Thursday, July 30, 2009

Suze Orman- Let's put People First, Okay?


Here is a posting from a friend and fellow blogger of mine, MoneyMonk. Check out her blog, she's working always on increasing her cash flow and MoneyMonk's advice I have found to be sensible as well as down-to-earth. The other day I was wandering through her postings and happened to find this one regarding Suze Orman. MoneyMonk is a fan of Suze, but I will admit to you, right now, that I am not. I have read Suze's first and second book and after that I became less enamored of this financial coach when I started learning more and more about the financial road she has traveled and they type of advice she gave to youth. It is not in line with my own philosophy. 'Nough said.

There are many roads to financial stability. Find the one that works for you and your purpose in life. Make sure that the financial coach you are using whether it be David Bach, Robert Kyosaki, Suze Orman, Dave Ramsey or someone else has a lifestyle and philosophy that is close to what you want for yourself. Otherwise the advice will not jive with where you want to go in your later years. MoneyMonk does a great job at defining just this point....

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I was watching the "Can I afford it?" segment on The Suze Orman Show, last Friday. A caller called in, he was 68 years old. He wanted to buy his wife (of 40 years) a trip around the world that cost about $30,000 for their 40th wedding anniversary.I got a quick snap of their finances, I cannot remember his exact numbers, but I did see that the couple had no debt, some savings, and roughly about $280,000+ saved in retirement.

Suze denied him because they did not have 8 months of savings. Blah humbug!Look Suze, The man is retired!! 68 years old, not sure if they had children, but I'm sure he and his wife after 40 years of marriage went through a lot of ups and downs. Let them enjoy their lives a little.Being 68, he faces no penalty for withdrawing money from retirement. After all he wife deserves a trip after 40 years of marriage. Tomorrow is not promised. They are not sloppy with their money because they did not have any debt.What's $30,000 if they have 6 figures saved? I would have approved him, simply because being married that long is something to celebrate. I cannot imagine the look on his wife face when her husband told her they cannot afford it.

Suze, retirement is suppose to be enjoyed. This is their time. Let them have it.Suze, what ever happened to PEOPLE FIRST?

I'm a fan of the show, but I am mad at you on this one.
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Folks, just be careful out there with the information you are given regarding your money. It is totally true that "No one cares for your money more than you do." However, it is also a statement that is used so much in the financial business that most folks ignore it and abdicate their financial decisions to an expert. You become the expert on YOUR money. Okay? Keep on reading, learning and investing. You'll end up wealthy as long as you keep saving and staying out of debt. Hang in there and have a great week.

Lastly, Thanks to MoneyMonk for letting me post her work. By the way, MoneyMonk and I don't agree on everything financial either, but she lives her talk and that earns major points in my book! LOL! Give her blog a look for a fresh perspective on money.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Don't Save Money in your 401(k)


Okay, now that I have your attention. Please disregard this title. I found an article in a highly circulated newspaper (I will NOT say which one) that sported this sort of a title and I immediately read the article to find out what financial nincompoop (I'm sorry, I can't be kind on this one) would actually advise in this economy NOT to save. Well, after you read the article you find out that the advice is sound if you have a 401(k) that is in certain types of fund, with lower than average rates managed by certain individuals. All-in-all less than 1% of Americans would have benefited from this advice.

I was on the phone that very afternoon with one of my fellow financial writers and I was venting about this particular article. In the middle of full rant, Liz stops me and says, "Janine! These are the types of titles that get eyeballs, okay?!" Oh. Right. Sigh. Yes, I know. These are the sorts of catchy-in-your-face types of headlines that will attempt to induce folks to read.

However, what I have found in my clients is that most of them don't read the full article to see if the advice applies to them and they end up calling me and telling me how they have pulled money from their long-term savings vehicles and what gold mine should they invest in. (Truth! I lie to you not on this one. Actual phone call!)

My advice to you, frugal friend, is this. Read the articles. See if this advice really applies to your personal situation. Whatever you do, don't invest in gold mines or other such high-risk ventures unless you have money you don't mind losing. Sure you could hit it big, but you could lose it all too. You know what my grandpa used to call high-risk investmenting? Gambling. Don't gamble (a.k.a. high risk investing) until you have:



  • 3-6 months of income saved

  • IRA or 401(k) is maxed out

  • 529 plans for kids' educations maxed out

That way if you lose all of your investment that is high risk you don't lose the house too. Make sense? Personally, I wouldn't advise ever going the high-risk investing route. I'm too conservative for that. My husband and I work way, way too hard for our money to gamble it. However, if that is your thing...go ahead, just be smart about it. End of lecture. I'll get off my soap box now. Thank you for listening.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Twitter Beginner's Guide - Thanks to Penny C. Sansevieri

Hey, everyone! Today we have a guest blogger! Woo-hoo. Many of you have been asking me about Tweeting, Twitter, The twitter-verse, etc. So, I thought I would have a buddy of mine write up a guide for all of you that may be a bit perplexed by all these Tweets that folks are talking about on the news as well as in daily conversation.

Penny Sansevieri is a dear friend of mine (everytime we are in the same city we go out to lunch to "catch up!") as well as my book agent (yes, it is possible!) and I learned so much from her in a 30 minute conversation about Twitter, I thought I would let her have the "floor" in letting you know her tricks and tips on working with this interesting, unique platform. These tips work well for the person who just wants to stay in touch with friends as well as for the businessperson wishing to extend their marketing model. Enjoy!

Twitter: A Beginner's Guide
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There's a hot new trend going on right now and it's called micro-blogging. So what's a micro-blog? And moreover, what's Twitter? Twitter is a micro-blogger platform that allows users to create entries that are only 140 characters in length. These entries are referred to as "tweets". Originally designed to keep friends and family up to date on what you're doing, Twitter can also be a great place to share your latest book project, promotional ideas as well as interacting with fellow tweets (folks who twitter) and writers. And yes, you can have a blog and a Twitter page. I have both but I feed my blog into my Twitter site so that my Twitter page gets updated each time I add new content to my blog. There's an easy application to add your blog feed to Twitter, it takes just minutes to do. Head on over to: Twitterfeed, http://twitterfeed.com/. Don't feel bad if the first time you go to Twitter it seems like a mess of conversation, most people feel confused when they first enter Twitter-land and many don't see the point.


When I made my first entrance into micro-blogging none of it made sense to me. It seems a bit useless to be honest but then I got the hang of it and saw the real benefit to having and managing a Twitter account. That's really the key. Much like any social media tool we've discussed it's more than just having an account: you have to manage it too. But give yourself a little time on Twitter before you give up on it, at some point it'll either all make sense or it won't. Either way you're only out a few hours and, perhaps, a few informational tweets. Here's a quick start up guide to getting into the Twitterverse today:
1) To sign up for a Twitter account just go to www.twitter.comand complete their short sign up form. Accounts are free of course, you just have to fill out their form. Remember to brand yourself! This is important. Once you create a Twitter account you can't go back and change your name so find something that works for you. Maybe it's fictionwriter or businesswriter or whatever you want. My Twitter page is @bookgal, (note that all Twitter names are preceded by an @ when referenced on the site; you can also find me at http://twitter.com/bookgal) this is fun play on words for what I do (and what I love). I don't recommend that you use an underscore (so stay away from Michael_the_writer) since underscores can be tough to remember, and if someone is trying to tweet to you from their cell phone or blackberry those underscore keys can be tricky.
2) The email address you use for Twitter is important. Because of the nature of frequent communication on this site I recommend that you use an email that you check daily. Opportunities abound on Twitter and they're usually in the form of direct messages (DM) which you'll get notified of in your email account.
3) Get rid of the brown square: no one wants to follow an ugly brown square (which is the default picture Twitter gives you when you sign up) so be sure and upload a picture of yourself or whatever logo you want associated with your Twitter page and brand. Before you do this though check out some of the other pictures folks have used and see what resonates. Because you're easily branded to your picture on Twitter I don't recommend changing it once you've uploaded it. Also, the picture can't be too complex, you want to be able to see it small which is how most of the avatars show up.
4) All about you: don't forget to add your bio and web site. It's important to identify yourself on this site and remember if your Twitter followers want to know more about you they're likely to click on the bio info to get more background on you.
Now you're ready to start tweeting!

Once you have a Twitter account you can immediately enter into the conversation. You can also keep up with other people's tweets by "following" them. Their micro-blog entries will show up on your Twitter home page so you can easily keep track of them. You can also be notified by phone (text message) when they add a tweet. You can twitter from anywhere, even your phone. I've been known to twitter from my blackberry.
Why on Earth Would you Want to Twitter?

When Twitter first started, people were a little perplexed and, as I mentioned before, many first time Tweets just don't get it. I mean why on earth would you want to blog in 140 characters? Well since the site emerged in 2006, it's grown enormously in popularity. With Twitter pages from sites like CNN and every one of the political candidates, the site's popularity can't be overstated. Nor can its applications for the future. Also, even if you don't have a ton of people following your tweets, keep in mind that Twitter search sites are popping up everywhere. This means that if you tweet using keywords that matter to your reader/market, you could be found and followed! For one such search site check out: http://summize.com/ (there are numerous other ways to search and new ones popping up all the time). Also, if you're trying to gauge the popularity of a certain word or phrase and how often it's being used or referred to, you can head on over to Tweet Volume and find out, http://www.tweetvolume.com/. Just plug in your search term or terms and up will pop a list of results!
They key with Twitter isn't to land on the site and say "What can this site do for me" but rather ask yourself, "What can I do for the folks on this site?" For example, when I started Twittering on other helpful blogs and websites and linking to my own articles that I'd syndicated on the 'Net my followers doubled and tripled on a daily basis. When I plug in my keywords and respond a few times a day to questions people pose on Twitter and offer helpful advice, my followers increase again. One of the other things I did on the site was log onto Socialtoo.com and used the site to autofollow anyone who follows me, this site also sends a welcome message to everyone with a free download of Twitter tips. This helps me capture email addresses who will then become a part of our email newsletter readership.
Twitter Tricks

There's a little something on Twitter called @replies, these are replies written to a specific person. So, for example if someone were commenting on one of my tweets they might say "I liked that link @bookgal" and that will immediately pop up on my @replies Twitter page. You should always (or whenever possible or appropriate) respond to @replies.
Hash tags: this # (hashtag) symbol is a great way to bring even more exposure to your topic, especially something that's making the news. Recently there was a lot of dialog on Twitter about #queryfail, which was a site dedicated to posting the worst query letters. If you post a tweet on Twitter and decide to hashtag it, meaning you put a # before the keyword, you could explode the topic on Twitter if enough people are searching for it.
Repeat, repeat: because there's so much noise on Twitter it's ok to repeat your tweets. I will generally repeat them once a week or every two weeks depending on the nature of the post. I use a service called Postlater.com to recycle and repurpose content on Twitter. Let's face it, there's only so much you can see in a day so when you really start to build followers they may not get to all your posts, reposting and repeating is ok, just don't overdo it.
Retweeting: also called RT - this is a cool way to engage and connect with others in your market. If you see a post you like RT it, it's easy to do via Tweetdeck.com which I'll describe more in the next paragraph.
Engaging on Twitter

One thing that's important to note about Twitter is that while it's great for sharing info, it's also all about personal connections which is why I encourage you to respond to @replies and DM's. Join in the conversation, start a conversation or answer someone's question. There's a lot of debate about whether to follow everyone that follows you but I always do, not just out of courtesy but if they've followed me, they are likely in my industry and may at some point have a question. That's where Tweetdeck.com comes in. This nifty little program gives you a much more global overview of your Twitterverse. You can show all your @replies, DM's but you can also do searches based on keywords or # hashtags. That way, whenever a question pops up you can answer, it's easily spotted.
What on Earth will you Talk about?

You know I didn't know either when I first started, it was really up to me to figure out what my followers wanted and in my case, they wanted information. Lots of it. So I gave them what they wanted. Once you figure out what your followers want you'll find your stride on Twitter. Maybe you're just sharing insights about the writing life or publishing information, helping other writers. Does this sell books? Sure it does. Helping others will no doubt spotlight what you do as well so don't make it all about you. If you're still confused about what to talk about consider this. Let's say you're at a cocktail party, would you walk up to a group of people and say "Hi, my name is Sam and my book is awesome, please buy it?" I didn't think so. Your Internet conversations should be viewed as a cocktail party/networking event.

So how do you know it's working? With all the twitter about, well, Twitter, how do you really know this stuff is working? Well, you'll know when you know. Trust me on this. The first few weeks I was on there I thought very little of it, then as I started to engage, interact and see my stuff getting retweeted and then also adding followers like crazy, that's when I realized I was onto something. In the past four months I've gotten four speaking gigs, around ten media and guest blogging opportunities and a dozen new client inquiries. Twitter works if you work it. When you do, well, the results will be worth retweeting about!

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Thanks so much, Penny! I really appreciate you giving us your advice and expertise on this micro-blogging platform from the Internet. If you would like to learn more cool tips from Penny on a variety of marketing topics for the world wide web, be sure to sign up for her newsletter on www.amarketingexpert.com and don't forget to follow her funny and informative blog at: http://amarketingexpert.com/ameblog/ 

Have a great day, everyone!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fear of Failure with Money. Battle the Beast and Win!

Failure after long perseverance is much grander than never to have had a striving good enough to be called a failure.
-George Eliot

Dealing with the emotion of Fear is a BIG issue in life, and nowhere more so than in money matters. Many of my students over the years have known that this one emotion is THE sentiment that keeps them and money from having a productive relationship. You know that you need money to get by in life, and many folks tell me that they only want enough money to feel "comfortable." And they don't want to have more than their "fair share." But this emotion, Fear, is what always seems to be keeping their dreams at bay. It keeps them from acting when they should, sometimes forces them to act when they shouldn't, and generally prevents them from thinking and learning when they can. They are held hostage to their fear and are unable to make the changes necessary to better their financial lives.

There are many faces of Fear. It comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and times. There are times when fear is like a quiet nagging voice that won't shut up when you're trying to bring some control to your financial life. At other times it is the five-pound block of ice sitting in your belly as you look at the overdue bills on your desk and wonder how they can be paid on time—or maybe at all. It might be the sharp stabbing pain of realization that you just allowed a check to bounce, and it was for the rent. No matter what form Fear takes, there is one aspect that is consistent in all of its varieties: Fear is debilitating. It robs you of your reason and your will power, usually just when you need them the most. Worse yet, Fear in managing your money often seeps out to poison other areas of your life with Fear.

Fear is not only a big emotion, it is also quite complex. To fight it, to beat it, we need to understand the several faces of Fear so that we can form a plan of attack for each one in turn. Let's break up the emotion of Fear so that we can better deal with its hydra-headed nature. There are four major areas where fear hits us and leaves us feeling like we have had a sharp blow to the gut.

The Fear of Failure
The Fear of Inadequacy
The Fear of Ridicule
The Fear of the Unknown


Each one of these aspects of Fear is constantly working in our heads, individually and in combination, to keep us from living to our true potential. We have limitless abilities. (Ask any metaphysician!) Scientists say that we use only about 10% of our native brain power. So, we should have plenty of available mental resource to achieve our short-term goals and our long-term dreams. However, the insidious power of Fear crushes hope and leaves us sitting at our desks just wanting to curl into the fetal position and shut out the world. (Does anyone else assume this instinctive, protective position during stress, or is it just me?) Well, let's win our lives back from Fear, shall we? First off, let's deal with the biggest Fear most of my readers have on the wealth accumulation path, the Fear of Failure.


Numerous books have discussed the Fear of Failure. How to overcome it. How to live with it. How to feel it and live life anyway! I have chosen to address this topic in a slightly different vein. Rather than dealing with Fear head-on as most books do, we are going to sneak up on it by using the weapon of positive perspective. Okay? Fear and Creativity are tied together hand in hand. They both exist in balance. It makes sense, doesn't it? I mean, if the human race is to evolve, individuals and societies have got to try new stuff. However, it can't be so radical that it wipes out the whole clan with one stupid stunt, right? So, it is natural that Fear and Creativity are walking side-by-side. Because of this intimate relationship, one of the biggest barriers to humans achieving greatness in their lives has been produced.


Let me define a bit here so that we're understanding one another. Each person on this planet has a spectrum of gifts and talents that is totally unique. I don't care what your first-grade teacher told you or what your Uncle Clyde or Aunt Rosy says, you have a purpose on this Earth that only you can fulfill. Unfortunately, purpose alone does not achieve any prize. Such prizes are attained only when a powerful purpose is tackled with ambition, passion, and a willingness to accept some setbacks along the way. The road to success is paved in failure. The main difference between successful people and individuals who are viewed as failures is that the winners kept on trying until they succeeded, no matter how long it took or how hard the struggle seemed. Right now, it is your fear of failure that is likely the major obstacle keeping you from stepping out and grasping at that brass ring of "Purpose." Fear of Failure stops many people from even trying. Sad, isn't it? Many folks don't even try. They shrug their shoulders and walk away, accepting a life of getting by. Well, since you're still reading, I'm going to assume that you are in a different category.

To read more of this chapter please follow this link (http://curingyourcashcrisis.com/index.php?title=Chapter_Four:_Fear) so that you can add your comments and ideas. I'm in the middle of working on book number five on money issues called, Curing Your Cash Crisis, where the issues of money must be dealt with first and then your money issues fall into place. I would appreciate your participation. Thanks! Have an abundant summer.

Janine

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Car Insurance, Umbrella Policies, Teen Drivers, Oh My!


Hi Janine,


Can I bother you for a question about car insurance?


We are just raised the liability insurance on our cars to $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. Since we have two teen drivers and about $130,000 of equity in our house, we wonder if you would recommed an umbrella policy. Although an umbrella policy is only $200 or $300 more per year, it will actually double our annual premiums because it will require us to raise our liability to $250 per person and $500,000 per accident.
Thanks for your help,

Amber

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Dear Amber:


I'm glad to help you, but this is really not my area of expertise. I've chatted it over with my husband, Brad and he and I recommend the following.


1) An umbrella policy is CHEAP insurance if someone sues you. I can't remember are you in CA or VA? Or am I TOTALLY off? Anyhow, depending upon where you live and how suit (spelling?) happy folks are...you make the call.


2) Shop around for umbrella policies. Brad and I were both surprised that you would have your premiums go up on your car insurance while getting an umbrella policy too? Weird.


We have had umbrella policies for years and with three different companies and have not had that "required" from us. (the increase in premiums that is.) Now, we had to increase our deductibles, but not the premiums for the car insurance. Okay?


Again, we are NOT experts. This is just advice from one friend to another and I wish you much luck as you insure your family. It truly is a crazy reality when you're dealing with the world of insurance, but it is totally worth it with your first financial crisis! Right? Hang in there and know I'm cheering for you!


Wishing you and yours much Abundance,

Janine


P.S. If any of you wonderful readers have additional pointers or advice for Amber, please post your comments. What sort of experiences have you folks had with umbrella policies? Thanks!