Things That Matter

Here’s How You Can Start Investing Even If You Don’t Know Where To Start

The other day I was talking with a client and she told me “Brittney, I finally feel like I understand investing because you explain it as if we are just two girlfriends talking over lunch. You make it so easy to learn and I feel like I finally know what I’m investing my money in!”

I’ve been a financial planner for over 13 years and one of the biggest reasons I started my own financial company was to help smart, savvy women understand money and finally feel like they could come to a financial planner without feeling judged, talked down to or ashamed for not knowing personal finance and investing principles. 

I know how overwhelming investing can be, but the truth is once you dive into this new subject, you will find it isn’t as scary after all and a few smart investment strategies can go a long way in your overall financial plan and success.

Regardless of where you stand in your investing career, just starting out or a seasoned investor, here are three tips to get started in investing. 

1. Understand Compounding Interest

To me, this is like the 8th wonder of the world as it really does work like magic when it comes to growing your money for the long term. The simple way to understand the power of compounding interest is by the rule of 72.  Basically, the rule of 72 tells us how many years it will take to double your money given a specific interest rate.

For example, let’s say you have $5,000 that you can invest in a lump sum today into an investment that returns on average 4% per year. By using this rule, 72 divided by 4 is 18, so every 18 years your $5,000 will double.  

$5,000 today, 18 years from now $10,000, another 18 years from then, $20,000 and so forth.  

What if you took that same original $5,000 investment and instead got an average annual return of 8%?  Now your money will double every 9 years.  

So after the same 36 years instead of $20,000 from the 4% investment, you can potentially have $80,000.  That is how compounding interest will help you build wealth over time. It helps your money make money which of course is a very wise financial move.

2. Diversify

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I know this sounds easy, but yet so many people still don’t understand the importance of having a diversified portfolio. Basically, it means to have a little bit of everything in your portfolio. So a mix of different types of mutual funds whether they are stock mutual funds or bond mutual funds, real estate and possibly business equity in your overall investment portfolio.  

Think of it like a pie, if one slice of the pie is eaten and no longer has value then it’s okay because you still have the rest of the pie remaining. Diversification helps minimize your risk over time as you never have all your eggs in one basket, i.e. one investment category, one company, etc.  

I know investing can be confusing, so start by reading and learning more about the differences between a stock, bond, mutual fund, real estate.  This will help you have a better understanding of what is most appropriate to hold within your own investment portfolio. 

Remember everyone is different so your mix of investments may be different from your neighbors and that is okay as you may have different goals, timeframe, risk tolerance, etc.  Find the mix that is right for you and keep that diversification going!

3. Focus On The Longterm And Keep Emotions Separate

One of my favorite investing quotes is from the successful investor Warren Buffett who says, “be greedy when everyone else is fearful and fearful when everyone else is greedy.”  

Basically what this means, is you have to be clear-headed when it comes to your longterm investment strategy and not let your emotions get the best of you when the stock market fluctuates up and down. Most people react to the swings in the stock market and panic when Chicken Little on TV is telling them the sky is falling so they make irrational decisions regarding their investment portfolio. 

If you can remember Warren’s quote, then during those times of stock market dips, if you were in control of your emotions, you might be able to see that there are investment opportunities to take advantage of, for example buying more of a position if you found it a value in the market, versus being fearful and panicking and perhaps selling at a loss like most people end up doing. 

Again, investing is complex and what I am saying may not apply to everyone so please do your homework and work with a financial professional you trust to help you build the right investment game plan so you can stay the course for the long-term.

Learn more from Brittney about investing here:

PODERcard Is Creating A Safe Space For Our Parents To Understand And Manage Their Finances

Things That Matter

PODERcard Is Creating A Safe Space For Our Parents To Understand And Manage Their Finances

If you’re first-generation, chances are your parents don’t have a lot of experience in the financial system. Most of our parents don’t have complete trust in banks and credit services here in the U.S. and you probably wish you could go with your parents to help guide them. That’s where PODERcard comes in, a completely free bank account created by Latinos to help Latinos have complete trust in their finances.

Many of us who have had a debit card and bank account probably take it for granted but today we need a debit card for just about everything including to book a rideshare to get to work. For someone on a tight budget, having a minimum maintenance fee just to have a debit card can be very expensive and even unaffordable.

PODERcard has no maintenance fee, no monthly fee and no overdraft fee. This is not common in debit cards. Again, this may not seem like a big deal but if you’re someone who is on a tight budget and it’s the end of the month, and you’re worried about making rent, these overdraft fees can leave a big dent in your account. Currently there are 19,000 ATM machines that are PODERcard friendly and these ATM machines are also free of fees.

This next benefit appeals to everyone, people on a tight budget and people with a little bit more flexibility with their spend. If you set up direct deposit, you can get your paycheck deposited up to two days faster. Who doesn’t want money sooner?

For more information on the debit card created especially for Latinos, head over to PODERcard.

Monetary perks aside, what really sets the PODERcard apart from everyone else is the special care it dedicates to its Latino clientele. If your parents open up an account with SABEResPODER and you don’t live at home, you want to make sure they’re being taken care of and this is a great card for them.

Latinos should feel comfortable having an account because there is complete access to the account via the mobile app. The app is available in Spanish, perfect for our parents who might not be completely comfortable managing an app in English. If your parents have questions about fees or any transaction, your parents can get in touch with the bank in Spanish.

People of all immigration status should feel comfortable approaching anyone at SABEResPODER. The card is available to everyone regardless of immigration status. All you need to submit is your Social Security Number or ITIN number.

SABEResPODER has plans to continue offering financial services to Latinos. They will be rolling out a service that allows you to send money to loved ones in other countries. Preferential access and rates will be available to those who have a PODERcard. Following, SABEResPODER will offer additional services to help Latinos improve their credit score and gain more knowledge about their spending power and how to get the best use of their hard-earned dollars.

In summary, here’s how PODERcard can save you money:

  • NO monthly fee
  • NO minimum balance fee
  • NO overdraft fees
  • 19,000 free ATMS that are PODERcard friendly

For more information on the debit card created especially for Latinos and how to sign up, head over to PODERcard. New users will be invited off of the waitlist starting early January, so sign up now.

A Latina Paid Off Her $102K Student Loan In 6 Years And She Honored The Moment With A Funeral

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A Latina Paid Off Her $102K Student Loan In 6 Years And She Honored The Moment With A Funeral

@mandy_velez / Twitter

“DING DONG MY LOANS ARE DEAD💀,” Mandy Velez, 28, announced to her friends and family on social media. “It is with immense pleasure that I announce the death of my student loans. On August 2, 2019, after 6 years, I finally killed them. It was a slow death but was worth every bit of the fight.” Velez shared the extent to which she penny-pinched, side-hustled, and made advances in her full-time career. That might mean that Velez put away an average of $17k every year for the last six years while working and living in New York City. The real story is far more impressive.

To celebrate, Velez asked her childhood friend, Mike Arrison, to bring his photography gear and meet her at a cemetery. She wore a long, black tulle skirt, and a black lace crop top. Her prop was four $.80 silver foil balloons that read: 102k. She even pulled off a viral, low-budget funeral for her student loan debt.

“I never asked for or received help. No one ever paid my bills,” Mandy Velez proudly shared.

Credit: @mandy_velez / Twitter

The good news is that Velez is holding her strategy close to the chest. She opened up about her whole journey on Instagram. “It began in 2013, when I graduated with a total of 75K in student loans,” she shared. “I moved to New York, but I made sure to pay more than the minimums, which totaled to $1K a month. It was like another rent. I took jobs not based on what I really wanted but what could help me survive. I did this for five years straight.”

At one point, Velez was laid off, but she still never missed a payment. 

Credit: @mandy_velez / Twitter

“Even after a lay-off during this journey, I hustled like hell and never missed a payment,” she confessed. “It was more than most people can do, and I, a single, childless, able-bodied woman consider myself lucky. But still, I carried this burden alone. I never asked for or received help. No one ever paid my bills.”

She savagely “killed the last 32k of debt in EIGHT months.”

Credit: mandyvel / Instagram

Velez felt like her life was “on hold” and reaching a breaking point. She wanted to do more with her money than pay off debt. She wanted a house and a family. That fueled a shocking final blow to her debt and paid off the last $32,000 in just eight months. It wasn’t easy.

Velez lived off a third of her monthly salary to save that $32k.

Credit: @mandy_velez / Twitter

“Turns out, packing lunches and not taking Ubers can save you a ton,” she wrote in a caption. The rest of her story does sound like murder. “I worked my ass off at work and asked for raises, and got them. I worked three jobs at once, my day job and then side hustles. I walked dogs until my feet literally bled. In the cold. In the rain. In the heat. Nothing was beneath me. I babysat. I cat sat. I stayed up for 24 hours straight to make a few hundred bucks as a TV extra on shows they filmed overnight. I cut my food budget down to merely salad, eggs, chicken and rice,” she revealed. 

“I said “no”—my God I said no—,” she continued. “To making memories with my family and friends and prayed there would be other opportunities in the future. Was it easy? No. Worth it? I’m smiling in a cemetery. 102K lifted from my back. You tell me.”

Velez thinks the system is rigged, and that America needs significant policy change to freely educate their citizens.

Credit: mandyvel / Instagram

“Lots of people will see my story and say, see if she could do it, so can you. But I don’t think that,” she said. She acknowledges that she was lucky in being able-bodied and healthy enough to miss entire nights of sleep and work three jobs. “Not everyone can do this,” she warns. Why? The game is rigged. “Only those who play know it,” she says.

Velez is sharing her story because she doesn’t “feel we student borrowers deserve the hardship that comes with these loans: high interest rates, sketchy providers, yearly tuition hikes, the list goes on.” She hopes that her story will inspire those who are in the game to murder their loans. She also hopes it better informs those who are considering playing. Finally, she wants you to vote for “policy that makes the system much more fair. Any little bit of action helps.”

Of course, what’s a celebratory funeral without endless gratitude to the Puerto Rican mami that supported her through it all?

Credit: mandyvel / Instagram

“To my mom who saved me from a year more of debt by encouraging me to go to a state school first,” she begins her Instagram tribute, “even though we sobbed together when the financial aid to Syracuse and Boston wasn’t enough. I’m sorry I gave you so much trouble. I am so grateful for your foresight. I love you always and forever. Thank you, everyone, for cheering me on.”

What’s next for Velez? Girl’s finally taking a much-needed vacation.

Credit: @mandy_velez / Twitter

First thing’s first. She has an emergency fund set aside. Next, she’ll set aside money for taxes for all the dog walking and other side gigs. Then, she’ll start saving money for a down payment on a house. Finalmente, Velez has her “Sights set on Sicily next year” and is taking recommendations. The cherry on top of a successful slaying and funeral? “A cool thing about paying off debt is now having that extra income for ME. And the things *I* want to save for. Not filling the pockets of predatory lenders with insanely high interest rates. Feels amazing.🖤”

Our deepest, gratifying condolences to you, Velez. Felicidades.

READ: Wells Fargo Is Being Accused Of Denying Loans To Undocumented Students