We believe proper money management in developing countries can be a powerful tool in helping individuals accumulate personal wealth. That’s why we’re working towards releasing Firevalt in South America and Africa. We lived in Brazil for a few years and Firevalt’s programmer grew up in Ghana. We are anxious to translate and release Firevalt to these countries where we believe it will be an influence for good in the lives of those who seek to improve their financial circumstances. Keep checking back! Firevalt is close to completion!
March 24th, 2007
It’s been a while since we’ve posted here on the blog. We’re working hard at finishing the Firevalt web app and hope to release the first version within the next few months. We’re really excited about Firevalt and believe it will be fun to use and a great way to manage your finances online. We’ll be starting up our blog posts again so keep checking back often so you can be among the first to test run Firevalt!
January 23rd, 2007
Scott Adams, the cartoonist behind the popular Dilbert cartoon, is an excellent manager of his own personal finances. He intended to write a humorous book about personal finance but decided he could never write enough to fill more than a page. According to Adams, everything you need to know about financial planning boils down to these eight principles:
Make a will.
Pay off your credit cards.
Get term life insurance if you have a family to support.
Fund your 401(k) to the maximum.
Fund your IRA to the maximum.
Buy a house if you want to live in a house and you can afford it.
Put six months’ expenses in a money market fund.
Take whatever money is left over and invest 70% in a stock index fund and 30% in a bond fund through any discount broker, and never touch it until retirement.
July 27th, 2006
For those of you that are in the habit of paying yourself a portion of your income each month (hopefully for the purpose of investing and growing your wealth), I have a question. What do you do if there is some financial emergency during the month that makes it impossible to pay yourself a portion of that month’s income?
For example, one month my car died and I had to replace the engine. I used the money in my checking account – not savings – to cover the expense, but was then unable to pay myself 20% of that month’s income (20% is what I try to pay myself each month). My budgeting system still shows that I owe myself for that month and I intend to pay it off as my checking account recovers from the car expense. I would like to hear what others do in similar situations. Do you keep a running self-debt balance or do you just forget that month and start paying yourself next month when cash isn’t as tight?
June 27th, 2006
Vanguard has an interview with Eric Tyson, author of Personal Finance for Dummies and a few other books. He says more people are involved in investing than ever before and the Internet is making it very easy, but few people research the stocks they invest in and few people live within their means.
From the beginning, I knew that many people simply are never taught how to manage money. What I’ve learned over the years is just how serious the problem is. There’s clearly a lot of financial illiteracy in America, though there’s more information available on the subject than ever before.
I’ve also come to realize that a pretty significant portion of the population has great difficulty changing their financial habits, even when they know they’re making serious mistakes. People have a hard time changing their behavior, even if they’re shown the correct path.
The interview was a good read.
June 3rd, 2006
Lee Eisenberg has an excellent thought about the value of money.
The greatest uncertainty of all may be the uncertainty over what money is good for. We bury this uncertainty under a million cliches. Money can’t buy happiness. Oh, no? Money can buy time and opportunity to do the things we most love. It can help us fulfill our obligations as parents to our kids and as kids to our parents. It buys quality health care. But somehow or other, we get our knickers all twisted up when it comes to figuring out the real value of money. Could it be that in the end the reason we don’t plan is because we don’t have anything meaningful to plan for?
— Lee Eisenberg, The Number
May 30th, 2006
For a humorous look at the difficulties of being frugal, see TrailerParkRave.com:
The Relatively High Cost of Being Cheap
I posit there is no such thing [as frugality], because the universe demands a zero sum by the time all accounts are settled, and money saved will always come at the expense of time or something less tangible but of comparable value. (Source:
May 20th, 2006
A comment on our last post, Winning on the margins
, brought up a very interesting topic.
“You still have to balance [frugality] with living a nice life though. Winning for the sake of winning, or being frugal for the sake of being frugal will probably not lead to a better life. Living a life where you express yourself and achieve your goals through reaching your highest potential probably will, but it is not necessarily the same thing.”
So, what’s the point of being frugal if it doesn’t lead to a better life? I’d argue that frugality, in its correct form, will undoubtedly lead to a better life. The purpose of frugality is to manage your money in a way the enables you to create wealth. Overtime, you can begin relying more on your wealth for income instead of a job. Being frugal for that purpose creates self-control and freedom from financial stress – both of which lead to a better, happier life. Frugality does NOT mean being a selfish miser with your money who hordes it just for the sake of not spending it.
There is another statement in that comment that brings up another great point:
“You still have to balance [frugality] with living a nice life…”
I really agree with that. There are many things in life that may not bear financial fruits, but are definitely worth spending money on. You could learn a new language; learn to play a sport, or a musical instrument. You could move to a struggling country for a while and volunteer your time and talents to help less privileged people. Things that add to your personal development and build character are most likely worth the expense. I would say be frugal when it comes to consumer goods. The value they add to our lives is debatable compared to the financial burdens they can create.
May 17th, 2006
Olympic athletes finish races within seconds or milliseconds of each other, but they would be minutes or hours ahead of me. To win an Olympic event, it’s not enough to be “pretty” fast. Victory is in the margins. To win you have to perform at least as well as the other Olympic athletes and then do that extra little bit that pushes you to the top.
If you’re trying to live a frugal lifestyle, live within your means, save money, etc., don’t settle for less than an Olympic performance. It’s not enough to be frugal or financially disciplined MOST of the time. If you’re frugal 6 days a week and then splurge on the 7th (to congratulate yourself for your frugality!) then you haven’t been frugal. Frugality, like other character traits, is a matter of consistency. You can pat yourself on the back only after have learned to be consistent.
May 6th, 2006
What’s more important – having a large bank account balance or a healthy positive cash flow each month? I’m sure both are important, but which one should we focus our attention on when budgeting? Should we budget and plan based on money in our bank accounts? If I want a new plasma TV that costs $2,000 and I have $8,300 in my bank account, I could make that purchase stress-free right?
The amount in a bank account is the least important factor when making expenditure decisions. To increase our wealth and achieve independence, the primary factor we need to control, manage and think about is our cash flow. If I’m spending $100 more than I make each month, buying a $2,000 TV is a bad idea, even with $8,300 in the bank. In a negative cash flow situation, that balance will quickly diminish and with it the false sense of security it created.
Too often, we buy something or make a big financial decision based on the amount of money we currently possess and then find ourselves frustrated later on when we realize we aren’t progressing financially. In the words of Robert Kiyosaki
, we’re stuck in the rat race! If we aren’t carefully tracking our monthly in-goes and out-goes we don’t have enough information to make sound financial decisions. The only way to increase our wealth and get out of the race is to manage our cash flows, i.e., spend less than we make and intelligently invest the positive cash flow.
April 28th, 2006