Wednesday, November 23, 2022

How Cryptocurrency is an Another Investment Avenue

There are many different types of investments to consider when looking to grow your money as you make your way through your financial career, such as stocks, mutual bonds, ETF’s, 401K retirement accounts and even real estate. One alternative investment type that not many consider is cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is another type of investment choice that has gained popularity since the early 2010s. To put this in perspective, one article written by CNBC said, “Nearly 40% of millennials and Gen Zers who own cryptocurrency plan to use it to make payments.” The question becomes, why would anyone consider investing in cryptocurrency? Before consideration, we must understand what cryptocurrency is, alongside the benefits and downsides.

What is Cryptocurrency?

According to Forbes, Cryptocurrency is described as "a digital, encrypted, and decentralized medium of exchange." As complex as it may sound, it is quite simple, the whole idea of cryptocurrency is based on the premise of providing an alternative form of payment. Most recently we have seen many businesses accept digital currency for various purchases. For example, Whole Foods accepts crypto payments for grocery purchases. Regal Cinemas accepts crypto payments for watching movies. Even Chipotle accepts crypto payments for food purchases. According to a CNBC article, “About 75% of them plan to begin accepting crypto or stablecoin payments within the next two years, according to a recent Deloitte survey.” Many retailers, restaurants, cinemas and other venues are now valuing cryptocurrency more than ever. This means that the dollar is slightly becoming less significant as its value heads on a steadfast decline. 


What is the Most Popular Cryptocurrency & How Do I Access It?

There many different digital currencies available to purchase and use, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Polygon, and Litecoin. However, for the purpose of this discussion we will focus on the two that are not only the most valuable, but also deemed the most profitable for both long term and short term investments. Starting with Bitcoin, this digital currency ranks number one as the most sought after long term investment coin in the market. Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency that is primarily used as an alternative form for money. You can use it to pay for things and you can buy it to hold for as long as you want. The same goes for Ethereum, however this coin in particular has more utility to it because it serves as a way to buy items on the block chain which contains NFTs (non-fungible tokens). You can access both these digital coins on websites like Coinbase, Binance, eToro, Bitstamp and Gemini. For more information on how you can gain easy access to cryptocurrency, read this article here.


What are the Benefits & Downsides of Cryptocurrency?

With every investment opportunity there are many benefits as well as downsides. Some benefits include self-managed, security, easy exchange, and decentralization. Decentralization is the number one benefit among the variables. Digital currency monopoly is non-existent, meaning no single entity can influence the sequence and value of the currency like Bitcoin and Ethereum. This proves to be more effective than the United States Dollar, due to the nature of the dollar being heavily influenced and controlled by the government (federal reserve). On the other hand, as mentioned previously, there are downsides. One of them is data losses. This entails when individuals lose their secured password and or private encryption reference to access the cryptocurrency, and it is unrecoverable. The premise of this is to protect the integrity of the digital currency, which suggests that when individuals make accounts to buy and / or trade cryptocurrencies to make sure to save their access codes, once lost that is the end of accessing your cryptocurrency account. Another downside is that there are completely no take backs. This implies a no cancellation policy when investing in any digital currency like Bitcoin, Ethereum and so on and so forth. Accidentally sending digital currency for specific transactions cannot be recovered, even when dire mistakes are made. It is important to be aware of the nature of dealing with cryptocurrency when using it for trading and or buying potential.


How Do I Know Which Digital Currency is the Right Investment? How Do I Avoid the Bad Ones?

The answer is continuous research for as long as you are interested and invested. Otherwise, investing in things based on speculation won't necessarily get you very far considering FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) risk would be at all time high. Understanding which cryptocurrencies to invest in is hard and there is not a concrete right answer. It depends on the nature in which you will go about using the digital currency. Whether it be trading daily, short and long term, it all requires different steps and preparation to make the initial steps. Every investment has a level of risk associated with it, and thus, acquiring knowledge on such ordeals help you prepare to mitigate it as much as possible. 


The Bigger Picture

Learning new investments can be difficult, but it doesn't have to be. It just requires patience and time. There is no need to rush - especially on something as controversial as cryptocurrency. Many experts have mentioned that Digital currencies are incredibly volatile. Jason Mitchell, the CTO of Smart Billions, a crypto website said, “Cryptocurrencies are becoming more and more integrated into our society with each passing day.” Even though they can be hard to understand right now, their usefulness continues to grow over the normal dollar today. Its ability to be independent from any governmental control and influence  grants a unique kind of perpetuity. 


Here to Help, 

Your Financially Fit Team


Wednesday, November 9, 2022

The Health of the US Economy Today

It’s November 9th, 2022 and where does the United States Economy stand as of now? After two consecutive quarters of negative growth, the economy now has shown its first positive upward trend at 2.6%. However, in our current economic conditions, the inflation rate is at 8.2% according to CNBC. Keep in mind, the economy two years before had an inflation rate of just 1.23% 2020. The inflation rate in the United States has increased over 7% in the last 24 months. So, while it is comforting that our economy seems to be on an upward trajectory, it is still worrisome that it took so long to upturn and that the inflation rate remains so high. This percentage can convey two things. One, there is an optimistic outlook on the positive side and two, this is also concerning because of how slow it has taken to recover and there may be a sign where it goes under again. 

The United States economy became recently positive due to a narrowing trade deficit. According to CNBC, “economists expected this and consider it to be a one-off occurrence that won’t be repeated in the future quarters. GDP gains also came from increases in consumer spending, nonresidential fixed investment and government spending.” Inevitably, caution needs to be taken with the economic playfield at this moment. Many Americans today are not spending as much as they were before the inflation rate increased. Consumer spending might be up, however, that doesn't mean consumer spending is at an all time high. GDP may also increase, however that doesn’t benefit many who are suffering other issues like job loss, lay-offs and or other situations


The United States economy as of now has shown indicators that it can recover and it can grow upward if certain conditions are followed correctly. Many of those conditions rely on the size of the workforce and productivity in this current climate. The size of the workforce matters, and data shows that only 164 million individuals are employed as of September. Compare that to September of 2021 which only had 161 million individuals employed. Even though there is a noticeable increase, it is a small one that is concerning due to how slow employment has recovered ever since the pandemic. A slight 1.5% increase in employment participation rate is still a cause of concern, possibly explained by the great resignation which has currently hindered job growth.


So what does this all mean? Under current economic conditions, the economy has underperformed in contrast to 2020. The verge of a standing recession is still in play, however, we are more prepared now than we were in the economic crisis of 2008. According to Steve Hanke, an applied economics professor at John Hopkins University explained, “The probability of recession, I think it’s much higher than 50% — I think it’s about 80%. Maybe even higher than 80%.” The question now lies is what kind of factors will contribute to a staggering recession in such a precedent that we have not faced in over 14 years? There are many factors that contribute to an economic collapse. These include high interest rates, declining home prices, deregulation and wage price warfare. However, one factor that has become unique in the current economic crisis is student loans. According to Investopedia, “Some experts believe that student loan debt could bring down the economy in much the same way as the 2008 and 2009 mortgage crisis.” Student loans are at an outstanding $1 trillion currently. For comparison, in 2010, student loan debt was at $100 billion. The increase of this kind of debt is astronomical. To add insult to injury, college tuition has skyrocketed past the percent of the inflation rate. Combine unaffordable college education with the current economy not being able to put the graduates to work causes economic fatigue and stress. Consequently, many college graduates who cannot pay back their loans will likely suffer bankruptcy.


As we continue to deal with our economic conditions, it is important to stay aware and protect your finances ahead of time. Individually, we can do our part, however, the other half comes from our elected representatives in government. The fate of economic progress and prosperity falls on the laps of our federal government. This year in particular, is of much importance with the looming midterm elections having taken place. Both political parties in congress have an opportunity to come together and pass legislation that can help take relief on many Americans who are employed, becoming employed and retiring.


Here to help and Inform, 

Your Financially Fit Team


Tuesday, October 25, 2022

The Great Resignation, Why It's Impacting Employers & Employees

The Labor Department issued that, “650,000 retail workers quit in the month of April in 2021.” Mass exodus in the midst of a global pandemic. What we’ve come to call the Great ResignationWhat is the Great Resignation? If you are a working professional, you probably already know. It refers to an especially high volume of employees quitting their job, all over the nation, all over the world. The ultimate cause of this dilemma is pay. Think of this for a moment, a PwC survey reported that, "pay is unsurprisingly the main factor in people wanting to change jobs, with 71% citing it as a key reason."
When the pandemic hit its stride, out of necessity, employees began to work from home. Businesses began hiring remote workers, with no expectation that those new hires would need to come to the office - at least, not until COVID peters out. Working from home became the new normal. Employees got to stay in the comfort of their home. They experienced more flexibility, felt they had more trust from their employers. The average person spends one third of their life working, most often, away from their families. Remote work gave more options to parents with kids at home. According to chicagobooth, Nicholas Booth from Stanford said, “We are home working alongside our kids, in unsuitable spaces... and no in-office days. This will create a productivity disaster for firms.” Employers weren’t necessarily confident that they’re employees were being as productive as they would be in office, but at least they could keep their business running. Many bosses may have thought that when the pandemic ended, pre pandemic operation (in office) would return. But you cannot give workers more options and agency and take it away again without backlash. Here we are, post pandemic and employees are refusing to go back to the office. Either they stay remote, or they quit and go somewhere else that allows them to work from home. With the stimulus checks from the government and varying unemployment benefits, some people aren’t going back to work at all.

Not everyone can afford to join the Great Resignation, but after the last few years we’ve all had, employees are changing their priorities. In several cases, remote work improves their home lives, contributes positively to their mental health, prevents
burnout and more. They feel that they are more understood by their employer. They feel that the work they do is valued higher than the hours imputed. Remote or in the office, employees want to be treated like real people, not just a cog who makes the machine go. Remote or not, employees are thinning out what they are willing to put up with.
According to BBC,  the Personio study mentioned, “more than half of the respondents who were planning to quit wanted to do so because of a reduction in benefits, a worsening work-life balance or a toxic workplace culture.” Employees want employers to empathize with them, to more fully understand their priorities and be somewhat malleable to them. Employees are delusional if they think they’ll get everything they’re asking for, but employers are delusional if they think they’ll get away with offering the bare minimum. Dallas Mavericks owner and CEO Mark Cuban explained why, “this is bad because it will hurt the brand's reputation.” It contributes to the idea that C-suite professionals are money-hungry and soulless (dramatic, I know, but a stereotype more often proven then discredited). 

In times like these, employers should reflect on what they are manageably able to offer their employees. They should be aware of what workers are currently prioritizing and see if they can help meet those needs. An employee wants to prioritize their family? Remote work or hybrid makes a big difference. An employee is struggling with their mental health, offering services and good benefits makes a big difference. An employee is struggling financially, providing access to a financial advisor and services makes a big difference. As simple as it sounds, be there for your employees and they might just stick around for you.



Here to help, 

Financially Fit Employees


Monday, October 17, 2022

Why You Should Invest in a Financial Literacy Course




Our financial health is on the line during this important time period of our lives. We are near the end of 2022, and with that comes an even greater perspective going into the new year. Are we financially in the best position to succeed or have we fallen behind due to circumstances being out of our control? This question is important for us to answer because awareness of where we stand will help us be more candid about where we need to go. 

Financial health is dependent upon two variables, knowledge and the ability to make good decisions. According to consumerfinance, “Financial knowledge and decision-making skills help people make informed financial decisions through problem-solving, critical thinking, and an understanding of key financial facts and concepts.” That is why being financially literate is critically important for this very reason alone. These decisions are complicated to make when the knowledge to rely on isn't there from the beginning. Think of this for a moment, according to a statistic by gobankingrates the United States is one of the few countries in the world that ranks as one of the worst in terms of financial literacy. 57% financial literacy rate in comparison to countries like Denmark and Norway that both are beyond 70%. “Many US adults lack the basic knowledge and skills required to engage in sound financial decision-making” (Milken Institute). Clearly, this is an identified problem that is being talked about and in return, more awareness is brought forward to the center of the table. The lack of knowledge to make these important financial decisions can cause not only headaches, again they can cause stress, anxiety, and in most cases regret because we identified a mistake that will cost us financially. 


Any positive change regarding our financial health can be difficult because it is confusing to tackle head on. Where to begin is always the toughest, however there are many resources available to help solve that problem. For starters, if you are employed, research and find out what your employer can offer to help with financial literacy education. If you are unemployed, simple internet searches of the topic go a long way, giving you the ability to evaluate alternatives and formulate the right questions. When doing online research, try to do some due diligence when it comes to reading information on specific websites. You can quickly check to see if a website is reliable by staying on .org sites. Always make sure to double check information that is on the site and dig deeper into other sources used to see if it holds up. Keep this in mind, currently in the United States “only six states require personal finance courses in college before graduation.” This means that for some, it may have been overlooked in the beginning when we were younger. Not many understand how pivotal it was in the beginning to get ahead. Although this may be the case, the most important thing to understand is that we can recover and that is what matters.


Furthermore, financial wellness programs for most cases help solve these issues. Many employers across the United States have recognized the importance of financial health being impacted by financial literacy. Why is it that employers are enrolling their employees into a wellness program that can help motivate positive behavior to tackle financial decisions on a comfortable scale? When employers are enrolled into a financial wellness program that they give to their employees, there are return benefits for the employees. The John Hancock study shows, “54% of the respondents say that a financial wellness program would increase their job productivity, they also are better engaged and have better retention.” That is why at Financially Fit Employees we are motivated more than ever to help employers bring a financial wellness plan to their employees that can help guide them in the right direction.  We provide an in-depth comprehensive program that helps get individuals on the right path. If you happen to be an employer or an individual, consider joining our financial fit employees program or financially fit me program for a more personal approach. 



At Financially Fit Employees we are dedicated to help bring out the best in all of our members. We want to make these financial decisions easier for you throughout your life. You will learn lessons and techniques taught nowhere else and we also have one-on-one coaching to help tailor your needs and wants to the goals you desire. Take that first step and be a part of something bigger, conquer your financial wellbeing today.


Here to help,

Your Financially Fit Team


Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Why Lenders Are Taking Advantage of the System

There is a domino effect that can occur when inflation desperation leads to taking out loans. High inflation and low employment rates cause spenders to dip into their savings and take out loans, looking for these loans leads to lenders coming out of the woodwork - some of whom don't always have your best interests in mind, and falling prey to the predatory lenders can leave you in a deeper hole than you started in.  

With our nation’s current financial situation, taking out a loan may be unavoidable. But, if you do your research and know what to look out for, you’ll find a loan that will help you rather than harm you. 

  1. If It Looks Too Easy, It’s a Scam - Unethical lenders’ motto is “fast and easy”. They’ll tell you all they need is an income source, a bank account, and proof that you’re over 18. If it feels too easy, it is probably too good to be true. 

  2. Read Everything - Some lenders are smooth salesmen and will make terrible terms sound like a steal. Read your contracts. If you don’t understand something, make sure you ask about it. Do not sign anything until you are confident in the agreement you are making. 

  3. Do Not Let Anyone Convince You to Borrow More Money Than You Know You Can Repay - Go over your finances and set boundaries for yourself. Taking out a loan you cannot pay off will lead to roll over charges or refinancing your loan which will result in a cycle of debt. 

  4. Do Not Let Anyone Convince You to Lie - If they ask you to overstate your income, falsify documents, or make false statements of any kind they are setting you up for failure.

  5. Pay Close Attention to the Interest Rate - These lenders love a high interest-rate. They’ll try to rope you into a three-digit interest rate, but if the interest rate is higher than what your credit score qualifies for, don’t take it. They may also try to sell you on a lower interest rate racked with fees and other additional charges. 

  6. Make Sure They Say It to Your Face - Unlicensed lenders may try to make offers online or over the phone. When it comes to loans, make sure you are in an appropriate setting.


You become an easy target if they think you do not know better. At Financially Fit Employees we offer great resources to be able to read and understand loans and how they can affect your credit score. 

Here to Help,

Your Financially Fit Team


Monday, October 3, 2022

A Few Reasons Why Saving Money Can Be Difficult


There are several things that can hinder our ability to save money effectively. Financial accountability is a proactive endeavor. It is easy to become complacent and comfortable with our spending and saving habits. But the financial world never remains stagnant, so our habits cannot either. If we do not pay close enough attention to our income-to-outcome ratio, we can find ourselves dipping into our savings. It is important to narrow down the fundamental variables that may be causing our savings to decrease.
Here are a few reasons why saving money can be difficult: 

Beginning with reason number 1, Spending way more than what we are currently earning. This is one of the most common reasons why we are in this kind of predicament. When we prioritize purchasing our immediate wants over paying off our debts, we can fall financially short. To solve this problem, let us look at a helpful principle for guidance. The 50/30/20 rule is a financial savings compass when it comes to finding maneuverability with your hard-earned money. This also can be used to execute and follow sound budgeting skills that can carry you for the rest of your financial and personal endeavors. The moral of the principle is as follows, allocate 50% for needs, 30% for wants, and 20% for debt and savings. The most important component of this rule is the 30%, if your wants (extremities) cost 30% or more of what you bring in for your income, consider reevaluating the money you spend on life-styling things over life-sustaining ones. 


Reason number 2, is the overwhelming amount of debt. According to Bankrate, “as of September 2022, consumer debt is at $16.5 trillion, with the average American debt among consumers at $96,371.”  Paying off our debt is the most important thing we can do to keep good credit. How do we stay on top of these payments? The key is to set up an account that is allocated for paying off debt. Following the 50/30/20 rule, we can allocate 20% of what we earn towards our debt. If your debt exceeds 20% of your income, evaluate the interest rates of your loans and determine which ones will cause more financial harm if a payment must be missed. Missed payments on debts with high-interest rates have a snowballing effect that, if not prioritized, may become un-payable. 


Reason number 3, financial priorities are not in order. We have to identify what we should financially prioritize as we move up in our personal life and career. This includes anything from pursuing higher education, purchasing a home, or investing in other high-value assets. Understandably, higher costs and future purchases are hard to save for because of changing immediate needs and out-of-your-control economic fluctuation. It may require sacrificing an amount of lifestyle spending. Ultimately, it requires a balance of patience and strategic action. Saving for your future requires learning financial intricacies and the nuances of your own financial situation. Within the rule, 20% accounts for debts and savings. Take time to analyze your personal finances to decide what percent goes toward savings and how much pays off your debt. A little goes a long way when it comes to the future - even if you can’t save as much as you would like, putting any amount of money into your savings account will get you closer to your future goals if you are flexible with their timing. 


Reason number 4, not taking retirement savings plans as seriously as we should be. Retirement plans offered by employers should be researched. Employers will often incentivize you to accept their retirement plans. It is within our best judgment to determine how we want to invest in our retirement through our employers. Consider high-risk and low-risk investment options and align them with your flexibility and your occupational timeline. If possible, max out employer matching towards your 401(k). This can create fail safety for 10-20 years down the line whenever we happen to need money for unexpected financial events or to simply retire comfortably. If you are interested in what kind of benefits are provided by having a 401(k), click here to find out more.  


Any fiscally effective plan centers on financial literacy. If you would like to become more financially literate, contact us at financiallyfitemployees.com


Here to help,

Your Financially Fit Team

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

How to Lower Your Annual and Monthly Expenses

Unexpected financial realities can really take a toll, and the only way to build any defense against them is through financial planning. The first thing to take into account are your necessary expenses: mortgage/rent, utilities, insurance, car payments, groceries etc. These expenses are unavoidable, and unfortunately, not always reliable. They can fluctuate depending on inflation, policies and politics, and more. When making a financial plan, it is important to first take these necessary finances into account, before allocating funds for more non essential expenses. 

How can we differentiate between essential and non essential expenses? 

Essentials are as we said previously, with the addition of maybe tuition, phone payments, credit card minimum payments and a few other specialized circumstances (like diapers if you have a child).  

Nonessentials are things like dining out, entertainment, travel, clothing, even coffee shop coffee (no matter how essential it feels to your life)


Do not prioritize lifestyle before life essentials. Deciding to splurge on dinner instead of spending that money on a loan payment can seriously damage your credit. Stated simply, but easier said than done: Live within your means. Maybe you’re already really good at that. Maybe it’s a matter of decreasing essential expenses to give more leeway to nonessential expenses, or to add the option of padding your savings account. 

For example, how can we exactly lower a necessary expense such as rent and or mortgage? Let’s say we want to move into an apartment and rent costs roughly $2,500 per month. Paying this every month by ourselves is not the optimal solution, especially during our more flexible stages of life (in college, newly married). Instead we can have people to move in with and divide the costs by two or even three. By doing so, instead of paying the full amount, we can pay our share of $1250 or less per month and save money to put somewhere else instead. This allows for more financial breathing room every month to budget efficiently. The same system applies to mortgages under a similar circumstance. However, it is important to keep in mind that rent is a necessary expense that does not go away over time unlike a mortgage payment that does. Rent prices fluctuate due to availability in the market. The key when dealing with a necessary expense, is to always bring the cost down optimally if given the opportunity to do so. 

But decreasing our necessary finances is not always an option, and if you have to remove an organ, let it be an appendix and not the lungs. 


There are unnecessary expenses that we do not need to submit to that will likely pile ourselves with more and more financial stress and fatigue. Unnecessary expenses such as subscription services. Count how many subscriptions for streaming services you have. Most likely it's more than one, and we get it, Netflix doesn’t have all of my favorite shows either. But, if you do have multiple, add up all the monthly payments together and see how much is going out from your income. Is it more than you thought? Is it more than you're comfortable with? This illustrates how budgeting can be crucial. So many of us wonder, where is our money going? We earned so much, just for it to disappear so quickly. Subscriptions can make life a breeze, but can also be adding additional financial stress if we do not keep track of them. Spending more than what we make is not good financial behavior, not only that, it can become a bad habit overtime because of our inability to hold ourselves accountable. 


Another nonessential? Eating out. Think of this for a moment in terms of inflation. Prepared food is always more expensive (Ah yes, the food service business model - charge more than it costs to make so you can stay in business). Usually, it does not cost *that* much more than if you bought all the ingredients and made it yourself, depending on where you go. But, because inflation has caused those ingredients to increase in price, ultimately, the restaurant will charge more for the prepared meal. If you are someone who eats out often, maybe try offsetting how many times you eat out per week. By eating at home and learning how to manage your grocery supplies, you can save way more and bring your overall food costs down significantly. Unnecessary expenses are the ones we control, we have a say of whether we want to spend or not, which is why it also requires discipline, resisting temptation and as well as keeping track of your own budget. 


This is why the concept of budgeting is powerful when mastered and done correctly. We can see where our money is leaving. It is accounting for all of our expenses and adjusting accordingly. It is scheduling payments so you are always aware of what you have paid off, what you have spent, and what you have left. With that kind of information we can pay off our debt even faster because we know how much money we owe and where. By doing a budgeting system, we can reduce our unnecessary spending habits. We cut out wasteful spending, and by doing so resurrect or even begin to replenish our saving habits and accounts. There is no better time to start budgeting. Because now more than ever, we can't afford to be frustrated and or demotivated about how we feel about spending money. We know! Spending money makes us feel good!  However, we should do it when we know it is efficient. Practicing now can help reduce future financial problems in the current economic crisis’ like the one we are currently facing. 


At Financially Fit, we are dedicated to helping you get back on track with your finances. Feel free to refer to our previous blog that discusses more on how you can save during an inflation period. Our program also offers the best insight on how you can accomplish this and start today. Visit our website and download the app to learn how you can start budgeting. 


Here to help, 

Your Financially Fit Team