#TheLittleThings #SweatTheSmallStuff #LuckIsAMyth
The little decisions we make every day can make a difference in how our lives turn out.
Are you going to buy that cup of coffee, lunch etc., instead of making your own?
Are you going to engage in “retail therapy,” because something just happened to you?
Do you end a week not knowing where the money you had in your pocket went?
Andy Andrews tells us in his book, “The Little Things,” that we should sweat the small stuff.
And he concludes the book by saying that luck is a myth.
“Luck is undetectable because it is nonexistent,” he writes. “Luck is something wished for as the dice are rolling and blamed as soon as they stop,” he writes.
“You are strong, smart and capable. You will choose wisely because you have already chosen to open your mind, soul and spirit to the vital little things and their promise of ever-bigger things to come,” he writes.
Most people believe that circumstances – luck, as it were – dictate what a person’s life will be like. Perhaps it’s a job you got, or didn’t get, or lost. Perhaps you’ve been told that you are only going to go so far in life, and if you get there, you’ve have been the best you could have been.
Perhaps you believe that the rich are rich because they are lucky, and the poor are poor because they are unlucky. Certainly, circumstances can play a role in those cases, but they are not the whole picture.
Circumstances are usually things you cannot control. But you can always control how you respond to them.
Let’s take the little things mentioned above. Making and bringing coffee, or lunch, with you to work can save you a couple bucks a day. What if you put that money away in a relatively safe investment and paid no attention to it for, say, 20 years?
How much do you think you would have? What if you did the same for your lunch? What if you did that most every day, but treated yourself, say, once a week?
What if you could manage your instinct to shop for something you don’t need, to make yourself feel better. What if you could pick an amount you would have spent, and put that money away in a safe investment? How much do you think you would have in 20 years?
Attitude plays a key role in whether you become prosperous, or not. It almost doesn’t matter how much you earn in your job. If you can learn to live below your means, and saved your leftover money, you could be amazed at the prosperity you would have created.
Perhaps your job really pays very little. Perhaps you feel the need to augment that income. There are many ways you may not be aware of in which you could do that, a few hours a week, part-time outside of your regular job, that could put a good bit of extra money in your pocket. To check out one of the best, message me.
So, you don’t have to rely on luck to change your life. You can change EVERYTHING by changing how you think, and what you think about.
Don’t listen to those who tell you there is only so far you can go. If you look for it, your life could change tomorrow. The sky could be the limit.


#millennials #investors #savers #spenders
Millennials don’t see themselves as investors.
According to the 2016 Fidelity Investments Millennial Money Study, 46 percent of the millennials surveyed considered themselves as savers, 44 percent considered themselves spenders and only 9 percent considered themselves investors.
This study was quoted in an Adam Shell article for USA Today, which was published April 27, 2017, in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Despite Wall Street’s attempts to woo the nation’s largest generation into the stock market, millennials have yet to embrace investing, Shell’s article says. Only one in three say they invest in stocks, the article quotes a Bankrate.com survey.
A Black Rock study says nearly half of the millennials surveys found the market “too risky,” the article says.
And, four in 10 say they don’t have enough spare income to put away for the future, the article quotes a financial literacy survey from Stash, a financial app.
Let’s break down the facts. If you are a saver, and are putting money away, where are you stashing it? In a bank? Under your mattress?
In this market, the rates of return on that money between those alternatives are not far apart.
Secondly, there is wild and crazy – “risky” – investing, and there is careful investing. Each requires consultation with someone you trust , but here’s a good rule of thumb: as you start investing, look for more conservative vehicles, i.e. relatively safe mutual funds. As your wealth grows, you can diversify and take a few, well-thought-out risks. If you really do well, and want to play, take a very small amount of money and invest aggressively.
Here’s another rule: it’s difficult to have a nice nest egg for retirement just keeping your money in a bank. There are very few, if any, traditional, regulated banking products that are paying decent returns. Banks are wonderful institutions for your checking account, and perhaps a small savings account to cover unexpected expenses.
But to really be a saver for retirement, you have to take SOME risk. And, make no mistake, EVERYONE has to save for retirement. As stock-market-loving baby boomers can attest, you never know when your job is going to go away.
For those of you in the category of not having enough spare money to save for the future, there are ways to solve that problem. First and foremost, you have to make saving for the future a priority in your life. Even if you see yourself as a spender rather than a saver, you have make SOME saving a priority, or the fun you are having today will turn into poverty when you retire, or when that good job goes away.
A suggestion might be to look at the many ways out there to use your spare time to earn a secondary income. To check out one of the best such vehicles, message me.
In short, saving is not just prudent, but necessary. The more you save when you are young, the more you will have, and the better your life will be, when you are older. If you are a millennial, talk to your parents about what to do. However their lives have turned out, there are lessons in their lives that will apply to you. Don’t underestimate their story, or their advice.
As you save, some risk will become necessary. Though the stock market looks scary, over time it has proved to provide the best returns. Find a trustworthy, knowledgeable adviser to help you get started, and who will continue to work with you. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions about fees, returns etc., so that you will have a clear picture of how to proceed.
Finally, watch what you spend. Don’t deprive yourself, necessarily, but look for things you can eliminate to allow you to save more money. Remember that a dollar in your pocket generally is better for you than a dollar you put into someone else’s pocket.
Your future could well depend on decisions you make in your youth. You don’t have to depend on things “going right,” if you make good choices now.


#HappyRetirement #GiveBack #StayPositive
Happiness in retirement may not entirely be based on how much money one saves for that purpose.
Many other things go into it, according to Wes Moss, chief investment strategist for the Atlanta-based Capital Investment Advisors, host of the “Money Matters” show on WSB radio in Atlanta and personal finance columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
He discussed his eight rules for a happy retirement in his newspaper column June 7, 2016.
His eight rules include: 1) Skip the BMW. Own a car that is comfortable, reliable and affordable. 2) Stay the course on investments. Don’t chase the next “hot stock.” 3) Give back. Find a cause you care about and contribute your time, talent and money. 4) Don’t move or renovate. Make sure you are happy with your home before you stop working. 5) Buy the big stuff before you retire. When you spend your money is just as important as how much you spend. 6) Start now. He writes that 44 percent of unhappy retirees in Moss’ study group were dissatisfied with how much retirement planning they’d done. 7) Know your rich ratio – the amount of money you have in relation to what you need. Or, monthly income divided by monthly expenses. 8) Stay positive. People probably won’t retire when they want to because they don’t believe they can, he says.
It’s certainly important to save for retirement, starting at the youngest age possible. Some in previous generations did not begin saving until their children were adults, or near adulthood.
With the job situation very fluid today, one should not expect to work for as long as he or she wants. People are very often retired early not by their own choosing. If you’ve developed good saving and investing habits as a young person, you need not fear this problem.
Also, one should always have a Plan B, in case a good job goes away prematurely. It’s difficult to be a happy retiree when one is forced into the situation. One Plan B might be to turn a hobby into an income-producing activity. Another might be extensive, careful investing throughout your life.
There are other Plan Bs that allow people to make additional income without the need for an extra traditional W-2 job. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau
As Moss writes, retirement is more than just sitting in a chair resting from years of labor.
It’s meant to be an enjoyable part of your life. You can certainly do things you love to do, but many experts say that it’s best to have a purpose in life, no matter what your age. That’s probably where Moss’ “give back” rule comes in.
“The happiest retirees envisioned a future and worked consistently toward that future with optimism – secure in the knowledge that while the economy and stock market can be a crazy ride, the long-term trend has been decisively positive,” Moss writes.
If you are young, think about when you might want to stop working, and prepare for that time. Set a goal. Follow Moss’ advice and don’t let fear and pessimism kill your dreams. Enjoy your young life, but also prepare for a good life as you get older.
Always have in the back of your mind that one day, the good job you have might disappear. If it doesn’t, you will have lucked out. If it does, the well-prepared person will goforth knowing he’s done his best to be happy in the face of an unexpected turn.
We can’t control our circumstances, but we can do what we can to react positively when things don’t go as we would want.


#trust #retirement #saving
America has an issue with trust, and it’s getting worse.
So said a headline in the Feb. 14, 2016, edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The headline was over an article by Gail MarksJarvis, personal finance columnist with The Chicago Tribune, and author of “Saving for Retirement Without Living Like a Pauper or Winning the Lottery.”
MarksJarvis wrote about Richard Edelman, president of the Edelmen public relations firm. He spoke to a group of CEOs about trust, and why fewer and fewer people are trusting big institutions, be they government, corporations or other large entities.
“Economists have been troubled throughout the recovery (from the 2008 economic collapse) that even though incomes were slowly rising and households should have more pocket money now that gas prices are low, spending hasn’t followed the expected trend. Consumers are increasing their saving and being careful about spending,” MarksJarvis writes.
Of course, the CEOS want to know about this because they want to sell more of their products and services. They want to know how to get people to part with more of their purses’ contents.
Remember, a few years before the collapse, we were told that people weren’t saving enough? After the collapse, for many, saving became even more difficult, so we still have a real problem with people not having nearly enough put away for retirement, or even enough for emergency expenses that are crucial to life.
Now that some of those folks are “recovering,” they are beginning to save more. This has to be good for most of us, albeit not so good for businesses.
Who would have thought that the big drop in gasoline prices would have Wall Street in a tailspin? Turns out that companies who went out looking for new sources of oil, natural gas etc., borrowed lots of money to do it. Now, as oil prices have sunk, these companies are having difficulty paying their debts back. That’s having an effect throughout the economy.
Through all this, it seems, Americans have become jaded and have no faith that the institutions of community are looking out for them. It’s certainly OK to be skeptical, but when skepticism turns to cynicism, everyone, eventually, gets hurt.
The lesson here is to look for people and institutions you feel you can trust, and work with them. Continue to spend carefully, and save aggressively. Also know that no matter how much money a corporation makes or saves, your job, if you have one, could still be in peril.
If you are scared, or angry, at what you see happening in the country or around the world, take a breath. Americans still have a great capacity for turning miserable circumstances into wonderful success. If you’d like to be part of that turnaround, and see yourself as success waiting to happen, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. You’ll find stories of people from all walks of life who have turned their difficult circumstances into powerful success.
As the title of MarksJarvis’ book suggests, you CAN save for retirement without impoverishing yourself or winning the lottery. It takes discipline and careful spending – things Americans seem to be doing.
Sometimes one has to look hard to find someone, or some institution, he or she can trust to look out for him or her. They are out there, but one has to keep looking and not get discouraged.


#retirement #investments #saving
Investing for retirement need not be scary.
It also need not be impossible, no matter your income, age or situation.
Also, a secure retirement happens because of actions YOU take, not what someone else promises to give you.
Nanci Hellmich discussed investing for retirement, based on Tony Robbins book “Money: Master the Game; 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom,” in an article published Dec. 10, 2014, in USA Today.
Before getting to Robbins’ seven steps, let’s examine your plans for retirement. Do you believe you have to work until you die? Are you saving regularly out of each paycheck? Did you get so financially hammered during the Great Recession that your retirement is doomed? Did you lose your job in the Great Recession, forcing a premature retirement?
Let’s presume you are still working, even if you are working in a job that underpays you – that’s a growing trend these days. Find an amount, it doesn’t have to be much, that you can take out of each paycheck and put away. You have to look at it occasionally to monitor how your investment is doing, but don’t withdraw it until you retire.
If you are forced to retire before you want to, or are financially able to, try not to eat into that fund too quickly. It’s OK to use the dividends, interest etc., for income, but try to hold onto your principal as long as you can.
Robbins’ first two steps, Hellmich’s article says, is to become an investor rather than a consumer and to know what you are invested in. The former is a mindset. When money gets into your hands, you have to first think about paying yourself, before you think about what you will buy. The latter may require some good advice from someone you trust who will look out for your interests before his own.
Robbins third and fourth steps involve taking action. Don’t be afraid to start a retirement fund because you believe you’ll never have enough money in it to retire. If you are young, calculate what you think you’ll need to retire comfortably, and save accordingly. Then, evaluate your asset allocation, which is a big term for knowing how your money is invested. You may take more risk as a young investor, and perhaps change that allocation to more income-producing vehicles later in life, Hellmich quotes Robbins.
Again, the latter may require some help, but you can help yourself by figuring out ways you can save your money.
The last three Robbins tips again involve your thought process. You have to create a lifetime income plan, and believe you can be among the wealthy. Once you get there, enjoy the sacrifices you have made. “Start where you are, and you’ll begin to find out that there’s more than enough wealth for you,” Hellmich quotes Robbins.
If you are still a child, develop that savings and investment mindset early. If you have change in your pocket at the end of the day, put it in a jar. When the jar is full, take the coins to your local bank and put them in your own savings account. Don’t touch the money until at least when you go to college, or go to work after high school.
As an adult, you will already have the right mindset, and can get more sophisticated about saving and investing for retirement.
Lastly, you may be older, approaching retirement, fearful you don’t have enough money. There are many ways out there to solve this problem. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. Check it out with friends in the same situation.
Then, all of you can watch your retirement accounts blossom.



#newyear #happynewyear #jointheride

The new year is coming this week. Do you know where you are?

Not your precise location, but where you are in life?

Better yet, do you know where you want to be? Is where you are en route to where you want to be, or are you currently off course, or lost?

If you’re off course, or lost, do you know what you need to do to get back on course? Do you see yourself never knowing where you are going, or even where you want to go?

Let’s start where you are, because it’s really the only place to start from.

If you are young, say 20-something, or 30-something, you are probably en route to somewhere. Do you have an idea of your ultimate destination? Your destination is all that’s important, because you’ll undoubtedly hit some bumps in the road, or turns that will get you off course. If you know that, you’ll know what you have to do to get back on course.

If you are fortunate enough to have a smooth ride to your ultimate destination, great. Chances are, though you won’t, so plan on unexpected diversions.

One way to combat diversions is to form good habits. If you like gooey desserts or snacks, forgo one a week. If you buy a cup or two of coffee a day, consider cutting out one or two a week. Better yet, make your own coffee at home and bring it with you. Same with any meals you might eat at work.

However you do it, figure out the money you are saving and PUT IT AWAY into a safe investment. Do the same with any raises you get at work, though these days, raises are scarce. Don’t touch what you’ve saved.Let it grow.

You’ll be surprised at how much money you’ll have at, say, age 50.

If you’ve reached 50 or higher, time is not on your side. But those same llitle things can still help you. Keep in mind, though that there are many vehicles out there that might help you make up lost ground. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. Younger folks, too, may find a way to get to their destinations faster by exploring this option.

So take the time to figure out where you are, where you want to go and how you are going to get there.

Consider being an entrepreneur. For a good manual on how to do that, check out Darren Hardy’s book, “The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster.”

Regardless of what you do, plan for obstacles, but know your destination. And, know what you need to do to get there.

Happy New Year!



#cheapoil #OPEC #gasprices

The elements of an improving economy may not be obvious to everyone.
But the shrinking price of gasoline certainly is.
In fact, gasoline is as cheap as it has been in many years.
Why is it so cheap and how long are these prices expected to last?
On Thanksgiving Day 2014, OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) decided not to cut crude oil production to raise prices.
On top of that, the United States, Canada and other regions are producing more oil, according to an article by Rick Jervis for USA Today. His article appeared in the Tennessean newspaper in Nashville Nov. 23, 2014, prior to the OPEC meeting on Thanksgiving.
Jervis’ article pointed out that while OPEC could still influence the oil market, it doesn’t have as much clout as it did years ago. In fact, a decision by OPEC – whatever that was – would have made the front page of every U.S. newspaper years ago. On Friday, newspapers ran the story but most ran it on the inside, or on the front of the business section.
Sure, we are loving paying less at the pump. It’s real money going back into our pockets. Still, the oil industry doesn’t like these low prices. OPEC was between a rock and a hard spot. If it cut production to raise prices, it would encourage more oil exploration in the United States and elsewhere. Getting oil out of the shale and tar sands of North Dakota and Texas, though it has been a blessing for us consumers, is still more expensive than getting it out of the deserts of the Middle East.
The lower prices are discouraging more exploration here and, as Jervis’ article pointed out, OPEC was keenly aware of that. The oil industry is not in business to give us cheap gasoline, though that has been the result of alternative oil sourcing.
Another big bonus for the United States is that it is not so reliant on countries who may not like us much. Though any new skirmish in the Middle East could send oil prices soaring again, it would also encourage more exploration here.
Also, we are using less oil and gasoline here. Vehicles are more fuel efficient. Many vehicles are only partially fueled by gasoline. Some vehicles are not fueled at all by gasoline. Less demand keeps prices down.
And, as The New York Times recently reported, alternative fuels, such as wind and solar power, are becoming nearly as cost-effective as coal and natural gas. That will trend well toward keeping oil and gasoline prices down.
In the last several years, many of us have been hurt by a troubled economy. We’ve been hurt so badly that we don’t see what’s good about today’s economy.
What should we do? First, put the money you are saving at the gas pump into a savings vehicle. It will take you a while to see financial recovery that way, but it would be a start.
Second, if you truly aren’t feeling the good economy, check out the many other ways there are to make money outside of a job. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. You’ll find average people making above-average incomes, and helping others do the same.
Just because you can’t see everything happening in the economy doesn’t mean they aren’t happening. The gasoline prices are obvious to all of us. The rising stock market may not be obvious to all.
The lesson for all of us is to be optimistic about the future. Don’t let the naysayers tell you we are heading for hell in a hand basket. The future looks bright. And, you can make your own future bright by taking action you may never have thought of taking. Go for it! You won’t know what there is to gain until you look for it.


If you are finally back at work after a long unemployment, your life has changed.
In decades past, one may have had a job that had ebbs and flows. He worked when there was work, and got laid off when times were slow – only to be hired back when times improved.
In those days, jobs – particularly in the trades – didn’t go away. They sometimes went on vacation. Those who faced that situation often planned for it. More importantly, when they got hired back, it was often a better situation from what they had before.
For most professions, THOSE DAYS ARE GONE!
Today, if one gets laid off, often the job is never coming back. The person has to re-invent himself or herself. That can take time. You may know someone, even yourself, who has been out of work for months or years. As they look for jobs, they are discriminated against because they have been unemployed for so long. If they get another job, it is often for less money than they were making.
Wall Street Journal reporter Veronica Dagher talked to experts in the field and, in an article published March 2, 2014, offers advice to those who are finally working again after a long employment. In short, the six steps Dagher found in her research are: 1) Celebrate in moderation. Have a drink or an expensive cup of coffee, but don’t take a big vacation. 2) Set a new budget. A smaller salary means a reduced lifestyle. 3) Start saving and tackle debt. Bills may have drained your savings and increased your debt. Start building your savings and paying down debt. 4) Get a checkup. You’ve probably put your health on hold to save money. Start taking care of yourself again. 5) Catch up on retirement. You’ve probably drained any retirement account you may have had. Start building it back up. 6) Plan on your job going away again. Employers are constantly restructuring. They have to. You are just one reorganization, or one bad manager, away from the end of your career in certain fields.
If you are working, be thankful — no matter how bad your job seems to be. If your work situation is terrible, look to find something you can do part-time to help you get out of it. A second job may not be the answer you are looking for. There are oodles of opportunities out there to augment your income without having a traditional job. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. You, and your friends who may be in the same boat, just might find a way to eventually walk out of miserable jobs with smiles on your faces.
Re-inventing oneself is not the same as being someone you aren’t. You can still be you, with all your beliefs, quirks etc. Re-inventing oneself means taking control of YOUR situation. You can’t stop your employer from downsizing or reorganizing. He may be very sad to have to let you go. Regardless, things happen and YOU have to deal with it. Often, that means changing priorities, learning new things and, most of all, being open to looking at new things.
Not everything out there is going to suit you. Sometimes, you have to take a job you hate to get you over an immediate financial hump. But, long term, the future is in your hands and you can achieve great things if you want to.
Here’s hoping that if you were out of work for a long time, that you’ve finally found a new job that suits you. If you are newly unemployed, check out some of those other opportunities out there while you are looking for a new job.
If you have a job you hate, or you have a job you fear is going to go away, start to re-invent yourself now. Spend your free time checking into some of the ways to pick up extra money. So, when, or if, the day comes that your boss tells you goodbye, you’ll be OK.
Or, better yet, you can tell your boss goodbye first, and leave smiling.


We are inundated with coupons.
Merchants use them for effective marketing.
But many have an expiration date on them.
Wise shoppers clip coupons for only what they use – or might use.
If you happen to need that can of artichokes before the coupon expires, you put a few cents in your pocket when you buy it, using the coupon.
But here’s the reward: if you didn’t need it before the coupon expires, you put the entire cost of the item back in your pocket, and throw the coupon away.
As you do, do you feel as if you’ve thrown THE VALUE of the coupon away, or have you saved money by not buying the item?
If you have storage space in your home, you could have bought the artichokes at the coupon price and stored them until you needed them. That would have been wise, if you could do it.
Or, you could shop several stores and see what artichokes go for. If you find them below the coupon price at a store that won’t take your coupon, the shopping effort is worth it, providing you won’t see your savings burned up in gasoline to get to that other store.
The point here is that when you buy things you use, there are ways to save lots of money with a little effort. Countless people don’t bother to use coupons. They can’t be bothered clipping them. They throw lots of money away. Over years, those little, unused savings add up. They might even mean the difference between retiring at, say, 60, and having to work until, say, 70.
Saving money is not rocket science, but you have to devote some time. Very few people go into the first car dealer they see to buy a car. Very few people would have a Realtor take them to look at one house, and buy it on the spot. But we seem to think that a penny here, a nickel there, a dime over here makes no difference in our lives.
This is where little things form a big picture. It’s OK to clip a coupon and throw it away. Obviously, you didn’t need the item when it was on sale. You may know people who will buy something JUST BECAUSE it’s on sale. They’ll take it home, and maybe they will figure out how they can use it.
Know what you use, and buy only what you use!
By the way, electronics are usually big-ticket items. One could go broke keeping up with the trends in gadgets. Have you ever met a person who will cheap out and cover over a roof leak only with shingles, and not replace the wood underneath, but has every electronic gadget imaginable inside their homes?
These are misplaced priorities. Do you have your spending priorities straight? That will go a long way to a great life.
If you are a careful shopper, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. Check out the plethora of big savings, and little ones. You’ll also see a way to earn potentially a lot of money.
The next time you see a person down on his luck, and you feel comfortable giving that person advice, ask him whether he knows where every penny of what he earns goes. Chances are, he does not. He spends without thinking, much of the time. Those who spend carefully may not have every trendy thing, but they have what they need – and much of what they might want. Little actions, multiplied over time, can pay big dividends.