8 Tips for Working From Home

8 Tips for Working From Home

8 Tips for Working From Home

9 MINUTE READ

As of mid April 2020, about 95% of Americans—or 306 million people—were placed under a stay-at-home order to stop the spread of the coronavirus.1 And we’re not the only ones. All across the world, political and business leaders are asking people to stay put. This means that, in a matter of days, we’ve been thrown into the largest work-from-home experiment in the history of the world!

But you know what’s exciting? Disruption is an opportunity for innovation. Human beings are incredibly adaptable, and we have wonderful technology and tools on our hands to figure this thing out.

It’s critical that you stay as productive as possible during this time—for your own career, for your company, and for our larger economy. You were created to contribute. Here are eight tips for working from home, whether you’ve been doing this for years or for just a few weeks.

1. Create a schedule.

No one really knows how long the coronavirus shutdown will last. For now, you need to think of this as your new normal and get into a regular routine. Wake up at the same time every morning, get dressed, show up, and work hard—just like you would when you go into the office. Don’t get caught without pants like this guy!

If you have kids, especially little ones, then writing and posting a physical schedule is a must. Look at the day (or week) ahead and plan out meetings, schoolwork, screen time for the kids and even chores that need to get done. Involve your kids in the planning process—it will really help them buy in and participate. Post the schedule on some poster board or on a whiteboard where everyone can see it.

 

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Also, make sure to power down at the end of the day. You don’t have a physical commute that separates you from the office, so create a ritual to help you disconnect—like walking the dog, going on a short drive, or working out.

2. Set clear boundaries with your family or roommates.

Unless you live alone, you’re sharing your home and your office with other people. If you’re not clear about your expectations and respectful of what everyone else needs, you’ll start to feel tension rise up! If you live with other adults, then you should be able to set clear expectations in just one or two conversations. But if you’re married or have kids, it’s a good idea to have a regular check-in to make sure you’re all on the same page.

Ask your roommates (or family) to be respectful when you’re digging into a project or on a conference call. Or put a “do not disturb” sign on your door when you need your kids to leave you alone. They’ll adapt! But like kids do, they’ll test the boundary, so you need to be prepared to enforce it.

Most schools have moved to online classes, and all of a sudden, you’ve found yourself in a position of having to homeschool and get your own job done! If you’re married, work with your spouse to help manage the kids and their workload.

3. Take your personality into account.

Some of you introverts are having the time of your life working from home, and some of the extroverts out there are panicking about not having human interaction for the foreseeable future. If this is a new thing for you, it’ll take some getting used to. Don’t feel guilty because your routine looks a little different from your coworker’s, or even your spouse’s.

Reflect on how it’s going and check in with yourself from time to time. Are you easily distracted? Do you need to move around and be active? Are you able to sit down and just knock out work hour after hour? Be patient with yourself as you settle into the rhythm. Everyone has an “off” day now and then, and that doesn’t change when you’re working remotely.

4. Understand what technology you’ll need.

Now’s the time to make friends with your IT department. You’ll probably run into a few snags as you figure out technology from home, and that’s okay. Ask your leader about the software you’ll need and make sure you’re able to access it. You don’t want to waste time at home because you don’t have the tools you need to get the job done.

If you have kids, you might need to limit their screen time or Wi-Fi use if you’re going to need a lot of bandwidth. For example, if you’re leading a video call, it’s okay to ask your teenager to pause that show they’re binging on Netflix.

5. Create a workspace.

Sorry, folks, but sitting in bed in your pajamas doesn’t qualify as a workspace.

Having a space for your home office will help you stay focused and get into work mode. It also helps you create a physical boundary to separate you from roommates or family. If you don’t have a home office, you might need to claim the dining room table or a desk in your bedroom. Make it personalized and keep it clean.

Settle in and get comfortable. Maybe you’re missing your standing desk at the office—so why not order an inexpensive computer stand to mimic that environment? Sitting on the couch hunched over your computer can lead to tech neck—poor posture from craning your neck over a phone or computer screen that causes tension, headaches and back problems. Take care of yourself by paying attention to your posture and taking breaks to stretch and walk around.

6. Step up the communication.

Your success as a remote worker boils down to one thing: your ability to communicate with your leader and team. And if you’re in leadership, then it’s even more critical for you to communicate well as you manage your team remotely. You don’t have the luxury of leaning over to ask your desk mate a question about a project. You have to actually pay attention to emails (i.e. read the entire thing!)

John Felkins, one of our Entreleadership business coaches, has some wonderful advice on how to stay in touch as you work from home:

  1. Overcommunicate.
  2. Connect.
  3. Clarify expectations.

 

At the same time, don’t let the digital communication overwhelm your productivity. Unless your position requires you to be on call, feel free to unplug from notifications when you need to focus. Just communicate to your teammates about when you’ll be available again.

7. Take breaks.

When you work remotely, it’s easy to blur the lines between life and work. Some people tend to work extra-long hours, and others might be tempted to slack off. Neither extreme is healthy. By scheduling breaks throughout your day, you give yourself something to look forward to (so you can stay focused and work hard now) or force yourself to slow down and rest.

Here are a few ideas on breaks:

  • Take a lunch. Stop, power down your computer, eat, savor your food, and rest.
  • Get outside. If possible, step outside and get some fresh air for 10 to 15 minutes a few times a day. Or work from your back porch. Why not soak up some vitamin D while you’re answering emails?
  • Connect with someone. Disconnect from the digital world and actually have a conversation with a human being. Hug your kids. Ask your roommate how their day is going. If you live alone, call your friend or family member to chat.
  • Read a book. Instead of watching TV, why not try reading a good book? It’s often the perfect mental break you need to return to your work feeling more creative.
  • Exercise. Even if your gym is shut down and you can’t get outside, you can find thousands of online classes for an in-home workout.

8. Have some fun!

Let’s be honest: Working from home has its perks. You should enjoy them. For many of us, this is a season, and sooner or later we’ll return to meal prepping and morning commutes. Take advantage of the slower pace. Play with your dog. Have breakfast as a family. Set up a puzzle on your kitchen table that you can solve together. Or maybe it’s time to pick up that hobby you’ve always wanted to try.

Also, make sure to have fun with your coworkers. Since you’re not seeing each other nearly as often, it’s easy to feel isolated. Share fun pictures and updates from your life in addition to the “business as usual” communication. It will help you strengthen your relationships and feel unified.

The Best Perk of Working From Home

The number one advantage of working from home is that it allows you to develop self-discipline and perseverance. Sure, it offers a lot of freedom and flexibility. But at the end of the day, your character—not your environment—determines who you are as a person. How do you act when your manager isn’t around? How do you respond when your routine turns upside down?

Let’s rise to the challenge of remote work during this season of Covid-19. If we do this thing right, we’ll come out on the other side scrappier, more efficient and more creative.

About Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman is the host of the nationally syndicated radio show The Ken Coleman Show and the #1 bestselling author of The Proximity Principle.

Pulling from his own personal struggles, missed opportunities and career successes, Coleman will help you discover what you were born to do and provide practical steps to make your dream job a reality.

Listen to The Ken Coleman Show on YouTube, SiriusXM, your local radio station, or wherever you listen to podcasts—and connect with Ken at kencoleman.com.

How to Make a Career Change Midlife

How to Make a Career Change Midlife

How to Make a Career Change Midlife

11 MINUTE READ

Does it ever feel like culture’s definition of career success belongs only to the hip young entrepreneurs and 30-under-30 listers? Let’s change that right now. The truth is, you can change careers midlife.

You should do work that brings you joy until you take your last breath. That doesn’t mean you need a full-time career when you’re a great-grandparent, but there’s no reason you can’t do what you’re passionate about just because you hit a certain age. And this idea that you have to be stuck in the same job forever with no hope of making a change—well, that’s just false.

I know this is more intimidating for folks midlife because it’s hard to imagine sitting in a classroom again learning a new skill or leaving the place you’ve called home for 10+ years. But if you follow these seven steps, you’ll see that changing careers midlife isn’t as intimidating—or difficult—as you think.

1. Change your mindset.

Your mind is powerful. It can convince you a lie is true and talk you out of doing things your heart longs to do. That’s why, before you do anything else, you have to change your mindset and overcome the fear that’s holding you back.

 

Ready to find your dream job? We’ll show you how.

The biggest lie I hear from people who want to change careers midlife is that at this point in their life, as much as they might want to, it’s not worth it to begin a new career. They feel like they don’t have enough years left, or that they don’t have the time to make a big life change because of family responsibilities or other commitments.

But if you’re going to make any positive changes in your life, you need to change that mindset today.

With the time you do have, you can make progress daily—even if you’re only able to take one small step at a time. Anything worth doing or having is going to take time and is going to require fighting against the fear trying to stop you. Try my technique for fighting fear:

  • Name the fear. Get specific! Do some careful self-assessment to pinpoint your exact fear. Fear of failure, fear of financial instability, fear of embarrassment—just call it what it is.
  • Write it down. There’s actually a lot of power in looking at the fear on paper, in black and white. Stare it down and say out loud: “Fear is a liar.”
  • Replace it with the truth. Truth is essential to silencing fear. Ask yourself: If this is what the lie is saying, then what is the truth? For example, if you fear that you’re unqualified, you have to take a good look at what skills you have and realize that either you do have the right skills, or you have the ability to learn the right skills.
  • Repeat the truth. Repeat it so often that it becomes louder than any doubt in your mind!

When you do this, you’re not just ignoring the fear and pushing it down (which makes it worse). Instead, you’re addressing fear immediately so you can confidently say, “Not today. I already dealt with you.”

Side note: As long as you’re taking risks and doing things that challenge you, fear will be part of the picture. That’s healthy and normal. You’ll never eliminate fear completely, but you can deal with it effectively so that it never paralyzes you.

2. Figure out what you want to do.

Listen, the last thing you want when you’re thinking about changing careers midlife is to end up in a new job you equally hate. To avoid that nightmare scenario, do your research and make sure you know enough about the industry and role you want to pursue.

Your goal should be to find a position that allows you to work in your sweet spot—the intersection of what you do best and what you love to do most. The best way to discover your sweet spot is to ask yourself a series of questions (and I recommend journaling or making a list of whatever comes to mind):

  • What are some of my natural talents?
  • Of those talents, which am I actually passionate about? Which talents give me energy and make me feel alive?
  • What specific group of people would I most love to help?
  • What problem do I want to solve for that group of people?
  • What solution do I want to/can I provide?

When you sit down to reflect on these questions, you’ll notice patterns appear. Pay attention to those patterns because they’re indicators of what your dream job could be.

Once you have an idea of what type of job you want to pursue, start researching where you can perform that role. Start in your zip code and don’t discount places in the broader industry of what you want to do.

But also stay open-minded to opportunities outside your zip code. Relocating to a new city or state is worth the effort for the right opportunity. If you end up finding a job outside your city, download our relocation guide for a smooth and confident transition.

RELOCATING FOR WORK?

Follow this step-by-step guide to reach your destination with confidence.

3. Find out what skills you need to learn.

Now that you know what career you want to pursue, you should research what—if any—education or experience you need to qualify for that role.

Be honest with yourself. Do you have a skill set that would equip you to pursue that career? Or is there something you still need to learn? The good news is: You can learn any skill at any age (unless you’re 95 and want to play professional hockey—but even then I wouldn’t rule it out completely).

Find out what qualifications you need by looking at a few different job postings for the jobs you’d apply to. Make a list of what education, training or experience they require. Finally, take that list and research (I know, you’ve done a lot of research!) the most affordable ways to get those qualifications.

You’ll want to choose the path that best fits your preferred timeline, personal time constraints, and your financial reality. Speaking of your finances . . .

 

4. Make a budget to fund your career change.

It can be overwhelming to think about everything that a career change will require financially—more education, more training or a new location are all possible expenses—but don’t let that discourage you.

You don’t need to be rolling in money to change careers. You don’t even need to be debt-free—you just need enough to get started.

Based on what skills you need to learn to step into this new career, come up with an estimate of the cost to get that education. If it turns out you do need to spend some money on formal education or training, build it into your family’s budget and know that it may take a little longer than usual if you have to work a job at the same time to pay for the training.

Also be prepared to save, make sacrifices, and even sell some stuff so you can fund the dream as you go. It might not be easy, but it will be worth it!

5. Learn those new skills.

Going back to school shouldn’t be your go-to if you need to learn a new skill. Instead, get creative! There are countless ways to get the education and experience a job requires. Here are just a few ideas:

  • If you need to continue working at your full-time job, look for night classes at your local community college or online courses.
  • Find out if there are any returnship programs in your industry.1
  • Look for a company that is willing to train you to do the job, on the job—it’s a thing! A study by Robert Half International found that 84% of companies are willing to hire and train a candidate who lacks the required skills for the job.2
  • Take advantage of free resources like podcasts, library books, online articles, YouTube videos, etc.
  • Ask professionals in your network if they can mentor you.
  • If the position requires a portfolio, create one by asking friends and family if you can produce work for them for free or at a discounted rate.

A lot of people think not having a college degree is a setback when changing careers midlife. But did you know that, in an exciting new trend, companies are now starting to waive their college degree requirements?

On job-search websites like Craigslist and Indeed, job postings asking for a college degree dropped from 34% in 2012 to 30% in 2018.3 Work history requirements have also changed—in 2012, 29% of jobs asked for 3+ years of experience, and in 2018, only 23% did.4

All of that just means that you shouldn’t let your concern about not having enough skills or experience keep you from pursuing your dream job. Go learn what you need to learn and get after it!

6. Make meaningful connections in the industry.

Way too often, people get stuck doing a job they hate just because they think they don’t have any connections in the industry they’d prefer to work in. Folks, that’s not a good reason to stay miserable!

The truth is: You know a lot more people than you think.

And even if you don’t know a lot of people right now, you can make powerful connections by simply getting around the right people and in the right places. That’s what the Proximity Principle is all about—in order to do what you want to do, you have to be around the people who are doing it and in the places where it’s happening. And that’s true at any age.

As you start learning new skills (from step five), you’ll naturally meet people who can be meaningful connections in the industry (professors, professionals, peers, etc.).

But you can also build a web of connections by:

  • Informing your inner circle of friends and family about the new career you want to pursue.
  • Asking your inner circle if they have any connections in the industry.
  • Moving outside your inner circle to potential connections at your church, in your neighborhood, parents of your kid’s little league team, at the gym, and beyond.
  • Reach out to these connections, meet them for coffee, share about your desired future, and ask for advice (always come with something to offer them as well).

Once you begin to use the Proximity Principle and start getting to know people who are doing what you want to do, you’ll find that opportunities will come your way. Someone will know about a job opening, or be able to give you a recommendation, or ask you to come work for them. It’s happened countless times, and it can happen to you.

That, my friends, is the right way to network!

7. Win the interview process.

Okay, we’re in the homestretch, folks. The final step to changing careers midlife is to start applying to jobs and winning the interview.

  • Upgrade your resume. Check out my resume guide where I walk you through exactly how to format your resume so that it stands out from the pile of resumes on the hiring manager’s desk. I can’t stress this enough: Your resume needs to have a referral from one the connections you’ve made in step six. That is what will set your resume apart. Like I always say, a resume without a relationship is worthless.
  • Prepare for the interview. Preparation breeds confidence, and confidence leads to winning. I have a robust interview guide that walks you through five strategies that will help you stand out in the hiring process. Do yourself a favor and get your free copy.
  • Follow up after the interview. The way you follow up after an interview can make all the difference when it comes to sealing the deal and getting the offer. Use my touchpoint timeline to follow up like a pro and make the best first impression.

This may feel like a lot to handle right now. That’s okay—I know it’s a lot of information. But you know what? You can do this. It’s going to take time, perseverance and patience, but I know you’ve got that in you.

So, wherever you’re at on the journey, know that it’s not too late, you’re not too old, and you do have what it takes to change careers midlife.

If you need some more strategies and practical advice for making a career move, listen to The Ken Coleman Show or give me a call at 844.747.2577!

 

About Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman is the bestselling author of The Proximity Principle and national radio host of The Ken Coleman Show.

Pulling from his own personal struggles, missed opportunities and career successes, Coleman helps people discover what they were born to do and provides practical steps to make their dream job a reality.

Listen to The Ken Coleman Show on SiriusXM, your local radio station, or wherever you listen to podcasts—and connect with Ken at kencoleman.com.

Three Emotions You Experience When Conquering Fear

Three Emotions You Experience When Conquering Fear

Three Emotions You Experience When Conquering Fear

5 MINUTE READ

I was sitting on my front porch, drinking my morning cup of coffee, and scrolling through Twitter when I came across a video that stopped me in my tracks.

I bet you’ve seen it—the video quickly went viral and got millions of views.

It’s about a 14-year-old boy named Tim Bannon who was born without arms. In the video, he attempts a 20-inch box jump at a summer camp he attends for limb-different youth. Take a look:

 

Powerful, isn’t it?

What caught my attention about this video was how clearly it demonstrated the power fear can have over us. If we allow it, fear will consume us and hold us back in every area of our lives. From careers to relationships, no part of your life is safe from fear’s trap.

But notice how I wrote allow it. Fear is real, and it’s paralyzing. But at the end of the day, we have what it takes to overpower fear so we can reach our highest potential.

 

Ready to find your dream job? We’ll show you how.

This video taught me that no matter what emotions we experience when facing fear head on, we’ll be better equipped to know what to do with those emotions if we’re able to identify them. Identifying the emotions will help you go from being a passive participant in the situation to an active one.

If you rewatch the video, you’ll witness Tim power through three emotions as he conquers his fear of falling. Instead of caving into the roller coaster of emotions, he was able to channel each emotion to propel himself forward—and I want you to be able to do the same.

As you can see from Tim’s experience, you’ll experience a range of emotions when trying to conquer a fear. Let’s talk about three of those emotions.

1. Agony

Fear torments us, doesn’t it?

In the video, you can see Tim agonizing over his fear of falling as he attempts an exercise that typically involves momentum from your arms.

He hesitates during the first couple of jumps he takes, which keeps him from succeeding. That’s because when you’re focused on the possibility of failing, you’re not able to put forth all the effort and power you have within.

What’s interesting is that Tim’s fear of falling during his attempt is—in a way—not reasonable. There are two large men standing on either side of him, ready to catch him if he falls. But he’s too focused on the agony to realize he’s believing a lie. Because the truth is, if he messes up his footing, he won’t really fall. He’ll be just fine!

Don’t we all do that? We focus on where we might fall short and what might make us fail, rather than putting our focus on what is actually true in that situation.

The truth in your situation might not be as obvious as two large men standing by you, ready to cushion your landing. But I’m willing to bet there is a truth that can replace the lie you’re believing—and that truth will help silence the agony.

If you’re unsure about what the truth is in your situation, talk with people you love and trust. When you’re in the thick of it, it’s hard to see beyond your fear—but a trusted outside perspective can help clear up some of that fog.

2. Anger

After experiencing the agony of the fear, you might begin to feel angry. Just like Tim, you get frustrated because any failed attempts affirm the lie you’re believing.

This is probably the most important emotion of the three, because anger could be what either makes you or breaks you, depending on how you channel it.

When you’re feeling anger in the process of conquering your fear, you have a choice between one of two actions:

  1. Retreat and let the anger overpower you (the flight response).
  2. Turn the anger into power to propel you forward (the fight response).

The second is exactly what Tim does in the video. After agonizing over the fear of falling and getting angry at his failed attempts, he’s had enough. He turns that anger into power, jumps harder and higher, and conquers the box jump once and for all.

3. Awe and Astonishment

Do you know what it feels like to finally conquer a fear? It’s exhilarating. You experience a rush of emotions that quickly overwhelms you. You stand astonished, because now you have proof that you have what it takes to do the thing you were afraid to do.

And no one can take that away from you.

You can see the awe and astonishment on Tim’s face when he jumps off the box and falls straight into the arms of his coach, tears streaming down his face.

He gets affirmation from himself and from others that he is, in fact, able to accomplish more than he thinks he can.

And the same is true for you.

Whatever fear you’re struggling to conquer, I want you to know that it’s normal to experience agony in the beginning, and that the agony might turn into anger. But that’s when it’s up to you to decide what you’re going to do with that anger. Which will you choose: fight or flight?

Only one of those choices will lead to the overwhelming exhilaration of crushing the fear that once haunted you.

Press on, folks—you are more capable than you think!

 

About Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman is the bestselling author of The Proximity Principle and national radio host of The Ken Coleman Show.

Pulling from his own personal struggles, missed opportunities and career successes, Coleman helps people discover what they were born to do and provides practical steps to make their dream job a reality.

Listen to The Ken Coleman Show on SiriusXM, your local radio station, or wherever you listen to podcasts—and connect with Ken at kencoleman.com.

How the Proximity Principle Can Change Your Life

How the Proximity Principle Can Change Your Life

How the Proximity Principle Can Change Your Life

4 MINUTE READ

6:00 a.m.: The alarm goes off.
6:01 a.m.: You hit the snooze button.
6:06 a.m.: The alarm goes off again, you realize it’s Monday . . . again.
6:07 a.m.: You lie in bed thinking about how much you hate your job.
6:10 a.m.: You have a bona fide “case of the Mondays.”

Sound familiar?

If that’s your normal Monday routine before you even get out of bed, you’re not alone. 70% of Americans have no passion for their jobs.(1) And considering how many hours of our lives are spent working, life’s just too short to spend it hating your nine-to-five.

That’s why Ramsey Personality Ken Coleman is on a mission to help you turn your dream job into a reality with his new book, The Proximity Principle.

The Proximity Principle—What Is It?

Sounds really fancy, doesn’t it? But what the heck does it mean? The Proximity Principle is a simple, straightforward strategy Ken came up with when he was reflecting on how the right opportunities “just happened” in his own life. The truth is, nothing magical happened. Instead, it was hard work, discipline and a lineup of “rights” that made things click.

 

Ready to find your dream job? We’ll show you how.

The Proximity Principle: The right people + the right places = opportunities. 

If you use this principle when it comes to landing your dream job, it will make all the difference in the world. For the ideal opportunity to find you (aka your dream job), you have to put yourself in contact with the right people who are connected to the right places.

What Can You Expect in The Proximity Principle?

Find the proven strategy that will lead you to a career you love.

Listen—you don’t have to throw in the towel and accept that you’ll be stuck working at a job you hate for the rest of your life. Don’t buy into that lie! Ken walks you through the strategy you need to find the career you love!

Discover the right way to go after your dream job.

It’s time to demystify the process of how to get to where you want to be. After all, your ideal career isn’t just going to fall into your lap with little to no effort on your end. In The Proximity Principle, Ken shows the action steps you need to go from wanting to land your dream job to actually sitting in the seat living the dream.

Learn the five types of people who can help you get there.

“It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” That old adage is true. But as Ken points out, it’s not simply being a “serial connector,” and going from networking event to networking event hobnobbing and swapping business cards. That might make you feel productive, but where is it really getting you? It’s time to learn how to build real connection.

“All dreams are a little crazy. That’s why they are called ‘dreams.’”
—Ken Coleman

Start Pursuing a Career You Love

Don’t wait until a midlife crisis strikes to stand back and take inventory of your life. You have the power to make change happen! There’s no requirement that says you have to hate your job or work a boring one either. But the truth is, change requires effort, and this book will help you figure out exactly which step to take first.

Start going after your dream job now. With this proven plan in your hands, why wouldn’t you?

Put an end to empty networking and sending out your resumé to the abyss of the internet. Order The Proximity Principle today and start making real progress on your job search! 

12 Summer Reads to Help You Win With Money

12 Summer Reads to Help You Win With Money

What's on your summer reading list?

8 MINUTE READ

For most people, summer is best spent going on that long-awaited family vacation, soaking up every ounce of sunshine possible, and checking off all those fun activities from your summer bucket list.

With some of the country still sheltering in place, that bucket list may not look like what you thought it would. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be a summer to remember! Instead of venturing to the beach or that amusement park, grab some books and learn how to be a better leader, dump those student loans, cultivate contentment, or map your steps to becoming an everyday millionaire.

Whoever said reading beachside is the only way to burn through your summer reads hasn’t picked up these books. Here are our top 12 books that are sure to make this summer your best one yet.

1. The Richest Man in Babylon

All of this coronavirus craziness probably has you ready to wade through all the financial nonsense out there and get back to the basics. We don’t blame you. The Richest Man in Babylon is full of financial wisdom that dates back to ancient Babylon. It’s probably what your great-grandma turned to for financial advice.

This Ramsey Press revised edition of George Clason’s classic shares stories of people who struggled with debt only to come out on the other side ready to build lasting wealth. It even includes Dave’s sound advice from The Dave Ramsey Show. This little book will inspire you to take a new look at your own finances and change your life.

2. The Proximity Principle

Around 70% of Americans are unengaged at their jobs.1 Sure, right now, many of us are blessed to even have jobs. But if you’re dreading Monday mornings, it might be time to start looking for new opportunities that will get you pumped to go to work each week. And you can work toward your dream job while you keep food on the table and gas in the tank.

Listen: You don’t have to stay in a job that’s just that—a J-O-B. Ken Coleman answers all the questions swirling in your head about how to network, gain a mentor, and close the distance between where you are right now and where your dream job is. So, go ahead—watch your kid do their 20th cannonball and then jump on into this incredible read!

3. Debt-Free Degree

It’s never too early to start thinking about college. And your kids can go to college . . . debt-free! Did you know the average college graduate walks across the stage with $35,000 of student loans?2

 

Lead others to financial peace! It’s easier than you think. Learn how.

For years, people have been spoon-fed the idea that student loans don’t really count as debt. But that’s a bold-faced lie. Student loans are the worst. It’s like going through a pandemic . . . and running out of toilet paper. Yikes.

National bestselling author Anthony ONeal has created this step-by-step guide on how to help get your kid through college without the loans and set them up for financial success. Kicking off your student’s future debt-free? That’s a gift that keeps on giving!

4. Destroy Your Student Loan Debt

In this 64-page Quick Read, Anthony ONeal gives you the ugly truth about student loans and how they’re actually hurting you. If you’re new to the Baby Steps and short on time, but want the facts on how to tackle those loans for good, this motivating read might be your favorite one of the summer. Anthony gives you a step-by-step plan on how to send those student loans packing—for good.

5. Smart Money Smart Kids

Give. Save. Spend. Teach your little ones the value of hard work when they’re young and they’ll be masters of their piggy banks (and their finances) as they grow. Father-daughter duo Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze team up to share their personal stories of raising money-smart kids (and growing up with a financial guru as a dad).

Dave and Rachel tackle the importance of teaching your kids where money comes from, the value of hard work, paying cash for college, living responsibly, and how to avoid debt like the plague.

6. Love Your Life, Not Theirs

Comparison is dumb. Not only does it make us want what others have but it makes us ungrateful for what we do have. (And let’s be real: When we want what others have, we’re probably going to spend ourselves broke.) Keeping up with the Joneses is overrated. Why? Because the Joneses are broke!

This is the perfect summer read. No matter what your summer looks like (or what it doesn’t look like), there’s still so much to be thankful for. Rachel Cruze will show you how to live the life of your dreams by wanting the life you already have, steering clear of debt, and leaving behind the stress. You won’t be disappointed.

7. Business Boutique

You know that dream that’s been cooking in the corners of your mind for the past few years? The one that keeps you up at night and makes your heart go pitter-patter? Yup—that one. Who says you can’t turn that dream into a real-life actual business? And who says you can’t make some serious money doing what you love? Send those naysayers packing and pick up this step-by-step guide by bestselling author Christy Wright.

This read is everything you need to know about how to start making money doing what you love. You’ll learn how to create a business plan, manage your time, market your brand, and sell your product. Oh, and all those nitty-gritty details like taxes, budgeting and pricing? Christy covers those too.

8. The Total Money Makeover

If you’ve never read this, you’re in for a treat. This isn’t just another boring book about finances and spreadsheets. Nope. This bestselling book is going to be one you can’t put down until you’ve read every last word.

Not only does it give you a proven plan for how to take control of your finances—once and for all—but it also tackles those etched-in-stone money myths you may have believed all your life. With real-life stories of people who have hit rock bottom and worked their way to the top, this book will inspire you, motivate you, and help you give your finances the makeover they deserve.

9. The Graduate Survival Guide

Turns out, the choices you make in college can lead to a successful future . . . or knock you down for years to come. This book by Anthony ONeal and Rachel Cruze talks about the five mistakes many college students make in college that cripple their financial future when they should be chasing their dreams.

This book lays out the honest truth when it comes to credit cards, student loans, dumb decisions and the mistake of not having a plan (or money) in college. If you’ve got a recent high school grad in the house, they’ll want to binge this—instead of Netflix.

10. Everyday Millionaires

All millionaires drive fancy cars, eat steak dinners prepared by their own personal chef, and only wear brand-name clothing, right? Wrong! Chris Hogan and his team conducted the largest study ever recorded on 10,000 U.S. millionaires. What they found was that millionaires actually live on less than they make, invest, use coupons, and avoid debt like the plague.

This summer read will burst those millionaire myths floating around and help you realize that you too can be an everyday millionaire. Dive in. You won’t be disappointed.

11. One Question

If you could ask Tony Dungy one question, what would it be? What about Malcolm Gladwell or President Jimmy Carter? Ken Coleman sat down with these amazing people (and many more) to ask them questions about leadership, integrity, parenting, reaching your full potential and more. Once you start, you’ll be glued to the pages, learning from the giants of our time.

12. The National Study of Millionaires

Remember that study Chris Hogan and his team conducted on 10,000 U.S. millionaires? We decided to share it with you. Have you always wanted to know the average amount a millionaire actually spends on their groceries? Or the stats behind just how many of them received an inheritance? The numbers will surprise you. This may not be the easy poolside read you’re used to, but if you’re one who loves research, this is right up your alley.

Well, what are you waiting for? Head over to our $10 (or less) Sale and stock up on these amazing reads for your summer bucket list. You’ll be inspired to change your life—for the better—in no time.

What is Fixed Income Investing?

What is Fixed Income Investing?

What is Fixed Income Investing?

8 MINUTE READ

When you decide to get serious about saving for your retirement, it’s important to know your options. And believe me, there are a lot of options out there to choose from—and you need to know what to invest in and what to stay away from.

From time to time, you might hear the term “fixed income investments” thrown around, especially when people are talking about things like bonds and annuities. They might sound good at first, but do they really deserve a place inside your retirement portfolio? Just sit tight. I’ll walk you through what fixed income investing is all about.

What Is Fixed Income Investing?

Basically, fixed income investing is designed to give people a steady stream of income on a regular basis, usually in the form of interest payments from bonds. Now in theory, fixed income investments are supposed to offer investors something to invest in that is less risky than stocks. The problem is, that usually means you’re settling for below-average returns on your investments.

 

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Think of it like its own category of investments that pays investors a certain amount of cash in the form of dividends and fixed interest. But it’s important to mention that fixed income investments typically involve arrangements that look a lot like loans. That’s no bueno, my friend.

Types of Fixed Income Investments

When it comes to fixed income investments, one thing’s for sure: You’ve got options. Here are some of the most classic forms of fixed income investments you might come across:

Certificates of Deposit (CDs)

When I’m talking about CDs, I’m not talking about those little discs we used to play music with before Spotify took over. No, certificates of deposit (CDs) are basically savings accounts that let you save money at a fixed interest rate for a set amount of time. There’s a catch, though. Most CDs come with a certificate that says you’ll need to leave the money in there until the CD reaches its maturity date, which is when you’ll be able to take your money out without paying a penalty.

Here’s the problem with CDs—they have very low interest rates. They might be useful for reaching short-term savings goals, but I don’t even consider them a true long-term investment. Steer clear!

Bonds

Bonds, also known as “long-term fixed income investments,” let companies or governments borrow money from you. That’s right, you’re basically giving them a loan! When you buy a bond, you’ll receive a steady stream of interest payments from the company or government until the bond reaches its maturity date—that’s when they will pay you back for the original amount.

So, let’s say you buy a $1,000 bond from your local government. The term of the bond is two years with a fixed annual interest rate of 5%. In this scenario, you would receive $50 in interest each year from the city throughout the bond’s term, and then you’ll get your initial $1,000 back at the end of the two years. That means your initial $1,000 investment just turned into $1,100.

While there are a lot of different types of bonds, these three are the most common types: government (backed by the U.S. Treasury), municipal (issued by state or local governments), or corporate (issued by companies to fund growth). You could even buy bond mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which are funds made up of many different bonds.

Bonds have a reputation for being “safe” investments because they don’t rise and fall like stocks and mutual funds do. But here’s the thing: The returns you get from bonds just aren’t impressive, especially when compared to stocks. Earning a fixed interest rate might protect you when the stock market is down, but it also means you won’t profit when times are good.

Bottom line? I do not recommend investing in bonds—you’re better off investing your hard-earned money in growth stock mutual funds.

Fixed-Rate Annuities

A fixed-rate annuity is basically an agreement between you and an insurance company. Here’s how it works: You make a series of payments to an insurance company for a certain amount of time, called the “accumulation phase.” In turn, they promise to pay you a specific, guaranteed interest rate on your contributions—usually around 5%—once the accumulation period ends. Those payments to you could be stretched for a certain number of years or for the rest of your life.

Listen, while the idea of a guaranteed income for life sounds great, the rate of return that fixed annuities offer just won’t cut it. You can do much better than that with good growth stock mutual funds. Stay away!

Money Market Funds

Not to be confused with money market accounts, money market funds are fixed income mutual funds that invest in the short-term debt of the U.S. government and large companies. Money market funds usually aim to invest in debt that is supposed to be paid back in less than one year, providing safety from interest rate changes and reducing the risk of borrowers being unable to pay back the loan.

But these funds are terrible as long-term investing tools because they offer very low returns (I hope you’re starting to see a theme here).

Pros and Cons of Fixed Income Investments

So, should you consider having fixed income investments as part of your investing strategy? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

An advantage to fixed income investing is that it offers investors a steady stream of income over the life of a bond while giving the recipient—like a business—access to immediate cash or capital. Having a stable income allows investors to plan out their spending, which is why fixed income investments are tempting additions to many retirement portfolios.

Some fixed income investments get special tax treatment that could take the sting out of Tax Day each year—especially municipal bonds, which are usually tax-free at the federal, state and local levels. Treasury bonds, while subject to federal taxes, are also free from state and local taxes. Some experts also say fixed income investments add healthy diversification to your investing portfolio, balancing the highs and lows of investing in stock mutual funds.

But does the good outweigh the bad? Let’s take a look at some of the drawbacks of fixed income investing:

  • Lower return on investments
  • Bonds lose their value as interest rates rise and bond prices fall
  • Inflation risk
  • Credit risk
  • Liquidity risk (meaning if you have a fixed income investment that you want to sell and you can’t find a buyer)

Should You Include Fixed Income Investments in Your Portfolio?

Here’s the deal. People have this idea that fixed income investments are safe and reliable. But the truth is, their values actually fluctuate the way that stocks do, and you could lose money investing in bonds. And besides, the return you’re getting with these types of investments are usually terrible, especially compared to growth stock mutual funds. I do not recommend investing in bonds, annuities or other types of fixed income investments.

I do not recommend investing in bonds, annuities or other types of fixed income investments.

So, what do I recommend? I want you to invest 15% of your gross income in good growth stock mutual funds, which will offer you better returns and are more suited for long-term investing. A quarter of your portfolio should include “growth and income” funds, which are made up of stocks from big, stable companies that should provide your portfolio with predictable returns that are still better than most fixed income investments.

Talk It Over With an Investment Professional

Now, before you invest in something, you need to understand how it works. That’s why I always recommend sitting down with an investment professional who knows what they’re doing.

Don’t have one? Our SmartVestor program is a great service that connects you with investment pros in your area. Each one has been vetted by our team at Ramsey Solutions and they will patiently walk you through the investing process.

Reach out to a SmartVestor Pro today!

About Chris Hogan

Chris Hogan is a #1 national best-selling author, dynamic speaker and financial expert. For more than a decade, Hogan has served at Ramsey Solutions, spreading a message of hope to audiences across the country as a financial coach and Ramsey Personality. Hogan challenges and equips people to take control of their money and reach their financial goals, using The Chris Hogan Show, his national TV appearances, and live events across the nation. His second book, Everyday Millionaires: How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary Wealth—And How You Can Too is based on the largest study of millionaires ever conducted. You can follow Hogan on Twitter and Instagram at @ChrisHogan360 and online at chrishogan360.com or facebook.com/chrishogan360.

What are Index Funds?

What are Index Funds?

9 MINUTE READ

Trying to figure out which types of investments to include in your portfolio can be tricky. After all, there are so many options to choose from and it can feel overwhelming at times—and most people feel like giving up before they get started.

But the fact that you’re here reading this tells me that you, my friend, are not like most people. You want to take charge of your financial future, and that starts with getting familiar with all of your investment options—including index funds.

Index funds get a lot of talk on the cable news shows and all over message boards, but are they really the best option when it comes to investing for retirement? Well, I’m here to break down index funds for you so that you can decide whether or not they have a place in your investment plan.

Ready? Let’s do this!

What is an index fund?

An index fund is a type of mutual fund designed to mirror the performance of the stock market or a particular area of the stock market.

 

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A mutual fund lets investors pool their money together to invest in something. So in this case, the money in an index fund is used to invest in stocks, bonds or other types of investments inside a particular index. Speaking of which . . .

How do index funds work?

In order to understand how an index fund works, it’s important to understand what an “index” is.  When it comes to the stock market, an index is basically a measuring stick. Indexes help investors measure the performance of the stock market in almost the same way you would use a ruler to measure how long something is.

There are hundreds of different indexes out there to measure many of the different sectors of the stock market. The S&P 500 Index, for example, is the one most experts use as a benchmark for the overall U.S. stock market. Standard & Poor (S&P) is a ratings agency that identifies the top 500 largest companies on the New York Stock Exchange to include in its index. In a very real way, they use it to measure the overall performance of the stock market.

So, what’s inside of an index fund? It depends on the index the fund is based on! An S&P 500 index fund, for example, is made up of stocks from many of the companies found inside the S&P 500 with the goal of mirroring the performance of that index. So, if you invested in an S&P 500 index fund, you own 500 stocks in a single fund with returns that are almost identical to the gains (or losses) of the S&P 500 itself.

This makes index funds a very “passive” form of investing. Instead of being run by a fund manager looking for investments that will beat the market, an index fund is more than happy to settle for “average.” Index funds are like mirrors—they’re designed to copy the performance of the index they are based on. No better and no worse!

What are some different types of index funds?

From bonds to foreign stocks and everything in between, there are hundreds of indexes out there used to track the performance of almost every sector of the financial market you can think of. And if there’s an index for it, you can almost bet your bottom dollar there’s an index fund for it.

We’ve already talked about the S&P 500 index fund, which is probably the most famous example of an index fund out there. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Here are some other common index funds you’ll find, and you’ll notice that each one has its own unique flavor:

  • Russell 2000 Index Fund: This fund is made up of stocks that are in the Russell 2000 index, which focuses on smaller companies.
  • Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index Fund: Made up of almost 3,500 stocks, this is the largest U.S. stocks index out there and is also used to measure the performance of America’s publicly traded companies.
  • MSCI EAFE Index Fund: Whoa, that’s almost half the alphabet right there! All you need to know is this index fund mirrors the performance of the international stock market, with foreign stocks from Europe, Australasia, and the Far East (that’s what “EAFE” stands for) included in the mix.
  • Barclays Capital U.S. Aggregate Bond Index Fund: This index fund is very different from the others in this list. That’s because this index follows the performance of the U.S. bond market and is full of bonds instead of stocks. Bonds are basically loans where the government borrows money from investors—and agrees to pay them back, with interest.
  • Nasdaq Composite Index Fund: This fund has stocks from around 3,000 companies listed on the Nasdaq exchange, which is often used to measure the performance of the technology sector.
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) Index Fund: The Dow Jones is the oldest stock market index in the U.S., made up of stocks from 30 large companies from all kinds of different industries. This index fund will have stocks from companies that are included in the Dow Jones index.

Remember, with an index fund, don’t expect to get returns that are better or worse than the stock market or the index the fund is mirroring. Basically, you are the market.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of index funds?

If there’s one thing I tell everyone about investing, it’s this: Never invest in something you don’t understand. You need to have a good grasp of your investing options before deciding to invest your hard-earned money into anything. And that means weighing the pros and cons of all your options—including index funds.

Here are some of the pros of having index funds in your investment portfolio:

  1. Index funds are diversified. Like I mentioned earlier, index funds are a type of mutual fund. And like other mutual funds, index funds are usually filled with stocks from hundreds of different companies. That gives you a nice layer of diversity.
  2. Index funds have lower expense ratios. Because index funds are basically just copying the index they’re named after, there’s not much to manage. Because of that, index funds usually have lower fees and expense ratios.
  3. Index funds are predictable. What you see is what you get. With an index fund, you know you’re going to get returns that are more or less the same as the stock market. And just like the stock market, there are going to be ups and downs.

But here are some reasons you might want to think twice before adding index funds to your investment mix:

  1. Index funds won’t beat the market. Listen, average is okay. But do you want to settle for “okay”? I don’t think so!
  2. Index funds are not very flexible. What’s inside of an index fund isn’t really up for debate. It only changes if the index it’s based on changes. So, the holdings inside your S&P 500 index fund, for example, will only change if the S&P 500 drops some companies for others in its index.
  3. Some index funds have higher maintenance fees. You’ll hear a lot of about lower expense ratios from index fund crusaders. But hold up! While it’s true that many index funds have lower expense ratios than actively managed mutual funds, they’ll charge a hefty maintenance fee—sometimes listed as a “12b-1” fee—to make up for it. And those can really hurt your returns in the long run. Be on the lookout for those!

Should index funds be part of your investment strategy?

Listen to me, I don’t want you to settle for average. Here’s my advice: Invest 15% of your gross income in good growth stock mutual funds that have a long track record of strong returns that beat stock market indexes like the S&P 500.

Your investment portfolio should be divided evenly between four types of mutual funds:

  • Growth and income funds: These are the most predictable funds in terms of their market performance.
  • Growth funds: These are fairly stable funds in growing companies. Risk and reward are moderate.
  • Aggressive growth funds: These are the wild-child funds. You’re never sure what they’re going to do, which makes them high-risk, high-return funds.
  • International funds: These are funds from companies around the world and outside your home country.

That way, your investment portfolio will be well diversified—which means you’re not keeping your entire nest egg in one basket. But you’re still going after funds that are going to beat the market and help you build a nice, big nest egg for retirement over time.

Get With a SmartVestor Pro!

Now look, some mutual funds underperform the stock market—and you want to stay far away from those—but there are many mutual funds out there that outperform the market. Picking and choosing the right funds is a big deal, people! That’s why I always want an investment professional in my corner to help me separate the winners from the losers.

And besides, it’s always a good idea to sit down with a pro who can help you set goals for your financial future and help you understand all your options, from index funds to growth stock mutual funds.

Our SmartVestor program is a free service that connects you with investment professionals in your area. Each one has been vetted by our team here at Ramsey Solutions, and they will patiently walk you through the investing process.

Connect with a SmartVestor Pro today!

About Chris Hogan

Chris Hogan is a #1 national best-selling author, dynamic speaker and financial expert. For more than a decade, Hogan has served at Ramsey Solutions, spreading a message of hope to audiences across the country as a financial coach and Ramsey Personality. Hogan challenges and equips people to take control of their money and reach their financial goals, using The Chris Hogan Show, his national TV appearances, and live events across the nation. His second book, Everyday Millionaires: How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary Wealth—And How You Can Too is based on the largest study of millionaires ever conducted. You can follow Hogan on Twitter and Instagram at @ChrisHogan360 and online at chrishogan360.com or facebook.com/chrishogan360.

What Is Wealth Management?

What Is Wealth Management?

Wealth Management

7 MINUTE READ

If you’ve been working hard and investing for years, don’t be surprised if you look up one day and find that you’ve built a nest egg worth millions of dollars.

After all, there are more than 10 million millionaire households in the U.S. today. Beyond that, there are more than 1.4 million households with an “ultrahigh net worth” between $5 million and $25 million.1 The American Dream is still alive and well!

While you don’t need to have millions of dollars to get investing advice, there are some unique challenges and opportunities that might pop up as your wealth builds. And that could require a more tailored approach!

You might find yourself in a higher tax bracket than you’ve ever been before. Maybe you’re trying to figure out how to use your wealth to do good in your community. Or maybe you want to make sure you’re leaving behind a legacy that will be a blessing to future generations.

 

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Now hear me, wealth is a tremendous blessing for you and those around you. There’s no doubt about that! But it also comes with a tremendous responsibility and—like anything else that’s important in your life—it has to be managed correctly. That’s why wealth management might be worth looking into.

What is wealth management? And what does a wealth manager do?

Wealth management is designed specifically to help high-net-worth clients continue to grow their wealth, protect their assets and reduce their financial risks.

It’s a form of financial advising that goes deeper than just finding, picking and choosing investments. Wealth management is like a premium service that combines a bunch of financial services together to meet the needs of wealthy individuals.

Think of wealth managers as the swiss army knives of the financial world—they’re able to provide counsel on a wide range of financial issues or situations unique to clients managing millions of dollars in assets.

Here are the services that usually fall under the umbrella of wealth management:

  • Financial planning
  • Investment management
  • Philanthropy advice
  • Legal planning
  • Estate planning
  • Accounting and tax services
  • Retirement planning

What strategies are used in wealth management?

If you’ve ever gotten fitted for a suit or a dress, you know it’s quite the experience. A tailor invades your personal space to take measurements of your arms, your legs and your chest, and then they’ll use those measurements to craft an outfit that fits just right.

A wealth manager will do the same thing for your finances. They’ll get to know you and your financial situation and then craft strategies and a game plan that makes sense for you.

How exactly will a wealth manager help you get to where you want to go? I’m glad you asked! Here are some of the strategies a wealth manager commonly uses to advise their clients and help grow and protect their wealth:

1. Set financial goals.

Whether you want to travel the world in retirement or start a nonprofit organization (or maybe both!), a wealth manager can help you set clear goals that will bring you closer to making your dream retirement a reality. After all, a dream without a plan is just a wish!

2. Maximize your investment options.

Like most investment professionals, a wealth manager can help you pick and choose growth stock mutual funds that have a long track record of success and will help your money grow. They can also help you explore other ways to grow your money, such as real estate investing.

3. Optimize your tax situation.

Most people who need a wealth manager are likely to be in the highest tax bracket, which means they’re sending a good chunk of money to the IRS! I’m all for giving Uncle Sam what’s owed, but not a penny more. Wealth managers can help you find smarter ways to approach investing that will help you keep more of what you earn instead of losing it to taxation.

4. Get the right insurance in place.

If your net worth is above $500,000, you’ll want to take a look at umbrella insurance, which is an extra form of liability insurance that protects you from large claims or lawsuits. One bad car accident, for example, could lead to millions of dollars in damages and injuries that could leave you digging into your retirement funds or going back into debt to cover the costs. Umbrella insurance can shield you from a hailstorm of hefty legal bills!

5. Create or update an estate plan.

Listen to me, I’ve seen too many families ripped apart because someone in the family died and they didn’t leave clear instructions for how to divvy up what was left behind. Don’t let that be you. Good estate planning means having a plan in place for all your stuff once you pass away. That means everyone knows who gets what! To be clear is to be kind, and a good wealth manager can help walk you through the steps of creating a good estate plan.

How much money do you need for wealth management?

Like a rollercoaster that won’t let you ride unless you’re a certain height, many investment firms require that you have a certain amount of money invested before you qualify for their wealth management services. How much money are we talking about? A lot.

Brokerage firms usually require account minimums of at least $2 million, $5 million or even $10 million just to qualify for their wealth management services. That’s a pretty hefty price of admission!

But listen, you don’t need to have millions of dollars sitting in your investment accounts to get some financial help. Our SmartVestor Pros are investment professionals who will sit down with you whether you have $10 million or you’re just getting started with investing.

Some places might offer a more “stripped-down” form of wealth management if you have around $250,000 or $500,000, but for the most part you’ll need to have millions of dollars invested in order to work with a wealth manager.

How do wealth managers get paid?

Wealth managers normally earn their income by charging a percentage of the assets they manage—generally around 1% annually, but it depends on the firm. If you have $5 million worth of investments with a wealth manager who charges a 1% fee, you’d pay them $50,000 in commissions to advise you each year. And you’re just one client!

It’s no wonder that wealth managers will often fight over the chance to work with clients worth millions—or even billions. Sometimes they’ll even charge a lower rate for clients with higher net worth. After all, the more money that’s under their management, the more they’ll rake in with fees.

Do you really need a wealth manager?

It depends. You know that song that basically says, “more money, more problems”? It’s true, in some cases!

As your wealth grows over time, your financial situation becomes more complex and there are certain forces around you that will threaten to chip away at your wealth. I’m talking about things like estate taxes, fees and inflation. Having a wealth manager by your side can help you navigate through those complex issues and avoid some serious financial pitfalls.

Is wealth management right for you? Talk to a pro.

Still on the fence about wealth management? One of our SmartVestor Pros can help you answer any questions you might have. They are investment professionals who can help you figure out whether or not wealth management services are the right option for you as you move forward toward your financial goals.

Find your SmartVestor Pro today!

About Chris Hogan

Chris Hogan is a #1 national best-selling author, dynamic speaker and financial expert. For more than a decade, Hogan has served at Ramsey Solutions, spreading a message of hope to audiences across the country as a financial coach and Ramsey Personality. Hogan challenges and equips people to take control of their money and reach their financial goals, using The Chris Hogan Show, his national TV appearances, and live events across the nation. His second book, Everyday Millionaires: How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary Wealth—And How You Can Too is based on the largest study of net-worth millionaires ever conducted. You can follow Hogan on Twitter and Instagram at @ChrisHogan360 and online at chrishogan360.com or facebook.com/chrishogan360.

What College Should You Go To? Avoiding the Traps of Higher Education

What College Should You Go To? Avoiding the Traps of Higher Education

What College Should You Go To? Avoiding the Traps of Higher Education

14 MINUTE READ

Borrowed Future – Episode 3 – 56:11

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“A community college is beneath your potential.”

Mike Rowe heard those words in high school—from his guidance counselor, of all people.

You probably know Mike Rowe from the TV shows Dirty Jobs and Returning the Favor. He’s a TV host, writer, narrator, producer, actor and spokesman. He also runs the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, which awards scholarships to help students pursue careers in the skilled trades.

Thankfully, Mike ignored that comment from his guidance counselor. He also ignored that counselor’s advice to take out student loans so he could live up to his “potential” and go to a four-year university instead of a community college. Mike wasn’t having it. He decided to go with his gut and attend a community college for two years before transferring to a four-year college—and he turned out okay!

 

Going to college debt-free is possible! Find out how.

“It still makes me angry when I think about it,” Mike told us. “Not just the stupidity of the advice, but the pressure to borrow money. Since I graduated, the cost of college has increased 1,120%. Nothing so important has ever gotten so expensive so quickly. Not food, not energy, not real estate, not even healthcare. The question is: why?”

The Ugly Truth Behind Why College Was Invented

Seth Godin is a bestselling author and entrepreneur. He also runs one of the most popular blogs in the world. He broke down the history behind how we got into this giant hole to begin with:

“[The college system] was invented between 1860 and 1900. It was stolen from the Prussian paramilitary system. Why did we do it? We did it because factories didn’t have enough compliant workers. It’s really hard to get someone to give up the freedom of farming and get them to sit for 12 hours in a dark room putting widgets together.

“So, industrialists figured out that if they started training kids from a young age: ‘Sit in straight rows, do what you’re told, have tests, make sure you comply, don’t speak unless spoken to, raise your hand …’ What is all that? That’s factory behavior. That’s why we invented it. And it worked great. When we needed more factories, we had more factory workers. [But] we [no longer] need more factories. We don’t need more factory workers. So why are we still making them?

“If someone had described what I just said about the system in 1930, no one in this country would have wanted it. No one. We backed into it one little tiny piece at a time. And the victims are 17 years old.”

Seth Godin is right. Today, the system feels stacked against students who dream of a bright future—one where they can pursue what they’re truly passionate about because they’re not weighed down by student loans. So, how can we avoid this broken system and get an education without debt?

Alternatives to Traditional Universities

Attending an expensive, four-year university is not the only way to get a job after college. There are plenty of great alternatives that will save you money and set you up for a successful future.

Two options that are often overlooked are trade schools and community colleges. They’re great alternatives to overpriced, four-year universities. But so many people don’t even consider these options because of the myth that trade schools and community colleges aren’t going to give you the same level of quality education that a four-year college will.

That’s simply not true—and just another way for “famous” colleges to get you to sign for those student loans. Let’s address the real truth.

Trade schools give you a hyper-focused education.

Anthony ONeal, author of the bestselling book Debt-Free Degree, loves trade schools. On this episode of the Borrowed Future podcast, he shared the story of his barber who went to a trade school for $16,000 and finished his coursework—and was in the workforce—within nine months. It took him a year and a half to build up his clientele, and today, he’s making six figures and working on opening his own barber shop!

Do you want to be a carpenter? Go to trade school. Do you want to be a welder? Go to a trade school. Get creative and do your research! There are a lot of trade school programs out there that can teach you exactly what you need to learn in order to work in the field you’re interested in. And the best part is, a trade school will get you into the workforce a lot more quickly than four years.

Anthony did call out one thing: If you choose to go to a trade school, make sure you’re certain it’s the career you want to pursue. Because if it’s not, you may not have transferrable skills for another career.

So, identify what you would love to do and the best educational route to help you get there. And if trade school makes that list, give it more weight than a four-year university—it’s quicker, cheaper and you’ll get to skip all those classes four-year colleges require that you’ll never use.

Community colleges provide the same quality-level education as four-year colleges.

The average cost of attending a four-year, public, in-state college is over $21,000 a year.1 The average cost of attending a four-year, private college is over $48,000 a year.2 Now let’s compare that to the average cost of attending a community college and living at home:

$3,660 a year.3

That means a community college costs 83% less than a public, in-state school and 93% less than a private school.

Let’s look at this another way: If college were a breakfast cereal, for a private name brand like Fruity Pebbles, you’d be paying the equivalent of $20 a box instead of just $1.49 for Target’s generic version, Far Out Fruities.

Community college is Far Out Fruities! Why pay 93% more when they both accomplish the same goal of providing a delicious, sugary breakfast?

I’ll tell you why: Because our culture believes the lie that community college is a lesser education compared to that of a state school or private school. Dave Ramsey, host of The Dave Ramsey Show dispels this myth:

“Thirty years ago, the difference in cost of a community college, a state school and a private school was not a lot. And the difference in what you got in terms of the quality of education was a lot. There was a big difference in the quality of education. The weird thing is that the quality of education has come up on community college so much, and on the state school so much, that they’re almost all three parallel now—depending on where you go in the nuanced field of study. And the weird thing is that the cost didn’t stay parallel. The cost is now dramatically different.”

If you need further proof that a community college isn’t subpar compared to a state school, meet Laura Brown, a PhD student in biomedical sciences. We asked her if she thought attending a community college held her back in any way.

Laura told us, “I don’t think that going to community college hindered me in any way. I think that other people see it as a huge hindrance. I found from the community college to the state university that it had roughly the same rigor in its classes. I think that is just a misconception that the dollar amount you pay for the education is directly proportional to the quality of education.

“I now teach at a community college while in a grad school, and those kids have to put up with the exact same things that I teach at the University of Kentucky. So from community college to a well-known state college, they’re the same classes. I teach both of them. It’s just a complete misconception that one’s better than the other . . . ”

Going to a trade school or a community college may feel like a nontraditional path. But if the traditional status quo is what got us into this $1.6 trillion mess, maybe it’s better to go against the grain.

Fancy Universities Don’t Impact Your Future as Much as You Think

Don’t be fooled—a college degree from a “fancy” or “famous” college isn’t going to open more opportunities than first attending a community college for two years.

Seth Godin advises students to, “Begin by saying, ‘I refuse to be brainwashed into believing that if I get into a good college, that means I’m better than if I don’t.’ Maybe what you ought to do is realize (and they’ve done this study) that among people who got into Harvard and didn’t go, and people who got into Harvard and did go, 10 years later there’s no difference in their happiness or their income.”

Even doctors agree. As a practicing pediatrician for more than 30 years, Dr. Meg Meeker knows firsthand that at the end of the day, a name brand education doesn’t really matter.

She told us, “My husband and I have never put up our diplomas anywhere. We’ve been board certified [by the] American Board of Pediatrics for years and fellows of the American Association of Pediatrics. None of that is around because patients don’t care. Patients want to know: Are you going to be here when I need you? Are you going to make smart decisions on behalf of my child? And are you easy to get along with?

“You can have the smartest physician. If they’re a jerk, nobody’s going to go to them. So, parents really care more about your personality, your bedside manner and your fund of knowledge than they do about where you go to school. I don’t even ask any of the doctors I go to see personally where they went to school—and I don’t care.”

So when it comes to your doctor, you may not care where they went to school. But how much weight do employers put on degrees and name-brand schools when it comes to hiring? Dave Ramsey has the answer:

“We currently have almost 1,000 people on our team, and we’ve had probably another 500 to 1,000 who have worked here at one time or another in the last 30 years. To my knowledge, I have never hired anyone, ever, based on where they went to school, ever. Now, when we look at the overall person and you say someone has a degree, someone doesn’t have a degree. And it’s in a specific field that they’re going to be working in, like, accounting—that does matter. But where you got the accounting degree? All we want to know is do you know accounting?”

If It Doesn’t Really Matter Where You Go to College, Why Do We Choose the Colleges We Choose?

There are about 5,300 colleges and universities in the United States that are all competing for the same students.4 The way they stand out? Good marketing.

Colleges have gone to insane lengths to stay competitive in the marketplace. A few years back, Louisiana State University opened an $85 million recreation center complete with a lazy river designed in the shape of the school’s letters.

Michigan Technological University has an on-campus ski resort, and High Point University boasts its own fancy steakhouse which indulges students in weekly three course meals of filet mignon and roasted duck.

You’ve got to be aware of this marketing gimmick when choosing a school.

Seth Frotman, the executive director of the Student Borrower Protection Center in Washington, D.C. has a warning for students:

“Be careful . . . there’s a whole lot of people who have a big target on your back. Who view you and your ability to take on a ton of debt as their chance to get rich. And I’ve worked now in my career on exceedingly large colleges and universities who have just preyed on students from coast to coast. And they’re good at it. They have 100 years of marketing and American lore telling you to go to college—colleges are the good guys, and it’s all going to work out.

“And we’ve seen, time and again, predatory schools load up tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of students with tons of debt, and just totally worthless degrees . . . This is probably one of—if not the most—important financial decision in your life. And my number one piece of advice is: If someone is pressuring you, if someone is promising you the moon, slow down and ask questions . . . And I know it’s hard to hear, but this is big business for a lot of folks, and you need to be careful. You need to try to understand what you’re getting into.”

Student Loans Rob You of Your Future

Seth Frotman also warns about losing sight of your long-term future when you’re considering taking out student loans. Because having $50,000 in student loan debt equals years of lost contributions to your retirement account, to a fund for a down payment on a house and more. In fact, Seth has seen analysis that show the average family who takes on student loan debt will ultimately lose nearly a quarter of a million dollars in household wealth.

He says, “That’s the more holistic nature of this discussion we need to have, which is we just can’t think about it as your student loan bill because it’s so much more. This debt is impacting both borrowers, their communities and the larger country.”

Millionaires Don’t Take Out Student Loans

When it comes to planning for their future, Chris Hogan wants to educate and empower people to take control and retire with dignity. He’s the bestselling author of Everyday Millionaires and host of The Chris Hogan Show. Chris and the Ramsey Solutions Research Team recently conducted one of the largest, nationwide studies ever done on millionaires.

One of the most surprising findings? Seven out of 10 millionaires never took on a penny of student loan debt. Also, 79% of millionaires he talked to didn’t go to a prestigious college. In fact, 62% of them went to a public state university, 8% went to community college, and 9% didn’t go to college at all.

You see, millionaires know the truth. Taking out student loans to attend a prestigious university won’t make you rich. Living a debt-free lifestyle and building wealth as early as possible will.

The Best Way to Go to College Debt-Free

At the end of the day—contrary to popular belief—where you go to college will not define the next 20 years of your life. According to experts like Mark Cuban and Anthony ONeal, having a plan is the best way to avoid student loan debt and set yourself up for a successful future.

Here are 10 steps to get you started:

  1. Apply for aid.
  2. Choose an affordable school.
  3. Go to community college first.
  4. Consider directional schools.
  5. Explore trade schools.
  6. Apply for scholarships.
  7. Get grants.
  8. Work while you’re in school.
  9. Live at home or off campus.
  10. Get on a budget.

It’s also time to redefine a dream school. The new definition? A school you can afford. A school you can cash flow. A school you can graduate from debt-free.

Do you or someone you know need a step-by-step plan to avoid student loans and graduate debt-free? Anthony ONeal’s new book can help. Debt-Free Degree teaches parents how to help their kids pay for college without debt, even if they haven’t started saving yet.

Debt-Free Degree doesn’t just tell you what to do. It tells you why, how and when to do it.

In the next episode of Borrowed Future, we’ll explore how compounding interest rates on student loans are keeping graduates stuck in more ways than one. You’ll also be surprised to find out who should be responsible for the dumpster fire that is the student loan debt crisis.

Is College Even Worth It?

Is College Even Worth It?

Is College Even Worth It?

13 MINUTE READ

Borrowed Future – Episode 2 – 41:57

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“I thought that if I don’t go to college, I failed.” — Anthony ONeal.

Anthony isn’t the only one who was told that college was the right next step after high school. Actually, the majority of high school graduates feel like college is just what you do, when they should be asking, “Is college worth it for me?”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 69.1% of high school graduates in 2018 were enrolled in colleges or universities. But of those people, the U.S. department of education found that only 55% of them will graduate with a degree within six years.1

Put another way, for every three students that graduate from high school, two will go to college, but only one will finish within six years. And many of them took out student loans and have nothing to show for it. That means for about half of the students going to college, it might be the wrong next step.

Why Does Everyone Believe College Is Worth It?

“Man, I was told if I want to be successful, if I want to be rich, if I want to be famous for something, I got to go to college,” says Anthony. “There was no ifs, ands or buts. No one said, ‘Hey, you know what? You could be successful without going to college.’”

 

Going to college debt-free is possible! Find out how.

Anthony was under the impression that if he didn’t go to college, he’d lose his shot at a real career and he might even wind up broke. In episode 2 of Borrowed Future, we dig a little deeper to find out why so many students believe that college is for everyone, at any cost.

Most students we talked to believe there’s definitely a correlation between having the college degree and making more money in life. But beyond that, students are facing all kinds of pressure to go to college—with everything from family pressure to the economy to being “normal” weighing on their minds.

Here are some of the reasons these students gave for why college is worth it:

“If you don’t go to college, there’s not much promise of finding good jobs out there.”

“Everyone in my family has gone to college . . . it’s to prove myself.”

“All my family’s gone to college and everyone does it. Most people do and I want to live the college life like a normal person.”

These kids aren’t saying anything unusual. The college experience has been put on a pedestal by both schools and students. But once you graduate and get into the real world, the college experience doesn’t necessarily lead to a real job.

How to Know If You Should Go to College

Bestselling author, entrepreneur and thought leader Seth Godin says that while there is a clear correlation between higher income and going to college, it’s not simply the degree that makes college worth anything.

“Think for a minute about a successful person you know,” he explains. “They are successful because they have an array of skills that include things like creativity, honesty, directness, leadership, resilience. Some people call these things soft skills. I call them real skills.”

Simply going to college is not what sets you up for success. It’s how you apply what you learn to grow your character and skill set. Mark Cuban agrees. Mark is an entrepreneur, billionaire, investor and owner of the Dallas Mavericks. But you probably know him best as one of the sharks from the show Shark Tank.

“I always said college is a place where you learn how to learn,” says Mark. “When you choose a college, it’s more about, are you committing to learn? Or are you committing just to do this because your parents want you to? Or because you don’t want to get a job and this is the next best thing? ‘I’ll just go to class and screw around and maybe I’ll meet somebody I can date. I’ll go party with some people.’ If that’s your attitude, you’ve already lost.”

8 Questions to Help You Know If College Is Worth It for You

College isn’t for everyone for several reasons. Some people don’t thrive in the college system. Others will need to get their grades up in order to qualify for scholarships and even get into college. And as thought leaders and alarming student loan statistics have revealed, going to college is a crazy expensive decision—and it’s not always the right one.

Here are eight questions to help you decide if college is right for you:

  1. Do you know what career you want to pursue?
  2. Do you want to learn how to learn?
  3. Does the career you want require a four-year degree?
  4. Is it what you really want, independently of your parents’ and family’s wishes?
  5. Is there a lot of job opportunity in the field you want to study?
  6. Do you have money saved up to go to college?
  7. Are you getting decent grades?
  8. What will you do to make your college plan cost less (i.e., community college, trade school, living at home instead of on campus, etc.)?

The College Lifestyle: Is It Worth It?

Anthony ONeal points out that one of the big reasons students and their parents are willing to shell out massive amounts of money for college is because it’s not just about higher education anymore—it’s about the lifestyle.

“I believe that there’s a time and place for everything,” says Anthony. “I want you to have a good time while you’re in college. I want you to enjoy the college experience. But I do not want you to fall for the lifestyle—as in, have the lifestyle own you.”

Seth Godin addresses the way college is marketed to students:

“Well, if I wanted to sell a college to the normal group of semi-unmotivated, semi-uninformed people, I would start with the football team. I would move on to the parties. I would then go on to shiny pictures of people at graduation. I wouldn’t mention student debt. I wouldn’t mention all the hours you have in between class—because most colleges aren’t good at helping people through that.”

He continues, “But there are so many things they can do during those four years. It’s not clear to me that they should be sitting there memorizing what year that some play was written. There are so many other ways to engage people while we were waiting for them to become fully baked.

“So, yeah, many magical things happened to me and to others during our college experience.” Seth says. “[But] I wonder what would happen if we had been in the Peace Corps during that period of time. I wonder what would happen if we had been part of an organization that helped kids who are less privileged . . . learn how to be in the world. So many things I could think of for that cohort of people to do, as opposed to advanced expensive school with a football team.”

Anthony agrees and begs the question, “Why do I have to spend $40,000 a year to learn how to deal with people?”

Anthony says he sees the benefits of going to college, but with the debt that so often comes with it, he just doesn’t think it’s worth it.

It’s going to be your character, your work ethic and how you present yourself [that makes you succeed]. . . and that doesn’t cost a dime.

“I can learn how to be respectful,” he says. “I could learn how to deal with attitudes. I can learn how to deal with different kinds of people for free. I can do that on my own. I do believe that colleges will open certain doors. Certain relationships will open certain doors, but it’s going to be your character, your work ethic and how you present yourself [that makes you succeed]. . . and that doesn’t cost a dime.”

With 1.6 trillion dollars in student loan debt being borrowed for life experience, that’s a lot of dimes.2 When you go to college for the experience, it’s easy to get sucked into the lifestyle.

According to The Survey of Consumer Debt conducted by Ramsey Research, 40% of Americans with student loan debt use their loans to pay for something totally unrelated to school—like spring breaks on the beach, new clothes, or late-night fast food runs.

Kyle, a science teacher in Nebraska who went to college debt-free, saw his friends fall into the lifestyle trap. “It was hard seeing my friends that were just stupid,” he says. “I saw my friends get these checks for scholarships and financial aid that they received. Instead of putting it toward the tuition and the cost of college, they would take that and go spend it on things that they wanted. I don’t think they understood at all how these checks worked. They would just spend it on purses and things like that, whereas they should’ve just taken that money and applied it to their college bill.”

Common sense is hard to come by these days. Brad Barnett is the director of financial aid and scholarships at James Madison University, and he sees the lack of common sense firsthand every day.

“They’re so into today,” says Brad, “[They think] ‘I’ll deal with it tomorrow. I’ll be making money tomorrow. I’ll be fine.’”

Brad says what they don’t realize is the bills for the lifestyle they’re living right now will eventually have a lot more zeros at the end. Interest accumulates, you graduate with more debt than you’ve ever had before, and the pressure to keep up that lifestyle won’t just go away.

“Because now you’re around people who are making more money,” he explains. “And then there’s more pressure to do more and to spend more [than you did] as that broke a college student, and it’s a wake-up call. And some of them don’t really wake up until decades down the road.”

Someone else who believes that college students are spending too much on the lifestyle is financial expert, bestselling author and host of The Rachel Cruze Show, Rachel Cruze. Rachel says the expectations of a college student should be that you’re broke, living on ramen noodles, and working hard.

Rachel says, “I would rather you live like a college student while you’re in college than try to live like a 25-year-old and graduate and have to go back to living like an actual college student because you have no money and so much debt.

“The good thing is that everyone else around you is in the same boat,” she continues. “Be broke together—enjoy the time of life because that’s the time you can actually be broke and enjoy it.”

Anthony ONeal still regrets the mistakes he made with student loans. “I spent $10,000 on my student loans just so I could have a lifestyle,” he admits. “Not one penny—hear me clearly—not one penny went toward books or education. It went toward the lifestyle.”

Anthony, Rachel and so many experts we spoke with agree: The cool college lifestyle isn’t worth student loan debt.

Do not allow the lifestyle to be the reason why you’re in bondage for the next 20, 30, 40 years,” says Anthony. “Sacrifice. Act like you’re broke. So that way, when you do graduate college, you can start enjoying some of the things that you wanted to enjoy. By now, you’re in your career and you have the resources, the financial resources to enjoy it.”

Is College Really an Investment?

Since people have been convinced that college is an investment for your future, they think it’s worth going into debt for. But like any investment, ROI is important. That’s return on investment.

Dave Ramsey is a bestselling author, financial expert and host of The Dave Ramsey Show, and he says there’s no guarantee you’ll ever see that return on investment. And he points out one of the things people always point to:

“They say, ‘Well, college graduates on average make more than noncollege graduates.’ But the problem is you’re leaving out the stupid stuff. And so what you’ve got to do is look at your particular degree field and say. . . ‘If I get a degree in German polka history, what am I going to get in that field?’ And that keeps you from getting caught up in this idea that college is always a good idea. College is not always a good idea any more than home ownership is always a good idea.”

Figuring out the ROI on your degree is just one piece of the puzzle. The reality is, that piece of paper may not be enough to land you your dream job. There’s more to it, and we got Ken Coleman to weigh in. He’s a career expert and host of The Ken Coleman Show.

“There’s a myth out there . . . that the moment you move the tassel and walk off the stage, employers are blowing your phone up: ‘We want you, you’re special. You had a good grade point average and picked a very attractive major.’ It’s a giant myth.

Ken believes it’s time to stop buying into that myth, especially since we already know the system isn’t working. “We have a real scourge—a real problem in America—where people are coming out of college with a degree, and they’re overqualified for what [job] they can actually get because the degree is not as important as it used to be for employers. And so you’ve got to be very careful to say, ‘Is this major, is this degree truly preparing me for my future?’”

If college won’t truly prepare you for your career and the rest of your adult life, then why is it worth it? At that point, is college even worth it at all? It’s a question that both students and parents need to take more seriously.

Too many people are sleepwalking their way into college and student loan debt. What starts as the “right” next step quickly turns into millions of students with decades of debt.

College exists to prepare you for a job and your future, but it’s not always the right next step. So you need to determine if it’s right for you.

If you or someone you know needs a path for how to avoid student loans and graduate debt-free, Anthony ONeal’s new book will help. Debt-Free Degree teaches parents how to help their kids pay for college without debt, even if they haven’t saved for it. This is a step-by-step plan that combines common sense and honest humor.

Debt-Free Degree doesn’t just tell you what to do. It also tells you why to do it, how to do it, and when to do it.

In the next episode of Borrowed Future, we’ll dive into why we choose the colleges that we do, why a famous college might not be worth the cost, and why a fancy cafeteria or even a pool shouldn’t be a deciding factor in your college choice.