10+ Habits of People Who Are Great at Saving Money

Good savers start early, say Janet Stanzak and Kristin Garrett, certified financial planners who started their firm Financial Empowerment as a way to help people kick bad money habits and develop better ones. Many good money savers were taught as children to sock away for a rainy day but even those who weren’t have learned to jump on an opportunity. “As soon as they see they have an option, like a retirement savings plan through work, they take it,” Garrett says. “Good savers don’t procrastinate financial decisions.”

Good savers have a retirement account

It’s not new advice but there’s a reason every financial adviser repeats it: Because this is your future we’re talking about. A good rule of thumb is to put 10 percent of your paycheck each month straight into a retirement account, Garrett says.

Good savers know the difference between wants and needs

One of the biggest lies we’re sold today, Stanzak says, is that wants are actually needs. “I’ve had so many clients try and tell me that travel, new clothing, and eating out are real needs,” she says. “They’re really not.” Instead, good savers actually write down a list of their basic needs, their wants, and their big wishes. These frugal living tricks will help you squeeze more out of everyday things.

Good savers don’t use bill autopay

Autopay makes banking easier: In fact, it makes it too easy for money to flow in and out without your really registering what’s happening, Garrett says. Whether it’s writing out a physical check or filling out the form online, intentionally paying your bills makes your brain note the expenditure. Even better, she adds, good savers write all those down in their budget. Which leads us to…

Good savers have a budget

Yes, a real, honest-to-goodness written chart or spreadsheet that they update and balance regularly is a trademark of good money savers. “The first clue you have that someone has a problem with money is when they can’t provide their monthly cash flow,” Stanzak says. You can’t save if you don’t even know how much money you have to begin with.

Good savers use cash or checks

This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, Stanzak says, but good savers often tend to use physical types of money. “Research shows you spend 20 percent more when using a credit card because it makes purchasing feel less ‘painful,'” she explains. Handing someone a wad of cash or writing out a check provides enough of a mental speed bump to slow down many impulse buys. Here are 13 sneaky things your credit card company might know about you.

Good savers prioritize saving

It sounds simple but one of the best habits good savers have is simply making saving a priority in their lives, says Andrea Woroch, a consumer-finance expert. “Before spending on anything else, they pay themselves first by putting savings into a retirement account or other self directed savings account,” she says.

Good savers keep track of the little things

What’s a latte here or a $0.99 app there? Little things can add up to big expenses quickly, Garrett says, often before you even realize what’s happening. Good savers will write down in their check ledger or budget all their expenses, even the tiniest ones.

Good savers look for deals

eing frugal is a big part of saving money. And good savers are not too proud to use coupons, hunt down the best deal, or research all possible options before buying. “Good savers think through each purchase and research alternatives like used options, compare competitor prices, look for coupons, and read reviews in detail to make the best buying decision,” Woroch says. Here are 33 tricks to get deals on just about anything.

Good savers adjust for life changes

You’d be amazed at how many people get divorced but keep living their married lifestyle,” Stanzak says. Big life changes, like job layoffs, divorces, and illness, inevitably affect our budgets. Good savers amend their spending to reflect their new earning or income status regardless of how painful it is to acknowledge.

Good savers take free money

Does your employer give you a discount on your insurance for getting a check-up every year? Does your company have employee stock options or offer to match your retirement savings? Do you have flight miles or hotel points accrued that you’re not using? Many people leave this so-called “free money” on the table, Woroch says. It may take a little extra effort to fill out the paperwork, but it’s worth the time.

Savvy savers confess how low they go to save a buck

WE all know it’s not so easy to live in today’s economy.

Housing prices continue to rise, cigarettes cost a bomb, even just buying the groceries can break the bank.

But some money-savvy people have shared their secrets on how they manage to hold onto a couple of bucks, and you’d be surprised by the lengths they go to.

Some of their saving hacks are disturbing and at times even a little gross. Check out the best below.

CHEAP CONSUMPTION

Sometimes the McDonald’s ‘loose change’ menu just isn’t cheap enough.

One user posted to Reddit about how their mother used to save money — by taking her own cheese to Maccas to make her own cheeseburgers.

Others also said they took their own fizzy drink cans to save a couple of dollars.

While some people eat, others tend to skip meals with one Reddit user admitting to fasting on Fridays.

Another smart saver said she took advantage of the free refills at her usual coffee shop.

“I took the same cup to Starbucks for two weeks straight,” she said.

“I had to get rid of the cup when it started falling apart.”

HYGIENE HACKS

This is where things get a little bit gross.

One person admitted to Reddit they had used the same disposable razor for six months.

They also confessed to wearing the same contact lenses for more than two months — they were only meant to last two weeks.

Worse than that, one woman said she stopped buying tampons and sanitary pads.

She revealed she rolled up toilet paper into a makeshift pad.

She also said she repaired really old leggings by putting electrical tape on the inside of the holes. At least she admitted it was shameful.

We all know sometimes deodorant isn’t that cheap, but it’s an absolute necessity.

One money savvy person said they refused to waste one drop of their roll-on.

“Using a sharp knife, I made a speed stick deodorant last an extra month by scraping out bits with the knife and hand applying it to my underarms,” they said.

“You’d be amazed at how much is wedged in the applicator holes.”

This is possibly the most hilarious and creative way to save a bit of money.

A group of people used to hang around theatres where The Rocky Horror Picture Show was performed on stage.

They did this purely to collect the skerricks of toilet paper that were thrown by character Brad Majors when he yells “Great Scott!”.

 

DODGY DEALS

One man admitted to cheating the system to get cheap prices.

Usually people make fake IDs to pretend they’re older, but this man made one to make him seem younger.

“I laminated fake IDs when I was in college to get children’s discounts at places that offered cheaper prices for kids under 18,” he said.

This might not be the best plan however, as it backfired on him when he got caught at a ski resort.

“I had to pay the difference in front of all my friends,” he said.

The lift operator was scanning his friend’s adult tickets and then raised his eyebrows when he saw a children’s ticket in the mix.

The college student was trying to pass himself off as a 17-year-old.

 

 

Stock Market Highs Make Strong Case for Precious Metal Buys

Dow 20,000 was ushered in with great fanfare. Traders on the New York Stock Exchange sported “Dow 20,000” hats. Even President Donald Trump joined the celebration.

Trump told ABC News he was “very honored” that the stock market gave his presidency a symbolic vote of confidence. He said,

Now we have to go up, up, up. We don’t want it to stay there.

Everyone loves a bull market. Expecting stocks to go up forever, however, is a dangerous mindset to have as an investor. Recent history suggests that major milestones for the Dow should be viewed less as cause for celebration and more as warning signs.

What 1999 Can Teach Us About 2017

A case in point: Dow 10,000. On March 29, 1999, the Dow Jones Industrials closed above 10,000 for the first time ever.

The financial media, of course, cheered the milestone, feeding the public Wall Street propaganda rather than healthy skepticism.

Sure, the perma-bulls will always concede, there might be a pullback at some point. But books like Dow 36,000, released in 1999, bolstered the conventional wisdom that stocks were destined march higher over the next decade.

In fact, stocks went nowhere for 11 long years. The Dow suffered two crashes – one in 2002 and a bigger one in 2008.

In mid 2010, the blue chip average was right back where it was on March 29, 1999. The Dow crossed back above 10,000, as it had dozens of times before, to little fanfare.

It turned out to be the 10,000 cross that mattered. Finally, more than 11 years after the Dow first hit 10,000, stocks were in a new bull market. The Dow was on its way to 20,000.

Anyone thinking of buying stocks at today’s lofty valuations would be well advised to take heed of what happened to investors who bought at Dow 10,000 in 1999 and held on through today.

Yes, they did double their money (before dividends) in nominal terms.

But in real terms, the Dow hasn’t made any progress.

Investors would have been better off selling stocks when the Dow hit 10,000 and using the proceeds to purchase gold bullion.

Back in March 1999, silver sold for $5.20/oz and gold prices traded at a mere $285/oz. Gold values got as high as $1,900/oz in mid 2011 and today come in at $1,200/oz – still more than four times their 1999 levels.

That puts the Dow’s nominal rise from 10,000 to 20,000 in perspective. The index has merely flat-lined, at best, in real terms since 1999. Going forward, it may not even manage to do that.

Trump Knows He Inherited a Bubble

The price/earnings ratio on the Dow is now arguably in bubble territory. Valuations have been artificially inflated in no small part by the Federal Reserve. Last September, candidate Donald Trump called the Fed-fueled market “a big, fat, ugly bubble.”

President Donald Trump no longer sees it that way. Dow 36,000 here we come!

It will come eventually – even if only because of currency debasement. That doesn’t necessarily mean the next 5,000 point move in the Dow will be to the upside.

History suggests that investors will have better odds of making real gains in stocks by waiting to buy at lower valuations. A bear market in equities could commence at any time, and a final bottom could be years away. In the meantime, stocking up on alternative assets including precious metals will give you other opportunities to make real gains regardless of where the Dow heads over the next few years.

Will Trumpflation Be to Metals What Stagflation Was in the 1970s?

Gold and silver markets have posted some of their biggest up moves when the stock market has been down or flat. The stagflationary late 1970s weren’t kind to stocks, but they gave rise to a spectacular bull market in precious metals. It culminated in January 1980 with the price of an ounce of gold briefly equaling the quote on the Dow Jones Industrials.

From 1980 – 2000, Dow to gold ratio moved from as low as 1:1 to as high as 43:1. From 2000 – 2011, it fell to as low 6:1. The Dow to gold ratio now stands at around 17:1. Should it ultimately revisit the 1:1 ratio, we’d be looking at a massive stock market crash, an explosive move higher in precious metals prices, or some combination of both.

Could gold prices one day meet the Dow at 20,000 or some other number? A return to the 1:1 ratio is an extreme scenario, to be sure. But it’s not far-fetched at all to suppose that history might repeat itself.

Even if Dow to gold only got back to a 4:1 ratio, moving out of stocks and into precious metals at current levels would be the trade of a lifetime. It would imply a potential $5,000 gold price to a 20,000 Dow – a 317% return on gold versus a 0% return on stocks in this hypothetical scenario.

In any major bull market for precious metals, the more volatile metal – silver – can be expected to post the bigger returns. Silver, being both a precious metal and an industrial metal, may also be well suited to benefit from Donald Trump’s pro-industrial policies. Silver is essential in many areas of manufacturing, especially electronic and high-tech products.

Silver is also one of the world’s most enduring forms of money. Along with gold, silver stands as a “hard” alternative to depreciating fiat currencies and bubbly financial assets.

Stock Market Warnings From Bonds and the Dollar

While I still believe the stock market has a date with higher prices this year, the past few days have shown that the path is not likely to be smooth. Just a few days after the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 20,000 for the first time, news from Washington cast a fearful shadow over the market.

The news changes hourly and can trigger emotional responses that end up being very wrong. The markets themselves offer more objective evidence, and right now I see a few items that investors should monitor.

The first is interest rates. In December I took a look at long-dated Treasury yields and concluded they had topped out for the time being. The iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond exchange-traded fund (ticker: TLT), which tracks long bond prices and moves inversely to interest rates, landed in a very major support zone (see Chart 1 below).

It was a combination of a six-year rising trendline and “regular” chart support from the major low set in 2015. Indeed, a few days later, the ETF bounced off that zone on its way to recapture 50% of the losses it suffered after the election. Unfortunately, it stalled there and headed back down to once again sit in that major support zone.

The inability for any market to move significantly higher after reaching a major support area is a bearish warning. Should the bond ETF break down, it would push long-term interest rates higher, and I suspect that would be a negative event for the stock market. This, despite market expectations for only two quarter-point federal-fund rate hikes this year.

The opposite end of the quality scale in the bond market also has a potential breakdown in play. Whereas Treasury bonds are considered to be default risk-free, high-yielding “junk” bonds do carry significant risk. Major ETFs tracking junk bonds, such as iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond (HYG), have already seen arguable breakdowns from the postelection rally (see Chart 2 below).

I say “arguable” because it is difficult to draw a clean trendline in the classical sense. But one look at the chart and it is easy to spot that a change has occurred. Plus, the current rally ran into resistance at the same level that stopped the previous rally in October. And now the ETF is just pennies away from breaking down below its January trading range.

All told, this is not a positive for stocks as it tells us that investors may be fleeing riskier assets. Junk bonds can be the canary in the coal mine for the stock market.

The next market to watch is the U.S. dollar. The greenback has been in decline since the start of the year and took a hit this week on comments from one of the president’s advisors that the euro was undervalued. The U.S. dollar index, which measures the dollar against a basket of currencies and is about half-weighted in the euro, set its lowest level since December.

Technically, the dollar is now testing the long-term upside breakout it made last November (see Chart 3). But there is very little room for error by dollar bulls here. Unless the market can stabilize here and bounce at least a little, we will have to conclude that the breakout failed. Failed bullish breakouts are another bearish sign.

The connection between the dollar and the stock market is not direct. A weak dollar does benefit exporters, but at some point it will reflect a general lack of demand for domestic assets, whether they are stocks, bonds, or products.

Again, I still believe stocks will be higher at some point this year, but the disruptive nature of current politics can easily spook investors and provide the excuse some need for a stock-market correction to begin. Technical evidence, such as market breadth, is still good, but the warnings coming from bonds and the dollar should not be ignored.

Wedding Veils and Hair Accessories to Match Your Bridal Style

In the same way that not every woman wants a solitaire diamond in platinum setting, a classic lace veil definitely doesn’t fit for every bride. From princess tiaras to vintage-inspired hair combs, find the headgear that best fits your wedding style, courtesy of Bridal Week 2017.

Rime Arodaky Baum Embroidered Silk-Tulle Veil, $920; net-a-porter.com

J. Crew Short Tulle Veil, $150; jcrew.com

Sachin & Babi Scalloped Lace Cathedral Veil, $995; modaoperandi.com

As seen at: Monique Lhuillier Bridal

Island Falls Flower Crown, $20;urbanoutfitters.com

Bhldn Gilt Wire Wreath, $100; bhldn.com

Topshop Metallic Flower and Butterfly, $18; topshop.com

Marc Jacobs Fan Hair Comb, $200;marcjacobs.com

Jenny Packham Tesoro Comb, £198;jennypackham.com

Percy Handmade Venus Crystal Bridal Hair Pins, $185; percyhandmade.com

Avigail Adam Wavy Leaf Hair Comb, $40;avigailadam.com

Erickson Beamon I Do Silver Plated, Swarovski Crystal and Faux Pearl Hair Slide, $1,015; net-a-porter.com

Rosantica Grace Gold-Tone Onyx Hairclip, $235; net-a-porter.com

Colette Malouf Crochet Pearl Garden Halo, $788; colettemalouf.com

Jennifer Behr Ora Bandeaux, $252;jenniferbehr.com

Olivia the Wolfe Rose Gold Crystal Headband, $89; asos.com

Pluie Crescent Comb with Pearl, $176;pluiehair.com

Emanuele Bicocchi Swarovski Crystal Crown, $541; luisaviaroma.com

Rock N Rose Cara Metal Crown, £38;rocknrose.co.uk

Saint Laurent Crystal-Embellished Tiara, $1,199; barneys.com

Gigi Burris Glisten Band Veiling, $380;modaoperandi.com

Gigi Burris Gemini Violette Headband with Veil, $360; bergdorfgoodman.com

Sara Gabriel Cara Embellished Bluser Veil Hair Ribbon, $227; nordstrom.com

 

Business Models

Types of Ecommerce Business Models

There are several types of ecommerce business models you can easily get up and running quickly: drop-shipping, wholesaling and warehousing, and white labeling and manufacturing.

Drop-Shipping

Drop-shipping is when you sell items on your website that are manufactured, fulfilled, and shipped to your customers by someone else. Generally, these relationships are established between you and a manufacturer or a wholesaler who has a warehouse full of the items you’d like to sell.

  You’ll then place those items for sale in your ecommerce store. Your job is to sell the items, and the manufacturer or wholesaler will fulfill the orders and ship them to your customers.

Wholesaling and Warehousing

This model is when you buy products in bulk and store them in a warehouse somewhere. Usually people who prefer this model are selling product in volume. People most commonly use this in a B2B market as opposed to a B2C model.

Using my previous example of an ecommerce store selling bearded dragon supplies, in this case, I’d be the wholesaler who sold the tank to a B2C business owner for $50, and they’d sell it individually on their website for $100. Whether or not I would also fulfill the order would depend on the type of business I’m in. With this model, you get better pricing because you’re buying in bulk instead of making one-off purchases, as in a drop-shipping business. If you’re buying in bulk and selling the items individually on your website to consumers, you also have better margins than you do with drop-shipping.

White Labeling and Manufacturing

Manufacturing is when you’re actually paying to have the items created for you. In white labeling, you aren’t manufacturing the product, but your licensing contract allows you to put your name or brand on it as if you are the manufacturer.

So with this scenario, you are either manufacturing products overseas or importing them from overseas and putting your brand on them. You’re the top of the product chain at this point.

 

Factors VCs Consider When Deciding to Invest In a Founder

When venture capitalists (VCs) evaluate entrepreneurs seeking funding, they look for two things — a big opportunity around a technology/product and a strong, well-lead management team. Which of the two is more important? The age-old debate still rages on.

Age is just a number.

In psychology, the “Maturity Principle” concept says that people become more agreeable, more conscientious, and more emotionally stable as they age. While these are all generally positive attributes, to assume that personality issues become less of a risk factor with older founders kind of misses the point.

Get culture right and get it right fast.

by the time headcount is 10 to 12, you’re probably 80 percent fixed on the culture for the company. Potentially there are some key senior hires that are made after 10 to 12, there’s some potential for some readjustment, some shifting in the culture, but I think you need to have a pretty good idea of where you want to go, what culture you want to have in the first handful of hires, because I think it gets incrementally more difficult to change the culture.

 Goodman adds, “If an executive doesn’t exhibit behaviors you want emulated by the rest of the team, it might be time to look elsewhere.

Ways to Improve Your Millennial Marketing Strategy

Millennials are one of marketers’ biggest challenges. They have tremendous buying power but are skeptical of traditional marketing.

Tap into social networks.

In the past, advertising was consumed through traditional marketing channels, such as print and television. But millennials are the most digitally connected generation, consuming content across multiple online channels. One way to market to them, then, is a multi-platform approach through social media.

Leverage mass individualism.

While millennials still enjoy and value brands, they no longer want a logo to define them. They want to be the trendsetters, trailblazers and nonconformists. Along those lines, millennials love being recognized for how they use your products post-purchase.

Use peer-to-peer word-of-mouth. 

Millennials are selective in whom they trust. However, a study by the McCarthy Group showed that they exhibit high levels of trust for content generated by their peers. In response, marketers should prompt a dialogue between current and perspective millennial customers.

Create a seamless omni-channel experience. 

In today’s hyper-connected world, it’s essential to streamline your brand experience across multiple devices. Millennials are digital natives and 87 percent use two to three devices at least once a day, according to Elite Daily. 

FINANCE GEEK

Social Collaboration Is in Finance’s Future.

Finance departments don’t immediately come to mind in conversations about social collaboration technology. Most of the software used for social collaboration that I’ve seen demonstrated focuses on the sales process or for broader employee engagement. The Facebook-style interface may cause finance department managers and executives to roll their eyes, especially if they’re over 40 years old.

 Yet business and social collaboration is an important set of capabilities that has been taking hold in business.

 Perhaps because most of the attention so far on the benefits of collaboration has focused on front-office roles, there’s less awareness of the potential in back-office and administrative functions. Indeed, the same research reveals that those in front-office roles five times more often than those in accounting and finance roles (21% vs. a mere 4%) said that business and social collaboration are very important to their organization.

 In examining why this change will occur, let’s start with some background. “Doing business” is all about collaboration. Before communication technologies began to eliminate the constraints of time and space, people relied mainly on face-to-face collaboration. (Postal letters were another option, but they were very slow and limited interaction.) Voice-mail was the first breakthrough in enabling people to collaborate quickly across time and space.

 Much of business investment in information technology over the past two decades has been aimed at enabling good communications among different elements located in separate buildings, cities and even countries.

 Social collaboration is off to an encouraging start, but it’s easy to see where improvements are needed, especially to be useful to the finance function. Ideally, collaboration software will be able to understand the context of the work at hand, the role of the individual participant and the relationships the individual has with others in that context. A technology like Google Glass has the potential to enable a manager, while reviewing a report, to see that there have been comments posted related to specific numbers, text or charts and then select and read these just by moving his or her eyes.

THE BUSINESS OF TAXES

FATCA: New Rules in the Offshore Assets Game

how many acronyms does it take for the IRS to demonstrate that they really want to find your offshore assets? If the acronyms don’t get you, the 30% withholding tax imposed for failing to comply with the FATCA rules may.

Final regulations under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) were issued in January. These regulations painstakingly attempt to identify all of the players, the players’ roles and the costs for not playing by the IRS’s rules in the offshore assets reporting game.

 Leading off are U.S. taxpayers with specified foreign assets who do not provide the required information to their respective FFIs; these “recalcitrant account holders” are subject to a 30% withholding tax on certain payments from the FFIs.

 Next at bat are the FFIs that harbor the assets. FFIs that agree to report and register with the IRS will be a “participating FFI” and avoid the withholding tax. “Deemed-compliant FFIs”—considered low-risk entities—may or may not need to register with the IRS and may also be safe from the withholding tax.

 The lightest hitter in the lineup is the NFFE—any foreign entity that is not a financial institution. Many types of NFFEs are exempt from the FATCA withholding requirements—active NFFEs, publicly traded corporations, expanded affiliated group (EAG) members of a publicly traded corporation, certain U.S. possessions-organized entities, and other excepted nonfinancial entities.

 U.S. taxpayers with offshore assets should be prepared to supply and verify their U.S. taxpayer information to their FFIs. FFIs opting to participate in the FATCA requirements will need to register with the IRS (after July 15, 2013). Participating FFIs must report certain U.S.-owned accounts and could be required to withhold on payments to recalcitrant account holders.

 Withholding agents play the most important role in the FATCA game and are tasked with knowing the FATCA players and their positions on the field. Any U.S. or non-U.S. person (including an FFI) that has control, receipt, custody, disposal, or payment of any withholdable payment (including pass-through payments) has withholding agent responsibilities.

 Taxpayers need to determine their position on the playing field as quickly as possible. For example, multinational corporations with in-house banks or captive insurance companies could risk making an error if they think that their groups do not include FFIs.