In this issue:
5 Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires
How to Determine if You're Smartly Insured
15-Minute Financial Fixes to Save Time and Money
|5 Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires
They're just like you...But with lots of money. Here, five people who have at least a million dollars in liquid assets share the secrets that helped them get there:
- Set your sights on where you're going
Twenty years ago, Jeff Harris was a college dropout who struggled to support his wife, DeAnn, and three kids, working as a grocery store clerk and at a junkyard where he melted scrap metal alongside convicts. "At times we were so broke that we washed our clothes in the bathtub because we couldn’t afford the Laundromat™." Now he's a 49-year-old investment advisor and multimillionaire in York, South Carolina.
It all started for Jeff when he met a stockbroker at a Christmas party. "Talking to him, it felt like discovering fire," he says. "I started reading books about investing during my breaks at the grocery store, and I began putting $25 a month in a mutual fund." Next he taught a class at a local community college on investing. His students became his first clients, which led to his investment practice. "There were lots of struggles," says Jeff, "but what got me through it was believing with all my heart that I would succeed."
- Educate yourself
When Steve Maxwell graduated from college, he had an engineering degree and a high-tech job, but he couldn't balance his checkbook. "I actually had to go to my bank and ask them to teach me how to read my statement", says the 45-year-old father of three, who lives in Windsor, Colorado.
One of the biggest obstacles to making money is not understanding it. Thousands of us avoid investing because we just don't get it, "It bothered me that I didn't understand this stuff," says Steve, "so I read books and magazines about money management and investing, and I asked every financial whiz I knew to explain things to me." He and his wife started applying the lessons. They made a point to live below their means. Within 10 years, they were millionaires, and people were coming to Steve for advice.
- Passion pays off
Jill, who lives with her son in Alexandria, Minnesota, owned a gift basket company and earned just $15,000 a year. She noticed when she let potential buyers taste the food items, the baskets sold like crazy. Jill thought, "Why not sell the food directly to customers in a fun setting?" With $6,000 in savings, a loan and a friend's investment, Jill started packaging gourmet foods in a backyard shed and selling them at taste-testing parties. It wasn't easy. "I remember sitting outside one day, thinking we were three months behind on our house payment, I had two employees I couldn't pay, and I ought to get a real job. But then I thought, no, this is your dream. Recommit and get to work."
She stuck with it, even after her husband died three years later. "I live by the law of abundance, meaning that even when there are challenges in life, I look for the win-win," she says. The positive attitude worked. Jill's backyard company, Tastefully Simple, is now a direct-sales business, with $120 million in sales last year. And Jill was named one of the top 25 female business owners in North America by Fast Company magazine. According to research by Thomas J. Stanley, author of The Millionaire Mind, over 80 percent of millionaires say they never would have been successful if their vocation wasn't something they cared about.
- Grow your money
A little moonlighting cash really can grow into a million. Twenty-five years ago, Rick Sikorski dreamed of owning a personal training business. "I rented a tiny studio where I charged $15 an hour," he says. When money started trickling in, he squirreled it away instead of spending it, putting it all back into the business. Rick's 400-square-foot studio is now Fitness Together, a franchise based in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, with more than 360 locations worldwide. And he’s worth over $40 million.
When extra money rolls in, it's easy to think, "Now I can buy that new TV." But if you want to get rich, you need to pay yourself first, by putting money where it will work hard for you - whether that's in your retirement fund, a side business or investments like real estate.
- No guts, no glory
At 29, Dave was broke, living in a small apartment near Boston and wondering what to do after 10 years in a local rock band. "I looked around and thought, if I don't do something, I'll be stuck here forever." He started a landscape company, buying his equipment on credit. When business literally froze over that winter, a banker friend asked if he'd like to renovate a foreclosed home. "I'm a terrible carpenter, but I needed the money, so I went to some free seminars and figured it out as I went," he says.
After a few more renovations, it occurred to him: Why not buy the homes and sell them for profit? He took a risk and bought his first property. Using the proceeds, he bought another, and another. Twelve years later, he owns apartment buildings, worth $143 million, in eight states.
- The biggest secret? Stop spending
Every millionaire we spoke to has one thing in common: Not a single one spends needlessly. Real estate investor Dave Lindahl drives a Ford Explorer and says his middle-class neighbors would be shocked to learn how much he's worth. Fitness mogul Rick Sikorski can't fathom why anyone would buy bottled water. Steve Maxwell, the finance teacher, looked at a $1.5 million home but decided to buy one for half the price because "a house with double the cost wouldn’t give me double the enjoyment."
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|How to Determine if You're Smartly Insured
Has your driving routine changed because of a job loss? Notify your insurance agent immediately if you are putting less mileage on your car and your rates will be lowered. Drivers willing to raise their deductible from $250 to $1,000 can save as much as 40 percent on their policies. Don't buy the bare minimum of coverage unless that is all you can afford because accident costs can quickly add up. (Check Edmunds.com for a list of state requirements). Bankate.com recommends that the amount of coverage is higher than your assets or else attorneys are likely to come after your home or other assets to pay for damages caused by an accident where you are at fault.
Homeowners often pay too much for coverage by insuring the value of the land that lies under their house, which is not at risk from natural and man-made disasters covered in your policy, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Experts also urge that people insure their home for enough to rebuild it as it was before it was felled by a disaster.
About the only thing that experts agree on is that many people lack life insurance that should have it and many people who have coverage don't have enough of it. New Hampshire agency owner Tom Minkler says he is "constantly amazed" by the customers he encounters without adequate coverage. Anyone wondering how much coverage they need might want to check out Bankrate's calculator which factors everything from burial costs to paying for college tuition to paying down a mortgage. Though there are estimates online about rules of thumb for calculating how much coverage, they should be avoided because they tend to result in people getting too little coverage.
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|15-Minute Financial Fixes to Save Time and Money
With 15 minutes, you can do a lot more than save a few bucks on your car insurance. Here are five quick financial moves you can do right now to improve your financial situation.
Start an emergency fund
An emergency fund is a pool of funds you set aside for unforeseen emergencies. It can cover something as small as replacing a flat tire on your car to something as big as losing your job. The goal of the fund is to give you access to cash without the penalty of interest. Fortunately, starting an emergency fund is very easy and something you can do in less than 15 minutes.
Credit history check
The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives Americans the right to see their credit report, for free, every 12 months. You can get a copy of your credit report from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion by visiting the government Web site AnnualCreditReport.com. It only takes a few minutes to request each report and, barring any complications, about 15 minutes to scan through it. Review it for accuracy and correct any errors immediately, no matter how inconsequential the errors may seem. The credit report dispute process can take weeks to months to resolve, so submit your dispute as soon as possible.
Open a Roth IRA. A Roth IRA is a retirement investment account that takes after-tax contributions and grows tax free. While you can't deduct your contributions, as you would with a Traditional IRA, your distributions in retirement are not subject to income tax. It's a popular retirement vehicle and convenient way to diversify your tax profile if you are contributing to a 401(k).
Simplify your finances. Take a few minutes to draw a financial network map that shows the relationships between all of your financial accounts. Show your checking accounts are linked to your savings accounts and credit cards. Draw how you pay your utilities or transfer money to your brokerage accounts. Try to get a nice, neat picture of your entire financial universe on one page. Does that page look overly complicated? If so, simplify it. Consolidate duplicate accounts, like multiple checking accounts or unnecessary credit cards, and optimize that network. By simplifying your finances, you stand a better chance of understanding and navigating it.
Shop around fixed expenses. How many bills do you get each month? How many do you pay without thinking about it? I pay the cable bill, cell phone bills, utility bills and scores of others. Take each of those bills and find out if you can get the same service for less. If you are no longer on a contract with your cable or cell phone provider, shop around to see if another company is willing to cut you a deal. If you haven't shopped around for insurance lately, look around. Companies are hurting as much as individuals. Use that to your advantage by securing a better deal.
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