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Personal Finance

4 mins read

14 Ways to Increase Your Financial IQ

Building a strong financial IQ is critical, yet a significant portion of the global population faces challenges in this area.

This lack of knowledge can lead to missed investment opportunities, difficulty managing debt, and struggles in achieving financial goals.

To navigate the complex world of finance effectively, individuals must strive to increase their financial IQ. Here are some practical ways to enhance your understanding of financial concepts and make informed decisions about money matters:

1. Master the Finance Matrix

Understand the fundamental workings of the banking system and the flow of money through the economy. Concepts such as interest rates, inflation, and credit are essential pillars to grasp for crafting a strategic approach to saving, investing, and managing risk.

2. Utilize the Rule of 72

The rule of 72 is a handy trick to estimate how long it might take for your investment to double. Just divide 72 by the expected growth rate (the interest you expect to earn each year) and you’ll get a rough estimate of how many years it’ll take to see your money grow by 100%.

3. Study Behavioral Finance

Behavioral finance unlocks the surprising truth: our financial choices aren’t always logical. Emotions, mental quirks, and even how our brains handle information can cloud our judgment about investments, spending, risk, and debt. But by understanding these biases, we can make smarter financial decisions and avoid costly mistakes.

4. Implement the 72-Hour Rule

Before making non-essential purchases or investment decisions, wait 72 hours to mitigate impulsive behavior and assess the necessity of the expenditure.

5. Practice Zero-Based Budgeting

Track all income sources and expenses, allocating residual funds into savings. This method fosters disciplined money management and ensures every dollar has a purpose.

6. Analyze Case Studies

Examine real-world examples of financial successes and failures to glean insights into effective strategies and common pitfalls.

7. Critically Assess Financial News

Scrutinize the credibility and biases of financial news sources to make informed decisions based on reliable information.

8. Challenge Yourself with Financial Experiments

Engage in experiments such as budgeting challenges or investing in new asset classes to gain firsthand experience and refine financial habits.

9. Analyze Company Financials

Dive into the financial statements of companies to understand their business operations, revenue sources, and growth potential.

10. Follow (credible) Financial Podcasts

Listen to podcasts featuring experts who offer valuable insights and practical advice on personal finance and investment strategies.

11. Read Personal Finance Books

Explore books written by financial experts to deepen your understanding of financial principles and gain actionable advice.

12. Create a Financial Vision Board

Visualize your financial goals to stay motivated and focused on achieving them.

13. Practice Dollar-Cost Averaging

Invest regularly over time to mitigate the impact of market volatility and benefit from long-term growth opportunities.

14. Automate Your Finances

Set up automatic transfers for savings, investments, and bill payments to streamline financial management and avoid missed opportunities.

By incorporating these strategies into your financial routine, you can build a solid foundation of knowledge and make informed decisions that pave the way to financial success.

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4 mins read

5 Ways to Avoid Getting Scammed on Your Way to Riches

The digital age has created great ways to make money, but it has also led to many scams and fraudulent schemes that can hurt our finances. In 2023, Americans reported losing a record-breaking $8.8 billion to scams, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

This is a staggering increase from 2020, when consumers lost $3.3 billion to fraud. With more and more scams happening, it is more important than ever to protect yourself.

In this article, we will discuss five essential ways to safeguard your financial interests and avoid falling victim to scams that promise quick riches.

Be skeptical of any investment that promises high returns with low risk

Scammers often prey on the desire for quick wealth by dangling enticing promises of high returns with little to no risk. However, remember the fundamental principle of investing: risk and reward are inherently linked. Any investment that seems too good to be true should raise immediate red flags. Exercise caution and thoroughly evaluate the credibility of any investment that boasts extraordinary returns while downplaying associated risks.

Do your research before investing in anything

Before committing your hard-earned money, embark on a comprehensive research journey. Explore the company or investment opportunity meticulously. if possible, read reviews and testimonials from other investors. Additionally, consult reliable sources such as government regulators or financial authorities to ascertain the legitimacy of the investment. Reputable companies and opportunities should be registered or licensed, and this information can often be verified through official channels.

Beware of unsolicited offers

Legitimate investment firms typically don’t resort to cold-calling or unsolicited offers. If someone contacts you out of the blue with an investment opportunity, proceed with extreme caution. Take the time to independently verify the identity and credibility of the person or organization making the offer. Scammers often rely on surprise tactics to pressure individuals into making hasty decisions, so always be skeptical when you receive unexpected investment proposals.

Avoid untraceable payment methods

Scammers favor payment methods that are difficult or impossible to trace, such as cash, wire transfers, or gift cards. If you’re asked to pay for a financial product or service using these methods, treat it as a glaring red flag. Legitimate financial transactions should be transparent and traceable. Using these untraceable methods exposes you to the risk of losing your money with no recourse for recovery. Always choose secure, traceable payment methods when dealing with financial matters.

Trust your instincts and don’t succumb to pressure

Your gut feeling is a powerful tool when it comes to financial decisions. If something about an investment opportunity doesn’t sit right with you, trust your instincts. Scammers often employ aggressive sales tactics, attempting to pressure you into making quick decisions. Don’t be swayed by high-pressure tactics or promises of limited-time opportunities. Take your time to evaluate the investment and consult with trusted financial advisors or family members. It’s better to miss out on an opportunity than to rush into a scam that could lead to substantial financial losses.


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4 mins read

10 Proven Strategies for Building Wealth and Achieving Financial Independence

Building wealth and achieving financial independence are two of the most important goals that anyone can set for themselves.

Whether you’re just starting out in your career or you’re well into your working years, there are a variety of strategies that you can use to build wealth and secure your financial future.

Here are 10 proven strategies for building wealth and achieving financial independence:

1. Start by setting clear financial goals

Before you can start building wealth, you need to know exactly what you’re working towards. Whether you want to save for a down payment on a house, build an emergency fund, or retire early, setting clear financial goals will help you stay focused and motivated.

2. Create a budget and stick to it

One of the most important steps in building wealth is learning to live within your means. By creating a budget and sticking to it, you’ll be able to save more money and invest more of your income.

3. Invest in your education and career

Investing in your education and career is one of the best ways to increase your earning potential over the long term. Whether you’re pursuing a higher degree or taking a class to develop a new skill, investing in yourself is an important step towards building wealth.

4. Start saving and investing early

The earlier you start saving and investing, the more time your money has to grow. Even small amounts of money invested early can grow into substantial sums over time.

5. Diversify your investments

Diversifying your investments is one of the most important steps you can take to minimize risk and maximize returns. By spreading your money across a variety of different investments, you can reduce the impact of any one investment that may not perform well.

6. Take advantage of tax-advantaged accounts

Tax-advantaged accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs can help you save money on taxes and grow your wealth more quickly. Be sure to take full advantage of these accounts and contribute as much as you can.

7. Be mindful of fees and expenses

High fees and expenses can eat away at your returns over time. Be mindful of the fees and expenses associated with your investments and try to minimize them as much as possible.

8. Stay informed and keep learning

Building wealth is an ongoing process that requires a commitment to learning and staying informed about the markets and the economy. Stay informed by reading financial news and books, and consulting with financial experts.

9. Take calculated risks

Building wealth often involves taking calculated risks. Carefully evaluate the potential risks and rewards of any investment before you make a decision.

10. Stay disciplined

Building wealth is a marathon, not a sprint. Stay disciplined and don’t let short-term setbacks discourage you. Remember, building wealth takes time and patience, but with a solid plan and the right mindset, you can achieve your financial goals.

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5 mins read

The Beginners Guide to Retirement Planning

Are you considering retiring in a few years? If so, you will need to create and follow a solid retirement plan.

Getting ready for retirement usually requires you to have consistent savings and fruitful investments. A retirement plan can help you gather and maintain your finances that you can bank on after you leave the workforce.

If you don’t know where to start with retirement planning or what to expect going forward, keep reading. This article highlights the essentials of retirement planning and how you can efficiently build and manage your retirement money.

When to Start Retirement Planning?

Whether you plan to retire a few years or a few decades from now, the earlier you start planning, the more time your money has to grow. From the beginning of your career, you can try and set aside a portion of your paycheck for your retirement fund.

In the years leading up to retirement, regularly contribute to that fund so that when you finally retire, you have a financial cushion to fall back on. If your employer provides a 401(k) plan, save at least enough to get the maximum possible 401(k) match.

If you don’t start retirement planning right away, don’t worry. It’s never too late to start. Any amount of money you can manage to save from now until retirement is beneficial in the long run.

How Much Should You Save?

This question can be best answered by considering your current financial situation. Take stock of your annual income and expenses and deduce how much you’d need to save to maintain your present lifestyle after retirement. Also, consider the ways in which your current expenses can change around the time of retirement.

For example, if you’re a young parent in their 20s, you will have to save a portion of your income to cater to your child’s educational, medical, and emotional needs. So, you cannot set aside too much money for your future plans.

However, when your children become adults, and you get closer to retirement, you no longer have to worry about saving money for their needs. You can invest more of your income in your retirement then.

Ideally, saving 70% to 90% of your annual pre-retirement income can help you live comfortably during retirement.

Select your retirement investments

Retirement accounts provide access to a range of investments, including stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Determining the right mix of investments depends on how long you have until you need the money and how comfortable you are with risk.

  • Generally, the idea is to invest aggressively when you’re young, and then slowly dial back to a more conservative mix of investments as you approach retirement age. That’s because early on you have a lot of time for your money to weather market fluctuations — a few bad years won’t ruin you, and your nest egg should benefit greatly from the stock market’s history of long-term growth. Investing for retirement evolves alongside you as you change jobs, add to your family tree, endure stock market ups and downs and get closer to your retirement due date.

  • Your investments don’t necessarily require constant babysitting. If you want to manage your retirement savings on your own, you can do it with just a handful of low-cost mutual funds. Those who prefer professional guidance can hire a financial advisor.

Follow a feasible retirement plan that works best for you to ensure a comfortable retirement for yourself and/or your dependents.

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4 mins read

Term vs. Whole Life Insurance: Differences, Pros, and Cons

Term and whole life insurance are two of the oldest types of life insurance and remain among the most popular. Both term and whole life insurance policies enable you to leave a cash benefit for your beneficiaries after you die. Term life insurance is a less expensive insurance policy that has an expiration date. Whereas, whole life insurance costs a little more but lasts for the life of the insured as long as the premiums are paid.

Choosing between term and whole life insurance requires understanding how these two types of life insurance work. Once you know how they work and their benefits and drawbacks, you can develop a strategy and secure life insurance coverage that works for you. Keep reading to learn the difference between term & whole life insurance and their pros and cons.

What Is the Difference Between Term vs Whole Life Insurance?

Term life insurance is one of the most common types of life insurance, providing a death benefit for a specified period of time, typically 10 to 30 years. You’ll pay a set premium for the amount of coverage you want during that time, but if you pass away after the term life policy period expires, your heirs will receive nothing. Term life insurance is also known as pure life insurance because it is simply insurance with no savings or investment component.

The other major type of life insurance is whole life insurance, which is designed to last your entire life, regardless of how old you are when you die. While you may have to pay premiums on your policy for several more years than with term life, your monthly premium amount is fixed at the start of your policy and never changes.

Pros and Cons of Term Life Insurance


  • It is easier to comprehend than “permanent” policies.
  • Term insurance is typically much less expensive than other types of life insurance.
  • It is possible to convert it to permanent coverage.


  • Protection is only available during the policy’s term.
  • Premiums increase upon renewal.
  • The policy cannot be borrowed or cashed in.
  • It cannot be used for wealth accumulation or tax planning strategy.

Pros and Cons of Whole Life Insurance


  • Since it is permanent life insurance, the coverage never expires.
  • You can borrow against your whole life insurance policy to meet future financial needs.
  • Premiums are guaranteed for the rest of your life.
  • Loans, like death benefits, are usually exempt from taxation.
  • Can borrow or cash in on the policy.


  • If you have to cancel the policy within the first few years, you may be charged a surrender fee.
  • Whole life insurance is significantly more expensive than comparable term policies.
  • Your death benefit will be reduced if you have any outstanding loans.

It is a difficult task to choose between term and whole life insurance plans, but make sure that you have some type of life insurance coverage in place sooner rather than later. And besides, life insurance only gets more expensive as you get older.

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4 mins read

Different Ways to Invest in Black Owned Businesses

When it comes to supporting Black-owned businesses, some research is needed to discover which businesses are actually Black-owned.

Luckily, most public companies do not hide who is on their executive board, making the process easy with a little research. Once you have done some research on the businesses you wish to support, there are ways you can go about investing in them.

If you have the desire to invest in Black-owned businesses, read on for a few ways to do so:

Take to the Stock Exchange

One of the easiest ways to support any publicly-owned business is to invest in the company on the stock exchange. Here are a few companies that have either a Black president or CEO, or have majority Black ownership that you can invest in:

  • Global Blood Therapeutics, Inc.
  • RLJ Lodging Trust
  • Urban One, Inc.

Invest in Companies That Financially Support Racial Justice

Supporting companies that have donated money to support racial justice can also be an option in the stock market. Several large companies have done so over the past few years, and supporting them can help them continue to do so. Choosing businesses such as these to get behind can help also grow your own money while showing your support for said business.

The Non-Stock Ways to Support Racial Justice

While taking to the stock exchange can be a great way to support Black-owned businesses and businesses that support racial justice, there are other methods available to investors as well, such as investing in startups or real estate crowdfunding.

You can join platforms such as The 10K Project, a community of everyday investors who actively fund Black-owned businesses.

You can invest in Buy the Block, another crowdfunding platform, for a minimum of $100. Many of the projects listed on Buy the Block are in historic Black neighborhoods or benefit a local community.

No matter what way you decide to invest, make certain you do your research. With investing in startups and real estate crowdfunding there is the risk of losing your entire investment, so it’s best to be careful.

Rethink Your Bank

Why not consider a Black-owned bank, especially if your current bank doesn’t meet all of your banking needs? Not only are you supporting a Black-owned company by using such a bank, but you can also ask them about any initiatives they have for the African American community to further your support.

Larger banks that are not Black-owned might also have community-focused initiatives as well, and it never hurts to ask, especially if you want to support such initiatives.

There are so many ways that you can support Black-owned businesses. Research the business you want to support, and think about how best you can support them, be it through purchasing stocks in the company or taking part in the company’s initiatives.

-Tony O. Lawson

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5 mins read

8 Ways to Intelligently Invest $500

To ensure future financial stability, the best thing for you to do right now is to intelligently invest your money into profitable avenues.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to have thousands of dollars at your disposal to begin investing. With just $500, you can start investing and accumulating real, long-term wealth.

Keep reading to know how you can effectively invest your $500.

1.   Purchase a Certificate of Deposit

If you want to save for a short-term goal, certificates of deposit are a great way to invest your money. They’re safe to invest in as you get a guaranteed return on your investment, irrespective of the economy’s status. Interest paid on your certificate of deposit will be based on the initial deposit agreement you made and not market conditions.

2.   Start a Side Business

If your day job isn’t too demanding or you’d like to do something productive on the weekends, you could start a side business. Doing so will not only give you extra income but can also help you hone any other skills you have. You can buy items for cheap and flip them for profit, freelance as a content writer or graphic designer, sell second-hand goods on eBay or Craigslist, or open an e-commerce store.

3.   Pay Down Your Debt

With $500, you can pay down your debt and save thousands of dollars in interest. Getting rid of your debt as quickly as possible means that you won’t have to pay exorbitant interests to your creditors.

4.   Equity Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding refers to raising money from the public to finance a new business venture. In equity crowdfunding, public investors get a proportionate slice of equity in the business in exchange for their investment. Do some research and invest your $500 in a business that you think will provide lucrative returns.

5.   Set Up a Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRIP)

Purchase dividend-paying stocks and invest them into buying more stocks. Over time, you will begin to accumulate more money through these reinvestments. Your stock can also increase in value over time and boost your overall net worth.

6.   Use Robo-Advisors

Robo-advisors are automated investing platforms that manage your investments. Many financial institutions let you invest through Robo-advisors. When you sign up for one, you will have to answer questions regarding your finances. Based on your answers, the platform creates an investment portfolio tailored to your needs. When you don’t have too much money, Robo-advisors are a great way to get started on investing.

7.   Contribute to a 401(k) or IRA

Contribute your $500 to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, like a 401(k). Make it your goal to maximize your employer’s match to accumulate more money. Talk to the HR personnel in your company to see if you can make a one-time deposit of $500.

You can also invest your money by opening a Roth IRA (Individual Retirement Account), a retirement savings plan that allows you to contribute after-tax money to your investment account.

8.   Buy Savings Bonds

If you’re a prudent investor, purchasing savings bonds is a great way to invest your $500. Bonds are low-risk investments, which means that the return on investment you receive from them will be lesser than your returns on stocks. Usually, you purchase a bond at face value and receive the principal amount plus interest at the time of its redemption.

Investing isn’t as confusing or overwhelming as it seems on the outside. It doesn’t always take too much time, effort, and money. If you still have misgivings about investing your money, talk to a financial expert and ask them for professional guidance.


***Important: Please do as much research as you can beforehand before making any investments.***


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4 mins read

6 Ways To Increase Your Income Using The Internet

A growing number of people are looking for ways to make more money online. Some of them are doing side gigs to make some extra money, while others are starting internet businesses that become their full-time occupation.

increase your income

Ways to increase your income online:

1. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a relatively easy and low-cost way to earn money online. You don’t have to have your own products or services to sell; affiliate marketing allows you to earn commissions from big corporations.

You advertise a company’s products or services on your website/blog or social media account, including links to the company’s offerings. Such affiliate tracking links ensure that you are credited for bringing a paying customer to the company’s website, and you are compensated with a percentage of the sale.

2. Online Freelancer Work

As a freelancer, you can offer skills-based services you are capable of providing remotely such as copy editing, graphic design, or IT support. If you can find enough gigs to support yourself, you can become a full-time freelancer. Alternatively, you can do occasional jobs to supplement the income from your main job.

3. Get Paid to Take Surveys

You can earn some money by taking online surveys, but don’t expect to roll in the cash. Survey sites rarely offer big payoffs, and most are more useful for earning gift cards than cash.  Swagbucks and Survey Junkie are two of the more popular survey sites.

4. Provide Online Courses

Online courses generate income once they’ve been created and are made available online. If you have a knack for teaching and a set of skills you’d like to share, consider creating online courses as a way to earn additional income.

It is important to know a particular subject area, but it is equally crucial to have the ability to engage students in your videos. If you are unable to keep their attention, they will not return for more classes.

5. Build Your Own E-Commerce Site

An e-commerce website is another way to earn money online, but it may require a bit more effort on your part. You would sell products from your website, either your own creations or those that are available commercially.

In the latter case, drop-shipping is the most popular and hassle-free method of fulfilling orders. You obtain the customers and take their orders, but a third-party stores and ships the products for you.

6. Publishing Online

Regardless of your current job, publishing nonfiction e-books is a great way to establish yourself as an authority in your field while also earning passive income. You don’t have to do anything after you’ve written and published the book to earn money from it.

Additionally, publishing your novel as an e-book—especially if it’s in a popular genre like romance, science fiction, fantasy, or mystery—has the potential to reach thousands of readers.

To make the most of these opportunities, you’ll have to stand out from the crowd and persuade customers that you’re the right person to work with or buy from.

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5 mins read

5 Money Myths That Could Be Preventing You From Building Wealth

They say money can’t buy you happiness—and to a certain extent, that’s true. But poverty doesn’t bring happiness either, does it?

Let’s face it, there are a ton of money myths out there parading around as truth. But the real truth is that most of these myths are keeping hardworking people broke!

The Internet can be filled with financial “tips” that are more myth than fact. You must validate financial tips you find on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Reddit, or Facebook by doing your own research and speaking to a professional.

But don’t worry, to get you started, we’ve compiled a list below to call out “truths” as myths.

1) I can start saving later.

Savings is only for the rich, right? Well, not if you want to stop living paycheck to paycheck. Nearly one-quarter of Americans fail to save money every month.

However, the key to saving is to save the right thing. The rate of inflation reduces the purchasing power of your money but also increases the value of your assets, such as real estate or stocks. Rather than saving for the sake of saving, invest your hard-earned cash in assets that will pay you and keep pace with inflation.

2) All debt is bad debt.

This is one of the biggest myths of all. Having an outstanding balance on your credit card or a high-interest loan can cost significantly more than the sum you originally borrowed. However, not all debt is the same.

It is possible to acquire “good debt”—debt with a low-interest rate that builds wealth over time. Good debt will provide future value, like a mortgage or student loans.

But you must avoid overextending yourself, even with good debt: It can become a problem if you cannot afford the payments. The amount of debt you have will play a significant role in determining your credit score, which is used by lenders to assess your credit risk. The higher the score, the better the terms, which saves you money on interest.

3) You’re throwing away money by renting.

A house can be a good investment as equity will be built over time. However, becoming a homeowner is not always financially feasible because it requires you to pay the mortgage, property taxes, homeowners insurance, maintenance, and repairs—not to mention the upfront costs of buying a home.

If you are only planning on living in an area for a few years, renting could make more sense financially. It can also be a great way to save a lot of cash if you live below your means.

4) Credit cards should be avoided.

Credit cards are convenient, but they can easily become a burden if you’re not careful. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one.

As long as you pay off your card balance in full each month to avoid interest, making purchases with credit can be worthwhile. In addition to being a great way to redeem points for cash, travel, electronics, or investing, it can also help increase your credit score, making it easier to buy a car or house in the future, with a lower interest rate.

5) You’ll spend less money during retirement.

Many people make the mistake of assuming they have plenty of time to save for retirement. In reality, it approaches faster than you think. And for some, their retirement lifestyle could be even more expensive than their working years.

Retirement looks different for everyone. For some, it may be a time for leisure and traveling. For others, it offers the chance to pursue a second career they’ve always dreamed of. Maybe you just want to leave a legacy for future generations of your family. No matter what it is, you can do it!


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3 mins read

5 Signs That You’re Smart With Money

Since you most likely work hard for your money, it’s important that you are also smart with money in order to hold on to it and put it to work so that it helps you achieve your financial goals.

Here are some signs that you are smart with money.

You Have a Budget

If you are smart with money, you have a plan written down to decide how you will spend your money each month. You know that without a plan, you might run out of money before your next paycheck or before your next invoice is paid.

Over the long term, those who budget effectively will have manageable debt, room to indulge occasionally, and savings to pay irregular or unexpected expenses and retire comfortably.

You Keep Your Financial Goals in Mind

People who are smart with money have short-term, midterm, and long-term financial goals. These goals may range from paying off a credit card to retire by a certain age or saving enough to start a business. Whatever your goals are, if you’ve always got them in mind, it’s easier to ignore unnecessary expenses like impulse purchases that may take you off your path.

You Leverage Credit Wisely

There are many ways to leverage credit to create wealth. However, wealth creation via credit only occurs when the item purchased is an asset that puts money in your account on a regular basis, and continues to gain value that exceeds the interest you are paying on it.

You Avoid Unnecessary Fees

Although fees related to banking and financial services are almost impossible to avoid, there are some that you should never have to pay. Being smart with your money means understanding the financial products you are using.

With your bank, you avoid being charged unnecessary monthly fees and fees for insufficient funds or bounced payments. With your credit card, you avoid paying late fees. Even with services such as PayPal, you use the free “family and friends” option to avoid their transaction fee.

You Shop for Necessities with a Plan

Raise your hand if you have ever walked into a store for a few items and walked out with three times as much as you originally planned to get. I’ve been there too. Failing to plan means planning to fail. That’s why I now create a list beforehand and stick to it (most of the time).  Whether you are shopping for your home or your business,  it’s smart to do so with a list that has your budget in mind.


Tony O. Lawson

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