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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Re-Generative Generation, Not The Sustainable Generation

a generation re-generating life.

Growing up in a quite urban area, approximately 45 minutes from Manhattan, I have met a lot of really interesting people. When I say really interesting, I mean anywhere from an urban ‘starbucker’ to a west coast rancher. From a horticulturist to an aspiring entrepreneur. Who did I like most? Well, I would say I liked the aspiring entrepreneur the most, and the horticulturist the least. But on a different scale, rather than like and hate. A  scale which ranges from the most intriguing, open to change down to someone who  always complains because the earth is not a lush native forest. Notice that both want change… also notice that I picked these two as examples to focus on. Why- because I liked both of these people the most out of my list, though one was always complaining (horticulturist), they are still trying to change the world.
Where am I going with this?

The urban ‘starbucker’ is open to change, normally a democrat, and usually drives a prius, or takes the train wherever they go. All good things, nothing wrong with any of these qualities.

The West Coast Rancher, in my creative little mind, always thought of someone who was old fashioned, certainly not open to change, and also someone who wakes up every morning at 5:30 A.M. to hop on the horse and start farm work for the day. This one west coast rancher in particular, whom I happened to meet while in New Zealand was quite different from that stereotype I had stuck in my head. Her name was Traci and she was open to change. I was a part of that change, and really appreciated her willingness to see the rest of the world, not just her ranch. She told me that quite a bit of my stereotyping was on the money, but she was different then her family. She inspired me… there’s some magic that comes with seeing a rancher who wants
 to see the rest of the world. It makes you realize that you can enjoy both worlds, a relatively conservative lifestyle, stagnant on a farm for most of your life, but then if you want some change, you can get up and leave.

Of course we cannot all afford to become urban ‘starbuckers’ nor can we all capture the lifestyle of a west coast rancher… but what we can learn, is how to pull some qualities from all these people… a slice of ‘green’ from the urban ‘starbucker’, some relaxed, low maintenance (luxury wise) excitement from the west coast rancher, thinking big from the entrepreneur and caring about preserving our forests and bio diversity on earth from the horticulturist.

With the development of this recipe come’s some hard work, motivation and most importantly, commitment. Often, people will become vegetarians… for six months. Go on a diet… for eight months. Go on a budget… for two weeks or cut down on luxuries… for maybe a month at most.

This lifestyle recipe I am putting forth is necessary if we want to be on our way to not sustaining (sustainability) what we have- because its on the down slope, but rather re-generating what we used to have. We need to live our lives not only healing ourselves, but the environment and eco-system around us. We need to re-build and re-habilitate what we have, not start from scratch… it is simply too late for that.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Does this remind you of yourself?

You save up a bunch of money, and then when something great comes along, you start spending all your savings. Yes?

Your not alone

In fact, many end up spending most if not all of their childhood savings between the ages of 18 and 22.

I am guilty. It's okay though... as long as you have a backup plan.

For instance, I am travelling at the moment... well studying and travelling. I am studying at Lincoln University in Canterbury, New Zealand. If I stay on campus, I barely spend any money... but as soon as I get off campus and start sightseeing, my money starts to disappear.

Before coming to New Zealand, I allocated a bank account which would (hopefully) be enough to last me the four months that I was studying for in New Zealand. No, I am not rich... I have just been organizing my money into different categories for many years. I'm twenty years old... I don't have a ton of money, but if you start early, it's amazing how much money you can save... especially if you save for a GOAL. When you save with a goal in mind, you end up focusing more on saving (in order to achieve that goal) rather than just to see numbers rise in an account that says savings account... instead, I recommend having the bank label it based on the goal you have.

I also recommend opening up bank accounts with different banks. So when you are saving for your travel budget, you go to TD Ameritrade. When you are saving for Retirement (start now!) you go to Chase. When you are saving for a car, go to Wells Fargo. This way, you have an image in your mind of which bank is for which purpose. At your age, you may want to constantly go to Wells Fargo when you gather a few extra bucks. Once in a while you may visit TD Ameritrade because it's fun to travel. But rarely, or even never will you visit Chase. Visit Chase... ask an adult!

The one's that tell you to not worry about it most likely do not have enough money to retire... and therefore, it is up to you whether you want to listen or not. But wouldn't it be great to start early, and retire early... as early as 35-40 even! I've seen it happen... these people didn't make a million dollars a year, they just started saving early... seriously. Knowing that you don't need to work would be the best feeling in the world... even better if you continued working because you can finally enjoy what you do, and not have to worry about paying the bills... bills are so stressfull! Stress kills, therefore avoid all of that by 
S  T  A  R  T  I  N  G    N  O  W. 

Your backup plan requires that you visit TD Ameritrade, Wells Fargo and Chase evenly. If you keep them close to equal... then when it comes time to travel, and if you don't have enough in that account, you can evenly distribute withdrawals from Wells Fargo and Chase (depends). If you have it all in one, you are more likely to spend it all. If you have multiple accounts, it will 'feel bad' to go broke in all your accounts, so it will force you to spend wisely... trust me, this 'secret' works!

Plus, when you return from your travels, like myself, you will come home to two accounts which have some dough in them ($10 in the Wells Fargo and $20 in the Chase. Seriously, try this out, it really works! Remember, I'm not getting paid for this... I'm doing this on my own time to help YOU out.)


Monday, September 12, 2011

Top Financial Moves To Focus On In Your 20's


I know you want your smart phones, Ipads, Ipods, Laptops and the latest edition of everything... or maybe you don't...

You only live once, and your only young once... I know!

You don't have to give anything up... you can still live your younger years having fun, and possibly not working your life away... since we have the rest of our lives to work, right?


Do not forget that one day, you will be saying, I should have started saving when I was younger... so why not just start now? Just do it... take your risks when your young, risk not going to a party, saving $20 and throw it into your Roth IRA. (What's this... go to your local bank and they will be more than happy to tell you all about it... seriously, they will be extremely happy that your making the best decision of your life!) You'll get bored if I explain it here. But before you go, grab a job and start making some money, you'll need a job if you want to open a Roth IRA.

Do you think it's too risky to get a job during school? Do you not really need a job... well even if you don't need the money, grab a job, not only will you be helping out your future, but you may even see your grades rise! Studies show that often, students with part-time jobs perform better in school than those who don't... this is becasue of the communication skills you gain. (Of course this is not always true, for me it is though).

Follow These Three Steps:
(Remember, I'm doing this extra work, on top of school work, for a reason! Trust me. )

1) Plan

To get where you need to be in life, it's best if you have goals. With your goals, comes a plan. If you intend to meet your goals without a plan, you can compare it to driving a car without a steering wheel.

What do you want in your future? (Write it down, and read it over 5 times)

Try short term first (3-5 years)... medium (5-15 years) and then long (20 plus years)

Dont be afraid to budget.

2) Live within your budget

If you find yourself saying, I really cannot afford it, but I only live once... just let it go. Of course this depends on the situation and whether we are talking about an Ipod or a college Text Book. Go for the Text Book.

If you live within your means (and enforce it), you will find that over the next several years, that you have saved up/saved thousands of dollars.

You've got enough stress within your life, and not to mention school. Do the hard work now, save, and when you are older, you can live your life without an added financial stress.

3) Make your budgeting and saving a permanent habit... that doesn't mean you have to be 'cheap'

Always have at least $500 in your bank... nope, no arguing (except for certain situations), it's mandatory, and certainly not impossible (for the most part).

Try and eventually have at least three months of 'emergency' cash in your bank.

Once you've got the emergency funds situation dealt with, you can start dividing you monthly savings to go towards some other goals (vacations, first home, new car). The amount of savings depends on your salary. I would say three quarters of your salary going to savings would be fantastic... though this is almost impossible at points... when your in your lower 20's, this should not be a major problem.

In the next blog post, I will discuss Investing and paying down debt. But for now, focus on these three major issues.