What is Bad Debt Expense in Business?

Finding your way through the ins and outs of owning your own business can be difficult, but extremely rewarding! Along the way, you will not only find new and interesting ways to create profits, but you also learn a lot about business expenses and debt. Bad debt expense in business is one of those things that can hurt your business, but you may not have any idea what it is until it is too late!

So what exactly is bad debt expense? Much like learning how to calculate the cost of debt, or even learning how to file your taxes properly, bad debt expense is a part of doing business. In order to make that clear to you, here is a breakdown of examples, as well as steps you can take as a business owner to avoid it!

Defining Bad Debt Expense

Unless you’re an accountant or have been in business for years, defining bad debt expense can sound intimidating. However, once you understand exactly what it is, and how it can affect your business, then it’s quite simple!

Defining Bad Debt Expenses

Your company’s accounts receivable will be where you should be looking for bad debts expense. It can also be called “doubtful accounts expense”, or even “uncollectable accounts expense”. This means that your business has provided goods or services to a customer on credit. Unfortunately, when the time came to collect on that credit, the customer did not pay what was owed.

However, this doesn’t mean you get to just go after the customer for the amount owed legally. Bad debt expense is basically when the customer is no longer able to pay. This is generally due to things like bankruptcy, going out of business, or other unfortunate issues.

How Do You Account for Bad Debt Expense?

Finding how to both report, file and account for bad debt expense in your business finances doesn’t have to be tricky. They are typically sorted as either general administrative expenses, or even as a sales expense. However, bad debt expense does create an obvious obstacle for your accounts receivable!

In addition to losing goods and/or services, your accounts receivable will also be out of balance. Although businesses can always retain the right to collect the amount due if the customer’s financial situation changes, your business is in the red for that account for now.

Two Main Ways to Recognize Bad Debt Expense

Within your company’s financial records, there are two primary ways to acknowledge bad debt expense:

  • Allowance Method: This means that your company will take steps to predict this type of expense before it happens. The losses can be calculated into expected income for the year. Therefore, a company can avoid an account overstatement. This can be calculated from previous losses of this kind from the company, as well as from other companies in the same field.
  • Direct Write-Off: This is a method of dealing with bad debt expense that is extremely straight forward. Instead of calculating the non-payments into their overall budgets, businesses can write off the expense. All in all, this means that uncollectible funds are written off as a base expense by the business. However, this method can lead to more difficult accounting in the future for many different reasons.

Within your business, how you deal with bad debt expense is completely up to you. Not to mention what is best for the company as a whole.

write-off debt

Avoidance and Modern Business

All things considered, it’s extremely difficult to avoid bad debt expense in the modern business world. When dealing with many different clients, or even different companies, it’s extremely difficult to predict their successes or failures. That being said, there are a few ways to avoid this expense altogether.

As bad debt expense only occurs when dealing with credit for customers, you can simply avoid this expense by not dealing in credit. Simply allow for payments to be made upon receipt of services, or goods.

Because businesses allow customers to receive goods or services on credit, they run the risk of this debt becoming uncollectable! However, this isn’t always a black and white, clear picture kind of decision to make. There are a lot of reasons why you may allow a customer to receive credit from your business, as well as whether or not you aggressively collect those debts.  

Finding Your Way Through Bad Debt Expense

Altogether, owning a business is filled with many ups and downs. From learning how to deal with people one on one, as well as wading your way through corporate takeovers, finding your way through bad debt expense doesn’t have to be a challenge! You can find great ways to collect debts, to deal with clients, but some expenses can’t be avoided.

Overall, how you deal with your bad debt expense is up to you and your business. Whether you prefer the direct write-off method, the allowance method, or trying your hardest to avoid it altogether, there are a variety of paths! However, you can’t predict how well, or how poorly your customers will do. Bad debt expense is simply one of the many, many costs of doing business in the modern, credit-driven world.

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How to Calculate the Cost of Debt

Trying to calculate the cost of debt?

Being in debt is never easy. Whether you’re struggling with student loans or walking a tight rope with credit cards, being in debt can cost you a LOT. In order to help you make your life a little less stressful, here is a breakdown of how to calculate the cost of debt.

What Exactly IS the Cost of Debt?

There is a cost to being in debt! The cost of debt is the rate at which an individual, or even a company, pays down debt. Basically, taking into account after-tax costs of debt, as well as interest paid. After taxes are taken out, you can determine the interest expenses that are deductible, like valuable above the line deductions!

What Exactly IS the Cost of Debt

Basically, this means that the cost of debt is the return someone has for creditors, as well as debt holders. If someone has lent money to another individual, it is essentially the capital compensated for risks. All in all, it is money owed before taxes, after taxes, and after investments.

Why Calculate the Cost of Debt?

Breaking down the cost of debt for anyone is so much easier than finding out your cost of equity. It is a more straightforward approach to finding out an individual’s worth Essentially, it can show the default risk and the level of interest rates for anyone.

Calculating the cost of debt is also a critical component of determining your WACC. For individuals, it can also mean finding where you can afford to save, invest, as well as dramatically decrease your debt.

Calculating the Cost of Debt: Need to Know Information

There are several factors that go into calculating the cost of debt. However, in order to calculate this number you need two important factors. The marginal tax rate and the effective interest rates paid.

Effective Interest Rates

Finding the effective interest rate that you pay on your debt is simple. You divide the annual interest by the total amount of debt owed and then multiply it by one hundred.

Looking over debt

Marginal Tax Rates

Marginal tax rates are the tax rates people pay for both federal and state combined. Here is a break down of the tax brackets in the US:

  • 10% tax rate means a taxable income of $0 to $9,700
  • 12% tax rate means a taxable income of $9,701 to $39,475
  • 22% tax rate means a taxable income of $39,476 to $84,200
  • 24% tax rate means a taxable income of $84,201 to $160,725
  • 32% tax rate means a taxable income of $160,726 to $204,100
  • 35% tax rate means a taxable income of $204,101 to $510,300
  • 37% tax rate means a taxable income of $510,301 or more

There are of course other stipulations. Taxes owed, as well as deductions can make a difference in your federal tax rate.

State income tax rates vary from state to state. However, they are not typically over 12%.

The cost of debt can then be calculated from these two sets of information! All in all, calculating the cost of debt is essentially multiplying the effective interest rate by the one minus the marginal tax rate.

Example of How to Calculate the Cost of Debt for You!

When it comes to calculating the cost of debt, it is best to put it into simple math. Instead of tracking your net worth, sit down and track your own cost of debt!

If you make $100,000 a year and pay 24% federal taxes, then 5% in state taxes, your marginal tax rate is 29%. Your debt is paid at an effective interest rate of 7%. There fore, your cost of debt is as follows:

Cost of debt = 7% x (1-29%). 0.07 x (1-0.29) = 0.049. This means your personal cost of debt would be 4.9%!

Uses for Cost of Debt

Now that you are aware how to calculate the cost of debt for yourself, WHY it is important to do this, as well as what variables you need to know beforehand you’re able to look into your company’s credit situation.

Once it is clear that your debt is at a minimal percentage against the size of your net worth, you can understand where you stand with creditors and your debt more accurately!

Knowing How to Calculate the Cost of Debt

This information is not only vital to the outward success of your personal finances, but also to your personal success! Now that you know how to calculate your cost of debt, you can successfully create a clear financial picture for your future!

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What Happens to Your Debt When You Die

If you’ve ever been in debt, you know how hard it is to see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, even if you DID find a way to start reasonable payments, your debt still follows you no matter where you go. Even past the grave! So, what happens to your debt when you die?

Can Debt Be Collected After You Die?

All in all, it’s hard to say whether or not your estate will have to pay up once you’ve passed on. As a matter of fact, your debt and debt recovery can indeed follow you past the grave! However, there are lots of laws and policies that regulate how debt is collected when you die.

Can Debt Be Collected After You Die?

Once you’re dead, your estate, or the assets that you’ve left behind, has the responsibility of being in charge of your debt. If you leave your estate to one person, or even several people, they are not responsible for paying off what you owe. This process is called probate.

What is Probate?

There are several things that happen once you are deceased. Your last will and testament will allow for your assets to be distributed as you please. Similarly, if you don’t have a will, then your assets will be allocated to all of your closest relatives. As well as distributed to creditors.

Probate is the legal process for dividing up your property, assets, and even accounts. This is a court-supervised process that includes the following:

  • Authenticating a Last Will and Testament
  • Locating assets
  • Valuing all assets
  • Paying final bills, taxes, as well as debts owed
  • Distributing the rest of the assets to beneficiaries

Is Probate Always What Happens to Your Debt When You Die?

Not all deaths end in a probate, however. Probate is only required when estates are valued above a certain level and are not being automatically transferred to a surviving joint owner. Like if a wife died, and the husband was legally the joint owner of all of their property.

What Can I Do to Help My Family If I Die?

In addition to having a will, there are many other things you can do to make sure your family and close friends aren’t struggling with what happens to your debt when you die. It’s not necessarily difficult to put things in order for your loved ones, however it’s not always the foremost thought in people’s minds.

Write A Will

One thing you can easily do is make certain you have a last will and testament set aside for your beneficiaries. This will not only allow for you to set aside certain assets for certain people, but it can also mean not leaving a financial MESS for your executor.

Will and Testament

Finding An Executor of Your Estate

The person primarily responsible for dealing with your will and your estate after you’ve died is called the executor of your estate. While it can be one person or several, it is always a good idea to name someone that you trust to handle writing checks to your creditors. Together with handling your debt, your executor may also see that all of your accounts, or property, are evenly distributed.

The Importance Of Life Insurance

Life insurance is a great way to make certain that your loved ones don’t have to deal with your debts when you die. Finding the right insurance that will not only cover debts but also the cost of your funeral expenses as well, will be extremely helpful.

Times When Others Are Responsible for Your Debt

There are circumstances where other people may hold the task of dealing with your creditors once you’ve passed. Primarily this only occurs when someone has co-signed for a loan, live in community property states, as well as being a joint account holder.

Laws Against Collectors and Collections

In addition to having only specific people who may have to deal with what happens to your debt when you die, there are lots of laws that protect your assets as well.

Debt collectors are not allowed to contact a dead person’s spouse, parents or guardian, or executor of the estate to talk about the debt. They are also not allowed to lie or trick the family members into believing they are not responsible for the debt.

Creditors cannot go after certain things once you’ve passed. They are not allowed to attempt to collect from life insurance policies or retirement benefits passed onto a beneficiary.

Laws Against Collectors and Collections

What Happens to Your Debt When You Die Can Easily Be Controlled!

If you’re looking into finding solutions for your loved ones NOW, while you’re alive, then there are lots of steps you can take to make sure it doesn’t follow your family. You can have a set will, you can take out a life insurance policy, as well as naming a trustworthy executor of your estate to handle all of your debts for you.

 No matter where you go, your debt follows you. However, that doesn’t mean you have to let it follow you beyond the grave!

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Most Effective Debt Recovery Solutions

Looking for an effective debt recovery solution?

Collecting money from people who are in debt to your company, is never a fun task. Going after the money you are owed can create unnecessary trouble for you and your business. That’s why there are debt recovery solutions available to take the stress out of retrieving the money owed.

You will find this helpful: 4 Interesting Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund

However, the debt you are collecting is indeed owed to YOU. As a creditor, it is legally your right to attempt to collect the debt after a missed payment. Unfortunately, there is only so far you can go before you move from debt collection into debt recovery.

What Is Debt Recovery?

Debt recovery is when a debt has gone unpaid for a long period of time. As soon as the debt has been unpaid for an extended period, the creditor, or company, hires a non-biased third party to recover the money owed.

Debt recovery is different from debt collection. Debt collection is when you as the creditor attempt to contact the consumer. After the loan, or bill has gone unpaid for an extended amount of time, it is time to bring in the professionals!

Effective Debt Recovery Solutions In the Modern Age

If you are a consumer, ignoring your debt, you no longer live in a world where you can rip up the bill and be done. Maybe you fell for a minimum payment plan, or fell on hard times. Regardless, your debt follows you all over the world!

Digital Footprint debt

As digitizing has made credit scores, as well as recent contact information more available, you simply can’t outrun what you owe!

As a creditor, there are several debt recovery solutions that are extremely effective today. Find a debt collection company that will not only include these strategies but also use all of them in order to close the account!

Finding the Debtors

Collecting up-to-date information on the debtors is vital to debt recovery. However, this information isn’t just about physical addresses!

Here are a few things a good company will uncover about consumers:

  • Phone number
  • E-Mail address
  • Most recent address
  • Commercial Information

Being able to locate, as well as contact a debtor attempting to run out on their debts is one of the most practical and necessary debt recovery solutions!

Creating Debt Recovery Solution Priorities

A good debt recovery solution is finding the right amounts, as well as knowing you can collect them! Altogether, this means that if a debt seems to have the potential to be repaid, industry specialists will likely prioritize collecting this debt first.

Technology allows for this to be done not only with by researching consumer patterns, but also experimenting with new collection strategies. Prioritizing certain collectable debts will not only get you your money faster, but it will also keep the debt recovery company in business!

Digital Collection and Virtual Recovery

All in all, the internet and your digital footprint make it easier and easier for debt collectors to find you. This means that if you are a creditor, you will not only WANT digital debt recovery solutions, but you may NEED them.

Debt Recovery Programs

There are a growing number of programs available to different debt recovery companies. These technological advancements will not only allow for your debt to be collected, but will also help to discover if the debtor is in a better place to pay more on their debt!

Using the information that is practically alive on the internet will be an invaluable way to collect the debts you are owned.

debt recovery solutions company

Debt Recovery Platforms

There are also companies that use digital platforms to collect debt, but also allow consumers to negotiate payment plans, pay back their debt in a timely manner, and do it all online! Using available technology to collect, as well as pay off debt!

The Most Effective Debt Recovery Solutions Are Always Fair

When it comes down to the wire, as a creditor, you want to collect the money you are owed, but you should also be able to keep your company’s hard-earned profile. Finding fair, legal, and effective debt recovery solutions will help to not only get your money to you faster but keep your company in consumer’s good graces!

Find a debt recovery company that will incorporate all of these debt recovery solutions. Avoid the burnout and hire a professional! Because you want the best solution so you can be on your way to getting paid!

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Why Creating Systems Trumps Motivation

I vividly remember the first time I saw Rocky as a kid.  Just a lowly local fighter, Rocky Balboa had to go through so much to get ready for his big fight with the champ Apollo.  After watching the iconic training scenes of him running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, punching giant slabs of meat until his hands bled and doing those grueling one handed pushups, I was so pumped to try to be like him.

So the obvious next step for me was to start running up stairs and punch things day and night.  I would be the best boxer this world has ever seen. After 2 or 3 days of this rigorous training, I slowly fell back into my normal routine and completely forgot about becoming the best boxer in the world.

But I didn’t just forget.  I simply lost my initial burst of motivation.  That little spark that got me off of my couch was great for those first few days. But there was no structure or foundation behind it so it quickly fizzled out.

If I seriously wanted to become a real boxer, I would have done found a coach and schedule boxing sessions at a gym regularly throughout the week.  Since a strong training foundation was never built, my initial burst of motivation was destined to fail.

Motivation is Finite

This same phenomena can be found in the world of personal finance.  We’ll watch an intense movie about stock picking or read an inspiring post about someone who paid off massive amounts of debt.  This will get our juices flowing and we’ll just go out there and do some things for a short while. But it will usually fizzle out in the end.

Relying solely on motivation is not the way to get ahead financially.  In fact, I would say that getting motivated and failing over and over will simply get you so depressed about your financial situation that you might just give up on improving.

But it can get better.  And the way it can is by having a framework or system in place that will keep you financially secure without having to constantly draw from your finite well of motivation.

It’s important to realize that this is THE ONLY way to get ahead financially.  Whether you’re looking to build the next billion dollar company, want to increase your investment contributions or just track your finances, you need a system that will make it easy to reach your goal.

And there are so many financial goals out there.  Setting up a budget, saving for retirement or college, starting a successful freelance business, getting a world class education to increase your income.  These are all worthy financial goals that require a systematic approach in order to find success.

Just Get Started

As mentioned before, setting up a systematic method of attack is the best way to achieve your financial goals.  And it’s not even that hard. It just takes a few upfront steps and some experimenting to get your system right.

In fact, setting up systems is much easier than relying on brute force motivation to achieve your financial goals.  It gives you a path to follow and you just plug along day after day.

Here are some basic systems everyone should have for various aspects of their financial life.  These are easy for almost everyone to implement so give them a try if you haven’t already:

Automatic Bill Pay:  We all have the same bills to pay.  Electricity, water, rent/mortgage, tuition, daycare etc.  Keeping all of these bills in order and remembering to pay them off month after month can be a chore.  Having a stack of papers and writing checks and mailing letters is not a difficult task, but it takes up precious time.  You increase your chance of missing a payment this way which can incur fees and possibly ruin your credit.

Instead, take some time out to set up automatic bill pay.  Most companies allow this by entering your checking account info on their website.  If they don’t have that capability, almost all checking accounts have an online bill pay feature which allows you to send a check to any address at no cost.  

Set these up to occur at regular intervals and you will never have to worry about keeping your routine monthly bills in order.

Saving and Investing:  Whether it’s investing for retirement or starting a rainy day fund, most people’s strategy is to just throw whatever they have leftover at the end of the month towards savings.  And considering that more than 75% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, this is not going to amount to much.

A much more effective way to save is to have a certain amount of money deducted from your checking account into your investment or savings accounts at regular intervals.  This allows you to grow money at a constant rate and will create a sort of “scarcity mentality” that will not allow you to spend money you don’t have.

This can be done a number of ways.  Almost all employers will automatically deduct 401(k) contributions before your check even hits your account, so that one’s pretty easy.  But if you have your own personal investment or savings account you are in charge of, you can easily set up a direct deposit from your checking account at any interval you choose.

Personally, this systematic approach to saving and investing has had a major impact in my life.  I know myself, and I would never consistently put money into my investment accounts if I had to do it manually.  Automatic investing is so easy to set up and is such a game changer I would recommend it to every single person.

Even if you can only start with $20 per month to contribute to your savings account on a regular basis, I would still recommend it.  It’s better to start somewhere than not begin at all. You can always increase your contributions later.

Tracking your Spending:  Gone are the days of balancing your checkbook to make sure you have the right amount of money in your checking account.  You can do almost everything personal finance related online nowadays, and tracking what you spend is certainly no exception.

Instead, I recommend leveraging the power of technology to set up a system to track your spending.There are so many websites and apps out there that allow you to track what’s coming in and what’s going out.  All you have to basically do is connect your accounts (checking, savings, credit card etc.) to the website and they will usually display your transactions on a nice little dashboard. You can then see exactly where your money is going.

I personally prefer Personal Capital.  You can not only track your spending, income and debt accounts, but it gives you a nice detailed look at your investment accounts as well.  You can see in which sectors you may need to invest more in and if you’re paying too much in fees. It’s pretty much a one stop shop for your finances and they are always improving their product.

Investing in Yourself:  While no one is going to directly pay you to do some yoga, investing in yourself is essential to being financially successful.  Self investment can come in so many forms such as exercise, taking classes, reading and meditation.  You have to find the areas that are important to you and your finances and work on them consistently.

Again, you can use technology to set up systems towards your self improvement.  And it doesn’t take much. You can simply set reminders on your calendar when you want to do some reading or exercise.  Or you can block out a certain time of the day to perform your self improvement tasks.

It’s especially important to set up systems for this.  Self improvement tasks fall under the “Non-Urgent but Important” group of tasks.  This makes it easy to justify taking care of the latest “emergency” before you get to your self investment time.  Don’t fall into this trap that and make investing in yourself a priority by setting up a solid and executable plan of action.

Conclusion

I would argue that not setting up systems for your finances is the true reason people don’t reach their goals.  Most people rely solely on willpower and motivation to try to make their situation better, but that really is a limited resource.  

Setting up systems of action is how giants like Oprah, Steve Jobs and Kobe Bryant became wildly successful.  They found a system that worked for them and kept at it until they got what they want.

The vast majority of Americans are living a paycheck to paycheck life because they don’t know where their money is going and they are not saving or investing enough.  These two huge problems can be solved by setting up systems that make personal finance as easy as a late round Rocky comeback.



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The Sharp Bite of COBRA Insurance

So I’m self employed now. I made the change about 6 months ago and am winding down from being an employed optometrist. Working for the man can become tiring.

But one thing working for the man did provide was health insurance at an affordable price. Now that I’m not employed full time, we had to fend for ourselves in the glorious US healthcare system.

Most large companies provide some sort of subsidized health insurance for their employees. You sign up for the plan, and the premium is taken out of your paycheck. Employers will usually foot half the premium while you pay the rest. Not a bad deal AT ALL!

In my case, it was a 50/50 split. I paid about $630 per month and my employer paid $630. The plan was a pretty decent HSA eligible plan so it worked well for us.

Once I left the company, I had 3 options:

-Stay on the current health plan aka COBRA

-Find a plan on the marketplace

-Sign up for some other “alternative” types of insurance such as preferred risk plan and health sharing plans.

The marketplace plans were much too expensive and we didn’t qualify for the health sharing plans since you have to be Christian to join them. And I don’t think they accept fresh converts.

So we decided to go with COBRA. And it has been an experience to say the least. Let me first give you an overview of COBRA insurance.

Premium times two

COBRA stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. Definitely not as scary sounding as the acronym. It’s a federal law that allows for health benefits to continue for someone who has experienced a job loss or other major life changes.

In my case, by signing up for COBRA we could continue on our current insurance plan without any interruption. Sounds pretty easy right? It is, but it comes with a price.

When I was employed full time, I paid $630 a month and my employer paid $630 a month to cover the monthly premium. But on COBRA, I have to pay the entire $1,260 premium on my own.

The law says I can be charged up to 102% of the premium, which I certainly was. Along with dental insurance which I paid very little for with my employer, my grand total came out to be about $1,400 per month.

The sort of good thing is, I knew this going in and factored it into my decision when becoming self employed. But going from $630 a month to $1,400 a month for health insurance is still taking some getting used to.

So while it was nice to continue my health plan and maintain all the deductibles I had already met, the monthly premium was not so nice.

Silver Linings

Health insurance is an issue for the self employed no doubt about that. Any entrepreneur will tell you that. But its not all bad.

While I do have to pay for health insurance directly from my checking account, the premiums will be an above the line tax deduction. This is pretty much the same as having a pre-tax deduction being employed, so it’s not really an advantage. But it’s nice to know I’ll be getting similar tax savings.

Being able to continue my coverage with COBRA also allowed us to keep our deductibles. We had kind of a busy healthcare year early on so we already met our deductible before I left the job. So it’s nice to have a few months of no more deductible to worry about.

Especially since there is another baby on the way! That’s right, number 3 is around the corner so it’s imperative that we keep those deductibles met for all the hospital bills.

So while health insurance can be a drag for the self employed, there are options. And you need to compare and see what the best option is for you and your family.

Even if it is a snake bite from a COBRA. Which I hope is a covered treatment!

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February is Failed Resolution Month

Make Goals Great Again!

Did you make a New Years resolution for 2019? Most likely it has failed by now. Not that I know you personally or anything. But research tells me so.

It’s estimated that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail. When they fail can vary, but I would guess around February sounds right since it’s tough for most people to do anything new for a month. Myself included.

Most resolutions are usually health or money related. Not surprisingly, I will focus on how to meet money resolutions. Although health and money are related in many ways.

In any case, here is why I think most money resolutions fail and how we can make resolutions that stick.

SMRT. I mean SMART

Most of us know what SMART goals are. It refers to goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. We’ve all seen this acronym many times.

But as with most things money, knowledge isn’t everything. Execution is where people go wrong. Setting SMART goals is the key but I feel most people just gloss over it or aren’t specific enough.

A big reason why most people don’t adhere to the SMART goal philosophy is that their goals really aren’t attainable. An example is someone who makes a goal to earn $100,000 in 2019. While it’s better than a general goal of “make more money”, this goal still has some flaws.

If this person is used to making $50,000 a year, getting to $100,000 a year is going to be tough. You could break it up even further and say the goal is to make $8,333.33 a month. But if the first few months don’t go right, which is likely since the beginning is always the toughest, then they might abandon the goal.

So what’s the best way to use SMART goals for the New Year? You should still make them specific, measurable and have a timeline. But you need to make the first step ridiculously easy.

Momentum is the key

Let’s say someone made a goal to save 20% of their income in 2019. A worthy goal indeed. But if they are currently saving 5%, it will be pretty tough to crank up the savings rate by 15% and not feel shell shocked.

Make the first step easy. Save 1% more for January. That’s it. It sounds stupidly simple but this is where the battle will be won. By the end of January, they will be saving 6%. Do 1% more for February, and repeat until the end of the year.

The momentum will likely carry this person to their goal. Maybe one month they can save 2%. But June is a tough month and they can’t save any extra. There will be ups and downs but by working on finding ways to save just a little more each month this person will get a crash course in being financially savvy.

After the year is up, they might by at a 16% savings rate. Didn’t quite get to 20%. So is the goal a failure? Absolutely not! Because you can do the same process for the following year and easily get to a 25% savings rate.

All from the first initial easy 1% savings increase. Momentum is a real thing and putting too much pressure on yourself too quickly greatly decreases the chance of hitting your financial resolution

The Big Picture

As humans, we tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in a year. But we also greatly underestimate what we can accomplish in 5 years.

This is essentially the problem with goal setting. We set our sights too high to achieve a short term win. But if we take smaller steps and are okay with stretching our timeline just a little bit, momentum will help carry us to our goals.

Let’s not make February the month where goals come to die for The Broke Professional readers. Just recalibrate them and keep on moving forward.

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The Most Effective Way to Avoid Burnout

Burnout doesn’t really have an official definition. But it can be characterized by bouts of depression, hopelessness and feeling flat from being stressed out at work.

Anyone can experience burnout, but it is pretty common among high income professionals such as doctors, lawyers and dentists.

Doctors are especially prone to feeling burnout out from work. Depending on the specialty, the rate of burnout can be anywhere from 30-40%. This is a popular article by a surgeon in Australia about the particular reasons physicians are feeling stressed and burnt out. Pretty fascinating read.

Burnout is real. So how do we address it? There are a number of ways including increasing morale and decreasing administrative tasks so professionals can actually focus on their job.

But this being a personal finance blog, I’m going to propose a financial way to help deal with burnout. And it’s pretty simple: Make enough money and have a plan for it.

Money = freedom

There are lots of ways people deal with burnout. And most of them involve escaping to something else like alcohol, food, television or medication. All valid ways to deal with stress and burnout.

Valid, but not very effective. In the end, burnout is largely due to lack of control. You can’t control your hours, your co-workers, the weather etc.

Most people also can’t usually control how much money they make. While money isn’t everything, I feel it plays a huge role in the potential for burnout.

Let’s say a doctor is being forced to work hard 80+ hours a week with very little sleep. His salary is $50,000/year. I guarantee you that doctor will start looking for the exits real soon.

How about he magically gets a raise to $500,000? He will definitely stick around that job longer despite the hard work. But he may start looking elsewhere after it just gets to be too much.

Now how about he gets a raise to $5 million? That will be the most loyal doctor you will ever see and burnout will be the farthest thing from his mind.

While this is an extreme example, it does show that if financial security is there, the risk of burnout will decrease. But we all can’t just pull a lever and make more money appear. Increasing income is a long term process that takes some trial and error. But for someone who is staring burnout in the face, time is one luxury that they don’t have.

So the focus should shift to what you can control. Specifically, how you spend your money and your overall financial plan.

Focus on what you can control

People who are stressed usually spend money to make themselves feel better. But it’s only temporary, and then you have less money. Which makes you more stressed.

So the first thing I would recommend is to find your biggest spending leak and plug it. Whether it’s eating out, drinking out or shopping, you need to cut the spending or risk facing burnout.

If you successfully do that, you will have some extra money every month. Now comes the important part: Make a plan for that money. You don’t need a full on financial plan that has retirement projections for multiple scenarios. That will come when you have more time and money.

Just make a simple goal for that money. For example, if you have an extra $200 every month, set up an automated savings plan into a Roth IRA. Or if you need some more in your emergency fund, send the money there every month.

The important thing is to do it and make it automatic. This will be a nice first step to financial independence and allow you to take back some control in your life. Which will eventually help minimize your chances of burnout at work.

Once you’re able to save more money, and hopefully make more as well, you can continue to take some more control by adding more money to your existing plan. Or you can make new goals such as saving for travel, a home or even working a little bit less.

Now that’s real control.

Burnout is Real, but not Inevitable

I have to admit, working in a corporate environment is tough. While I have thankfully never gotten to the point where I just want to walk off the job, I have experienced stressful situations which can make me wonder what I’m doing with my life.

But money can be a good motivator. And if you have a plan for your money that will eventually lead to financial independence, you will be able to tolerate a lot.

Obviously, if you are in an overly stressful and toxic environment which is affecting your health and well being, you should find an exit plan. But having a solid financial foundation will let you make the best decision for yourself and your career.

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Don’t Laugh at the Latte Factor

If you need this every day, then you don’t value money.

Some personal finance concepts will live on forever. Pay Yourself First is one of them. Debt Snowball is another one. And of course from uncle Dave Ramsey himself, “Live like no one else so you can live like no one else.”

But the one I want to talk about today is the Latte Factor. It’s a term that has been in the personal finance lexicon for over a decade now, but it is still somehow a polarizing subject.

David Bach first officially introduced the Latte Factor in his book The Automatic Millionaire. This was actually the first personal finance book I ever read and sparked my interest in the subject. A really good book for people at any stage in their finances.

In the book he talked about the ability to give up spending money on something and redirecting that money into savings. The example he gave was of giving up your daily latte. Thus, the Latte Factor.

The numbers are actually pretty amazing. Say you spend $4 every day on a delicious latte. (I worked at Starbucks for years so I know there are many people who do this.) Now instead of spending $4 every day on a drink, take that money and put it into an investment account.

Here’s what happens. If you put that daily $4 into a retirement account that gives you a modest 6% return, you will have $1,547.60 in one year. Not bad at all!

But if you keep doing it, the numbers get crazy. After 5 years, you’ll have $8,723.97. 10 years? $20,398.60. How about we jump to 40 years? How about you have $239,509.62! Just from giving up your little $4 addiction, you can rack up thousands of dollars pretty fast.

So why do so many people have a problem with the Latte Factor?

Overly Sensitive Coffee Lovers

Like I mentioned before, I worked at Starbucks during high school and college. It was at a new store in the mall and from the day it opened, it was packed every day. To say Americans are addicted to coffee is an understatement.

I would see the same people come in day after day for an expensive coffee and a pastry. This would easily be $7 a day. And this was 15 years ago. Starbucks is more expensive and this country is more addicted to sugary coffee and snacks.

So there certainly is a large part of the population that spends close to $10 a day at expensive coffee houses. (By the way, a daily $10 habit can turn into almost $600,000 after 40 years at a 6% growth rate).

And after reading criticisms about the Latte Factor, most people just seem to be mad at the idea of taking away their lattes. They say if you enjoy your lattes and they make you happy, keep them! Don’t let some cold financial guru tell you to stop your habit.

These people are not looking at the big picture. It’s not just lattes that are a candidate for the chopping block (which they should be since most lattes have unholy amounts of sugar). It’s anything you buy that isn’t essential and doesn’t bring you happiness.

Let’s make a list: cigarettes, alcohol, donuts, expensive cell phone plans, expensive car loans, fancy groceries, fancy shaving cream, movie theater food, airplane food, soda, bank fees, non-library books, barely used gym memberships, and so on.

Long enough list for you? Most people have many little expenses like this. Imagine cutting just half of them out and putting it towards your investment plan? I hate the saying, but you’d definitely be living your best life!

Conclusion

If drinking an over-caffeinated beverage spiked with sugar every day really makes you happy, don’t let David Bach or anyone else say you can’t have it. Just realize that you love lattes and high blood sugar more than money and continue to feed the addiction.

But try to look outside yourself and find out what non essential expenses you can cut or minimize. Once you can do this, funnel that savings right into your investment accounts and watch your wealth grow year after year with the additional latte flavored rocket fuel.

And with today’s technology, it’s easier than ever. When you pass by the coffee shop and have the urge to scarf down that overpriced scone, just pull out your smartphone.

Simply sign into your investment account, transfer that $5 from your checking account, and walk away with a smile knowing you are fueling your wealth and some billionaire CEO.

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How to Lose Friends and Scare Away People

red stapler

Many people have read the popular book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.  This book came out way back in the 1930’s but is still read by many today.  This book can teach you how to effectively network and connect with people to form meaningful relationships, in both your personal and business interactions.

It’s one of those books that teach you new things every time you read it.

But this post is not about all that syrupy good stuff.  This post is about the exact opposite. I will share a guide that will make sure you stay unhappy and stuck in your dead end job for a very long time, or even lose your job altogether.

It outlines the steps you need to take to ensure that you can effectively alienate both your family and friends while being scorned by co-workers at the same time.  It’s a rare skill to be able to lose friends AND scare away people, but I’ll show you how it’s done.  (This is all sarcasm by the way. Well most of it)

1.  Be late.  For everything.  It is said that time stops for no one.  It’s time to prove them wrong.  There are many places and people that expect you to be on time.  Your boss and your clients.  Mom and dad.  Your spouse.  Even your kids may expect you to be on time so they’re not stranded in front of school in 20 degree weather.

What gives them the right?  Take your time wherever you go and in whatever you do.  Deadlines and panicked phone calls from your children can wait.  You have more important things to do.  Time is a limited resource, so keep as much of it for yourself as you can.  (Reality: Pick your kids up if needed.  Don’t make your wife wait.  Ever.)

2.  Networking is for dweebs.  Who has time to network when there are so many shows to watch on Netflix?  You love your current job, but not that much, so talking to others in your field and keeping current on your skills should be the last thing on your mind.

Besides, who wants to be one of those guys that’s always shaking hands with people and smiling?  Not this guy.  (Reality:  Yes, you should make sincere and strong relationships with those people in your industry who make more than you or know more than you.)

3.  ALWAYS pass the buck.  Don’t be the “go to” guy in your workplace.  People will be asking you to do all kinds of stuff that you frankly don’t feel like doing.

If a client asks you to do an urgent project, first try to convince them that it’s not really that urgent, and if that doesn’t work, ask them to give the project to what’s his name down the hall.  (Reality: Try to be indispensable to your clients and supervisors.  They’ll greatly appreciate it because they’ll have to do less work.)

4.  Read a lot less.  There is this perception out there that successful people read a lot.  While this may be true, it certainly doesn’t sound like fun.  Reading hundreds of pages of material relevant to your field will take the excitement out of everything else in life.

If you know so much about your area of expertise, where are you going to get the rush of possibly making a bad decision?  Leave the reading to the librarians.  (Reality: Keep current on your field by reading relevant blogs or journals.  You’ll at least know when your field will become obsolete.)

5.  React to EVERYTHING.  All those people you work with and those clients you serve are out to get you.  Whether it’s your bobbleheads, awesome desk chair or even your red Swingline stapler, the world wants to see you pay and take your things.

This is why it is very important to react to every little thing.  And react HARD.  Throw objects, swear loudly, storm out of the room and, ideally, all three at the same time.  Every little sideways glance and convoluted comment that could be about you needs to be addressed.  These people will not stop until you’re out on the street.  (Reality:  People don’t have time to worry about you so don’t go crazy about everything.  They’re too busy worrying about themselves.)

These are my top 5 ways of being an anti-Dale Carnegie.  I’m sure there are many, many other ways I could think of to lead you down the path of the social pariah, but all this typing is hurting my fingers.  If you would like to share your own ways of losing friends and scaring away people, please feel free to share in the comments.

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