.

It’s the same with your financial decisions.

I mention this because while doing research, I noticed that FINRA, the board who overseas most financial professionals, was going to focus more on retirement plan rollovers. It seems they’re worried that too many people might be making poor decisions in this area.

So, to help you with your research, I thought today we’d discuss what a “rollover” is, how it should work, and what FINRA might be worried about. (more…)

Non-Conformists Are Born to Be Better Investors

Remember high school? Were you a person who wore what everyone else wore or did you stand apart?

I’ll bet you didn’t follow the crowd. That’s rarely the artist’s way.

Why do I bring this up? I only mention it because it turns out that creative people – those who are willing to go against the grain – should be great investors. Consider this: a financial company (Blackrock) sent out an email recently discussing the fact that many investors chase “negative returns.” Apparently, people try to guess where the market is headed; and Blackrock detailed just how horrible people are at guessing. In fact, it appears, when most people decide to turn right, the best decision was to turn left.

There’s Value in Turning Left

Everyone’s heard the mantra “buy low/sell high.” This even applies to your art, doesn’t it? Often I meet struggling artists who wonder “How come I’m not a sensation yet?” then they proceed to take the same steps as the herd.

It didn’t work in high school and it isn’t going to work now.

To truly get ahead, in your art and with your money, you need to turn left when everyone turns right. (more…)