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These Forgotten Costs Often Sink Us

sunken_boat We try not to make financial decisions in a vacuum. We strive to factor in all the relevant pieces before making a major purchase. But there are some costs that we often fail to factor in that can make a significant difference.

We often fail to factor in future flows of money.

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We expect a certain percentage pay raise. So we spend money as if it has already happened. It’s especially important in times like these that we don’t spend money before we know we have it.

Another thing we often do is count on a bonus. If it doesn’t materialize, we’re in trouble as we learned from Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation. We sure don’t want our brother tying up our boss!

What about increased insurance costs? Is it likely that you’ll pay more for health insurance next year? How about insurance for your house or car? Insurance costs can rise significantly from year to year.

Do you have a variable rate mortgage? Have you considered a projected increase in the rate and the associated increase in your mortgage payment?

Have you thought about what might happen with recurring expenses? Cable bills, power bills, and water bills all seem to rise from year to year.

Affording it now isn’t good enough

You may finance a major purchase. Sure it’s only $100 a month. You can cover it now. But if it stretches your budget to its limit, it’s likely you won’t be able to cover it next year. You’ll start sinking and soon end up underwater, in a financial sense. You’ll run out of money before you run out of month!

It’s important to have a safety net – spending less than what you make each month.

A tool businesses use

We often don’t think about it this way, but we all run an organization – our households. Just like any organization, we have inflows and outflows of money.

Reasonably sophisticated business people work from a budget. Yes, the “b” word. Many people do treat budgets like a dirty word. But they’re a great tool.

And they’re especially important if you don’t have any money left over at the end of the month. It’s important to understand why. You can use Quicken, Excel or any number of ways to create your budget.

Many business people don’t just budget for one year. They look at projections over three years or more. These budgets don’t have to be elaborate – just plot out your main sources of inflows and outflows.

The power of the tool

Once you have a budget set up, you can look at “what if” scenarios. For example, what if:

  • you don’t get a pay raise
  • you (or your spouse) lose a job
  • the cost of health insurance (or any other cost) rises more than you expect?
  • you make this major purchase?

When you create a budget, you’re applying Stephen Covey’s “begin with the end in mind” and “put first things first” (from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) to your finances. You’re considering all your costs – both now and in the future. Then you can see the impact of major purchases on your overall finances so you make the best decision going forward.

You can run your finances intentionally, rather than ad hoc. You can prepare for contingencies so you survive no matter what. Then you can shift your focus to thriving!

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Thanks for stopping by today. Next time, we’ll discuss how assumptions we make about time leave us overextended. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Smart Investors, Tough Times

investing People who find joy in bad news have to be pretty happy lately. The financial crisis has dominated the news, as we watch Wall Street and Washington scramble.

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We don’t usually do this – in fact, we’ve never done it in the 230 shows we’ve done so far. But this subject is so important and so timely. So we want to share some valuable information that our newsletter subscribers received in their In boxes last Friday.

In the last edition of The Bigg Success Weekly, we discussed “Profiting from Panic”. It was about maintaining the proper mindset in the midst of all this turmoil.

We started with the safety net that exists for depositors, investors, and insureds. Here are some links directly to pages that can answer your questions about banks, brokers, and insurers in a hurry. 

Banks

In general, banks are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). However, not all money invested through banks is insured. What would happen if your bank failed? If you have accounts with a failed bank, what should you do? How can you obtain a release of lien, if a failed institution is your lienholder? The following links provide the answers to all of these questions:

What is the FDIC

A Guide to What Is and Is Not Protected by FDIC Insurance

FDIC Bank Find (make sure your institution is FDIC insured)

When a Bank Fails- Facts for Depositors, Creditors, and Borrowers

Is My Account Fully Insured?

Obtaining a Lien Release

Brokers

Accounts with brokerage firms also offer some protection through the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). The coverage isn't anything like that offered by the FDIC, but it's still important to know what remedies might be available to you. 

How SIPC Protects You

Insurers

While banks and brokers have federal backing, insurance companies have backing through associations at the state level.

The National Conference of Insurance Guaranty Funds

If your insurance company fails, you'll want to contact your state's Department of Insurance, since insurance companies are overseen by that department in each state in which they operate. Click here for a directory of each state's office. 

Your State's Department of Insurance or Guaranty Association

Two billionaires, two eras, one mindset

Warren Buffett, the richest man in the world according to Forbes, recently invested $5 billion in Goldman Sachs, in the midst of all this turmoil. That’s pretty typical of how he’s made his fortune – he says he’s “fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.”

He has also opined, “We want to do business in [a pessimistic] environment, not because we like pessimism but because we like the prices it produces.”
 
From: The Warren Buffett Way: Investment Strategies of the World’s Greatest Investor, by Robert Hagstrom, Jr. 

Warren Buffett is not alone.

J. Paul Getty was one of the first billionaires and the richest man in the world in his day, according to The Guinness Book of World Records. He said, “I began buying stocks at the depths of the [Great] Depression. Prices were at their lowest, and there weren’t many stock buyers around. Most people with money to invest were unable to see the forest of potential profit for the multitudinous trees of their largely baseless fears.”

He went on to say that he made over 100 times his investment on many of these stocks!

From: How To Be Rich, by J. Paul Getty.

Our best strategy

So we can learn from these two men that we shouldn’t panic, even in turbulent times. Now, you may not want to rush out and buy a bunch of stocks. However, you probably shouldn’t sell out right now either.

These two billionaires made a fortune by going against grain. So keep making those 401(k) contributions. By investing consistently over time – paycheck by paycheck – you’re dollar-cost averaging into the market. In bad times, you’ll buy more shares with the same money than you can in good times – just like the billionaires. 

Above all – diversify, diversify, diversify. Diversification is one of the four key investment principles, according to William Sharpe, a Nobel Prize winning financial economist. Our newsletter subscribers read about these as well as some ideas to simply put them into practice.

Today, more than ever, it’s important for you to take on the role of Chief Investment Officer for you and your family. You can’t count on Wall Street or Washington to do it for you!

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If you would like to get the newsletter we’ve referred to here, just e-mail us: bigginfo@biggsuccess.com, with “Profiting from Panic” in the subject line. We’ll send it to you and sign you up for The Bigg Success Weekly!

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Next time, we’ll discuss why it’s so important to move beyond personal productivity. 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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