How to Invest your first $500

Just a quick heads up, I don’t normally write articles like this, in fact this wasn’t even for my blog. Another Instagram investing page/ blog asked me to write this article and after waiting to hear back from him for 2 weeks and not seeing it posted on his blog either I decided to put this article on my blog since after all it was my hard work and effort to write it.

So, you saved up your first $500 and you want to invest it. First off, I would like to congratulate you on this feat, approximately 78% of Americans (I’m writing this in the United States, sorry to everyone outside the United States that this statistic doesn’t apply to you) live paycheck to paycheck so the fact that you escaped that cycle deserves some kudos. Before you start investing though, we need to get a couple things straight. If you have any high interest debt (i.e. credit card debt) please handle that before you even think about investing. A beginner at investing will have a hard time earning more than the debt is costing not to mention the other ways high interest debt affects your credit score and other financial aspects of your life. So first and foremost, handle high interest debt if you have it before you start investing. Secondly, if you do not have an emergency account or fund, I would highly advise to put your $500 into that before you start investing. Accidents happen, illness happens, the world is an unpredictable place and having extra money in the event of an emergency can be a life saver.

You’ve taken care of step 1 and step 2 and you still have $500 you’re ready to invest with. Congratulations you are about to embark on the path to financial success! Warren Buffett, one of the most successful and renown investors once said, “If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.” That’s what we aim to do! Before we begin everyone should know that all investments carry some sort of risk and have different time horizons to work with. Pending your current financial situation and what you aim to do with that $500 you can take several different routes listed below.

Quotation-Warren-Buffett-If-you-don-t-find-a-way-to-make-money-87-85-65

  1. Invest in yourself

Let me make this clear before you go on a shopping spree, there are ample resources when it comes to free education. YouTube, Podcasts, Free eBooks, Blogs, Written articles, Company financial documents etc. are all at your disposal with an internet connection. Assuming you have exhausted the resources above or are looking for something more detailed I would recommend several investing and financial books and making the commitment to read and follow through on them. To name a few, The Intelligent Investor – Benjamin Graham, Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill, Rich Dad Poor Dad – Robert T. Kiyosaki, The Little Book of Common Sense Investing – John C. Bogle. While not all directly related to stock market investing someone trying to invest their first $500 would benefit from the messages in these books. Note that buying 3-4 books will still leave you with plenty of money from your initial savings, I would suggest reading and using the advice given in the books and in this article to utilize the rest of your capital at your own will. An investment in yourself will yield dividends for the rest of your life to come, it is therefore one of the most essential investments to make early on. If the books above aren’t your forte there are several other books centered around general success that may light a fire in your heart to pursue greatness.

  1. CD/High-Yield Savings Account

Holding your money in a CD or a high yield savings account is a great option if you need your money to remain liquid or you have a short time horizon and low risk tolerance. Besides investing in yourself this option carries the lowest risk but also lower returns than can be seen with the other options. I currently use a savings account with a 2.10% yield. This would generate $10.50 a year in a savings account and while that is not a lot there is extremely little risk in this approach and your money is accessible.

CD’s or Certificate of Deposit have a fixed time period to invest over but have higher returns than a savings account. I quickly searched CD rates for 1, 3- and 5-year terms which produced the following yields respectively 2.8%, 2.85%, and 3.10%. (2/11/2019) These were the best rates I could find while adhering to a $500 minimum deposit and would produce returns of $14, $44, and $82 respectively. Now these returns are low, they slightly outpace inflation, but they are safe and rather liquid. I would recommend this strategy if you are new to investing and are trying to combine strategy 1 (learning about investing) and putting your money in a safe modest return investment until you know what you want to invest in.

  1. ETF’s and Index Funds

An ETF index fund may be the best mix of aggressive and save on this list. Let me pull up some definitions real quick to make sure we are all on the same page.

ETF – “An ETF, or exchange-traded fund, is a marketable security that tracks a stock index, a commodity, bonds, or a basket of assets. Although similar in many ways, ETFs differ from mutual funds because shares trade like common stock on an exchange. The price of an ETF’s shares will change throughout the day as they are bought and sold. The largest ETFs typically have higher average daily volume and lower fees than mutual fund shares which makes them an attractive alternative for individual investors.” – Investopedia

Index Fund – “An index fund is a type of mutual fund with a portfolio constructed to match or track the components of a market index, such as the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (S&P 500).” – Investopedia

A S&P 500 ETF index fund provides good returns on average, low expense ratio, little knowledge or analysis required, and it provides a dividend which all contribute to their success. An app that provides these funds for a low cost would be Stash App, in addition to picking an index fund you can also pick a variety of ETF’s including those that track bonds, precious metals, technology companies, banks, etc. For the S&P 500 the following tickers IVV, VOO, SPY will mimic the index closely and save you money on the expense ratio as well.

In this strategy you are investing in the broad market which has experienced volatility recently. The index and ETF’s will experience ups and downs providing more risk but higher rates of return on average. In the event of a market downturn, the investor will not be able to withdraw the investment without realizing losses. If pursuing this strategy, the investor should understand the risk and possible length of this investment as both are much greater.

  1. Individual Stock of a well-known company

This strategy presents the highest risk/reward of the strategies discussed. Buying shares of an individual stock effectively puts all your eggs in one basket which adds to the risk however an individual stock can move both up or down much quicker than an ETF. Companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc. are popular options. Some stocks such as Google and Amazon have share prices of $1,000+. In this event you will need a platform that allows you to buy partial shares to be able to purchase these stocks with limited funds. I would not recommend a small cap company, penny stock, or any speculative play.

Whichever platform you choose it should be noted that a platform that minimizes brokerage and additional fees should be desired. With $500 to invest with it is critical to not waste capital on fees. Apps I am familiar with that are friendly toward beginner investors with limited capital include, Robinhood, Stash App, Acorns, M1, and Webull. Like strategy 3 a longer investment horizon is required for individual stocks.

In conclusion, there are multiple strategies to invest your first $500. Based on what your goals, risk tolerance, and investment horizon are you should be able to come to a solid conclusion on what strategy is best for you. Having a realistic approach to investing is vital, expecting 100% returns in your first year is asking for failure and discouragement. Hopefully you found this information useful and can begin your investments on a good note.

Thanks,

B^2

IG @ Bsquared.website

Blog @ Bsquared.website

Email @ Bsquared.web@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Internship Finances Overview

I wrote an article titled “Personal Finance Overview 7/17/18” reviewing my expenses and spending through my internship this summer. Today I will wrap up how the summer went in terms of my spending and earning. Below is a master picture of the expenses.

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If you haven’t read the previous post mentioned take 5 minutes to catch up and get familiar, the link is above. In term of the food column we brought the average down from $300 to around $265 ish this comes out to $60 a week or so. This has been very inline with my previous tracking throughout the summers. For those of you who are wondering how in the hell can I eat on $60 a week the answer is eggs, milk, brown rice, oats, chicken, ground beef, protein bars. That is pretty much all I ate all summer. Very simple very cheap. I also rarely eat out, and normally don’t purchase coffee while I’m out.

Gas money remained the same. Slightly under $200 a month, ~$45 a week. I never tracked mileage this summer, but I believe I drove over 5,000 and a decent portion of that was city driving. Not much I could have done about that, but I do plan to write off about half of my mileage for work.

Fun money! I mentioned last post about a party I was throwing and how this column was going to shoot up and it did. Landing at $260 a month or about $60 a week, which is inline with last summer. If you take out the party $115 a month in fun money. I plan to use a number around there as my benchmark for my budget for the school year. I’m sure this past week and all the drinking and partying we did we’ve already passed it but you can try your best.

For the gym I mentioned before that I had a large upfront cost and it would slowly work its way down and it has. It made it down to $65 a month. Not too bad considering the gym membership with tax came out to $35+ and going through tons of mass gainer all summer.

Girlfriend column came down as expected finishing at $200 and change. Not sure if this is an accurate number considering the plane tickets included and being further away from her this summer (aka not seeing her as often). I’m sure Christmas, birthdays and little surprises will keep this averaged somewhere around there.

Bullshit: Managed to bring this one down a bit, from $1150/month, to $1,000/month. Again had 2 rents being paid for a short period, utilities, speeding ticket and other essentials for my job. As of right now I still have not paid August electric nor have I received any money back from my deposit. I do go home Labor Day weekend so I may have a small check waiting for me when I get back.

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I stopped tracking this spreadsheet on August 11th, the day after my last day on the job. I have since still worked a little in terms of answering phone calls, emails. Text messages and finishing up my last deal (got that one done today!). My cost of living came out to be $1993/month. I don’t pay for my insurance (thanks mom and dad) or anything like that so naturally its going to be lower than most other people. I don’t think that’s too terrible considering the average cost of living in the U.S is about $45k. I was at $2135 in the prior article. Now there is some skewed data, I try to finish the internship with little to no food left, usually no gas left, etc. it doesn’t account for the continuity of living and the average cost of living. However around $2,000/month wouldn’t be a bad guess.

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My monthly conversion for what I was paid comes out to $3,700 a month. I do still have more money on the way and I should be able to finish out at a total of $17,000 made. A little bit of math later (13 weeks of work * 4 = 52 weeks, $17k * 4 = $68k year equivalent). My goal was to make over $60k salary equivalent and I should achieve my goal assuming all the deals go through and I get the bonus I was promised.

A little bit more math real quick to look at Grant Cardone’s 40% rule:

$68,000 * 0.78 = $53,040       (22% tax for single person 2018)

$53,040 * 0.6 = $31,824         (40% of your after-tax income goes to “saving to invest”)

Live on $31k a year, put $21k in the sacred accounts, 5 years till $100k the minimum Mr. Cardone advises to invest.

I’ve proven I can live at $24,000 a year or there abouts with my frugal living, and I have the willpower to stick to the goal. Now the average pay coming out of my school with my degree is around $65,000 but I am sure we can do a little bit better than that. Hopefully with a good job or a side hustle or two, perhaps passive income that I’ve been building we can accelerate the 40% rule and build real wealth!

If you’re curious I ran some more numbers with the 40% rule and the current tax brackets for a single person.

40 rule.JPG

As always let me know what you think and what you want to see more of!

The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure

The 10X Rule is exactly what you would expect from best-selling author Grant Cardone, plenty of information on becoming successful and how action and perseverance leads to that. Let’s jump right into it then. Now there are several summaries of the book available on amazon, I’ve linked the top ranked one above and below in the post, I haven’t read the summary, but I understand those who value their time and want to get the best bang for your money and time. The book is 261 pages, contains 23 chapters and takes approximately 4 hours and 40 minutes to read according to my kindle fire through the kindle app.

The10X Rule begins with an introduction about Mr. Cardone and what the 10X rule is about, which contains various definitions and goes over the psychology of being successful and how he defines it. He describes how limiting your success and being ok with being average, middle class etc. is the ultimate demise and will not bring happiness to those who seek to be above average which would be the demographic he is writing to. A powerful quote from this introductory chapter states that “as long as you are alive, you will either live to accomplish your own goals and dreams or be used as a resource to accomplish someone else’s”. Are you ready for the 10X adventure? Keep reading if you are we are about to get to the good stuff. I should also note at the end of every chapter is a little exercise to evaluate your goals and do a mental checklist of what you want in your life, I am not sure if the summaries also contain these checklists or not, I’m sure in Mr. Cardone’s other reading material you will something similar.

He then goes into why 10X is so vital to success, telling the reader “to never reduce a target” and instead increase action, this will change your mindset of targets and goals and ultimately get you hooked to success and chasing that success. It’s a never ending cycle, accomplish your goals, make more go smash those as well, he also defines success in that way as well, to accomplish a task or an objective and pushing through to the next one and the next one. Chapter 4: Success is your duty is a chapter that speaks dear to me, I feel like I see lots of wasted potential out in the world and in my own life because people don’t want to put in the work or the risk. When, Mr. Cardone and I have a sense that we are obligated to reaching that success to push those boundaries to make the world a better place. Whether you bring a product or service to market to help others or donate millions of dollars to charity like he does, we can all make the world a better place and it is up to the successful people to lead that charge.

In the next chapter, he opens the door to possibilities by saying there is no shortage of success in the world, no scarcity and many people can be successful. This then transitions into the formula for being successful. First step would be to assume control for everything, now this doesn’t mean be a control freak or anything, this chapter describes being responsible for your actions and mistakes. Mr. Cardone’s originally title for this chapter was “Don’t be a little bitch” but backed off to not offend anyone, I think this chapter would’ve rang true with that title but being politically correct helps book sales, so I can see why he didn’t.

Chapter 7 may be the most critical to The 10X Rule, the Four Degrees of Action expose the foundation to success and the 10X Rule, the more action you take, the better your chances are of getting a break. “Disciplined, consistent, and persistent actions are more of a determining factor in the creation of success than any other combination of things.” The Four Degrees of Action are as follows:

  1. Do nothing
  2. Retreat
  3. Take normal levels of action
  4. Take massive action

Now most who would be reading this book and this blog post are in category 3. If you did nothing you wouldn’t have searched this, clicked the link etc. to get to this article. If you retreated when you faced adversity you wouldn’t have made it this far in the article. Now let’s talk about “Take normal levels of action” since that applies to most of us. This is what would be considered normal, which also creates the foundation of the middle-class, this makes it the most dangerous. That’s because this is considered acceptable, doing nothing and retreating are for the most part not acceptable and everyone seems to grasp that concept well. The goal of normal levels of action is to be average however, we’ve seen that average or doing good enough doesn’t always work out when rubber meets the pavement in economic hardships like the recession and the housing market crisis. Mr. Cardone does a better job explaining the details of this chapter than I ever could so I’ll leave it at that. The final degree of action is taking massive action, something that we’ve seen him do time and time again if you follow his companies, social media, YouTube etc. Massive action takes more than just motivation and wanting to succeed, it takes an obsession, it takes borderline insanity, when people start telling you slow down, speed up and keep running past them.

Chapter 8 “Average is a failing formula” reiterates what is discussed in the normal level of actions section and reinforces that just enough isn’t good enough. He goes on to describe the differences between the successful person and the average and what actions you can do to make up that ground, the foremost being taking massive action persistently. Goal setting is the next topic, specifically 10X goals. Remember that quote above about not setting your targets lower but taking more action instead? Do not sell yourself short, a goal that is too easy to accomplish doesn’t further motivate you and will not gear you up to take the massive action necessary for success. The following are to be considered when setting your goals:

  1. You are setting these for you-not for anyone else.
  2. Anything is possible
  3. You have much more potential than you realize
  4. Success is your duty, obligation, and responsibility
  5. There is no shortage of success
  6. Regardless of the size of the goal, it will require work.

The next item discussed certainly threw a curveball to me and perhaps you too, Chapter 10 Competition is for Sissies. What? Competition is for sissies? I said the same thing after reading the chapter title but by the end it all made sense. To the consumer competition is necessary, imagine if there was one cellphone service provider, they could charge whatever they wanted and rake in the profits because we are all so dependent on our phones, but in the eyes of a business competition sucks. Mr. Cardone goes further in explaining how completely dominating your sector, market etc. will bring you success and explains how he acquired omnipresence through twitter until the only name people would turn to for sales programs was Grant Cardone. Hopefully the wheels are turning in your mind a bit, the goal is to completely dominate your competition, be the only thing people think about in your sector, be in the spotlight constantly etc.

Still hung up on the Degrees of Action and the middle class being a failing formula? Don’t worry Uncle G covers the “Breaking out of the Middle Class” in chapter 11 and explains the incomes of the Middle Class. Again, I’ll let him cover that topic since he will out do anything I put on this article. As I am reviewing over the book on my Kindle Fire I see that Chapter 12 is all highlighted up with good reason too. “Obsession isn’t a Disease; it’s a Gift” has lots to dig into so let’s get to it. This chapter goes hand in hand with taking massive action, because the only way you will be able to sustain massive action is to be obsessed with success. “In fact, you want to be so fanatical about success that the world knows you will not compromise or go away.” Mr. Cardone use a metaphor of a fire as your obsession and building it up so that people feel compelled to sit around it an admire it. If you’ve ever sat next to a bonfire you have probably experienced this feeling, how it pulls you in and you can stare into its abyss for hours, in that same way your peers will stare at your success in admiration.

“Most people make only enough effort for it to feel like work, whereas the most successful follow up every action with an obsession to see it through to a reward.”

You just read the quote above but go reread it. Ring a bell? That little bit up above about pursuing goal after goal in an obsessive manner because the goals you set are hard and the 10X actions required to accomplish them gives a powerful sense of satisfaction. Bingo. Here’s another little nugget of wisdom.

“I suggest that you become obsessed about the things you want; otherwise, you are going to spend a lifetime being obsessed with making up excuses as to why you didn’t get the life you wanted.”

Don’t be a little bitch? It’s a full circle baby lets keep going! Next chapter #13, Go “ALL IN” and overcommit, but wait… you aren’t supposed to put all your eggs in one basket. You’re suppose to play it safe, be conservative, etc. etc. But think about it, the term all in refers to poker and you can run out of chips in poker and then you’re done, pack your bags and go home. What if you never ran out of chips and could go all in EVERY SINGLE HAND. Now think about your most valuable “chips”, your mindset, actions, persistence, creativity, and energy. Even if you fail you still have all the chips mentioned above, soooo you only lose if you quit.

“Remember: There are no shortages of how many times you can get up and continue!”

Moving forward we are at chapter 15 “burn the place down” again about the fire of your success that we mentioned earlier. Mr. Cardone mentions that “when you begin to ‘heat things up’ you’ll quickly become aware- even obsessed- with the possibilities before you.” However, about that time you’ll hear the people offering you admiration that you’ve “done enough” or that you should take it easy, slow down, go on vacation. Keep the foot on the pedal, the train isn’t stopping, when you slow down or stop you lose your momentum. If you’ve ever driven in the mud or snow you’re aware how important keeping your momentum is, don’t lose it.

“Fear is one of the most disabling emotions a human being can experience. It immobilizes people, and often, it ultimately prevents them from going for their goals and dreams. Everyone fears something in life; however, it’s what we each do with that fear that distinguishes us from others. When you allow fear to set you back, you lose energy, momentum, and confidence—and your fears will only grow.”

-Chapter 16: Fear is the Great Indicator

We’ve all experience fear before, even perhaps the crippling fear described above. We are challenged with fear when we go “All in”, and each fear conquered adds fuel to your fire, keep your fire burning bright. There are several chapters that go over things specific to business such as customer satisfaction and customer acquisition, and while important I feel like that may not be the best use of your time for the average reader.

Chapter 21: Excuses, we’ve all probably heard them all, Mr. Cardone writes out a very exhausting list of them. Here is how you can get around the excuses and this relates to making success your duty and obligation.

“If you make success and option, then it won’t be an option for you—simple.”

We will end this review and summary with Chapter 22: Successful or Unsuccessful?

Ready? This is the list Uncle G compiled after studying successful people all his life and this is what he found:

  1. Have a “Can Do” Attitude
  2. Believe that “I will figure it out”
  3. Focus on opportunity
  4. Love challenges
  5. Seek to Solve Problems
  6. Persist until Successful
  7. Take Risks
  8. Be Unreasonable
  9. Be Dangerous
  10. Create Wealth
  11. Readily Take Action
  12. Always say “Yes”
  13. Habitually Commit
  14. Go All the Way
  15. Focus on “Now”
  16. Demonstrate Courage
  17. Embrace Change
  18. Determine and Take the Right Approcach
  19. Break Traditional Ideas
  20. Be Goal-Oriented
  21. Be on a Mission
  22. Have a High Level of Motivation
  23. Be interested in Results
  24. Have Big Goals and Dreams
  25. Create your Own Reality
  26. Commit First—Figure out later
  27. Be highly ethical
  28. Be Interested in the Group
  29. Be dedicated to Continuous Learning
  30. Be uncomfortable
  31. Reach Up in relationships
  32. Be Disciplined

Wow that was a lot. The last chapter tells the reader how to get started with 10X, with the key piece of advice being,

“Act now and then keep acting with the knowledge that enough action taken now will create the future.”

Are you ready to start you 10X journey?

If so get yourself a copy of the summary or full book and commit to it, I hope to see you at the finish line one day.

Full version: http://amzn.to/2GRy3VC

Summary: http://amzn.to/2GRN7Te

B^2