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101 Personal Finance Tips to Improve Your Finances

06/15/2007

I have made many financial mistakes in my life. Speaking to the many friends I have, I am not alone. Below is a long list of tips that I learnt and want to pass on.

Budgeting and Frugal Tips

1. Keep track of your expenses – Successful businesses know where every penny goes. To be successful financially, you need to do the same. No excuses. Get microsoft Money or Quicken. They will help you trememdously in this aspect.

2. Have a budget – You know you need one. But you do not have the habit of doing this. If you really have trouble with this, hire a bookeeper.

3. Set up an emergency fund. – This one is so elementary. But yet , it is so important especially for those who do not have a stable job (like an entertainer, stock broker etc). Setting aside a rainy day fund is a must. For some, three months is enough. For others, one year worth of emergency money is crucial.

4. Not factoring in potential house maintenance in your budget – When you do your annual budget, you should always factor in any house maintenance cost that you may incur during the year. Let’s face it, something always breaksdown.

5. Stick to your budget when you a house – Frankly speaking, I’ve never met anyone who has stuck to a budget when ing house. But it is perhaps your biggest expense in your lifetime. So do your house hunting carefully and be as disciplined as you could.

6. Use newspaper coupons for your grocery shopping – A Sunday newspaper cost about $1.50. But the amount of coupons and savings from them make it worthwhile. You are leaving money on the table if you are not coupon cutting.

7. Use coupons from coupon sites – Make use of coupons from sites like couponcabin.com and you will be surprised on how much you can save on your routine purchasees.

8. Make use of sale season to make your purchases – Timing is everything, as they say. This also applies to shopping for things that you want. After Christmas sales, discounts during various holidays in the year are good opportunities to get things that you want for cheaper.

9. Do not unnecessary stuff because of sale season – If you things unnecessarily because of these sales promotion, then it is not a good idea. Being disciplined is the key here.

10. Have a grocery list – By not having a grocery list, you waste time at the supermarket and more stuff than you actually need.

11. Have a christmas shopping list – Same argument as above. It is like having a budget. When you have a budget or a list, you are more likely to stick to it. When you do not have a christmas budget, you end up with a higher than normal balance on your credit cards.

12. Include birthday gifts and other gifts in your budget – Another one of those items that we never budget for. When you sit down to do your next budget, gather all the receipts of presents you have bought and include that in your budget.

13. Unsubscribe from magazines you do not read – Are you subscribing to too many magazines but not reading them? Yes, they are cheap, but you can get most magazines at the public library.

14. Cut down on expensive hobbies – If you are wealthy enough, you can do whatever you want with your money. But if you are that well off, then doing the “Carrie Bradshaw” and loading up your closet with Manolo Blanik shoes isn’t exactly the wisest use of your hard earned money.

15. Do not use bundled cable, TV and Wireless services – Comcast, Verizon and all other cable and telephone companies are bundling their cable, tv and internet services into one single bill. If you really want to get the cheapest deal, looking for seperate deals will normally save you more money.

16. Make full use of yoiur local library – Modern libraries have magazines, CDs and even DVDs for rental. Rather than subscribing to tons of magazines, or using netflix, head to the library instead. You’ll be surprised how much they have and how much you can save on these items.

Insurance Tips

17. Know why you an insurance policy – Yes, too many people do not know why they bought a policy in the first place. You probably sat down with a slick insurance salesperson and before you know it, you have bought a few policies. Buying insurance should be based on a thorough financial plan where your needs, financial goals and risk tolerance is analysed.

18. Make sure you have adequate disability insurance – I cannot emphasize how important it is to have adequate disability insurance. I know someone who had a stroke in between jobs and did not have any disability insurance. This person may not get back into the workforce for another year. He has to eat into his savings at the moment. Do not let that happen to you.

19. Use an insurance trust to your insurance – While insurance proceeds pass on to your heirs and beneficiaries free of probate, they are still included in your estate. The way to get around this is to set up a trust (an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT)) and have the ILIT your insurance. That way, the insurance proceeds are out of your estate. If you transfer an existing policy into an ILIT, there is a three year look back period.Not raising your deductibles on your insurance – Raising your deductibles on your insurance will lower your rates.

20. Do not make every single small claim on your insurance – The more small claims you make on your insurance, the chances are that you premiums will go up. Insurance companies do not like customers who claim for every small item as they are costly to process.

21. Have adequate liability coverage – Make sure you have enough liability coverage on your property and auto insurance. Being sued is a real risk and you do not want that risk hanging over you.

22. Update your variable annuity – Variable annuities were sold in the nineties based on tax deferred growth of the portfolio inside an annuity. However, they are now new features in variable annuities like living benefits, market locks that make old ones really outdated. If you bought a variable annuity a few years ago, it is time for a review and perhaps get a new one through a 1035 exchange.

23. Have an umbrella policy – If you are a high networth individual or a high profile individual, you can face substantial litigation risk. Having an umbrella policy is the most basic step you can take and it essentially covers about 80% of your potential litigation risk. Not having one is simply not prudent.

24. Get long term care policy – We all know the rising cost of health care. The cost of a nursing care facility can ruin you financially within a few years if you are unprepared. Getting a good long term care policy is almost a must unless you are wealthy enough to self-insure.

Credit Card and Credit Score Tips

25. Put your credit card bills on autopay – This is the number one reason why we pay our bills late. You either miss it or threw the mail away. Put all your bills on autopay and make sure you have enough money in the bank. Paying all your bills on time keeps your credit score healthy.

26. Pay your bills on time – There are some bills that you can get away with not paying on time without paying any ding on your credit score. But inevitably, you will have a late charge. And your credit card is unlikely to lower your apr if you have a record of late payment. You might also be hit with a universal default clause from your credit card.

27. Pay your bills fully – Well, you cannot help it sometimes. But, not paying your bills fully the first time is normally the start of any debt spiral and problem.

28. Monitor your credit report and credit score – Every one of us is entitled to one free credit report annually from the three major credit bureaus. You should at least check it out once a year to make sure they have the correct information about yourself and your credit.

29. Take advantage of rewards when you pay your bills fully every month – I know of so many friends who have great credit score, pay their credit card bills fully and either have a basic platinum credit card or one that even has annual fees but no rewards! If you pay your bills fully, then consider getting either a reward credit card or a cash back credit card to get something back from using your credit card.

30. Ask for a lower interest rate – The temptation when you are paying high interest rates on your credit card is to apply for another one hoping to get a lower rate. Before you go through the hassle, try asking your present credit card at the moment. If you have always paid on time, chances are they will accomodate and get you a better rate.

31. Do not cancel your credit cards just because you have too many in your wallet – This is a myth that cancelling cards will improve your credit score. Actually cancelling your credit card may actually hurt your credit score because the length of your credit history and available credit are factors in determining your FICO score. Cancelling your 10 year credit card with a large credit line will certainly bring your score lower.

32. Do not think that asking your credit card to lower the limits can lower your score – This is one of the prevailing myths with regards to credit score. In fact, lowering your credit limits can actually hurt your score since your credit utilization ratio is an important component of your credit score.

33. Shopping around for the best rates will not hurt your credit score – While many too many credit pulls will affect your score, having them in a very short period of time is ok. The credit bureaus will know if you shop around for an auto loan with four banks and will not penalize you for that. In fact, not shopping for the best rate is not a good idea.

34. You do not have to carry a balance to get a good credit score – This is another myth. Credit Bureaus do not distinguish whether you carry a balance or not. Timely payments matter more.

35. Get a credit card and reestablish credit after bankruptcy – Many who have been through bankruptcy refuse to get another credit card because it was their misuse of credit cards that have got them into trouble in the first place. But getting a credit card and reestablishing your credit after bankruptcy is so important. You need to rebuild your credit as quickly as possible to be able to get good rates for your auto loans, mortgage etc.

36. Work to improve your credit score before you take a big loan – The rule of thumb is that you should be working on improving your credit at least six months before you apply for a loan. Put it that effort and you will get a better rate than if you did not make any effort.

37. Do not think that your student debt will be wiped out if you file for bankruptcy – Yes, you can wipe away most debt when you file for bankruptcy. But not student debt. If anything, pay back your student loans as soon as possible.

38. Seek credit counciling early enough – This stems from the classic denial syndrome. The best advice is to really face up to the fact that you are in debt and take action to eliminate it.

39. Face up to your credit card debt issue – It is easy to ignore your credit card debt situation. Afterall, if you are already $30,000 in debt, what is adding another $2,000? But such thinking and attitude will get you to $50,000 in debt in no time. When you have credit card that seem out of control, acknowledge it. Then have aplan to fix it.

40. Do not Cosign a credit card with an irresponsible person – When you have bad credit or no credit, co-signing a credit card with someone with better credit will help your score. But if you are the one co-signing for someone else, make sure you trust that person or else you could be on the hook for his bills and your credit score will take a hit.

41. Use your credit card at the supermarket – If you are still using cash at the supermarket, you should reconsider. Cash back credit cards pay give you rebates for every dollar you spend at supermarkets and gas station. For example, the Blue Cash from American Express pays 5% cash rebates for supermarket, gasoline and drugstore spending once your annual expenditure exceeds $6,500. The Chase Freedom Card lets you earn 3% rebates on grocery and gasoline spending. Take advantage of these perks to save money on your everyday essential spending.

Portfolio Allocation, Investing Tips

42. Diversify your portfolio – It’s a known academic fact. Portfolio allocation accounts for 97% of performance. Yet, most investors are not diversified. I read about bloggers questioning if they should have bonds in their portfolio. Diversification smoothes out the return of your portfolio and dramatically reduces your risk (volatility).

43. Understand the composition of the equity markets – Part of the reason most people are not fully diversified is because they do not understand the composition of the equity markets or for that matter the bond markets. Roughly 80% of the US market capitalization is in large cap stocks with the remaining 20% in mid and small cap stocks. Your domestic equity portfolio should reflect this composition.

44. Invest in international equities – Meanwhile, international stocks market capitalization is roughly half of the world’s market capitalization. Yet most people do not have international stocks. The acceptable range of international stocks to have in your portfolio ranges from 20% tp 40%.

45. Diversify between growth and value stocks – Even if you understand that you should be in larger, mid, small cap and international stocks, chances are that you have not split up your portfolio into growth and value stocks. That is how the most sophisticated institutions do it. The reason is simple. Growth and Value stocks are negatively correlated in many instances or low very low correlation. In certain periods, growth outperforms value and vice versa. Splitting your equity portfolio into growth and value is almost a must in a proper portfolio.

46. Consider seperate managed accounts when you are in the high tax bracket – It is Ok to invest in mutual funds. But once you are in a high tax bracket, you are almost better off invested with institutional money managers in a seperately managed account. This is because they are actually ing and selling stocks on your behalf and and for the ‘fund’. You are able to strategically harvest tax losses. In most cases, you will have to access these money managers through a financial advisor, which seems to be against the norm in the pf bloggersphere.

47. Do not invest in taxable bonds when you are in the high tax bracket – Once you are in the hihest tax bracket, it makes no sense to be invested in taxed bonds. You should be in municipal bonds.

48. Rebalance your portfolio – This was the mistake most people made in the late nineties. Growth stocks were on fire and investors kept wanting to be in the ride. More money poured into growth funds. When the market crashed in the early 2000s, growth stocks got hit the most and value has since outperformed. A proper portfolio split into growth and value stocks that was rebalanced when the allocation got out of whack would be massively outperformed the portfolio that was not rebalanced. If you had left that portfolio alone, it would have rebalanced for you (at a loss).

49. Index a portion of your portfolio – There are times when you cannot find a good manager in a certain style box. For example, it is hard to find really good small cap managers as many of them close their funds after they reach a certain size. If you find yourself in that situation, that you should consider getting a index fund or ETF to plug the gap.

50. Using the right index to measure your mutual funds performance – Most of us use morningstar to do our mutual fund research. Yet, one of the things morningstar does not do well is to use the proper benchmark to measure performance. For example, a large cap growth fund should be measured against the Russell 1000 growth index and not the S&P index. A large cap value fund should be measured against the Russell 1000 value index. If you choose the wrong index, then chances are that you will miss good funds.

51. Look at risk adjusted return – Most of us simply look at historical fund performance and perhaps fees when we are evaluating a fund. The more important feature is the risk adjusted return. How much risk is it taking to generated the returns they earn. A fund who has similar returns as the index but substantially lower risk is better than for example an index fund tracking the same index. The reason is because of its lower risk, they will better ride bear markets and come out ahead in the lond run even their average returns are identical.

52. Do not look at your portfolio too often – There is only one reason to be looking at your portfolio every minute and everyday – and that is if you are a fund manager or a hedge fund manager. If you are not paid to manage your portfolio, then stop looking at it and stop watching CNBC. Watching your portfolio often leads to you tweaking it when you should be leaving it alone.

53. Do not do your own investing – The best hedge fund managers earn hundreds of millions a year. Don’t waste your time if are just trading on etrade alone. Leave this job to the professionals.

54. Stop doing your own investing if you have consistently underperformed the relevant benchmarks – Many of you are guilty of this one. But let’s say even if you match the index (whatever that may be), think of all the time you have wasted. How much are you worth an hour?

55. Include reits in your portfolio – REITs help to diversify your portfolio they have a low correlation with regular stocks. Having a portion of your portfolio in REITs is a simple way to reduce your portfolio risk.

56. Manage your concentrated stock position – Everyone knows the dangers of having a concentrated stock position and yet do nothing about it. They hope their stock continues to rise. But what if it tanks? There are numerous ways to managing concentrated stock risk but this is not covered at all in the mainstream media. It is best to seek the council of a financial advisor with such experience.

57. Know the reason you bought the mutual fund – This is a result of not having a proper asset allocation strategy. Every fund you should have a reason (aside from past performance). That reason is to fill a style box. For example, you a large cap value fund to manage the large cap value portion of your equity portfolio.

58 Do not just have a collection of mutual funds – Same as the above. You have a collection of mutual funds when you do not have any idea why and how the fund fits into your portfolio. Every fund is part of your team, pulling their own weight. But how many funds have you bought in the past, not monitored them, rebalanced your portfolio and just left them?

59. Do not funds just from one family – Many people their funds from mostly one family because of sales breakpoints. Sales Breakpoints simply mean that if you beyond a certain level, your sales charge will be reduced. But any given fund family can never be good in all the funds they manage. Though you may be saving on front sales load charges, you may be sacrificing future performance.

60. Don’t just consider no-load funds – While fees and cost are important, many of the best funds in their respectively category charge a front load. It would be foolish to ignore these good funds simply because of their front end load.

61. Have fixed income (bonds) in your portfolio – This is a common mistake among the young investor. The main reason is because you think you have a long term horizon and hence can be aggressive in your equity allocation. However, like I said before, your financial goals and risk tolerance determines your asset allocation. Bonds have a role to play in any portfolio no matter how young you are or how aggressive your portfolio is.

62. Have equities in your portfolio – This is common more in older folks who have bad experiences with equities or who have parents who have been through the great depression. But by not having any equities in their portfolio, you are taking more risk – risk that your portfolio does not keep up with inflation. Simply adding 25% of your portfolio to equities and dramatically improve a portfolio’s performance compared to an all cash, all cd or all municipal bond portfolio.

63. Consider variable annuities when you are about to retire – Let’s turn back the clock. What happens if this was 1997 and you intend to retire in three years time. Come 2000 and we were at the peak of the bull market. The person who retires in 2000 will see the value of his portfolio decline and he or she will either have to cut back on how much they draw from their portfolio or continue to work to restore the portfolio to its original value before the market crash.

One way to protect your income from portfolio volatility is to protect it with variable annuities. New features in variable annuities protect you from market declines and hence protects the income that you can draw from your annuity contract.

64. Do not have too much bonds in your variable annuities – The whole purpose of an annuity is to protect your income from market fluctuations. Yet, there are many people who have more than 50% of their annuity investments in fixed income. Your annuity should consist mainly of equities since this is the portion of your portfolio that has the most risk and near term volatility.

65. Stop Trading options – I’ve seen so many people courses on how to trade options. Yet none of these courses teach investors the math behind options model and things like gamma trading (which is mainly how market makers trade and make their living). Instead, they are taught things that only ‘retail investors’ are taught. Hence, it is like putting the sheep among a pack of wolves. The outcome is inevitable. I’ve not come across a single successful options trader.

66. Don’t use ridiculous ‘rule of thumbs’ to determine your asset allocation model – Your asset allocation depends on your financial goals and your risk tolerance and the stability of your income. Yet, I see too many people use “rule of thumbs” when it comes to their investments and asset allocation. Once again, hire a financial advisor and do a proper financial plan. Then everything will become crystal clear.

67. Know your risk profile – Before you can come up with a proper asset allocation model, you need to know your financial goals and risk profile. You pretty much determine your financial goals. To guage your risk profile, you inevitably need to speak to a financial advisor and fill out a risk profile questionaire. It will tell you whether you are a growth investor or growth and income investor etc. This should be the basis of any asset allocation discussion.

Retirement Accounts Tips

68. Not contributing to any qualified retirement plans – You would be surprised how many people do not contribute to a qualified retirement plan. Aside from having the ability to use pre-tax money, the money grows tax free as well (though withdrawals are taxed at ordinary income rates. Make sure you max out your retirement plans if you can.

69. Max out your contribution to your 401k – Perhaps if you have a cash crunch, it is alright not to make any contributions to your retirement plans. But if your company offers a match, then at least contribute up to the match. That is free money and a straight 100% return.

70. Do not have too much cash in your retirement account – The main advantage of a retirement account is that your investments can grow tax free (though withdrawals are taxed). Yet, many people have too much fixed income or cash in their retirement accounts. I’ve known people who have 80% cash in their retirement account. This simply does not makes sense. Take advantage of tax free growth and make sure you have a large portion of your retirement income in equities.

71. Do a proper rollover – If you plan to do a rollover, make sure it is done properly. You must not get any cheque from your old account or that will be considered a withdrawal.

Estate Planning Tips

72. Have a will – When you do not have a will, you are leaving how your money is distributed to the government. The probate process takes a while. Save your heirs the hassle and get a lawyer to do a proper will for you.

73. Have a durable power of attorney – It is one of those unpleasant decisions we all have to make. But make sure you get this taken care off.

74. Take advantage of the unified credit provision – Simply having a mirror “I love you” will where you leave your estate to your spouse and vice versa is not enough because you are not taking advantage of the unified credit exemption that the IRS gives every married couple. Essentially, every person has to pay estate taxes except for an exempt amount. This year, the exempt amount is $2.5mm. In 2009, it will be $3mm. In 2010, there will be no estate taxes. From 2011 onwards, the exemption is $1mm.

Let’s take an example to illustrate this point. Say your family’s networth is $2mm. When you pass away, you pay no estate taxes because you have a $1mm exemption and you can give any amount to your spouse. Your spouse now has $2mm in her estate. When she passes away, she has to pay taxes on $1mm ($1mm is her exemption). Estate taxes are 55%, so she pays $550,000, leaving your kids with a total of $1,450,000. Not too bad you would say.

But if both of you set up a credit shelter trust, what happens is that when you pass away, $1mm will be put into your credit shelter trust – using up your credit exemption. The other million passes to your spouse. When your spouse dies, the money in the credit shelter trust passes on to your kids tax free. She also has her one million exemption which will be used to fund another credit shelter trust, which will pass on to your kids (once again tax free).Not having a proper estate plan when you have accumulated substantial wealth – Don’t really have to elaborate on this. But if you have a few million, then you should be working with your financial advisor and estate attorney to plan your estate properly.

75. Do not an estate plan KIT from a David Bach Seminar – or any seminar for that matter. Last year, I attended a free David Bach (author of the automatic millionaire) seminar. It was actually a pitch fest for speakers selling their “how to get rich” products – from stock trading systems to $4,000 courses on how to invest in real estate tax liens! The most irresponsible pitch I heard was from a lawyer telling everyone how a Family Limited Partnership can protect you against liabilities. How a charitable remainder trust can help you avoid capital gains taxes. At the end of the session, he made his sales pitch on a cookie cutter set of documents that lets you set up an FLP, charitable remainder trust and other trust etc for just $4,000! This is highly irresponsible in my opinion because there is no such thing as a cookie cutter approach to estate planning!

Auto Tips

76. Do not fuel inefficient cars – A new car depreciates at least 15% once it leaves the showroom. A gas guzzler on the other hand will increase your monthly gasoline spending. Better to a fuel efficient car or even SUV to save on your gasoline expenditure. While we are at it, use a cash rebate credit card like the Blue Cash to earn some rebates back from your gasoline expenses!

77. Consider ing a second hand car – A brand new car depreciates 20% once it leaves the show room. Buying a two year old car makes much more sense financially.

78. Have regular car tune ups – Skimping on your auto maintenace is save a few bucks may result in a large repair bill. Best to make sure your vehicle is in good condition all the time.

Real Estate Tips

79. Are you Paying too much of your income on mortgage? – There is no magic formula here. If you have a very stable job (like a public school teacher), you can afford a larger mortgage (relative to your income) compared to someone who has an unstable source of income (like a real estate agent!). The rule of thumb of about 30% feels like the right number.

80. Do not spend on home renovations that do not add value to your home – We all have an idea of what our dream home is. But unless you are Donald Trump and have unlimited budget, it is best to spend any home renovation money on things that will improve the value of your home. Renovating your kitchen for example (assuming it is done tastefully) will almost certainly add value to your home. Painting your walls purple will most certainly not.

81. Do not assume your house is an asset – While it may be an asset, it does not produce cash flow. And if it is your main assets, then you are probably house rich but cash poor. The mistake people make is that they feel richer because the value of their home has increased and they increase their spending. Do not fall into this trap. In fact Robert Kiyosaki (whom I’m not exactly a great fan) says if primary residence should be actually considered a liability.

82. Investing in your first rental real estate only after looking at many properties – This is the classic beginners real estate mistake. Taking action, plunging in! Real bargains in real estate are not easy to find. It takes looking at lots of real estate, putting in low ball bids before you actually get the one real estate investment that makes sense from a cash flow perspective.

83. Do not try to save money by bypassing a broker – If you need to sell your house fast, bypassing a broker to save on your transaction fees may not be the wisest thing to do. A good broker can get more prople to see your house than if you tried to do it alone.

Kids, College Savings Tips

84. Start saving for your kids college education – College education inflation is running at about 5% per annum. If you have kids that are around the same age, then coming up with tuition fees from current cashflow can be a real burden. It is best to start saving as soon as possible for your kids college education. Plans like 529 college savings plans allow your savings to grow tax free. Take advantage of a 529 plan to save for your kids.

85. Teach your kids about money – Why do most of us have to learn about money the hard way? Because our parents never talked to us about it. Teach your kids about money when they are young and they will always be grateful to you for that.

86. Do not give in to kids whenever they want something – By spoiling your kids this way, you are not teaching them the value of delayed gratification, which is the key to financial success and even in business. The ability to delay gratification until you have achieved certain level of financial success will keep you from unnecessary expenditure and increase your propensity to accumulate wealth.

Other Miscalleneous Tips

87. Start building a business credit when you start your own business – Many new business owners start their business using their personal credit. Even small business credit cards need your personal guarantee. But you should be taking steps immediately to build a business credit. That means registering your business properly, setting up an account with Dun and Bradstreet, building a credit history with various suppliers that report your payments to business credit bureaus. Having a standalone business credit credit history is important as it enables you to get loans without personal guarantee.

88. Have a safety net when before you leave your job to start your own business – If you are in mid career, have a family and are thinking of starting your own business, then make sure your finances are in order. Perhaps this involves your spouse taking or keeping his or her job, making accurate cash flow projections etc. Plan carefully.

89. Being named guardians but not checking if you are being funded? – Maybe your siblings approach you one day to be their kids guardians should they pass away. You feel very honored (as you should). But make sure you check if they are funding or have plans to fund their kids education and living. If not, having to support extra children could be a huge financial burden.

90. Do not mistake day trading for investing – I don’t know how to explain this better. But trading and investing are totally different. On Wall Street, trading and portfolio management are two seperate task performed by different people.

91. Know how much you need to save to retire – For every do it yourself investor out there, can you honestly answer this question? Do you know how much you need to set aside and what asset allocation you need to have a high chance of reaching your goal? If not, then hire a financial advisor.

92. Not eating and living healthy – Smokers pay higher insurance rates. If you substantial life insurance, you will also have to do a medical. If you have high blood pressure for example, you can bet your rates will be higher. Stay healthy, keep yourself fit, and you will not only be more productive at work, you are likely to pay less for insurance and medical bills.

93. Do not trust the internet for the right information – Hey, don’t trust what I write word for word. Do your own research. When it comes to financial matters, I found that what is mostly written on the internet, mainstream press, us bloggers are quite basic stuff. But to find out more about the intricacies of personal finance, that knowledge resides among professionals who service high net worth individuals and fund families. Aside from reading Money, Smart Money, listening to Suze Orman, take the time to check out research done by various mutual fund families and acedemic papers.

94. Discuss money with your spouse or partner – This is a major cause of relationship strains and arguments. Make the effort to discuss money with your spouse.

95. Seek help from a financial advisor – Do you know how much to save for retirement? Do you know how to properly allocate your assets? Do you know how to monitor fund managers you are using? Do you have adequate insurance? Has your portfolio outperformed its style benchmark? Look, if you are not up to it, hire a financial advisor and save yourself years of mistakes doing it on your own.

96. Fire your financial advisor if you need to – As strange as it may seem, I have met people who want to fire their financial advisor and are afraid to do so. If you financial advisor is not contacting you often, if you are not revisiting your financial plan at least once a year, then you should consider looking for another one.

97. Eating out too much – Not only is the food not as healthy as home cooked food, you could probably save a lot as well.

98. Spending too much time on personal finance – Huh, aside from this blog, are you spending too much time reading about personal finance or looking at your portfolio? Why aren’t you spending time improving your career and self development, networking etc? Each one of us has a specialty in life, an area where we can make the most difference. It is in this area where we can get paid the most (most of the time). Focus on this (and your family) instead of spending too much time on your portfolio. Remember, you make most of your money in your career, not your portfolio.

99. Buying and reading too many books on personal finance – Most personal finance books are just rehashed materials. Sure, a couple of books to get yourself familiar with basic personal finance (it’s not rocket science). But don’t get carried away with loading up your book shelf with every new book release!

100. Watching too much CNBC and Krammer – Watching too much CNBC Market Watch is detrimental to your wealth because you are more likely to detour from your financial plan. Also, when news his the mainstream media, you know that at least half the party is over!

101. The best way to be really wealthy is to find passion in your work and add value to society – The greatest wealth is generated when you add great value to the world. Your portfolio is simply meant to keep up with inflation and grow at an acceptable rate. Don’t bank of your portfolio to be truly wealthy. True wealth is mainly built by building great companies, or moving up the corporate ladder. True, there are hedge fund managers who make lots of money. But if you are one of them, you will not be reading this, will you?

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