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Strapped for Cash?

money-in-handA recent trend report from TrendWatching highlighted the increasing number of people who are supplementing their income with a part-time business. This report is full of resources that will help you find your opportunity for some spare cash.

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It’s no wonder that so many people are jumping on this bandwagon. We’ve seen increases in our health insurance, our property taxes, and more. It sounds like there’s more to come.

The three-income family

Isn’t it interesting, though, that just a few generations ago, most families got by on one income? Then we added a second one in the household with more and more women joining the workforce.

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marylynnI don’t think it was purely a financial decision. It was also about fulfillment for many women, but it certainly helped the family’s income.

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Now a number of people can’t get by on two incomes. They need three or maybe more. If you find yourself in this position, it may be good to ask if all the obligations are really worth it.

Is that life on your own terms – being weighted down by the cost of things you thought you wanted? With careful analysis, you may realize they’re not so important – especially if you find you can’t enjoy life because you’re working so much.

So if you feeling that you need a third income, it might pay to look at your obligations to see if there are areas where you can cut. Spending time finding ways to reduce your obligations might get you further faster than spending that same time trying to make some extra money.

This new trend is about something more important than income.

Many of us now realize more than ever how much we want to be in charge of our own lives. The TrendWatching report mentions that people fantasize about being their own boss, even if it’s just for a few hours a week.

Bigg success is life on your own terms. You’re the entrepreneur of your life whether or not you’re an entrepreneur in the traditional sense.

Some people want to be the boss all the time. According to this new report, that trend is still alive and well. But more and more people are finding ways to be the boss at least part of the time.

They have the security of a full-time job along with the freedom that being in charge gives you part of the time. Freedom with security … what a great combination!

When you find fulfilling ways to make extra money in your spare time, you’re getting synergy working in the five elements of bigg success. If you make the right moves with that extra money, you can accelerate your journey to bigg success, to life on your own terms.

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Turning $3 into a multi-billion dollar business

One way that people are making extra money is by selling their expertise. Another way is by selling, or renting, assets. One clever example of this is ParkingSpots.com, which helps people rent their extra off-street parking spaces.

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georgeI heard Michael Krasny tell his story of the founding of what became CDW. Most of us have probably done business with them. They do a great job. Back in 1982, Michael had a used computer he wanted to sell. The Chicago Sun Times was running a special on classified ads – 3 lines for 3 days for $3. He ran an ad and his phone started ringing off the hook. He realized he had a business here. He was right – within about ten years, the business he started from that classified ad became a Fortune 500 company. Michael Krasny became a multi-billionaire, recognized on the Forbes 400 as one of the richest people in the world! Now that’s bigg success!

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You never know … your idea for making a little extra money may turn into the next Fortune 500 company!

What do you do for extra money?

Share that with all of us by leaving a comment below. You never know … you might earn a little spare cash!

Thank you so much for reading our post today.

Do you think you don’t have enough spare time to make any spare cash? Please join us next time to see how one group people found the time.

Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00366-040609.mp3

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(Image in today's post by penywise)

Deep in Debt? Take These Drastic Steps

pennies We’ve heard a lot of discussion about the toxic assets held by our financial institutions. Here’s what hasn’t been explicitly stated too often – in order for these financial institutions to have toxic assets, many of us must be carrying toxic debt.

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We’ve seen government at all levels, corporations, and yes, individuals borrow more and more money over the past few years. Many people now have this sinking feeling that they will never get out from under it all.

So today we want to talk about what to do if you have that feeling.

The King and Queen of Personal Finance

Cash is king again and credit score is queen. In the coming years, people with cash and a good credit score will have more options, be able to take advantage of more opportunities, and will experience less stress. Isn’t that a nice place to be?

A Timeless Principle Makes a Comeback

It requires discipline. It’s amazing how we can rationalize our purchasing decisions. If I can’t afford to buy it now without credit, why would I think that I can afford to pay for it later along with an exorbitant interest rate?

So we need to pay cash or don’t buy at all. Eliminate purchases on credit, even ones that promise “no interest, no payments” for some period of time. Of course, if you already have the money, and you’re just using their money, and you need the item … really need it … then go ahead and enjoy!

Two Important Financial Moves

Perhaps more so than at any time in our lives, we need to build up our emergency reserves. Financial planners have been saying it all along, for the most part. Many of us weren’t listening. Keep six to twelve months of living expenses in a readily-accessible reserve account just in case you need it.

Pay off almost all of your debt. You may not pay off your mortgage. You may even keep a car loan for a time. Get rid of all other debt; it’s robbing you of your future.

Then you’ll be ready to start looking for the tremendous opportunities that will be available to anyone with cash to invest.

Drastic Steps to Dispose of Toxic Debt

Drastic times call for drastic measures. These steps will not be easy. In fact, they will be uncomfortable at best. However, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of your debt, they are necessary.

Sit down and logically determine how quickly you could get out of debt, given the two exceptions we noted above. If it’s more than five years, even after considering the steps we’re about to outline, it’s probably best to seek professional help. Here are the steps:

Sell assets

Look around for anything that you don’t need, never needed, don’t use, or never used. Get rid of it and use the money to build up your cash reserves and/or pay off debt.

Get a second income

Get a part-time job or find a way to make some spare money. Even if it’s only $300, $400, or $500 a month, plowing this money into paying off high-interest debt will pay you bigg dividends in the future. This doesn’t have to be something to do forever, just do it until you get your financial situation shored up.

Cut back on contributions to your retirement plan

We always hesitate to suggest this because you’re robbing your future. Talk to your financial planner before you take this drastic step. But even with an employee match, it may be better to pay off high-cost debt. You may earn 30% by paying off a credit card, for example, and give yourself more room to maneuver through tough times and unexpected events.

Reduce housing costs

With the price of houses down in many markets and the continued lack of buyer demand, now probably isn’t the time to consider downsizing. However, analyze your specific situation because you might be surprised.

Another option might be to rent part of your home. Or find other ways to cut costs on your existing house. For example, property tax assessments will be going out in January. Check your assessment and the price of houses that have sold nearby to see if you can protest the value you’re being charged for.

Cut transportation costs

Could you get by with one less car? Could you take advantage of public transportation? Could you car pool? All of these ways put money in your pocket that can be used to build up cash and pay off debt. 

Stretch your dollars

We’ve covered the bigg ones, but it’s also important to look at all your other discretionary expenses. Many people have already cut back on dining out. Go even further – buy fewer prepared foods and cook meals yourself. Sure it will take more time, but it will save you money that can be used for stockpiling cash and knocking down debt.

Look for your recurring expenses – cable bills, cell phone bills, and everything else. Is there a way to make cuts?

Strive to stretch every penny you can out of every dollar you bring in so you get back on your feet and on track to being a bigg success!

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Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success!
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

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Next time, we’ll discuss the “must-haves” for your productivity tool kit. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00246-102008.mp3

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Are You Throwing Money Away by Owning Your Home?

toss_moneyWe all know that the three essentials for living are food, clothing, and shelter. We definitely rent our food. Do we rent or own our clothing? Hmmm.

Part of the American dream is to own your own home. And there are good reasons to do so. For instance, a Federal Reserve study[pdf] shows that the average family that owns a home has a net worth of nearly $625,000 while families who rent have a net worth of just a little over $54,000.

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Homeowners on the move

We’ve seen an interesting statistic bantered about, but we haven’t been able to pin down a reliable source. If this statistic is true, American homeowners move once every five years or so, on average.

So we thought we’d consider what that does to the buy vs. rent equation. We’ll use some averages and national statistics to create an example. However, what really matters is your own situation and your local real estate market. Only you, working with your financial advisors, can determine what’s in your best interest.

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marylynn When I was younger, one of my bosses in radio told me that I was just throwing away money by renting. I remember thinking that it made sense. I’d reached an age where maybe I should consider buying. So I did. As often happens in the radio business, less than a year later, I lost my gig. So I had to sell my house to move to a different market. I lost a lot of money by buying. If only I had had a crystal ball!

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Putting buy vs. rent to the test

We created a fictional purchase to see if we would be better off renting or owning a house for five years. We assumed that:

  • We put 20% down (approximately $63,000).
  • We financed the rest with a 30-year mortgage
  • The interest rate would be 6.50%, slightly above the current rate.
  • Our house would appreciate 4% per year, slightly below the recent average.
  • Property taxes would cost us 1% of the value of the home.
  • Insurance would run 0.50% of the value of the home. (Renters and homeowners have to insure the contents. We have the added burden of insuring the building.)
  • Repairs & maintenance would consume 1.50% of the value of the home.

Over the first five years, 83% of our total mortgage payments would go for interest. In other words, for the most part, we’ve traded renting property for renting money. If the interest rate is higher, the portion that would go to interest would also be higher. Of course, the reverse is also true.

During this period, we would pay $2,171 per month as “rental costs” for our home. We call them rental costs because they have no value once they’re paid. They only allow us to keep owning. So if we could rent a similar property for less than this, we would be better off renting instead of buying.

Of course, if we had made a down payment of less than $63,000, our cost would go up because we would be paying even more interest.

Where’s the break-even?

We also looked at how it would take before we would break-even. After all, it costs money to sell a house. We would have to pay commissions to our realtor, closing costs, and the like. We assumed these costs would total 8% of the selling price.

Given our assumptions, we looked at what would happen if we sold after one year. Our house would now be worth $326,560. From that, we would pay $26,125 in selling costs. After a year, our mortgage balance would be $248,392.

So we would be able to take out $52,043 in cash. But remember, we invested $63,000. So we lose about $11,000 if we sell after one year.

But that’s not the whole story …

We haven’t yet considered the opportunity cost of tying up that $63,000 in a house. Because if we didn’t invest it in this house, we could have invested in something else. We assumed we could have earned 6% by investing in some portfolio of financial assets.

That would have returned nearly $3,800. So by buying this house and selling it in a year, we would put ourselves in the hole nearly $15,000.

Even after 2 years, we’d still be about $3,500 behind, given our assumptions. Of course, one of those assumptions is that real estate prices are rising. It’s almost certain they will in the long run, but will they rise in the next year or two? They may not in some markets.

What’s the bottom-line?

We concluded that if we didn’t plan to own a house for at least two years, we’d rather rent. We also saw that the longer our holding period, the better we would do. For instance, in the last five years of the mortgage, only 15% of the mortgage payment would go to interest. It seems like buy-and-hold is rewarded in real estate investing.

How to get around it …

We have two friends who have been able to get around the short-term ownership problem. One of them is in the military, so he moves frequently. He only buys a house that he knows would make a good rental property. If he gets transferred, he hires a local property manager and rents it out. Until he decides where he wants to retire, he plans to hold a number of his houses.

Another friend doubled-down on this strategy. He moved quite frequently as he climbed the corporate ladder. Not only does he own houses in a number of cities, he bought additional rental properties, so he has a diversified portfolio across a number of cities. Now he’s retired living off the rents!

So you can get around the disadvantages of short-term ownership by having an alternative exit strategy!

Next time, we’ll discuss how a toy that you probably played with as a kid can help you manage your time. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

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(Image by tychay, CC 2.0)

It’s Hard to Beat this Place for Cheap Entertainment

libraryShhhh! You have to read this quietly. We’re at the library!

We’ve been thinking about fun, yet inexpensive, things to do. So today we took a little … make that bigg … trip to our local library.

We’re in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Champaign’s brand new library is a state-of-the art facility. As we walked in the door, the first thing we noticed, that is different from the libraries of yore, is there’s a coffee shop! Remember the old “No food or beverages” signs. Not in this library! One thing that’s still the same – it’s a cool place to stay cool on a hot summer’s day. But don’t look for the card catalog! You won’t find one … everything’s on computer now. They also have flat screen TVs, Wi-Fi, and other modern technology.

What  did we check out?

While we were there, we checked out a few things – two audio books … Brian Tracy’s Goals and The Long Tail by Chris Anderson with Wired magazine … and Janet Switzer’s book Instant Income.

The price? FREE. It’s paid for by our property taxes.

They have tons of DVDs for FREE. Even the ones that are rentals are only $1 for a week. Right now, with so many of us looking for ways to save money, the library is a great place to go for cheap entertainment!

We’ve decided that we’re going to make it our “office away from the office”! It’s a great place to go for a change of scenery!

Don't do this!

We also found some real characters at the library. By observing them, we compiled a list of six things you should NOT do at the library:

#6 – While pointing to a very simple word like “the”, ask the person next to you if he or she can pronounce it for you.

#5 – Put down your book, then lean over and start reading the book of the person sitting next to you. When he or she looks at you, quickly pick up your book and act like you're reading it.

#4 – Read your book upside down.

#3 – Flip the page loudly every two seconds or so.

#2 – Announce the page number loudly each time you turn a page.

And the #1 thing you should not do at the library …

Break the silence with the noise from a bodily function … you know the one. Then say, "Wow! That was a good one!"

(Image by Dan O'Brien)