Category Archives: Money

Companies That Pay Americans the Least

low-wage-companies

Which companies pay Americans the least and why?

Okay, so, this one is kind of a tough one because businesses are in business to make money (unless they’re a non-profit, of course), and we all get that — or at least I hope and pray we do because there’d be no reason to be a business owner otherwise.  That said, I’m not a personal fan of the “push” for $15/hr minimum wage.  More on that in a minute.  I’m also no fan of the cost of living being so high that average Americans struggle to survive, let alone thrive when they’re paid less.

Here’s the reality of both sides of this proverbial coin:

Workers (most with entitlement syndrome, admittedly — who honestly should be clean smacked by their mama or daddy for that) want and fight for $15/hr.  That’s all well-n-good except, let’s keep it real folks, there are many jobs that, frankly, require little-to-no skill and fail to meet the litmus test of warranting that kind of pay.  Plus, in a culture and society where most everybody also wants to scream and hollar about how much everything costs, some of the businesses/employers these very workers are yelling most loudly about really cannot operate with any decent profit margin (if any at all) if they do this.  So the vicious circle begins.

Workers want $15/hr minimum wage –> Governments (State and/or Federal) enact this, requiring employers to pay no less –>  Employers are unable to remain profitable while paying employees so much while still keeping their prices at current levels, so one of two scenarios takes place:

  1.  Employers raise prices, passing those costs on to consumers  –>  Consumers are unable to buy the goods at the new, higher prices, so they stop buying  –>  The business fails, leaving all their workers unemployed… with NO income
  2. Employers realize there’s no way for them to support this new wage and actually stay in business  –>  They release their workers, leaving them unemployed with NO income  –>  They seek out automated sources to manage the bulk of their operations

Oh, and if you think not, #2 is already happening.  Self-checkouts at your local grocery store — which I refuse to use because I see no reason to scan and bag my own stuff while paying the same price as everybody else AND put a fellow working-class American out of a job (eventually).  Automated ordering kiosks at fast-food restaurants — but no change in prices.  Automated machinery in restaurants (of all kinds), taking the place of a live human being.

THIS is a cycle, people, and there is no viable end…

save for our own control of living costs, taxation, supply and demand, etc.

My other (personal) issue with this is simply…

If a company is making a profit of millions or billions, paying their “average” (mostly part-time) employee $7 – $9.50/hr, the CEO should NOT be getting paid millions or billions.  Yes, they should get “more”.  They bear a big burden company-wide.  I’m  not disputing that.  Still, their pay should be more reasonable, some of the profits should be reinvested into the business to keep it competitive in the marketplace, and the rest (presuming they feel uneasy about guaranteeing a higher wage throughout the year) should be redistributed to the employees in the form of a profit-sharing plan.  I don’t think there’s a rational employee who wouldn’t feel good about such an arrangement.  They know the business has to be profitable.  They know it has to remain competitive for them to remain employed.  Most would even understand getting NO “bonus” every year (quarter, six months, or whatever frequency is chosen) if the company itself is having a down-turn.  Sharing profits with employees when they ARE available, however…  In MY opinion, one of the smartest, loyalty-building, productivity-focused things a business can do.  I’m just sayin’.

Obamacare News

Are you keeping up with the Obamacare News?

If not, you may be soon – or, should we say you may want to.

The Impact of Obamacare pamphlet
REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi/Files

As you may already know, 2015 marks the beginning of the enforcement of Obamacare… tax penalties and all.  Oh, there were plenty of people who screamed, hollered, and stomped their feet when Obamacare (aka the Affordable Healthcare Act) was in the planning and lobbying stages.  How do you suppose those same people are gonna to feel when they see the hit they may take on their taxes to be filed between now and April 15th for not having the very healthcare we were told Obamacare was supposed to provide for those who were unable to afford it, either through their employer or on their own, as an independent, private consumer??

I don’t know about you, but I already know people who are starting to file their 2014 tax returns – only to find out that penalty can be fairly hefty.  Some of these people actually TRIED to be diligent.  They tried to work enough hours at their job to qualify for the employer’s group plan.  They investigated the costs of the government-provided health insurance at the “Healthcare Marketplace”.  Heck, they even sought out the devil (aka insurance companies) to see what was available for individual, private consumers.  Bottom line:  Some of them couldn’t afford any of those options!  But wasn’t this supposed to be the “Affordable” Healthcare Act???

Just yesterday I got a text from a friend of mine.  It read,

“Holy sh*t!  Looks like I owe almost a grand in taxes this year.  WTF?”

Now, that isn’t all due to Obamacare, but a chunk of it is.  He didn’t have health insurance at his place of employment last year because he flat didn’t qualify.  It was fairly new employment, and, although he was full-time, he’d not crossed the threshold to participate in the employer-provided group health insurance plan.  I remember at the time, he’d checked the Healthcare Marketplace.  All those options were too expensive, too.  (Isn’t that an oxy-moron?  The health insurance provided by the “Affordable” Healthcare Act were too expensive??)

Do you suppose he’s the only one gonna have a fit when their tax returns are calculated and they see the end result of a forced healthcare system tied to a penalty from the IRS?  I doubt it.  While the actual results are obviously yet to be “seen”, I’d venture to say that those who will be hit hardest are gonna to be those in the socio-economic class(es) that were screaming loudest in favor of the Act when it was first in the making.  (It’s funny sometimes how such drastic short-sightedness can be brought into clear focus when the enforcement of such things begins to happen.)

SIDENOTE:  By the way, how is it even LEGAL that citizens be assessed a tax penalty for something totally unrelated to the payment and/or collection of their taxes???  And do you realize that the IRS isn’t even a part of the United States government?  Nope.  They’re a stand-alone organization.  WTF, indeed!

I was never a fan of this legislation, although I’m a HUGE fan of the IDEA behind the legislation; I just believe such legislation doesn’t really suit the purpose or the very citizens it’s said to help.

In my opinion, it’s like banks:  You erroneously (Hey, work with me, here; we’re giving people the benefit of the doubt.) over-draw your checking account and because you did that, the bank’s “courtesy” overdraft protection plan kicks in.  This is to prevent your check from being returned to the retailer/creditor and, presumably, incurring their fees for returned checks (usually $30, right?).  However, because you had to “ask” the bank to cover your IOU (aka check), the bank now assesses you an additional fee (usually between $15 and $30) per day, until you not only pay the overage amount, but all fees assessed up to that point.  Now, here’s where it gets good.  You already didn’t have enough money, right?  (Again, work with me.)  So let’s charge you more money (like, substantially more money) per day until you return your money back to our bank, along with self-directed fees being assessed against your account.

Where’s the logic in that?

Oh, and if you wonder what happens if you don’t rush right in to try to rectify (pay) the situation (fees):  They’re just taken from any and all future deposits until the “debt” is taken care of.  “Have a nice day!  We thank you for doing business with us.”

Will anybody ever be smart or courageous enough to repeal Obamacare?  Not likely at this point.  Or, should I just say how sorry I feel for the next person who’s our esteemed President?  That person may win the election, but, boy, are they ever inheriting some of the worst legislation and governmental acts in history.  “We the people” will fully expect them to whip things back in shape in, oh, what would you say?  A few months should be enough time, right?  Again, I’m unsure that a few terms would be enough.

I’d love to know, as we head into the 2015 tax season…

What’s your Obamacare news?

How to Choose the Best Network Marketing Company

So, maybe you’ve read a previous article about network marketing and the companies that utilize direct sales as their marketing and distribution platform.  And, maybe (hopefully) you’ve taken the next step and reviewed Robert Kiyosaki’s video describing the type of person who will do best in network marketing.  If not, you may want to do that now.  Okay, now that we’re square on that, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

First, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:

Not all network marketing companies are created equal, in my opinion.

Second, they span across a multitude of industries.  As of today’s date, when I Google “network marketing companies”, there are 52,500,000 results!  Yes, that’s 52 million.

52,500,000 Network Marketing Results in Google

Now, in all fairness, it is Google, so it’s also likely that not ALL 52+ million results are actual companies.  Some of these results are likely network marketing haters and nay-sayers posting videos and articles bashing one company or another.  Still, there are a lot!  Agreed?

How do you even begin to find the right one for you??

Although I’m really going to hone in on the business-savvy and logical aspects of targeting the best network marketing companies, I also believe whole-heartedly that it’s vital to find one that’s aligned with you, your personality, and your passions.  Why?  Because it’s going to be difficult to do what you need to do if you’re dreading dumping yourself out of bed every morning and there’s nobody and nothing “there” to motivate you to do it – like a boss who you have to answer to if you’re late… again.

So, to begin with, I think it’s best to ask yourself what’s really important to you about a company you’re going to align yourself with.  Truthfully, this should be a consideration and thought process that takes place whether it’s network marketing or a traditional employment situation.  I mean, you can get just as burned out (if not moreso) at your j-o-b than working as an independent contractor in a network marketing situation.  If you’re in alignment, that’s less likely to happen.

Where do you begin paring down 52 million results, though?                        Man holding head leaning by question mark

Well, for me, some important things were:

  • transparency (in dealings, complaints, value, compensation, and so on)
  • a fairly wide open market (leaving plenty of room for growth in all directions)
  • stability (I think the stats are something like: 50% of all new companies – traditional or not – fail within the first five years and 50% of those remaining fail within the second five years)
  • leadership (both of the company and my sponsor)
  • consumable products (or at least those that I can see people paying a monthly subscription for)

When you start looking at these things, the list gets shortened pretty darn fast.  Believe me, though, I’m in no way trying to say that even with all these things in place a publicly-traded company – with all it’s “transparency”, years of operations, seemingly stable leadership, in-demand and barely tapped market, and needs-based products that are consumable – can’t dupe the American population.  They can and will – even with the government’s knowledge!  History has shown us that.  It’s no different than a traditional business, however – whether online or off – as we’ve witness by the dot-com bubble, real estate bubble, pending economic bubble, and the list goes on.  We’re just hedging our bets here.  Even with a traditional job, you can be hired this week and the business be insolvent in another one or two.  (This actually happened to a friend of mine.)

So, to further narrow down the search…  IF your list is similar to mine…  It may be wise to check into DSA (Direst Sales Association) registration, listings, complaints, and standing status.  See, the DSA only ranks about the top 200, I think, so you’ve now gone from 52 million to 200 with just this one criteria!  (For instance, the company I chose to align with is within the top 10, I believe, and is the only one in that range for its industry – health and wellness.)

New York Stock ExchangeWith this knowledge in hand, you should be able to wipe out the vast majority of even the DSA’s list of 200.

  • Find something you feel passionate about and can “get behind”
  • Check the DSA for stats, complaints, standings
  • Look at company performance on the NYSE

Next, are there any documented endorsement or testimonials.  Be sure you understand I said “documented”.  How come?  Because – especially with the use and ease of the internet – people can throw whatever they want up on a web site.  Again, using my company as an example:  Would you agree it’s pretty powerful to be able to tell people (customers and potential network marketers, alike) that the company’s products are endorsed by over 600 professional athletes – some of whom are Olympians??  I mean, those people are tested, right?  And they have to be in optimum physical condition.  Those things help in terms of customers wanting to do business with a company backed with that kind of confidence by people who use the very same products they’re considering using.  Plus, those building a home-based business within the company get the confidence of knowing that that very same confidence exists outside of themselves, their sponsor, or even the company president.

Then, the biggie:  earnings.  As discussed in a previous article, network marketing is a place where you can make no money, some money, or an Shiny Gold Dollar Signabsolute abundance of money… depending on your own focus, efforts, growth, etc.  The company’s statement of average earnings should be a great indicator if you’re serious about your business and know the income level you’re aiming for.  (Some people just want a little more money at the end of their month, and some want six and seven-figure earnings and beyond.)  Again, almost every company has at least a few who are or have been quite successful.  As is said in the industry, though:  “Those results are not typical.”  I’m the kind of person who (although I’m tend to be very optimistic) will always evaluate for worst-case scenario, knowing that everything above that is “gravy”… a “bonus”, if you will.  With that said, I look at a company’s average earning statements this way:  If I can accept the lowest amount on the statement for average earnings, then I’m pretty good with everything above that.  See, one of the companies I was a part of did have million-dollar earners… but the majority of people aligned with them made no money.  None.  Conversely, when I saw my current company was paying out an average part-time income of $25,000, that seemed reasonable to me.  (I supported my son and myself on less than that a few times during my 16 years as a single parent!)

And lastly, let’s look at the leadership.  This applies, in my opinion, to both the company and the sponsor.  (No, I don’t believe your sponsor directly determines your level of success.  One of the beauties of direct marketing is that your “boss” can be a total jerk, know less than you, etc., and you can still go on to earn more money than them!  I do believe having a great sponsor as a leader can dramatically reduce your learning curve, though — and thus, speed at which you achieve success.)  I’d suggest you really evaluate why the company was started, how it’s been developed, whether or not it’s aligned with your personal values (One of mine is philanthropy, so it was important for me to find a company that also “gives back” in proportion to its success.), and what their overall mission statement is.

Believe me, if you’re seriously considering a network marketing business for yourself and just spend a few hours on one day to go through these things on your own, I have no doubt you’ll find…

The absolute best network marketing company for you.

Your partner in success…

Crystal Schwindt

www.crystalschwindt.com






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The Top 5 Benefits of Network Marketing

If you’re contemplating applying to become involved in a network marketing company as your home-based business, you may be wondering whether or not it’s worth it. As a person has been and is working within the direct sales industry, I’d give you a resounding, “YES!”

Before I jump right into what I believe to be the top five benefits of network marketing, though, I’d like to make a point: There are people of both genders, many ethnicities, and all socio-economic statuses and walks of life who have found their way to network marketing. Initially, I believe we all come “here” for very personal reasons… to meet a self-defined need in our own lives.

For instance, my first introduction to the direct sales industry was with a very well-known cosmetic company. Many people (especially women) have heard of them. Anyway, I was in my early twenties then. I was also working full-time and going to college full-time, with a dual-major of Pre-Law and Business. Now, I worked for a company where I was actually making pretty darn good money for being that age. The challenge? I had NO time. No time to study. No time to be involved in hobby-like or outside interests. No time for a social life to speak of… not that I’ve really ever been too much of a social butterfly. I still knew I was trading time for money, and I’d already identified a strong entrepreneurial drive from within (at about the age of 19, when I made my first attempt at being self-employed with a non-direct sales business – just me, by myself).

So, a then-friend of mine convinced me to get involved. This venture didn’t work for me… but there was absolute value in it and the experience for me. Obviously! I mean, I later became involved in a network marketing company where I was fairly successful and recognized for over six years. Then with another that was really just one where the timing was good and the people and environment was what I needed at the time to move me forward and teach me some skills that I continue to utilize in my business today. (In fact, although I no longer consider that company to be “my” company, I remain associated, stay plugged-in to some of their training and with some of their top earners, and even refer people in their direction when I feel there’s a benefit there in terms of what that person is wanting to learn or may need as a person at that time.)

So, although I wholly support and acknowledge the existence of those more personal benefits, those aren’t the benefits I’m talking about today. The benefits I’m going to outline now are from a more mature, adult perspective – in terms of actual business… with the key personal elements being met.

1. Flexibility and the perceived freedom

Freedom created by a home-based businessYou’re technically classified as an independent contractor. (Funny how we accept that label in other companies and professions, but when it’s attached to network marketing, so many scoff.) This means you get to set your own hours. You work as much or as little as you like. Throughout the longer network marketing stint of my career life, I was a single parent. This flexibility allowed me to work around any schedule I needed so my child never had to go to daycare, was raised by me, and I didn’t miss out on all those “firsts” in his life that I wanted to be present for.

2. Earnings based upon merit and effort

This is good and bad for some people – which is also a very good reason why it’s NOT the best business option for some. Let’s be honest, some people just don’t want to work “that” hard. They’re “comfortable”, and they want to show up, punch a clock, and collect a paycheck. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I’m super glad those kinds of people exist because society, as a whole, needs them in order to function properly. I, however, always No glass ceilings with a home-based businessfound it frustrating to have

(a) my pay based upon somebody else’s perception of my efforts and worth and

(b) an earnings ceiling that basically dictated that I could never rise above it unless somebody died or retired.

In network marketing, if you learn, grow, become who you need to become in your business of choice, you will, indeed, get paid in accordance with your efforts and growth as a person. If you fail to learn, grow, and implement, you’ll earn little to no income – and there are plenty who fall into this category, believe me.

3. Reduction in expenses and wasted time

Think about it, there’s no commuting… anywhere, really. Well, okay, depending upon the network marketing company you’ve chosen to become Expense reductions with a home-based businessinvolved with. Using today’s technology, however, I can truthfully tell you that I personally have no need to leave my house if I don’t want to – not for selling or interviewing those who are interested in working with me. I have no “home meetings”… or meetings anywhere else, for that matter. My interviews are conducted via telephone and video chat. The customers I serve have the ability to place orders directly with the company – online or by  phone, which means I don’t have to see them, handle product or inventory, deliver or ship anything, etc. Now, am I suggesting that I have to do nothing? Not at all. I’m saying that:

(a) I have a company that supports me and my customers very well (If a customer wants or needs to contact me with questions or concerns, they’re free and welcome to do so, and I’m happy to help them however I can.) and

(b) I have a vision for my business, so I’m also very selective about who I invite to work with me (Not “just anybody” will do, so leveraging technology reduces my wasted time with “no-shows”, whiners, complainers, tire-kickers, and so on – essentially, people who really aren’t “here” to win. I want to WIN!)

4. Low start-up cost

Other than real estate investing, I personally know of no other business or business opportunity that’s affordable for average people besides those available in network marketing. (Even zero-down real estate investing – for me, anyway, when I started – had expenses like gas, office supplies, postage, phone, and so on.) In contrast, direct sales business opportunities come in all levels of financial opt-ins. I’ve personally seen everything from as little as $20 to upwards of $3,000-$5,000. Still, in the scope of things, the high-end is a mere pittance in comparison to start-up capital for a traditional new business. Franchises are astronomical, and a stand-alone “mom ‘n pop” business usually requires so much that loans are needed just to get the doors open!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vkba_YOZORc&feature=youtu.be

5. Tax advantages*

For me, this is HUGE! Wealthy people will tell you… It really doesn’t take you having a whole lot of money to position yourself well in life (depending on the variables when you figure it out, right – like the number of years before you’d like to retire, eliminating bad debt, etc.). Plainly put:

It’s not so much about how much you make as it is about how much you’re able to keep.

A home-based business allows you to legitimately qualify for an array of tax deductions and such that are always out of reach as an employee.

Please understand… I’m a supporter of network marketing, entrepreneurship, and a free and capitalistic society that affords people the opportunity to do and become whatever and whomever they want and choose to be. These are just five of the top benefits that drew me into (and back into) network marketing. That said, I’d also be the first to tell you that although you’ll find all these benefits available in pretty much every network marketing opportunity, not all of these companies are created equal. You must be very real and honest with yourself about what it is you want to get out of your involvement… then do your due diligence in researching that company’s ability to deliver on whatever that is for you. If it’s not a good match for you, that’s okay. Again, all kinds of people fulfill all kinds of very valuable functions in society. If so, though, YOU may find yourself on the track to winning! So be honest…

Is network marketing for you?

Your partner in success,
Crystal Schwindt
www.crystalschwindt.com

*I’m not a CPA or financial advisor. These are my experiences and are not meant to serve as advice. Please consult an appropriate professional with questions you may have in this respect.

Is This a “Pyramid”?

What do people even mean when they ask that question?  Do they even know what they mean?  It’s seems to always be asked in reference to network marketing (aka direct sales) companies.  Personally, I think…

Network marketing gets a bad wrap

I’d honestly not given much thought or consideration to this question until recently – despite the fact that I’ve been involved in four network marketing companies (one currently, as a part of my overall wealth-building strategy) over the course of my adult life.  Just in the past few weeks, however, I’ve had two different people call my and my company’s integrity into question due to its utilization network marketing and my affiliation with it.  One… an 18 year old.  Another, surprisingly about 50ish.  So, I set off on some research of my own, and discovered some things.

  1. A “pyramid” is, in architecture, considered to be a very strong shape. (Think about the Egyptian pyramids, for instance.)
  2. Pretty much every company or business under the sun (unless it’s a single-owner, single-operator business) has a hierarchical structure of a “pyramid”. There’s a person at the top:  usually a CEO type.  Beneath that person are other supervisors, a Board of Directors, or other “management”.  Beneath those people are even more department managers.  Beneath those people are an even greater number of people who serve various functions.  And, the list goes on and on.  You get the idea.)
  3. Some of the most successful and notable business people on the planet find network marketing (aka direct sales) companies to be the best business model of this century for ambitious people, because, in a traditional model, you’ll never be able to earn more than the person “above” you, but in network marketing, you can – and plenty do.  (Disclaimer:  Some make no money, due to the fact that your income is a reflection of your personal efforts, business growth, leadership capabilities, and other factors.)
  4. Those same successful and wealthy business people find network marketing companies to be some of the best investment opportunities around. Why?  Because they’re very lean when it comes to expenses that usually wreak havoc in traditional businesses, like:  advertising expense, benefits, etc.
  5. Network marketing (via the independent contractor and home-business status) afford individuals the opportunity to create their own business for very little capital investment and then qualify for legitimate tax deductions they’d never otherwise be able to take advantage of.

So why are people so cynical about network marketing?

If I had to guess, I’d say it goes back to the beginning of the industry, as a whole.  I can see it this way, anyhow.

Shane Rudman, Network Marketing Icon
Shane Rudman

A very successful network marketing mentor that I once had the honor and privilege of working with once told me,  

As with many things, it’s common that the greatest asset can also be the weakest leak if not properly cared for and tended to.

What did he mean?  Well, in network marketing, people are the greatest asset – for sales and company prosperity and distribution.  Therefore, people can also be the weakest link —  and not even mean to be.  How?

As with any new venture, people are often very excited – as well they should be!  When we were kids, we had many dreams.  With age, society and those closest to us douse our dreams.  Not intentionally, per se, but nonetheless.  This means, when people are actually provided an outlet to dream again and find themselves in the company of others who are also once again seeing the possibilities of their dreams, a certain energy and synergy takes over and begins to grow.  This makes new people want to tell everybody “everything”.  Often the challenge is in the fact that they barely understand it themselves!  Inadvertantly, friends and family get bombarded, people who might otherwise be interested in the same business opportunity get misinformation, and, in general, I think people feel “duped”… and nobody likes feeling “duped”.  So, the nay-saying and network marketing-bashing ensues.  At least that’s what I think has happened – and, to some degree, continues to happen.

I also feel it’s quite plausible that those who are unsuccessful in network marketing leave their company, then go tell everybody they know what a “scam” it is… instead of accepting their own responsibility in that failure.  The fact of the matter is, in my experience, if you do your due diligence in aligning yourself with a solid business that’s transparent, it’s rarely the company or the company’s products that are the source of the person’s lack of success; it’s most often the lack of action, implementation, or tenacity on the part of the individual.  Now, before you get your drawers all in a bunch over that statement, let me also say that I’m in no way saying some people don’t suffer a lack of training or poor leadership or any of those sorts of things.  I’ve had the distinguished blessing to experience it all – good and bad.

I can honestly say that I really have nothing negative to say about the other network marketing companies I was involved in prior to my current alignment (a wealth-building vehicle and strategy, bear in mind).  And, in each of them… there are, were, and have been very successful individuals.  Perhaps, as I feel was the case with me, you simply have to find the right company for you and be willing to commit, allowing yourself to develop into the person you must become (mentally and academically) to achieve the level of success you seek.  It seems few people these days are willing to accept personal responsibility for who they are, where they are, the fact that they are who and where they are as a result of their own choices and decisions over time, etc.

Now, combine that scenario with the fact that there are obviously a lot of people who are ignorant about what a “pyramid scheme” actually is – or the fact that a true “pyramid scheme” is illegal… or the fact that there’s actually a regulatory agency (in the US anyway – Direct Sales Association) to monitor the companies who are its members – and you have people who (too young to even remember the birth of network marketing or “pyramid schemes”, as well as more than old enough that they could’ve educated themselves on the topic had they chosen to) simply walk around applying stereotypes and ignorant labels to everything they neither understand nor take the time to learn more about.

That said, I’ll be the first to tell you:  Network marketing is not the best business model for every person on the planet.  In fact, the video below by Robert Kiyosaki (a huge supporter of network marketing) leads one to believe there are far more people who it’s not for than those who it is.  Why?

Because you have to want to WIN to be successful in network marketing, and even though nearly everybody says they do, few will raise their hand, put their money-where-their-mouth-is and do what it takes to be successful… for a variety of reasons.

It would stand to reason, however, if successful business people and investors like Robert Kiyosaki, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and scores of others – with their vast knowledge base in business, people, and great achievements – are in support of network marketing, the least the rest of us could do is educate ourselves and stop “bashing” out of ignorance.

Your partner in success,

Crystal Schwindt

www.crystalschwindt.com

Passive Income vs. Residual Income

What’s the difference between passive income and residual income?

Many people don’t know… and it’s easy to understand why.  In some instances they can be interchangeable.  In other cases, not so much.  And, according to the IRS, not really at all — but that’s a topic for a whole other post.

Let’s see if we can make sense of this.

Passive income is monies derived from sources or investments that require no active participation on the part of the benefactor.  Most commonly, this is associated with things like rent.  It could also be pensions or other retirement payments, inheritances, and so forth.  The term passive income is also fairly synonymous with “unearned income”.

Residual income is monies derived from recurring sources that require the benefactor to only do the work once but receive payment again and again.  This could be everything from royalties on a song or book to sales of consumable products that create auto re-ordering to online membership sites to affiliate sales to network marketing.

In all fairness, there are times and in some circumstances where residual income really can and does become passive income in the sense that a sale is made and the residual, recurring payment from that one sale is now passive.  Does that make sense?

If asked, probably everybody would say they want passive income.  The picture below of Robert Kiyosaki’s Cashflow Quadrant illustrates the various sides and where (and how) you need to be positioned to capitalize on passive income.

Robert Kiyosaki's Cashflow Quadrant illustrates where passive income resides and how to get to it.

Learn more about passive income and the Cashflow Quadrant with Robert Kiyosaki’s book.

                     Cashflow Quadrant (EN - Paperback) by Robert Kiyosaki          Cashflow Quadrant (Spanish) by Robert Kiyosaki          Cashflow Quadrant (Kindle) by Robert Kiyosaki

Paperback                                  Spanish                                   Kindle

Improve your financial IQ… then grow your residual income into passive income.

Your partner in success…

Crystal Schwindt

www.crystalschwindt.com

          

Choose Your Reality Carefully

Choose your reality carefully.

Does that sound like an odd statement to you? What does that even mean? Aren’t we all living the same reality?

The short answer: No, although realities do co-exist, overlap, and tend to be shared. How can that be?

About everybody has heard the sayings…

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
“Perception is real to the perceiver.”
“See things through their eyes.”

Most people glean over such expressions as merely whimsical notions, but I assure you that’s not the case. And, to take it one step further, if you’re an investor, business owner, self-employed person, or employee… If you work in a service or product industry… Especially if you work in sales, network marketing, or affiliate marketing… “Ha!,” you say. “That’s pretty much everybody who’s a productive member of society.” To that, I’d say, “You’re absolutely right!” And you better KNOW these sayings are more than notions; they’re ways of expressing the fact that reality to every person can, may, and, for the vast majority, does differ. Even more importantly, you’d be well-served to know and understand that that “world”… is chosen by the person living it.

When a person says things like…
“Why?”
“I can’t do that.”
“I can’t afford that.”
“I’ll never be [good] enough.”

They’re right. Likewise, when a person says things like…
“Why not?”
“Of course I can do that; it’s easy.”
“How can I afford that?”
“I deserve that… (job, promotion, relationship, happiness, or opportunity)”

See, the human brain doesn’t know the difference between reality and fantasy – until and unless WE tell it how to qualify the difference. It’s like when people say, “If I can touch it, feel it, smell it, taste it, and see it, I’ll believe it.” Science tells us that, right? And science offers and establishes some pretty cool stuff, so that must be the end-all-that-be-all! Well, yes… and no – because science also tells us that the human brain has the capacity to live a life of illusion, yet believe with 100% certainty it’s real. We tend to say that people who do this on an extreme level — not consistent with what “the rest of us” see, feel, think, and believe – suffer from all kinds of mental issues. Perhaps. I mean, we do know there are people who become a danger to themselves and others as a result of what goes on in their minds. The reality (pardon the pun) is, however, that we ALL do this – to a greater or lesser degree; so I caution you to choose your own reality carefully. And, to take it one step further, if you want to be successful in whatever you do, it’s imperative that you apply this knowledge in reverse.

See, if you’re in sales and you’re only concerned about your own reality, ignoring that chosen by those you serve, you’ll struggle to be successful. If you’re a business owner who fails to consider the challenges faced by your customers, your business may survive but will likely never grow to its full potential. Even investors (who are at the “top of the food chain”) who fail to address “what’s in it” for the other person or parties, may have some success, but it will be much less than it could be. Why? Because if you know how others view their “world” and what’s going on in it, you’ll also know the problems they encounter. And if you know the problems they encounter, you’re much more capable of providing excellent service, solutions to those problems, and win-win investment negotiations, meeting the needs of their reality. This translates into more success for you.

"You can have everything you want if you just help enough other people get what they want." ~Zig Ziglar
Here’s an example I used to use with my son when he was younger that I think illustrates this perfectly – especially in today’s world:

For YOU (by the mere fact you’re reading this), reality is that there are computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and so on. These devices yield the power of the internet and a massive amount of technology!

If you take a child, however, at birth, and place them in an environment where they never see or are exposed to such devices, their reality dictates that they do not exist. There’s no internet to them. The technology we all use every day doesn’t exist. People (children and adults, alike) who live in severely impoverished regions, may or may not be aware of what so many of us consider common-place and take for granted. In fact, they may be totally unaware of TV… or radios… or even events happening outside of their immediate area.

So, it is ever-so-important that, if you want to achieve success – whatever that is for you, you

Choose Your Reality Carefully

…because you’re betting the rest of your life upon it.

Your partner in success…

Crystal Schwindt
www.crystalschwindt.com

Goals-to-Results in 3 Easy Steps

Dreams to GoalsAs the year winds down, many of us will sit down to think about and set New Year’s resolutions.  Less, but still some will go a step further and call them goals.  Still fewer will take another step and actually write them down for frequent reflection and reminders.  And, only a fraction of the original lot will put in the time and effort to reverse-engineer those goals, putting action behind them so they become quantifiable results.

 Do you want to make this the year that your resolutions and dreams begin to come to fruition?

Or, are you going to be happy and satisfied with yet another year of making resolutions that fail to last even three weeks into the New Year?  Decide now.  If you’re in the second group, you can stop reading; I have nothing to offer you.  If you’re in the first group, however, hold on to your hats because we’re about to embark on the journey of a life-time – and I can hardly wait to hear about your successes and achievements!

  1. Make a list of dreams you’d like to turn to results in the coming year.

Remember:  This is one year – not two, five, or ten.  Keep them realistic and manageable.  That said, this year’s goals can be part of bigger goals that will take a longer time frame to accomplish, which is okay; just see and know it for what it is.

  1. Pare that list down to your top three-to-five highest priorities.

It’s not “bad” to have more, and I don’t personally think there’s a right or wrong answer here.  What life has taught me, though, is that, for the majority of people, focus is easier to achieve and maintain when there are fewer distractions.  So, the more you can place a laser-focus on your target, the better your results are going to be and the faster they’ll come.

  1. Reverse engineer the goal.

What does that mean?  Well, this is the part where you really begin to exert some mental power and time into the process because it means you need to actually think about the steps it will take to achieve that goal.

For instance, if you want to lose weight or become more healthy in the New Year (unsurprisingly one of the most common – and least fulfilled – resolutions that people make each and every year), put some thought into what this means for youWhat defines “weight loss” for you?  Is it 10, 30, or 100 pounds?  Everybody’s different, so define what’s best for you.  Then, choose the steps that are going to help you make this a reality.  You may end up with an action plan that looks something like this:

GOAL:  Weigh “X” pounds by December 31, 2015

  1. Eat one serving of fresh fruits and vegetables each per day
  2. Weight LossEat six small meals each day instead of two or three big ones
  3. Go out to eat one time per week as a reward for sticking to my plan
  4. Enhance my food regimen with high-quality vitamins and minerals to maximize my energy, stamina, mental performance, etc. (Free Health Assessment available here)
  5. Do some kind of cardio workout 20 to 30 minutes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
  6. Do some (light) weight training 20 to 30 minutes ever Tuesday and Thursday
  7. Weigh myself every morning and record my progress
  8. Envision myself as this lean, healthy machine daily (5 to 15 minutes)

Make sense?

But what if your goal is non-physical?  Let’s say… financial, since most people rack up a lot of credit card and other debt at Christmas then try to recover from it all year long — so they can do it again next year, right?  This is the year that pattern gets interrupted, and the way you look at and feel about money moves to a higher plain.  Your plan may look more like:

GOAL:  Eliminate “XYZ” Credit Card Debt

  1. Create and adhere to a budget (based on percentages, not dollar amounts, for psychological reasons; aligned with your frequency of pay)
  2. Credit Card DebtContact my credit card providers and request a lower interest rate
  3. Improve my financial education by reading on the topic 20 minutes daily, by those who are where I want to be or are at least debt-free
  4. Apply a consistent additional amount to my payment every month – or make a partial payment every time you get paid
  5. Set-up separate accounts for different purposes:  savings for short-term accumulation, checking for paying expenses, special-purpose savings for taxes or insurance or household expenditures…
  6. Give to some cause or charity every month (or pay period)
  7. Match your “giving” to yourself, and put it in another account or investment vehicle
  8. Plug-in to a free Financial Freedom Friday call for knowledge, strategies, and support (click the link or send a blank email to awlist3692158@aweber.com for details)

See, the thing is, most people make resolutions and goals with the greatest of intentions; they simply fail take actions that drive results.

And, honestly, most people try to rely on themselves to “make the magic happen”.  In reality, though, the encouragement, support, and sharing of ideas and knowledge you get by working with others who have (a) either “been there, done that” or (b) are like-minded and also taking action will compound and accelerate your progress, getting you results beyond anything you can imagine.

Make your plan today – not midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Keep your “head down”, focusing on  your goals; and by this time next  year, you’ll come up for air, look back at how you and your life has transformed, and be amazed by how much you’ve achieved.

Your partner in success…

Crystal Schwindt

www.crystalschwindt.com

Leverage: The Key to Success

Ask any truly successful person you know what the secret to success is, and I have no doubt they’ll tell you, “leverage”.

Gates, Buffet, Kiyosaki, Gates CollageStudy notable, successful people – Donald Trump, Robert Kiyosaki, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates — and you’ll also find they all say the same thing: Wealthy, successful people become that way (and, probably more importantly, stay that way) because they learn and master the skill of utilizing effective leverage.

 

Many people believe that the word “leverage” in this context only applies to money. You know, the use of “other people’s money”. OPM, right? We hear about this a lot. That’s certainly accurate, but also pretty narrow-minded, in my point of view.  If you dig just a bit further, though… below the surface… you’ll find that the truly successful, ultra-wealthy find and utilize not only the leverage created by using “other people’s money”, but also time, talents, skills, locations, and a multitude of other variables.

See, the poor and middle class are often slaves to their money because instead of learning to leverage their own money (or the use of “other people’s money”), they put their money in “investments”, where the person or institution handling those investments is actually leveraging that exact same money – for their own benefit.

It’s like this: You put your money in the bank – like, a savings account or something. Many checking accounts pay 0% in interest or dividends unless you already have upwards of $5k or more in that account. Well, the vast majority of America’s (statistically) have less than $1k in savings, let alone their checking, which tends to be the put-n-take account to pay bills from, as a norm. So, let’s forget about checking accounts and look at savings, right? Right! Okay, here it goes.

Your money goes into your savings account. IF your account even pays or qualifies (two very different things) for interest or dividends, it likely pays you 1% or less. That same bank, however, uses your money to fulfill loans to other poor and middle class folks who also have less-than-enough money – but they’re loaning it out at 7% and higher! Usually upwards of 10, 11, 12, 13, or higher percent! That means you get your measly ½ to 1% in interest or dividends, and they get the difference: 9% and up, on average. Are you excited yet??

“But,” you say, “I don’t have more money… or enough money… to do any leveraging with, so I can create wealth.”

That may be true… for now. What do you have, though, that you’re squandering — instead of leveraging — to put yourself in a better position? Understand this:

If you’re not using leverage to your own advantage, you (by your very essence) are probably serving the role of leverage, helping to grow somebody else’s wealth and success.

The big asset being squandered by most of us: TIME.

ClockIn my opinion, time is the most valuable asset each one of us has, yet it’s also the one most often wasted.  It’s spent doing nothing productive.  Sitting in from of the TV.  Playing video games.  America is the most entertained country in the world!  And, since the implementation of “No Child Left Behind” and decision to cease teaching things like handwriting in our schools, we’re also on the fast-track to becoming the dumbest, too.  (Don’t misunderstand, I don’t condone teachers or schools who pass children along into higher grades just to get them out of their classroom.  In their quest to slow things down for some children to catch on, however, they’re also damaging the more advanced students who need a faster pace and more engagement to keep their brains learning at an optimum rate.  Likewise, I disagree with things like removing handwriting in exchange for typing or computer skills because the mere act of hand-writing has been scientifically proven to create more activity and synapses in the brain than the act of pecking at a keyboard.)

Most people are just sleep-walking through life, never making good use of the time God has given us. So, here’s a novel idea for you: If you’re currently lacking money (but want some… more…) but have plenty of time, leverage your time right now to move yourself ahead, by learning new skills and trades or changing your mindset in preparation of the wealth you’re going to create, so you can recognize and take full advantage of those opportunities when they arise — then keep that money when you get it.

Once you begin to see results in this area, begin making the shift away from trading time for money. Leverage. Remember: What’s your most valuable asset? Time, right? I mean, you do realize that time on this planet for a human being is finite, yes? And do you also understand that none of us (Can you say NONE of us?) truly know whether our time ends today, tomorrow, or another 20 years from now? Internalize that for a moment. Truly. Stop and think about that fact for just a minute. Once you get that into your heart (not your head; your heart), you’ll find you better start playing life full-out!

“Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid!”
~ Basil King

A business acquaintance of mine recently shared with a group of us that about a week ago an incident occurred with his mom that shook him to his core and brought this realization into a very personal state for him. I mean, of course he logically always understood it… but now it’s really real.  Here’s some background and the way it went down:

He’s grown and successful with his online network marketing business. HE has traversed the “great divide” that many in network marketing seek: moving from a part-time to a full-time, self-sustaining business. One of his goals and reasons for getting into that kind of business is the fact that there are no “glass ceilings”, and he wants to retire his mom… who continues to work two jobs, despite some significant health challenges. He wants her out of that situation – and, for the record, I believe he’ll accomplish that in very short-order now.

Well, I believe it was just last week… His mom’s blood-sugar level apparently hit bottom in a fast way, causing her to have a reaction that HE mistook for her dying… in his arms! He said when he went to her, she was unresponsive, and he felt no detectible signs of life. He shook her. He yelled at her. He even called 911, I believe, because he felt her go limp in his arms and thought she’d died – right there, right then. Just a few minutes later, his mother “awoke”. She remembered none of it and was behaving as though nothing had happened. That moment, he said, changed his life and focus in a matter of just a few minutes. He said he realized – despite his work ethic and current dedication – he’s not doing all he could to achieve his goal of earning the income necessary to retire her for life.

Now, he’s already pretty darn good at leveraging his skills and focusing on the “tasks at-hand”… but do you think he’s even more focused now?? Of course he is! Do you think he’s coming up with some very creative ways to leverage his resources so that goal is met on a shorter timeframe? Yes, I can guarantee it! (By the way, incidents like this are not only motivational but, internalized correctly – like Bruce is – become leverage against the little voice that lives in nearly every person’s head that says, “You can’t do that, “ or “Slow down, what’s the rush,” or “It’s just too hard”.)

As we embark on a new year and you’re making whimsical resolutions Goals – or, if you’re more serious and intent with your life, perhaps you even take the time to sit down and write out your goals – don’t just make a list of stuff that you’re going to give up on three weeks after the new year starts. You’re already taking the time to do this task… Why not leverage that same time and energy to find even more resources that you already have that you can use as leverage to propel you into your future success for 2015?

That would be time well spent!

To your success…

Crystal Schwindt
www.crystalschwindt.com

Cash-In on Saving Money

What does it mean to “cash-in on saving money”?  To the average American, probably the most immediate thought is, like, savings accounts or something.  That’s not what we’re talking about here.  People use savings accounts as a means of “saving money”, in their mind.  My question is:  Do you really save money by utilizing a savings account?  And, more importantly, is that savings account allowing you to truly “cash-in” on the act of saving money?  When you begin to shift your mentality, you’d likely agree with me that the answer to those two questions is “no”.  So what do we mean… and how do we do it?

Awareness is the first step in change, so we have to recognize that “saving money” is a different beast from “building assets” (or, more loosely referred to in terms of investing, generating more money from your savings in the form of dividends, and so on).  For me, the purposes of saving money are to (a) accelerate and eliminate debt (if you have any, which most Americans do) and (b) redirect that savings into assets and the generation of more money.

Below are some suggestions for simply saving money, and your daily or monthly budget is the easiest and quickest place to start.  Take a good look at all the expenses currently coming out of your budget (net funds available for paying  your living expenses and necessities).

  1. Cell Phone – A common expense these days that practically every person has. (I know homeless and unemployed people who somehow still manage to
    Girl with Cell Phone
    http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/
    By Witthaya Phonsawat

    have a cell phone!)  The competition in this service and the products offered is fierce, so use it to your advantage.

For instance, my service was acquired through a major carrier eons ago.  In my opinion, as the company grew, their quality of customer service and ability to be competitive in the market place dropped, so, you guessed it, I switched.  Initially, I moved my account to a small, regional provider.  As it turned out, their service left me with “dead spots” on highways that I traveled frequently.  This wasn’t good for me.  If I broke down or something, I’d have no use of my cell phone – for any reason.  Outside of that, they were actually a good and far less expensive alternative.  (Regional providers are probably great for those who stay within a certain area, therefore experiencing fewer “dead spots” when it could prove to be not just an inconvenience, but perhaps also a safety issue.)  So, I went back to a major carrier… but one that offered a plan better suited to my particular needs.

Then, in my own quest to “cash-in on saving money”, I began to research and talk to other people about their choices and reasons for those choices.  In the end, I was able to move my account to a lesser-known provider… who contracts with the exact same major carrier (thus the exact same coverage for my phone usage)… resulting in a cell phone expense reduction of nearly 50% — with a few more and better features than I’d originally had.

Boom!

Just saved money.  Now it can be reallocated to another area in my budget.

  1. Insurance – If you’re like me, you’re likely “insurance poor” – either by mandate or the fact that you have liabilities you want to protect because you’ve yet to accumulate a significant enough amount of cash to become self-insured (the ultimate goal). Besides, who really even likes insurance?  I mean, for the
    Insurance
    www.fsinsuresme.com

    most part, you pay your premiums for a long time, nothing happens, no claims are processed (for you personally), the insurance company gets to keep your money, and you have nothing to show for it.  Then, you finally do have a claim of some sort, and you’re  either hassled over it or the insurance company wants to pigeon-hole you into some kind of repair or replacement that’s lesser for you but allows them to retain more of your money that they need to now “give back” to you.  In my opinion, insurance does serve a purpose and has a very viable market:  Those who lack the self-discipline to save money and not touch it so when “stuff happens” they have their own funds to go to for those repairs or replacements.  (Yes, that’s the majority of the American population, I understand.  Their market is HUGE!)

Again, I had multiple policies (mostly for the meager discount you get by bundling policies) with a major, well-known provider.  When you break those policies down, however, and begin calling around, comparing genuine apples with apples, you’ll find discrepancies and a few absolute gems.  Now, that said, the last time I did this, I honestly would’ve paid more (to a point) to stay with my then-current agent simply because of him and his staff.  They were awesome!  My point?  “Price is only an issue in the absence of value.”  I checked a lot of places and found them all to be somewhere in the same ball-park.  Then, I found an insurance broker who did some shopping within their network for me.

Bottom line:  I was able to get pretty much the exact same coverage and benefits for just over 50% less each month!  (That said, if my old company ever gets it together and revamps their programs so they’re more realistic and competitive for me, I’ll switch back in a heartbeat.  Why?  Because the communication and customer service of this broker’s office… well, let’s just say it’s lacking.  As I said, I’m okay with paying a little bit more in exchange for the peace of mind knowing all I have to do is make one phone call and never worry about whether or not things will get done or done the way I was told – over 50%, though, nah.)

Boom!

More money saved… to be redirected elsewhere.

  1. Utilities – This is an area where the vast majority of people think they’re stuck. Like, you gotta have ‘em, right?  I mean, water, electricity, gas…  You have no choice, so you’re held over a barrel when it comes to whatever they want to charge you.  Well, yes, but no.  You may be surprised.  Just hear me out.

Let’s first get clear that when it comes to normal living expenses, you’ll do best to do your own forced level-pay, whether you actively do this with the provider or not.  It’s a budgeting tactic, but one I like quite well and relieved a lot of stress for me when I implemented it.  Second is when you learn little Pay Billtricks – unknown to average consumers – that will allow you to have at least some control over what you’re being charged and how it impacts your life.  We’ll break ‘em down one at a time.

Here’s how you do a self-inflicted, forced level-pay:  Take every statement for the past year and add up what the actual bills were.  Take the sum and divide it by the number of pay periods you have in a year (i.e., 52 for weekly, 26 for bi-weekly, 24 for semi-monthly – You get the idea, right?).  The answer is the amount you’ll automatically put in a separate “household” account (whether an actual bank account like I do or a simple jar at home – The bank is a better choice for most because it’s less likely you’ll get into it for other reasons, resulting in you not having money to pay those bills when you need it.) each and every time you get paid.  Then, when the monthly bill comes in, you either pay directly from that account, or, if you’re like me, you transfer that amount from that account (savings) into your normal checking account, and pay the bill through that account.  When the bill is less than the average amount, the overage just accumulates to off-set the times of the year when you use more of that commodity.  When the bill exceeds the average amount you deposited, you’ll be drawing on the overage you’ve already created.

Here’s a little-known trick with our local water:  I learned that, although the usage fluctuates from month to month, the rate applied to each level is based upon an average usage over a particular quarter each year.  So, if you just know which quarter that is, you purposefully remain conscious of the amount you use during that period, which means the records (aka paper trail) will reflect that your usage went down or is minimal.  Then, when that quarter is over and, say, the usage goes back up, the rate applied to that usage will be less because your actual usage during that time was lower.  Make sense?  (Discreetly ask your own water and other utility personnel about similar workings in your own local area.  You may be able to capitalize on this also.)

Boom!

Again, a money savings to be reallocated elsewhere.

These are just three examples of how you can cash-in on saving money; there are a multitude of others.  Remember, though, once it’s saved, you must decide what to do with it.  My personal favorite is to do several things simultaneously, depending on your personal circumstances:

  • pay yourself first (especially if you’re not already)
  • establish financial freedom accounts (such as savings, emergency, and investing)
  • add a portion of that saved back toward debt that you need to accelerate to eliminate more quickly.

Using this strategy allows you to protect yourself against future debt while paying off existing debt.

Boom!

And that… is how you…

Cash-In on Saving Money!

Wanna see the system I use to raise my financial worth?  Enter your information below for instant access to a free video.

To you and your success…

~ Crystal

www.imfreeandrich.com