the-first-financial-goal

The First Financial Goal

Are you prepared?

Having a clear and attainable number, a visible financial goal, is extremely useful. Instead of saying to yourself, “I can’t wait to be rich.” Try saying, “I can’t wait until I have a net worth of $30,000.”

 

Even better try saying, “I can’t wait until I have $2,500 in an emergency savings fund that can be accessed at any time.”

 

Our financial goals don’t have to be ridiculous. It’s important to want to achieve your maximum potential. If that maximum turns out to be $1,000,000 or even $1,000,000,000 in net worth—great. However, if your maximum financial potential isn’t this high, maybe striving for something that’s simple, like being relaxed in any emergency is a better option.

 

Start with the small steps first. Then move up.

 

Get out of debt. Learn how to use debt to obtain assets. Get an emergency savings fund. Create a ROTH IRA or Traditional IRA. Hire a CPA. Learn how to reduce your taxes.

 

Then aim higher.

 


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how-much-do-you-keep

How Much Do You Keep?

“One-tenth of everything that I make is mine to keep.”

One issue that many of us have when we start making money is that we are focused on our income. We measure in hours and in monthly bank statements. Some of us fall into the trap of getting a credit card before understanding how to properly save money.

 

It doesn’t matter how much you earn for each hour of time you work if you aren’t keeping a portion of your money. There are hundreds of ways you can leverage money that you save to make it grow and to create wealth for yourself, however, the process doesn’t begin without having a general understanding of how to save your money.

 

Here’s a great way to spend your time during a quarantine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wglndSWrvsM

 

You can also get a physical copy of the “The Richest Man In Babylon” by George S Clason here. If there is any personal finance book you will ever need to read, it’s this one. The classics always withstand the test of time.

 


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The-Best-Credit-Card-You-Could-Ever-Own

The Best Credit Card You Could Ever Own

Focus on creating a financial commitment to yourself first

The day I started to actually commit to saving my money was when I learned how debt works. I was shown a Youtube video called, How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio. In the video, Ray describes debt as a means of increasing spending in the present and decreasing it in the future. Once I realized that that is how debt works, I wanted to only create debt between my “current self” and my “future self.”

 

Instead of owing money to a bank, why can’t we just owe money to ourselves? Savings in its simplest form is postponed spending. You are giving money to your future self. If you think of your savings as your “most important credit card bill” that you have, the obligation to pay your future self becomes easier.

 

“Seeing your monthly savings account deposits the same way you see your monthly credit card bills may help you prioritize them more.”

 

We often prioritize the wrong financial obligations. The most important bill that you should pay first, before paying any other bills, is your monthly savings deposit. If you reframe that deposit as a bill, you will prioritize that commitment to yourself even more.  We tend to spend within our means, so we might as well spend on our future first.

 

Are you another statistic?

Even if you decide never to own assets, doing the bare minimum of saving 10-20% of your after-tax income every month will put you ahead of so many other people. After all, the average American doesn’t have $400 in emergency savings. Although this statistic is regularly debated, trying to get $400 in savings is an attainable goal to start with. If you can achieve this, next try to maintain a consistent monthly contribution that can only be used by your future self. Even better, open an account that will penalize you for early withdrawals, like an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

 

Don’t be a statistic. Saving your money can help you do so many things, like setting yourself up for a mini-retirement, preparing for future debt payments like a mortgage, or it can just provide simple peace of mind (this is why I have a savings account).

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The-Goal-Is-Being-Comfortable

The Goal Is Being Comfortable

Is Becoming A Billionaire A Practical Goal?

I used to believe that the only way to be truly successful was to become a billionaire. I wanted to become a notable entrepreneur, someone who had a huge impact on society, and someone who made my family proud. This is what I used to believe when I was still in college, taking entrepreneurship workshops and reading books that taught me how to start my own business.

 

Sometime during my senior year of college, I behaved frantically. Every month I tried to come up with a billion-dollar idea that would help make the name Kenny Soto a household name. I even tried creating an educational non-profit called Futures For Students with my mentor Maurice Bretzfield. My hopes were that I could become a “billionaire philanthropist.” Needless to say, my dreams were all over the place and I had no clear focus on what I wanted out of life.

 

After graduating from college and seeing none of my ideas come to fruition, I took some time to ask myself, “Do I really need to be an entrepreneur?” “Perhaps I don’t need to be a business owner to be successful.” These thoughts seemed to go against everything I believed to be true when it came to what I was seeing online. As I took to the internet to research successful people, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t even understand what the word billion even meant.

 

There is a stark difference between a billion and a million. If you search on Google, “a million seconds versus a billion seconds,” you will find this search result:

  • “A million seconds is 12 days. A billion seconds is 31 years.” [make the bullet a star]

If you compare the numbers in relation to time, instead of money, the difference between them becomes clear. To even think that I could become a billionaire is the most ridiculous goal I have ever had. Yet, knowing that the odds of becoming a billionaire are slim I still can’t help but wonder, what should I strive for? Isn’t it okay to have impossible goals and dreams?

 

I can’t remember which movie or TV show I was watching when I heard this joke so forgive me for not giving the source due credit. This joke isn’t my own and I am paraphrasing:

“Whenever you enter the very uncomfortable topic of income in a group conversation, there is one response that indicates someone is rich. No one with a middle-class income ever says that they’re comfortable. That word in itself is more startling to hear than someone actually answering the question with a number.”

 

I want to be comfortable. I believe that since this goal doesn’t necessarily equate to any one number but, an income range, it should be more practical a goal. When I think of the word “comfortable” what comes to mind is not having to worry about my basic needs. These needs include my rent or mortgage, my phone bill, monthly groceries, monthly outing costs, and insurance bills. Being comfortable for me means not necessarily retiring to never work again but, to work for the projects and passions I care about without feeling stuck.

Taking Charge Of My Financial Education

In 2019, I took it upon myself to take my finances more seriously. I was lucky enough to be debt-free, having no student loan or credit card debt associated with my name. However, I knew that if I didn’t start learning about how to manage my money, I would eventually end up having debt creep back into my life.

 

I had read articles, blog posts, seen countless youtube videos, and read 2-3 books on the topic of financial education beforehand. However, none of that helped me to create an actual plan that I could act upon. None of these resources helped me to create a plan with clear financial figures as my goals. Again, I know now that I will most likely never become a billionaire. Yet, my financial plan now has me striving to become a millionaire.

 

In MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom by Tony Robbins, he helps his readers understand how to create a reasonable financial plan. Reading the book yourself is the only way to appreciate the practical information that it contains, but I will speak from my own experience on what I learned.

 

The best way to achieve a comfortable lifestyle is to calculate your annual income at your ideal age of retirement. This annual income has to sustain itself without you working, meaning that you have to create a portfolio of assets to help you get to this amount.

Here’s a breakdown of three financial goals I calculated for my retirement while reading the book:

Financial Security Retirement Goal

$744,000

Financial Independence Retirement Goal

$960,000

Financial Freedom Retirement Goal

$2,028,000

 

These figures are how much I would need to retire for 20 years at an annual after-tax income of $48,000. Now let us first focus on the goal of $48,000 annually. My first two jobs after college paid me $48,000 in pre-tax annual income and my third job paid me $60,000 in pre-tax annual income. I attained these jobs with only two years of experience under my belt.

 

Granted, these figures could only be attained because I was working in New York City. It goes without saying, however, that if I could make $48,000 a year, that I could also live within that lifestyle and consistently get jobs that pay me that much. I don’t necessarily plan to nor do I want to retire in NYC anyway. So the goal of a $48k-lifestyle seems like a very practical goal.

 

Now let us focus on my Financial Freedom Retirement goal of $2,028,000. This is the best-case scenario. This goal is attained if I grow a strong portfolio of assets and save 20% of my income, every year until I’m seventy years old. $2,028,000 is much more reasonable a goal than let us say one billion or even half a billion dollars. I have over forty years to make that money.

 

What if I don’t make that amount? That is where the $744,000 goal comes into play. Under the worst circumstances shooting for $744,000 in retirement savings seems like a practical goal. With this amount in savings, I would still need to work part-time at the age of seventy but, I could have all of my basic needs covered. Having my basic needs is all I want at the end of the day.

Why Shoot For Being Comfortable?

Being comfortable doesn’t mean that I stop working and live on a yacht, sailing around the globe and sipping martinis all day. When I am seventy years old, I would love to be able to not have to worry about my house, food, or how much I’m spending to take my grandchildren out every weekend. I want to be able to spend time with my family, write about whatever fancies my curiosity, and have the least amount of stress granted to me at that age.

There are plenty of financial columnists and bloggers out there that share their concerns of millennials not having a retirement savings goal or savings account for that matter! I prefer not to be a part of that statistic. Perhaps I will never become a billionaire. However, there is a good thing that comes from setting a clear number as my financial goal — retirement doesn’t seem unattainable anymore.

 

And while I am working towards retirement, I am still taking mini-retirements along the way.

 

$2,028,000 seems like a small number now. $2,028,000 isn’t scary. Attaining $2,028,000 would make me proud of myself while at the same time, encouraging me to continue working on what I care about. Let’s not forget that once you begin to attain money past $10,000,000 you start to lose your privacy, and you begin to gain more social responsibilities. “Mo’ money, mo’ problems,” as Biggie put it.

 

“The question isn’t at what age I want to retire, it’s at what income.”

— George Foreman


If you’ve read up to this point, I want to thank you for your time. Please share this article with someone you know who might like it too. If you have any questions, you can send me a tweet or a message on Instagram. I hope this article helped you in some way! Thanks again for your time and attention.

 

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