Finance 101: How Your Bills Impact Your Financial Fitness

One day you wake up and decide – it’s time to get fit. You hop online and buy new workout clothes and shoes. You join the gym that you’ve driven past every day for years. You dedicate yourself to your workout regimen, getting in the gym 4 times a week. After several months of being committed to your program you decide it’s time to see what kind of gains you’ve made. You hop on a scale to check your weight, and take measurements of your arms, chest and waist. You pull up the note where you recorded your metrics on your first day, and write down your new measurables. Your eyes glance from side by side as you compare your numbers and you’re hit with the stark realization that – your body really hasn’t changed much at all since the beginning. You wonder to yourself, “what is holding me back?” This lack of progress is confusing, crushing and dispiriting.

The fact of the matter is there’s two parts to getting in shape and you only addressed one. If you want to be in the best shape of your life your diet has to change along with your workout habits. While you began a new workout regimen, you stuck to your old dietary habits. A steady diet of fried foods, burgers and carbs neutralized any progress you made in the gym.

Liabilities (aka bills) are the “diet” of your financial fitness. Just as there are two parts to physical fitness, there are two things you must watch if you want to be financially fit – what you earn and what you owe. It does not matter how much you bring in if you subsequently send it right back out.  Any raise you receive is instantly neutralized when your bills increase right in line with it. If you want to be financially fit, your liabilities have to move in the opposite direction as your earnings. 

What good is earning more if you don’t keep more? Why use a raise as an excuse to increase your burden?

Imagine a runner at the starting line of a marathon. She’s outfitted in lightweight running shorts, a sweat wicking tank top and 8 oz. running shoes. However when the signal is given to start the race, she turns around, picks up a 40 pound weight vest, puts it on and then begins to run.

That is what we do when we burden ourselves with unnecessary bills early in our careers.

I learned this lesson the hard way a couple years ago. Throughout my early 20’s there was one car that had caught my eye, I wanted this car more than any other – the Volkswagen CC. I loved how they looked. I loved the fact that not a lot of people had them and most importantly I loved how I thought I would look in it. There was just one problem – I couldn’t afford the car note….yet. A few months passed and I earned a promotion. With that promotion came a raise…and a new car. Before the end of the first pay period at my new salary I had negotiated a “deal” for the car of my dreams. I’d trade in the car I bought just eight months earlier, take on a higher monthly payment and a longer loan. And I agreed to do all of this while grinning from ear to ear. I increased my liabilities right along with my raise wiping out any benefit I might have received. Complete wash.

Don’t be like me. Don’t pick up extra weight at the beginning of your race to financial freedom.

Income – Liabilities = Accumulation

That equation is straightforward and complicated at the same time. It’s simple in the fact that what you earn minus what you spend equals what you accumulate (also known as your net worth). At the same time this concept can take a while to grasp. It did for me at least. See I thought if my salary was $60,000 then that meant I was doing pretty good. I could afford to have nice things, live in a nice place and have a good life. If I only had a few dollars left in the bank at the end of every month it was no big deal. I’m doing okay!

But if from January to December I make $60,000 and as the ball drops in Times Square on New Year’s Eve I check my account to see $150 staring back at me how good did I really do? Accumulating wealth is all about retention, and we cannot retain money if we give it all away.

Although you might not be able to tell from reading this post, I don’t hate nice things. I don’t want your takeaway to be – material things are bad. I am by no means a minimalist. I don’t think you should work yourself to death, never buy lunch, never go out to dinner, never take nice trips and live in a cardboard box. There’s nothing wrong with having nice things, as a matter of fact if you work hard and take care of your responsibilities you deserve to have nice things. But just as dining daily at your favorite fast food restaurant wrecks your body, consuming goods and constantly increasing your liabilities can ruin your financial health. Stay mindful and employ systems to set yourself up to buy the things you want. Be smart and one day you’ll look up and see those gains you desired.

Does Being Loyal Pay?

This week Ron dropped an interesting link in our group chat from Forbes, “Employees Who Stay In Companies Longer Than Two Years Get Paid 50% Less”. It immediately caught my attention and got me thinking about my own career. I’ve been with three companies over my 8 year career, three over the last three years. One company early for a long stretch, the next stop for two and half years and another position I just started. Over my career I’ve held 7 different titles including intern, which involved I guess three promotional type changes, and two out three of those promotions came because outside influence. Outside influence, meaning factors not in the norm like performance, extended duties or educational achievement causing the promotion to occur. That something in each case was another job offer and/or lurking recruitment. In each of those cases I turned that outside influence into leverage by actually being willing to leave. Some may call this being disloyal or some may call it capitalizing on opportunities. Previous generations stayed with employers for lifetimes, there is now research saying that trend has died with younger generations. We will not only have multiple employers but will also change careers or industries multiples times, pouncing on opportunity based circumstance and happiness. This new phenomenon of “people capitalizing on opportunity” is everywhere today.

Look at the example put on display by NBA players over the last 7 years, capitalizing on opportunity has been given the narrative of “Controlling your Destiny” whether it’s to win, to be valued, or to brand up.

Real life scenario: three guys/coworkers sitting at the lunch table discussing pay, and one guy is a bit disgruntled. Let’s guess who it is by career path and tenure. Guy 1 started with the company straight out of college and has been there 8 years, the other has experience with other companies but has been with their current employer 5 years, and the last has been hired within the last year and has outside experience.

Who complains about pay? The vet who’s been with the company the longest, the vet with outside experience, or the new guy with outside experience? It’s the first person, the Vet. It’s being acknowledged amongst the colleagues the vet is probably under paid despite being the best at their jobs, the most experienced, and having the required expertise. Why? It all circles back to the initial pay. Does being loyal or staying with one employer really pay off? Hard answer no, but it’s a grey area. You also don’t want to be a job hopper but you also want certain things regardless of how long you’ve been with one company, and one big item is fair pay.

When is the right time to move positions to “control your destiny?”

  1. Once you’re vested!

    1. Job jumping before your vested in your retirement plans hurts you long term, and potentially loses you valuable short term money.

  2. To gain valuable experience!

    1. Depending on the stage of your career gaining experience trumps gaining money, I think it’s something that can never fail. By gaining skills and resources you make yourself more valuable and increases your likelihood for a bigger pay day down the line. But you have to evaluate the scenario to make sure prioritizing experience over pay makes sense at that time in your life.

  3. To get paid!

    1. Get paid young nigga get paid (dolph voice)

  4. To Align with like values and culture!

    1. Aligning yourself with the right company culture and values is like being on a team and everyone agreeing on the perfect role for you. If you’re feeling like KD in OKC, like your best skills aren’t being properly utilized because of team structure, go to a pass happy and sharing team like Golden State or a company that values your skills and will put you in the best position to succeed.

  5. To feel appreciated!

    1. Bottom-line make moves that make you happy.

Finance 101 - What Is An Asset?

Numbers. Some people love them and some people want to get away from them more than Joe Budden wanted to get away from the Migos at the BET Awards.

Regardless of how you feel when presented with numbers, they are the degrees of your financial forecast. Here at The Talented 6 we’ve written over a dozens posts on personal finance, but oftentimes these posts don’t start on the ground floor. Well today, I want to go back to fundamentals and cover the most important financial tool for each and every one of us – assets.

What exactly is an asset? How do you know the difference between an asset and a liability? Why do assets even matter in the first place? We’ll break down all these things below.

What Is An Asset?

Dictionary.com defines an asset as – a useful and desirable thing or quality. Investopedia.com defines an asset as – a resource with economic value that an individual, corporation or country owns or controls with the expectation that it will provide future benefit.

Simply put, assets are things that you own that can be used to create benefit. Whether that is a physical item, or a skill/competency – if you can leverage it to create value, and benefit by earning cash it is an asset.

Examples Of Assets

Traditional:

·         Cash

·         Securities – Stocks and bonds

·         Land

·         Trademarks

·         Patents

Non-traditional:

·         Household items that can flipped on eBay, Amazon or             Craigslist

·         High demand sneakers or clothing items

·         Digital skills you can advertise on sites like Fiverr

·         Technical skills that can be transferred to others

·         Soft skills that allow you to coach or mentor others

·         Any other skill or competency that God and hard work have blessed you with that can be taught to others

Remember, don’t put yourself in a box, non-traditional assets can earn just as much as traditional ones. Fill your mind with skills and competencies. Unless you're an athlete making a living with your body, your earning power is determined by what's between your ears.

How Can I Recognize An Asset?

In his classic book: Rich Dad Poor Dad Robert Kiyosaki describes the difference between assets and liabilities as such, “an asset puts money in my pocket. A liability takes money out of my pocket.”

This way of thinking is contrary to how accountants view assets and liabilities but it is the perfect definition for personal finance. If you can sell ______ and make more money than what you initially paid for it, if it is a physical item then it is in fact an asset. If you can create a course or build something with your hands, that skill is an asset.

Why Do Assets Matter?

Former New York Jets coach Herm Edwards was talking about football there, but his words apply to personal finance all the same. You work to earn and build assets and you strive to obtain enough assets to beat your liabilities (bills). If over time your assets continue to grow while your liabilities stay low you’ll win the game, climb out of the rat race and be in position to retire worry free. If not, you’ll feel the frustration of 1,000 Herm Edwards’.

Always Remember

Assets – Liabilities = Net Worth

Before you make any financial decision, consider that formula and how your decision will impact it. It’s not about how much you make, it’s about how much you keep.

3 Ways To Quickly Increase Your Credit Score!

3 Ways To Quickly Increase Your Credit Score!

 So how do you rebuild or build your credit relatively quickly when your first starting out or are trying to recover? Of course continuing to keep your inquiries and utilization low, but are there any quicker ways? 

Inside are 3 ways on how to raise your credit relatively quickly.