Categories
Economy

Four Stages of the Business Cycle

There are four stages of the business cycle: expansion, peak, contraction and trough. We’ll look at these and other cycles and draw some conclusions about the economy and how you can plan for the future.

Experts Have Discovered That Economic Events Happen in Cycles. The Seasons, the Planets and Human Life Itself Are Cyclical

Before we get to the details of the four stages of the business cycle, let’s discuss more about economic catastrophe. Unfortunately, the American Great Depression and the COVID-19 shutdown of 2020 were catastrophic events. Yet, some very intelligent researchers have determined that much of what we experience in our lives revolves around cycles.

The sun and the moon follow a cyclical pattern that is predictable. In addition, the earth’s movement through the universe and its relationship to other stars is part of a greater cycle. But here on earth, there are many more cycles.

The life of a human being is part of a cycle. You are born, you become a youth, then middle aged, followed by elderly life and death. Our season are cyclical: Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. Researchers have discovered that our economy is cyclical as well. Oddly enough, the four stages of the business cycle are closely related.

According to Investopedia, the four stages of the business cycle are as follows:

“The four stages of the economic cycle are also referred to as the business cycle. These four stages are expansion, peak, contraction, and trough.” -Investopedia

The Four Stages of the Business Cycle: Expansion, Peak, Contraction and Trough

Expansion occurs when the economy is growing. Prices begin increasing, more people are working. Businesses grow and make more money, hire more workers and pay better salaries. The workers tend to spend more money, buying cars and houses, passing money along through the economy. Most participants in the economy benefit and see more money in their bank account.

The peak of the business cycle is the highest point. It occurs when expansion reaches its maximum. For example, employment in the economy is considered full, prices increases are beginning to look like inflation. Many people will have borrowed great deals of money for bigger houses or more things. The stock market is usually at an all-time high.

During a contraction economic growth begins to slow down. Inflation (price increases) begin to slow down as well. In addition, unemployment may begin to increase and more people find themselves out of the workforce. The stock market may level off or even begin a correction or retracement. New housing starts may decrease during this time period.

The trough is the low point and may also be called a “recession” or a “depression.” People begin to worry about personal finances. Unemployment is higher, borrowing money is more difficult and people struggle to make ends meet. The stock market may be in a bear market trend either going down or flat. Jobs are scarcer and the real estate market is tight.

Economist Ray Dalio and the Economic Machine

Ray Dalio, an economics expert from Bridgewater Associates, has created some really intelligent free videos on understanding the 4 stages of the business cycle. He also is the author of the book, “Principles.” Dalio is really good at simplifying economic ideas and helping you understand why things happen as the do.

How the Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio

Why You Need to Know About the Four Stages of the Business Cycle

During the up Cycle the Economy Flourishes; During the Down Cycle the Economy Suffers

It’s important to understand the basic concept of economic cycles because cycles go up and down. The economy bounces back and forth between growth and recession. In down cycles, money is tight, banks are reluctant to lend money, economic growth slows down and people don’t spend as much because they have less money. However, in up cycles, people spend more, banks lend more money, the economy grows and unemployment is low.

There are many investments in the economy that are affected by the economic cycles, such as the stock market, real estate prices and even commodities prices like gold and silver. As a result, financial planners and investors must be proactive in planning for changes during the four stages of the business cycle.

The American Economy is in a Down Cycle in 2020

In 2020, the economy is passing through a down cycle. We are probably somewhere between contraction and trough in the four stages of the business cycle. As a result, unemployment is high, it is becoming more difficult to borrow money and yet the stock market is at an all-time high. Money managers have to make tough decisions about re-balancing portfolios with stocks, bonds, precious metals and even cryptocurrencies.

stages of the business cycle

What You Can Do to Thrive and Protect Yourself

The Secret to Winning in the Four Stages of the Business Cycle: Budget, Save Money & Invest

When life is cyclical, it simply means things go up and then they go back down. The pattern repeats itself in a cycle that goes on forever. Moreover, in the natural world, animals are aware of the cycle of the seasons. For example, squirrels have the natural instinct to bury acorns during the summer and build their nests to prepare for the bitter cold of winter.

In many ways, the four stages of the business cycle operate much like that in the animal kingdom. Although humans no longer depend on instinct to survive, we can still use our higher brain function to make decisions. If we know that the economic cycle goes up and down, then sometimes we will have more money and other times we may have less money. Following this logic, it makes sense for us to save money during the times that we have more money. When we learn ways to save money on a tight budget, we are better prepared to weather the storm of bitter economic times.

Write Down Your Goals

If you want to be retired, living on a beach in Costa Rica in 20 years, then you need to write that down as part of your goals. We recommend creating a notebook, journal or even a spreadsheet where you list exactly what you have planned for the future. This serves two purposes. Writing down your goals makes what you want explicitly clear. It gives you a starting point and also provides you with the details that you will need to determine how you will reach your goals.

The second purpose of planning out your financial goals on paper (or electronically) is that you are signaling to the universe what you want. History has proven that the psychology of desire and intention is a powerful tool in accomplishing goals. Understanding the four stages of the business cycle can help you achieve your financial goals as well.

Review Your Goals Regularly

Once you’ve written down what you plan to accomplish through your goals, you should return to the goals frequently to review them. Some people even find it helpful to place a copy of the written goals in a location near them where they see the goals daily, like on your bathroom mirror or near your workspace. It can also be helpful to visualize your goals through imagery. Is one of your goals to own a beach house? Place a picture of the beach house that you want on your wall. Again, the power of intention is great and tends to help you focus your energy on exactly what you want.

Create a Budget

Now that you have established your goals, it’s time to create a budget. Budgeting requires a great deal of self-discipline, so if you don’t follow your budget, then it can wreck your plans! When you create a budget, start by writing down in detail what your expenses are each month.

Spreadsheets are great for budgeting, but not required. There are also budgeting apps to choose from that can be helpful. For now, you need to know where you spend your money. Provide as much detail as possible when listing your expenses. You may find it helpful to review past bank statements and receipts.

Once you have an idea of where you spend your money each month, it’s time to take a hard look at your budget and cut some expenses. Many people find making cuts to spending a difficult task. But making cuts now will help you reach your financial goals quicker.

Living Below Your Means

After cutting your expenses down to the bear minimum, you should be living below your means (hopefully). Unfortunately, living below your means is a philosophy that most people don’t follow these days. Living below your means requires that you spend less than what you make. For example, if your take home pay is $1,500 per month, then living below your means is only spending $1,000 per month.

The extra money that you have from living below your means will serve two purposes. At first the extra money will be used to pay down debts quickly. Getting ahead requires that all debt be paid off first. Secondly, after the debt has been paid off, you will then use the positive cash flow to fund your emergency fund, savings and investments. Each of these is part of your net worth and the buffer between you and poverty. The more you can grow your savings and investment, the simpler and easier life gets.

Pay Off All Debts

Before you can start saving money, you must pay off all debts. Now that you’ve established your budget, cut personal spending to the bare minimum. You will take extra money that you have leftover in your budget and use it to pay down debts. Create a list or accounting of your debts, the corresponding balances and interest rates that you maintain. Use this information to help you keep track of your progress as you pay down debts.

If you are young and just starting out, hopefully your debts are minimal. Having minimal or no debt when you begin your journey toward wealth creation is a huge advantage. Paying off debt can take years and a great deal of sacrifice. So, if you have little or no debt, congratulations! For the rest of us, it’s time to get to work paying off debt.  

The Shocking Truth About Saving Money

According to a December 2019 article by GoBankingRates, approximately 70% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings!

This is a shocking statistic that shows how access to credit cards and lending have dominated our society. Unfortunately, Americans have adopted the idea that borrowing money for most things is normal. Yet, just a few generations ago in the early 20th century, people learned the hard way during the Great Depression that borrowing can lead to financial ruin. Having no savings puts you in a dangerous financial place.

Make Saving a Habit

Saving is a habit that can be learned over time and simply requires discipline. Become determined to reach your financial goals. Your personal determination to win at the money game will help you develop the discipline to save.

In addition, develop good habits of saving money. In the classic personal finance book, “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George Clason, the author implores the reader to set aside at least 10% of your earnings. This is a great rule of thumb for saving and investing because removing only a fraction of your income each month will likely not even be noticed or missed. Yet, this small amount of money is the seed needed to grow wealth.

Create an Emergency Fund

The first thing to do when you have paid off debt is to start saving for an emergency. Many people think that saving for an emergency is not necessary, until life proves them wrong and an unexpected event happens. Unfortunately, we all have emergencies during life: job loss, medical issues, natural disasters, home repairs, car problems, etc. Life is expensive and it pays to be prepared.

At a minimum, you want to have at least $1,000 in your emergency fund. In reality, your emergency fund should cover 3-6 months of expenses. For most people this number should probably be between $5,000 – $20,000. Keep in mind that in the worst case scenario you want to be able to pay all your bills and eat for 3-6 months, in the event that you lose your job.

Invest 10-15% of Income

Once you’ve fully funded your emergency fund, you can start investing. And if you have made it this far, then congratulations! You are ahead of the pack and well on your way to wealth building.

As stated previously, we recommend that you invest 10-15% of your income monthly. The earlier that you get started saving and investing, the better off you will be in the long run. In fact, the most powerful tool that will be working for you during investing is compounding interest, and it works like magic. How do you turn $1,000 into $62,000? The answer may be simpler than you think.

Wrap Up: the Four Stages of the Business Cycle

As you can see, understanding the four stages of the business cycle is critical in understanding how investing works. Knowing the parts of the business cycle makes investing and managing money clearer and reduces the chances that you lose money over time.

Read more:

How Much Was a Dollar Worth in 1960?

Is It a Good Time to Buy Stocks?

10 Things to Know Before Starting a Budget

Best Investing Books of All Time

How to Become a Millionaire from Nothing

Questions to Ask a Financial Advisor

Why Saving Money is Important

The Best Budget App

US Dollar History: How the Dollar Became the World Reserve Currency

How Much Savings You Should Have at 40

Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

Real Estate Market Predictions

Options Trading for Dummies

Disclaimer:

It is important to note that Piggy Bank Coins does not provide financial advice. We don’t endorse or recommend any financial investments. Instead, we provide information for educational purposes to those seeking knowledge regarding personal finance. However, in the spirit of transparency, note that the author is an investor in cryptocurrencies, precious metals and some equities.

In addition, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that Piggy Bank Coins disclose to readers that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. Moreover, we try our best to keep things fair and balanced, to help you make the best choice for you.

Categories
Investing

Investment Decision Process

In this article we will explain the investment decision process as a logical, 5-step approach, including factors such as risk assessment, investment time-frame and investing style.

Learning about the investment decision process can be confusing to new investors. Investing was much simpler for your grandparents: stocks, bonds and real estate. Today, the investment decision process has become much more complicated with many more choices that may be very complicated to understand.

The good news is that your investment portfolio can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. In addition, you don’t have to be rich to begin investing. In this article we will lay out a clear, 5-step approach to the investment decision process you can use to organize how you invest.

“the investing of money or capital in order to gain profitable returns, as interest, income, or appreciation in value.” –Dictionary.com

Types of Real Investments:

  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Mutual Funds
  • Retirement
  • Real Estate Trusts (REITs)
  • Real Estate (Land/Homes)
  • Annuities
  • Precious Metals (Gold, Silver, etc.)
  • Cryptocurrency (Bitcoin)
  • Insurance

Summary of Investment decision process

  1.  Establish Goals
  2.  Assess Personal Finances
  3.  Determine Risk Tolerance
  4.  Develop Investing Timeline
  5.  Begin Allocating Funds for Investment

Step 1: Establish Goals

The first step in the investment decision process should be to determine what your financial goals are and what you wish to accomplish. Where do you see yourself in 10, 25 or even 50 years? The average life expectancy for Americans is around 78 years old. However, you may have family members that live to be in their 90s and beyond. If you retire at 65 and live to be 95, will you have enough money invested to last through your retirement years?

Write Down Your Goals

If you want to retire at age 65 and move to Hawaii, then write that down as part of your goals. Begin by creating a journal, a spreadsheet or plan where you list exactly what you have planned for the future. This serves two purposes. First, writing down your goals makes what you want explicitly clear. It gives you a starting point and also provides you with the details that you will need to determine how you will reach your goals.

Second, the purpose of planning out your financial goals on paper (or electronically) is that you are signaling to yourself and others what you want. History has proven that the psychology of desire and intention is a powerful tool in accomplishing goals. Many wealthy investors credit their personal wealth and success to the philosophy outlined in the book, “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill.

Step 2: Assess Personal Finances

Learn to Budget, Save, Pay Off Debt and Live Below Your Means

Budgeting is one of the critical steps that can help you take control of your life and control personal finances. In addition, preparing a budget allows you to not only know where your money goes, but also allows you to plan where your money will go in the future. Finally, it’s important that your money works for you, not against you in your investment decision process.

During the investment decision process, we also prepare ourselves for better quality of life by having more money. Having more money means that you have more power to dictate the kind of life you want, especially in retirement.

How Budgeting can help you:

  • Improve your credit score
  • Save for emergencies
  • Save and invest for retirement
  • Stop wasting money and curb bad habits
  • Promote a healthy, meaningful lifestyle
  • Buy a new home or upgrade your existing home
  • Obtain financial freedom

Pay Off All Debts

Before you can start the investment decision process, you must pay off all debts. Now that you’ve established your budget, cut personal spending to the bare minimum. You will take extra money that you have leftover in your budget and use it to pay down debts. Create a list or accounting of your debts, the corresponding balances and interest rates that you maintain. Use this information to help you keep track of your progress as you pay down debts.

If you are young and just starting out, hopefully your debts are minimal. Having minimal or no debt when you begin your journey toward wealth creation is a huge advantage. Paying off debt can take years and a great deal of sacrifice.

Living Below Your Means

While following a budget, you should be living below your means (hopefully). Unfortunately, living below your means is a philosophy that most people don’t follow these days. Living below your means requires that you spend less than what you make. For example, if your take home pay is $1500 per month, then living below your means is only spending $1,000 per month.

The extra money that you save from living below your means will serve two purposes. At first the extra money will be used to pay down debts quickly. Getting ahead requires that all debt be paid off first. Secondly, after the debt has been paid off, you will then use the positive cash flow to fund your emergency fund, savings and investments. Each of these is part of your net worth and the buffer between you and poverty. The more you can grow your savings and investment, the simpler and easier life gets.

Save Money Every Paycheck

Put Aside 10-15% of Your Regular Income for Investment

One of the habits that can help you reach your goals in the investment decision process is to start saving each paycheck. Make it a habit to take 10-15% of each paycheck and save it. After a short time, you will realize that you don’t even miss the money.

Make saving 10-15% of each paycheck easy by setting up an automatic money transfer, either to your investment account or to your savings account. For example, each time your paycheck is deposited into your checking account, have an automatic transfer set up that moves money into your savings account. Some people even have a savings account that is in a different bank to reduce the temptation of raiding the account.

Step 3: Determine Risk Tolerance

What is Your Level of Risk?

Active Versus Passive Investing; Aggressive Versus Conservative Investing

To start, you must determine what style of investor that you are. First, the major categories of investment include active management or passive management. For example, a portfolio manager can determine what investments are in your fund and make decision for you using passive management; however, active management means that you reserve more control of your investments and perhaps you even use online services to trade individual stocks on a daily basis.

Second, you must determine if you are an aggressive or a conservative investor. Aggressive investing is utilized by those who want to take more risk and capture greater returns. This type of investing is considered acceptable for younger investors and for savvy investors who want to dedicate a small portion of their portfolio to higher risk. Conservative investing is a lower risk style of investing. Returns tend to be lower than the aggressive style, but come with lower risk. This style is best for those that desire lower risk and those who are getting closer to retirement age.

Step 4: Develop Investing Timeline

Estimate Retirement Age and How Much Money You Need to Retire

How old will you be when you retire? This is one of the questions that you want to answer during the investment decision process so that you can gauge your progress toward retirement. In addition, you can set goals for how much money you need when you reach the milestones of 30, 40, 50 and 60 years old and so forth.

Retirement Age

First, if you live in the United States and were born after 1960, you may be eligible to retire at age 67. Second, if you were born earlier than 1960, then the age requirement is 66. These are the ages where you may be eligible for Social Security Benefits. Consequently, you can look at the United States Social Security Benefits Website for additional details. They also offer a retirement calculator and benefits planner there.

If you want to narrow down how much money you will need for retirement, there are four primary factors needed.

  • Current Age
  • Retirement Age
  • Monthly Cost of Living (Estimate)
  • Life Expectancy

First, if you take your current age and subtract your retirement age, then that gives you how many years you will have to save for retirement. For example, if you plan to retire at 67, and you are 40 years old, then you have 27 years to save (67-40 = 27).

Planning for 30 years of retirement is a typical timeframe that most investors use. However, life expectancy has been increasing for Americans and you should also consider that you may live to be 100 years old.

Determine How Much Money You Need to Live on

You Will Need 70-80% of Your Current Salary for Retirement Expenses

While thinking about budgeting, take a closer look at how much money you need to live on each month. For example, what basic amount of money do you need each month to cover expenses? You need enough money to pay for a place to stay, food, electricity, etc. Don’t include things like vacations, luxury items or entertainment. Once you determine how much you need to live on, you can then start to figure out what retirement expenses look like.

Another common rule of thumb for estimating how much money you need when you retire is the 70-80% Rule. In other words, many experts believe that you will need at least 70-80% of your current income to make ends meet. For example, if you bring home $3,000 each month, then you will likely need approximately $2,100-2400 each month in retirement. This is a realistic way of estimating what you need to retire if you don’t want to do complicated calculations or spend a lot of time on the topic.

Step 5: Begin Allocating Funds for Investment

This step is the final step in the investment decision process. You will begin depositing money into your investments. The easiest way to start is to allocate a percentage of your earnings each month. You will then review your investment portfolio each year with your investment advisor to determine whether it requires changes. Your investment advisor can help you through the investment decision process.

Ideally, your investments will be divided into groups, with a certain percentage of your total investment allocation going to each group. For example, you may have chosen to invest in stocks, real estate, precious metals and cryptocurrency. You may be investing 50% in stocks, 25% in real estate, 20% in precious metals and 5% in cryptocurrency. Obviously, the percentage allocated to each group you choose will be determined based upon your risk tolerance.

Dollar-Cost Averaging

Many wise investors use “dollar-cost averaging” as a part of their investment decision process. Dollar-cost averaging is simply dividing up the amount of money you have to invest over a longer time frame. For example, let’s say you have $1,200 to invest in the year 2021. Then each month, you will invest $100 ($1,200/12 months = $100/mo.). Your $1,200 investment would then be dollar-cost averaged over a one-year period.

This investment methodology means that you invest the same amount of money each week or month, no matter if the market goes higher or lower. Dollar-cost averaging takes the emotion out of the investment decision process and simplified investing. It also prevents investors from making bad decisions.

If you don’t know how much to invest, then start out simply. Every month, divert 10-15% of your earnings to investment(s). An example would be investing in a 401(k), Investment Retirement Account (IRA) and/or real estate. Year after year, your money will grow and work for you during the investment decision process to create wealth.

Diversify Investments

No one can predict the future to know what investments will do well and which ones will fail. As a result, we can improve our odds of success in investing my diversifying our investments. Diversification of investments means spreading your money over different investment sectors. For example, you may want to have some stocks, bonds, real estate and precious metals in your investment portfolio.

Tax Considerations

Some investments will inherently have higher tax implications than others. In many cases, timing is important when the asset is sold in determining how it is taxed. The level of taxation of an asset can impact your return on investment. For example, if you purchase a home, fix it up and flip it for a profit, it will be taxed at a higher rate than if you simply bought a home and lived in in for a few years.

Find a Good Financial Advisor

Many of the topics discussed regarding personal finance and investment complicated and you probably need the assistance of a financial advisor. A financial advisor can help you make better informed decisions about how to best invest your money. Be careful to select an advisor who is knowledgeable in their industry and who has a proven track record regarding investment.

Unfortunately, many “financial advisors” are simply sales people who know very little about investment and are simply trying to earn a commission by locking in your business. Do your research to find the best candidate. In some cases, good financial advisors charge an upfront fee for consultation because they do not earn a commission from helping you with investing.

“Faux Investments” That Are Not Really Investments

Our list of investments did not include several financial products that some may consider investments. The reason we excluded these “faux investments” is because they don’t provide real returns on your investment and/or they may be risky. In addition, many of the faux investments may actually lose money on an annual basis, guaranteed.

For example, if you place your money in a savings account and nominally earn 0.1% interest on your savings, this might sound ok. However, if you consider that inflation is currently 1-3%, then your 0.1% rate of return at the bank is eaten up by inflation. In fact, you actually lost money from inflation, guaranteed.

List of Faux Investments

  • Savings Accounts – Money in savings earns very little interest and cannot withstand current inflation rates.
  • Options – Risky market plays that often expire worthless and are simply a hedge against other investments.
  • Futures – Risky market play that hedge against counter investments and require deeper level of investment and trading knowledge.
  • Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) – Many of these are not available to investors in the United States and may have regulatory implications.

Take Control of Personal Finances and Begin Investing

Now is a great time to begin getting your personal finances in order. Thinking and planning for the future are noble activities that we encourage at Piggy Bank Coins. Moreover, every adult should learn to budget, save money and invest at some time in their life. If you have a family, it is critical that you begin planning your financial future and develop an investment decision process.

Read More:

Financial Planning Services

Is It a Good Time to Buy Stocks?

Value Investing Books

10 Things to Know Before Starting a Budget

Wealth Building Cornerstones

How Does Robinhood Make Money?

Best Investing Books of All Time

How to Become a Millionaire from Nothing

Roth 457

Questions to Ask a Financial Advisor

Value Investing Books

How Much Savings You Should Have at 40

Why Saving Money is Important

The Best Budget App

10 Things to Know Before Starting a Budget

Debt Elimination

Disclaimer: It is important to note that Piggy Bank Coins does not provide financial advice. We do not endorse or recommend any financial investments. Instead, we provide information for educational purposes to those seeking knowledge regarding personal finance. However, in the spirit of transparency, note that the author is an investor in cryptocurrencies, precious metals and some equities.

In addition, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that Piggy Bank Coins disclose to readers that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. Moreover, we try our best to keep things fair and balanced, to help you make the best choice for you.

Categories
Investing

Strategic Wealth Management

We will discuss strategic wealth management and using a financial advisor for both new and seasoned investors. In addition, we will show you what options there are for investors and lay a foundation for understanding wealth management.

Implementing Strategic Wealth Management

Navigating the world of investment and finance grows more complicated and difficult each year. Learning how to manage taxes, create wealth, manage investments and estate planning can be a daunting task. It’s much simpler and easier to depend on the expertise of a wealth advisor to accomplish financial goals. Contacting a professional wealth advisor can simplify strategic wealth management for you.

However, first we should discuss investment basics. Moreover, it is important to understand the basic concepts of investing and the types of investments available.

Investment Types

There are a number of different types of investments that are available for investors to choose from. Moreover, technology of the 21st century has made it easier than ever to choose many different investment options. For example, strategic wealth management investments can include things like stocks, bonds and real estate. In addition, there are many new investment opportunities like cryptocurrency and micro investing.

Types of Investments for Strategic Wealth Management:

  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Mutual Funds
  • Retirement
  • Real Estate Trusts (REITs)
  • Real Estate (Land/Homes)
  • Annuities
  • Precious Metals (Gold, Silver, etc.)
  • Cryptocurrency (Bitcoin)
  • Insurance

Investing 101

Take Control of Personal Finances and Dollar-Cost Averaging

Learning about investing doesn’t have to be complicated. Once you establish your goals and how much money that you want to invest each month, you can then determine what kind of investments you wish to make. However, every adult should learn to budget, save money and pay off debt first. If you have a family, it is critical that you begin planning your financial future.

Many investors use “dollar-cost averaging” as a part of their investment strategy. Dollar-cost averaging is simply dividing up the amount of money you have to invest over a longer time frame. This investment methodology means that you invest the same amount of money each week or month, no matter if the market goes higher or lower. Dollar-cost averaging takes the emotion out of buying stocks.

What is Your Level of Risk?

Active Versus Passive Investing; Aggressive Versus Conservative Investing

First, the major categories of investment include active management or passive management. For example, a portfolio manager can determine what investments are in your fund and make decision for you using passive management; however, active management means that you reserve more control of your investments and perhaps you even use online services to trade individual stocks on a daily basis.

Second, you must determine if you are an aggressive or a conservative investor. Aggressive investing is utilized by those who want to take more risk and capture greater returns. This type of investing is considered acceptable for younger investors and for savvy investors who want to dedicate a small portion of their portfolio to higher risk. Conservative investing is a lower risk style of investing. Returns tend to be lower than the aggressive style, but come with lower risk. This style is best for those that desire lower risk and those who are getting closer to retirement age.

Begin Saving Money

Save 10-15% Each Month

Saving money can be difficult but it is an important component of strategic wealth management. In addition, most people little or no money in savings. In many cases, saving requires that you make sacrifices in your life. For example, you might have to continue driving an older car instead of buying a new one, or do home repairs yourself instead of calling a professional for help. Obviously, no one enjoys making sacrifices.

One of the habits that you want to form that will help you reach your goal is to start saving each paycheck. Make it a habit to take 10-15% of each paycheck and save it. After a short time, you will realize that you don’t even miss the money.

Make saving 10-15% of each paycheck easy by setting up an automatic money transfer, either to your investment account or to your savings account. For example, each time your paycheck is deposited into your checking account, have an automatic transfer set up that moves money into your savings account. Some people even have a savings account that is in a different bank to reduce the temptation of raiding the account.

Budgeting Helps You Save

Strategic Wealth Management Through Budgeting

Budgeting is one of the critical steps that can help you take control of your life and achieve strategic wealth management. In addition, preparing a budget allows you to not only know where your money goes, but also allows you to plan where your money will go in the future. Finally, it’s important that your money works for you, not against you.

In the process of taking control, we also prepare ourselves for better quality of life by having more money. Having more money means that you have more power to dictate the kind of life you want, especially in retirement.

Summary of Investment Process

  1.  Establish Goals
  2.  Assess Personal Finances
  3.  Determine Risk Tolerance
  4.  Develop Investing Timeline
  5.  Begin Allocating Funds for Investment

Step 1: Establish Goals

The first step in the investment process should be to determine what your financial goals are and what you wish to accomplish. Where do you see yourself in 10, 25 or even 50 years? The average life expectancy for Americans is around 78 years old. However, you may have family members that live to be in their 90s and beyond. If you retire at 65 and live to be 95, will you have enough money invested to last through your retirement years?

Write Down Your Goals

If you want to retire at age 65 and move to Hawaii, then write that down as part of your goals. Begin by creating a journal, a spreadsheet or plan where you list exactly what you have planned for the future. This serves two purposes. First, writing down your goals makes what you want explicitly clear. It gives you a starting point and also provides you with the details that you will need to determine how you will reach your goals.

Second, the purpose of planning out your financial goals on paper (or electronically) is that you are signaling to yourself and others what you want. History has proven that the psychology of desire and intention is a powerful tool in accomplishing goals. Many wealthy investors credit their personal wealth and success to the philosophy outlined in the book, “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill.

Step 2: Assess Personal Finances

Learn to Budget, Save, Pay Off Debt and Live Below Your Means

Budgeting is one of the critical steps that can help you take control of your life and control personal finances. In addition, preparing a budget allows you to not only know where your money goes, but also allows you to plan where your money will go in the future. Finally, it’s important that your money works for you, not against you in your investment process.

During the investment process, we also prepare ourselves for better quality of life by having more money. Having more money means that you have more power to dictate the kind of life you want, especially in retirement.

How Budgeting can help you:
  • Improve your credit score
  • Save for emergencies
  • Save and invest for retirement
  • Stop wasting money and curb bad habits
  • Promote a healthy, meaningful lifestyle
  • Buy a new home or upgrade your existing home
  • Obtain financial freedom

Pay Off All Debts

Before you can start the investment process, you must pay off all debts. Now that you’ve established your budget, cut personal spending to the bare minimum. You will take extra money that you have leftover in your budget and use it to pay down debts. Create a list or accounting of your debts, the corresponding balances and interest rates that you maintain. Use this information to help you keep track of your progress as you pay down debts.

If you are young and just starting out, hopefully your debts are minimal. Having minimal or no debt when you begin your journey toward wealth creation is a huge advantage. Paying off debt can take years and a great deal of sacrifice.

Living Below Your Means

While following a budget, you should be living below your means (hopefully). Unfortunately, living below your means is a philosophy that most people don’t follow these days. Living below your means requires that you spend less than what you make. For example, if your take home pay is $1500 per month, then living below your means is only spending $1,000 per month.

The extra money that you save from living below your means will serve two purposes. At first the extra money will be used to pay down debts quickly. Getting ahead requires that all debt be paid off first. Secondly, after the debt has been paid off, you will then use the positive cash flow to fund your emergency fund, savings and investments. Each of these is part of your net worth and the buffer between you and poverty. The more you can grow your savings and investment, the simpler and easier life gets.

Save Money Every Paycheck

Put Aside 10-15% of Your Regular Income for Investment

One of the habits that can help you reach your goals in the investment process is to start saving each paycheck. Make it a habit to take 10-15% of each paycheck and save it. After a short time, you will realize that you don’t even miss the money.

Make saving 10-15% of each paycheck easy by setting up an automatic money transfer, either to your investment account or to your savings account. For example, each time your paycheck is deposited into your checking account, have an automatic transfer set up that moves money into your savings account. Some people even have a savings account that is in a different bank to reduce the temptation of raiding the account.

Step 3: Determine Risk Tolerance

Active Versus Passive Investing; Aggressive Versus Conservative Investing

To start, you must determine what style of investor that you are. First, the major categories of investment include active management or passive management. For example, a portfolio manager can determine what investments are in your fund and make decision for you using passive management; however, active management means that you reserve more control of your investments and perhaps you even use online services to trade individual stocks on a daily basis.

Second, you must determine if you are an aggressive or a conservative investor. Aggressive investing is utilized by those who want to take more risk and capture greater returns. This type of investing is considered acceptable for younger investors and for savvy investors who want to dedicate a small portion of their portfolio to higher risk. Conservative investing is a lower risk style of investing. Returns tend to be lower than the aggressive style, but come with lower risk. This style is best for those that desire lower risk and those who are getting closer to retirement age.

Step 4: Develop Investment Timeline

Estimate Retirement Age and How Much Money You Need to Retire

How old will you be when you retire? This is one of the questions that you want to answer during the investment process so that you can gauge your progress toward retirement. In addition, you can set goals for how much money you need when you reach the milestones of 30, 40, 50 and 60 years old and so forth.

Retirement Age

First, if you live in the United States and were born after 1960, you may be eligible to retire at age 67. Second, if you were born earlier than 1960, then the age requirement is 66. These are the ages where you may be eligible for Social Security Benefits. Consequently, you can look at the United States Social Security Benefits Website for additional details. They also offer a retirement calculator and benefits planner there.

If you want to narrow down how much money you will need for retirement, there are four primary factors needed.

  • Current Age
  • Retirement Age
  • Monthly Cost of Living (Estimate)
  • Life Expectancy

First, if you take your current age and subtract your retirement age, then that gives you how many years you will have to save for retirement. For example, if you plan to retire at 67, and you are 40 years old, then you have 27 years to save (67-40 = 27).

Planning for 30 years of retirement is a typical timeframe that most investors use. However, life expectancy has been increasing for Americans and you should also consider that you may live to be 100 years old.

Determine How Much Money You Need to Live on

You Will Need 70-80% of Your Current Salary for Retirement Expenses

While thinking about budgeting, take a closer look at how much money you need to live on each month. For example, what basic amount of money do you need each month to cover expenses? You need enough money to pay for a place to stay, food, electricity, etc. Don’t include things like vacations, luxury items or entertainment. Once you determine how much you need to live on, you can then start to figure out what retirement expenses look like.

Another common rule of thumb for estimating how much money you need when you retire is the 70-80% Rule. In other words, many experts believe that you will need at least 70-80% of your current income to make ends meet. For example, if you bring home $3,000 each month, then you will likely need approximately $2,100-2400 each month in retirement. This is a realistic way of estimating what you need to retire if you don’t want to do complicated calculations or spend a lot of time on the topic.

Step 5: Begin Allocating Funds for Investment

This step is the final step in the investment process. You will begin depositing money into your investments. The easiest way to start is to allocate a percentage of your earnings each month. You will then review your investment portfolio each year with your investment advisor to determine whether it requires changes. Your investment advisor can help you through the investment process.

Ideally, your investments will be divided into groups, with a certain percentage of your total investment allocation going to each group. For example, you may have chosen to invest in stocks, real estate, precious metals and cryptocurrency. You may be investing 50% in stocks, 25% in real estate, 20% in precious metals and 5% in cryptocurrency. Obviously, the percentage allocated to each group you choose will be determined based upon your risk tolerance.

Dollar-Cost Averaging

Many wise investors use “dollar-cost averaging” as a part of their investment process. Dollar-cost averaging is simply dividing up the amount of money you have to invest over a longer time frame. For example, let’s say you have $1,200 to invest in the year 2021. Then each month, you will invest $100 ($1,200/12 months = $100/mo.). Your $1,200 investment would then be dollar-cost averaged over a one-year period.

This investment methodology means that you invest the same amount of money each week or month, no matter if the market goes higher or lower. Dollar-cost averaging takes the emotion out of the investment process and simplified investing. It also prevents investors from making bad decisions.

If you don’t know how much to invest, then start out simply. Every month, divert 10-15% of your earnings to investment(s). An example would be investing in a 401(k), Investment Retirement Account (IRA) and/or real estate. Year after year, your money will grow and work for you during the investment process to create wealth.

Diversify Investments

No one can predict the future to know what investments will do well and which ones will fail. As a result, we can improve our odds of success in investing my diversifying our investments. Diversification of investments means spreading your money over different investment sectors. For example, you may want to have some stocks, bonds, real estate and precious metals in your investment portfolio.

Tax Considerations

Some investments will inherently have higher tax implications than others. In many cases, timing is important when the asset is sold in determining how it is taxed. The level of taxation of an asset can impact your return on investment. For example, if you purchase a home, fix it up and flip it for a profit, it will be taxed at a higher rate than if you simply bought a home and lived in in for a few years.

Find a Good Financial Advisor, Financial Planner or Wealth Manager

Many of the topics discussed regarding personal finance and investment complicated and you probably need the assistance of a financial advisor. A financial advisor, financial planner or wealth manager can help you make better informed decisions about how to best invest your money. Be careful to select an advisor who is knowledgeable in their industry and who has a proven track record regarding investment.

Unfortunately, many “financial advisors” are simply sales people who know very little about investment and are simply trying to earn a commission by locking in your business. Do your research to find the best candidate. In some cases, good financial advisors charge an upfront fee for consultation because they do not earn a commission from helping you with investing.

What is a Wealth Advisor?

A Wealth Advisor Assists Clients with Managing Investments and Assets

In general, a wealth advisor can be a financial planner or a financial advisor. A wealth advisor may be an expert in the field of finance, with professional certifications and degrees. In contrast, a wealth advisor may also be less experienced. Both can assist clients with the goal of strategic wealth management.

A wealth advisor can assist individuals, businesses and families with implementation and management of strategies for strategic wealth management. In many cases, they focus on helping high-net worth clients with things like establishing goals and values, creating a legacy and wise investments.

Wealth Manager

A subsection of a wealth advisor group, a wealth manager provides assistance to high net worth clients. Moreover, the name is frequently synonymous with wealth advisor or financial advisor. In many cases, a wealth manager offers the same services to clients as a wealth advisor does. However, a wealth manager focuses on strategic wealth management for clients.

Typically, a wealth manager deals with high net worth individuals and families. The discipline combines several personal finance areas into one group. In addition, the intent of a wealth manager is to grow and preserve individual and family wealth over long periods or generations.

Financial Planner

A Loose Group of Financial Professionals Who Represent Different Industries

“A financial planner is a qualified investment professional who helps individuals and corporations meet their long-term financial objectives. Financial Planners do their work by consulting with clients to analyze their goals, risk tolerance, life or corporate stages and identify a suitable class of investments for them.”

Investopedia

In short, a financial planner is a loose group of individuals from different finance industries, like banking, insurance and tax. They help individuals create a plan for long- and short-term goals. Moreover, financial planners come from different backgrounds and may not have financial expertise like financial advisors or wealth advisors.

Financial Advisor

True Financial Advisors Are Certified Professionals Who Act as Fiduciaries to Clients, Unlike Salesmen

The term financial advisor is one of the broadest terms when describing professionals who give advice regarding money management. They are also sometimes called “investment advisors.” In many cases, the term “financial advisor” is a substitute term for “wealth advisor”, “wealth manager” and “financial planner.” However, there is a difference between the terms.

Caveat Regarding Advisors and Planners

Beware of Professionals Who Receive Sales Commissions – You Get What You Pay For

One of the ways in which these professional advisors differentiate themselves is how they receive compensation. Some professionals charge an hourly rate for their time or as a fee in the form of a percentage of the account size; whereas, others may receive payment through sales commissions or financial incentives.

Note that commissions or incentives may create conflict with what is in the best interest clients. For example, if your financial planner receives sales commissions on buying/selling stock in your account, he/she may be inclined to more frequently trade stocks in the account. As a result, frequent trading benefits the professional through sales commissions; however, you may be the loser in the end as portfolio performance takes a back seat to trading.

Strategic Wealth Management Wrap Up

As you can see, there are many considerations when it comes to strategic wealth management. Growing your wealth requires discipline, budgeting and financial wisdom. While you may be able to determine the kinds of investments to make, obtaining the help of a professional financial advisor is highly recommended. Many of these professionals successfully assist investors with strategic wealth management over generations. Hopefully, understanding these concepts helps you achieve strategic wealth management quicker and easier.

Read More:

Wealth Building Cornerstones

Value Investing Books

How Much Savings You Should Have at 40

Real Estate Market Predictions

Why Saving Money is Important

The Best Budget App

10 Things to Know Before Starting a Budget

Debt Elimination

Disclaimer: It is important to note that Piggy Bank Coins does not provide financial advice. We do not endorse or recommend any financial investments. Instead, we provide information for educational purposes to those seeking knowledge regarding personal finance. However, in the spirit of transparency, note that the author is an investor in cryptocurrencies, precious metals and some equities.

In addition, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that Piggy Bank Coins disclose to readers that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. Moreover, we try our best to keep things fair and balanced, to help you make the best choice for you.