Advice I Wish I Knew When I Started My First Business

I’d like to share some important tips when starting a small business inspired by the Office Depot Business Solutions Center as part of a sponsored post for Socialstars #GearLove.

I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, I didn’t have much of an interest in becoming a business owner.

I was way too involved in everything sports  and I probably invested a little more than I should have in baseball cards – dang, Jose Canseco!

My childhood was focused on the here and now.

I mean, come on, when was the last time you asked a kid what they’re interested in and they replied:

I’d like to build a business from scratch, write articles for major publications, and ponder the wonders of dollar-cost averaging and compound interest!

In college I studied finance and afterward thought it’d probably be a good idea to put that knowledge to good use.

Eventually, I started my own financial services firm and ventured into the sea of entrepreneurial opportunities.

Over the years, I learned a lot of lessons I wish I knew when I started my first business. Some of those lessons I learned the hard way, and others I thankfully realized before they sunk my ship.

advice for first business

Here are some of the top lessons I learned. Read them, let them soak in, and don’t learn these the hard way!
[Read more…]

Get the Best Coverage by Finding the Right Life Insurance Company for YOU!

If you have people that rely on your income then life insurance HAS to be part of your financial plan.

I ran into a couple who had four children.  Their insurance agent had talked to them about getting a life insurance policy, but they had declined because the husband had $150,000 policy through his employer which was about one year of his salary.

About a year later he was diagnosed with stage four cancer and, as a result of the treatments, ended up not being able to continue in his job.

Now they have a situation where he is not able to work and if he does not recover his spouse will be left with four children and no insurance payout since the policy they did have was contingent on him keeping his job.

Even though the man is still alive, this is a heartbreaking story because his family is on the verge of financial ruin if he does not win this fight.

What we can all learn from it is that if people are depending on your income you need a life insurance policy [Tweet This] that is not connected to your employment with a company that has a good reputation.

The question I tend to get next is, “How do I know which company is the best one?”  My answer is always the same.  The best life insurance company is the one that insures you for the coverage amount you need, at the best premium, and will pay out if something were to happen to you.

Life Insurance Companies That Pay Out

While it is natural to be cautious with picking a company that holds your families financial health in its hand,

The truth is, that insurance companies RARELY fail. It would be difficult to document even a single example of a company that failed to pay a death benefit.
[Read more…]

How to Hack College and Graduate with ZERO Debt

The following guest post is from Martin of Studenomics. Today, Martin officially launches Next Round’s On Me, where it makes good financial sense to start saving in your 20s so that your older self will thank you.

I graduated college with zero debt and plenty of stories that I’m never going to forget.

That’s a statement I’m very proud of. Now that I’m 27 and a few years removed from school, I constantly thank my younger self for surviving college financially.

I’m so grateful that I don’t have to worry about making payments on my debt because life’s too short to be broke and I likely would’ve never gotten involved with personal finance blogging.

Before you dismiss this article by assuming that I’m some dork who missed out on life, you’re incorrect.

I never missed any parties I wanted to attend, I always had a girlfriend in college, and I certainly didn’t stay in playing video games.

I was probably too wild for my own good. The one thing I had going for me was that I was stubborn.

I was determined that I would finish college with no debt so that I could party in my 20s and live life on my own terms.

I came from a poor immigrant family and I never was a fan of the idea of owing money (especially over $20k!).

graduate college zero debt
[Read more…]

27 Signs You Are Financially Stable

“How do you want to pay for it?”

I had recently returned from Iraq and my wife and I were hunting for a couch for our new home.

We found one that was on sale we both thought it was perfect.

Okay, it was a red couch and she thought it was perfect. I, personally, didn’t understand why anyone would buy a red couch but apparently I didn’t understand home decor. Nonetheless, the wife’s vote trumped mine.

When the sales clerk asked how we wanted to pay suggesting we take advantage of their great in-store financing, an exciting thought ran through me – “we can pay cash”.

A year prior, that wouldn’t have been an option.  Not even close!

But now we found ourselves in a very exciting position; we were financially stable.

how to be financially stable

I can’t say that I 100% believed we were financially stable at that point in our lives, but it definitely was a turning point for us.  Not only could we pay cash, but we also had money left over.

People often spend most of their lives chasing financial stability. But is it possible that you may already be financially stable?

Here are 27 signs that you’re financially stable – already! And if you’re not, you can start working to make a lot of these a reality in your life.
[Read more…]

GF¢ 050: 5 Reasons Why You Should Never Buy a Variable Annuity


Breathe in. 

Smell that?

It’s the stench of a variable annuity.

If you just threw up a little bit in your mouth, I don’t blame you.

If you didn’t, you probably don’t know enough about variable annuities.

should you buy variable annuity

What’s a variable annuity?

It’s a contract between an owner and an issuer whereby the owner agrees to give the issuer principal, and in return, the issuer guarantees the owner variable payments over time.

Sounds innocent enough, but are they?

Variable annuities are one of those products of which I can pretty much make a blanket statement and say they’re horrible.

“Why are they horrible, Jeff?”

I thought you’d never ask. Let me count the ways!

[Read more…]

4 Practical Money Skills You MUST Teach Your Children

In a perfect world, parents and educators (not to mention society itself) would work hard to make sure that our children are financially literate.

In that utopian ideal, money skills would be considered just as important as reading, writing, and arithmetic, infants would cut their teeth on money books, and not knowing how to budget would have the same stigma as being illiterate.

practical money skills teach your kids about money

Unfortunately, the real world simply doesn’t work like that.

Society encourages debt rather than budgeting, schools barely touch on financial skills if they cover them at all, and parents who never learned money skills themselves don’t even know that they need to teach their children this stuff.

I know that I wasn’t taught this stuff in schools. Were you?

It’s up to individuals to recognize that their skills are lacking before they can even start to fill the gaps.

Parents ought to start helping their young children to learn basic money skills, even if they themselves never learned them.

Here are four of the most basic practical money skills that everyone should have and how to teach them to your children:
[Read more…]

4 Ways to Think Like a Millionaire

What do you think of when you imagine being a millionaire?

Do you look forward to the idea of buying a big house and a fancy car?

Do you imagine that riches are something that you will only acquire through incredible good luck?

Do you think about swimming in a vault full of coins, like Scrooge McDuck? (DuckTales was one of my favorite cartoons growing up, by the way)

If any of those is the case, then you are not thinking like a millionaire.


Despite what many of us non-millionaires might think, self-made wealth is not so much about a lucky break or knowing the right people.

It’s about a mindset—one that anyone can develop.

Here are four ways you can start thinking like a millionaire, as you work to become one:

[Read more…]

What Happens If You Don’t File Your Tax Return?

The old saying goes there are only two certainties in life: Death and Taxes.

We know we can’t cheat death, but did you ever wonder what happens if you file your tax return late? Or even worse,  you don’t file your tax return at all?

Frankly, I’m too scared to find out what would happen if I didn’t file my taxes .

Just in case you ever flirted with the idea, here’s the penalties you face from the IRS.

What happens if you file your taxes late

If you already missed the boat,  here are some options if you missed the tax deadline.

Warning: You don’t want to mess with the IRS.  Depending on the nature of the actual return, you are either faced with paying interest or even worse, penalties. Consider, at least, filing a tax extension.

When Are Taxes Due in 2015?

Update: The tax filing date for 2015 is April 15th. Since April 15th falls on a Wednesday and there is no government holiday (unlike past years), that is the day your taxes are due.

Interest When You File Tax Return Late

Interest on underpayments or over-payments runs from the extended due date of the tax return, i.e. April 15th of any given year.  Regular interest is set by statute, but underpayment incurs a 1% premium rate, compared with the rate of interest that will be paid by the IRS on over-payments or refunds.

Basically, expect to be paying more interest in you owe money to the IRS, versus if you paid too much.  If you are owed a refund, you’ll still earn interest on the amount entitled to you, just at a lower interest rate.  It’s kind of like getting a loan from a bank versus how much they pay in their savings accounts. [Read more…]

Are Annuities a Good Investment? The Good, Bad, and Real Ugly


You may have heard investment advisors – or insurance advisors – talk about them in the past. In fact, earlier I described several reasons you should and shouldn’t buy annuities.

If you catch me on the street and ask if annuities are a good investment, I’d tell you the short answer is that it depends.

If you press me further, I’d tell you that most of the time they aren’t a good investment.

If you demand clarification, I’d probably just shoot you a link to this article – unless you’d like to take me to In-N-Out Burger and pick up the tab. 😉

are annuities a good investment

Here, I’m going to define annuities, show you why some people buy them, present two particular types of annuities, and show you a few alternatives you might like.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me! Let’s get started.
[Read more…]