Amazon Prime: The Inside Story

When shopping for books, my first choice is to buy used at the online marketplace, AbeBooks, a company that sources books from local bookshops around the world.

The fact that the books are used? Not an issue at all. I pay a whole lot less than what I would have paid if buying new, with the added bonus that every book I’ve ordered arrives in excellent condition.

The downside, if you can call it that, is that books may be mailed from countries like Australia or England and not arrive for anywhere between 7-21 days or so after placing an order. But I’m good with that. Because it’s rare, if ever, that I absolutely need a book immediately. And you know what? It’s fun waiting. It’s fun anticipating arrival, not unlike looking forward to going on vacation. Waiting reinforces my understanding of the phrase, ‘patience is its own reward’.

Besides, if I need a book immediately (owing to impulse control system shutdown), it may be available at a local bookstore. If not, there’s always Amazon.

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Prime Time With Amazon

Amazon bills its annual Prime Day as ‘a one-day only global shopping event exclusively for Prime members!’ Oh, how exciting, more shopping, more deals, more spending, more getting excited about … stuff.

Sarcasm aside, Amazon is not (surprise, surprise) acting out of the goodness of its heart when enticing consumers to shop until they’ve maxed out their credit card. Nah. Instead, Amazon is intent on taking over the consumer world (chewy thought: given Amazon’s voracious and insatiable growth, will the federal government step in one day, brand Amazon a monopoly and require it to break up into smaller pieces? Stay tuned).

And here’s where Prime Day greases the ravenous machine. July being a quiet retail period, Amazon offers big time deals. In the process, they attract new third-party sellers to their site (which, in turn, enhances product assortment) and persuade more consumers to sign up for Amazon Prime. Because, remember, this is a member’s only sale. And as one credit card company put it in an advertising campaign of years past, ‘membership has its privileges’. Right. The privilege to buy more stuff. Whooo Hooo (ooops, sarcasm reflexively returned).

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and CEO, knows exactly what he’s doing. Bezos knows consumer behaviour inside out. He knows that the first two Prime Days (this year is #3), generated profits 4x greater than the typical daily profit haul. And he knows that getting consumers to pay $99 to become a Prime Time member is only part of the pitch.

Because internal research has shown that Prime members spend more time noodling around Amazon’s ecosystem of services, and they spend more money. All of which further cements Amazon’s retail dominance.

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Why I Shop At Amazon

More and more, I buy stuff at Amazon. At first, it was only books that I couldn’t find on AbeBooks (did I mention that Amazon bought AbeBooks in 2008?), because even if they didn’t offer a new book priced lower than competitors, they offered free shipping. And convenience. And reliability. And excellent customer service if a package got lost or was damaged during shipping.

Now, for all those reasons, I’ve been buying other stuff at Amazon. And, obviously, I’m not the only one, their reach now being far (think India and China) and wide (think decimated mom and pop bookstores, not to mention the once substantial, now deceased, Borders and Circuit City, and the recent acquisition of Whole Foods). Recent talk of Nike selling their products on Amazon was enough to boost Nike share price and drag down their competitors (Foot Locker fell 6%; Dicks Sporting Goods dropped 5.3%, Under Armour shed 1.5%).

The thing is, Amazon lives up to its name in breadth. The company is a huge distribution channel and only getting bigger, selling everything from clothes to cat litter to car parts. So other retailers want access to that connection to massive hordes of consumers. And not having that direct line to potential consumers is proving damaging as people continue to shop more online than in store. So damaging that some are closing up shop (for example, Sears is now kaput and Macys has shut 100s of stores).

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It’s Just A Store

Amazon makes shopping easy. And the prices are good. The sales even better. Fine. Still, it’s just a store. It sells stuff. You want to spend $99 to become a Prime Member? That’s your call. But don’t buy stuff just because its ON SALE or a GREAT DEAL or a LIMITED TIME OFFER. Don’t fall prey to the marketing jargon, the nonsense, the only purpose of which is to get you, the consumer, to open your wallet and fatten Amazon’s profits.

As for me, I’ll survive just fine without Amazon Prime and their promise of delivery within 2 hours or 24 hours. Sure, it’s a convenient service. But is my personal convenience really that important? Nope. I don’t need it. In fact, I don’t want it. Because I prefer not living life at high speed. I prefer anticipation. I prefer the wait. And I prefer not to buy more than I need.


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Enter Buddha

To be impatient is to be anxious, uneasy, even greedy. Patience, however, is alert, active, expectant. Patience is not dull, it is radiant. It is a flame burning bright.

 

You Can Have It All

I’m of the view that I can learn from anyone. In this sense, we are all each other’s teacher.

As for money matters, sure, I know a fair bit about finance and investing. Still, that doesn’t mean I’m done with learning more. Because when it comes to learning, less is NOT more. Nope. More is more. And my plan is to keep on thirsting for knowledge, to continue growing, until my departure date from this planet we call home.

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If You Want It, Here It Is, You Can Have It

My 17-year old son tells me that he’s terrible at managing money.

My 26-year old niece says she doesn’t even know where to start when it comes to investing.

My 42-year old friend complains about mortgage debt and making ends meet.

My 47-year old friend fears for his financial future, knowing he has contributed way too little to his retirement account yet remains unwilling to reduce borrowing and spending.

My 59-year old relative, who has crazy long longevity in her family, plans to continue working into her 80s despite a decent sized nest egg because she’s concerned she’ll run out of money before she runs out of breath.

My 81-year old Uncle, who lost any sense of purpose after his wife passed way, does little with his days but review his substantial investment accounts, the size of which seems to be the only support for his sense of self.

Whew! Not a content bunch, at least on the financial front. And these are some of the folks I learn from, with my primary takeaway being this: freedom is often a perspective, an outlook. And this includes financial freedom.

Because, the thing is, if you want financial freedom, you can have it. But not in the conventional way of thinking, i.e., not by earning or inheriting a gazillion dollars. Rather, through adjusting your relationship to money, by empowering your self through learning about money matters, by tweaking the way you manage money, this is how you achieve financial freedom.

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Money Troubles: Two Sources

1. I Want It!

When did so many of us so-called adults revert to an adolescent mindset? A sense of entitlement, a demanding, impulsive neediness to have what we want when we want it?

A long, long time ago (say, when Elvis first popularized hip gyrations), credit was virtually non-existent. So if you didn’t have the money to buy stuff, well, you didn’t buy it.

The obvious upside of this sort of system was no debt. The perceived downside was you either didn’t get stuff or your possession of stuff was delayed until you could save enough dough.

Then along came credit. And people feeling it was their ‘born in America right’ to possess material things that they cannot afford. And lenders, in business for the purpose of earning bucks from lending, were all too happy to lend.

As for the deep dark debt holes being dug by Ms. and Mr. Consumer, well, that was the lender’s business only if they didn’t get repaid. Otherwise,  Consumer would bear the burden and the strain and the stress of debt.

And why shouldn’t they? I mean, presuming Consumer is of the age of majority, presuming Consumer has been wearing big boy / big girl pants for some time, isn’t it Consumer’s responsibility to manage their finances?

It’s not like Consumer is being forced to borrow money, to max out several credit cards, to finance a luxury car or take out a McMansion home mortgage. So in the end, if Consumer is voluntarily taking on debt, then Consumer alone is responsible for that debt, and all its attendant headaches.

… Stop Wanting! 

You know a simple, entirely effective way to eliminate debt, to prevent that pulsating ulcer from ever happening?

For the single purpose of your financial health and resulting freedom, turn the clock back to the 1950s. Pretend credit does not exist. Pay all cash for each and every purchase, whenever possible, except for your home. And even then, borrow only the absolute minimum. And be certain you can and will repay the mortgage within the contractually agreed upon timeframe.

And recognize that not having the money means you cannot afford the purchase. And that’s okay. There’s no need to keep up with the Jones because the Jones are dead. This is 2017, not 1950. Once you stop wanting what you cannot afford, an amazing thing happens. The leaky boat that is your financial house soon repairs itself. Clouds disperse revealing blue sky, sunshine, and calm waters. Your sense of freedom expands, and life is good.


2. Greed Sucks

You can’t have it all and pay for it later. Thinking otherwise defines greed. Inherently, greed is destructive. It will mess with your moral compass. Blow up relationships. Leave you empty.

So how do you quiet your wants so they’re reasonable and not obsessively focused on Self?

Give some away. Really. Giving away money or possessions has the effect of taming the greed monster. In effect, you become more of a Giver, rather than a Taker. And once you start down the Giving path, here’s what happens:

  • Compassion. Prioritizing the needs of others ahead of your own wants not only reduces selfish desire, but also contributes to you seeing how much you already have, and caring for others.
  • Generosity. When you realize how fortunate you are to have what you have, in terms of the people in your life and material goods, then you become grateful. The natural outflow of a heart filled with gratitude is generosity. Generosity subdues greed. And inner peace and contentment then thrive.

But don’t take my word for it. Try it your self; see what happens. And if you’re so inclined, you might want to think about the following:

  • Regular Giving. Determine how much money, stuff and/or time you will give away, and when you will make your gifts, i.e., monthly, annually, etc.
  • Others First. Give to others before giving to your self.
  • Plan. Take time to devise a thoughtful giving plan.
  • Voluntary. Giving comes from inside you, not from social pressure. Be driven by issues close to your heart, issues that engage and excite you, whatever those may be.
  • Happy. Generosity brings happiness to you and the recipient just as surely as miserliness brings misery.

Yours For The Taking

All those people I mentioned in the second paragraph, if they take on the perspective that learning is a never-ending process, and if they are patient and kind to them self, then financial freedom is waiting for them. Because through giving to others and our Self, we’re all allowed to take freedom and feel good about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cars Are Terrible Investments

Here’s what one journalist wrote about Tesla cars: ‘Tesla fans are crazy advocates. They attach deep emotional significance to the car. They’re not just paying for a mode of transportation, they’re paying for a slice of the future.’

Yup. There’s a whole lot of wildly passionate car lovers out there. People whose emotions drive them to buy a cool, fast or stylish car. People who see their car as a reflection of them self, an object that reinforces their self-image. People who want a visible status symbol broadcasting to others that they’ve arrived, have dough, care about the environment, or lean left or right in the political sense.

Then there are the folks who don’t get caught up in the hype. These people don’t quite understand why others form an emotional bond to a 4,000-pound hunk of steel, aluminum, glass and rubber.

They see cars as utilitarian objects, the purpose of which is to efficiently transport you from A to B, from home to the office, school, the grocery store, kids soccer games. And just like the dreamy car lovers, the emotionally-detached-from-cars types let the world know who they are through choosing a car based on safety ratings, fuel efficiency, and price.

Still, no matter who you are or what your reason is for owning a car, be it a luxury or economy model, cars are terrible, horrible, no good investments.

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Virtually Guaranteed To Lose Money

Question: Name an investment that loses 25% of its value immediately upon purchase, and even more value down the road?

Answer: Your Car.

As soon as you sign the transfer papers for that $30,000 car, its resale value drops about $7,500. Because a car is what’s known as a depreciating asset, meaning it loses big value, fast. Own a collector’s classic that has held or exceeded its original sticker price? That’s all fine and good, and your car would be an exception. But for the overwhelming majority of owners, cars are a non-stop money burn.

Question: Aside from a lower resale value, will I incur other car ownership costs?

Answer: Oh ya, a whole lot more!

We’re talking annual insurance payments, licensing and registration, repairs not covered by warranty, and ordinary maintenance costs including gas (or electricity), new tires, brake pads, etc.

Question: How else will I lose money from car ownership?

Answer: Finance your purchase.

Look, if you don’t have enough money to buy the car, then don’t buy it. Think about it: if you borrow funds for the purchase, just like taking out any other loan, you pay interest. So if you’re paying interest for, say, five years, you’ve not only shelled out 30k, you not only incur ongoing expenses, but you also pay even MORE than the sticker price thanks to interest payments.

Question: What’s even worse than financing your purchase?

Answer: Leasing.

Leasing is renting. You’re renting the car for several years. At the end of the lease term, you have zero equity in the car. Yes, when the lease expires you’ll have the option to purchase the car but don’t expect to get any sort of deal. You’ll be paying full price. And usually, you’ll end up paying more for the car than if you had purchased it at the outset.

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So What Do You Do?

Cars are expensive. Cars are money pits. But a bicycle, scooter, or hoverboard doesn’t suit your needs. So what do you do?

Ideally, make an all cash purchase of a used vehicle sporting high resale value. And keep the car forever.

By not shelling out for a new car every three to five years (and remember that the resale price of your old car will not even come close to paying for new wheels), you’ll save serious dough that may be put toward saving and investing. That’s the beauty of cutting expenses: more money in your pocket, more financial stability, more freedom today and down the road.

If an all cash purchase isn’t possible, then hold your breath and go the financing route.

Borrow the least amount necessary and no more. Don’t get sucked into the ‘low monthly payments’ sell job. Fact is, with any sort of financing you’ll end up increasing the bottom line price for your car. And work out the money details before you commit to the buy, i.e., know what you can afford, and know that you will pay off the loan within a fixed time period.

Finally, do your best to negotiate cost downward. Because in the car sales business there’s a few things you absolutely need to know:

  1. You can always negotiate on price. And if the dealership refuses, then take your business elsewhere. That said, they all negotiate. It’s part of the game. But the onus is on you to insist on a better deal.
  1. Car dealerships are not in the business of losing money. Keep this in mind when they’re tossing sales pitches your way. You know, stuff like ‘$2,000 cash back offer!’ or ‘employee discount available for a limited time!’.

The usual nonsense where dealerships try to make you believe (‘make believe’ being the key phrase) that you’ll get the car for less than dealer cost. The thing is, dealerships are profiting on every sale. And they should. I mean, if they didn’t turn a profit, then they wouldn’t be in business for long. But instead of fattening their profits, you should be looking to minimize their take by driving the best bargain possible.

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Pad Path To Wealth By Keeping Emotions in Check

Car ownership is a lifestyle choice. And it would be wise to make choices that do not hamstring your finances, negatively affect your way of living, or interfere with your financial goals. With more money in your pocket, those leisurely Sunday drives will have you smiling.

 

Boost Your Energy Account

A student approaches his meditation teacher and says, “My meditation is horrible! My mind is bouncing from one thought to the next, my back hurts, and I’m straining just to stay awake.”

“It will pass,” the teacher responds calmly.

One week later, the student returns to his teacher. “I can’t believe the change! My meditation practice is wonderful! I feel so aware, peaceful, and focused!”

“It will pass,” the teacher responds calmly.


Little Story, Big Message

I love this little story with the big message: throughout our life, we experience all sorts of feelings and thoughts that constantly change, sometimes from moment to moment.

And once moments pass, they cannot be recaptured or experienced again the same way. Sure, that may be obvious to you now as you’re reading this post. But sometimes, when our self-awareness is, um, let’s say compromised, we forget. Sometimes we try to hold on to good times, wanting to extend our experience indefinitely into the future. But in a world where change is the only constant, life doesn’t work that way.

Instead, events and circumstances go our way … until they don’t. And when they don’t, we might feel frustrated, irritable, confused or disappointed. Then we might start struggling for solutions because we want these feelings to go away. And we think that the only way for these feelings to recede is to adjust the external world, have it conform to our wishes. But a funny thing happens on the way to struggling for solutions: the more we ‘want’, the more entrenched becomes the struggle.

Consider it this way: you know when you’re trying to think of a particular word, and you’re certain that the word is there but for whatever reason it remains hidden, teasing you, resting on the proverbial tip of your tongue? And the more you try to coax out the word, the deeper it goes into hiding and the more aggravated you become?

Eventually, you give up. Your mind stops searching. You forget about the word. You let it go. Then, other thoughts drift through your mind. And soon, without trying one itty bit, the word suddenly appears. And you smile, say the word out loud, repeat it more than once, and with great self-satisfaction say to your self, ‘yes, I knew it was in there!’

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Relax, Come To It

Energy is our natural currency. When we squander our energy reserves through stress, worry, envy, judgment, and greed, we’re less able to think clearly. And cloudy thinking leads to poor decision-making, leads to undesirable outcomes, leads to stress and compounding negative energy.

It’s not like we actively, consciously, search for negativity or want to waste our energy. Still, darkness comes and goes. Largely because we want to control external circumstances and have not learned to accept that which we cannot change.

So … how do we experience inner contentment, happiness, blue skies, for extended periods of time regardless of which way our external world is turning?

Ahhh, well now, I suppose this is the $64 question. This is where my duty to you is one of introducing the magic elixir, revealing to you ingredients guaranteed to swell your energy account with positive ions, leading to feelings of ease and satisfaction, feelings conducive to excellent decision-making, decisions that benefit your spiritual, psychological and financial well-being.

And the answer is … Yoga.

No, wait. Let me back up. It’s not that easy. It never is because it’s not supposed to be. The thing is, there’s nothing at all magical about yoga. Rather, what I’m getting at, what the practice of yoga allows you to get at if you’re open to it, is a healthy, serene, sense of balance.

How so? Well, um, really, I don’t exactly know. I mean, I could blather on about studies detailing the many beneficial physiological effects of yoga practice, or I could tell you about my personal experiences, tell you how amazing I feel after every single yoga class and how I wish I could bottle up those good and scrumptious feelings to use at my whim. Still, the only way to truly understand the benefits of yoga is to practice yoga.

That said, here’s what I do know: start your day with a bit of yoga, a sprinkling of laughter, a dose of fun … and that in itself is magic. Call it magical reality. Call it an amazing form of medicine, one that acts as a powerful antidote to stress, pain, conflict and any other form of negativity.

Want to feel physically stronger, mentally alert, emotionally balanced? Get your self to yoga class. Want to bring more light in? Laugh! Want to keep the light around permanently? Laugh more! Play! Have fun!

Yes, yes, we have responsibilities, we have bills to pay, investments to make, debts to repay, budgets to draft, research to undertake, retirement to prepare for, BuddhaMoney blog posts to read … of course we do. Still, when we lighten our duties, responsibilities and burdens with a hearty guffaw, a gut busting chortle, a relaxed smile, playtime, then we’re healthier. And our good health leads to a calm perspective, a broader outlook, a sense of grounding, focus and alertness. All of which doesn’t just smooth out your time on planet Earth, it also leads to you becoming a better investor, and a wealthier person.

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If You Want It, Here It Is, Come And Get It

I know, yoga is trendy, it’s all the rage. But don’t let this turn you off. Look past the trivial, superficial, North American marketed aspect of yoga, the Lululemon (NASDAQ:LULU) tight tops, check-out-my-butt pants and hotty hot (actual name) shorts, and you’ll find a more than 5,000 year old practice that offers participants the opportunity to grow their positive energy reserves partly through learning to be self-aware and responsible for our feelings and happiness.

You want a buff body? Sure, yoga will take you there. But that’s not what yoga is all about. Not at all. Rather, yoga practitioners seek awareness of their deepest nature. Because through self-awareness, through learning to be present for every sensation in every moment, we learn to be responsible for who and what we are.

And we learn to understand that, to a large degree, we have the power to make our self. When this is understood, then we know that happiness is a choice; that we are responsible for our own happiness. Because our happiness, our contentment, is unrelated to external circumstances. Happiness, you see, is an inside job.

And it’s kinda, sort of, really excellent when you’ve done the inner work, and bring peace to your daily life, including money matters. Because money management, saving and investing can be fraught with emotion and confusion. So if you’re coming at it from a peaceful place, with a clear mind, where you’re able to tune out noise then, sure as Buddha is sitting cross-legged, smiling by the Bodhi tree, you increase your likelihood of finding balance, wealth and success.

 

Blissful Money Rules

Last week, my 27 year-old Niece called me.

“Hey! BuddhaMoneyLama, I have a problem I’d like to talk about.”

“Sure, kiddo.”

“Well, with my new job, I’m finally making decent money. I mean, after paying for rent, food, utilities and other necessities, I actually have money left over.”

“Too much money? This is a problem?”

“Ha ha, you’re so funny. The problem is that I don’t know what to do with my money. No one ever taught me and I feel like I don’t even know the basics.

“So you called me? Such a sweetheart!”

“Can you help?

“Are you kidding? BuddhaMoneyLama lives for these situations!”

“So, where do we start?”

“Where would you like to start?”

“That’s the thing; I don’t know. All I know is that I want to buy a house one day. But I don’t know how to get myself to a place where I’ll have enough money to afford a down payment and all the other costs that go along with home ownership.”

“How about we start with talking about the Blissful Money Rules.”

“Uh, okay?”

“These are Rules that you absolutely, positively, unequivocally need to know to empower yourself, and get your self walking on the path toward home ownership and greater wealth.”


Blissful Money Rule #1 … What’s The Plan, Stan?

Some folks prefer to surf on a hope and a prayer when it comes to money issues. Not BuddhaMoney. Instead, we favor creating a detailed plan for your self. Because a Money Plan plots your best path for taking control of spending and saving. Do this and you’re halfway to reaching your financial goals.

“I’ve never written a Money Plan. Help?”

“What do you say we walk this path together, step by step.”

  • Goals. Write them down. When you know what your goals are, saving is easier. For you, dear Niece, your medium term goal is to buy a home. Keep this in mind every day when you’re spending money. Because every dollar you spend somewhere else is a dollar that’s not saved toward your dream home.
  • Expenses. Once you know your goals, write down all of your expenses and figure out which ones may be reduced or cut out altogether. And the beauty of cutting spending? Reduced expenditures automatically translates into more money in your pocket. Obvious? Sure. But some folks need to be reminded, to stay focused on their goals.

Here are some examples for you to chew on:

Cable. Cut the cord. Who needs to pay for cable? Really, who needs television at all? For all those who haven’t completely abandoned television, there’s Netflix at about $10/month, and other free and inexpensive viewing services available online.

Cell Phone. Check out discount carriers and do not sign up for a large data plan. If you need some data, go for the minimum. Because you just don’t NEED to be constantly surfing the web on your phone. It’s a bad habit for too many of us. Your time would be better spent daydreaming or, Buddha forbid, reading a book, or tuning out and just being quiet. You’ll be amazed at how quiet time recharges energy and lifts spirits.

Home and Car Insurance. Shop around and compare prices. All the insurance companies offer the same coverage but prices may vary a fair bit. Be sure you’re not overpaying.

Coffee/Tea. Drop $5/day getting your coffee on the outside, multiply by 365 days, and that’s $1,825/year. Yikes! Is it worth it?

Fuel. Fill up your gas tank once a week at $50/pop and that’s $2600/year – compared to paying nothing for riding a bike to get around town (other than initial bike cost) or much less for car sharing or public transit.

Restaurants. Watch this one. It’s too easy to drop big dollars when eating out. Allow yourself a certain amount each month and stick to your budget.

  • Track Money Flow. Once you’ve listed all of your expenses, and considered what to eliminate and what to reduce, it sure helps if you track your spending. Do this the old-fashioned way using pen and paper, a journal is a good idea, or use an app of your choice; here’s a few worth checking out:

https://www.levelmoney.com

https://www.mint.com

http://www.dollarbird.co

  • Bottom Line. Really, it comes down to a matter of priorities. If purchasing a new home is your priority then you’ll start making a habit of cutting spending.

Blissful Money Rule #2 … Save, Save, Minimize Spending, and Save Some More

You’ve heard it so often that maybe you’ve tuned out. Well, BuddhaMoney is here to tune you back in: save your money. Make saving a habit. Because you need savings to achieve financial freedom.

How much should you save? Calculate savings as a percentage of your net your income, after deducting expenses. Ballpark number for savings: 10%. If you can save more, good for you; you’ll achieve your goals that much sooner.

And once you commit to a percentage, stick with it! No creative rationalizing (i.e., but I really need to drop five grand on a vacation to Mexico and I swear I’ll make up the lost savings soon), and no inventive, trivial justifications (i.e., it was a once in a lifetime sale and, really, the more I spent, the more I saved).

Of course, if you spend less than you earn, then staying disciplined about savings is that much easier. If you spend more than you earn, well, you’ve got work to do because at this rate there will not be any savings, and financial freedom is a fantasy.

No matter what you earn, you can save when you cut down expenses. Sure, you may have to ditch old habits and establish new ones, but it will be well worth it. Every step closer you walk toward your savings goal or eliminating debt will feel, well, quite excellent, and will reinforce your desire to continue saving, largely because you’ll know that you’re taking control of your finances and your life. And that feels right and it feels good.


Blissful Money Rule #3 … You Do NOT Want Debt

The blissful truth: there’s no freedom in carrying debt. And your goal should be financial freedom, which translates into minimal money related stress and headaches.

That said, not all debt is created equally.

Mortgage debt for example, serves a worthwhile purpose. Homes cost a fair chunk of change, and few people are able to pay all cash for their home. So, you borrow from a financial institution. Okay, this is all good as long as you can afford the mortgage payments. Because as long as you have the mortgage, yes, you’re building equity. Kudos. But you’re also paying interest. Drag on your savings. So, before you sign up with your friendly neighborhood banker for that big ticket mortgage, draft your self a mortgage repayment plan, and be sure this is a plan you can follow through on.

As for credit cards, the goal is to NEVER pay a cent of interest for credit cards. If you cannot afford to pay the balance owing each month in full, then don’t use a card. Carry interest and you’ll be paying an annualized rate of close to 30%. Robbery? Yes. Legal? Yes. Why do you think Visa (NYSE: V) and Mastercard (NYSE: MA) are massive companies each with a stock market value north of $100 Billion? Charging interest is a wonderful game to play when you’re the lender.

So what do you do? Toss all credit cards from your wallet except one. Suggest keeping a Visa or Mastercard as these are accepted by most every merchant. Use the card only when necessary (other than Sweden, most countries remain on board with coin and paper currency – http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/10/10/imagining-a-cashless-world).


Blissful Money Rule #4 … Invest Your Dough

Don’t leave your savings in a bank account earning practically nothing. Invest your money. When you invest, your money is going to work, not you. This is what you want. The more you can afford to invest the better. And, similar to being disciplined about savings, be disciplined about building your investments. Set aside a certain amount each month that makes its way directly to the investment account.

Here’s a nut and bolts illustration that may whet your investing appetite: if you invest $10,000 at a 5% annual return, you will earn $500 in one year. In year 2, the $10,500 will generate $525, for a grand total after two years of 11,025. After 20 years, the $10k turns into $26,532.98. This is the power of compounding returns and a long-term investment horizon.


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Enter Buddha

The second Noble Truth teaches that trishna (thirst or craving)  causes stress or suffering. Wanting to own a home, wanting to be financially secure is perfectly fine and good. The challenge is to avoid clinging to these wants such that wants become obsessive cravings and we forget what’s important: to be grateful for our life, for who is in our life, and for what we have.


Blissful Money Rule #5 … It’s All About You

Here, I’m talking about stepping up and taking responsibility. No one will walk the path for you (although BuddhaMoney sure will guide you in the right direction). It’s your decision whether or not to empower yourself, take control of your finances, and eventually achieve financial freedom.

 

 

Pathway to Financial Freedom

If it’s okay with you, dear reader, I would like to step back from talking about investing to ask why we invest our money in stock, bond and other financial markets?

A softball question? A naïve question? Absurd? Do I know anything about investing and money, you may ask? Alright, before I have to fend off any more imaginary attacks on myself, I’ll say that, of course, a primary reason we invest is to make money. Sure, but why do we want to use our discretionary income to make more money? Drum roll please: Continue reading “Pathway to Financial Freedom”