Earning > Saving

Saving is a finite solution. You can only save so much, can only be so frugal. Your power for earning is unlimited with the right resource (you), the right tools (knowledge), and the right force (hard work).  That isn’t to discount saving.  Saving is an important part of the equation too.  But, because of it’s limited ability, it can only be so much a part of your overall wealth and financial independence equation.  Do you know what limits savings’ ability?  Your earnings. You can only save so much as you earn.  If you only earn $8 an hour, you can only save $8 an hour.  Far less, really, because who can live on $0 an hour?  Not many.  So, the more you make, the more you can save.

There’s another side to that, even.  The more you make, the more ability you have to make more.  That’s the root of the old saying, “It takes money to make money”.  While you can actually make money without having much money, the more money you have, the more opportunity you will find to earning more money.

Earning > SavingIncreasing your earnings isn’t always an easy equation to solve, though.  Many people feel like they’re trapped in the job they have, the payscale they’re in, and the life path they’ve chosen.  Not at all true!  Your earning potential is unlimited if you combine the resources at hand and improve the ones that aren’t.  You’ve already got you.  Increasing you knowledge of the work you want to do is pretty easy as well.  It just takes a bit of time, and some crafty searching online.  Pretty much anything you want to learn about is available online.  Heck, there are even entire sites dedicated to free college courses.  All you need is to dedicate some time to learning whatever it is you want to learn.  You can find that time by taking it from some of your TV watching time.

Follow all that learning up with some good old fashioned hard work.  That’s it.  Just hustle a little.  Unfortunately, there isn’t any magic formula for that one. I don’t know how to motivate you to work.  I don’t know the right things to say to you to make you want it.  You’ve got to provide that part.  If you can’t find the motivation to pull yourself away from American Idol for an hour to learn something, or work on making yourself a better earner, there’s just nothing that I can do for you.  You’ve got to find that part for yourself.

But, listen.  If you’re capable, like me, of getting your finances under control; of learning how to keep a budget, pay your bills on time, and learn from mistakes, there’s no reason you can’t learn how to earn more.  You CAN learn how to do something you want to do.  You CAN learn how to make yourself more marketable.  And you CAN earn more.  And, if you do, you WILL tip the scale in your direction.  You’ll start to earn more.  You’ll be able to save more.  And you’ll find that opportunities will present themselves to you.

How are you going to improve yourself today?

Saving vs Investing: Investing for Income

Saving and investing go together like milk and cookies, sweet and sour, and Elvis and banana peanut butter sandwiches, right?  Right.  Well, almost right.  It’s easy for us to say that saving and investing are important parts of a personal finance plan.  It’s easy for us to say that and then move on.  After all, we just said they’re important, right?  Not so fast.

Saving and Investing ARE important

They just aren’t equally important.  Heck, it’s another whole post, but even the different types of investing aren’t equal.  Just as important as saving and investing together is the concept of when to use which, and how much.  The mix of liquid savings in the form of cash accounts and CDs with the amount of your money that’s invested can be one of the most important parts of your overall personal finance plan.

Traditional advice tells us that cash accounts and CDs are the super safe way to keep your money with you, and investing, in it’s varying forms is all kinds of risky.  Investing in stocks?  Risky.  Investing in pork bellies?  Risky.  (unless you really like bacon.  Just kidding, still risky.)  But, is the amount of risk involved in investing more or less risky than leaving too much of your money in the bank to rot away at current interest rates?  How about you ask the people of Cyprus if they still feel safe having their money in the bank?

Saving vs Investing : Investing for IncomeSuccess is risky.

Few who accomplish success do so without some element of risk.  In fact, the easier the path to success is perceived, the less chance there is of truly obtaining it.  I don’t say that to seem philosophical.  I want to make a point, however.  You’ve got to have a little risk, if you want to succeed.  You’ve got to have Investments if you want to succeed financially.  And, I think the ratio of investments to savings should probably be much higher than most would suggest.

Investing for Financial Independence

One of the key tenets in a financial independence plan is that you need to replace your income in order to free yourself up to be independent of a job.  Not independent of work, but of a job.  There are, obviously, many ways that you can go about replacing that income.   Decreasing your expenses is usually a part of most plans.  But, most people’s expenses will only decrease so far.  Sure, you can go extreme, and get them lower, but for many that isn’t what financial independence is about.  Even with your expenses decreased as low as you’re willing to take them, you’ve still got to replace the income to pay those expenses.  Investing can be a very good way to get started towards replacing your income.

Investing for Income

In order to replace income with investing, you’ve got to invest for income.  You probably try and do that by becoming a super successful day trader and making up the income in profits from all the great deals you made.  First, find yourself a few super successful day traders who have done that.  Come back when you’ve given up.  If you’re going to invest for income, it’s got to be reliable.  It can’t rely on your ability to find a good bargain and then sell it at a massive profit a few days later.  There are traders who are still waiting on Facebook to make a comeback so they can even get their money back.  Reliable income is the key.  For this, we need investments that are steady, don’t require the continued increase in value of the stock, and also don’t require us to sell like a fiend in order to create the income.  What are these mysterious investments, you ask?  Dividend stocks.

Dividend stocks are stocks that pay a dividend on each share of the stock that is held.  The amount of the dividend can vary, but there are many that you will find that pay dividends in the range of 2-4%.  Depending on the policy of the company, they usually pay quarterly, but there are some that pay monthly and yearly.

Dividend stocks aren’t the only way to invest for income, however.  Investing in peer-to-peer lending in a program like Lending Club is one.  Rental real estate is another.  A business can even be a way to invest for income.  Each has varying levels of passivity, or the amount of direct interaction on your part to earn the income.  A business that you run can mean well over 40 hours a week of direct interaction to create the income.  Something like Lending Club or rental real estate can be brought down to a level that borders on passive income entirely.

Savings vs. Investing

With any investing tool, whether it be dividend stocks, lending, real estate, or some other instrument, there will be risk.  With risk usually comes reward.  I’ve been earning over 14% return on my Lending Club portfolio.  Dividend stocks can lose value, or even stop paying dividends.  The real estate market can dry up, and you can have problems finding renters.  Risk is inherent.  Unless you want to directly trade your time for money (call it a job), you’ve got to take on a little risk and begin setting yourself free.

Savings shouldn’t be shunned completely.  I still believe that an emergency fund is an important tool.  I still covet a debt free lifestyle.  But, once my debt is paid off, and my emergency fund is full, you can bet the rest will go towards investing for income, and building my wealth towards financial independence.

How about you?  What is the role of savings in your personal finance journey?

Original img credit: Two men with pipes posing as boxers / Deux hommes, pipes à la bouche, prenant une pose de boxeur by BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives, on Flickr

Why I Bought My Baby Stuff Used

I had my first baby last June, and I probably bought one or two small purchases new. The rest was all second hand. I’ll also let you in on a secret, but please, don’t tell anyone I know. I returned about 90% of my baby gifts and bought stuff for our new home instead. I know; it is a bit shameful. However, I did tell everyone I know that we didn’t need anything for the baby, and that resulted in getting about six sets of baby washcloths and several newborn clothing sets.

Now that my baby is almost a year old, I can say that I am very happy that I bought my baby stuff used. Here’s why:

I Made a Profit on My Used Goods:

Get this, not only did I save a ton of money from buying used baby items, but I also made a profit on majority of it. I bought all of my daughter’s clothing from newborn to six months and majority of my equipment from a wealthier mom of two daughters. She was also very sweet and threw in a ton of free items because I was buying so much from her. For all of the clothes, I paid $110. There was about 200 pieces, if not more. So far, I have sold 80% of the clothing and have made much more than $110.

Many other items I have sold for what I bought them for. Basically, I was able to use the baby items for free.

I Don’t Feel Bad About Stains:

ABought my Baby Stuff Useds I said above, I bought a lot of clothes from the wealthy mom. There were some very nice outfits in them, and I received a lot of compliments on how I dressed my daughter. However, I am not very good at laundering or keeping messes contained. A lot of pieces were stained once my baby girl started eating solid foods. Not only that, but my dogs chewed up several pieces of her clothing too. Now, if I had spent more even $5 a piece for each outfit (which is fairly cheap in baby world), I would have been devastated at how many pieces were ruined. However, since most of the clothing was free (after adding in the money I made back), it was easier to just let it go. I instead used the pieces as baby wipes to further save money.

I Don’t Have to Store Anything:

I don’t know how many more babies are in my future, but I do know one thing. I don’t want to store several baby items to use for the next baby. If I had bought everything at full price, I would have the guilt to save everything so that I wouldn’t lose my money. However, since I bought everything at 60-90% of the original price, I am able to sell the item for most of the cost. I also know that when the next baby comes around, I will be able to find the same used baby equipment for the same prices.

Don’t forget that every square inch of your home that is devoted to storing stuff is costing you money in some way or another. Plus, who doesn’t love having a cleaner, clutter-free home?

I Don’t Have Buyer’s Guilt:

Buyer’s guilt can happen to a lot of new parents. You buy that awesome looking Bumbo seat for your baby only to find out that they don’t like it or that it only keeps your baby happy for one month. For example, I bought a Prince Lionheart bebePOD Flex Baby Seat used for $8. On Amazon.com, it is $34. My baby used it for two months. So basically, my weekly cost to use this seat was $1 (though, this does not include the fact that I will sell the seat for profit or cost). If I had bought it at full price and used it for two months, it would be like paying $4.25 a week. I would rather treat myself to a Starbucks latte once a week with the money saved.

One more example; I was set on breastfeeding and pumping for the baby. However, for many reasons, it didn’t work out for us. I would have felt even worse knowing I spent $260 on the breast pump. Instead, I paid $120 and sold it for $70. My cost was $50 for six weeks of pumping, or $8.33 a week. Considering it costs about $15 a week to rent a pump, I think I made out on top.

I am very passionate about buying used items, especially for my baby. Baby items are so pricey, so I loved having top of the line items that were still in our budget. Also, let me just quickly mention how much better used items are for baby’s health and the environment. Used items don’t give off that new chemical smell and used clothes have already been worn and washed a few times and contain less harmful chemicals and toxins too. Think twice the next time you shop for your baby.