3 Point Plan for COVID

We know that COVID-19 has caused a lot of stress on people. Not only about their health but also when it comes to their money.  We have two ways to help:

  • A 3 point plan for your finances during COVID-19
  • Free consultation with our team
  • Check your emergency fund

Point 1: Stick to Your Plan

 If you are already invested in the market, stick to your plan. Our clients can use market volatility (prices going up and down) to their advantage by dollar-cost averaging. If you are not already investing, then possibly include dollar-cost averaging into your plan.  Dollar-cost averaging helps take the guesswork out of trying to figure out when to get in and get out of the market. It is a great strategy for long-term wealth building. You can commit to a fixed amount and buy at regular times, for a long time, regardless of price. In the end, you buy more when prices are low and less when prices are high.

Point 2: Emergency Fund First

 Our main priority is to remind our clients of the importance of having an emergency fund. First, it is critical to understand how secure you feel about your income. Second, whether you can contribute more to your emergency fund. If you are unsure how much to save, use our emergency fund calculator. We are committed to having these necessary conversations.

Point 3: Secure Income Streams

 Once you have your plan and emergency fund, the next focus is securing your income streams. In times like these, we recommend that our clients check on their income streams. If you work at a company, investigate how that company is performing. Speak with your manager and ask the tough questions to understand the financial stability of your employer.  For those who are self-employed, check on your key metrics (or KPIs, i.e. key performance indicators). The KPIs that we recommend tracking are:

  • Number of new leads, conversions to sales and new sales
  • Customer lifetime value and is that number value changing?
  • Examine customer acquisition costs and how acquisition channels are performing

If you have the time and interest, this can be a great time to start a business or consulting. We believe many have the ability to turn passions and interests into income streams. This is as good as any time to consider if starting a new income stream can work for you. Ready to get started, click getting started to begin.

Freeman Capital: 60 Second Market Review

We want to put you in a place to win. Here is what you need to know to get ready for the market this week.

60 Second Market Review

What Happened?

  • Stock markets were down and businesses are navigating the new normal.
  • The government signed a massive $484 billion spending boost to help. Will it help?

What to watch for?

  • The framework to reopen the economy, can it help and how soon will it start?
  • A few months can make such a big difference in this world (both in the past and future)

What we can help you do?

  • We help you navigate these markets and help you protect and plan your money.
  • We give you financial peace and clarity in even these wild times


The Full Report

What Happened Last Week?

The U.S. stock market ended down more than 1% on the week, despite a Friday surge. Given the stay-at-home orders around the globe, company earnings from the first three months of 2020 are struggling to hit their expectations.

  • Less money being made, along with the lack of company guidance for the future, caused investors to hit the sell button.
  • Think of your local restaurant – how can they possibly say how many burgers and pastas they will sell in the next few months? That’s exactly how investors feel about the market.
  • It is hard for consumers to go on shopping sprees when they are stuck inside their homes with their families for 20-22 hours a day. Pretty easy to see why Amazon (up 30%+ this year) is doing so well.

However, the government is attempting to act swiftly to provide support, and the good news is that the market has recovered over half its losses so far in April thanks to it. The bounce has been just as shocking as the fall!

  • The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a $484 billion spending bill to help replenish a new, but rapidly depleted, program for small businesses. Look around at the empty streets around you; small businesses are bearing the brunt of this economic collapse right now, and they need help. It can’t come fast enough.
  • The bill was signed into law on Friday, and Congress has now passed over $700 billion of spending, aimed to support businesses struggling from the pandemic. That will help soften the blow.

Source: NYT

The Labor Department reported an additional 4.4 million claims, with the 5-week total passing 26 million, so government help is needed. If you have a job right now, be thankful! And help out your community if you can. Not everyone is so lucky these days.

What to watch for next week?

We could all use a break from Coronavirus related news, but last week, the CDC outlined 3 phases on how to reopen the economy safely. That framework will likely be updated or adjusted depending on how the virus progresses. Hopefully, we can watch some live sports events at some point and can skip the Tiger King marathons. Big thank you to Swizz Beats and Timbaland, the latest #Verzuz battled has helped to get us through this time!

For the economy and markets, there will be several phases that need to pass before we get to a new normal. Investors need to step back and reflect on the unpredictability of it all.

A mere few months ago, the global economy looked unstoppable and financial markets were flying to the upside.

Today, things are immensely different. The economy is fragile, markets are volatile, and uncertainty about the future weighs on everyone.

How we can help?

At Freeman Capital, we pride ourselves in closing the wealth gap, helping to build generational wealth among individuals who need help getting there.

We partner with you so you can build your wealth and investing confidence. We are Registered Investment Advisors that work alongside Certified Financial Planners to help you plan for your future.

Reach out to us to have a conversation and see if we might be a good fit. No commitment needed. You don’t need to be rich – if you have $1, we can help you.

We are FreemanCapital and your wealth matters.

COVID-19 Financial Relief: Help for New Clients

Freeman Capital is working to close the racial wealth gap by offering free wealth building services during COVID-19

March 30, 2020 (Charlotte, NC) – Freeman‘s founder, Calvin Williams Jr., knows how people of color are overlooked in the financial services industry. “We understand that many of our own communities don’t have access [to adequate financial planning], so in times like these, it’s important for us to help each other as much as we can,” he says. “Since African Americans are already 228 years behind white Americans, we can’t afford to lose another day to the wealth gap.” That’s why he and his team of multicultural, multigenerational industry experts decided to come up with a solution.

As the first black owner of an automated wealth management platform registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Calvin and his team are focusing their efforts and resources on helping black families who are impacted by the Coronavirus. Freeman Capital is now offering free 1-1 financial planning consultations with a Certified Financial Planner, free webinars and educational content until the end of April. “Through every hard challenge is an opportunity and right now we see an opportunity for many families to sit together and have tough but necessary conversations about their finances and come up with a plan on how to build generational wealth.

Schedule your first free wealth planning session at www.freemancapital.co/overcome-the-virus.

Statistically, those with access to a financial advisor generally have double the wealth of those without. While most advisors charge as much as $300 per hour to help, Freeman has come up with a way to make money one less thing for people to worry about. “Coronavirus is impacting not only lives, but the wealth of hard-working, everyday Americans”, he stated. “I thought to myself, there has to be a way that we can use our gift of helping people be confident with their finances to help put people at ease during this difficult time. My only choice was to make it free and available to all.

Freeman Capital Advisors is the first black-owned automated wealth management platform in the country and seeing how Coronavirus is impacting the finances of everyone — especially black Americans — as the wealth gap continues to increase was the driving factor behind making the decision to offer their services at no cost. “We must take advantage of every opportunity and help our communities make the right (and oftentimes tough) choices to build wealth” the CEO explains. “I couldn’t just sit by and continue to let black Americans fall further behind. That is why we are waiving any fees for financial planning calls for everyone across the country through the end of April 2020.”

In its commitment to helping African-Americans navigate the ongoing changes, Freeman Capital is assisting customers with coordinating their savings, handling the stock market swings and identifying opportunities to build generational wealth in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. The best part is that Freeman can continue to serve people from anywhere in the United States, since the company operates remotely with team members stretched across from coast to coast; which helps to eliminate both cost and location as potential roadblocks to gaining the financial freedom they want and deserve.

Schedule your first free wealth planning session at www.freemancapital.co/overcome-the-virus

To interview Calvin or other members of the Freeman team, contact us at [email protected] or 336.914.0888

Financially navigate the CoronaVirus​

Here at Freeman Capital we are committed to providing you with resources and information that will help ease your fears and answer the questions you may have especially during volatile and uncertain times.

Coronavirus continues to dominate headlines and yesterday we experienced the second biggest single day market decline since the October crash of 1987.

Fear is at the heart of every market drop. Usually, it’s fear of the unknown. In this case, there are several unknowns for investors to contend with. Why exactly is this virus spreading so fast? How far will it spread? How long will it last? These are questions that no financial advisor can answer.

But fear, as we know, is a bad reason to make decisions. Fear of missing out, for example, often makes us behave too rashly. On the other side of the coin, fear of not getting out leads us to toss away opportunities or abandon the progress we’ve made to our goals.

Fortunately, whenever we feel fear, there are tools that we can use to steady ourselves.

One tool is history. Past performance, as you may have heard, is no guarantee of future results. But past is also prologue, which means history can give us a good idea of what to expect in the future. For example, here is how the S&P 500 performed over a 6-month period after other recent epidemics.(1)

Epedemics and Long Term Impact on the Market

Epidemic Month End 6-month % change of S&P
SARS April 2003 +14.59%
Swine flu April 2009 +18.72%
Cholera November 2010 +13.95%
MERS May 2013 +10.74%
Ebola March 2014 +5.34%
Zika January 2016 +12.03%

Now, these are all imperfect comparisons, as they dealt with different viruses, at different times, in different regions, in different contexts. The point is that the markets, while occasionally impacted in the short term by epidemics, are rarely impacted over the long-term. And as we are investing to help you achieve your long-term goals, it’s the long-term that we care about.

So if you are contributing to a brokerage or retirement account, now is the time stick with your plan and keep contributing to your accounts.

These are unprecedented times and over the coming weeks things are likely to get worse before they get better and the prospects of going into recession are becoming more likely (in fact we may be in one already.) So what should you be doing to prepare?

Do you have a fully funded emergency fund?

During a recession, you need to be concerned about job stability. The best way to hedge against job instability, is to have a fully funded emergency fund. We like our clients to have at least three to six months of their monthly expenses saved in a readily available fund, preferably a high yield savings account.

If your emergency savings is not where you’d like it to be, there is no time like the present to start focusing on it. Cutting back on unnecessary expenses and lowering your monthly bills as much as possible will help you build it up faster.

Recessions are scary times and hard to predict when they will happen. Now is as good a time as any to make sure you are financially prepared to weather through a recession and come out of it in a position of strength.

How We Can Help:

  1. Schedule your 1st FREE call with your planner to help design your life.

Reading:

  1. “How the stock market has performed during past viral outbreaks,” MarketWatch, February 24, 2020.

Freeman Capital Advisors is a registered investment adviser.  Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies.  Investments involve risk and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed.  Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.

Pay Off Student Loan Debt Faster With This Easy 5-Step Formula

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 11.5% of student loans are delinquent by 90 days or more, or are in default. Although this seems like a small percentage, for the borrowers faced with mounting defaulted or delinquent student loan debt, the effects can be devastating. Delinquencies and defaults can negatively affect your ability to borrow more in the future, increase interest rates, and even cause tax refund offsets or wage garnishments. This can be avoided with just a few specific actions.

General Student Loan Debt Facts

First, let’s start with a general picture of the student loan landscape. The most recent reports indicate:

  • There is $1.56 trillion in total U.S. student loan debt
  • 44.7 million Americans have student loan debt
  • 11.5% of student loans are 90 days or more delinquent or are in default
  • The average monthly student loan payment (among those not in deferment) is $393
  • The median monthly student loan payment (among those not in deferment) is $222

Pay Off Your Loans Faster

Paying off your student loans at a quicker pace can save you, the borrower, money in the long run. Here are five steps you can follow to get ahead of the game:

  1. Make more than the minimum payments. For example, let’s assume you have $100,000 of student loan debt at a 7% interest rate with a standard 10-year repayment term. By paying only $100 extra per month, you can save $4,696 in interest costs and pay off your student loans 1.08 years earlier.
  2. Get advice from a professional financial advisor. Advice from a professional can make all the difference in the world when it comes to getting the most “bang” for your retirement buck.
  3. Split your payments in two. Say you owe $30,000 in student loans with an average interest rate of 7%. Over a standard 10-year repayment period, you’d be making monthly payments of $348. If you instead make $174 payments every two weeks, you’ll be debt-free 13 months sooner and save $1,422 in interest.
  4. Refinance. You can potentially save tens of thousands of dollars throughout the life of your loan by refinancing. There are three main benefits to refinancing student loans:
    • You can get a lower monthly payment, freeing up cash for other expenses or investing.
    • You can pay off your loan faster, saving you money in interest.
    • A lower monthly payment decreases your debt-to-income ratio, making it easier for you to qualify for a mortgage.
  5. Invest. If your student loan interest rates are less than 6%. Then you have some room to use the market to your advantage. Here is an example:Let’s say you only have $50,000 in student loans. With a 20-year term and a 4% rate, the monthly payment will be $303. If you contribute $500 per month to your payment, you’ll be student loan debt free in around six years.You start by investing $500/month in a tax-sheltered portfolio at a yearly 8% rate. You’ll have nearly $46,000 in your portfolio at the end of six years. Your student loan at that time would be $38,754. After just six years, your investment portfolio could exceed your student loan balance by $7,246.

These strategies require a full overview of your financial situation and goals. Who better to help you through this process than one of our CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals? Sign up today to get started!

Freeman Capital Advisors is a registered investment adviser.  Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies.  Investments involve risk and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed.  Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance. 

The High Cost of NOT Having a Financial Advisor

Planning for your long-term goals — especially retirement — can be a lot like driving a car with faulty airbags. In 2019 alone, tens of thousands of cars from at least 5 different auto manufacturers have been recalled because the airbags are in danger of deploying “inadvertently.” Something as minor as driving over a pothole could trigger the airbag.

Imagine driving a car like that… knowing that the airbag could pop out and hit you or a passenger in the head at any moment, without warning. How long would you continue driving that car?

 You wouldn’t put up with that very long — especially when the manufacturer recall gives you the option to get it fixed for free.

Research Doesn’t Lie

Here’s the thing…

According to research, 96% of people who haven’t retired yet are concerned about their post-retirement finances. Retirees aren’t much better: 89% are nervous about their finances over the long-term. You might say they’re worried their plans might blow up in their faces at any time, just like a defective airbag.

But even though that 9 out of 10 people are concerned about their finances, only 52% of pre-retirees and 44% of retirees consult a financial planner or adviser.

You know what? Maybe that’s not surprising. Because unlike recalled cars, financial planning may have a cost attached. It may require you to make some changes in behavior to reach long-term goals. And who wants to change? Instead, they keep moving steadily toward retirement time, feeling anxiety and uncertainty about how they’re going to make it after they stop working.

Reaching out to an adviser is a powerful way to counteract the fear and stress that comes with not knowing what the future will hold — and not knowing what to do now to adequately prepare. So, if for no other reason, most people should consider speaking with a financial adviser for the peace of mind and clarity the conversations can bring. For many, the peace of mind alone (both for themselves and their families) would be worth the cost. But the benefit of speaking with an adviser go far beyond reducing stress and boosting confidence.

A study by HSBC called “The Future of Retirement,” found that people who met with a financial planner accumulated, on average, nearly 2.5 times more retirement savings than those who hadn’t made a plan. That’s the difference between having $200,000 and half a million dollars. Or between $500k and $1.25 million for your retirement. And the earlier you get started, the more time you give your money to grow and compound.

Yes, it’s true that financial advisers and planners have fees, and that might be intimidating for some. But these days, there are advisers to fit virtually any income level. You don’t have to be a six-figure earner to afford financial advice. And, again, when you think about the additional savings and investment returns that may be possible with the help of a professional, those fees may pale in comparison. Trying to avoid paying for financial advice is like squeezing your fists tightly to avoid dropping quarters… and letting your dollar bills fall to the ground.

We encourage you to speak with a financial professional as soon as it makes sense for you to do so. An adviser can walk you through your options and help you build a plan that fits your personal situation and your goals.

Freeman Capital Advisors is a registered investment adviser.  Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies.  Investments involve risk and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed.  Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance. 

Passive Investing Principles You Need to Know

When you get right down to the nitty-gritty, the main idea behind investing is creating a future lifestyle that you can truly enjoy.

Ideally, it won’t be too far into the future — and you won’t have to complicate your present lifestyle too much in the meantime.

That’s why the idea of passive investments is so appealing to many. You don’t have to spend huge blocks of time researching individual stocks… reading the Wall Street Journal to stay up-to-date on market developments… or stressing out about whether or not to sell shares on the latest downturn.

If you prefer episodes of Insecure over the talking heads on CNBC, taking a more passive approach to investing may be the right move for you.

Passive investing generally refers to a strategy for long-term investment with minimal amount of trading activity. The benefits of using this strategy include:

  • Simplicity
  • Requires smaller on-going time commitment
  • In many cases, it’s cheaper. You’ll likely pay fewer transaction fees and less in taxes than more active strategies.
  • It often generates better results when compared to more active strategies over medium to long timeframes.

Investors who lean in the direction of more active investing will point out a few downsides to taking the passive route:

  • Less flexibility. With longer holding periods and less rebalancing (buying and selling to get exposure to different sectors or asset classes), you’re more locked into the investments once you make them.For investors who like to jump on hot trends, this is a downside.
  • Potential underperformance in the shorter term. Passive investing tends to go for smaller, more conservative returns that compound over time. More active investors can target more aggressive growth, which can lead to bigger gains — and also more frequent, bigger losses, too.

Depending on your goals (and your risk tolerance), you may find that the pros of passive investing outweigh the potential cons.

5 Principles to Apply ASAP

If you’re one of the growing number of people interested in passive investing, here are some key principles that can help you get started:

1) Saving is NOT passive investing

Saving is not investing at all. Saving is saving. Saving accumulates cash to pay for short-term expenses, whereas investing is designed to grow money for longer-term wealth building or retirement.

In a savings account, your money really isn’t working for you. With the tiny interest rates the majority of banks offer, your money is actually shrinking when you adjust for inflation! 

2) You can set it and (practically) forget it

Your work retirement plan is probably the easiest way to get invest passively. You can set up automatic payroll deduction so a percentage of your check goes into a 401(k), 403(b), IRA, etc. In most cases, these retirement accounts are invested in stocks, bonds and/or mutual funds.

So you’re investing in the market every month without lifting a finger.

3) Paying your bills may get you in the game 

Some utility companies allow you to buy shares of their company by paying a little extra on your bill. You can buy pieces of the company while doing an activity you already engage in every month. Utilities are generally considered to be conservative, low-volatility stocks. They tend to be great for long-term core holdings in your portfolio.

4) Let it snow(ball)

It’s possible to invest in such a way that your stocks actually buy you more stocks without any activity on your part. Many companies reward their shareholders once a quarter by paying dividends. Dividends are basically a portion of the company’s earnings; as a shareholder, you get to participate in those earnings.

Dividend reinvestment plans (DRIP) take your quarterly dividend payments and automatically reinvest them into buying more shares of the company stocks. That means your stocks are buying more stocks.

Your dividend payments can put cash in your pocket. DRIP plans passively put your money back into stocks that you like — and keep your money working for you.

5) Consider being a little less passive

If you want to be slightly more involved in your investments, consider applying a buy-and-hold strategy to your favorite “blue chip” stocks.

A blue chip is a nationally recognized, established, and financially strong company. These companies often sell name-brand products or services. Their stocks are solid performers that tend to do well in all kinds of economic conditions. As a result, they’re considered by many to be attractive candidates for holding long-term.

Even though passive investing can be simple, there are still countless options available. You may want to speak with a financial professional who can help you explore the possibilities and determine what seems to be the best fit for your goals.

Freeman Capital Advisors is a registered investment adviser.  Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies.  Investments involve risk and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed.  Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.

The Key to Investing Successfully When Recession Hits

Are we headed into a recession?  If we are, what can investors do to keep their money safe?

With the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates for the first time since the financial crisis (with more cuts potentially on the horizon), the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, and the increase of volatility in the stock market, many people are legitimately nervous about what the near-term future holds for the economy and their investment portfolios.

If you look at a chart of the S&P 500 over the past month, it looks a lot like a roller coaster.

You may be tempted to pull all of your money out of the market and wait for smoother days. But here’s the thing about roller coasters:You don’t jump off the ride just because there are ups and downs. 

Big drops are part of the experience. Whether recession is right around the corner or in the distant future, it’s helpful to prepare yourself in advance. That way you’ll be ready whenever it shows up.

Preparation is the Name of the Game

The effectiveness of your preparation may depend on this one fact more than any other:

What YOU Do Matters Much More That What The Market Does. It’s a deceptively simple statement, but it contains a powerful truth. The stock market will rise and fall. You can’t control that (you can’t predict it, either).

As an investor, you must focus on what you can control. The one thing you can truly control is your own behavior. This is good news because your decisions have a much greater impact on your investing success how the market performs… or anything else for that matter.

Case in point:

The percentage of your income you invest matters more than the percentage return you get from your investments. To illustrate this, let’s say you earn $35,000 per year and you decide to invest 1% of your income for 30 years. Let’s say the market delivers a solid 10% gain every year. After 30 years, you’d have about $57,000.

Now let’s flip it. Let’s say you decide to invest 10% of your income and the market returns an impossibly low 1% annually. You’d still end up with about $121,000more than twice as much as in the first scenario. 

See how that works?

Your decision about how much you want to invest far outweighs market performance when it comes to building wealth.

That’s Why Planning Is So Important… No one knows for sure what the stock market’s going to do next. But you do know that the market trends higher over the long term.

Studies show that, in general, the more buying and selling investors do, the worse their portfolios perform. Studies also show that emotionally-driven investing decisions tend to do more harm than good. You may have already been aware of these findings. If you didn’t know about them before today, now you’re up to speed.

Based on these facts, here 4 critical pieces to include in your plan going forward — recession or not:

  • Get started sooner rather than later. The more time you give yourself to save, invest and allow compounding returns to work, the faster your money is able to grow.Trying to “time the market” is a major mistake that hurts countless investor’s profitability. Getting in the game is more important than getting the timing exactly right.Plus, if a recession does come, you may be able to buy your favorite stocks at major discounts.
  • Plan to invest for the long term. The market will always have ups and downs. If you obsess over every gyration, you’ll stress yourself out and potentially sabotage your own gains. With longer-term perspective, volatility will bother you a whole lot less. Both your profit potential and your blood pressure will benefit from that.
  • Talk with a financial advisor to help you map out your future. An advisor can give you more education about the various ways you can use your money to accomplish your personal financial goals.The Investment Funds Institute of Canada released a report that found investors who get regular financial advice are 1.5 times more likely to stay on course with their long-term financial plan.Advisors help their clients manage their behavior and decisions — which is a bigger leverage point than the performance of their individual investments.
  • Stick to your plan, despite your emotions (even when they scream at you). Once you set a plan to reach your goals, don’t let your emotions throw you off the path. Again, a longer-term perspective can reduce the risk of making an emotional decision. Your advisor can also help you stay focused.

While it’s natural to be nervous about the economy and the market, fear doesn’t have to dominate your thinking or dictate your decisions.

Remember that what you do matters more than what the market does and follow the 4 steps above. And if you can use some assistance, the financial advisors at Freeman Capital will be more than happy to help you explore the various investing options available to you.

Freeman Capital Advisors is a registered investment adviser.  Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies.  Investments involve risk and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed.  Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.

The 95% Secret: 4 Steps to Reaching Your Financial Goals

Think about your most audacious goal. You know the one. The one that makes your heart race a little bit whenever you to think about.

What if there was a simple tool that would give you a 95% chance of reaching that goal? You probably wouldn’t waste a minute trying to get your hands on it. This isn’t just a pointless mental exercise. According to research, there really IS a tool that can increase your chances of success to as much as 95%.

It may surprise you to know that the tool we’re talking about is accountability. Yes, just asking another person to hold you accountable stacks the odds in your favor big time. No harassment is required, either. You don’t have to find a retired Army drill sergeant to follow you around and force you to do the work. The simple act of committing to another person can change everything about how you perform.

Our brains are hard-wired for consistency, both in how we see ourselves and how we want other people to see us. We want to do what we’ve said we’ll do — especially if we know other people are watching. When obstacles get in the way, we might be tempted to cut ourselves some slack because we tend to believe our own excuses. But knowing that someone is going to hold you to your word creates additional motivation to do the right thing.

The results can be incredible.

Research performed by the American Society of Training and Development found that after committing to a third-party, a goal-setter’s probability of success climbs to 65%.

Setting up regular meetings with an accountability partner boosted their success rate all the way up to 95%.

How to REALLY Be Accountable

To stay on track with your budgeting, saving, and investing objectives, very few things are likely to help you more than making accountability a part of your process.

Here are 4 steps to add this powerful tool to your financial arsenal:

1. Set clear goals. They need to be clear so you can accurately measure your progress. Break long-term goals into a series of shorter-term goals to make your progress more tangible and to build momentum.

2. Find an accountability partner. It works best if he or she can remain completely objective. It can be a peer, a mentor, or a financial advisor. A close friend or relative might be more impacted emotionally by the excuses you may give them. You want someone who will really keep you honest. Tell that person what your specific goals are for saving and investing. Commit to a specific plan and timeframe.

3. Schedule regular, on-going meetings to discuss your progress. The research suggests that if you get this far, you have a 95% likelihood of reaching your goal. Your commitment level is high and you’re willing to accept help from others to get what you want.

Regular, frequent meetings help ensure you’re constantly aware of where you’re at. They can help you determine if you need to make changes to reach your objective faster. You can also set new goals as you crush the ones you set in the beginning.

4. Celebrate your wins. When you make progress, or when you successfully avoid an obstacle that may have stopped you in the past, you should feel good about yourself. It’s okay to celebrate, or even reward yourself.

Incentives are another effective tool to help you keep up the momentum. Set clear milestones, such as accomplishing a short-term goal. Then, reward yourself with something meaningful… but something that won’t mess up your progress. So don’t buy a brand new Mercedes too early! You may also consider adding penalties if you don’t hit your deadlines.

Bonus: Consider making Freeman your accountability partner. The Freeman Capital Our support team is always available to help. You can also set up meetings with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional who can take accountability to the next level with specific tools, resources and expertise.

The sooner you get started with an accountability partner, the sooner you may be on the fast track heading toward your financial success.

Freeman Capital Advisors is a registered investment adviser.  Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies.  Investments involve risk and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed.  Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance. 

Forget It: Retirement is Possible, Even if Your Income is “Average”​

Survey after survey shows that an alarming percentage of Americans are worried about coming up with enough money to retire. About half of workers feel certain they’ll have to work past their 65th birthday — and nearly 1 in 4 believe they’ll have to work for the rest of their lives. One of the major reasons people are nervous is that they don’t feel like they earn enough income to save for retirement. If you fit into this category, you’re not alone. But the truth is, you may still be able to leave the workforce at or around 65 even if you’re bringing home modest paychecks. That income may take you further than you think.

Consider this: while researching his book Everyday Millionaires, Chris Hogan surveyed 10,000 American millionaires. He found that 33% of them never earned six figures as a household in a single working year. So be encouraged. If you decide to get serious about retirement, you may be able to get rid of those fears for good.

Focus to Reach Your Retirement Goals

If you want to retire comfortably and on-schedule, here are a few things to focus on.

Get Started Now. The sooner you start putting money away, the more you’ll be able to save. More important than that, you give the forces of compound interest more time to work.

For example, let’s say you’re 30 years old, earning $40K/year. If you start putting just $200/month into a retirement account right now, you could have about $650,000 by the time you reach 65, assuming a 10% annual return on your investment.

Now let’s say you decide to wait until you hit 40 to start saving. All other things being equal, you’ll have $236,000 in your account. That’s $414,000 less than you would’ve had if you hadn’t waited!

No matter how old you are now, it makes sense to start saving NOW rather than later.

Make Your Employer Work for You. If your job offers a company match on your 401(k), you’ll be in even better shape.

At your current $40k salary, your job may match up to 3% of your contributions. That equals $1,200/year or $100/month. So if you started saving your $200/month now (at age 30), with your job kicking in an extra $100. With the same 10% annual return as before, you’d have about $975,000 your account at age 65. The company match adds $325,000 to your savings. 

Just to reinforce the value of starting sooner, let’s look at this scenario if you’d waited to invest until you were 40. All other things being equal, you’d have about $354,000 saved up. Waiting 10 years steals $621,000 from your potential savings. Mind-boggling!

Now you can understand how the millionaires in Chris Hogan’s study accumulated their wealth without six-figure incomes!

Stay consistent. Now that (hopefully) you’ve decided not to wait any longer to start investing in your future, come up with a plan and stick to it.

Regardless of how much you’re going to save, be consistent. Setting up automatic deductions from your paycheck is probably the simplest way to do eliminate any temptations. Another thing you may want to do is look at your budget. Find expenses you can reduce or cut completely. That gives you room to save without too much pain. Consistently strive to spend less wherever possible.

Call in the Reinforcements. To make sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your retirement buck, it makes sense for many people to speak with a financial advisor. Our advisors at Freeman Capital can help you explore the various retirement account options, think through your budget and create a plan that will help you retire as comfortably as possible. When you start doing the math for your personal situation, it can be surprising. You really can retire. Maybe sooner than you thought possible.

Take a look for yourself. Just $200/month could turn into $1 million given enough time and consistency. Use this simple retirement calculator to see how much you can accomplish, no matter your income level.

Freeman Capital Advisors is a registered investment adviser.  Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies.  Investments involve risk and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed.  Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.