This blog is intended for educational purposes only. None of these posts are meant to give legal or financial advice. If you need advice you should consult an appropriate professional.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

society teaches you to be an employee

The typical path in the world today is to get a job working for someone else.  This is a fine path.  It can be secure in a way.  You don't have to go out and find clients, do self-employment taxes, or find benefits on the open market.  The only thing is it's one income stream controlled by someone else, and it ain't you.  I picture school teaching people how to do resumes, interview, and the like to be an employee.  These are valuable skills.  But there's just not much diversity.  Why aren't we taught to be capitalists who own the means of production.  Those are the true winners in capitalism.  Not the workers.  So pretty much everyone is taught to get a four year degree then apply for jobs to be an employee.  Dumb!  Heck we're not even really taught investing in public companies either.  That's something anyone can do if they have some money.  And you own the means of production. How cool!  We need people to start businesses.  That's how people have jobs to apply to, and the government has taxes to collect.  Even if you are primarily an employee I think it's good to try a little side gig to see if it takes off.  Hey you never know.  In fact that might be the best way.  Have the day job for the paycheck and benefits and swing for the fences on the side.  And if nothing else try to think like an owner.  It might change your life for the better.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

most people aren't free

Freedom is the ability to exercise your own will without interference from another.  Most people believe in freedom in concept but don't have it in everyday life.  Think about all the things that individuals can be imprisoned by. 
Job-This might be the biggest one of all.  Most of us have to work for someone else to make our way through this world.  It takes money to do most anything, and most of us get that money from working for an employer.  But how many of us are truly free and satisfied while we're at the grind.  My guess is not many, and I think current research backs that up.
Debt-This is when you owe money to some entity for student loans, a mortgage, a car note, credit cards, loan shark type businesses, you name it.  This robs the person who owes the money of their freedom.  That's why it's good to avoid debt at all costs.
Relationship-How many people are happy together?  Well hopefully everyone, but we all know that's not true either.  I think relationships have the potential to be really good.  I don't think God wants us to be alone.  Many people probably feel trapped by a bad relationship though.
House-Think of how many people are stressed out every month paying for a place to live.
Car-Having to take the car everywhere you go is annoying.  I prefer walking and taking the bus.  Let's face it though, that's not always realistic.  I do it when I can.  I keep the car for the times the bus is not convenient.
Government-It seems every passing year the government at all levels(city, county, state, federal)intrudes in our life more and more.
Possessions-We need very little on this planet to actually survive.  I think if most of us are being honest we know we have well above that level.  The less possessions the lighter you live.
Children-For those who want children I think that's wonderful.  I guess what I'm referring to is those who didn't plan well and ended up with 5.  Kids don't go back once they're here.
Pets-Pets are great companions.  They can tie you down also similar to children.
As I think about this it seems like this article is negative.  Well that's not my intention.  I'm just trying to call to your attention to things we might not think about regularly that can take away some of our ability to be free.  So what's the answer?  I really can't tell you.  Each person has to find their own way.  Maybe I'm writing this because I was thinking about it for a while and wanted to get it out of my head.  

Friday, December 7, 2012

car-lite living

America is in love with cars!  And the rest of the world is trying to catch up.  I don't see this as a good thing.  Cars are expensive!  I think it's one of the main reasons people can't get ahead financially.  I live a car-lite lifestyle.  If I don't have to drive I don't drive.  I walk and take the bus if I can.  A lot of people just think of gas as the main expense of owning a car.  Oh but it's much more than that.  How about maintenance, repairs, tickets, accidents, insurance, auto club, parking, just to name some big ones.  I understand that it's hard to survive without a car.  It seems the only place this is doable in the US is in the northeast which is very expensive to live overall.  I really would like to go car-free.  But there are times when the bus in my city is just not that efficient, so I keep the car for those times.  Personally I don't like driving.  I find it to be stressful.  You never know what those crazies are going to do on the road once you get out there.  There are a lot of lawsuits and settlements when it comes to driving too.  I wish we had better local, regional, and national public transportation than we do.  I do the best I can though.  If I can keep the miles off my older car I will.  Much of it is just a mindset though.  That's the part that's maybe the hardest to change.  I tell people I take the bus when I have a car, and they look at my like I have two heads.  There's also a stigma of not having a car which is totally stupid.  I wish the stigma was reversed.  I'm doing my best to minimize transportation expenses and ease the busyness of our roads.    

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The one-legged stool

Retirement is something everyone has to prepare for in one way or another.  Traditionally there has been a three-legged stool which includes a defined benefit pension, social security, and personal investments.  I probably don't have to remind you, but defined benefit pensions are going the way of the horse and buggy.  It's too much risk and cost for employers so they heap those onto the workers nowadays with plans like 401k's.  These are called defined contribution plans because you are the one contributing.  Some do have an employer match which takes a couple years to become fully yours or "vested" as they say.  I think social security will be there for a long time, but not everyone agrees with me on that one.  There are many people that say don't count on it at all.  That leaves personal investments.  Scary isn't it!  Most people are not saving nearly enough to fund a comfortable or even a minimal retirement.  The trend is that we're more and more on our own.  We can't count on employers and government to take care of us like previous generations did.  And in my opinion I want to be less dependent on employers and government.  That's just my preference.  The more money you have socked away the more independent you are.  Compounding can do wonders if you start young and give it time.  There are people who have built portfolios of dividends coming in every month that don't need anything else.  It is possible although not easy for sure.  Concentrate on the one area you have control over: how much you invest for your future self.  If you do that well enough you might not need the other two legs.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The "financial planning" field

Being an aspiring financial planner I've noticed something about the field.  It's mainly sales.  I think financial planning should be about planning not selling.  Now in order to get clients a planner does have to sell their services, but that's not unlike other professionals.  The job "opportunities" go something like this.  The company will support the future financial services worker during a get up and running period after which they cut them loose on straight commission.  The compensation models are basically commissions, percentage of assets under management, hourly or flat fee, and salary.  The most common of the jobs are commission based.  This to me strikes of partiality to the particular products the salesperson is pushing.  It's very hard to get started in the financial planning field for someone like me because so many of the jobs are commission based sales.  I think the best compensation model is flat fee or hourly with flat fee being my choice.  To find a salaried job as a financial planner starting out seems next to impossible.  Knowing myself I know I won't be successful facing this harsh world having to build my own book of business.  I prefer the safer path even though I'll make less.  What to do?  I think starting out at a bank or credit union sounds pretty good.  A credit counseling agency could work as well.  If somehow I could be a planner's assistant that's fee-only that would work too.  My hope is that I can find a place in this field of helping people with money because I think my message could be of use to them.