Three Reasons Why You Should Practice Gratitude

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”― Epicurus

 

Gratitude is a funny thing. It’s one of many feelings we can control; yet when things are going downhill (or what seem to be downhill for us) we might lose our perspective of gratitude. What if I told you acting gracious is a bigger part than you might think; especially during the job hunt, in the interview, and on the job. As we sit down for Thanksgiving dinner tonight and say what we’re thankful for, remember to show your gratitude for all you are, all that you were, and all that you’ll become. Here are my three tips on why you need to show gratitude in your life everyday, and how this will help you both personally in in the workplace:

 

It Just Feels Good – I’ve touched upon this in my previous blog “Three Steps to Protect Yourself From Burnout” that every night before I go to sleep, I say out loud everything that I’m grateful for. Why do I do this? Because we get so caught up with all the things that we don’t have, that’s it’s just too easy to overlook everything that we’ve built for ourselves and what we do have. Time and time again I’ll stand by the statement that perspective is everything in life. Do things happen to you? Or do you make your own luck? There is a certain gray area of control and responsibility that we all must take. Next time that you are incredibly overwhelmed take a deep breath, and list all of the things that you are thankful for; it’s guaranteed to make you feel better.

 

Humility – Do you know how much interviewers get turned off when a 22 year old kid tells them he thinks he can run a businesses better than their CEO? I didn’t either… until I said it on an interview. You could say in that moment, or for most of my early 20’s, I didn’t exactly have an empathetic break through. I was overly confident in my abilities, slightly an egomaniac, and lacked any sort of patience for anything to develop. It honestly wasn’t until my father passed away that I started to realize how precious life is, that time is not guaranteed, and that you should be thankful for everything you have. It’s important to really take a look in the mirror and be confident that you can do anything; but humble and hungry enough to want to learn everything as well. Next time you go on that interview or have that meeting with your supervisor be humble about your wins and show a sincere willingness and eagerness to learn; you’ll win every time.

 

It’s Literally Good For Your Health – I know in my first point I mentioned that gratitude makes you feel good; but it’s also important to mention that it’s good for your health. In fact, practicing gratitude on a daily basis has been shown to lower blood pressure, have positive effects on your immune system, and lead to better sleep cycles. So why doesn’t everyone practice gratitude? I think again it comes back to perspective. We very much live in a world of “haves and have nots.” For people like me (who literally have trouble keeping up with the Kardashians) it’s so important from time to time, to disconnect from our social network fantasies and reconnect to our realities.

 

Conclusion – I think most of us know being thankful shouldn’t be celebrated just one day out of the year; it should be celebrated everyday. Next time you go on that interview that doesn’t work out, receive criticism on your resume, or are even told you need to do a better job (even when you’re giving it your all) be thankful for it; there are many other people who would give quite a lot to be in your shoes. What are some ways you practice gratitude? Share in the comments below!

Why Workplace Culture Matters

“Live your passion. What does that mean, anyway? It means that when you get up for work every morning, every single morning, you are pumped because you get to talk about or work with or do the thing that interests you the most in the world. You don’t live for vacations because you don’t need a break from what you’re doing—working, playing, and relaxing are one and the same. You don’t even pay attention to how many hours you’re working because to you, it’s not really work. You’re making money, but you’d do whatever it is you’re doing for free.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

This is the first blog I’ve written in a while. Things have been busy, for sure. However, I’m glad to be writing this to connect with the community on The Thrive Vine. Today’s topic is just why Workplace Culture is so important. In my personal life I’ve recently made a job change that has proven to be excellent financially however the workplace culture, has proven to be challenging. I’ve found that many of us in the beginning stages in our careers or even fresh out of college might not know what to expect or even what to value in a workplace. If you are unsure of what to look for in a workplace culture, you are in luck because this blog is for you! Sit tight as we dive deeper into exactly why Workplace Culture is so important:

What Are Your Values –  Before you can be aware of what you are looking for in a workplace you first need to be aware of what you value. Do you value camaraderie amongst your co-workers, do you value a quiet space so you can perform your best work, or do you put a high priority on leadership and development? Aside from all of these topics being wonderful interview questions, these are also wonderful aspects to ponder to gain a self awareness of what you value. The million dollar question is how do you know this, or how would you figure out what you value in a Workplace? I feel Corporate America has kind of set us up via trial and error. Aside from a self awareness for what you are looking for the best way to understand what you value, and what you do not value, is to experiment with working at different places, networking with different professionals, and doing some introspection on what you value, and can you achieve your goals based on the company culture and vision. 

Safety and Acceptance – When we think about Workplace culture we tend to think about the time off policy, the layout of the office, happy hours, etc… However in reality Workplace culture is nothing more than achieving basic needs of humans as a species. In order to thrive in any environment humans, or any social species, need to feel Safe and Accepted by their family or pack. When our behavior doesn’t match what is around us, we might feel as an outcast or that we don’t fit in. Realistically when we are in our 20’s and 30’s we spend most of our waking hours as work. If we don’t feel safe due to workplace conflict or accepted due to the culture, issues such as workplace stress and anxiety can ensue and can take a huge toll on our mental health. 

So how can we combat workplace stress and anxiety? This very topic is what I’ve been thinking about for the past few months. In my personal situation I was offered a position at a not so “emotionally intelligent” workplace where excessive swearing, slamming of phones, and yelling doesn’t seem to bother anyone… except for me. However the money is wonderful and sometimes it makes sense to “suck it up.” Yet, as most of us know after a while of being in an environment our body reads as toxic, biological effects take place such as anxiety, panic, and stress. Here is what I did personally to combat these feelings and get myself mentally back on track:

  • Getting up from my desk and taking more frequent walks. Sometimes taking yourself out the environment for short periods of time can do wonders for your mental health
  • Taking a step back and thinking long term. What I mean by this is that the probability of me being at this new job for the rest of my life is extremely slim. By taking things into perspective and realizing that I can use the pay increase I received by taking this job, to invest more aggressively; will help me reach my goals faster. I look at this opportunity as just a mere page in an entire book of my life.
  • Always keep an eye out for new opportunities. It’s really important to remember that you are in control. Especially when it comes to your employment. Even if you’ve worked at a place for a week and the work culture is not what you expected and is being toxic, there is nothing preventing you from starting your job search again or pursuing your own entrepreneurial endeavors. There are always options and you should never feel trapped in a toxic environment. 

Purpose/Support – I think most of us have been raised to think that our purpose of working for a company is to make the company money, or produce a level of value to the company so it secures our employment. Yet, most of us don’t realize that value is a two-way street. As much as we provide value to a business or company, it is the businesses job to enrich our lives not only through the transaction of money; but through purpose and support. If you really think about it, any job on the planet can be a great job (or at least more enjoyable)  if it’s in the right environment and we are surrounded by the right people. I understand first hand how hard it can be waking up when Monday morning comes around, however I encourage you to really think about what value and purpose does your job/career/workplace give you. You should feel a good feeling when you help a customer, or you make a big sale, and I encourage you to celebrate those wins; however the place you work for should also help you celebrate those wins and in turn be there when you are struggling.


Conclusion –  In Corporate America there seems to be a generational disconnect of what each generation and individual values. Is it practical for each company to heed to a generation’s needs? Probably not. However, in my opinion, a business is more than just a place people go to work. It’s a place where employees spend most of their time, and should be obligated to provide safely, sustainability, and support to the people who are growing it as a direct result of their time. What do you think? How can we do a better job with providing a better culture to employees? What are some aspects  you value in a workplace? Share your comments below, we’d love to hear from you!

3 Ways You Can Network During The Holiday Season

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” -Vanessa Van Edwards

 

Oh the holidays! Nothing quite like the smell of peppermint and gingerbread, and all the little kid’s faces when they open their presents (#warmandfuzzy) Still fresh in my mind, I remember six Christmas’ ago exactly what I wanted… no it wasn’t a Red Ryder BB gun; it was a job. Being fresh out of college and not interning at a single place, I was finding quite the challenge in actually landing that elusive rewarding career. When I look back, I was an absolute fool to not utilize the holiday season. Aside from the songs and good cheer, you’re getting a complete network in front of you! Here are my three ways you can network during the holiday season:

 

The Family – In my world family comes first and networking is no exception. This holiday season when you might see family who you don’t usually see, really voice your needs. I used to be incredibly shy or even scared if I told family that I didn’t have a job or my life together. Screw that! Voice your needs and put the energy of what you want in your life out there. Really share your goals and the steps you want to take to achieve them. You’ll be surprised who is listening!

 

Spread the Wealth – Businesses love individuals who go above and beyond. They want well rounded associates not only professionally, but people who go above and beyond in their personal lives as well. A great way to get an employer’s eye is to ask to set up a toy drive or donation box at their facility. Even if you don’t work there (but one day might want to) it’s such a great gesture and will be sure to catch someone’s eye. Monitor your donation drive, speak to company employees about your passion for the drive, and see the project through. At the end of your drive thank the company for participating, and then voice your interest. You’ve already made your first impression and have shown the company you can successfully start a project, connect to its purpose, and see the project through. All the while giving to a tremendous cause.

 

Get Out There – Aside from Family and Volunteering there is one more strategy to network… get out there! Shopping for holiday gifts, taking a break for lunch, or even checking in on LinkedIn during the holiday season, all boast opportunities to build and gain connections. Of course we never know when a networking opportunity will hit, which makes it so important to be open to introduce yourself and get a conversation going; it could just create the opportunity that you’ve always wanted.

 

Conclusion – This is the season of giving; but not just to others. Be sure to give yourself the gift of opportunity. Networking happens everywhere and anywhere; take your time and really voice what you need and what you’re looking for. What are your dreams and what are you working towards? People want to know, including me! Share in the comments below what you’re working towards, and what you want to accomplish in the New Year!

Three Reasons Why You Should Substitute Your Master’s Degree For A Real Estate License

“There is no more profitable investment than investing in yourself. It is the best investment you can make; you can never go wrong with it. It is the true way to improve yourself to be the best version of you and lets you be able to best serve those around you.”– Roy T. Bennett

 

Ah, Spring is here and as usual the creativity is running through The Thrive Vine. Today’s topic is near and dear to me; mostly because this is the approach I took with my educational journey. I racked my brain for years wondering if I should go for my Master’s Degree (who knows someday I still might) but in the short term I opted for the not so conventional substitute of getting my Real Estate License.

 

Overall, getting my license has paid off. In my best year so far I was able to make 32k in commissions while working part time as an agent (if anyone wants to know more about how I did this I can certainly write a blog on this). Being in real estate has been a really fun and exciting path, and I think both short term and long term it has been a better investment than going for my Masters would have been.

 

Usually when I talk about getting a real estate license most people out the gate protest “I don’t want to sell real estate” or “I’m not a good salesperson” well that’s perfect! Because in today’s blog I’m going to explain why getting your real estate license isn’t just for selling houses, it’s just down right a more practical decision than going for a Master’s Degree. Here are three reasons why you should substitute your Master’s Degree for a Real Estate License:

 

Practicality –  In the opening of this blog I mentioned that getting your Real Estate License is more practical than getting a Master’s Degree. Why do I feel this way? Because whether you are going to be a homeowner or renter I’m about 100% positive you’ll want to know what your contract/lease means. We have to look at buying a home as being one of the biggest financial decisions of our lives (aside from college) and just having the knowledge of different types of loans, the options you have, and how the process works is beyond beneficial. You’ll never have to worry if someone is looking out for your best interest; because you’ll have the tools necessary to do so.

 

Supplement Your B.A – When driving myself crazy about whether to go for my Master’s Degree or not I started to ask myself some introspective questions, such as: What will a Master’s Degree do for me? Is it worth going into more debt? (this was a big one for me) and possibly what is my goal in my career? The answers to these questions I still have with me today.

 

I believe for most, a Master’s Degree ultimately means a larger potential salary, faster career advancement, and makes you certainly more marketable to employers down the road. Yet when I thought about it; these same qualities are what a Bachelor’s Degree was supposed to accomplish 20 years ago. So 20 years after I receive my Master’s Degree, would it be obsolete? More importantly, would I be obsolete? Could I be dispensable by a younger generation coming out of school with PHds? All of these questions came in to play and aided my decision. Instead of spending the tens of thousands of dollars on a Master’s Degree I went towards my Real Estate License, which including books and a 2 week class, was a  total of a thousand dollars.

 

When thinking about pursuing a real estate license many people assume you need to sell real estate. Although that’s what it’s most commonly used for, you can also use the credential to supplement your Bachelor’s Degree. How you might ask? Well think about real estate development companies, commercial real estate investors, property management companies, real estate investment trusts, even healthcare such as senior living companies, etc… any company or non profit that wants to expand, has a targeted demographic, and wants the best success for their business will have a need for someone who knows real estate.

 

Personal ROI – I lastly wanted to talk a little bit about Personal ROI (return on investment) between a Masters Degree and a Real Estate License. Let’s look at some numbers: Say you spend 20k on a Master’s Degree and get a job for about 70k-80k, if you have industry experience, or possibly 50k-60k if you don’t have any industry experience and just your Master’s Degree. If you’re coming out of school with debt, you won’t see the full return on your investment until you pay off your debt completely. On the other hand, real estate offers different kinds of Personal ROI. Keep in mind your total investment of your license is about a thousand dollars; so even if you sell one home you’ve made your money back on your initial investment.

 

But say you don’t want to sell houses, or choose to not, use a real estate license to supplement your career. Then how does getting a real estate license make sense? The answer is investing. Simply put, if I didn’t have my real estate license I probably wouldn’t have gotten into real estate investing as fast as I did. It was because of my real estate license that I was able to see properties that hit the market first, meet mortgage lenders and get great rates on my personal mortgages, and additionally meet wonderful people and form relationships along the way. As I’m sure you can tell, I feel getting a real estate license has the potential to have tremendous Personal ROI.

 

Conclusion – This blog admittedly a tad biased in favor of substituting a Master’s Degree for a Real Estate License. My goal here is not to deter anyone from pursuing their Masters, but really bring awareness in making a conscious effort to explore what additional credentials will do for you, and most importantly is it worth the debt you’ll take on. Furthermore think about your personal ROI, and hopefully, the joy and personal fulfillment a Master’s Degree might bring to you.

 

I sincerely believe having a real estate license is such a useful tool, to not only build wealth; but make connections and form relationships as well. What do you think? What does a Master’s Degree mean to you? Would you ever consider getting a real estate license? Let us know in the comments below!

Three Ways You Can Leverage Your Debt To Build Wealth

“I learned that if you work hard and creatively, you can have just about anything you want, but not everything you want. Maturity is the ability to reject good alternatives in order to pursue even better ones.” – Ray Dalio

 

To most, debt is a serious type of animal, and for good reason. Likened to that of meeting a grizzly bear in the middle of the wilderness (#yikes) we’ve always been instructed that debt is bad and, like a grizzly bear in the wilderness, should be avoided at all costs. However what I’m currently learning in my own investment journey is how to leverage your debt to acquire assets that will further build you wealth. Here are my three ways you can leverage your debt to build wealth:

 

The HELOC – Are you a homeowner? Or even one day plan to inherit an estate? Well a HELOC  (home equity line of credit) might be just for you. With a HELOC the owner of a property is able to take out a line of credit on their primary residence based on the amount of equity they have in the property.

 

For example say your home is worth 100k and you owe 50k on it, you now have 50k in equity in your home! Now naturally, when applying for a HELOC most banks won’t lend up to 100% of the amount of equity you have in your home, however they will lend up to 80% to even 90% of the LTV (loan to value). Essentially if you have 50k equity in your home you can walk away with a 40k line of credit based on an 80% LTV. This alone isn’t too shabby, 40k can pay for home repairs, to pay down your mortgage, go towards student loans, or it can be a nice down payment on another asset such as an investment property. Yet, like all lines of credit keep in mind a HELOC still needs to be paid back. So what does an example of this look like:

 

Let’s use our previous example of before: Your home is worth 100k and you owe 50k on it. You know the bank will lend up to 80% LTV so you’ll walk away with your 40k line of credit. Instead of blowing your 40k at the casino, you decide to use your line of credit as a 20% downpayment on a 200k multifamily which is priced below market value.

 

After maxing out your line of credit you might use some money from savings to create a little equity in the home such as floors, paint, etc… After having the multifamily rented out you can then choose to refinance the mortgage (remember you already have 20% equity in the home from your downpayment, on top of buying the home below market value, and the forced appreciation of the new flooring, paint etc..)

 

After all that work say the home appraises for 260k and you owe 160k (200k, the price of the home – 40k your down payment). You now have 60k in equity in your brand new investment property! After doing a cash out refi of say 75% LTV you end up with 45k (60k x 75%) in cash! Enough to pay off your HELOC and have 5k left over. Not to mention a brand new cash flowing investment property.

 

The Auto Refi – Let’s get real here, cars are one of our top liabilities. Some of us pay absorbent amounts on loans, and leases for the vehicle to depreciate right off the lot. It’s tough to imagine this liability could ever fuel an asset. However, like a home, you can also refinance your car loan. Why would this make sense? Well say your car is worth more than what you owe on it? You could simply refinance your car, take cash out, and start with a new loan.

 

Now, if you take the proceeds from your cash out and put them towards an asset such as a home, vacation rental, etc… you can then not only create value for yourself but have someone else pay off your car loan (#tenants). For more information this article from lending tree was super helpful.

 

The Credit Card – Ummm… What’s in your wallet? For most of us, not a heck of alot. However with cash back rewards programs from credit card companies you can see a portion of your purchases back. What does this mean? Well if you have the intention to invest, it means you can see a portion of your hard earned money back via rewards programs. These cash back rewards can potentially be set aside for cash flowing investments, or another asset that will build you wealth. There are a tons of blogs written on this topic, including this one which I thought provided good insight.

Conclusion –  The key takeaway here is that intentionality is everything. It is very possible to take some of our most wealth depriving liabilities such as homes, cars, and credit cards and use them to create wealth and acquire assets. However, at the end of the day the intentionality and financial discipline needs to be up to the individual to take action. What do you think? How can you leverage up some of your liabilities to help you gain wealth?

Why You Should Apply For Every Job That Interests You

 

“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” – Mahatma Gandhi

 

When was the last time you looked for a job? Perhaps you have been on the hunt recently and still are? Or maybe you’ve been in the same position for years, are getting bored , and want to look for something new and exciting! Looking for a job is one of those things that we all need to do at some point, but never really want to spend the time or energy doing. Additionally, it may hurt your motivation when all the jobs you want to apply for have a description that sounds like a league (or many) above you. Sometimes, the only jobs that seem like we can do are the jobs that are similar to the ones we do now. Yet, often these positions will keep you doing more of the same at similar pay and continually reduced interest.

 

I suggest, rather than being discouraged, apply to those jobs which initially may come off above your comfort zone. Many times, job descriptions are written in such a broad sense, that some of what is asked, is rarely or ever actually needed. Additionally, if you don’t meet every requirement, you aren’t automatically disqualified. It’s impossible for HR to find candidates with every possible quality they want, so instead they list a bunch that are related and look for the best fits – not perfect match. Also, remember, you will always be learning something new and it is always expected that you’ll be learning in your new position for many months. Your new coworkers will hopefully be eager to help you and mentor you along as you grow in the new position.

 

Keep in mind, if everyone was perfect there would be no need to interview. You would simply apply for a job and get hired. However, because there is so much variety and uniqueness in the workforce, the hiring process exists to help companies find the best fit. Assuming you aren’t a good fit because you miss a few requirements or are a couple years short in experience does not guarantee you to be out. In fact, if you applied to 10 additional jobs that you deemed “beyond your level” you would probably hear back from at least 3 of them – if not more!

 

Therefore, my new advice to you – apply to any and every job that interests you. If it’s somewhat related to your line of work and you feel genuinely compelled to go for it, then the only person stopping you is yourself. If you get told no, or don’t hear back then you can simply move on, but if you get a call, get the interview and get hired, then looking beyond your inside voice of doubt was well worth the few minutes it took to send in your resume and hopefully the beginning of a great new career!

 

How do you feel about applying for a new job? Do you get discouraged when you think you aren’t “qualified” for the position? Do you apply anyway? Have you ever been told no for a job you thought you were qualified for? Share below in the comments!

Life Hacks Baby Edition: Part 2

“We must consult our means rather than our wishes.”   – George Washington

 

Hi Everyone, and welcome back to Life Hacks Baby Edition: Part 2. In case you missed Life Hacks Baby Edition: Part 1, we discussed some investment strategies on how to pay for the big ticket items in your child’s life such as college, their first car, etc… using investment methods such as index fund investing and real estate investing. Today in Part 2 we’re going to discuss how to save on some expenses during the day to day journey of raising a child. We’ll provide some helpful links and hopefully some out of the box ideas of how you can reuse some of your resources to see some steady savings while raising your little one:

 

The Cell Phone Baby Monitor –  Just doing a quick search on Amazon I found baby monitors ranging from $20.00 to over $300.00! Each monitor has different bells and whistles for your young padawan; but for something that will likely only be used for a few years, is $300.00 worth the expense? One creative idea I saw to alleviate the expense of a baby monitor (or security camera) is reusing old smartphones. Essentially through baby monitor apps, or video teleconferencing apps such as Skype, you can download, mount, and run real time footage of the area that you want to monitor. For more information or how to learn how to set up your own baby monitor using an old smartphone or tablet be sure to check out resources like this article or the video below!

 

 

 

What To Wear – When I was growing up, cheap clothes definitely meant hand-me-downs, the Goodwill Store, and Salvation Army; all of which are still viable options today for any family on a budget. Yet, one trend that is catching my eye is the ever growing rental business of clothing. I see it for adults all the time and now there are multiple businesses that offer affordable clothing for children. Here are the top three companies I’ve come across:

 

Kidbox – Kidbox offers clothing for the day to day. Whether its back to school shopping or even the essentials like undergarments and socks, this company seems to offer  wide range of styles and clothing for your children. What is really great about this company is that you only pay for what you keep; which is a huge bonus.

 

The Borrowed Boutique and Rainy’s Closet – What I liked about both of these companies is that they are perfect for those “special occasions”  such as baptisms or weddings. Both companies offer a simply business model and the clothing they offer seems very elegant and well made. For your children you simply pick out a nice outfit, got to the event, and then return the outfit. This can certainly be much more cost efficient than buying a dress or suit and only having your child wear it once or twice for a special occasion.

 

What To Eat – I think at one time or another every parent has probably wondered “will this kid stop eating already!?” Growing kids are hungry, and… well… food costs money (you can put two and two together) No, I’m not proposing to starve the little meatballs, but instead map out some healthy and affordable meal planning. I’ve personally found the best way to feed a group of people in general is to make one big dish during the week and have leftovers for lunch or dinner for the rest of the week. It saves not only the most money, but time as well. Here are some recipes and resources you might find helpful when it comes to preparing dinner or cooking a dish up for the week that everyone in the family can enjoy:

 

Kidspot Recipes – This link will bring you to 12 quick and easy recipes anyone can accomplish while on a budget or strapped for time.

 

98 Cheap and Easy Foods to Make – In this article you will find, well…. 98 cheap and easy foods to make.., above all in this article the author lays out alot of quick and healthy dishes to make while on a budget.

 

Adult Hack –  I found this article actually pretty interesting and wanted to include it in this blog. It’s actually for how adults can watch their calories by ordering from the kids menu at many chain restaurants. Some of the restaurants mentioned aren’t the healthiest choice; however if you’re on the go this is an option worth exploring to save a little bit of money.


Conclusion –
There are ways of saving money all around us, sometimes we just need to get a little creative. What I’ve found the most helpful during my time writing these blogs is doing honest research. There are so many businesses and services out there to take advantage of, that you would never even know existed if you haven’t looked for them! How do you save money on the day to day expenses for your kids? Do you have any good recipes or tips on how to save money? Let us know in the comments below!

Life Hacks: Baby Edition Part 1 (Saving for College)

 

“Financial peace isn’t the acquisition of stuff. It’s learning to live on less than you make, so you can give money back and have money to invest. You can’t win until you do this.” – Dave Ramsey

A few weeks ago, I was going through my facebook feed and I came to the realization that I never really realized how many of my friends have children, or are expecting to have children! Since The Thrive Vine is a family blog I wanted to address kind of a misunderstanding about kids and finances. I think many people, to some degree or another, believe that kids are expensive; and that if you’re going to have children, your run at financial independence is just about over.

 

Sure you have the big ticket items like college, vacations, maybe even future medical expenses such as little Timmy breaking his ankle jumping from a jungle gym in elementary school (#sorrymomanddad) But what we forget are that children are just mini adults (and some adults are big kids) so if you can fiscally take care of yourself there is no reason why a child should break the bank for you and your family. Today in Life Hacks: Baby Edition Part 1, we are going to be addressing the all elusive college fund and how you can starting investing (not saving) for your baby’s future:

 

College Fund –  I remember any Birthday, Christmas, or Graduation money I got as a kid went into one fund: the college fund. In today’s world  things aren’t much different. In fact, many millennial parents are still paying off their own student loans while saving for their children’s education. I think what many people fail to realize is that college is no longer something that can be saved for; but something that needs to be invested towards.

 

Here’s what I mean: I remember my father telling me when he went to college back in the 70’s his tuition was $700 a semester (I believe this was including books!) I know personally, when I was in college, I spent more than my father’s total semester tuition in books alone almost every semester.

 

What I’m getting at here is that $700 is a very feasible goal to save towards. However what if your child’s tuition is 10k-20k a semester!? There’s a very little likelihood that you are going to save enough money for one semester never mind an entire college education in 17-18 years. However there are two main options that I’d like to share with you for investing towards your child’s college fund:

 

The Real Estate Method –  As you know I’m a real estate investor, and believe that real estate is probably the fastest way to grow your wealth. However what if just one rental property could pay for half if not all of your child’s college education? Here’s a scenario:

 

Say you purchase a rental property on your baby’s first or second birthday for 100k, you put down 20k, which leaves you with an 80k mortgage. Over the next 17-18 years you rent out the house and your tenants pay down another 20k of your mortgage which leaves your mortgage at 60k. Keep in mind the beautiful thing about real estate is appreciation; you purchased a house almost 20 years ago and as the market appreciates in value, so does your home. Lets fast forward to 17-18 years later and your home is now worth 210k due to appreciation and of course any work you put into the house.

 

This means by owning just one rental home for almost 20 years and having your tenants pay down your mortgage you now have 150k in equity! (210k appraised value – 60k your mortgage). So you might be asking how is this going to help with my child’s college fund!?

 

Well you are going to tap into that equity to pay for your child’s college! There are many options for this scenario including Home Equity Loans and HELOC’s however for this scenario let’s use a cash out refinance. In this scenario using a cash out refi you can walk away with 97,500 by refinancing your house. Here’s how:

 

210k (Appraised Value of your home) x 75% LTV (loan to value typically what a bank will lend you) = 157,500k

 

157,500k – 60k (Mortgage) = $97,500.00

 

With any luck $97,500 will hopefully be more than enough to put a dent in any college debt your child might have. Additionally you still have a rental property where your tenant will continue to pay down your mortgage.

 

The Index Fund Method – Believe it or not the greatest asset a parent has when investing for their child’s future is time (if you start early) It just so happens that is what index fund investing is all about; accruing compound returns over a period of time. Here at The Thrive Vine we aren’t exactly financial advisors I can’t tell you which funds to invest in, however from my own experience and readings I can share with you some funds and resources worth exploring.

 

Being a real estate guy I truthfully didn’t know much about index fund investing until I read the Simple Path To Wealth by J.L Collins. In his book, Collins strongly suggests the fund VTSAX (Vanguard Total Stock Market Index) What index funds do is track the stock market. What does that mean? It means that while many investors will gamble on individual stocks to provide stellar performance, by investing in a U.S total stock market index you are betting on the United States Economy as a whole. VTSAX alone is made up of about 3,600 publicly traded companies including tech giants such as Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon.

 

One thing that I didn’t like about VTSAX is that Vanguard requires 10k to start investing, because of this I started investing in SWTSX (Schwab Total Stock Index). While the Schwab index is made up of fewer companies than Vanguard, it doesn’t require a minimum to start trading; additionally if you have a Schwab account you get free trades. Still like Vanguard? No Worries you can invest in VTSAX in EFT form using the ticker VTI.

 

So all of this information might be useful but how is this supposed to help you invest towards your child’s college fund? The great thing about index funds are that they grow! When the market increases your index fund goes up in value. If you continue to invest on a regular basis (whether the market is up or down) your earnings can grow quite a bit. In fact VTSAX has a average 5 year return of 12.83% which isn’t too shabby.

 

The scariest part about index fund investing is when the market goes down. Keep in mind all markets, whether real estate or the stock market go down. The whole mantra behind index fund investing is that you can’t time the market; and you’d be foolish to do so. By investing steadily in your fund and keeping to your game plan you will eventually see gains.

 

When investing for your child’s future the greatest asset you have is time. Although 17-18 years might not seem like alot of time to accumulate a massive amount of money for your child’s education; once your money starts compounding you will certainly be in good shape for your child’s educational future.

Conclusion – How do you plan to save for your child’s college fund? What tips or strategies are you using that you might be able to share? In Part Two we are going to dive a little more into life hacks on how newer parents can save money  (which in turn they can invest) and continue on their journey to financial independence while bringing their little one along for the ride!

How I Learned Web Page Design From a Plumber

 

“Believe in yourself, your abilities and your own potential. Never let self-doubt hold you captive. You are worthy of all that you dream of and hope for.” – Roy Bennett

 

Lately I’ve been getting alot of compliments on the new look of the site. It was a big move for sure, and so much was learned during the site migration. It wasn’t until recently that one of my friends asked how I knew so much about web page design, site layout, reading source code, yada yada yada. I started thinking about how to answer this question and thought this would make a really empowering blog topic.

 

You see, from the job descriptions we read, to the tasks we only “wish” we could achieve; it becomes apparent that we put some major limitations on ourselves. However, today’s blog is going to be my story of how I learned web page design; not from college, or even webpage design classes, but from a Plumber. Without further adieu here is the story of how I learned web page design…

 

The Plumber’s Story –  Everyone loves a good story, and this one picks up on one summer day in my Mother’s kitchen of all places. She hired a plumber to fix her kitchen sink and as he was just finishing up and heading out, I came home from my college classes. He asked me, “hey I’m starting a webpage design company, your ma says your good with computers. Wanna come work for me?” Now, this guy was like Mario straight out of Nintendo. Before me stood a sicilian Plumber in overalls with an italian accent that persuaded me just enough to say yes. I’d be lying if I wasn’t a little scared of being “whacked.”

 

On my first day with the Plumber I met him in a little office in Greenwood Lake New York. When I say the office was little, I mean my bedroom closet was bigger… Nonetheless I came to work and learn, and that’s just where we started. It turned out the Plumber had a dream of his own, starting a giant database of all the master plumbers all across New Jersey, and building these plumber’s websites.

 

After a few weeks of hands on training I learned to not only design websites but read and create source code. Some of it was absolute monotonous work, copy and pasting the same code over and over. However it taught me the importance of everything being uniform. Everything had to be linked, meta tags inserted, and the page completely SEO’ed (search engine optimized) so people could find us on google. The amount of attention to detail was crazy to me; but taught me to always double check my work.

 

But Why –  After a year of working for the Plumber, I finally asked him “when did you come up with this idea, and why is it so important?” He then explained to me that in just a few years it was planned that he would go blind due to macular degeneration. He had already had several operations on his eyes and would no longer be able to rely on plumbing to support his family. His goal was to get his website design business started and be able to create some sort of income for his family. He taught himself web page design by reading books, and watching youtube videos. He, like me, never took one class on web page design.

 

The Takeaway –  Whenever I get really down on myself I think about the lesson the Plumber taught me. There are too many times in life where credentials are over weighted. We convince ourselves that we can’t do things because we don’t have MBA’s, 10+ years experience, or don’t have “advanced” skills in excel or SAP. The biggest truth in life is that any skill can be learned.

 

The next time you’re challenged, connect to the scenario “what if I had to.” What if you had to learn a skill so that you can go deeper in your career, to bring in more income for your family, or even so you can be happier? If a Plumber can teach himself web page design, if a real estate agent (such as myself) can blog about personal finance and career advice; there’s certainly no reason you can’t do anything that your heart desires. The key takeaway I really want to drive home in this blog are that the only limitations that exist are the ones we set upon ourselves.

 

What do you think? How do you overcome your obstacles and stay focused on your goals? Share with us in the comments below!

How Debt Can Set You Up For Financial Success

 

 

 

“I like the night. Without the dark, we’d never see the stars.” – Stephenie Meyer

 

Usually the words debt and financial success are never used together, nevermind in the same blog title. Yet, I wanted to write a blog about what I learned from being in debt and the biggest lessons and habits that helped me. While being in debt is certainly something most financial professionals (and me) would never advise, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel; and there are some life changing lessons to be learned by being in debt and getting out of it. Without further adieu here is how debt can set you up for financial success:

 

The Background Story – Back in 2011 I was the ripe old age of 22 and fresh out of college. My total student loan debt was a mere 45k;  childsplay compared to what many college graduates face today. Yet, as they say, timing is everything and after graduating just 3 years post the Financial Meltdown, the unemployment rate was 9%; which really sucked. After getting off to a rough start in the job market I found myself with two bachelor degrees working for $12.00/hr; not exactly what I was envisioning. However, it didn’t really matter how much I was making, I had 45k to start paying off.

 

The Habits –  I’ve always been a pretty frugal person so having enough money to pay off the monthly statement on my student loans really wasn’t an issue. It wasn’t until I started understanding interest rates that I was able to step up my game and start aggressively paying down my debt. Soon every spare penny I had went towards those loans and I eventually paid off the 45k in about a year and a half, thanks to $12.00/hr and more overtime hours than anyone would need in a lifetime.

 

Although most would say paying down the loans was a great accomplishment; it wasn’t until the debt was satisfied that I realized the habits formed by repaying my debt were attributing to my financial journey and success. If you’ve made it this far, you might be asking “what the hell is this guy talking about!?” Stay with me..

 

You see, it hit me that when you are actively paying back debt you are always on a budget; afterall, you know that you have a loan payment coming up and will budget your finances appropriately to make that payment. However when you pay that loan or debt off, you still have the power to put away money as if you were still paying off your debt. For example, say after you pay off your debt you continue to allocate that loan payment in your savings account or a retirement account.

 

By formulating this habit, you learn the art of not only saving but paying yourself first. Paying yourself first is really one of the most important rules of personal finance. It’s important to not increase your expenses by spending your money on expensive lunches and nights out at the bar everyday; but take that extra money and invest in yourself and your future.

 

Credit – Another way that debt has the potential to increase your financial success is through your credit. I remember after paying back my student loans my credit score soared to over 800. What did this do for me? It was because of a good credit score that allowed me to lock in a stellar 3.3 percent interest rate on my first duplex; without question this wouldn’t have been possible if I wasn’t set up by the habits that were created by paying off my debt.

Conclusion – Not very often will you hear to appreciate debt. However, when the habits used to pay back debt are used towards savings and investing; financial success is almost inevitable. What do you think? Do you think the habits caused by debt can later help you on your financial journey? Let us know in the comments below!