The Starbucks Tax

The Starbucks TaxEvery day like millions of Americans, I paid the tax. I don’t know when it started or why, but suddenly a morning stop at my local Starbucks to get my fill was part of my daily ritual.  $4.25 a day, five days a week, 255 days a year.

When it came time to get my finances in order, my wife and I quickly went through our budget and decided where we could save.  Cable (who needs those premium channels), shopping, eating out and entertainment all got slashed so that we could get closer to achieving our goals.  But we were still short.  My wife’s gym membership and the ... KEEP READING

iQuantifi Launches Virtual Financial Advisor to Help Millennials and Young Families Achieve Their Goals

NASHVILLE, TN, March 04, 2014  -- iQuantifi, the first virtual financial advisor to provide comprehensive financial planning advice, launched its platform today to the general public. iQuantifi's technology helps users identify, prioritize and achieve their financial goals. Using a proprietary Core Planning Algorithm, iQuantifi provides the user personalized financial advice and a timeline of achievement based on the user's goals and resources. "Our mission is to provide dynamic, ongoing advice to enable millennials and young families to take control of their finances and achieve their goals," said Tom White, Co-Founder and CEO of iQuantifi. "Our technology creates a personalized, comprehensive plan for each user's financial life." iQuantifi, the "Best of Show" winner at Finovate Spring 2012, provides financial advice to accomplish all of the user's financial goals while overcoming obstacles created by debt. Recent studies have shown that the average American spends $1.33 for every dollar they ... KEEP READING

Three Steps to Getting Your Finances in Order

money generic Small

The beginning of a new year is always a good time to think about improving your finances.  Here are three basic things you should do to start off the new year on the right foot.

Step One:  Set up bill pay.  Gone are the days when you write checks to pay your bills.  This is the year that your finances finally do the work for you.

By setting up bill pay through your checking account, your regular monthly bills like utilities, rent or mortgage, and debt payments will be paid on time.  You won’t have to worry about late fees or a late record on your credit report.

The best part is that now you free up time in your schedule to do more meaningful things in your ... KEEP READING

Attacking Debt

Knight attacking
Conventional wisdom says that when paying off debt, you should pay off the account with the highest interest rate first, then the second highest rate, and so on.  However, it may be more effective to attack the account with the lowest balance first.

If you were to run an amortization schedule on both payoff scenarios (highest rate vs. lowest balance), you will find that there is not a significant difference in the number of months it takes to pay off your accounts.  Meaning to say, it will take the same amount of time to pay off your debts whether you start with the highest interest rate or the lowest balance.  So what does it matter as to which method to use?

It matters knowing that there are three specific advantages to attacking the lowest balance first:

First, by paying off the account with the smallest ... KEEP READING

Budgeting is Not Enough

There are dozens of helpful budgeting websites that can show you exactly where all of your money is going.  Many have colorful charts and graphics that pop up and all sorts of cool, fun gadgets associated with them.   Some let you customize and categorize to your heart’s content—putting the numbers you’ve entered into a dazzling pie graph with neat little sections labeled.   You are lulled into a sense of accomplishment.  It is easy to think that you are done.

The reality is that budgeting is just a means to an end.  Knowing where your income goes or paying bills is not going to change your financial situation.   You need to take some steps and use that budget to put some effective systems into place.

It’s time to do a little soul searching.  Decide what is really important to you when it comes to your ... KEEP READING

iQuantify? iQuantifi? Show Me the Name

When starting a business, coming up with a name is one of the first things an entrepreneur thinks about. It is also one of the more difficult things to do. For a tech company, you are not only coming up with the company name, but also the domain name.

As we built the business concept of this company, we simply called it FPO—which boringly stood for Financial Planning Online. Even though we know that financial planning is at the heart of the technology platform we are building, that was not how we wanted to market or position the company. After all, how interesting or sexy can you make that sound?

Yet, when we were trying to come up with a name, time and again the word “plan” kept popping up. Not only were we trying to incorporate the word “plan” into the name—such as “PlanIT”, or “... KEEP READING

Treating Investments as Cash: The Cardinal Sin of Investing

Sin Piggy Bank
Treating long-term investments as cash is one of the biggest mistakes an investor can make.  When markets become extremely volatile and share prices fluctuate wildly, investors tend to forget their long-term investment time frame.  They begin to treat their investments as cash—not wanting the share price to fluctuate.  However, I would argue that these investors would never treat their cash as investments and expect growth-like returns on their cash.  Thus, volatility and price fluctuations of investments should be expected--if not even capitalized on.  This is why it is important to know which pools of money are for the short term (cash), and which are for the long term (investments).

The problem of treating investments like cash is that it usually leads investors to convert those investments into actual cash, eliminating any possibility for that money to recover in value.  This is the cardinal sin of investing because once ... KEEP READING

Tying the Financial Knot

With wedding season here, many couples are combining their finances through marriage. This is usually not an easy thing to do. Each individual coming into marriage needs to ask a few key questions of themselves and learn how to start to make financial decisions with their partner. Here are some tips to help make it work:

1) Both parties need to be honest about what they are bringing to the table—be aware of your financial patterns, your experiences, and the way you think about money. You need to know where you are starting from in order to make a plan together.

2) Take a look at key policies or insurance you may have individually and amend, open, or close those as needed. For example, you may need to increase your emergency fund or life insurance and designate new beneficiaries. This step includes addressing pre-nuptials. If there is ... KEEP READING

Five Reasons Why Getting a Tax Refund is Nothing to Celebrate

Tax return check
Around this time of year, you always start to hear about how excited people are to get a tax refund.  Or how they’re planning to spend their refund check.   You’d think that they had just won the lottery!  Their exuberance is understandable.  After all, it’s always good to receive a tax refund check from the IRS…right?

Wrong.  There are serious problems with thinking that a refund from the IRS is a windfall or anything similar to that.  The smart move is to decrease your withholding and get that money into your pocket as soon as you can.  Here’s why:

  1. First and foremost, it is your money.   Why would you want the government holding on to your money and earning interest on it?  That’s exactly what happens when you get a refund.  It’s called a “Reverse Float”.  You ... KEEP READING

Join the Revolution!

Globe Sunrise

You say you want a revolution

Well you know

We all want to change the world…

“Revolution”, The Beatles

The average American household has approximately $15,000 in credit card debt or 30% of the median annual income.  Americans’ personal savings rate is one of the lowest among industrialized countries.  Our national debt stands at $14 trillion and counting.  It’s time to revolutionize the way we make financial decisions. When most people think of their finances, they think of how best to manage their money.  This leads them to looking at their budget.  But budgeting is not the starting point.  Instead of managing your money, you need to manage your goals.  It’s all about the goals you are ... KEEP READING