With the aroma of extra value menu items wafting in the air, consumer expert Clark Howard stood inside the McDonald’s on Camp Creek Parkway and answered numerous questions with all of the humility and candor as his setting would suggest.
Across town at the Cobb Energy Centre of Performing Arts, workers hastily added more and more chairs to a packed meeting room where Rodney Huffman extolled the values of real estate investing as part of a Rich Dad, Poor Dad two-hour introductory seminar.
The guest speakers, both wealthy and successful, could not have been more different. The common thread: a group of attendees eager to improve their financial standing, whether by capitalizing on opportunities in a down economy or simply tightening the purse strings while watching daily spending.
“All I do now is put out fires,” Howard said. “Sometimes after a [radio show], I feel like a boxer who has gone 15 rounds. This is an equal opportunity recession. Everybody has been hit over the head with a 2-x-4.”
Yet, clearly there are those, though down and out, still optimistic and determined enough to not only stay above water, but thrive.
“When building wealth, you have to be able to adapt to change,” Huffman said.
Howard’s biggest tips of the day:
– Drive your car until you have to leave it on the side of the road. That can have the largest impact of any one change you can make in your life.
– Go to a drug store and buy a little spiral notebook. For two weeks, write down every single thing you buy. After two weeks, you’ll be able to see the things you can do to free up money.
– Re-invent yourself. Just because you’re on top today doesn’t mean you’ll be on top tomorrow. The one constant is change, so you have to be ready to adjust and adapt.
– Get back to living within your means.
– Diversify stock investments nationally and internationally. Nearly 96 percent of the action is outside the United States. Your money needs to be here and there.
– If you are just starting out, every six months step up 1 percent of what you’re making to saving. You won’t miss it, but the cumulative effect will build up.
– If you find you do not need a 529 college fund to finance your child’s education due to scholarships or other forms of financial aid, consider holding onto it for graduate school or for other family members. If you withdraw it, you’ll be penalized and taxed.
– Don’t back away from 401 (K) programs. And if one isn’t available, invest in a Roth IRA account.
Huffman’s biggest tips of the day:
– The keys to success are opportunity, knowledge and action
– Change the way you think about money
– Decide whether you want to be employed, self-employed, own a system in which people work for your or be an investor and have your money work for you.
– Ask yourself, “What is my dream?”
– Primary money sources do not have to be banks. Consider partnerships, seller financing, equity lines and hard money loans in which the loan is based on the property rather than the individual.
– You don’t need to be wealthy to take advantage of opportunities.
What has the economic downturn taught you about yourself? What are your dreams, and how closely tied are they to money?