5 Pieces of Money Advice No One Ever Wants to Hear From Me

You know how adults always told you to “eat your veggies” and greens when you were a kid? Well, that nagging advice doesn’t necessarily stop in adulthood. As a financial planner, I’m constantly giving people good advice they don’t want.

I know no one wants to hear this kind of money advice. But those who do listen — and more importantly, implement these ideas — tend to have better control over their cash flow, higher savings rates, and more financial power.

You might not like it, but much like eating broccoli and kale, taking it in is often for your own good.

1. Don’t buy so much house

Buying a home is rarely a data-driven decision. It’s an emotional one, and for good reason. For many people, homeownership represents stability, security, and even status.

These are not unimportant things, but too many people use their emotions as excuses to throw financial reality out the window when it comes to house hunting.

Set a budget and stick to it. We often recommend keeping your total annual housing costs to no more than 20% of your gross annual household income.

This helps ensure you retain flexibility in other areas of your cash flow so that you can own your home and keep pursuing other important goals or have money available for your other priorities.

2. And don’t assume your house is a good investment

I often caution people against thinking of their home as an investment. Again, that doesn’t mean buying is a bad idea or your house isn’t worth as much as you think it is. But an investment should provide a return.

A single-family home that serves as your primary residence (and does not provide rental income) may be an excellent utility. It is not, however, what I would consider a good investment.

Home values do tend to rise over time, but the cost of ownership, maintenance, and upkeep often erode most of the “gains” you might see when just looking at the transaction of buying and then selling your home on paper.

A reasonable, real return on single-family homes runs about 2%. That’s not nothing, but it’s also not something you can assume will fund your full retirement, either (especially when you have to live somewhere, retired or not, and most people put the equity from a home sale into their next purchase).

3. Save more than you think you need to

It’s really important to me that I help my clients strike a balance between enjoying their lives in the present while also building assets and future financial security. This would be much easier to do if we had a crystal ball and could accurately predict what life would be like in 10, 20, even 30 years.

We’d know your budget. We’d know what kinds of emergencies you’d have to deal with, and prepare accordingly. And we’d understand what your life would look like (including how long it would be).

With that clarity, it would be possible to say, “you need $X. Save just that and feel free to spend the rest.” That is, obviously, not how life works.

The solution? Save more than you think you need to, because then you give yourself a margin of safety. By saving more than you necessarily must save to “be OK,” you can better:

  • Handle emergencies
  • Take advantage of opportunities when they come up (either to spend on an unexpected trip, for example, or to use money on an investment you feel passionate about)
  • Incorporate new goals into your planning over time

Saving more that you think you need today also buys you more choice and freedom in the future. The usual guideline I give to clients to help them achieve this is to save 25% of annual gross income.

4. Have a backup plan

It might sound like a doom-and-gloom approach to finances, but I preach about always having a backup plan — or those margins of safety, or wiggle room, or contingencies.

No one wants to imagine a worst-case scenario, but if something actually went sideways in your financial life, you’ll be glad you had multiple levels of safety net built into your overall plan.

You can do this in a number of ways, including some we’ve already talked about, like saving more than you think you need to save.

Other ways of building in backups is by maintaining an emergency fund, using conservative assumptions around income, and overestimating your expenses when you do any kind of long-term financial projection, and not counting on any kind of windfall (from bonuses and commissions to inheritances) to make your plan work.

5. Stop trying to time the market

It is so tempting to think we can successfully time the market. Why? Because drops and spikes in the stock market look stupidly obvious with hindsight.

It’s very easy to look back at something like 2008 (or maybe even the spring of 2020 at this point) and feel like you know when the best times to buy and sell would have been… because they already happened. 

Guessing what comes next without the benefit of knowing how things played out is not the same thing. Data shows us that even professionals fail to time the market repeatedly. You may get lucky once, but repeating that performance over and over again for the next few decades is virtually impossible.

Build a strategic investing plan — and then stick to it, regardless of current events.

It’s probably not as fun and may not be as sexy as bragging about your stock picks on Robinhood, but it works a whole lot better in the long run.

By:

Eric Roberge, CFP, is the founder of Beyond Your Hammock. He helps professionals in their 30s do more with their money.

Source: 5 Pieces of Money Advice No One Ever Wants to Hear From Me

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Want Influence? Use Intelligent Curiosity

One of the most beneficial skills entrepreneurs can develop is how to apply intelligent curiosity to everyday situations. Even better is to develop situational awareness alongside the skill of intelligent curiosity. Situational awareness is commonly taught in law enforcement. It’s where you are consciously aware of what’s going on around you. It’s a 360-degree awareness of both threats and opportunities. An example of this strategy is to sit with your back to a wall or in a position where you can see everything and everyone around you.

With a high level of awareness, you are more prepared to recognize opportunities others will walk right past. However, “seeing” opportunities is not enough. Being curious enough to investigate those opportunities is where entrepreneurial success is often found. This is where the application of intelligent curiosity comes into play.

Intelligent curiosity is directed, focused, strategic, and intentional. It is not conventional curiosity where we find things to be “interesting.” It’s where we become deeply interested in not only what’s directly in front of us, but pay attention to the periphery — the edges around the focus of our desire that very likely impact or influence it. This is called edge learning, and intelligent curiosity is a key element of it.

Related: Curiosity Is the Key to Discovering Your Next Breakthrough Idea

As an example, an entrepreneur’s focus might be on the development of a single product or service. An edge learner widens their lens to see what other opportunities this product or service might create or what threats there may be against the development of the product or its need in the marketplace. This wide-angle lens creates situational awareness. Are there accessories that might make the product or service more useful such as protective cases for mobile phones? Are there other uses for the product that requires a different type of marketing? 

Proctor & Gamble launched Febreze as a spray that could remove bad smells such as cigarette smoke or pet odors from fabric. It bombed. People who live with bad smells every day aren’t often aware of them. Developers decided instead to add a perfume to the product and market it as a spray to be used after cleaning. Instead of an “odor eliminator,” it sold well as an “air freshener.”  

Those who develop and use intelligent curiosity are more successful entrepreneurs and they often become recognized as thought leaders. Having worked with and studied dozens of thought leaders in today’s marketplace, I’ve noted their high levels of intelligent curiosity. They’re always asking questions, seeking knowledge from everyone they encounter. No matter their industry or level of financial success, they’re always on the alert. They tune in to what I call their “frequency of greatness,” their ability to dial into the problems and solutions, and ask questions such as, “What caused that to happen?” “Why was that the best solution?” “Who or what was impacted by that situation and in what ways?” 

Legendary thought leaders like master sales trainer Tom Hopkins and business expert Sharon Lechter dispense volumes of wisdom to entrepreneurs worldwide, but when I first sat down with them, they wanted to know about my experiences and what I was focused on and why. They exercise intelligent curiosity in every encounter. Working with Tom taught me that he practices what he teaches, “When you’re speaking, you can only deliver what you already know. When you ask questions of others, you are learning — gaining new knowledge that allows you to better understand them and their needs.”

Implementing strategies of intelligent curiosity can help entrepreneurs more fully enjoy the roller coaster ride of business. It allows them to open their minds to new ideas, to pivot, transition and adapt as the marketplace requires. In fact, the edge learning skill of intelligent curiosity will lead them to celebrate the inevitable challenges or failures and capitalize on them. 

Rather than walking away from stumbling blocks, they’ll learn who put the blocks there and why. The knowledge gained from intelligent curiosity will help them to move the blocks out of the way, climb over them or, on some occasions, choose an entirely different path. 

As a former private investigator, intelligent curiosity was instrumental in my success. When I would get a case, I would work diligently to explore multiple avenues to get the answers I needed. I’d allow myself to fall down the occasional rabbit hole in doing so. Being open to many different possibilities helped me to uncover the truth. My law-enforcement background taught me to tune in to valuable information through my eyes and ears. I discovered more through listening and through what is known as kinesthetic sense — how our muscles and organs of our bodies react. Heightening awareness allows us to quickly understand much about how others are feeling and how they might react to situations.

Intelligent curiosity is a learnable skill; it requires a commitment to the craft and ongoing practice. But do not mistake it for an add-on or luxury skill. It’s vital to your success in all areas of life. It provides the insights necessary for envisioning innovation. It will help you recognize when to put ideas across, when to act and when not to act.  

Related: Cultivating Curiosity Is What Drives Innovation

Intelligent curiosity goes against the grain of our own tendencies because of the depths it can take us to. Our innate curiosity desires quick answers and simple solutions. But that is not often what’s required of success. More often, success is not a product of doing what everyone else would do — success is mutant behavior. You cannot follow normal processes and become largely successful. Those processes may work for a short time, but without constant innovation, they will inevitably become outdated and fail or fade over time. Intelligent curiosity drives people to act and think creatively, be more attentive and thereby create new ways of knowing. Ultimately, the results of intelligent curiosity are the origin of success. 

By: Lisa Patrick Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

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Protecting Your Critical Inventions On A Tight Budget

If your business relies on inventions to maintain a competitive edge, you need to keep the pipeline flowing even when funds are scarce. A slow economy or other business disruption doesn’t mean you can ignore critical inventions. If you don’t take timely action to protect them, you may forfeit the right to file a patent application. That means other companies can freely use your unique inventions in their own competing products.

For example, U.S. patent laws have time requirements for filing patent applications. If your company publicly discloses an invention or sells a product with the invention, those activities can trigger a one-year deadline to file a patent application covering it. If you don’t act before the one-year deadline, you can forfeit your ability to obtain patent protection.

Don’t let limited funds prevent you from protecting key inventions. To get the most value from a tight budget, here is a three-step system to protect your most valuable inventions.

1. Invention discovery

Before you can take steps to protect your most important inventions, you first need to identify every invention developed in your organization. An important first step is teaching your team members how to identify the inventions they create. An invention is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “something that has never been made before.

A few inventions are revolutionary new products that disrupt an industry. In my experience, most inventions are incremental improvements to an existing product or system. Although the incremental inventions may not receive as much publicity, they can still provide significant value to your company.

One way to discover inventions is to identify obstacles that were overcome during product development. In hindsight, the solutions to the obstacles may seem simple, but consider the amount of time spent developing the solution. If no solution was readily available and your team had to create a new solution, that’s likely an invention.

Review your current work activities and recently completed projects to look for inventions. What was created that had not been done before? Add these items to your list of inventions.

Automate the invention-discovery process by discussing inventions during all product-development projects. For example, schedule periodic meetings to brainstorm about the inventions contained in the project. It’s easier to discover inventions when the project is still fresh in the minds of the development team. Be sure to schedule a final meeting when the product is complete to look back and be sure all inventions are identified. Schedule regular brainstorming and ideation sessions to capture more inventions and maintain a steady flow of new ideas.

Now that you have developed a list of inventions, it’s time to identify the most valuable inventions on the list.

Related: 9 Ways Your Company Can Encourage Innovation 

2. Invention analysis

All inventions are not of equal value. That’s why it is important to analyze your list of inventions to select the most valuable items for your company. When working with a limited budget, selecting the most valuable inventions provides the best ROI (return on investment) for your organization.

When analyzing your invention list, consider multiple factors to determine the value of each invention. For example, consider the competitive advantage. If a “must-have” feature in your product sets you apart from other companies, patenting that feature is valuable because it means your product has exclusive rights to that feature in the marketplace.

Also consider factors such as the feasibility of implementing the invention, the likelihood of obtaining a patent and the ability of a competitor to design around the invention. If an invention is difficult to implement, you may be better off waiting until the invention is fully developed and tested. Some categories of inventions, such as certain software-related inventions, may be difficult to patent. If funds are limited, these inventions may not be the best candidates. And, if an invention is easy for a competitor to design around, a patent covering the invention will have little value.

After analyzing the list of inventions, identify the strongest candidates for patent protection. These top-priority inventions should receive your budgeted funds.

Related: 4 Ways to Unlock Your Inner Creativity

3. Invention protection

You have two options for protecting your inventions. One is “traditional” patent application must satisfy various rules, content requirements, formatting requirements and legal guidelines. This type of patent application often costs $10,000-$15,000 (depending on complexity) when prepared by a patent attorney.

When working with a tight budget, the other option worth considering is a provisional patent application, which must satisfy the same invention disclosure requirements as the traditional application, but it is much faster (and much less expensive) to prepare. Provisional patent applications also have a significantly lower filing fee, often $2,500-$4,000.

The provisional patent application does not mature into a patent itself. Instead, it gives the applicant 12 months to decide whether to file a traditional patent application. During those 12 months, you can test the invention in the marketplace, seek investors and see if your business revenue improves. At the end of the 12-month period, you can convert the provisional patent application into a traditional patent application or let the provisional patent application go abandoned.

In some cases, you can combine multiple inventions into a single provisional patent application to stretch your budget further. By combining multiple inventions into a single provisional patent application, you can protect several important inventions while deferring a significant portion of the patent preparation costs. Each situation is different, so discuss this option with a patent attorney to see if it’s appropriate for your inventions.

Don’t neglect your inventions just because funds are scarce. Otherwise, you risk forfeiting your ability to protect those inventions. Use the above system to identify your most valuable inventions and consider provisional patent applications to protect those critical assets.

Steve Sponseller

Steve Sponseller Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer / Intellectual Property Attorney

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Home Improvement & Remodeling Ideas that Increase Home Value (And What to Avoid) – Heather Levin

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With the real estate market still in a slump, more and more people have decided not to sell their home. Instead, they have chosen to stay put, until things get better. I count myself in this group; I had my own home on the market for two years. My house sold, and the sale fell through, on two separate occasions. As a result, I’ve resolved to stay put until the real estate market improves.However, now that I’ve decided to stay in this home instead of moving, I plan to make several home improvements to make my home more comfortable (e.g. building a sunroom to combat the dreary Michigan winters, and building a backyard deck)…..

Read more: https://www.moneycrashers.com/7-home-improvements-to-increase-its-value

 

 

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How to Plant Ideas in Someone’s Mind – Adam Dachis

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Getting someone to want to do something can be tough if you know they’re not going to want to do it, so you need to make them believe it was their idea. This is a common instruction, especially for salespeople, but it’s much easier said than done. You have to look at planting ideas in the same way you’d look at solving a mystery. Slowly but surely you offer the target a series of clues until the obvious conclusion is the one you want. The key is to be patient, because if you rush through your “clues” it will be obvious. If you take it slow, the idea will form naturally in their mind all by itself…..

Read more: https://lifehacker.com/5715912/how-to-plant-ideas-in-someones-mind?tag=manipulation

 

 

 

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7 Ways to Achieve High Levels of Classroom Productivity – Lee Watanabe-Crockett

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When it comes to classroom productivity, the ideal classroom is a happy one. It means students are creating solutions and projects that have meaning and purpose. They gladly take initiatives and assume responsible ownership of class time. Above all, it means students are loving their learning.

Achieving high levels of classroom productivity means making sure students are interested and invested in tasks that develop higher-order thinking and problem-solving abilities. Not only are they involved in constructive pursuits and being given mindful assessments, they are learning independence and accountability and having a blast doing it. Now that’s learning with a purpose.

The joy a teacher gets from knowing students look forward to coming to class is indescribable. It’s one of those things you have to experience to understand. The good news is every teacher can have that feeling. These classroom productivity tips are applicable to many classroom environments. Hopefully, they help you in yours.

7 Pathways to Better Classroom Productivity

It’s easy to confuse productivity with speed of output. That’s not the essence of being productive. We can complete 100 trivial tasks in a day and say we were productive, but is that really true? What do we have to show at the end of the day? What have we done besides waste time on unimportant matters? Can we say “I really accomplished something today” and mean it?

Productivity isn’t about “getting stuff done.” It’s about getting stuff done with purpose.

You can always tell the level of interest students have. It can be used to help you measure productivity levels:

  • Are students focused and engaged?
  • Are they happy and attentive?
  • Are they asking deep, meaningful questions?
  • Are they excited about showing the results of their work?
  • Are they talking about their work with peers and parents?
  • Are they challenging themselves and each other to improve?

These are all traits of a productive classroom. Granted, there’s no specific formula for higher productivity. You can, however, use critical observation to decide what approach you could use

1. Build a Safe Space

Everyone deserves the chance to learn in a supportive environment. This applies to both intellectual and emotional classroom elements. Any classroom should make every student feel welcome. Maybe this means a time for peer-to-peer orientation. You can give students time to get to know each other and connect personally.

It could also mean creating a class mission statement of some kind. The focus of this would be things like:

  • We always support each other in and out of class
  • We always encourage each other and remain kind
  • We are a judgement-free classroom where all are welcome
  • We show we care by setting an example for the whole school

Begin learning adventures with the notion that learning is meant to be enjoyable. Part of this is creating a comfortable and supportive classroom. Anything that impacts a student positively in your classroom will help boost their productivity. Take some pointers from Brian Van Dyck, a middle school teacher in Santa Cruz.

2. Give Students a Say

Students are no different from anyone else. They like to know their opinions count for something. Letting students weigh in on how to use their class time can be valuable to fostering a productivity mindset. Don’t worry, this approach doesn’t mean they’ll waste time without supervision. You can do this while still keeping the structured direction central to any classroom. Open with questions geared toward productivity with breathing room:

Open with questions geared toward productivity with breathing room:

  • How do you feel your time would best be spent on today’s work/assignment?
  • What’s the one part of (insert project here) that you feel you need to focus on?
  • If you’re ahead, how can you help someone else with today’s work?
  • What do you think should be done first, and last?

Obviously, you as the teacher have the final say. That said, some heartfelt answers from students can help you choose how best to spend the class time.

3. Focus on Guiding Questions

As the work begins or continues, keep them thinking. Our modern students love to be challenged. Keep them guessing and thinking by asking about their projects. Show an interest in what they’re doing.

  • Why did they choose to approach the project this way?
  • What speaks to them about it?
  • If they’re stuck, how can they switch direction?
  • Do they feel there is any way they can make it even better?

4. Always Be Available

From time to time, students will struggle and this will happen on many different levels. When it does, they’ll need support and encouragement. They’ll get stuck, and that will give rise to technical questions, concerns, and doubts. They’ll feel pressure to keep up with their classmates. They’ll feel inadequacy, confusion, and frustration. They’ll feel like what they’ve done has been a waste. They’ll feel these things and a lot more.

Students are no different from anyone else. They like to know their opinions count for something.

Sometimes they’ll look for every reason to quit when they know they should go on. It will feel to them like the world is ending. It can happen with schoolwork and with personal matters. Eventually, it will likely all find its way into the classroom environment. Fortunately, that’s the heart of change.

With an open mind and the right words, you can turn that all around. Never be far away, because you’re still the best guide students have in their school experiences.

5. Encourage Collaboration

This is a hallmark of the modern student. They are natural-born collaborators and love working in groups. The secret to successful collaboration is when students are drawing on their individual strengths. They then find ways to harmonize those strengths in a group setting. A group work aspect to any classroom almost always means good things in terms of classroom productivity.

6. Offer Good Distractions

Every teacher knows that too many distractions in class can be harmful. Distractions, however, can be beneficial depending on the type. If they’re scheduled in the process, it’s even better. In this sense, they become more like rejuvenators and focus-sharpeners.

Here are some examples of beneficial distractions in class:

  • getting up to stretch, move around, and focus on nothing for a moment
  • eye/stretch/exercise breaks if working on computers
  • have students quickly check in with where they’re at on projects
  • story/joke breaks for some quick comic relief
  • schedule an assignment-related Q+A with a surprise class visitor

Here are some more great “distraction” ideas from Dr. Lori Desautels.

7. Let Students Self- and Peer-Assess

Self- and peer-assessment support comes from both students and teachers. Encouraging reflection and self-assessment adds a powerful dimension to learning. It reduces a teacher’s workload and lets students effectively demonstrate understanding. Students are honest in their assessment of their performance and that of their peers.

With this kind of assessment, students’ insights and observations are valued. It helps them understand the process of their own learning. It also reinforces the importance of collaboration.

Reflective practice is something both students and teachers should engage in. It lets you consider your actions and reflect on decisions. It solidifies learning concepts. It also helps you consider and plan future processes and actions.

 

 

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Knowers & Learners Quick Thoughts On Different World Views – Bruno Bergher

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My work these days involves spending a lot of time with early stage companies, where we’re racing against the clock to turn bold new ideas into usable products, and see if they work.

It’s a land where you’re knee-deep in ambiguity, and surrounded by a sea of unanswered questions. It’s an environment where short-circuiting feedback loops pays off big time, and where fast action is highly valued.

But with so much to do and so little time, teams often get into hard scoping discussions. There’s no way to know for sure in advance what a product needs to offer in order to be validated. I’ve noticed two different types of people emerge from those discussions:

  • The ones who want to be right
  • And the ones who want to learn

The ones who want to be right defend their ideas based on their experience, their seniority, on their unmeasurable powers of divination of customer behavior. They come up with dozens of possible failure cases, just to justify their more complex solution. They get married to their ideas and never let go, irrespective of what’s learned.

They say “trust me, I know what I’m doing”, “no, that won’t work” and “let’s just do it my way this time”. They breed self-doubt and disempowerment.

Then there are the ones who want to learn. They’ve realized that when you’re first building something, chances are you’ll be wrong about at least a couple things — and try to identify them early on. They try to keep projects simple, so they can be tested fast, even if they have obvious holes. They maximize their opportunity for learning, by focusing on the problem at hand, and not on who came up with the solution or how it matches the initial big idea.

They can still have a bold vision, and they still listen to their gut, but they’re open to being wrong and eager to find out what will work for their audience.

They say “this is what worked for me before, would you be up for trying it?” and “which option would let us learn faster?”. They breed progress and are fun to hang around.

These days I just try to surround myself with people who are open to being wrong (even if they’re right most of the time), and above all interested in learning the truth, whatever it may be. I interview candidates looking for that heart-warming balance of experience and humility, and only invest in friendships with people who are willing to review previously held ideas. And I try to constantly revise what are facts and what are simply my own assumptions.

What about you? Would you rather be right, or would you rather learn the truth?

 

 

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