Is Pokemon Go Putting You in Danger of Identity Theft?

15855489588_6c209780a9_bIs Pokemon Go Putting You in Danger of Identity Theft?

Adam Levin, cyber security expert and author of his new book Swiped shared with me on the Prudent Money Radio Show the security risks hidden in our homes and on our phones. From Smart TVs, to coffee markers, and even apps on your phone – your personal identity is at risk now more than ever by hackers. He refers to Identity Theft as the “third certainty” in life.

There are some people who feel like there’s nothing they can do at all – it’s inevitable – or that they aren’t important enough to be a victim of identity theft. Then there are the ones that think it will never happen to them.  The main goal of any cyber thief is to exploit anything and everything for their gain – it has nothing to do with your net worth or assets. Having your name, address, social security number, date of birth is where the money is at; it is precious information that is sought out in the black market.

Identity Theft Protection Plan:

There is a philosophy when it comes to creating a ‘portfolio’ that protects your identity and credit. Adam Levin says you need to (1) build it, (2) nurture it, (3) manage it, and (4) protect it. Meaning – you have to be proactive. “In the world we live in, you will have an issue with identity theft.”

Part of any identity theft protection plan is a good antivirus program. I asked Adam, “How do you know which protection to choose?” Adam focused the answer around – “what do you want to protect?”. He suggests that you use the most sophisticated malware you can get. Most importantly research it on Google and read reviews.

Is Pokémon Go a Security Threat?

Pokémon go is the most downloaded iPhone app ever created and is found on 5% of all Android devices.  It also serves as a good example that you need to be careful.  The developers inadvertently set it up to where you give them authorization to have full access to anything in your Google account.  Since the discovery, they have corrected it.  However, it does serve as a good reminder to be careful.  All it would take is the databases of one of these App developers to get hacked and get all of your information.

Smart TVs That Can Spy on You 

TVs, appliances, HVAC, Smart Mattresses, devices to turn off and on lights and other appliance in home (ex. Amazon Echo); every single one of these gather, store and send information to the manufacturer in order to produce more effective products. Also, since all of these devices are wired to be informational logs – they can be hacked just like everything else. If the NSA can be hacked, so can your coffee marker.  Plus, could your Smart TV be spying on you?  Adam Levin addresses that in my interview.

For information about the book, click here. To listen to the interview, click here.

Know Where You Are So You Know Where You Are Going – 7 Steps to Financial Independence

PatrioticKnow Where You Are So You Know Where You Are Going – 7 Steps to Financial Independence 

Financial Independence – The age obtained where earning an income is a choice and not a have to.  

Financial Independence is the new retirement.  The days of the rocking chair are over!  One chapter is closed and a brand new chapter of giving back and serving is opened. In order to get to that place, there are 7 steps to take along the journey to financial independence.  


Step 1     –     Adapt a Strategy for Communication

This is foundational. If you can’t communicate about money with your spouse, it will be tough to make this work.  Unfortunately, most people don’t have ground rules or boundaries when it comes to communicating about money. Instead they communicate through their emotions.  Filtering anything through emotions will end up being well…..emotional rather than constructive. It is important that couples agree on committing to the 10 commandments of financial communication. It will positively affect every aspect of a marriage.

Step 2    –     Determine Risk Level 

Risk drives decision making.  Effective decision making affects the probability of success.  We all are uniquely wired for risk.  I refer to it as the Prudent Money DNA.  It is mission critical to really understand our risk levels and how we react to risk. If you get your risk level wrong, you could end up adapting the wrong risk level and greatly effecting your probabilities of financial independence. Want to know your Risk Level?  Click here for a free analysis.

Step 3     –     Determine Goals and Benchmarks

For every step you take, there should be a “why.”  Most people don’t know why they are going through the process.  For example, why are you saving? It is not enough to answer for retirement. Retirement could mean anything. How about a date and age you want to choose financial independence and a monthly amount you can withdraw. It is all planned ahead of time.  You also need benchmarks at the end of the year that tell you whether you are on track for financial independence. Knowing where you are so you know where you are going.  It increases confidence.

Step 4     –     Save, Invest, and Manage Money

Pop Culture Finance focuses on saving. They lead you to believe that success is predictable based on how much you save. That is very incomplete advice. There are other components. You start with saving. Then you have to invest the money into investments that are appropriate for the current risk level and environment. Then the money needs to be managed for risk and growth. It is a process. Pop Culture Finance says just invest it and forget about it. I would suggest you lower your potential for success without  a Plan A and Plan B approach.  Plan A for when the market goes up and Plan B for when the market doesn’t go up.   

Step 5    –     Monitor Benchmarks

Know where you are so you know where you are going. By using a benchmarking plan, you can know if you are on track, ahead, or behind at the end of each year. It is about having a target amount of total accumulated investments. For example, if by the end of the year your investment account was $500,000 then you would be on target.  It not only gives you confidence to know your place on the journey it also gives you an advantage in decision making and effective decision making increases or decreases your probabilities towards Financial Independence.   

Step 6      –    Financial Independence Requires More Than Just Investing

Yes investing and managing money is a particularly important process for obtaining financial independence.  However, there are other areas that threaten financial independence and remove the freedom to have that choice.  There are 7 other plans that you need to have in place – a values plan that puts your whole family on the same page, estate or insurance plan in the event of a death, a spending plan is foundational, if applicable a college plan, an adequate emergency plan keeps you out of trouble, a get out of debt plan is the first priority, and an identity protection plan to combat the inevitable.  Breakdowns in any of those areas can diminish your chances of financial independence. The key to these plans is to keep it simple.  Each plan should be no more than a few pages of key principles and steps and everything ties in together. 

Step 7     –     Educate Along the Way

It is critical to be a lifetime student of money and how money works.  It is important to commit to a little time each week to learn and grow in your knowledge of money.  Most importantly that learning comes through the lens of stewardship and God’s economy.  Whether it is listening to radio or TV talk shows or reading books and newsletters, financial literacy equips you with the ability to interpret what you are seeing and experiencing when it comes to money.

Do you want to talk about your financial independence day?  Give Judy Parrish a call at 972-386-0384 and set up an initial consultation with Bob.  He can do a quick assessment over the phone or email Bob directly – bob@prudentmoney.com  

 

The 10 Commandments of Couple Communication With Money

Who Makes the Better Investor Men or WomenThe 10 Commandments of Couple Communication With Money

Everyone has heard at one time or another that money is the leading cause of divorce. I would say it another way. The inability to communicate is the leading cause of divorce. We go about it all the wrong way. We let all of the many toxic emotions of money get in the way and limit our ability to effectively communicate. So, I wanted to devote some time on the basics of communication with your spouse when it comes to money. In over two decades of counseling people, these are the things I see trip people up the most.

(1)     Leave your ego at the door (lose the need to be right)

I did not originally come with this saying. I heard it many years ago and it just stuck with me. Usually if we lead with our ego, we are going to storm into the room and tell our spouse how things are going to be. Do you really think that is going to go well?  If you are going to discuss money issues, don’t make it about yourself or your ego. When we lead with our ego, it is about making ourselves right and other spouse wrong.  Leave your ego at the door and lose the need to be right. Arguing is nothing more than a process of determining who is right and who is wrong.

(2)     Seek first to understand then be understood

This is a principle from Stephen Covey’s Book the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  Said another way, listen to understand and then talk.  By listening first you accomplish three things.  First, you are showing complete respect to your spouse. That puts the discussion in a much better place. Plus, it helps you leave your ego at the door. Second, you are communicating to your spouse that what he/she has to say is much more important than what you have to say. Finally, by listening oftentimes you get a much clearer understanding of what the compromise or solution needs to be.

(3)     Learn to trust and give the benefit of the doubt

Trust can be a tough thing to give out especially if you have been burned. However, it is critical when communicating about money. When you don’t trust, you don’t give the benefit of the doubt. You automatically assume that they did the wrong thing or that it will be just a matter of time and you react accordingly.  If you reinforce that message enough times, your spouse might just say, “why am I even trying?”.

(4)     His goals, her goals, our goals

One of the biggest challenges of married life is combining your individual wants and desires and your spouse’s individual wants and desires. If you don’t have goals together, you both will be going to two separate directions. Work to find what works for the both of you. There is a lot more harmony when you are both going in the same direction driven by the same family values.

(5)     Don’t lead separate financial lives

This is dangerous for a number of reasons. Plain and simple – it destroys trust. There is a reason that there is secrecy. By learning to handle financial problems and money together, you become better communicators and you grow the relationship.

(6)     Men, watch the condescending tone and body language. 

“Stop yelling at me!”, says the wife to the husband.  “I am not yelling at you,” says the husband.  Then the wife says, “You are using that tone again.”  Men are so guilty of doing this. You accomplish two things with that tone. First you are talking down to your wife. No one likes to be treated that way. Second, you are acting as if you are beyond making mistakes.  Of course the body language magnifies the sound of the tone.

(7)     Resist reacting 

This is powerful.  The more you get in the habit of reacting or getting angry the less your spouse is going to want to talk to you.  Create a safe place to communicate.  If your spouse says something to you that would normally create a reaction, take a deep breath and place a pause between what you would normally say and allow your brain to think about something constructive to say.  The good news is that you can get real good at this just by practicing.  Replace the angry reaction with a simple OK,  let me think that through, or tell me more and we can figure this out.

(8)     Make a grand plan (powered by values)

Earlier we talked about setting goals as a couple. Although important, goals not powered by values and not initiated with a grand plan to achieve them can end up being wishes. If you have not done so, sit down with your spouse and create a values inventory. Decide what you value most as a couple. It is important to make sure that your goals and values are compatible. Then create a grand plan and a strategy to accomplish it. It allows you and your spouse to create a vision for the life you both want together.

(9)     Make a Monthly Finance Date 

OK, this is where you might click and go to another site. Yes, I am saying that I want you to intentionally talk to your spouse about money.  Make a date once a month and talk about the family finances. Talk about how the cash flow and expenses went during the month. Talk about what expenses are coming up. Put a list together of things that you want to accomplish financially. Couples just do not talk enough when it comes to money.

(10)     Unless you are perfect, Show Grace!

This could be the biggest commandment of all.  Practice showing Grace to your spouse when they make mistakes…..well unless you are perfect and have never screwed up before. It is easy to get on the throne of judgment when your spouse does something wrong. Instead show Grace.  The good news is that you are modeling for your spouse the way you want to be treated when you screw up. In all things show Grace!

Bob Brooks is host of the Prudent Money Radio show.  Bob is also a financial advisor who helps people set and achieve financial goals. For more information or to set up a phone consultation, email Judy Parrish at judy@prudentmoney.com .

 

Are We Heading Towards a Second Financial Crisis? The Environment Is Ripe for One.

The Biggest Financial Implosion Since the Financial Crisis and It Is a Bond Mutual FundAre We Heading Towards a Second Financial Crisis? The Environment Is Ripe for One.

There is one thing for sure. The 2008 Financial Crisis might as well not have happened because as severe as it was Americans have not learned their lesson about debt. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported this week that consumer debt for the second quarter of 2016 stands at 12.29 trillion dollars. That is an increase of $35 billion dollars from the previous quarter.

The record amount of debt was reached during the height of the Financial Crisis in 2008 at 12.68 trillion.  We stand a mere 3.1% away from setting a new record and that is not good. 

Debt is the problem and we are aggressively adding it.  Let me put this in perspective. A trillion is a million millions and then multiply that by 12. 

Credit Card debt is almost at record territory.  It should exceed 1 trillion by the end of the year.

Student Loan debt is 1.3 trillion.

Auto loan debt is at record territory and has exceeded 1 trillion. 

Capacity is the problem.  Consumers have the capacity to add debt and make minimum payments at least until they can’t.  Debt has the tendency to get out of control very silently.  Then all of the sudden it is a problem.

Toxic mortgage debt kicked off the problem in ’07.  Who knows what will kick off the next crisis.  However, the environment is ripe for one.  During the financial crisis, the price of oil had just crashed, we were at record amounts of debt, the stock market was at all-time highs and there was a historic Presidential election happening.

Sound familiar?

us-debt-8-9-16-cotd

Bob Brooks is host of the Prudent Money Radio show.  Bob is also a financial advisor who helps people set and achieve financial goals. For more information or to set up a phone consultation, email Judy Parrish at judy@prudentmoney.com.

So Much for American Pride – the IRS and the Olympics

PatrioticSo Much for American Pride – the IRS and the Olympics

First, do Olympians get paid? I bet you didn’t know that they receive $25K for gold medals, $15K for silver and $10K for bronze.  Forget that whole American pride thing. The IRS wants the taxes paid on their winnings! …and it doesn’t stop there. Kiplinger’s resident tax expert Sandra Block writes about other items you might never know is taxed.

Here were some interesting ones:

  1. Buried Treasure
  2. Scholarships
  3. Stolen Property
  4. Proceeds from Fantasy Sports

To read about the remaining surprising items, go to the article –  Olympic Victories and 8 Other Surprising Things That Are Taxable

Who Wins and Who Loses When It Comes to Money?

Lottery1Who Wins and Who Loses When It Comes to Money?

How do you define success when it comes to money? Is it about big houses and expensive cars? Is it about net worth? What is the determiner of success? Well it depends on what lens you filter the question through. If you filter it through the lens of the world, your success is defined through the amount of stuff you have accumulated, your investment accounts, and your bank account.  If you filter it through the lens of prudent stewardship, the answer is quite different.

Success with money comes down to your level of peace when it comes to money.  From a prudent stewardship standpoint, therein lies the litmus test. Truth be told, people are stressed about money.  According to statisticsbrain.com money is the second leading cause of stress.  The good news is that doesn’t have to be the case. You can be at financial peace. It comes down to how you answer three important questions.

(1)  Is money guiding your life or are you committed to a Matthew 6:24 life?

24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

I don’t think that people on a conscious level filter their decisions through the lens of money. I do believe that it happens on a sub-conscious basis. Our sub-conscious works in the background and acts on decisions based on how you interpret life. It is almost like we hit the auto-pilot button and make decisions with the same set of patterns that are ingrained in us and are patterns that have been heavily influenced by the illusions of money. When you daily commit to a Matthew 6:24 life, it keeps everything in perspective. In fact, everything truly falls in line. It is a conscious decision and commitment that ultimately changes subconsciously how you think.

(2)  Do you have a plan?

“Know where you are so you know where you are going.”

The majority of financial stress comes as a result of uncertainty. If you want to reduce and in some cases eliminate that financial stress, have a financial plan of action. I am talking about a plan that is comprehensive and covers every aspect of your life. That process enables you to solve problems that you have allowed to render you helpless. You know the types of problems we just let linger instead of solving them?

A comprehensive plan creates a game plan for the following:

  • A Financial Goal Plan
  • A Spending Plan
  • A Savings Plan
  • An Investment Plan
  • An Estate/Survivor Plan
  • A Protection Plan –  risk management in all aspects of every plan

Most importantly, a comprehensive plan gives you a means of interpretation and acts as a guide when decisions come up.

(3)Do you have strong prudent stewardship values? Do you have shared ones with your spouse?

“Want to know what you value when it comes to money? Just look at your bank account and credit card statements.”

This is an important one. What do you value about money? If you are married, what are your shared values? What is the most important thing when it comes to being a Prudent Steward of everything that God has given you? Oftentimes it is easy to list out your values. All you have to do is see where you spend money. Money flows to what we value. The real question comes down to priority of values. This is where the problem lies.  We find out through the process that we really aren’t at peace with how we are prioritizing values.

A prioritized shared set of stewardship values keeps both the husband and the wife on the same page. It is one of the greatest processes that a married couple can go through.

It is important to know that three simple questions is a life time process. However, it is the most worthwhile journey that you can be on. It is time to claim control over financial stress and turn it into financial peace. Committing to  a Matthew 6:24 life, having a plan for everything, and prioritizing and identifying shared values will give you the answer to how you win with money.

Bob Brooks is host of the Prudent Money Radio show.  Bob is also a financial advisor who helps people set and achieve financial goals. For more information or to set up a phone consultation, email Judy Parrish at judy@prudentmoney.com

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