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Finance – Taboo, Importance, and Everything in Between

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Finance - Taboo, Importance, and Everything in Between

I have been reading a lot about finances and the different branches it touches, one thing that got me thinking was how little we discuss it in real life. Finance is a topic that most of us are scared to talk about. Money somehow used to be a taboo subject – I never understood why because it is in everything. 

Everywhere you look, every aspect of your life is affected by it. I am glad the money talk isn’t that difficult now. We have so many resources available to us to talk about money matters.

“You must gain control over your money or the lack of it will forever control you.”

-Dave Ramsey

No matter what you need to learn about when it comes to this area – investing, budgeting, ways to spend, apps, tax filing, retirement plans, managing debts, taking loans, etc. – you will find something on it. Books, videos, articles, podcasts – so many ways to learn about things that affect a great part of our lives without feeling the embarrassment of asking questions to people and feeling stupid.

Not knowing things shouldn’t make us feel stupid, especially about finances and dealing with your financial situation, it’s not like we were ever taught about it in schools. Neither the school nor home prepares us for all of these things. It is surprising considering money management is one of the integral parts of our adult lives, which also makes it one of the leading causes of anxiety in people.

“It’s not your salary that makes you rich, it’s your spending habits.”

-Charles A. Jeffe

Anyway, being financially secure is our responsibility. In today’s day and age, with so many sources of learning, we really have no excuse to not know how to deal with our finances. Maintaining our financial health is in correlation with maintaining our own health.

Financial health is the state of one’s personal financial situation. Financial health consists of many aspects including the amount of savings you have, how much you’re putting away for retirement and how much of your income you are spending on fixed or non-discretionary expenses.

Fixed or non-discretionary spending is spending that is required by a budget, contract, or other commitment – which is always going to be there.

Having financial security is important for living without stress and also helps us stay prepared for any unexpected emergency that crops up. Because we are never taught about how to improve our financial situations and what good financial habits to adopt, many people get scared by the very prospect of doing anything.

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people that they don’t like.”

-Will Rogers

Credit cards and the option of taking a loan makes it very easy for people to keep spending beyond their means – it makes it easy for people to not be aware financially – but that is not wise in the long run. When you do not pay with hard cash, it sort of does not feel like spending money which is why people tend to spend more on cards.

Finance - Taboo, Importance, and Everything in Between

To be financially secure, you should allow only a certain amount each month for spending. Try to stick to the budget you have made, it will help you be financially aware. Unless an emergency comes up, you should be able to hold your budget.

So, even if you are new to learning about finances, there are two things you need to be doing before you start investing and making big decisions. You need to keep track of your spending and you have to set a realistic budget.

Document Your Spending

Knowing how much you spend will give you the power to determine your spending pattern. You will learn what you spend the most on – do you spend more on your needs or wants.

“The slightest adjustments to your daily routines can dramatically alter the outcomes in your life.”

-Darren Hardy

This is the first thing to learning how to be conscious of your finances. If you want to be financially secure, then understanding your monthly cash flow is the base to what you build your budget and saving strategy on. 

You shouldn’t be spending more than you earn – this is something very basic and we all grow up listening to this but it only hits home when we start earning. By that time, it is late to not let it affect our lifestyle.

Set a Realistic Monthly Budget

Finance - Taboo, Importance, and Everything in Between

It is very essential to learn to spend less than you earn. When you start earning, it is natural to want to buy things you couldn’t before, but it also brings into perspective what goes into earning that much money.

Most people fall into a pattern of taking debts and financing their lavish lifestyle. When they do not know how to live within their means, they are taking financial security away from their future selves. People often forget that their lifestyle shouldn’t be burning a hole in their pockets, rather their earning should be cushioning their lifestyle.

“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”

-Dave Ramsey

A realistic monthly budget takes into account your spending habits and gives you a way to curb the excess without sacrificing much. Making a budget and living by it doesn’t mean not spending at all – this is where people are wrong. Being conscious of your money doesn’t stop you from spending on things you enjoy, it just makes your spending habits smarter and stops you from overspending.

Final Thoughts

You don’t have to be ashamed if you do not know much about managing your finances and you definitely shouldn’t feel embarrassed to ask questions about it. Your 20s is the time you figure this stuff out. When you step into the real world, you will have to ask questions to learn. While money talk can be difficult to many because it is not openly discussed, we need to start the discussion somewhere.

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Entrepreneurs

Why Starting an Online Business is a Good Idea in Current Times

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Why Starting an Online Business is a Good Idea in Current Times

We live in a digital age. Everything, from socializing, to office work, to shopping is shifting to the online space. The advent of inexpensive (and fast) internet and smartphones has meant that now no matter where you go, you are always connected to the cloud. And, that invariably, you end up turning to this messianic network to satiate your every need.

Smart companies are busy embracing this very change. The workplace of the future is not one of a unified brick-and-mortar structure. Employees can now sit thousands of miles away and still collaborate successfully on a project. This is not just something I’m pulling out of thin air. Dave Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer at Microsoft, postulates that if only more organizations embrace the immense power of the internet, they would be able to streamline their operations and ensure a happier and more productive workplace. You can listen to his amazing, thought-provoking and insightful talk in the video given below. 

Personally, I have always been an advocate of the work from anywhere culture. Partly because of the time it saves me (which I can then spend on any one of my myriad other hobbies), and partly because it frees me up to travel the world. 

What does one have to do with the other? Well frankly, the kind of location independence afforded by the advent of Skype has made it possible for anyone to interact with their colleagues no matter where they are. Like I pointed out earlier, not being restricted by a physical office means you can be just about anywhere in the world, and still get work done.

However, there is another facet of this digital revolution which has fascinated me even more. Honestly, it is something which seems to be staring you right in the face, but it is surprising how many people still fail to (or is it a refusal to?) connect the dots and use technology to their advantage. What is this facet I talk about? Well, it is the ability for just about anyone (yes, I mean anyone) to become an entrepreneur.

“But,” you contend, “entrepreneurship isn’t really for me. It takes time and money, and really, where’s the job security in entrepreneurship?”

I would have agreed with you if I myself didn’t know better. For the past many years, I have bet big on online entrepreneurship and reaped great rewards. Frustrated and sensing the endless possibilities afforded by the internet, I quit my regular 9-to-5 job and decided to start my own online business. As an added challenge, I left just about enough money in my savings account to last me one year. The very fact that I’m happier than ever right now bears testament to the fact that, when done well, online entrepreneurship can give you the freedom you deserve.

Why Starting an Online Business is a Good Idea in Current Times

When you come to think of it, the market hasn’t ever been better for an online business. It is now possible to get your own website started for less than $50/year. And even if you don’t know a single word of coding, you can have your very own, professional-looking front-end, thanks to the power of content management systems like Drupal, WordPress and Joomla. Don’t like the plain vanilla look they offer? One Google search, and hey bingo! Thousands of themes and skins to choose from! Are you into e-commerce? No worries, mate! Payment gateways like PayPal and its ilk have you covered. Don’t have money to invest? That’s alright. Start a free website on Wix.com. Or, just start hawking your wares on Facebook.

My point is that in this day and age, there really is no excuse to not have your own business. You don’t even have to have the next big Facebook killer to be successful as an e-entrepreneur. I know of enough people selling junk jewelry (sourced from their local flea market) on Facebook/eBay/Etsy. And guess what? All of them seem to be doing really well for themselves. How well? Well enough to not have to work for anyone else to earn their living.

Why Starting an Online Business is a Good Idea in Current Times

All that you really need to succeed online, in essence, is the will to actually take the plunge and just start something. It really is as easy as that. I’m sure even you have a killer interest you’ve always wanted to exploit. A love for movies perhaps? Or expertise in minting long-form articles your current job has no use for. Or, even an insane desire to turn every song you listen to into a minimalistic poster. Yep, I just gave you three solid ideas for online businesses. Yep, you don’t necessarily have to sell something to be an online entrepreneur. Even Google AdSense revenue from your movie blog counts. Or, commissioned works your Facebook and Behance design pages fetch you.

If you still aren’t really sold on the entire concept and ease of online entrepreneurship, maybe you should actually ask yourself whether you’re actually happy with your day job; whether it fulfils you. If you, like me, happen to be like the majority of the working population, chances are you aren’t really satisfied with what you’re doing. 

Maybe, ok, it manages to pay your bills, but it’s either the rigidity of the corporate world, or a bad boss, or the endless commute to-and-fro, or even the nature of the work itself, which gets to you. And, I also know that much like the majority of the workforce today, you too have a secret desire to be your own boss and just do something for yourself. It’s all about the right day.

The right day, frankly, is on us. We are firmly in the middle of the small and medium enterprise revolution. The parity of opportunity between the big fish and the startup has never been greater. In the coming weeks, I will guide you through the various kinds of online businesses you can start and how to actually go about setting them up. Like me, you too can earn a good living running your own business.
Welcome to the age of the e-entrepreneur. Welcome to the best time in human history to start your own business and be your own boss in the true sense – the good and the bad.

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Money

How Money Management Can Help You Battle Anxiety

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The latest Stress in America survey cited money as the top stressor for 64% of adult respondents. It’s high up there with work.

How Money Management Can Help You Battle Anxiety

Come to think of it. The rest of the stressors in the above image all relate to money. Economic and health concerns are aggravated by money problems. And this kind of stress can lead to anxiety. Not having enough money can make you feel agitated. Your brain may switch to fight or flight mode even if the threat isn’t tangible.

Of course, I’d suggest you seek professional medical help to handle this. But while you’re here, know that you can also do something to curb anxiety. You can start by taking the following money management steps:

Get A Realistic Grasp Of Your Financial Status

Many people get trapped in a cycle of debt because they don’t live within their means. This is the truth that scares most people. But it keeps on happening because something isn’t being done. I won’t pretend to know the reason why some resort to borrowing money. This is also not to judge anyone.

However, let me help you break out of it if I can. One of the things that have helped me manage my finances is a simple equation. Income = Expenses (Recurring and Immediate) + Investment + Savings. The math is simple. If you spend more than you earn, you’ll end up borrowing money to fund those excessive purchases.

Now, the equation may appear lopsided in your case. So you have to evaluate your financial status right away. For a start, do the following:

  • Track your debt – How much money do you owe banks and lenders, other people, and other credit sources? List all of them in a spreadsheet or a text editor. You can also use a money journal beginning today. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Just find a notebook you can turn into a financial diary of sorts.
  • Monitor your expenses – Google Sheets or Excel should do the job for you. Whenever you spend cash or credit on an item, service, utility, or the like, make an entry in your document. Divide the entries into needs and wants or non-negotiables and negotiables. You can also download budget tracker apps like Mint for faster consolidation.
  • Create/revise a budget – Use the debt and expense data to revise the budget you already have. If you don’t have a budget, create one now. It’s not too late to start this habit. Every month, review your financial documents and assess your progress.

Use Cash

If you’re suffering from money anxiety, paying your bills can possibly overwhelm you. Just looking at your credit card debt can induce panic from within. Such cases can also be true if you’re having money issues in general. So, in addition to the first step, strive to pay off your debt first.

This entails ditching the plastic cards. You don’t have to cut them and throw them away. But avoid using them except in emergency situations. And you have to strictly define what “emergency” means for your situation. The rationale here is that your income should be able to tide you over until the next payday. That is, if you follow your budget religiously.

How Money Management Can Help You Battle Anxiety

Consider the Minimalist Lifestyle

Here’s a different tactic: watch a Netflix show. And not just any show. Watch Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. It features Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, the duo who call themselves The Minimalists. These guys present a movement, lifestyle, or whatever you call it as an alternative to the consumerist ways we’re accustomed to.

It’s not a self-help crash course on making money or whatnot. But both the show and the site provide resources that will guide you to achieve sustainable living. And these days, sustainable living is not just trendy. It’s actually becoming necessary. Two of the main goals minimalists pursue are financial freedom and mental wellbeing.

Take Advantage of the Gig Economy

Sometimes, no matter how you compute things, the numbers always fall short. Maybe because you’re not earning enough. Or you’re the family’s sole breadwinner. Or some economic factors have driven up the prices of basic goods. If you think it’s still humanly possible for you to take on side jobs, do it. 

The gig economy has been growing in recent years. This is thanks in part to advances in digital technology. If you have coding, production, or artistic skills, there are plenty of jobs you can apply to online. If you’re an expert in a field, you can even offer your services as a consultant. 

Dealing With Your Anxiety

There are ways to deal with the root cause of your anxiety. If money is the problem, you don’t have to feel hopeless. Proper money management is just one way to keep this #1 stressor at bay. Don’t be afraid to try the strategies and opportunities presented here. Work on them one step at a time. And reach out to others if you need help. 

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Entrepreneurs

1Password Review – The Best Password Manager Out There

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With a new wave of cyber attacks pouring in every month, it is imperative that you keep strong and different passwords for each of your digital accounts. But it can become quite a task to remember all of these passwords, which consumes a lot of time and mental exertion. Why go through all the hassle when you can use one master password for all of your profiles?

Using a password manager can certainly increase your productivity by safely securing all of your passwords in one place. It can also alert you whenever your data has been breached, as well as save time by autofilling your credentials on different websites and social networks.

1Password is a great option when it comes to password managers. I took its free trial back in 2012, signed up for a paid plan soon after, and never canceled.

In this article, I’ll go through all the different reasons why 1Password is one of the best options in the password management space and how it can truly make your life easier.

Creating a 1Password account

When you sign up to 1Password, you’re asked to set a “Master Password”. This is the “one password” that you’ll need to remember throughout the term that you use this app.

Once you do, 1Password presents you with an “Emergency Kit.” This kit contains your “Secret Key” that you would need in order to log into your 1Password account from a new device or in case you forget your Master Password.

1password

1Password highly recommends that you download this security key in the form of a PDF and take a printout of the file. I took the PDF route and saved it in my external hard drive.

Using 1Password

Once you log into your account, you’ll be welcomed by an intuitive user interface, which is basically the 1Password dashboard. “Vault” is where you can store sensitive information including your passwords, credit card details, and more.

1password

You can choose to create a new vault or add stuff into the default one.

Another notable aspect of 1Password’s dashboard is that it clearly segregates your information into different categories like logins, secure notes, credit cards, etc. within the sidebar.

In order to introduce a new item or piece of information into your vault, you can click the plus sign at the right side of the search bar. It opens a dropdown menu for a world of items that you can add.

1password

These items include secure notes, bank account details, login credentials, and more.

Using the “Watch Tower”

Within the 1Password app and website, there’s a place called the “Watch Tower”. This is the best part of this app which makes it totally worth the money.

The Watch Tower is constantly guarding your sensitive information and giving you updates on whether it’s being compromised in any manner.

1password

How does it do that? Well, the Watch Tower tallies your information on haveibeenpwned.com’s list of recent security breaches.

With just a few clicks, you can direct your Watch Tower to check whether any of your login credentials have been compromised.

In addition, the feature also checks if any of your passwords can be labeled as “vulnerable”.

1password

And if this doesn’t convince you that 1Password is worth the money, then here’s the kicker:

The 1Password app would also display a notification if you’re reusing a password.

This is a habit which is extremely hard to avert for people who tend to use the same password everywhere. Tell you what; the constant nagging by this app for changing reused passwords is a pretty darn good way of breaking this habit.

1password

Along with these features, the Watch Tower also keeps an eye out for any potential threats to your websites and gives you a heads up if your passport or any sort of license is about to expire.

Saving passwords on the go

Another thing that I love about the 1Password app is that I don’t have to open it and add a new password every time I create a new digital account.

In fact, as soon as I log into a new type of account and type in its password, the 1Password app opens a window and asks me if I want to save the password in my vault.

1password

With just a click and without the hassle of properly having to open my vault, I can save passwords while I surf through the internet.

1Password doesn’t just save passwords

Unlike a lot of other Password Managers, 1Password allows you to save all types of digital information including your account number, credit card number, license numbers, various types of PIN, website credentials, and even notes.

It works on every device and OS

With desktop apps for Mac, Windows, Linux; mobile apps for iOS and Android; and a Chrome extension; you can use 1Password on just about every device and OS.

There’s even a handy Chrome extension for it

1Password also offers a Chrome extension that autofills your information for accounts whose login credentials are saved in your vault.

1password

What’s even better is that this Chrome extension is quite safe to use as it requires your Master Password in order for the autofill function to work.

This means that even if your device gets stolen, no one can use the autofill function without knowing your Master Password.

1Password plans: There’s one for every user

The 1Password service has a plethora of plans for every type of user.

These plans include:

  • Personal ($2.99 per month): Good for an individual. It provides 1 GB of storage space.
  • Family ($4.99 per month): Supports 5 users, though you can add more accounts for a dollar each. This plan includes storage space of 1 GB per account.
  • Team ($3.99 per month for every user): Unlimited accounts with admin control and 1 GB of storage per user.
  • Business ($7.99 per month for every user): Unlimited accounts with extra VIP support and 5 GB of storage per user
  • Enterprise (custom features and payment)

My final verdict

1Password is a great productivity app for anyone who can afford it.

Although it has no free plan, 1Password certainly is worth the money if you want to increase your productivity by saving time and exerting mental effort on things that actually matter.   

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