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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Power Up: Taking Charge Of Your Financial Destiny ... Book Review

Book Review . Consumer Credit . Credit . Finance . Personal Finance . Debt . Budgets . Personal Budgets . Cheap - Frugal . Shopping Lists . Materialism . Investing . Monthly Income . Needs vs Wants . NASCAR . NFL . NIKE . Frugal Philosophy . Economic Use of Resources . Paco Underhill - Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping . Yard Sales . Hobby Finding . Keeping Up With the Joneses . Loans . Electronic Banking . Walk - Walking - Getting In Shape . Business & Economics . Debt Management

The author (Howard S.Dvorkin, CPA) Marketing Communications/New Media Coordinator sent me a complimentary copy for review. A powerful book of options of how one may gain financial independence which comes from a change mindset & working towards some goals.

I was most honored to receive this book for it is loaded with powerful advice in an easy to understand language coming from a man of his prestige.

The publisher nor author shall not be liable for any loss of profit or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

Howard S. Dvorkin, CPA is a serial entrepreneur, a two-time author & a personal finance expert. As the Founder of Consolidated Credit Howard is one of the most highly regarded debt & credit experts in the USA & has played an instrumental role in drafting both State & Federal Legislation.

Examples of Cheap-Frugal Lifestyles from one of the author clients'

This client makes a very detail shopping list & sticks to it, & she stops every Sunday at an organic farm that allows customers to pick their own fruits & vegetables.



Howard S. Dvorkin CPA Power Up Taking Charge Of Your Financial Destiny, Books by Finance Experts




Her previous routine of buying coffee every morning has been replaced by drinking coffee at home from a coffee maker she found at a yard sale for $3 - & it was still in the box, not used.

Once or twice a month she & the family go to a pizzeria that offers large pizzas for $7.99. It feeds everyone & they all order water with lemon so as not to incur an extra expense - soft drinks & alcoholic drinks are usually outrageously priced compared to wholesale price. They are able to tip the waiter-waitress a slightly higher tip. This is being frugal.

She is actually involving her children in family finances which will have tremendous benefits now & in the future when the children have to run their own household budget. No parent wants to see their children struggle.

The frugal philosophy can become contagious. It's intelligent but it's also a difficult philosophy to adopt & sustain because we've all been programmed to spend - by TV ads, radio commercials, Internet popups & store banners that promulgate "the sale of all sales!"

Be frugal & get more for your money & more for your family. You'll be happier & have a few extra bucks in your savings account to show for it.

The above client ran into a perfect storm, of bad financial issues: She was laid off of work & was overwhelmed by medical bills as a result of an accident her child experienced. She basically lost everything but was determined by the thought of getting her financial privileges back.

She found another job & gathered other employees who lived near her neighborhood. She brought evidence, showing her coworkers how much money they could save on gas if they joined her carpool.

She did the work.

If you have money problems, you need to change your shopping habits & maybe some personal habits.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Choose to eat cereal because it tastes good, but it is also nutritious - & you need to add milk.

This is one of the items that one of my Doctors prescribed for me which is Whole Wheat Grain & or Bran.




Many times there are 2-for-1 deals, which is even better. Read the labels & determine which cereal has a good portion of protein & fiber compared to sugar. Cereal may be eaten at any meal.

You not only want to be frugal, but you also want to be healthy.

Look for lunch meat that is on sale or keep peanut butter & jelly in the house.

Most of us don't like to think of ourselves as materialistic or competitive consumers trying to keep up with our neighbors, friends, & work associates. But face it, when the guy at work drives up in a new Lexus & you're driving a 6-year-old car, that pang of envy is real.

The car becomes a status symbol, just as does a cup of java from a gourmet coffee shop.

Understand that comparing the purchase of a cup of coffee & a car is a stretch, but the point is that these things are being observed by you & others.

I read also in January of 2014 that Mark Z. - Facebook CEO is worth Billions & he does not even own a luxury vehicle - how true that is I personally do not know.

The author takes his hat off to the marketers who branded Starbucks. When a simple cup of coffee defines who you are & where you are going in life, it becomes apparent that we are in a trouble as a society. Does a cup of coffee from McDonalds exude a feeling of luxury like a cup of coffee from Starbucks?

If you're a woman you probably know what kind of perfume, lipstick, clothes, & shoes your friends wear. If they are buying brand labels then you probably are too, even if you don't make the same amount of money as they do.

If you happen to associate with people who make more money & you want to keep up with them, then you may become desperate & start using your credit cards for things that you simply cannot afford.

We are going broke trying to maintain our memberships in a perceived class of people.

Men are no different. They will be happy to entertain you by chattering about their top-of-the-line golf clubs, fishing equipment. If a neighbor down the road purchases a John Deere riding mower, you can be sure most of the men have seen it or heard about it.

CD"S are a place to put your savings for a fixed period-until the CD matures, which can range from only a few weeks to several years. Keep in mind that you cannot touch this money as you could in a savings account or other accounts, so you should be positive that you can live without the money you invest in a CD. If you withdraw the funds prior to the maturity date you may be assessed an early withdrawal penalty.

Savings bonds are a way for the government to borrow money. The purchase price is one half of the face value of the bond. Bonds are great for protecting your principal, saving for a child's education, giving as a gift, or generating tax-deferred income for retirement.

IRA's (Traditional individual retirement accounts) are unique in that they allow you to make tax-deductible contributions. Your money through the account, can be invested in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, & other financial vehicles, & the earnings grow tax-free. If you withdraw money before you turn 59 1/2, you will be penalized a rate of 10% plus you will be responsible for paying tax of the amount withdrawn.

With Roth individual retirement accounts you will not receive an income-tax deduction in the year when you make the contribution. You can easily educate yourself on these requirements of the Roth IRA by searching the Web at IRS.gov.

When you invest in a mutual fund, you & other investors will be pooling your money with the help of a fund manager. The fund manager is responsible for investing the collective money into specific securities (usually stocks or bonds). You will be paying a fee for the work that your fund manager does-namely buying the stocks & bonds that best meet the objectives of the fund.

You know what it's like to lose your money, so when you are starting over, be wise, educated, diligent, & informed. You be the boss. Be wary & above all read everything, especially the fine print. And if you don't understand something, ask questions.

There are a variety of fees that you could be charged if you aren't careful.

Electronic banking uses computers & electronic technology as a substitute for checks & other paper transactions.

ATM's are electronic terminals that let you bank almost any time. If the machine you are using is not associated with your bank, the ATM may require a surcharge, or usage fee (which may be 2 or 3 dollars). Having an ATM card or credit card in someone's hands, especially if the account doesn't belong to them, makes people do crazy things.

Direct deposit lets you authorize specific regular deposits, such as paychecks, & Social Security checks to your account. A good trick the author recommends is to increase savings is to split the direct deposit between savings & checking in a reasonable amount to cover your immediate monthly bills & forget you have the savings.

Personal computer banking allows you to conduct many banking transactions electronically by using your personal computer. You may use your computer to view your account balance, request transfers between accounts, & pay bills electronically.

Pay-by-phone systems allow you to telephone your financial institution with directions to pay certain bills or to transfer funds between accounts. You must first notify the institution to make such transfers.

A personal loan is taken out to meet your specific personal needs. The bank will have strict requirements before it lends you this money - meaning that you will need good credit, verification of income, & or proof of other assets. It helps to have a business relationship with the bank in the form of a checking or savings account.

The dealer you are working with usually can procure you an auto loan - depending on your credit history, which you will be working on improving. Taking a 4 or 5 year loan adds 1,000's to the original price. If you like two cars just about the same, the car, that has the lower APR should be your choice.

A home loan is used to buy a home, but there are many factors involved. The lender will analyze your ability to repay the mortgage based on the monthly payment, which will include property taxes & insurance on the property, plus existing monthly bills. There are many home loans, so you should be very careful & do your research to find the loan that you will not only benefit you now but also in the future.

A home equity loan allows a homeowner to borrow against the equity built up in the house. The homeowner is taking a loan out against the value of his or her home. These loans normally command a higher interest risk associated with them in terms of collateral priority.

A signature loan is an unsecured personal loan given at a fixed rate. These loans are used when you need cash for bill consolidation, auto repairs, vacations, emergency cash, taxes, or other personal financial needs.

Some people criticize those of us who try to be frugal. No one likes a cheapskate. Frugal is about being smart. Embracing the frugal philosophy. The dictionary gives us the meaning of frugal: characterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resources.

Think of a great Italian chef preparing a marinara sauce for a special dinner. The chef will use simple, fresh ingredients: tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil, salt, & pepper. Simple is better.

Shopping for groceries begin at home. Base your list on meals - think breakfast, lunch, & dinner for your family, whether it's five people of just you.

Plan your dinner meals according to days of the week. Maintaining a certain amount of flexibility allows you to save money.

You'll learn that being prepared & being frugal is smart. You'll save money & time.

Frugal philosophy involves time & money.

Howard & his wife plans meals that are inexpensive, easy to make, & nutritious. Don't forget to reuse your leftovers. If you have chicken from the night before - chop it up, open a can of kidney beans, warm up the chicken & beans, & make tacos or burritos - think ahead, be smart, proactive & always e frugal.

Listed in this book are examples of Monthly Income Worksheets, Revolving Credit Worksheets, Fixed Monthly Expenses Worksheets, Fixed Expense Worksheets & Discretionary Monthly Expenses Worksheets & the proper way to use them.

Your main fixed expenses are the usual suspects: car payment, mortgage, rent, & etc. These entries usually stay consistent from month to month.

Discretionary Expenses are the items that all of us don't necessarily need to comfortably exist but we purchase them anyway. This may not pertain to you or your family, but it's a lesson in using discipline when spending. Take control of these expenses - this is where the devil lives.

Most Americans suffer from the "want syndrome." Some people get so obsessed with what they want that they lose focus on their needs. They literally start to believe that they need a certain type of vehicle or brand of clothing; they make themselves totally convinced.

One of the author's favorite saying is "When the money is in your pocket, you're the boss."

The author & his wife was at an art festival & he liked a chair but the vendor wanted $360. He let the vendor negotiate against himself to get the price was comfortable paying.

The vendor told him "You are tough." He said, "Yes, I am." His wife said "You haven't seen anything yet. You have no idea what I live with." They all started laughing & began to make arrangements for delivery the next day.


Basic needs:

Food

Shelter

Clothing

Employment

Medical

Transportation

Communication

Entertainment


Howard does a very detail examples of pros and cons of how we need to budget & gives easy-to-follow options for maintaining & saving money at the same time.

Remember your hobby ideas; they could be your new source of entertainment.

Having money in a certain way is an escape from the real world. Not having money, unfortunate, has the opposite effect.

Sales aren't always a good thing unless it's for something that you "need." Sometimes abstinence is the better path. If you're at the supermarket stick to your list; if you're going to the mall make a list.

If you're a man & watch golf & see the top golfers with name-brand shirts & clubs, you probably want the same thing. The author has seen NASCAR fans (men & women) modify their cars or trucks like their favorite driver's car. TV coerces us to buy certain products & certain "looks" - as in fashion design.

Advertisers build brand identity, like NIKE & the swoosh. NASCAR is a brand; so is the NFL, just like Gucci or Chanel.

You are out to build your own brand-a brand new you who is smarter & savvier & understands that money is worth more than its monetary value. You are out to build yourself back up from financial crisis.

Materialism & coveting name-brand products is rampant in America. It's not healthy, financially or wise.

Money is to be earned, respected, & saved so that when an emergency occur, or when you need to purchase something that you really do need, you have it.

You are more than the possessions you buy or covet.

Kids watch shows where young girls, probably between 10 & 13, dress in the very latest fashions. They want the same clothes & they don't want us to buy from Kmart. Many parents fall prey to their kid's insistent pressure & buy fashions they can't afford.

In Paco Underhill's book: Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, he calla the first few steps into a retail store the "transition zone." It's where shoppers transition from the outside world to the retail space. Make a list & stick to it; you'll save money & time.

A hobby is an inexpensive & stimulating method for saving money & expanding your horizons. The author have had clients who took up knitting, fishing, writing, reading, sewing, furniture refinishing, & other creative activities, which granted them a sense of accomplishment without having to spend much money. The idea is to stay away from the places or things that switch on your "spend motor."

We want to save money & fill up our empty time with inspiring, educational, & purpose-packed activities.

You have spare time so why not fill it with something that won't create an additional expense.

Gyms are fine if you can afford them, but there are so many methods for getting into shape if you want to take up as a hobby. Go to a yard sale & or shop that sells used products & you will probably find a workout DVD. You can walk out of your front door & use the world as your treadmill. Groups of men & women walk all the time.

when you commit to doing something that may be difficult, like getting back into shape or learning to play a musical instrument, the reward is so much deeper & the satisfaction at succeeding is uplifting.

There are so many opportunities to improve your financial, physical, & mental well-being. You just need to take advantage of them.

A young client lost everything due to a series of unfortunate issues. He decided one day that he was going to fix his car up. He purchased some car cleaning products on sale & started from the tires up-washing, waxing, & shining-until the car looked almost new. One of his neighbors noticed & asked if he could clean her car. He had nothing better to do; he could either hang out with a few of his buddies at the beach or make some extra money. So he charged her a flat fee of $75, which included the products necessary to do the job. The woman told one of her friends about the great job & soon the author's client was cleaning cars on the side. Not a bad way to use some free time.

Howard S. Dvorkin, CPA success in the personal finance industry landed him columns in Fox Business News as well as has allowed him to be interviewed by countless media outlets over the years including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Fortune, Entrepreneur, The American Banker, Investor's Business Daily, & Virtually every national & local newspaper in the country. He has appeared as a finance expert on national & local TV & radio programs, including the CBS Nightly News, ABC World News Tonight, The Early Show, Fox News & CNN.