Tag Archives: Money

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

          

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

Ditch Your Friends Now

I say to you, “Ditch your friends now.”

“But I like them!,” you may say.  “Why do I need to ditch my friends now?”  Have you ever heard…

‘You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.’

~ Jim Rohn

The premise behind this quote, I believe, is because of two things:

The Law of Averages

The fact that most people reflect their environment

See, the Law of Averages dictates that when you “plant seeds” many will die.  But, because you continue to sow, some will also grow – simply because you continued to sow and the Law of Averages demands that, over time, you’ll reap rewards on that which you sow consistently.  That said, you may be thinking, “Well, Crystal, I continue to sow the seeds of what I want consistently, so I’ll reap those rewards eventually no matter what.”  In reality, no… because those who you spend time with and the environment you lock yourself into will affect the quality of seeds you’re sowing.  The seeds may be dropping, but the soil may be of poor quality or the water may be scarce.

Even I pride myself on my ability to submerge myself in environments and people who are far removed from “where I am” in terms of life, level of success, etc. and remain unaffected, but that doesn’t mean I’m totally unaffected and have total disregard for the influencers in my life and never need a reprieve.  For most people, if you spend the majority of your time around negative people, let’s say, it won’t be long before you’re talking and thinking just like them.  It’s very difficult to be unaffected.  Likewise, if those people earn less income than you want to, they’re unable to stretch you and your thinking to the point you need to be, to become the person necessary to receive and responsibly handle that which you seek.  Their view of the world is different.

For instance, the average person will use the terminology “spend time”.  I want you to think about that for just a moment.  Spend time.  Most of us would agree that “time” is our most valuable asset, right?  Time to “live”.  Time to learn.  Time to “spend” with friends and family.  Right?  Isn’t it fair to say, then, that we don’t “spend” our time anywhere, doing anything… we invest it?  When you invest, you do so expecting a return, do you not?  So, by the same premise, do you spend time living?  What about learning?  Do you even spend time with loved ones – because you at least expect to receive an enjoyable time and, perhaps, some great memories to take with you, yes?

 Measure Your Assets

Assets

Now take a quick inventory of two things:

  1. Who are the top five people you invest your time (really, your thoughts, energy, and future) with?
  2. Are those people where you’are currently “at”, where you’ve “been”, or where you want to “be”?

If you invest your money but get no return over time, would you continue to invest your money there?  Likely not.  The influence of your environment and those you hang around most are no different.

Now, am I saying that you need to ex-nay every person whose shoulders you’re unable to climb upon for your own personal gain forever and ever?  Absolutely not!  In fact, you should never, in my opinion, only gravitate toward people who are “ahead of you” for the purpose of your personal gain.  Despite the fact that you may be “behind” them at the current moment doesn’t mean you also have nothing to offer them.  Nor does it mean that those “behind” you have nothing to offer you.  Simply make a decision to make the top five influencers in your life of a status and quality that you seek to become.

Yes, I can hear you now, “Well, I want to be a millionaire, but I don’t know anybody who’s a millionaire.”

The truth is:  It’s great if you meet them, form a relationship, and so on… but it’s not required in order for them to influence you.  Read about them.  Learn their life’s lessons.  Glean their wisdom from interviews, auto-biographies, etc.  They’re still going to influence your learning and, hence, your life and lifestyle.  If you submerge yourself in such a way, you’ll find yourself walking in their confidence, talking like them, thinking like them, and taking actions they would take.  And, before you know it, you’ll look around and find yourself meeting real live millionaires!

So… take personal inventory today, look at where you are and where you want to be in life, and decide if you need to …

Ditch Your Friends Now!

To your success…

~ Crystal

www.imfreeandrich.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

How to Own a Job

DO YOU OWN A JOB?

Sounds like a silly question, right? Amazingly enough, most people who DO own a job don’t even realize it. So, let’s break it down and see if you do… and if you want to continue to.

See, you’d have thought that I, of all people on the planet, would’ve know… understood… the difference. Why? Because even though I remember my mom working a normal j-o-b for a while when I was in high school, both my bonus dad (aka step dad) and my real dad, well, I never remembered either of them working a regular job – like, as an employee. Now, in defense of one, I never developed a very close relationship with my real dad (another topic for another post lol), but I knew enough to know that he seemed to never work – not like I was used to seeing family members and friends work. Truthfully, not even as my bonus dad worked. And my bonus dad always had his own business, as far back as I could remember, so, to me, he was a business owner. It wasn’t until I was exposed to Robert Kiyosaki and his book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, containing the illustration of the Cashflow Quadrant and explanation of the four quadrants that it really made sense to me – AND allowed me to hone in on which quadrant I personally wanted to be in.

Quadrant #1: Employee

This is what we all seem to visualize when we hear talk of a “job”. You know the drill, right? For me, it started when I was 14 years old, but I think laws restrict that now, which is crazy in my mind. Anyway, at the age of 14 I wanted stuff, okay? Designer jeans, shoes, etc.  Cash Flow QuadrantStuff. And, my parents said, “No.” Really what they more fully said was, “It’s our job to provide your needs, not your every want. Jeans are jeans. There’s no reason to pay that kind of money for a pair of jeans. If you want them, you’ll have to earn your own money and get them.” I don’t know what they thought would happen, but… to work I went – and, yes, they had to then provide transportation for me. Lol (Later, as a guardian to my niece, I got to see what a friggin’ inconvenience and responsibility that can be!)

I talked to people. I put in applications. And, I landed a job bussing tables at a restaurant where my parents somehow knew the people who owned it or something. (Hhmmm… You think there was some behind-the-scenes negotiations going on there??) I was in heaven… sorta. I didn’t really like the work, and I didn’t really care for going to school, doing school work, then also going to a job – but I loved buying that first pair of ATB jeans! I’ll never forget it!

I punched a clock at a business somebody else owned, performed duties I was instructed to, and, in exchange, I received a paycheck. That, ladies and gentlemen, is an employee. Quadrant #1. This is where most working class people “live”. photo from rayhigdon.com

Quadrant #2: Self-Employed

Now, this was my bonus dad and (I thought) my real dad. (I learned later in life that this wasn’t the case. I’ll get to that in a minute.) I wasn’t stupid, afterall; I knew they weren’t employees.

As a business owner, you own the business. Duh! That also means that YOU do the work. YOU are self-employed. If a customer calls, you go. If work needs to be done on equipment,you either do it or call the repair person to do it. If there’s a complaint, you handle it. You take the calls, keep the books, send out invoices, make deposits, reconcile accounts, etc. The business doesn’t run without YOU, plain and simple! When you see “Bob’s Home Repairs”, this is usually Bob’s gig. (Occasionally, you’ll find a franchise or something that’s chosen a mom-n-pop name, but not as a norm.) The hole-in-the-wall pub or eatery… usually a self-employed business owner. The head bartender or cook is usually the owner. And, under most circumstances, may be the ONLYperson running the business.

What does that mean? Well, if he or she is sick, has a family emergency, wants to go watch the kids’ basketball game or piano recital, or anything else outside the realm of business, the business shuts down. No cashflow is coming in. This also means that money is being lost or potentially even “going out” when no money is “coming in”. Just think about vacations, right? I remember a few growing up but not many. Any guesses why?? You should be getting the picture about now, right?

YOU… OWN A JOB!

Quadrant #3: Business Owner

This is a little better than a self-employed person. Some would say quite a bit better. Given only these options, I’d tend to agree: THIS would be the “cream of the crop”!

A business owner is like a franchise owner or something like that. They usually still own the business, per se, but, more importantly, they own a system. And, they’re usually still involved in the operations in some way, some how. Where the “split” occurs, though, is in the fact that when a business owner takes off for the afternoon, the business still runs. The fam wants to go on vacay: Cashflow still happens. Money still comes in, and money still goes out. There’s a little more freedom in this quadrant. More responsibility? More headache? Well, the nay-sayers would argue that, and, I suppose, in some situations that could be true. My argument would be that they should’ve hired a higher quality of staff – ones they could trust, who possess impeccable work ethic, and who have the common sense when it’s alright to call and interrupt the vacay, if needed. Lol It’s usually a huge monetary investment… but the higher quality of life could be well worth it!

Quadrant #4: Investor

This is where the REAL freedom lies. Almost everybody WANTS to get here. Think about it: If you ask 10 people, who wouldn’t want a life of total freedom AND enough cashflow to do what they want, when they want, with whomever they want. Heck, I wanted that my entire life! Lol The challenge is that few people really understand this quadrant and even fewer ever get here. THIS is where my real dad “lived”, so I came to learn.

An investor is the epitome of what it means to have your money work for you. The people in this quadrant “worked hard”, make no mistake about it. People, for as many who scour the internet looking for the “get-rich-quick” schemes… I sincerely believe there are none. Are there ways to accelerate your success? Yes, absolutely! What are genuinely thought to be shortcuts, though? Nope. Don’t believe in them. There are a few reasons:

1. This quadrant requires knowledge… expertise… an understanding… personal growth…

2. Many people who already occupy this quadrant are unwilling to “give the goods away”.

So, if you’re interested in getting here… the place of passive, residual income… you must be realistic, tenacious, and willing to do whatever it takes for however long it takes to get you here. In other words, don’t ever give up. Learn, grow, ask questions, get mentors, try, fail, pick yourself back up, and keep doing it until you find the right vehicle, have become the person you need to be mentally and emotionally, honed your skills for the vehicle you’ve chosen, then make the leap to Quadrant #4.

My real dad… I still don’t know really how he did it. I mean, like, I don’t know the actual “moves”… and, he’s passed away now, so I’m unable to ask him. What I do know is that he began purchasing real estate. That was his biggest vehicle, I believe. Now, he also became involved in other things: funding business ventures for others; loaning personal capital; investing in material objects that he knew would appreciate in value over time; and, investing and reinvesting a portion of the cashflow to ensure the longevity of his life in this quadrant. He invested in things that generated income, right? Not things that cost him money. THIS is my chosen quadrant!

So let me ask you again…

DO YOU OWN A JOB?

Is that really where you want to be? If you’re in any other quadrant besides that of an investor, are you satisfied being there? Is that the destination you’ve always imagined your life’s journey taking you? If you answered “no” to any or all of these questions, I need to ask you one more… Well, maybe two… questions:

What are you going to do about it? And when?

Yesterday Past

Make the most of it.

~ Crystal

www.imfreeandrich.com

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

Rich Dad’s Cashflow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki

Cash Is King

CASH IS KING!

We’ve all heard it, right?  But is it really?  Still?

It seems you really can’t even function in today’s world without a debit card, credit card, department store card, or some other kind of “card”.  In fact, I remember my late father getting so ticked because he never had (or believed in) any of those “cards” and would get so hassled for it whenever he traveled.

There was one time he was ranting to me because he’d tried to rent a car.  The reservation representative told him he needed a “card” to rent one of their cars.  He kept insisting that he had cash!  They kept insisting on a “card”.  Finally, they explained that the “card” would be authorized for the “incidental” deposit, then credited back if the car was returned with no damage.  He told them he had enough cash to give them, and they could just hold that until he returned the car.  They disagreed.  He found alternate means of transportation.

Think about it, though.  Car rentals, hotel reservations, etc., pretty Credit Cardsmuch require a credit card.  Department storesoffer “specials” and “discounts” for using their store credit card.  And, even when you don’t run into that situation, they’ll incentivize you with a “loyalty” card. (Have you ever really thought about what information is being collected and analyzed about you every time you use that darn thing??)  There are even some gas stations that ONLY accept a credit card of some kind as payment. Cash isn’t even an option.

IMAGINE MY SURPRISE…

A few months back, my son and I took a short road trip.  Drivable in about five hours or so, I think.  Short enough you didn’t mind driving; long enough you still had to fill the car up with gas a few times.

So… we’re on the drive back, watching the gas gauge, figuring out where the best place to stop might be, etc.  Then, like an oasis in the middle of the Sahara (I kid you not; it was just like that!) stood a lone gas station and convenience store… just out in the middle of nowhere.  (When you drive in the Midwest, though, almost everywhere seems like you’re in the “middle of nowhere”. Lol)  It wasn’t even that great of looking establishment – but something caught my eye…

“2% DISCOUNT FOR CASH”

Well, since I’m all about saving money any and everywhere I can, I had to investigate further.  We pulled in, and I read the sign more closely.  (Life – and my natural inquisitive nature as it relates to all-things legal – has taught me to always look for and read “the fine print”.  Are you with me?There was no fine print!  It said, “2% Discount for Cash” and nothing more.  So, I had to step inside to confirm with the clerk.

“I saw your sign about a discount for paying in cash.  How does that work?”

“Tell me that’s what you’re doing, and I’ll turn the pump on for you.  When you’re done getting your gas and come in to pay, we’ll take 2% off the top if you pay in cash.”

Shut the front door!

Look, I know 2% isn’t that much, but it’s 2% more than I got to keep had I not paid in cash.  Needless to say, I was stunned by this old-fashioned way of doing business (and my own excitement over saving money on a commodity that I feel is SO over-priced anyway) that I immediately took advantage of this offer.  Now, in reality, that merchant is really just saving themselves the expense and inconvenience of dealing with a credit card processor that charges them that 2% for processing every single “card” transaction.  Regardless,  I was satisfied with the treasure I’d found and money I’d “saved”.

The moral of the story?  We may live in a credit-hungry, “card” happy world nowadays, but, if you look (or even ask, which I’ve learned to do now and, surprisingly, you get more similar “discounts” when  you ask for the option), you can still find proof…

CASH IS KING!

Cash is King

~ Crystal

www.imfreeandrich.com