How to Form Good Money Habits in the New Normal

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There’s a lot about the pandemic period that you want to forget. For much of it, you’re either isolated, broke, or sick, which can be detrimental to your physical, mental, and financial health. As everyone is coming out and heading towards the new normal, good money habits are something everyone needs to keep.

With so much uncertainty coming into the future, a better focus on money matters can help shift you into better habits. There are so many financial improvements we can do in our lives now that we’re going back outside. Here’s how you can form good money habits in the new normal and be more ready for the future.

Start Your Financial Planning

One good money mindset to have in the new normal is to “step back, then step forward.” In simpler words, you need to plan first before moving forward with any big spending. If you intend on going for a vacation or buying something big in the coming months, it’s time to reevaluate your future plans.

Think about the bigger picture when it comes to your financial health. Sure, you can start cutting down on your coffee and save pennies on the dollar. Instead, you can take a step back and give your life a good, long think. How do you visualize where you are in a few years?

Ask yourself a few crucial questions:

How much savings do you have?
How much should you save every month?
Do you want to work from home or from an office?
What kind of investments are you comfortable with?
What kind of insurance do you have?

Change your answers to these questions according to your long-term needs. Planning is an ever-changing exercise that needs consistent attention. You need to make sure that your plans are not “dreams.” You want them to be actionable, with a specific timeline to help you achieve them.

Enjoy, But Don’t Go Crazy With Your Money

Post-pandemic, people have pent-up energies. Everyone wants to go places, enjoy a vacation, and go out to town. There’s a big desire to go out into the world, do the things they’ve always done, and go wild if they can. It’s not bad to enjoy your hard-earned money but remember to go back slowly.

Don’t go crazy with your money. Make sure that you have enough money to live through the month. Have a plan in place to pay for entertainment expenses so you can play around guilt-free. Even then, don’t go into debt just because you want to feel alive.

Look for deals available out there, especially now that businesses are looking to get people walking through their establishments. Living your life means living beyond the moment. Saving some money now takes a good amount of discipline to do.

Stick To A Budget

One of the financial areas that everyone had to learn over the pandemic was budgeting. Sticking to a budget was a must because having cash on hand can be useful when emergencies happen. Being prudent with your disposable cash means you can take stock of your needs and potential expenses.

Once we move on to a life post-pandemic, budgeting needs to stay. Not only will it help you prevent overspending, it will also give you a sense of control with your life. As everything gets better, you can generate long-term savings and help you get out of debt or, at least, avoid getting more.

Practice frugal, rather than discretionary, spending. Once you’re in a pickle, it’s crucial to know which parts of your lifestyle to cut off. Less spending on travel, eating out, and going to concerts means more savings for you. Reevaluate your cash flow and stick to a set budget for every expense you have.

Live Within Your Means

The idea of “living within your means” can be a problematic aphorism but the truth is that you need to stay within how much you can pay for a certain period without going into debt. Many who lost their jobs suddenly had to cut back on credit card spending and learned that they were going beyond their means, which is never good news.

Living within your means is not restricting yourself from your own money. Rather, you need to understand that spending for something out of budget means you need to pull it off somewhere. Even if you take out the credit card to pay for it, the payments that go towards your card should increase.

There are many ways to monitor your spending and do your best to live within your means. It’s one thing to create a budget and it’s another to live within your budget. If you want to maximize some areas of your budget, you need to cut in some areas that are far less important for you.

Build A Six-Month Emergency Fund

The six-month emergency fund feels like a big number to strive for but you will thank yourself for getting it once you need it. The rule of thumb is to have six months’ worth of your monthly expenses prepared as your emergency fund. This money should also be easily accessible and not in any type of investment where you can’t easily pull it out.

Six months’ worth of expenses can be the absolute bare minimum time you would need to find a new job. It can be your period of recovery from an accident or illness. If you can afford to, it’s best to create emergency funds for up to a year. It can be challenging to meet this astronomical number, especially for cash-strapped individuals, but it should be worth it.

Start with a small amount. As you’re still healthy, build towards the number by chipping away at it. If any financial issue comes up, this should be money that you can fall back on. A 6-month fund should give you ample financial security to find your way back, while a 12-month emergency fund can give you better freedom of choice.

The Bottom Line

Forming good money habits in the new normal can be one of the biggest financial challenges you face. Apart from having to prepare for the worse, it’s a lot of the boring stuff that most people overlook like budgeting and staying within your means. Then again, these will benefit you and your loved ones over time.

Follow the money tips above and see why you need to reevaluate your spending habits. As you make personal and financial adjustments, you will slowly achieve the life you want.

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Useful Tips on How to Increase Your Profits from Crypto Investment

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Cryptocurrencies have made quite an impact on the financial landscape. Not only has it become very lucrative, but it has also allowed people to settle their debts faster. In fact, cryptocurrencies were able to make plenty of overnight millionaires when the price of Bitcoin suddenly skyrocketed.

While the chances of investors catching lightning in a bottle like that again are slim, you can still profit from it. Here are a few ways you can make the most of your crypto investments and profit from them extensively.

Watch out for FOMO

One of the reasons people fail to make the most of their investments is because of FOMO. FOMO, or the Fear of Missing Out, is a compelling way of motivating people to invest. Since no one wants to miss the next crypto gold rush, they will soon jump in because everyone else is doing it.

Granted, FOMO can be a good motivator at times, as it keeps you on your toes about specific investments. However, if you are looking to throw caution to the wind and trust other investors simply, it will not end well. It is even possible that you might fall for a scam.

Look out for Bitcoin

Bitcoin is the poster child of the crypto market and is easily the biggest platform there. But even if you do not plan on investing in Bitcoin, you should still look out for it. All other cryptocurrencies depend on it, as it can either raise or sink the entire market.

Simply put, if the price of altcoins is rising, chances are that Bitcoin is falling. Therefore, keeping an eye out for it can be essential to making your next move.

Do your research

Possibly one of the most important things to understand about the crypto market is that you cannot trust companies. Since there is close to no regulation throughout the market, scams, and fraud run rampant throughout the market. You might think that you have found the perfect investment opportunity, only to find out that it was a scam.

So instead of believing everything that anyone says about crypto, try to do your own research. Look for the company’s website and try to see if you can find out more about their owners and their history. Most scams and fraudulent companies will avoid trying to give information that can hold them accountable, like the founder’s name.

Be Selective About Your Altcoins

Altcoins are most likely your first investment opportunity in the crypto space. But an important thing to understand about Altcoins is that they are not necessarily long-term investments. These smaller companies can rarely make it past the heavy waves of the industry, as their prices can start plummeting any second.

But if you keep checking their volume, you can find out if it will last long or not. Most altcoins that have a possible future can show a lot of promise through their trading volume. As long as it is high, it can prove to be an incredible investment in the long run.

Avoid Buying Crypto That Is Cheap

Another important thing you should remember about the crypto industry is that it is very volatile. Therefore, there is a high chance you will find different cryptocurrencies that are cheaper compared to others. But just because they’re more affordable than other investments does not necessarily make them better. Furthermore, it does not mean that they may bounce back someday.

In fact, affordability has very little to do with your choice of crypto. Instead, you should try to make a more educated decision about a cryptocurrency by considering its market cap. Simply put, the higher the market cap for a cryptocurrency, the more lucrative it can be in the future.

Learn To Better Manage Your Risk

The cryptomarket is the perfect place to run yourself into the ground trying to take big risks for big profits. However, it is more than possible to play the long run by making smaller but more assured profits.

Whether you are looking to just make more money or settle your debt, you need to learn to manage your risk. It is better to invest in a coin that has minimal but constant growth rather than one that rises and falls constantly.

Diversify Your Investments

You should avoid putting all of your eggs in a single basket, as that is the fastest way to lose your investment. So instead of sinking all of your investment trying to get a single coin of Ethereumm, try something smaller. Buy a few tokens of some smaller altcoins and only buy half or even a quarter of a token of Ether.

Final Thoughts

Chances are that you want to make it big through cryptocurrency. But the unfortunate reality is that cryptocurrency will never be a miracle investment again. So even if you would like to settle your debt faster, this is not the way to go about it.

Instead, you should treat it like every other asset and try to reap profits over a longer period. Because even if throwing caution to the wind could mean you could make it big, it is still risky.

Lyle Solomon is a licensed attorney in California. He has been affiliated with law firms in California, Nevada, and Arizona since 1991. As the principal attorney of Oak View Law Group, he gives advice and writes articles to help people solve their issues, including debt problems.

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The Unprecedented Wealth Creation Opportunity of the Cannabis Industry is just getting started

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Cannabis prohibition is going to end much faster than most people anticipated, and this will allow for the biggest wealth creation opportunities in many lifetimes. When Prohibition ends, the dam holding back the Cannabis industry will have broken, and Cannabis will become ubiquitous in virtually every aspect of our society, worldwide.

Cannabis is extremely close being federally legal in the United States. 36 states have already decriminalized Cannabis, 11 of which have fully legalized it for medicinal and recreational purposes. In March of 2019, the House Financial Services Committee approved the SAFE Banking Act by 45-15. Earlier this month, 38 Attorney Generals from 38 U.S. states and territories signed a letter asking our Congress to pass legislation to increase Cannabis businesses’ access to banks, through the SAFE Banking Act.

Days earlier, the Treasurers of 17 states issued a separate call in support of the same bill. US Attorney General Barr stated he would not use federal resources to prosecute Cannabis businesses in states where it is legal. US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin urged Congress to pass the SAFE Banking Act. And finally, most Congressmen on both sides of the aisle are in favor of this Act passing through.

Cannabis products will disrupt multiple billion industries in the US, with the biggest changes taking place in medicine, pharmaceuticals, veterinary products, wellness and beauty, sleeping aids, packaging, banking, agriculture, advertising, food, alcohol, non-alcoholic beverages, tobacco, law, textiles and fashion/clothing, plastics, biodiesel and energy, paper, construction, sports products, tourism, and many more.

Most giants in each of these industries will inevitably become involved with Cannabis and adopt it within their existing offerings, as well as creating new Cannabis-based products and services. Food and soft-drink conglomerates like Nestle and Coca-Cola will create Cannabis-infused food, deserts and soft-drinks. Alcoholic beverage companies like Anheuser-Busch and Heineken will create Cannabis-infused alcoholic beverages. Textile companies like Admiral Sportswear, Nike, and Cone Mills Corporation will create hemp-derived shoes and clothing, and on and on. Thus, the companies that are currently establishing their footprint/territory and the technology of this industry will be prime acquisition targets for these giant corporations.

In addition to disrupting these existing industries, Cannabis will also create many new industries through new health and wellness products that combine CBD and THC substances. Cannabis and CBD are more commonly being used together in the creation a new worldwide health and wellness industry with a wide variety of plant-based consumer products.

Cannabis and hemp will become ubiquitous in our world. Almost everything in our lives as we know it will have a much improved, more durable, healthier version that is created with Hemp, Cannabis and its derivatives. There will be new infrastructure, new products, new healthcare (physical and psychological) treatment, new recreational activities, new foods, new productivity, new employment, new taxes and most important of all, a new life and culture.

Needless to say, the end of Cannabis prohibition will bring forth a political, economical, social and healthcare revolution in our world. We are entering an exciting new era, where Cannabis and hemp-based CBD are rapidly becoming an important part of an active healthier lifestyle. Patients will use medical Cannabis and receive much needed relief without the fear of going to prison for it. Adults can choose Cannabis for adult relaxation for a fraction of the cost and fewer of the negative effects of alcohol. Millions of people will sleep better and have less pain, children will be able to control their seizures and veterans will manage their PTSD.

This will create a new global health & wellness industry where hundreds of thousands are employed in an environmentally responsible new industry that produces a natural product, which is truly making the world a better and healthier place. New Frontier Data estimates that the legal Cannabis market in the United States will generate nearly 283,422 jobs by 2020. This will be more than the expected jobs created in all of manufacturing, utilities and government industries.

Such an unprecedented revolution to our world, will also bring unprecedented wealth creation opportunities. Just as most people underestimate the impact hemp and Cannabis will have on our real world, most investors underestimate the enormous investment opportunities this industry currently presents.

The most misunderstood element of this industry is the sheer scale of what the global Cannabis/CBD industry will be. What was projected to be a $25 billion global market is rapidly becoming $100 billion and could well go up to $1 Trillion over the next decade.

Grand View Research has published a study that shows Cannabis could become a $146 billion market (US and globally) by 2025. Based on a 20% profit margin and a 20x earnings valuation, the market cap of the global industry will be over $584 billion. In additional, there are approximately 180 Cannabis public companies in the US and Canada. If 100 of them become $1 billion dollar companies within the next decade, that could bring the total global Cannabis market cap to $1 trillion. From an investment prospective few new industries in history have offered the investment potential Cannabis offers in 2019.

Conclusion:

The Cannabis/CBD industry is entering a rapidly expansion cycle and the current market estimates are much too conservative. Cannabis prohibition will undoubtedly end, sooner rather than later. The myriad of recent positive developments in public policy suggests this will happen very shortly. Our politicians and Congressmen have the chance to create history, by bringing a long overdue end of Cannabis and hemp prohibition. They must vote to pass the SAFE Banking Act.

Investors realize the unprecedented opportunities for wealth creation in this industry, which is just getting started. This is an exceptional time to invest in the Cannabis market, as it seems to poised for a decade of remarkable domestic and international growth. Post prohibition, the Cannabis and hemp industry will go from today’s size of $10B, to the point where it will be absolutely ubiquitous throughout our society, products and markets – this exceptionally rapid development will create exceptionally large opportunities for Cannabis entrepreneurs and investors.

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Bitcoin: Drawing the Line Between Investors and Gamblers

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People who bought and held their .01 bitcoins from 2010 could have enjoyed an increase in value of 119,999,900 percent. If you spent $100 on the most popular digital currency then and didn’t sell or lose your fortune to hackers, your electronic coins might be worth about $120 million today. Those are pretty incredible returns, and few people regret buying a few bitcoins back in the day, holding onto them, and reaping the benefits. Of course, none of that offers any guarantees that the value of this or any other digital currency will continue to rise like this or even continue to increase at all.

Is Buying Bitcoin Investing or Gambling?

In fact, it’s possible to argue that the very thing that maintains today’s value is past performance. As you should know from reading any prospectus, past performance doesn’t ever guarantee future returns. If you can afford it and want to spend some money on digital currency, that’s your choice. However, you really should first spend some time considering what it really means to buy bitcoin.

When you buy some bitcoin, are you investing or speculating? In order to figure this out, you first have to decide if bitcoin qualifies as an investment. This question usually sparks a lot of contentious debates among people who are considered financial experts. Aswath Damodaran teaches at NYU’s Stern School of Business. He’s often referred to as the “Dean of Valuation” for his work valuing various assets.

Professor Damodaran divides all investments into four main categories:

  • Assets
  • Commodities
  • Currencies
  • Collectibles

He says it’s easy to dismiss digital currency like bitcoin as an asset, commodity, or collectible. This digital currency doesn’t generate income on its own like a rental property, an asset that you can touch. You can’t consider bitcoin a raw material like a commodity. It certainly isn’t a collectible.

If nothing else, Damodarian is willing to say that bitcoin might be a type of currency, but he also has gone on to comment that bitcoin isn’t a very good currency. These are some reasons that bitcoin hasn’t yet become a good currency even if it might be loosely classified as one:

  • It’s not that easy to trade nor commonly accept by most vendors.
  • If you do find vendors who accept it as payment, they probably won’t give you an actual price until the moment you want to make a trade just because the value is very volatile.

If bitcoin is an investment, it’s hard to classify. You might call it a currency just because it really isn’t anything else.

Professor Damodaran is not at all a fierce critic of electronic currency and doesn’t believe it’s any sort of fraud or Ponzi scheme. He just says it’s impossible to value right now. You can only trade it or price it. You can find many tougher critics than Damodaran, so it’s worthwhile to consider the words of a fairly unbiased scholar and recognized expert in the field.

He does say that if future technology makes it easier to spend bitcoin or other electronic currencies, he might offer a revised opinion. Still, it might be that blockchain technology and not the electronic currency that really has the value. If that’s true, another electronic currency or even a different kind of technology could replace bitcoin.

Should You Regard Bitcoin as an Investment or Speculation?

Just as you know, you should never sell in a panic, it’s also prudent to be wary of buying in a panic. Right now, you might regard bitcoin as something that’s interesting to study or even risk whatever you can afford to lose. If you want to invest in order to secure your retirement, earn profits, or meet other financial goals, you should probably look for something that’s easier to classify as an investment. More important, you will probably be prudent to find an investment that’s easier to value.

If experts are having a hard time telling if or when this will all come crashing down, it can be easy to see this as a gamble. Some people are fine with putting their savings on the line in hopes that things will go the way they guess, but more savvy investors will typically take the “boring” route and put in the hard work required to ensure their financial growth.

Now you know

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The Financial Power of Impact Investing

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For many years the divide between instruments of philanthropy and investing has been clear cut. Investing strategies typically did not involve social organizations focused on non-governmental organization (NGO) concerns. However, the advent of millennial investing power, the rise of social enterprises, and the need for further asset diversification have blurred the line between both industries. Environment, Social, Governance (ESG) investing, informally known as impact investing, is on the rise with both active and passive investors. For example, ESG assets under supervision at Goldman Sachs have grown from US$3.8bn in 2015 to US$6.5bn end of fiscal 2016. As Goldman Sachs poignantly stated, ESG investing is now mainstream even within the pension fund and insurance sectors.

Even though financing social causes has overlapped between philanthropy and ESG investing, by no means is the latter non-profit seeking. First, while impact investing may dive into sectors once thought as solely philanthropic, let us make it clear that the investing strategies used to generate returns do not veer from tradition asset management practices. Specific return objectives are set, even if the companies that are in the portfolio may comprise all social enterprises. In fact, Goldman Sachs recommends that investors should be even more aggressive with risk/return analyses when it comes to ESG portfolios, to ensure even more accountability. Traditional sectors tend to put the bottom line first by nature, so it is of utmost importance to hold for-profit social enterprises accountable for revenue and profit estimates.

U.S. Trust’s “Impact Investing: A Guide To Doing Good While Also Doing Well” gives an excellent overview of impact investing. According to the U.S. Trust, managed U.S. assets committed to impact investing in total grew from US$640 billion in 1995 to US$6.57 trillion at present. Impact investing can be broken down into further categories of socially responsible investing (SRI), faith based investing, green investing, and values based investing (VBI). For example, an investor who is against tobacco use but is not necessarily pro-environment may seek investment in an SRI portfolio, but not a green portfolio. As with traditional ETFs and mutual funds, diverse social investing asset classes are available via equities, bonds, REITs and even private equity. Investment funds including these ESG options in have indeed increased from 55 to 925 within the last two decades. In particular, U.S. Trust’s ESG investor pool jumped 23% from 2015, with a whopping 93% of millennial investors who have added ESG components to their portfolios!

ESG investing is an excellent mechanism to be considered by shareholders through engagement and by Board of Directors through guidance and governance. Rick Scott, Vice President of Finance and Compliance at the McKnight Foundation, gave great insight as to the need for adding and monitoring ESG components to investment strategic directions at the Board level. The McKnight Foundation has allocated 10% of its US$2bn portfolio strictly to impact investing with a focus on US clean water and carbon footprint. Scott enlightens that the Board must call for a “triple bottom-line for financial, programmatic, and learning return.” Boards must have an investment or risk committee assigned to give oversight on risk/return objectives specific to the triple bottom line, and with C-Suite determine the healthy mix of ESG and traditional components for portfolio investments. We have said time and time again that clear internal corporate governance goals and procedures, in this case adopting a “triple bottom line” approach, is the most pertinent form of corporate social responsibility an organization can practice.

While global institutional investors have now become ESG investing stalwarts, retail investors, individual private investors, and minor shareholders may still need direction in how to effectively embark on the ESG investing journey. In addition, the ESG investing sphere has been known to be have quite a few ‘greenwashers’ with more public relations talk than actual profit generating. As with any investment vehicle, extensive research is recommended. Global investment firm Cambridge Associates has developed the Impact Investing Benchmark which comprises 51 private investment closed-ended funds dealing strictly with the intent to generate social impact. From this data, Cambridge Associates created and MRI Database, and uses ImpactBase extensively as well. U.S. Trust as well has developed benchmarks via an IMPACTonomics™ program, which has specific in-house and third party impact investing platforms such as the Breckinridge Sustainable Bond Strategies and IMPAX Global Environmental Markets Fund.

Many have the misconception that impact investing precludes investing in traditional industries, such as the fossil fuel and mining industries. Absolutely not! The smart and savvy investor must see diversification opportunity in line with tailored return objectives. There is financial power in such comprehensive asset management. The end point is return on investment, whether from most profitable traditional, social, and technologically advanced companies in the market. A gold mining company with a strong, proven corporate responsibility background can share the same portfolio as a profitable microfinance company that lends globally to small entrepreneurs. Again, the crux of investing in any asset class lies with return objectives. ESG investing, like smart technology, is no longer the niche market. As Rick Scott and Goldman Sachs put it, the point is to find the “right tools for the right time.” The time is right to consider impact investment vehicles in tandem with traditional market portfolios.

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