This article was written by Bruno Souza.
There are only two things worse than being sick. The first is being sick and broke. The second is being sick, broke and old. Too often, Americans are finding themselves financially crushed by unpredicted accidents, the randomness of life, and a lack of preparation for old age.
But for the most part, it is not anyone’s fault. The problem is that no one ever taught you or the many unprepared Americans how to insure against life’s devastating anomalies.
Schools neglect to teach you. Colleges neglect to teach you. And chances are, your parents forgot to teach you.
In this article, you are going to get 3 essential tips for living a financially successful life.
1. Pick the Right Insurance – Life vs. AD&D
It is almost impossible to grow up in America without hearing about life insurance. You know you need it. But chances are, you have never heard of accidental death and dismemberment insurance. And it is important that you know the difference because the difference is dramatic.
Life insurance is pretty straightforward. Simply put, it covers you if you die, when you die.
While policy details vary the primary concept behind it is that starting in your youth, you begin to pay for your life insurance. When you eventually walk out of life, a loved one (your “beneficiary”) then receives money to help them sustain themselves in your absence. For most of the population, this is the essential and preferred option.
But imagine that you get into a car accident. What happens if you do not die? What happens if you have an arm amputated or you lose an eye? For most people, these complications are enough to remove them from the workforce. The problem is, if you survive, your life insurance will not pay out.
This is where AD&D comes in. Simply put, AD&D is insurance in case you get dismembered or, you lose an eye. If you are a white-collar office worker, the chances of you losing an arm to your notorious copying machine are pretty low.
However certain professionals work jobs that are thousands of times more dangerous than others. And these individuals who are at a higher risk are the ones that need to consider AD&D. The bottom line is that you never want to be lying in an emergency bed thinking to yourself “shucks, my family would be so much better off if I just died right now.
Make the right choice.
Regardless of which one you pick, make sure that you pick at least one. Life Insurance and AD&D are absolute essentials for supporting your loved ones in case you walk out into the next life.
2. Choose the Right Companies to Bank With – Credit Unions vs Banks
Both banks and credit unions offer checking accounts, savings accounts, auto loans, home loans and other common financial services. But what makes them different?
Credit unions are not-for-profit organizations created to serve local communities. Because they are “not-for-profit” they tend to offer cheaper interest rates on loans and”, their accounts tend to pay higher dividends than banks to the average consumer. And the last major differentiator is just credit unions tend to have smaller fees.
Banks, on the other hand, are profit. Instead of offering low dividends and interest to their entire customer base, they opt-in for higher yields to a smaller portion of people. Think of it as distributing a pie amongst 10 people instead of 100 people. The advantage to banks is that they normally have branches across the nation.
When picking between a local credit union or a large bank, make sure to read their detailed policies before making a decision. Compare their fees and compare their terms. In general, if you are someone who is local and is going to stay local, a credit union might be better for you. However, if you often find yourself moving or in different cities, then a bank would be more convenient.
3. Do Not Let Your Feathers Get Plucked So Easily
Jean-Baptise Colbert, the prime minister of France in the 17th century is famous for saying “the art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.” Without starting any debate on taxes, this principle has quickly materialized in our modern lives.
Your income tax, social security tax, health care, and various other fees are all automatically deducted from your paycheck. Your credit cards transfer money without you ever having to “see” that money.
To further demonstrate this principle, here is an example (and I apologize if this sounds like a high-school textbook math problem – it’s not):
Suppose you earned $4,000 each month and suppose your taxes at the end of the year totaled $9,600. Which scenario do you think would lead to more people getting aggravated about taxes:
Scenario 1: At the end of the year, a tax collector shows up at your door, and you hand over 96 $100 bills, totaling the $9,600 in taxes that you owe.
Scenario 2: Each month you receive $3,200 instead of $4,000. You never hand over any money. You never look someone in the eye when you give it over. You never see someone walk away with your money.
Scenario 1 would leave an extremely bitter taste in your mouth while scenario 2 is a perfect example of “plucking the geese with the smallest amount of hissing”.
The issue is, money goes so fast because technology has made it so easy to “pluck you of your feathers”. Those $4 coffees from Starbucks seem insignificant since all it takes is swiping a plastic card instead of handing over bills. But over time, it adds up – 5 coffees a week will cost you over $1,000 throughout the year.
To be financially savvy, It is imperative that you track your money.
Use apps such as Mint, which integrate with your online banking to keep track of your cash. It will break down for you how much you are spending on entertainment, on food, on gas, on bills, on groceries, etc.
By keeping track of your money, you will better be able to manage it.