Why You Might Be Richer Than Your Wealthy Neighbor

Why You Might Be Richer Than Your Wealthy Neighbor

You might be a lot richer than you think you are.

Even if you own nothing, you might be richer than the person down the road with the big house and the fancy car.

Why is that?

I’ll tell you why.

Let’s look at what wealth is by using the example of two people.

The first person is a surgeon. She owns a big house with an ocean view, a Lamborghini and whatever else impresses people.

The other person is a nurse. She rents an apartment, and she takes the metro to work. She doesn’t own a car or any property.

Who is richest?

Most people will say the surgeon right away, but you can’t be sure. Don’t let yourself be fooled by a fancy exterior and job titles.

We have to look at their assets and liabilities. In other words, how much debt do they have? Do they own anything that makes money for them? 

Let’s pretend that the surgeon recently began working, and that she has a lot of student debt. Let’s say that she bought the car using consumer debt and a credit card loan. Let’s also say that she has a lot of debt on the fancy house. What the bank didn’t lend her, she borrowed from her parents. 

Let’s say the nurse is new on the job too.

Neither of them have had any chance to save money or invest in anything.

Who is the richest of the two?

The nurse is. At least if you define net worth as assets minus liabilities. The surgeon has a negative net worth due to all the debt. The nurse is in a neutral position. It may be that the surgeon makes more money, but she is actually poorer. 

A Fancy Exterior Says Nothing About Wealth  

Remember this, because it’s really important.

You can’t judge a person’s financial situation by measuring exterior status symbols such as a house, car, or title.

How wealthy someone is really depends on how they manage their money.

This is really good news, if you think about it.

It means that if you don’t own anything, but if you don’t have any debt either, you are in a neutral place – and that’s a pretty good place to be in.

You are in a better position to build your wealth than the majority of people. A lot of people start out with a negative net worth. First they have to chip away at the mountains of debt, and only then can they begin to build their wealth. 

Debt moves you backwards because it sucks money out of your finances. You could say there’s a hole in the bucket, and your money is dripping out of it.

You want to let your money work for you, so you don’t have to work so hard for money.

Debt is the exact opposite of that. It’s letting your money work against you, so that you have to work harder for it.

People with a lot of debt are pushing a cart up the mountain, and it’s harder for them to reach the top and become financially independent.  

How to Calculate Your Net Worth

How do you actually calculate your net worth?

It’s pretty easy, and a bit of an eye-opener (if you haven’t tried it before).

Here’s how you do it.

You have to find the present value of everything you own, and figure out how much debt you have. In other words, you have to figure out what your assets and liabilities are.

Just a note before we begin: I normally don’t consider your house or your car to be assets, unless you rent them out and make money from them. But for the purpose of this exercise, we’ll count them as assets. 

How to find assets:

  • What’s the value of the house or apartment you own (if you have one)?
  • What’s the current value of any stocks or other securities that you own?
  • What about your retirement savings?
  • If you were to sell your car today, how much could you get for it?
  • How much do you have in cash?

Then you have to find all your liabilities, meaning all your debt.

How to find liabilities:

  • How much do you owe on your house?
  • How much in student debt?
  • What about credit card debt?
  • Or any consumer debt?
  • Do you owe anyone else anything?

Then you add up all your assets and deduct all your liabilities. What’s the result?

I encourage you to keep track of your net worth –  it’s very motivating. 

Top 10 percent 

When I did this calculation for the first time, I discovered that I was among the top 10 in my country (Denmark).

At the time, I was an unemployed single mother of two small children, and I was living in a small apartment in the capital. 

I didn’t feel very wealthy, but this exercise changed that perception.

I could easily calculate the result. I took my cash savings, added my stock portfolio, the value of my apartment, plus my retirement savings. There was nothing to subtract as I had no debt.

I discovered that I was richer than a friend who had recently bought a huge house in a fancy neighborhood. I knew that she had no retirement savings (we talk about money), no investments, and that the house and the car were bought with borrowed money.

This made me feel different about my own priorities, and instead of feeling like the poor friend, I began feeling like the smart friend.

The next time you hear about some friend who bought a huge house or drives a Tesla, remember the old saying:  Don’t judge the book by (the house or the car) on its cover.

It says nothing about how they’re really doing.  

Do you want to learn how to build assets? I teach you how to get a good return on stocks in my free e-book Free Yourself. You can download it here.  

 

Seven Ways to Secure Your Financial Future as an Entrepreneur

Seven Ways to Secure Your Financial Future as an Entrepreneur

Many entrepreneurs neglect their personal finances even though their businesses are doing well. 

They are focused, determined and make money – but their own savings and bank accounts are a disaster.  

So what’s going on and what should they do about it?

They’re so focused on investing in their entrepreneurial dream that they forget to create security for themselves. 

Here are seven steps you must take if you are an entrepreneur.    

1. Save for Your Retirement 

Yes, I know what you are thinking. You are probably thinking that your business is your retirement savings.

If that’s your logic, I hate to break it to you that you’re putting all your eggs in one basket, and if something unlikely happens – let’s say a global pandemic – that puts your business at risk of bankruptcy, you’ll be facing old age with cat food for dinner.

There’s no way around it. You have to build a proper retirement fund in an account with tax benefits. 

2. Build Up Savings 

When Bill Gates was a young man building Microsoft, he lost a big client. He faced a business crisis and a personal crisis because he had hired friends, their wives and their extended family to work for him. He was afraid that he would have to let them go.

Warren Buffett advised Gates to build the firm’s cash savings equivalent to a year’s worth of the company’s spending.

Think about that for a moment. What would it mean to you if you could keep your business afloat for a whole year? Even during a giant lockdown?

You should also create savings and buffers with your personal finances. You should have at least two kinds of cash savings:

  • An emergency savings account for things like a car repair or a new fridge.
  • An ‘independence’ savings pot with 5-6 months of salary. This will give you peace of mind and make it easier for you to make bold decisions and focus on your business. 

3. Keep Your Company’s Finances Separate From Your Own 

Don’t do crazy things like cash out your retirement savings to invest it in your firm or to cover a loss in your firm.

Choose a company structure that separates your personal finances from the destiny of the company. Make sure that you cannot personally be held financially responsible if the business goes bankrupt. Talk with a lawyer about that.  

Separating your business and your personal finances also means paying yourself a decent salary. So many entrepreneurs pay themselves less than the experts they hire because they are focused on reinvesting in the firm.

You have to pay yourself a fair share so you can begin to build up assets other than your firm. 

4. Build Up Assets 

Yes, let’s talk about assets. What are they?

They are money machines that increase your net worth while you sleep. This could be rental property, bonds, shares or even pinball machines.

The best kind of assets are, in my opinion, shares in publicly traded companies. You get to become a co-owners of other people’s businesses without having to do the actual work like recruiting, planning and executing. The daily management will take care of all that nitty-gritty stuff that you deal with in your own business.

As a business owner, you have tremendous advantages over other shareholders because you are used to thinking about running businesses – and stocks are exactly that: businesses. 

When deciding what to invest in, look at the whole business and evaluate it as if you were about to buy the whole thing and run it yourself. Does it seem well run? Is it protected from competitors? Does it actually make money? Is it growing? Do you believe in the product or the service that it makes?

You can learn more about how to evaluate companies here in my free e-book.

5. Set Strong Financial Goals for Yourself 

You probably have sound business plans. But do you have any plans for your own money?

It’s time to view your own life and personal finances through the professional lense you employ at work. Be accurate and ambitious. 

What about working on becoming financially independent even before you’ve reached your goals with your business? Would that be a goal worth working towards? What kind of relief would it be if you knew that you are safe financially? 

6. Use Professional Help 

You probably use accountants and lawyers to make sure that your business is running smoothly.

When it comes to your business, you probably already know that it’s more costly trying to do everything yourself instead of outsourcing and hiring experts. You can’t afford to make mistakes with the annual report or screw up some of the legal work that’s supposed to protect you. 

You also need help setting up your personal financial goals and routines, so get in touch with a financial advisor and get some help cleaning up the mess.

It’s money well spent. 

7. Keep Learning 

The people who are most successful in life never stop learning. They keep studying new tools and gaining new knowledge that they can use in business and in life in general. 

People who think they learned everything at school will never make it big. School’s job is mostly just to teach you how to learn and follow instructions. The rest is up to you. 

It’s important that you keep acquiring the knowledge that you need to have in order to solve the next problem you encounter or to manage things better.

Use coaches, take online courses, take offline classes, listen to webinars and join mastermind groups.

Learn from the people who already know more about investing or running a business than you. It will give you a fast track to success.

The investment you make in yourself and your knowledge will be the best investment you make. You are, after all, your biggest asset. If you want to learn how to invest in stocks, get some knowledge.

Don’t forget to read the e-book that will set you free. You can get it here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Signs That it’s Time to Leave Your Job

Five Signs That it’s Time to Leave Your Job

You’re back from the summer vacation, and you get the Monday Blues.

Maybe you ask yourself if it’s time to leave your job. You ask yourself if you want to continue doing what you did before the holidays.

Its normal to struggle a bit with adjusting to the indoor office work after the freedom and the fresh air of the summer.

Sometimes it’s just the post vacation blues. But sometimes it’s time to get up and find something else.

Here are the five signs that will let you know that it’s time to look for the exit.

1. You Are Stuck in a Role   

We all get stuck in a role sometimes during our lives. The important question is if it’s a role you like.

Have you become the assistant receptionist despite a nice official job title? Or the expert on a subject that doesn’t even interest you?

Can you find room to grow within that role?

We sometimes get an embedded reputation at work. Maybe you made a mistake years ago – maybe the mistake wasn’t even your fault. Maybe you were part of a project that tanked. But somehow the air of it has stuck to your reputation, and maybe that is part of the problem with the role you find yourself stuck in. 

If this is the case, then it’s really time to move on.

2. Your Boss Doesn’t Support You  

This is a big warning signal.

You should work for managers whom you admire, whom you can learn from and who will support you, not suppress you.

A special note for the ladies here: be careful to avoid managers (male or female) who do not support women’s advance in the workplace.

Take a special look at how your boss or your workplace treat women who come back from maternity leaves. Are they still allowed to advance? Can they grow?

It will affect you one day too, even if you don’t have children. It says a lot about their attitude towards women.

3. The Work Environment is Depressing

If you only look forward to your lunch break, you have a problem.

You should feel excited at least about some aspects of the work you do.

The salary should only be part of the reward. The challenges and the community should be additional reasons why going to work is a rewarding experience for you. 

Life is too short to be miserable 40-50 hours each week.

4. You Don’t Like the Product  

Are you proud of the product or the service that your employer provides?

What do you think of the problem that they solve with their service or product? Do they even solve a problem?

Don’t ever work for promoting something you don’t believe in.

What is the meaning of life?

It’s the sum of all the things that we do with our time. So make sure you support good projects even when you are working. Spend your time well. 

5. You Really Want To Do Something Else

You just have this job until you find the courage to do what you really want.

Maybe your dream is to start your own business, write a book or travel around the world.

You’re treating your job as if it was the waiting room at the office of Real Life.

That might be okay a year or two after you have finished your studies. But is it still okay on year five? Or ten?

When are you going to take the leap into the real life you are dreaming about? How about right now?

You might say ‘Hey, I need the money’.

That’s where I tell you that you must make sure you have the money to live the life you really want to live.

You do that by saving part of your salary and investing it.

Don’t live your life as if you have eternity to redo it. Real life is right now, and time is the most precious resource that you have.

You can get more of almost everything – but not time. 

You can learn how to invest to become financially free right here.    

 

 

Five Things to Do to Plan for Losing Your Job

Five Things to Do to Plan for Losing Your Job

I’ve been there.

I was fired on maternity leave a few years ago.

I never thought that would happen to me.

But it did. 

Job security is not what it used to be. Most of us will experience getting fired at least once in our lifetime. 

That’s why you should plan for it.

Here are five steps you must take to prepare yourself for it. 

1. Analyze the Company and the Industry You Work in 

Several years before the layoff, I spoke with a career coach because I felt I had run into invisible barriers in my career and got stuck.

He listened patiently to my thoughts and worries for more than an hour, and when it was time to end the conversation with some sort of conclusion, he asked me a simple question: 

“Have you ever considered working in an industry that is not in decline?” he asked. 

I fell silent, because the question was so simple, yet so revealing.

At that point, I had worked as a business journalist for more than a decade.

I was used to analyzing companies and industries and viewing the big picture before going into details.

Yet, the idea of analyzing my own workplace had never occurred to me. I worked for a daily print newspaper in Denmark, and print journalism is an industry suffering like dinosaurs in the ice age. 

I knew that, and yet I had never linked my own career problems with the structural problems of the industry I worked in.

My coach explained that it’s really hard to make a career in an industry with falling revenues.

Shrinking businesses often have a bad work environment fuelled by saving plans and redundancy packages.

Shrinking businesses fire people, thriving businesses hire.

Shrinking businesses divest in the workforce, thriving businesses invest in talents.

Don’t make the mistake I made of being blind to structural barriers.

Analyse the business and the industry you work in.

Analyze them the way you would analyse a company before you invest in them to find out if your employer is a good or bad “investment”.

Ask yourself questions like:

Is the revenue increasing or decreasing?

Is the profit increasing or decreasing?

Do you like the management? Do you trust the management?

Does the company have any competitive advantages? Anything protecting them from their competitors?

You can download my investing check list right here to find similar questions.

2. Tighten up Your Budget and Save  

It’s bad to lose your job, but it’s worse if you lose it and have to struggle with the shock and your finances at the same time.

The first thing you should do is tighten up your budget. You have to adjust your budget so you can afford to get fired.

Step one is making a budget – and you will be light years ahead of the pack here because most people never get around to making a budget for themselves.

If you have any kind of insurance – this is very common in my country – where you’ll receive part of your pay check for a period of time, you must make sure that you can live within the limits of that payment.

To tighten your budget, you must go through the specific items on your bank statement and discover what you are actually paying for.

Just go through each line and find out what it is and place them into categories.

The last time I did that exercise, I discovered some odd subscription services that I did not even know I was paying for.

After handling your budget, you will have more money at the end of the month than you usually have, and you will begin to increase your savings.

You need to build three kinds of saving pots.

A. An emergency savings: This is for a new fridge, car repair or some other emergency. This should be around $2,000 in cash. 

B. A security savings: This is the buffer in case you get fired. It should be 3-5 months of your salary after taxes.

C. Your freedoms savings: This is the money that will make you financially free in the long run. You invest this pot, so your money will make more money for you.

3. Seek New Openings   

Now is the time to seek out other options.

Drink coffee with old friends, old colleagues and any professional contacts.

Let your network know that you are on the lookout for new possibilities.

Be discreet and obvious at the same time.

Some people might not have any job opening for you right now but they might think about you and mention you if they hear of something.

In any case, there is no shame in saying that you are open to new challenges.

You can also begin applying for new positions. Some of the best jobs I’ve had, I have applied for several times before I actually got it.

I went to an interview three times over the years before I got it. 

Also, polish up your resume today. 

It takes time to get a resume right, and you want to have nailed your resume before you actually need it urgently. 

Now is also a good time to collect references and recommendations. It will be odd to ask for it once you get fired. 

4. Find New (and Old) Hobbies 

Find other interests than your job.

It’s depressing to get fired if your career is all you have to care about in your life.

Believe me, I know. I used to work in an industry where you make jokes with people if they leave at five p.m. You ask them what the special occasion is. Birthday? Anniversary? Earthquake?

My job was my career, my hobby, my passion. It contained most of my friends and social network.

On Fridays, I knew which bar other business journalists were at. During my vacations, I wrote travel articles. On my time off, I went to conferences and festivals with other journalists. 

You must find joy about other things than anything work related. Be it literature, tennis, hiking, knitting, motorcycles, golf, sailing or watercolor drawings. It doesn’t really matter what it is.

If you’ve always dreamt about singing in a choir, now is the time to prioritize it and dedicate a night a week to it.

If you’ve always dreamt about writing a novel, now is the time to write the first outline of the plot or the first chapter. 

Make a list of a 100 things you’d love to do. No, not a meager list of 10 or 20 half-hearted wishes. The list has to be so long that it will force you to be creative and think of hidden dreams that you hadn’t thought of for years. You have to push yourself a little out of your dreary routine list of nice acceptable things to do on a Sunday afternoon. 

You must make this list before you get fired, because you might not be able to find joy in the middle of  a big disruption.

The main point here is that you must find new interests that’ll continue to give you joy and stability when the structure of your work life is gone. 

5. Get New Income Streams 

You must have other income streams than your job.

In investing, you talk a lot about spreading your risk. Being a 100 percent dependent on your day job is the opposite of spreading your risk. That is putting all your eggs in a basket that one difficult boss can overturn with the stroke of a pen.

Investigate the possibilities of starting your own business. Is there a sidegig you can develop while still being employed?

You should invest your third savings pot. In the long run that can make you financially free on its own. You can learn more about how I invest in individual companies right here.

Do you want to learn how to invest like the famous investor Warren Buffett? I teach you how to do that in my e-book Free Yourself. You can download it here.  

Stop Wasting Money on These Seven Things if You Want Wealth and Freedom

Stop Wasting Money on These Seven Things if You Want Wealth and Freedom

It’s a dilemma.

You want to live a rich and juicy life right now, but you also want to put money aside so you can create assets and watch your garden of investments grow.

How do you save money without lowering your quality of life?

First of all, you have to realize what is important to you.

If avocado sandwiches and lattes make you happy, those are not the items to dispense with – no matter what financial experts say and what calculations they come up with.

You have to find a way to cut where it doesn’t hurt.

Here are seven examples of things I have cut from my own life that I hope will inspire you. 

1. Insurances and Extended Warranties

Nope, don’t go without essential insurances, but look at your policies and make sure you are not over-insured. A lot of people have double coverages.

I always avoid the extended warranties that clever salesmen try to sell you when you buy any kind of electronics or gadgets.

These kind of product specific insurances feed on the fear that your new and shiny object will break the moment you walk out of the shop. It’s not likely to happen, and the warranty is often overpriced.

Have you checked if there are any warranties connected to your credit card? You might pay a lot of money for double coverage.

If you are happy with a specific insurance, you might still be able to save some money.

Have you tried checking the competitors’ prices or calling up your current insurance company to see if you can renegotiate the deal? 

2. Impulse Purchase

Whether it’s online or offline, avoid buying something right away.

Let yourself sleep on it. You often find that you don’t need it anyway.

When you go shopping for groceries, have a specific list before you enter the shop, so you don’t get distracted by all the other things on offer. 

3. Cable TV    

Does anyone watch TV the old-fashioned way anymore?

I admit that I still have a box on the wall, but it’s mostly used for a movie or a show here and there for the kids.

If you are still paying for cable TV, maybe it’s time to consider if you still need it? 

There are plenty of streaming services that are cheaper (like Sling tv, Hulu, Youtube Tv). And of course, if you mainly want series and movies, you have Netflix, HBO and Disney Channel.

I don’t have any of the streaming services – I just don’t want to have the temptation of getting sucked into a series or a show – but I rent or buy movies for my kids. 

Now that you are at it, look through your internet and phone deals and check the competitors’ prices to make sure you are not paying too much for too little. 

4. Lazy Take-Aways, Cocktails and Dining out

A friend of mine became financially independent within a few years once he decided to stop drinking alcohol and invest the money instead. 

I really enjoy dining out, but it’s something I do on special occasions. I make plans with friends, book a table and I dress up for it.

I avoid doing it out of convenience. My own food is quicker, better and cheaper than the everyday take-away solutions.

5. Lottery Tickets 

If you play the lottery, you have a tiny chance of winning.

If you don’t play and invest the money instead, you are certain to win in the long run. 

A few years ago, Warren Buffett opened the annual meeting of Berkshire Hathaway with illustrating how 10,000 in the stock market (placed in an index) in 1942 would have grown to 51 million today.

That’s a pretty nice win, isn’t it?

6. Status Symbol

Always ask yourself if you are buying something because you need it and really want that model (be it car, phone or handbag) or if there is some other motive behind your purchase.

Quality is good and can often last longer, but show off-purchases will keep you broke.

Ask yourself if the phone, the car or the bag is the best option for you and your life. Ask yourself if you are secretly buying it because of what you hope people will think of you when they see you with it?

Is it about you and your life or is it more about what other people will think about you? 

It takes a bit of self scrutiny, but this is a big one that can save you a lot of money.

7. Household Brands

When you walk around a store, there will often be many products which are identical, but priced very differently.

It’s a retail secret that some of the private labels  – the stores’ own brands – are actually produced by the same factories that make the products for some of the brands.

I’m mainly thinking about some of the more boring everyday items like soap, detergent and wet wipes.

Look at what’s in the product and where it’s produced. You might discover that it’s the exact same thing. Choosing the cheaper private label can save you a lot of money in the long run. 

How are you going to invest all that money that you will save with these seven tips? If you want to learn about investing, you are welcome to download my free e-book here

 

How to Make Saving Fun

How to Make Saving Fun

Without savings there is no investing. Savings are where your journey towards financial freedom begins.

Some people are natural born savers, and others find it excruciating.

Which type are you?

I think I am a little bit of both.

As a child, I enjoyed counting my coins and imagining what I could spend them on.

But as a young adult, saving money rhymed with retirement and retirement rhymed with death and nothing was more important than being young, wearing stilettos and having fun. 

But then I woke up and realized I had two credit cards with debt, and I decided to change it all. I put my saving plan into a system that was automated and as the years passed by, I was surprised to see how it grew. Now I love counting my big mamma coins in my big mamma pants.

You better learn to enjoy saving too, if you want to reach a life of abundance.

Here are five easy steps to getting the hang of saving money – and enjoying it too.    

1. Prioritize it

 You can’t just wait for savings to appear in your bank account at the end of the month. Most people have a tendency to use all the money in their bank account each month. 

You have to prioritize saving money the way you prioritize paying your bills. My system – back when I was working for a paycheck – was to transfer about half to a savings account. 

I suggest setting up an automatic transfer of the amount you want to save as soon as the paycheck arrives in your account. The principle is to pay yourself first – even before you pay the bills.

You and your future are your first priority. That is how you make it happen.  

2. Hide Your Money From You  

 As the story goes, granny hid all the money under her mattress, or maybe even in it.

You should too.

Well, maybe not in your mattress – but hide it in a bank account where you won’t see it every day.

I transferred my monthly savings to an account in a different bank. And because the password was a little bit complicated, I didn’t check up on it very often. When I did, I was very surprised how much money it had turned into over the years.

Setting up an automatic transfer and forgetting about it created the foundation for my financial freedom. 

3. Have a Clear Goal   

You should know why you are investing and exactly what your goals are by a certain date.

Not just in terms of something vague like “becoming wealthy” or “becoming financially free”. How much is wealthy? What do you need to be financially independent? 

You have to be precise and use specific target numbers. How much do you need to save this year? How much in five years? Write it down and look forward. Know in your heart that it will happen and be joyful about it already.   

4. Monitor Your Success and Celebrate  

When you reach a milestone, you must celebrate it, and you should know in advance, how you will celebrate it.

The celebration should be something that you look forward to. Like a special treat, a day in the spa, a trip to a special place or an activity that you don’t do very often – or maybe never tried before.

What about flying a helicopter the day you reach your first million? Oh, yes, I wrote first million. 

5. Turn it into a Game

How can you turn saving money into a fun activity?

What about competing with some friends?

You could use an app where you can see how much the other person saves. You could say that the person who reaches a specific goal first, wins a prize from the others. And the prize should be something really fun. 

But Saving is not Enough – Invest

If you only save and do nothing else, it will not be enough to make you financially independent. You must invest it so your money can grow and accumulate with the power of compound interest.

If you only save, the purchasing power of your money will slowly erode over time due to inflation. Then you are no better than granny who stuck it in the mattress and slept on it her whole life.  

You can learn how to invest like the famous investor Warren Buffett by reading my e-book Free Yourself. You can download it for free here.