The 40% Rule

As many of you know I am a fan of Grant Cardone with a lot of his stuff and one of the key takeaways I look forward to applying to my life is the 40% rule. The 40% rule was documented in the Great Depression where the wealthy were saving 40% of their income, and its just that simple.  The 40% rule is saving 40% of your income before taxes, so if you make $10,000 a month that would require you to save $4,000 a month. If you start looking at the math you’ll realize after taxes and expenses that it is very difficult to achieve the 40% rule, and it is. Income is a priority for the 40% rule, you can’t save what you don’t make, and you must pay yourself first. I will show you a real example using my actual projected salary for my full-time job starting in June.

For my full-time job I have a $57,600 salary ($4800 monthly), a $5,000 signing bonus paid in first month, and a $500-month stipend for the first 18 months. It is a salary and commission pay plan however I will only account for the salary part since I don’t know how much I will sell yet.

Because I start mid-June, I calculated my gross income as half of my monthly salary ($2,400) + $5,000 bonus + $500 stipend = $7,900

June July August September October November December Total
4800 $7,900 $5,300 $5,300 $5,300 $5,300 $5,300 $5,300 $39,700
save 40% $3,160 $2,120 $2,120 $2,120 $2,120 $2,120 $2,120 $15,880
tax $1,738 $1,166 $1,166 $1,166 $1,166 $1,166 $1,166 $8,734
budget $3,002 $2,014 $2,014 $2,014 $2,014 $2,014 $2,014 $15,086

Looking at the table you can see my budget is around $2,000 and it will be less than that when you consider my 401k will also be pulled out of my income. I did assign a tax rate of 22% which is the bracket you would be in for this income however your marginal tax rate is less than that, either way I prefer to be conservative with my estimates. (I calculated my marginal tax rate to be 11.5% which would add $570 to my budget every month or $570 more to invest every month) For reference, I take data on my spending habits every summer when I am on internship or co-op. This summer I had no living stipend and was completely on my own, my monthly spending came out right at $2,000, though that includes some extraneous cost that most likely will not happen in the first 6-months of my full-time job. I also will be living at home or my girlfriend’s house during the first 6 months of my full-time job as I will be traveling 90% of the time during training.

Realistically looking at the first 6-months I will have extremely low expenses and may be able to save even more aggressively than what I have shown. Any extra income I can save will be put into my other investing accounts (Robinhood, Lending Club, and Stash). Ideally, I would like to save around $20,000 from my full-time job in 2019, which will help me achieve my $75,000 net worth goal. I would also like to try and purchase a 4-plex or duplex at the end of 2019 assuming all goes according to plan.

Looking at 2020, the saving and income numbers look the same as the later half of 2018. Commission will be included assuming I make sales and as my commissions come in, I plan to add those additional funds to my investment accounts as stated above. Looking at 2019 and 2020 I plan to save $40,000 with the 40% rule and invest additional income in my investing accounts. I plan to save in my Discover Savings account which earns 2.10% APY, which will add to my saving goals as well.

2020 will be difficult to keep in budget, I will then be paying rent and will be living full time in St. Louis. The $2,000 I lived on during internship was living like a poor college student for the most part, as I enter the real world, I expect my standard of living from the food I eat to the activities I participate in to be more expensive as well. However, I at least have an idea of what I spend monthly in preparation, I suggest to everyone to start documenting your spending to get an idea of your habits. If you need help or would like to look at how I do it, I cover it in THIS article.

As I mentioned earlier in the article, income is critical to achieving this aggressive saving plan, for your convenience I will run an example with a salary of $40,000, and I will use a marginal tax rate to ensure accuracy. I included above my actual budget above when marginal tax rate is considered ($2570/month).

June July August September October November December Total
$40,000 $3,333 $3,333 $3,333 $3,333 $3,333 $3,333 $3,333 $23,331
save 40% $1,333 $1,333 $1,333 $1,333 $1,333 $1,333 $1,333 $9,332
tax $283.31 $283.31 $283.31 $283.31 $283.31 $283.31 $283.31 $1,983
budget $1,716 $1,716 $1,716 $1,716 $1,716 $1,716 $1,716 $12,015

As you can see with $850 less a month in your budget that makes things considerably more difficult depending on your life style and where you live.

I hope you learned some valuable information about budgeting and saving money, I’d love to hear about how you save and what your targets are!

Thanks, B^2

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

 

 

 

 

Money Saving Apps

I’ve been putting this one off for a hot minute, literally months, but its time to nut up or shut up so here we go.

Image result for woody harrelson nut up or shut up

We all like to save money, buying something on sale, finding that deal online, or working your credit card for maximum cash back is always a good feeling. Today I am going to share with you some of the apps I use to save money. Let’s start with Drop.

Image result for drop app

Drop is an app that rewards you with points when you spend money at certain places. You can individualize your account a little bit based on your shopping preferences so its not a cookie cutter mold you must fit into to use this app. All that is required is linking your credit/debit cards and it’ll track when you make purchases at certain place that they reward. To share some details with you all about my personal account I currently am rewarded for Walmart, Starbucks, Chipotle, McDonalds, and Target. Below is the screen displaying those offers. As well as my rewards and the general reward page.

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Overall, I’ve cashed in $10 using this app and it can be set up in under 10 minutes and requires no additional work outside your normal spending habits. There are also plenty of opportunities to earn bonus points and whatnot to get to your rewards faster!

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My drop referral code is: ay0x4

Receipt Hog is the next app we’ll look at. It’s self-explanatory, it’s an app that you upload receipts to and it pays you for those receipts. No credit or debit cards need to be linked, nothing like that, just snap a pic of the receipt and upload and answer a 30 second survey and boom you get some coins. Those coins can cash in for an amazon gift card, visa debit card, or PayPal credit. I currently am stashing up my coins for a bigger payout, but I’ve passed the $5 mark. I have been super hit or miss with receipt hog, just with small transactions like at a gas station or something like that I don’t always ask for the receipt and I lose out that potential from the app. Overall, it’s an easy app to use however it isn’t as lucrative or easy as Drop since that is fully automated.

Ibotta and Checkout51 are going to be compared at the same time since they are very similar. They are online app-based coupons essentially. I don’t know if you or your significant other or parents were ever coupon people, but my mom use to be so that is how I can relate this. I would normally make my grocery shopping list and then go through the apps and see if anything I need had a coupon for it, they have most major grocery stores, so it shouldn’t be an issue to find your grocery store of choice. For both they require $20 in coupons to be redeemed to be able to withdraw your savings. I prefer Ibotta compared to Checkout51 due to its ease of use, how its organized, and I think it has better coupons than Checkout51. Examples can be found below.

Ibotta:

Checkout51:

My Ibotta referral code is: ficlsui

My checkout51 referral code is: https://checkout51.app.link/GN411WUkOS

For online shopping I use honey and RetailMeNot however I know there are tons of online discount sites, coupons, etc. Honey is a web browser installment that compares price history of an item you are planning to buy. RetailMeNot is an online search engine for coupon codes. I generally use both prior to purchasing something online just to make sure I am getting a good deal. I used to use a many more apps and online wholesale websites but have since eased off the online shopping as I grew older.

If you are interested in any of the above apps, I encourage you to try them out. As I mentioned before I use all the apps I explained above and I’m happy with the results. Overall, I would say I have saved around $100 since using them over the last 2 years or so.

As a college student I tend to have lower spending than the average family so pending your current financial situation and how you use the app or what your current scenario is your results may vary. Free money is free money though so why not pad your pockets a little bit more.

As always thanks for reading and let me know what you want to hear more about!

B^2

 

The Last Splurge

If you follow Grant Cardone at all he preaches increasing income above all else. The 2nd step in the process is to reduce taxes. I have done a relatively good job of that thus far, my internship allowed me to dictate how much income I make because it was a 100% commission job. I have tracked all receipts and have started researching how to minimize my tax bill this upcoming spring as well. The third step in his cycle is to save specifically “save it all”. This requires you to live your daily life without increasing your cost of living while you increase your income.

We see people violating this rule every day, some guy gets a promotion at work makes an extra $10k a year and goes out and celebrates by purchasing a new BMW. That promotion and pay increase did not make any difference since he increased his cost of living. He probably would have been better off getting a $5k pay increase and not blowing the money on material things.

I never was into blowing my money, here and there I would “treat yo self” but nothing drastic. Last summer at the end of my internship which paid me quite well and was a decent increase from the previous year ($150 more a week) I bought my only watch and a piece of wall art. That was my form of treating myself which came out to be about $250.

This summer by the time it is over and with bonuses included as well as any lingering payments I should avg a pay increase of about $350 more a week (no living stipend though) than last summer. I should be able to reduce my tax bill because of my 1099 status this year substantially. (I received about $1300 back last year, but I also had taxes taken out every paycheck and I am not taxed under my current pay system yet.) So, check box 1 and 2 for Mr. Cardone. I should also note I didn’t upgrade my standard of living during this time. I currently live in the cheapest apartment my roommate and I could find that would be able to accommodate a 3-month lease. It is cockroach infested and is pretty hood for a $400 a person month rent ($450 for 3-month lease). I drive the same car, I wear the same clothes, I buy the same food, I buy the same beer, and spend the same amount at the bars.

Onto box #3 spending: Looking over my expenses which I track to the penny, we’re looking pretty good. I went over them in a blog post about halfway through the summer and you can check them out here. I spent some extracurricular on/with my girlfriend for the vacation and everything like that. I also spent some money at the bars and on booze and other non-constructive habits and vices, but that was minimal. Overall, I didn’t blow any of my money. That is until this upcoming weekend.

I plan to spend a bunch of money when I return to home and go shopping with the girlfriend Saturday. I WANT new clothes, new shoes, a new suit, and some other Knick knacks. I say want and not need because that’s just what they are. The clothes I wear are fine but perhaps a bit dated. Some of my shorts and shirts I often wear I purchased 3-4 years ago and some are not in the best condition. I’d still wear them though, so it isn’t necessary I purchase new ones. Essentially this shopping trip is to purchase my “adult clothes” things that I will need in the future after I graduate college. That is why I call it the last splurge. This theoretically should get me the next two years or so of my life in terms of clothing and what not and would be considered the “treat yo self” portion of my saving.

Some of these purchases have been a long time coming for example the suit I currently wear I’ve owned for about 5 years, and I received a gift card for the purchase of a new suit last Christmas. The watch I purchased previously was intended to go with this new suit I plan to purchase. With upcoming interviews for full time jobs and the networking, events and other occasions I plan to attend you could consider this an investment in my dated wardrobe.

So, what do you all think? A waste of time and money or a much-needed update to prepare myself for what comes in my future.