Be a budget savvy bride and groom

The average American wedding costs $27,800.00 and the days of “dad” footing the entire bill are numbered. According to a recent study by The Wedding Report, in 2011 83.2% of U.S. couples made a contribution or paid the entire cost of their wedding, and only 51.5% of parents contributed to the wedding.  The more people contributing to your wedding finances the more confusing the budgeting and bookkeeping will end up being.

Here are my TOP 2 wedding budgeting tips to help all parties involved communicate effectively and stay on track!

Tip #1: Determine your budget

Plan a money date and figure out how much money you and your fiancé can spend.

  • Calculate how much money (if any) you have saved, and how much of that you are willing to use if you stick to a rigid saving plan.

Schedule a sit down meeting with all parties involved, and be mindful of economic differences.

  • Meet with everyone who is contributing to the cost of your wedding, to talk about the expenses.
  • Two separate meetings might be a good idea if those contributing come from different economic backgrounds in order to avoid potentially awkward and uncomfortable moments.

Pick your priorities.

  • Try using an online budgeter (like the one on TheKnot.com) to breakdown your budget item by item.
  • Decide what is most important to you and then dedicate your budget accordingly.

Be upfront and honest with your vendors.

  • Always approach your vendors with the budget you have allocated the service they will be providing you.
  • Have them create a proposal for you within that budget.
  • You might want to account 10% of your budget for extras and upgrades. 

Tip #2: Manage your funds

Open a bank account devoted specifically to your wedding so you can track your spending.

  • Make sure you don’t agree to frivolous upgrades without recognizing the economic impact.

Devise a secondary savings plan.

  • After deciding on a wedding budget, and figuring out how much of your savings you would like to contribute to this budget, open your “Wedding Bank Account.”
  • Once you have transferred money into this account, create an additional savings plan.
  • Creating an automatic monthly transfer from your checking account to your “wedding account” will help to manage the wedding budget and spending.

Reap great rewards: Sign up for a credit card with a rewards program.

  • Make your wedding costs work for you! Sign up for a new credit card with a rewards program, allowing you to earn points each time you spend.
  • You know you are going to be spending — make it work to your advantage.
  • Make sure you have the money to pay of your card in FULL each month!

The Bridal Budget Breakdown:

  • Reception: 50%
  • Attire: 10%
  • Photo and Video: 10%
  • Flowers and Décor: 10%
  • Music & Entertainment: 10%
  • Invitations & Gifts: 10%

When it comes to weddings and money, (especially other people’s money) it’s important to remember to communicate and take into account each party’s economic differences and needs. Hope these tips can help you or someone you know plan ahead before walking down the aisle.

Live Rich,

David Bach

 

NBC’s Today Show – Money 911 – July 11, 2012

If you missed me on NBC’s Today Show – Money 911 this morning make sure to watch the segment now! This week we discussed if debt consolidation will hurt your credit score if the loan’s in your partner’s name, refinancing a mortgage on a condo when there is a lawsuit involving the condo association, and safe online survey websites to make some extra summer cash.

Hope our answers helped you!

Live Rich,
David Bach

Life, Liberty and YOUR Pursuit of Happiness

In the spirit of the Independence Day, I want you to take some time to reflect on the importance of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” not only when it comes to our country, but when it comes to your personal life.

I believe each of us has the power to discover our purpose and become joyful in the pursuit of that purpose. This journey may not be easy however; if you look back in history you’ll realize that nothing important and meaningful ever is.

To help guide you in your pursuit of happiness, I want to introduce you to what I call the “LIVE RICH FACTOR”. I call it this because those who find the purpose that leads them to happiness are the luckiest people in the world and are in fact, the ones who are truly living richly.

There are four basic principles involved in creating your LIVE RICH Factor:

PRINCIPLE ONE | BECOME CONNECTED WITH YOUR TRUTH.
The hardest thing to do is to be honest with yourself. We lie more to ourselves than to anyone else. You must tell yourself the truth about whether or not you are truly happy. If you are not happy, you must admit it to yourself. To really be connected to your truth, you must tell yourself and the world the truth. You must have what I call “truth congruence”— which means that who you are on the inside matches who you show to the world on the outside.

PRINCIPLE TWO | STOP JUDGING YOURSELF.
You are your own harshest critic. Many people talk to themselves in a way they would never accept from a stranger, a friend, or a loved one. If this describes you, try stopping the negative conversations you have with yourself immediately.

Try this, for one week, simply commit to just saying “Stop it!” when you think a negative thought about yourself. If you are in the habit of saying negative things to yourself, you will find this is one of the most difficult exercises you will ever do. Carry a pad with you at all times and make a mark each time you catch yourself “thinking negative.” You’ll find that as the days go on your negative thinking can quickly be reduced. The motivational expert Zig Ziglar uses a phrase I love about people having “stinking thinking.” Your job is to cut out that stinking thinking.

PRINCIPLE THREE | STOP JUDGING OTHERS.
It’s hard to be joyful when you’re always judging others. In fact, it’s close to impossible. Judging others creates a huge amount of stress in our lives. It affects our marriages and our relationships with our kids as well as the way we relate to friends, coworkers, and society in general.

We are not here to judge one another. The next time you find yourself upset at someone or some situation, stop yourself and ask, “Are you judging?” Judging others is often an unconscious habit. But it’s a habit that can be changed the moment you decide to stop doing it and just this little change can make a huge difference.

PRINCIPLE FOUR |PURSUE FUN WITH A VENGEANCE.
It’s okay to pursue fun. It’s what children do. My greatest joy these days is the simple pleasure of going to the park with my sons, Jack and James. The park is free; the time I spend with them in the park is priceless.

Why do we stop pursuing fun as we get older? Fun shouldn’t be squeezed into a few weeks of vacation each year. It shouldn’t be squeezed into the last chapter of your life when you will supposedly have enough money to “retire.” Fun deserves to be a part of your life now. Most of the things in life that are fun can be done for little or no money. But fun doesn’t just happen. You must make having it a priority in your life or it will go missing. And life is too short to not have fun.

This 4th of July I want you to take a moment and think about your pursuit of happiness and then go HAVE FUN! Report back to me by commenting below or on my Facebook page about what makes your life RICH!

Live Rich,

David Bach

 

 

Top Five Rules for Hiring a Financial Advisor

Hiring the wrong financial advisor is one of the biggest mistakes investors can make. So how do you find a good one? By following my 5 rules for hiring a financial advisor I am confident you will be able to find a financial professional who can help you make smart decisions about your money.

Rule 1: Get a referral.
This is such a cliché, but it’s a cliché because it’s true. It doesn’t make sense to start your search for a financial advisor from scratch. Most likely, you already know someone who has a great financial advisor. You just need to ask.

But whom do you ask and what do you ask them? A logical place to start is with your accountant or attorney.

Both should be able to offer you more than one referral. (In fact, I suggest asking for three referrals).

Another great way to get a referral is to ask the wealthiest person you know, “Who do you use as a financial advisor?” It doesn’t have to be a close friend. Ask someone you respect — your boss, or a friend of a friend. The wealthier they are the better, because the rich tend to have the best advisors.

When getting a referral, here are the key questions to ask:

  • Why do you like your advisor?
  • How long have you worked together?
  • What specifically have they done for you?
  • Did they provide you a written financial plan?
  • How often do they meet with you?
  • Do they call you or do you call them?
  • How do you pay them?
  • Do they provide you with a performance statement that shows you how you’re doing?
  • Have you had any problems?
  • How’s their customer service?

Will you be compensated for this referral? (Ask this of accountants and attorneys or any other professional who provides the referral.)

Rule 2: If you can’t get a referral, do your own research.
If you’ve tried and you find that you really can’t get a referral, try a referral service that will provide you with information about financial advisors. Here’s a list to get you started:

The Financial Planning Association
(800) 322-4237
http://www.fpanet.org/
The FPA’s web site allows you to search by ZIP code for a certified financial planner (CFP) in a number of different specialties.

National Association of Personal Financial Advisors
(800) 366-2732
http://www.napfa.org/
This site allows you to search by ZIP code for financial advisors who operate on a fee-only basis.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.
800-487-1497
http://www.cfp.net/
The CFP Board also has a search tool — by ZIP code or name — on its site. You can also request a free Financial Planning Resource Kit, which contains a collection of educational brochures on financial planning.

Rule 3: Go to your first meeting prepared.
A true financial professional will insist that you come to your first meeting prepared. Ideally, they’ll provide you with a form in advance to help you get your financial documents organized and ready to bring with you.

When you go to your first meeting, you’ll want to bring bank and brokerage statements (for all your investments), last year’s tax returns, retirement account statements, mortgage statements, and insurance documents.

Finally, you should know some things about yourself and what you want out of the relationship. So before you head into your meeting, check out the 5 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF.

Rule 4: Treat the first meeting like an interview.
Who you hire to manage your money is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your life, so take it seriously. You need to ask smart questions and not just hire someone because you “like them.” Check out the 10 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR FINANCIAL ADVISOR.

Rule 5: Check out a prospective advisor’s background.
If you only follow one of these rules, follow this one. Never, ever, ever hire a financial advisor without checking out his or her background. I don’t care how nice their office is, what the company name on the door is, who referred you, or how many times they were in the paper or on television or radio. It doesn’t matter. Looks aren’t always what they seem.

The best way to verify that what an advisor says is true is to contact the major organizations that review advisors. Start by using FINRA’s BrokerCheck®

BrokerCheck is a free tool to help investors research the professional backgrounds of current and former FINRA-registered brokerage firms and brokers, as well as investment adviser firms and representatives. It should be the first resource investors turn to when choosing whether to do business or continue to do business with a particular firm or individual.

I’ve shared this advice before in my books, and I can’t tell you how many people have written to me to say that they checked out their current advisor and were stunned at what they found. One reader told me that their advisor had a criminal record that included battery (which he had never disclosed). Needless to say, she fired him.

The bottom line: There are really great financial advisors out there, and they are looking for clients like you. You just need to do some smart work to find them. And if you have an advisor that you’re not happy with, maybe it’s time to do a new search.

I hope this information helps you find an amazing financial advisor. Make sure you have The FinishRich Advisor Questionnaire™ form with you when you are interviewing potential advisors.

 

Live Rich!
David Bach

 

NBC’s Today Show – Money 911 – June 13, 2012

If you missed this week’s NBC’s Today Show – Money 911 segment make sure to watch now. We discussed combining finances in a second marriage,  whether to take the annuity or take a lump sum if you are laid off from a company you’re vested in and how to find affordable health insurance. I hope our answers helped you!

Live Rich,
David Bach

The secret to discounted produce: Ask!

How to save AND eat healthy.

Do you think that eating healthy can get expensive?

On Today.com I answered a question from a Facebook Fan that helps solve just this problem.

Jennifer asked: Most coupons I find are for junky processed food. It’s hard to save money and eat natural, organic or diet-friendly food. What’s your advice?

My advice:

  • Plant your vegetables and fruit in the backyard (like I used to do with my mom growing up.)
  • Check your grocery store for the discount coupons – each week your grocer will come out with deals, specials, and discounts – these flyers are usually right when you walk in – read those advertisements so don’t miss on some great savings.
  • Talk to the store manager about when they put the produce on sale – there is usually a specific day that stores will decide to put the fruits and veggies on sale.

I hope this advice helps you eat healthy this summer while continuing to save! And let me know, what do you do to eat healthy without breaking the bank?

Live Rich,
David Bach

NBC’s Today Show – Money 911 – June 5, 2012

If you missed NBC’s Today Show – Money 911 this morning, make sure to watch the segment now. We had tons of great questions from the viewers, and helpful tips from the panel.  We answered questions on how to pay down student loans, what to do with the money you get from selling your home, and what you can and can’t use a 529 plan for.

Plus, I would like to take a minute to welcome our new intern, Jonathan to the FinishRich team. We are thrilled to have him helping us out for the summer! Today, he got to take a peek behind the scenes of Money 911.

NBC's TODAY - Money 911

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Live Rich,
David Bach

If I’m going to bet on a business, let me be the one who owns it

Let’s get straight to the point—creating a second stream of income can change your life.  If all you did was spend less and save more, you could probably start late and finish rich. But if you spend less, save more, and MAKE more, nothing will stop you from achieving your goal of financial freedom. And if you ALSO develop a second income stream, you can finish even richer than you might have if you’d started early.

The Four Rules For Getting Started

Most home-based businesses never get off the ground because most people get mired in minutia. They don’t realize there are really only three rules to follow to start a home-based business

  1. Ready
  2. Aim
  3. Fire

Okay, I’m kidding.  There are actually four rules you need to follow.

Rule No. 1 Make The Decision

Rule No. 1 is to make the decision you are ready to start a business at home. Find a spot in your house. Pick a day on your calendar and get started. Read books on how to start a business and do research, checking resources available on the Internet. But get started. A cause set in motion begets results.

Rule No. 2 Pick A Field

Don’t spend years trying to find just the “right business” for yourself; don’t worry if it you don’t get it right the first time. You’re not signing up for life and you’re not giving up your day job (yet).  Just pick something that gets you excited and get going.

Rule No. 3 Get Help

Considering how many resources there are out there to help you, it’s silly to try and go it alone. You’re not even close to being the first person to start a new business at home—more than 20 million Americans have gone before you—so take advantage of their experience.

Rule No. 4 Make It Legal

Although you don’t need a lot of “stuff” to start a business, you do need to make it legal. To keep the IRS off your back, you will need to set up a legal structure for your business by choosing from three structures: sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation. For more information on the subject, go to the IRS web site at www.irs.gov and request publication #334, “Tax Guide for Small Businesses.” If you are selling retail products, you will more than likely need a State Tax Resale Number.

If you could start your own business what would it be? Write it down, make it real!

Live Rich,
David Bach

Which Records Should You Keep and Which Can You Ditch?

Your taxes are filed, your return should have arrived by now or is on its way—and now you’re left with a box full of bills, receipts and who knows what. With summer right around the corner, I want you to squeeze in one last bit of spring cleaning when it comes to your finances.

If you haven’t done so yet, I suggest you start by using my FinishRich File Folder System  to help you get all your financial documents organized and in one place. My File Folder System also helps you determine what important documents you need. But the fact is many of us keep too much information for way too long. (I’m guilty of this myself.)  So I’m here to help you determine what documents you can keep and which ones you can ditch.

Starting with your taxes, the fact is except in cases involving fraud, the statute of limitations on income-tax returns is only three years, so the Internal Revenue Service does not expect you to hang on to tax records and receipts for any longer than that. The main exceptions to this are if you’ve underreported your income (in which case you should keep your records for six years) or have claimed a loss from worthless securities (seven years).

Obviously, you should keep records documenting the cost basis of your home and all your other taxable investments for as long as you own them. The same goes for the basic documents concerning your retirement accounts and insurance policies, not to mention all loans and mortgages.

But don’t be shy about getting rid of old materials. Here’s a list of items you should consider throwing away (or shredding if the documents contain personal information):

  • Outdated warranties
  • Outdated instruction manuals
  • Outdated wills or trusts (provided you created a new one)
  • Canceled insurance policies
  • Credit card statements for closed tax years
  • Canceled checks for closed tax years
  • Old brokerage statements for closed tax years (unless they have cost-basis information you might eventually need)
  • Old annual reports from stocks and/or mutual funds
  • Old investment newsletters (some people keep these things for years because they paid for them—let them go!)

I hope that this information plus my FinishRich File Folder System  can help you get organized and on track! Let me know if you have ever used my File Folder System or if you have a better way to organize your finances share it below or on my Facebook!

 

Live Rich,

David Bach