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Success Wizard: Manage Your Credit Cards Effectively

(Originally published on August 28, 2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Jordan Patente

Whoever said genies aren’t real? While they no longer live in traditional magic lamps, they’ve moved to a smaller and more powerful house: the credit card. One swipe  (no need to rub!) and you’ll get what you want. And unlike the old genies, the credit card will not ask you to trade your soul in exchange for three wishes—you just need to affix your signature.

This is the life most of us are living. We treat the credit card as the modern day genie. This genie can give you the life you’ve been dreaming of, but on the other hand, it can also make your life miserable. If mismanaged, it can ruin you, your family and even your career.

With the help of my business partner Ramonchito Alba Flores, I will share tips on how to use your credit card and maximize its numerous benefits.

Your credit card management style ref lects your cash management approach. If you handle your cash right, you will do the same thing with the credit card. This means that if you have troubles handling cash, expect to have more of it with credit card. If you’re looking at a credit card to settle your debts, think twice and figure out long-term solutions.

For beginners, it is wise to maintain only one credit card account. Once you are confident about managing your credit card finances, then you can get another account that will give you more perks.

Choose your credit card wisely. There are several types of credit cards available. You can pick the most suitable card based on your requirements and financial situation. I highly recommend an account with annual membership charge. If you manage your account dues well and have no outstanding balance at the end of the year, your annual fee can be waived.

Make wise decisions about purchasing items you need versus those you simply want. Using your credit card responsibly means recognizing which things you need and which you just want. Use your credit card to buy things you can afford. Living a borrowed lifestyle and using a credit card as a substitute for cash is the quickest way to get into debt. To purchase something is easy, but it is hard to pay higher interest rates on credit amount. For ordinary purchases, leave your credit card in your wallet and use cash or a debit card instead.

Zero percent deals are good, but only if you have the cash to pay for these items. If the lack of cash is your reason for availing of the deal, forget it. Don’t count your chicken if the eggs have not yet hatched. If you have full control over your credit card, only then can you start enjoying credit card deals and promos. You can charge most of your expenses to it.

Be in touch with your credit card company and pay your monthly dues on time to avoid interest. You should have also knowledge of late fees, extra charges and hidden factors of your credit card account. Knowing your credit card terms and conditions will help you manage your debt effectively.

Don’t get into the habit of making minimum-only payments. Making only the minimum payment each month increases the amount of time it will take to pay off your debt. It also increases the amount of interest you end up paying. Spend based on your financial status.

Use your credit card if you have cash on hand. After the credit card purchase, save the cash to pay for it, and it should not be used until the due date comes. This strategy will earn credit card perks for you to enjoy. Credit card companies will entice you to spend and be indebted to them. That’s perfectly fine, but paying them so much interest is not.

Don’t give your credit card to someone. If you want to share your credit card, share it with someone you trust. Supplementary cards are good if the other person has credible exceptional financial management skills; if not, forget it.

Stay within 30 percent of your credit limit. Lower balances are easier to manage.

Communication is key. Let your creditor know in advance if you won’t be able to make your monthly payment on time. The worst thing you can do is simply forgoing your credit card payment. Most creditors will assist you if you let them know before you miss your payment. Simply call your creditor, briefly explain the situation, and ask that any late fees be waived. As a one-time goodwill gesture, credit card companies will grant you that. Let me end this article with a memorable story. This took place a couple of months ago and it will continue to happen as a result of good credit card management. Hopefully the above tips will earn you the same experience in the near future.

It was such a busy week for Dynamic Empowerment Philippines Co. that my business partner and I decided to unwind that weekend. We had a good meal and we watched a movie. The movie left us with topics to chat about over coffee. Just before we left the mall, for the first time I appreciated their parking system. It was an excellent day!

Dinner to parking was all-expense paid—thanks to our credit card. Credit card providers offered good promotions with our prior purchases and we’ve accumulated enough

receipts to exchange for all those perks that day. This, too, can happen to you. Don’t let your debt manage you; instead, manage it and enjoy boundless opportunities.

 

Jordan Willy Patente is the president of Dynamic Empowerment Philippines and has been a success coach for five years. He has also conducted motivational talks and directed musical and theatrical productions.

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

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Success Wizard: Control Bad Spending Habits Now

(Originally published on August 24,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Jordan Patente

My mother moved to a new address recently. She had to organize a lot of things before moving to the new house, and the most challenging part of moving was transporting all her knickknacks. I saw a lot of unused items still in their original packaging. These are pieces that do not fit her lifestyle and just occupy space in her house. Summing up the cost of all those items, she could have already bought a brand new bed.

Most of us complain about not having enough resources to fund our lifestyles. But if we look closely at our expenses, we’ll find that we’ve been investing in a lot on things we don’t need. Not a lot of us are aware of our spending habits.

Who doesn’t love red-hot specials? I know friends who mark their calendars to anticipate the big event. Some prepare their credit cards and borrow money, while others purchase items they feel are badly needed at that time.

There are thousands of good deals out there and if you are not strong enough to turn down temptations, you’ll be an impulsive buyer. I know colleagues who enjoy shopping so much that they let expenses control their lives.

Who said your earning is not enough for you to meet both ends? Who said the amount of money that comes in is more important than what you’re saving? I know a lot of employees who earn well and spend bigger than what they earn every month. Regardless of your earning capacity, how you deal with money defines your present and your future.

Below are some of the tips that you could use to control bad spending habits and start saving:

Make a list and stick to it. You have to be organized when shopping. Create a list and religiously follow it. This will help you avoid unnecessary purchases. The list is created to identify items that you need, and if it’s not in there, then it is unnecessary.

Follow a mandatory waiting period. When you see something you’d like to buy, rather than buying it on the spot, force yourself to think about it for a week. We normally want something with so much emotion the first time we see it, but think—do you really need it? After a week, you will realize if it’s a must-buy, or forget about it altogether.

Avoid shopping on payday. Most people feel richer on payday and are more vulnerable to frivolous purchases. Set a working budget first before you go shopping. This will set a limit to your spending so make sure you stick to it.

Pay in cash. Numerous studies have shown that when people pay in cash rather than their credit card, they tend to spend less. This is because using cash makes spending more real, and the money harder to part with. If you still opt to use your card, every time you use it, set aside your cash payment or pay your provider the day after.

Wait for second-generation gadgets. When it comes to buying the latest high tech gadgets, it makes sense to wait. Most technology decreases in price after it is initially released. Later versions usually have fewer bugs and better capability. Most of your current gadgets have all the functions you desire, so think wisely if you need a new one or just save the money for better use.

Set and focus on your goals. Knowing what’s important to you and what you really want to achieve with your money will help distract you from short-term wants.

Always begin with an end in mind. If discipline and control over your spending is a must to achieve your greater goals, do it. Saving and achieving your goals are just the effect of good money management. What you learn from the process is priceless and will give you boundless opportunities in return. Bigger goals, once achieved, will help finance your wants in the near future. For now, maximize your hard earned money by multiplying your fortune, not your liabilities.

These are some of the benefits that you’ll get when you follow these tips: you’ll see your savings grow, you’ll feel great pride in controlling your spending, and saving will become second nature.

 

Jordan Willy Patente is the president of Dynamic Empowerment Philippines and has been a success coach for five years. He has also conducted motivational talks and directed musical and theatrical productions.

 

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

BizMaker: Money Leeches in the Family

(Originally published on August 21,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Mark So

Because this is the third part in a series of articles, please go to my blog if you have not read the previous articles: http://www.markso.wordpress.com.

Recently I talked about being aware and effectively stopping your “Money Leeches.” Should a money leech appear who is not part of your immediate family, I recommended that you only offer P50 and not a centavo more. Although it may seem harsh, this is the first real step in getting your money to stay with you. Also remember that if you think you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your immediate family instead.

Money Leeches in the Family

The question now is, what if your money leeches are from your immediate family? Like a brother or a sister or a parent? What then?

First, let me define what an “immediate family money leech” is. This is the brother or sister or parent that will habitually ask you for money. Most of the time, they even feel entitled to it because of your blood relationship.

This is where it gets very sensitive for a lot of people. Everybody has a different opinion on this, but this is my clear-cut view on it: not all members of your immediate family carry the same weight. You must prioritize within your immediate family whom you can be generous to first.

In my life, my first priority is my wife and children, then my parents and my siblings. With that in mind, I give 90 percent of my money to my wife and children first, the next five goes to me, and the remaining five percent goes to a special fund in case an immediate family member needs it. So should there be a money leech in my immediate family, the maximum amount of cash I give is only the five percent of whatever I have at the time. Depending on how much money you have right now, that can either be very little or very big, but the point is even if it concerns immediate family (outside of my wife and children) my cash generosity is budgeted, controlled and managed.

If you are single, I do not suggest offering 90 percent to your immediate family—unless you plan to never marry, budget it at five to 10 percent because of two reasons: 1) If you give more than that, you might not have a money leech now. But if they get used to it, you would have created one down the road; and 2) You need money for when you get married someday. If there was a major regret I had in my life, it was that I didn’t plan financially when the time came for me to marry the love of my life. Even though it worked out in the end, I could have planned it much better.

Make no mistake—my life’s wealth is meant for my immediate family. Everything I make and have is meant to be shared with them, and to give them a better life. But if I have a money leech problem and do not budget and control it, the money leech will most definitely bleed me dry financially. And if I might add, if you are married and a money leech is within the immediate family, it can destroy your marriage if you don’t handle it properly Trust me. I’ve seen it happen. This is why I urge you to understand what I am sharing. If nothing else, I want all of you to have a great and happy marriage.

Be Generous in the Right Way

Before you decide that I am a heartless scrooge, do remember that we are just talking about money leeches in the immediate family who habitually ask for money and even feel entitled to it. If they are not leeching you dry and they desperately need help and you can afford to do so, then give what you can.

If you know me well enough, you would know that I am a very generous person. And the reason why I wrote what I wrote is because I was once extremely generous with my money to anyone and everyone. I learned that being overly generous with money, especially if you do not know how to manage it, is extremely dangerous and is a clear recipe for money to run away from you.

Instead, what I learned to do and what I want you to learn to do is to be generous in kind. To explain this further, I will give you two assignments today.

Assignment 1: Read my past article, entitled “Business Reciprocity,” in http://www.markso.wordpress.com. Comment on either that article or this one. Complain to me about the problems you have in completing the assignments. Believe me, I will read every single one.

Assignment 2: Set a budget for your Family Leeches and stick to it. Create a script on how you will say it to them. You can e-mail it to me if you want: markso@zerocapitalclub.com.

 

Mark So is a businessman, investor and educator. He is the chairman and CEO of BusinessmakerAcademy—a business, finance and corporate training center. He is the founder and Chief Forex Trainer of Forex Club Asia, a trading club of Forex Traders across Asia. He is also the founder and chief trainer of the Philippine Franchise Institute, which specializes in training and growing existing Franchise businesses. A sought after speaker for business and investing, you may e-mail your comments and questions to mhso@businessmaker-academy.com or call the office at (2) 687-4445/3416/4645 for a schedule of his seminars.

 

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Success Wizard: Start Managing Your Money Now

(Originally published on August 7,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Jordan Patente

I landed my first job as soon as I graduated college. That was seven years ago. Just like any other Juan, I wanted to plant as many trees that could bear fruits in the near future.

Those were the years I established my career and personal life. I now have my training business and still manage to work in a multi-million company. I live in my own house and drive my own car, all because of my relationship with money.

Growing up was a humbling experience. I only had my mother to raise me. Mom did her best to meet both ends for my two siblings and me. I know that there were times when Mom was in financial turmoil, and it was for this reason that I started managing my finances during college; and it contributed a lot to my accomplishments of seven years.

If you manage your finances early in your life, you will most likely do the same thing when you mature. You only reap what you sow. Below are some of the tips that I used to train myself in money management:

Allocate a weekly budget

If your parents can afford to give you a week’s worth of allowance, ask for it. This is an effective strategy to forecast your expense limit for the week. I still do the same thing now. Every payday, I allocate a daily and weekly allowance. Keeping your expenses within limit will develop self-discipline. Managing money is about self-control. Never let money control you.

Most of my work colleagues are in financial turmoil because they allow money to manage their life. Money is just an object, and without the spender it is nothing. Take full control of your money, and decide on when and how to use it.

Social stature

Today, high tech mobile phones are selling like hot cakes. If you don’t possess the latest popular gadget, you are out of fashion. Part of managing your finances is the people that you surround yourself with. If you choose to group yourself with “rich kids,” you might force yourself to spend like them. I have nothing against people with money, but you need to keep your finances within limits. If you can’t meet their standards, the choice is yours to either stretch it or look for a better crowd to suit your money situation.

Invest early

Your today is your tomorrow. When I was still in school, I sold all types of bags, coffee mugs and even scented candles to help me save for my thesis. Today, I have small businesses that have become earning streams. Selling would’ve been out of my comfort zone if I didn’t try it firsthand.

In my last “Magic to Success” theatrical seminar, I had a participant who was just 17 years old. It was a heartfelt experience, because having a participant his age is a testament that in the near future, another successful man will be born.

Starting early is good training for all of us. The more we expose ourselves to success, the more we become successful.

We are all after our own emotional growth and maturity. Starting young means more opportunity to learn, as well as a bigger chance of becoming the new breeds of success.

I’ll be teaching a financial management seminar dubbed “Magic to Success (Money, Love and Health)” on September 24 in Ortigas Foundation Library at 7:30 a.m. To maintain high quality of training, we will only accommodate 50 participants. This event is not your typical seminar. We will talk about success tips to fast track the  accomplishment of your dreams. Participants will be asked to put their learning into action within the seminar. We also have actors to play key parts to fast track your learning. You may contact us at (915) 211- 7878, (2) 380-3180 or e-mail us at dynamicempowermentphilippines@gmail.com.

Jordan Willy Patente is the president of Dynamic Empowerment Philippines and has been a success coach for five years. He has also conducted motivational talks and directed musical and theatrical productions.

 

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Bizmaker: Make Money Run After You

(Originally published on August 3,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Mark So

Don’t think for one second that because the world is in financial crisis, there is no money going around. The truth is far from it. The fact is that the world is literally overflowing with money. It may not seem like this applies today, but always remember this: money is never destroyed—only transferred.

Wealth, on a daily basis, is constantly transferred from those who do not know how to manage money to those who do. Even, and most especially, during a financial crisis, this holds true.

Let me take the recent financial crisis, break it down for you, and explain how wealth was transferred. I’ll show you the steps to begin the process of “wealth flow.”

This article will be the first of a series, with each article ending with an activity or task. If you seriously want money to run after you, I strongly recommend that you follow the assignments for every article and give me feedback along the way.

In the recentU.S.financial crisis that started June of 2007 and reached its peak in October of 2008, theU.S.stock market (and consequently the Philippine stock market) lost more than 50 percent of its value. Most people panicked and took out their money, or whatever that was left of it, for fear of losing even more. When they did that, they lost half of their wealth—which took a lifetime to build—in a span of days. As of

September 29, 2008, approximately $1.2 trillion was wiped out in theU.S.alone.

Let me repeat: The money was not lost. It was merely transferred.

During the same crisis, there were a few brave souls who bought those stocks at extremely low prices. They held on to it, and became a whole lot richer overnight. Warning: Do not be overwhelmed by what I am going to share next. Even if my examples are in billions of U.S. dollars, the principles I want you to pick up will and can be applied to your situation. More importantly, do not put in everything you have in any investment vehicle because of this. This is not the point of my example.

In theU.S.the most notable figure to do this was Warren Buffet, who bought a significant chunk of shares at Goldman Sachs in September 2008.

Despite the odds and the panic, Buffet bought the shares at basement bargain prices. He invested $5 billion, held on to it during the worst of the crisis (which was October 2008), and turned it into $8.7 billion very recently. Another similar story–although he did not buy stocks but rather bet against them (a.k.a. short trading)—is John Paulson of Paulson and Co., who made a killing by betting against the U.S. subprime mortgage market. He made $4 billion after the worst of the crisis was over. Although Buffet and Paulson were the few covered by the media, there were more who made killings, as well, but the public just didn’t know about it.

Now you might be thinking that those guys are professional investors—how can you ever come close to doing that yourself? Well, first let me explain that this is just one of many examples of “wealth flow transference.” You don’t have to be in stocks or investments to apply what I will be teaching you in the next few articles. For those of you who know me and have been following my column, you know that I will teach you how to do it in a very practical and “anybody-can-do-it” approach, so read on.

While I am not saying that you cannot be a billionaire, I will leave that option wide open for anybody willing to try; but before we think about billions, or even millions, let’s first come back to earth and start with the basics.

How and where do I Begin?

I’m designing this and the succeeding articles as thoroughly as possible so that you will not only understand it, but also experience it by applying it to your life, article by article. Of course you may opt to go faster and I will inform you how to do that in the very near future.

In the meantime, this should be your first “realization” for this particular article: Running after money if you do not know how to manage it will result in you forever chasing after it. Get your house in order first, build a strong foundation for money management, and you will see that the money will start running towards you—and staying with you.

Now to learn and apply this lesson, here is your first assignment:

1. Go to my blog http://www.markso.wordpress.com and subscribe to it.

2. Search for, read and comment on the following articles in the blog’s search box:

a. “The Most Important Advice About Money I can Ever Give You”

b. “Money Management Simplified parts 1 to 3”

Good luck—until the next article!

 

Mark So is a businessman, investor and educator. He is the chairman and CEO of BusinessmakerAcademy—a business, finance and corporate training center. He is the founder and Chief Forex Trainer of Forex Club Asia, a trading club of Forex Traders across Asia. He is also the founder and chief trainer of the Philippine Franchise Institute, which specializes in training and growing existing Franchise businesses. A sought after speaker for business and investing, you may e-mail your comments and questions to mhso@businessmaker-academy.com or call the office at (2) 687-4445/3416/4645 for a schedule of his seminars.

 

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

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