7 Effective Actions That Propel You To Success

Are you doing what needs to be done to ensure your success? Or are you doing the things that are easy? Or maybe you haven’t given it any thought at all.

Most of us don’t examine our choices to see if they stand up to scrutiny. We tend to do the same things over and over, because they’re familiar and comfortable. However, it’s possible you haven’t been making the best use of your time.

If you want to experience greater success, it’s important to use your time wisely. Are you certain that you’re doing the things that really matter?

Effective actions bring the desired results.

Consider these ideas to gain greater success:

      1. Define success. You can’t tell if you’re focused on the right things if you don’t even know what you’re trying to accomplish. Think about what success means to you. How will you know when you’ve succeeded? Once you know the destination, the path becomes more defined.

      2. Determine the most important actions. Using your definition of success, what are the most important steps along the way? Make a list. Ignore whether or not the activity is enjoyable. That’s not what’s important. What activities are the most relevant to your desired result?

      3. Ask yourself, “What do I gain by doing this?” Before you undertake any action related to your goals, ask yourself, “What do I gain by doing this?” What is the outcome you can reasonably expect to attain by taking this course of action? Is that the best use of your time?

      4. Identify the things that aren’t adding value. Look at your current tendencies and habits. Which ones are a waste of your time? We all have things we do habitually that aren’t the most effective use of our time. Examine your daily routines and eliminate those actions that don’t support any of your goals.

      5. Overcome internal resistance. The things that matter the most are frequently the least comfortable things. You know that feeling you get in your stomach when you need to do something you really don’t want to do? The ability to act in spite of that feeling is critical to being highly successful.

      6. Identify distractions. Distractions are often those things we like to do, but don’t move us toward success. Some are pure time wasters, like watching TV. Others are thinly disguised as productive, but you know in your heart they aren’t. Redirect your attention to more productive activities.

      7. Measure how much time you spend on the important tasks. You might be surprised how little time you actually spend on those tasks.
          • For example, one of the best ways for real estate agents to get new listings is to call expired listings. Of course, most agents find it so uncomfortable, they won’t do it. There are tons of rejection.
          • Even if an agent made 10 calls each day, that’s only about 10 minutes of their time. It seems like a lot of work, but it’s only 10 minutes.
          • How much time are you really spending on the “right” things in order to be successful?

How much time are you spending on the most important tasks to improve your life or reach your goals? Most of us spend a lot less than we think.

Be aware of how you’re spending your time each day. Examine each thing you do and ask yourself if that is the best use of your time. You’ll quickly separate yourself from the pack.

What to Know Before Buying Homeowners’ Insurance

Before you shop for homeowners’ insurance, it’s smart to be informed about the wide range of costs and the ins and outs of insuring your home. Learning as much as you can about the following points will help you select the best homeowners’ insurance to meet your needs.

Be aware that how much you know about each of the following areas will influence your choices regarding your homeowners’ insurance policy.

      1. Home type. Your homeowners’ insurance policy should reflect the type of home you have. Homeowners’ insurances vary, depending on whether you live in a mobile home, a condominium, or a house.

      2. Typical insurance coverage. A basic homeowners’ insurance policy will cover for damage to your home from weather events, except for earthquake and flood coverage, which must be attained on separate policies.
          • Also, damage from vandals and thieves will be covered. So, personal property inside your home is included in a basic policy.
          • Other “structures” that are built on your property, such as garages, tool sheds, or workshops are usually included in homeowners’ insurance.
          • Another important inclusion in a typical policy is personal liability. This type of insurance coverage protects you in the event that someone gets hurt on your property.

      3. Home construction. What is your home made of? Is it built sturdily to handle weather events?
          • Materials used in the construction of your home will partially determine the type of insurance you obtain as well as the cost.
          • The more superior the construction, the easier it will be for you to find a good policy.

      4. Quality home care. If you go the extra mile to protect your home and belongings, you might attain a reduced premium.
          • For example, if you live in a hurricane zone and install hurricane shutters on all your doors and windows, you might score a reduced rate on your basic insurance policy.

      5. Deductible levels. As with other types of insurance, you can save money on your homeowners’ insurance policy if you’re willing to have higher deductible amounts.
          • Be aware that your mortgage company might have specific requirements or set limits as to how high of a deductible you can have.

      6. Replacement cost coverage. Before you go shopping for insurance, it’s wise to know the value of the property you’re insuring plus an approximate value of your personal items inside the dwelling that you’ll be insuring. Knowing these values will help the agent decide on how much to insure your property for.
          • To figure replacement costs, insurance companies will write a policy that covers 125% to 200% of the price of your property.

      7. Cost of Insurance. Many factors figure in to the cost of your homeowner’s insurance policy. Some of those factors are the age of the dwelling, the size of your home, its location, and the construction materials.
          • Also, the level of your deductibles and your location relative to your fire protection services and a fire hydrant figure in to the final insurance costs.

      8. Insurance company’s reputation. As with any business you deal with, know your insurance company’s reputation. Verify they are licensed to sell insurance in your state.
          • Check the company’s ratings through Standard & Poor’s, TheStreet.com, and your local Better Business Bureau.

Obtaining homeowners’ insurance requires you to do your homework. Use this list to prepare yourself for doing some comparison shopping for your home’s insurance. Once you familiarize yourself with all the facts related to your dwelling, you’ll be prepared and ready to make your best deal on your homeowners’ insurance policy.

10 Unusual Ways to Raise Your Credit Score

It’s possible to raise your credit score with some simple changes. Credit scores affect insurance rates, loan interest rates, and other important financial products. A higher score can lead to a brighter financial future.

Consider using these ideas to raise your credit score:

      1. Piggyback on good credit histories. You can use a family member’s or friend’s good credit history to help you.
          • If you add yourself to an account in good standing, your credit score will go up.
          • Most credit cards allow users to add family members and distant relatives to their accounts.
          • You’ll be an authorized user on the account and able to make purchases and pay the bills.

      2. Keep old accounts open. It’s important to keep older accounts like credit cards open because they influence credit scores. Credit scores can decrease if you close accounts.
          • Account age also matters. Scores are affected positively by older accounts because they show a history of maintaining credit.
          • Plus, these old accounts add to the amount of credit you have access to, thus lowering the percentage of available credit you’re using, which raises your score.

      3. Set up auto-payments. Automatic payments are a convenient way to pay bills every month. They’re also an easy way to avoid a late payment and a fee. Auto-payments can help improve your credit score by preventing these issues.

      4. Pay credit card bills more than once a month. Credit scores rely on a debt utilization ratio. This ratio compares how much debt you have to the size of your credit limit.
          • One way to improve credit scores is to lower the debt utilization ratio.
          • Paying your credit card bills more than once a month can help you improve the score by decreasing the ratio. Extra payments lower your debt while increasing how much credit is available during the month.

      5. Ask for good-will deletions. It’s possible to ask credit reporting agencies and lenders for good-will deletions.
          • Late fees, late payments, or unpaid bills can affect credit scores. A good-will deletion is a request to remove these items based on a prior good history. This method works best if you’re a long-term customer with few issues.

      6. Avoid pre-approved offers. The pre-approved offers that come in the mail usually require a credit check, and multiple credit checks affect your credit score by lowering it.
          • It’s also beneficial to avoid creating too many accounts. It’s easier to manage a smaller number, so you’re less likely to make mistakes.

      7. Avoid new utility accounts. Utilities like gas, electricity, and phone services require credit checks that lower scores. It’s better to transfer utilities to a new address instead of opening new ones.

      8. Remember library fines. Did you return all of your library books? Unpaid fines can decrease your credit score, and libraries can send unpaid bills to collection agencies.

      9. Avoid online quote comparisons. Online quotes for insurance or loans count as inquiries on your credit score. These credit checks affect the score each time you ask for a quote.
          • Getting quotes from multiple websites can lead to many credit checks. It’s best to narrow down the options before getting a quote, so your score isn’t affected.

      10. Establish long-term credit. Instead of switching to a new company that promises lower rates for a few months, consider staying with the previous one.
          • Credit scores go up based on positive, long-term relationships with lenders.
          • It may be tempting to take the lower credit card offer from another company to move balances, but your score may suffer.

It’s possible to raise credit scores with several strategies. Careful planning is an important part of getting a higher score.

Credit Union vs. Bank: Which is Better?

Banks have nothing good to say about credit unions. Credit unions don’t have a lot of appreciation for banks. Their customers of one entity believe the customers of the other are delusional. Which is better? It depends on your location and your needs. Banks and credit unions each have advantages over the other.

      1. Credit unions are not-for-profit. While banks exist for the purpose of earning as much money as possible, credit unions exist to provide a service to their members. Excess income can be used to provide lower fees and lower interest rates on loans.

      2. Credit unions are technologically challenged. Credit unions are often a few years behind banks when it comes to online banking and other online tools. Depending on how you like to bank, this might be an issue.
          • Thoroughly evaluate the online banking tools before joining a credit union. If online banking is important, a traditional bank could be a better option.

      3. Credit unions can be harder to join. Some unions only service a particular population, such as teachers or employees of a particular company. There are credit unions open to the general population, but they’re less common. It might require a little work to find a local credit union that will accept you as a member.

      4. Credit unions pay higher interest rates on deposits. Sometimes as much as 10 times more. Online banks often provide rates that are competitive with credit unions.

      5. Banks spend much more on advertising. Many banking customers are slow to switch to credit unions because of the tremendous advertising reach of big banks. Keep in mind that the banking customers are ultimately paying for those advertising costs. You’ll have to find your local credit unions since they’re unlikely to find you.

      6. Banks offer more options. Credit unions offer many of the same products as banks, but with fewer options overall. A credit union might only offer a couple of checking accounts, one savings account, and a couple of credit cards. A bank often has many more options available and can potentially satisfy your need better.
          • Do you have simple or complex banking needs?

      7. Banks charge higher interest on credit cards and other loan products. The difference is usually 1-2%. This might not sound like much, but it can be significant when dealing with a large loan over many years.

      8. Credit unions are more focused on service. While banks want to maximize profit, even at the expense of customer satisfaction, credit unions are owned by the members and place a higher value on service. Members vote on how a credit union handles the day to day activities.
          • Credit union members consistently report a higher level of satisfaction than bank customers do.

      9. Banks typically have more locations. Some banks seem to have a branch on every corner. Credit unions often only have a few, or even just one, location. Depending on where you live relative to the local branch, this can be a deal-breaker.

Banks offer more locations, more ATMs, more products, and a higher level of technology. Credit unions pay more interest on deposits, charge less interest on loans, and charge lower fees at the expense of convenience. Which is more important to you? By answering that question, you’ll find the right answer for your situation.

You might be able to have the best of both worlds by having an account with both a bank and a credit union. You’re not limited to just one or the other.

Money-Saving Tips That are Easy to Implement

Your savings account is a tool that can give you financial freedom and peace of mind. It provides a buffer in case of emergencies and relieves you of needless worry. When the car breaks down or your child needs to see a doctor, you have the money in the bank when you save on a regular basis.

Even a little savings can add up to a sizable nest egg, especially if you’re saving on a consistent basis!

Follow these money-saving tips to grow your bank account and peace of mind:

      1. Brew your own coffee. By brewing your own coffee each morning rather than making a daily run to your favorite premium coffee and latte store, you’ll save a considerable amount of money over the course of one year. As an added bonus, you’ll likely lose weight by opting for a cup of simple, homebrewed Joe rather than a frothy frappe with all the bells and whistles.
            • Assuming that your daily premium coffee order is priced between $3.75 and $4.35, you can save between $975 and $1,131 each year!

      2. Use coupons strategically. You can maximize your savings by shopping at a grocery store that automatically doubles your coupons. If you truly want to ramp up your savings, deposit the amount you save into your savings account.
            • Media outlets, such as NBC and CBS have featured stories where power coupon queens purchase up to $250 worth of groceries for as little as $20 by doubling coupons and shopping strategically. Search their online database of videos to view these clips.
            • Some grocery stores, such as Price Chopper, Harris Teeter, Super Value and Kroger’s double coupons up to $1. However, in select locations, some stores only double coupons up to $0.75.

      3. Tip jar. When you eat out, you tip your waitress 20% of your bill. Apply the same logic to eating at home. When you cook an especially complex meal, treat yourself to a tip. Keep a tip jar at the counter, and estimate the amount you would have paid for a similar meal at a restaurant and bank 20% of that amount in your “chef’s tip jar.”
            • Let’s say, for a meal of pasta for four, you pay $45. Save money by cooking the meal at home, and tip yourself $9 rather than the waitress.
            • If you don’t have cash on you, write yourself a check and actually cash it. Alternatively, you can simply transfer the amount of your “tip” to your savings account.
      4. Coin operated laundry. Keep a jar in your laundry room and pay yourself $3 every time you do laundry. One dollar to wash, one dollar to dry and one dollar to fold. And, if you’re feeling generous, leave yourself a tip!
          • Coin operated laundry. Keep a jar in your laundry room and pay yourself $3 every time you do laundry. One dollar to wash, one dollar to dry and one dollar to fold. And, if you’re feeling generous, leave yourself a tip!

Saving money can be fun if you’re creative. By implementing these simple, quirky tips, you can put a smile on your face and add a remarkable amount to your savings account throughout the course of just one year!

Top 10 Techniques That Will Make You Rich

Are you reaching your financial goals? Do you even have financial goals? Regardless of your current financial situation, there are several strategies you can use that can make you rich. There are no guarantees in life, but you can greatly increase the odds in your favor. Intelligent decisions and consistent behavior are all you need.

These strategies needed to create wealth are available to everyone:

      1. Have multiple streams of income. One of the most important aspects of becoming wealthy is the avoidance of financial disasters, such as losing a job. It can take years to replace the savings you might spend in just a couple of months. The more sources of income you have, the more financial security you’ll enjoy. You’ll also earn more.

      2. Live within your means. No one can outspend their income indefinitely. Bankruptcy is the common result. Regardless of your income, it’s necessary to spend less than you earn.

      3. Invest in yourself. We’re not talking about purchasing a sports car. Spend money on education and self-improvement. Develop your talents and learn valuable skills. Money spent wisely on self-education and enhancement can provide greater returns than any stock you could ever own.

      4. Set and pursue financial goals. While a few people luck their way into wealth, setting goals is a more reliable strategy. Do something to pursue that goal each and every day. Measure your results regularly.

      5. Accept responsibility for your financial future. It’s your responsibility to create your own prosperity. After all, no one else is going to do it for you.

      6. Be patient. Unless you find a way to secure a very large income, wealth requires time and patience. You don’t have to do anything spectacular to amass a spectacular fortune, but it won’t happen overnight. Keep your eye on the long-term outcome and be patient.

      7. Invest consistently. If you’re not saving a portion of your paycheck each month and investing it as well as you can, you’re limiting your ability to build wealth. Build to the point where you’re saving at least 15% of your take home pay. Learn about investing so you know how to invest those funds wisely.

      8. Consider taxes. Taxes have a huge effect. Whether you’re purchasing a home or thinking about selling a stock, taxes matter. Make investment decisions with an understanding of the tax implications. Make full use of tax-deferred retirement accounts, too.

      9. Focus on needs and let go of wants. Before making any purchase, ask yourself if you need the item or service. How many purchases have you regretted in the past? Do you really need a larger TV or your own espresso machine? As much as possible, limit spending to your needs and invest the remainder.

      10. Know when to stay and when to go. Nothing lasts forever. There is a time to exit a job, an investment, or a business. Staying too long with any of these things will cost you financially sooner or later.

Financially successful people have left many clues for you to follow. Adopting certain behaviors will all but guarantee financial abundance. Choose a few of these strategies and begin applying them to your life. Continue this personal transformation and be persistent and consistent. Building a fortune takes time.

Financial Fraud and Seniors

Sometimes our advantages can become our weaknesses. If you’re retired or getting close to retirement, you may have some great things going for you – like great credit, owning your home debt-free, and a substantial retirement nest egg.

However, these great things, along with your age, can also put you at greater risk for a range of frauds targeting older folks. We are going to look at a few of the most common frauds perpetrated on seniors and what can be done to avoid being taken advantage of.

Contractor Fraud

Odds are that your residence is going to need repair at some time during your retirement, especially if you’ve been living in it for the past 25 years. Contractor scams happen when the contractor starts doing repairs that are unnecessary and then often overcharges for the work, too.

Other common variants include:

    • Taking payments in advance and then never completing any of the agreed upon work
    • Using admittance into your residence as a means to burglarize it
    • Convincing owners to be part of fraudulent insurance claims

Reputable contractors don’t generally go knocking on doors to drum up business. If your house needs some work done, it’s usually better to ask around for referrals or check out the contractors listed by your Better Business Bureau. Check out the contractor for complaints before consenting to have any work done.

Reverse Mortgage Fraud

Reverse mortgages can be a legitimate technique to draw out equity from your home These are most commonly referred to as home equity conversion mortgages (HECM). HECMs are insured by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA). They were created so that people 62 years and older could easily pull the equity from their principal residence and not be burdened with monthly payments.

A problem can occur with non-HECM reverse mortgage scams; typically, a senior is used as an unsuspecting pawn in a property-flipping scheme or billed huge fees by an unscrupulous “advisor” that simply handles standard paperwork in a normal HECM loan.

If you’re interested in a reverse mortgage, your bank or a reputable mortgage broker is a good place to start.

Investment Fraud

While people of all ages are taken in by various investment frauds, seniors seem to be targeted the most.

Always be skeptical and double check with a trusted professional when it comes to your life savings. Don’t succumb to any time pressure tactics; if it’s something that you have to decide right now, your answer right now should be “NO.” False time limits are a common technique to get people to commit their hard-earned money to a fraud.

It probably doesn’t seem fair that anyone has to be on alert in retirement; it seems like you’ve earned the right to just relax and enjoy life. However, unfortunately, be on guard you must. In most instances, verifying information with third parties or simply demanding more details in writing will discourage most scam artists.

If you are taken advantage of or spot a scam being offered to you, report it. Hopefully the perpetrator will be stopped before he can harm anyone else.

If you are taken advantage of or spot a scam being offered to you, report it. Hopefully the perpetrator will be stopped before he can harm anyone else.

You might be able to retire from your profession, but you can’t retire from being careful. Keep an eye on that nest egg and don’t turn it over to anyone that you haven’t checked and double-checked. Such vigilance will help you keep the savings you worked so hard for away from thieves – safe and sound.

Think Big, Act Boldly, and Increase Your Confidence

Average thinking and actions lead to average results. They also lead to average levels of confidence. It would be nice to just have confidence without doing anything to deserve feelings of confidence, but that’s a tough trick to pull off. You can take a few simple steps and be the deserving recipient of all the confidence you’ll ever need.

Raise your standards and gain higher levels of confidence:

      1. Set your sights higher. Instead of shooting for a new job with a 15% raise, what about a 30% raise? Rather than starting a sideline business and adding $1,000/month to your income, what if your goal was to replace your current income with your sideline business idea?
          • One of the keys to more success and confidence is raising your standards. Most people never rise above mediocrity because that level of achievement is comfortable. It isn’t too difficult and life is pleasant enough at the level. Demand more of yourself and life.

      2. Double everything. One way to raise your standards is to double everything. Whether you’re talking about increasing your income, making a certain number of cold calls each week, or approaching strangers in order to work on your social skills, double your first instinct.
          • Avoid the mistake of doing just enough. Go above and beyond. Don’t be pleasantly surprised by your success. Instead, set big enough goals and do enough to achieve them that you’re shocked if you fail.

      3. Use the idea of overwhelming force to ensure your success. The military often applies this technique. If a situation calls for 1,000 troops, five tanks, and three helicopters, they might send 3,000 troops, 15 tanks, and 10 helicopters. Victory is all but assured.
          • If you need to exercise three times each week to reach your weight loss goal, hit the gym five times per week.
          • Do you need to approach 10 potential clients each week to reach your income goal? Approach at least 20 instead.
          • Make it impossible to fail. Put in enough effort that success is practically guaranteed.
      4. When you set big goals and take massive action, you feel in control of your life. This type of behavior leads to confidence. Imagine setting a big goal and going above and beyond the activity requirements to ensure that goal is reached. Imagine how good that would feel.
          • What do most people do instead? They make plans to run on the treadmill for 30 minutes, but convince themselves it’s okay to quit after 20 minutes.
          • They make plans to call five potential clients each day, but only call two.
          • They need to lose 50 pounds but settle for losing 20 pounds.
          • This type of behavior is ruinous to your self-esteem and confidence.
      5. Enjoy your successes. It’s likely that you’re too hard on yourself. You have every right to rejoice in your triumphs. Doing so will increase the pleasant feelings you associate with big goals, hard work, and success. You’ll be more likely to experience success again in the future.

Small goals, weak effort, and mediocre results won’t result in high levels of self-confidence. You can only expect to feel as confident as the average person. Set your sights higher.

Instead of setting small goals to avoid disappointing yourself, set big goals that give you the chance to be highly successful. Instead of actions and a level of activity that might lead to success, do so much that you can’t fail. The resulting boost of confidence you receive is well-deserved. Enjoy it and then repeat the process.