Category Archives: Finance

How to Finance the American Dream! What You Need to Know

You have heard the saying before “home is where the heart is”. There isn’t anything more true in America. A major part of the American dream is owning your own home. Our homes are a place to raise our children, where we retire, and where we feel safe. Each and every American has a different vision of where they want to call home. For some it is a city condo, others somewhere with a big back yard far away from others. Whatever the dream for a home most Americans are unable to achieve this dream without financing.

Financing is our pathway to owning a home we may not have the cash for. For example, most people don’t have 200.000 cash in the bank to purchase their family a nice home but if you have a job and decent credit financing will provide you shelter within that home and allow you to pay toward that dream over time.

Getting the right loan and getting approved for your home loan can be one of the most important steps of building your American dream. There are several factors to keep in mind when considering financing for your future home.

1. Stay within your means.

Remember, just because you may be approved for 600,000 dollars does not mean you should borrow that much money. Why? Consider your monthly payments with interest rates included on a 600,000 dollar loan. Will your job cover those payments each month with room to breath? What if you get fired or sick or hurt? Will you be able to continue to make your payments without that job? A wise home buyer will stay far within his or her financial means. It can even be wise to save an emergency mortgage payment fund in case you lose your job or someone in your family falls ill.

2. Consider your interest rate.

A home is the most solid investment you can make, however, it is important you fully understand how much you will be investing in that house over time. When adding up what you are willing to pay for a home consider the interest rate you will be paying. If you plan to pay on your home for 30 years calculate the interest rate in addition to the asking price of that home. You will see the actual amount you will be paying for the house when it is all said and done.

3. Don’t over pay.

Never buy a home or agree to an asking price without first considering all of the comparisons in the area. What are other homes selling for in the area? In addition, ask yourself “what repairs and renovations will I need to do?” Add these cost onto the asking price.

Consider the area. Is it up and coming? Are the schools good? Does this home have resale value? For example, a really beautiful home in a lousy neighborhood is an unwise investment as is a home that has four bedrooms but only one bathroom. Consider the layout, the practicality, and age of the home. Even if you plan to own your home until you die you never know what is waiting around the corner. You may have to sell even though you don’t “plan” to. All of these factors do weigh into what a bank or a lender will finance that home for.

4. Do your research.

When choosing your financing be sure to do your research. Just because one lender tells you he is giving you a good deal up front does not mean he isn’t over charging you on the back. Ask “what am I being charged on the back?” Make sure it is standard and fair.

Beware deals that seem to good to be true and ask as many questions as possible. Get the full story on closing costs and how long your loan will take to close. Make sure your lender offers a “closing on time” guarantee. When your loan is ready to close ask your lender about the amortization schedule and how to pay more toward the principle.

There is no better security for your future than owning your own home and building that homes equity. Make a wise purchase and choose financing you can afford from the start. If you follow that rule you will end up with a valuable investment. Remember, the American dream is that much sweeter when you make the right choices from the start. Happy home hunting!

Need or Want? Having the Wisdom to Know the Difference

If you’ve ever been shopping with a 7 year old in tow, you know they “want” everything that catches their eye. But Dad and Mom know what the child “needs” is to replace the shoes they’ve outgrown.

This assessment of Want vs. Need is a philosophy more business owners should embrace when looking for capital.

Entrepreneurs are heavily vested in their businesses. They start their company knowing they will succeed. Consequently they believe that any bank, investor, or venture capitalist will share their vision and agree to provide the capital they want. Unfortunately, that’s not what happens. In painfully few cases is the business owner able to secure the desired funds.

But the reality of the situation goes even deeper. First time entrepreneurs have a tendency to do one of two things when it comes to determining the volume of funds to ask for.

They ask for more than they need
They ask for less than they need

Either can lead to disappointment and frustration.

If you ask for more than you need, your investor or banker will question your intended use of funds. The probability is that you will be turned down.

If you ask for too little, your investor or banker will question your knowledge of the business and see you as an extremely risky venture.

The bottom line is that before asking for funds you should do your homework and determine exactly “what you need.”

Having done that, the next critical step is to determine where you might be able to acquire the needed (not wanted) capital. Here’s where another dose of self-honesty is important. You may “want” to get funding from a bank or private investor. However you may not currently meet the lending/investing criteria that would qualify you for funding. Things like age of the business, personal and commercial credit score, historical profitability, cash flow analysis and a host of other items could easily derail any hope of getting capital from a bank, venture capitalist or angel investor.

What you “need” is to identify a source of funds that is accessible to you given your current situation. Invoice Factoring or Merchant Cash Advances may be some of the few avenues open to you. Yes, the cost of money may be slightly higher, but the fact is you can’t always get what you want.

Here’s an analogy: On March 27th the average price of a gallon of gasoline in Los Angeles was $4.05. The price in Dallas was $3.48. If you were visiting LA from Dallas you’d pay the LA price. Your current situation would not allow you to pay the Dallas price – even though that might be what you want. But what you “need” is to fill up the tank. This, however, is a temporary situation. When you get home, things will be different.

Your financing options and cost of money should be looked at in the same way. Do what you are able to do right now. As your company evolves and grows other opportunities will become available. Part of being able to see things from this perspective is to understand that Invoice Factoring and Bank Lending are not the same. They are in the same Class but are not the same Species. [The same way elephants and hippos are of the same biological class but completely different species.] Therefore attempting to apply the rules, processes and pricing models of one to the other will result in confusion and frustration. [If you’re looking for a hippo but are currently in India, you’re out of luck. There are no hippos in India. But there are elephants.]

Personal Finance & Money Management Roles & Responsibilities Defined

The business of managing personal finances comes with myriad tasks. You earn, you pay bills, you invest, you write checks, you plan, you, you, you…. I think you get the idea. Handing the finances can be a lot of work for you. These tasks involved can be grouped into into three distinct and different roles that are similar to ones you might find in any professional business. I refer to the roles of my personal finance and money management business as the Money Leader, the Money Manager and the Money Handler.

The Roles.

The Money Leader provides the strategic leadership, vision, purpose and goals for your financial operations. He is your business’ chief executive officer. If we make the analogy that successful money management is like a trip in your favorite automobile, the Money Leader decides: Where are you going? What stops along the way should you make? When will you start your journey?

From a personal finance perspective, Money Leader tasks include:

Establishing vision – What is the end state you are trying to achieve? Where are you going?
Developing financial strategy – How do you link your Financial Ends (outcomes/desires), Ways (plans) and Means (resources)?
Setting Goals that enable the strategy- This will drive many of the plans that are developed.
Provide guidance and direction to the Money Manager (more on him in a moment) has he develops the financial plans necessary to ensure the plans achieve the vision.

The Money Leader decides where you are going, when you need to get there and why you’re on this journey.

Middle management is the responsibility of the Money Manager who helps develop financial plans and ensures the processes of money handling are running smoothly. He has a more narrow view than the Money Leader and focuses on the details of the route our financial vehicle will take when we drive it and monitors the systems within it along the way.

The Money Manger is thinking about which highway or streets can I take to avoid traffic? How fast am I going? Do I have enough fuel to get there? How’s the car running? When is the next scheduled engine maintenance? Is there anything wrong with the car that needs to be fixed right now? What kind of gas mileage are we getting? Does the motor need a tune up?

From a personal finance perspective, Money Manger tasks include:

Developing financial plans to achieve your goals – Choosing investments, selecting insurance policies etc.
Guiding, monitoring and assessing the execution of financial plans – Things like monitoring earnings and expenses so you can create and maintain positive cash flow.

The Money Manager develops financial plans and monitors our performance executing the plan. He seeks to improve the efficiency of the processes use to handle the details of your personal finances.

When it comes to finances, many of us wind up getting mired in the details of handling money and will feel most comfortable with our final role.

The Money Handler is the role that most people will find familiar. This role deals with the nitty gritty bits and pieces necessary to keep your financial vehicle running. The Money Handler changes the oil, adds wiper fluid, puts air in the tires, replaces light bulbs etc. To quote an English friend of mine, he “works at the coalface.”

From a personal finance perspective, Money Handler tasks include:

Paying bills – writing checks, stuffing envelopes and licking stamps.
Making investments – filling out paperwork, writing checks or making e-transfers.
Moving money – between accounts as necessary (e.g. on payday, etc.)
Reconciling accounts – balancing checking, savings, etc.

The Money Handler accomplishes the tasks necessary to implement the financial plans that the Money Manger developed and monitors in order to fulfill the Money Leader’s vision and strategy for financial success.

Each role is necessary in order to properly handle your finances. However, the Management and Leadership roles are most important as they determine what success means and how you plan to achieve it. I’ve often said that a “failure to plan is a sure fire plan for failure.”

Unfortunately many of us get mired in the details of being the Money Handler and miss or fail to accomplish the bigger picture vision and planning tasks of the Money Leader and the Money Manager