Category Archives: Featured

How to Build Real and Sustainable Habits For Health, Wellness and Finance in 2019

When people tell me that 2019 is going to be their year, I have to laugh and roll my eyes. Isn’t that what everyone says? When I think seriously about how 2019 will be different, I ask myself these questions, “what did you do last year and why was it not a good year for you? What will actually be different about this year? Are you not happy with yourself? Could you be better? Are you actually going to change?”

Personally, I try to maintain a level of discipline in certain areas of my life. Over the past couple of years, I have remained focused on my goals despite circumstances changing and other challenges I face daily. Yes, each year is different, each year has a different mix of people surrounding you or different locations, but the common denominator is always the same. You. Knowing I only have control of myself in life and the choices I make, I approach resolutions in a slightly more strategic way. Before the year begins, I will set an expectation of exactly how I want to finish the year; a vision that I can revisit whenever I want to. This vision will be within the realm of possibility, but will require specific behaviors and routine changes to achieve. These routines become the foundation for the resolutions I set. They will be purposeful, actionable and measurable. I like to, as they say, “beat the market” year after year. The market being a normal progressive way of life. Whether my goal is to make more money, travel to new places, meet new people or upgrade my quality of life, I am always striving to improve.

The main way I work to ‘beat the market’ and improve my life is through altering my habits each month. Building positive habits throughout the year is a great way to make sure you ultimately achieve personal growth and embody the vision you had for yourself at the start of the year. Even small changes to your daily routine can have tremendous effects and snowball to improve other areas of your life.

Every year we all make resolutions and try to “stick to them.” But the reality of the matter is carrying out these resolutions can be daunting and feel impractical. but my method is much more sustainable for me. I try and make it into a game. So instead of making 1-2 resolutions at the start of the year, I will make 3-4 mini goals/resolutions at the start of each month and focus only on those habits/goals for the 30 days. This is a way of tricking my brain to build a strong new habit and become a better person. Grooming myself to be better and hold myself to a higher standard. I read the book the “Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg and it takes 21 days to build a habit so 30 seemed right on par.

Instead of setting a vague resolution, for example, “get fit in 2019,” a better goal would be to specify and implement three new habits that would help to make you more fit. For example, set your alarm a half hour earlier in the mornings, drink 8 glasses of water every single day, and do (3) 1-minute planks every night. Some of the goals can be more focused toward self improvement as well. Its a collection of little things that make big changes in your life. If you can make them attainable and more specific the better. Here are some examples from my first three months.

January:

  • Only 1-cup of coffee per work day (black, no sugar, or milk)
  • Finish every shower by turning the nozzle to pool temp (supposedly much better for your body, it gets easier every day I promise)
  • Read 10 pages every day.

*It’s march and I already drink much less coffee and don’t even mind that it’s black with nothing added, I feel much healthier. Showers are cold in the winter but I barely mind it now. I read every single day much more than 10 pages a day, it’s an ingrained habit now.

February:

  • Make my bed every single day
  • Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning
  • Complete 100 calf-raises every night while I brush my teeth
  • Eat a vegetable every single day

Some month-long habits I plan to implement this year:

  • Give up “candy” for 30 days
  • “Pool temp” showers every day for a month
  • 8 glasses of water every day for 30 days
  • Pack lunch for 30 days instead of buying lunch
  • Make bed every day (psychologically, a groundbreaking feat for your day)
  • Lay your clothes out every night for the next day
  • Give away thirty pieces of clothing, one article for every day of the month
  • “No spend days.” These are days where you spend “zero” money during the day, no cash purchases and no charges to the credit card. See how many you can get a month.
  • Meal prep for 30 days
  • Take a vitamin every day, especially those that you are lacking in. I take Vitamin D every single day.
  • Get in bed by 10:30p on weekdays, 1-2a on weekends.
  • No alcohol for 30 days, or you can do “no beer”
  • Be active every day for 30 days jog/bike/gym
  • Communicate with someone from your past, 30 different people in 30 days
  • Track your finances for 30 days, income and expenses every single day. (I’ve been doing this for almost three years)
  • Not going shopping for 30 days
  • Stay below or above a certain weight for 30 days
  • Keep your room/house at an acceptable standard of clean for 30 days.
  • No TV for 30 days
  • Follow the stock/real estate market for 30 days

Many of these small habits, can develop into lasting, Keystone habits. Keystone habits provde the foundation for how you live your life and provide a stable foundation for building and adding new habits. The best way to make big changes your life is to make small changes. It’s been about three months since I’ve started doing these new, mini habits and I have already started to notice my life changing a positive changes. I hope this post will inspire you to take action with your own life and get the results you really want. Best of luck!

7 Financial Lessons from Ancient Babylon

I just finished reading the book, the Richest Man in Babylon. This is a short book of probably 150 pages in a decent sized font. The book was written by a college professor in the 1800’s, it was all about stories translated from texts of the ancient city of Babylon. The most interesting take away from the book is that the stories, even though they were written 100s of years ago, are still relevant to many of the financial issues that we as people, millennials especially, continue to face today. The book is about a man named Arkad, who was the richest man in Babylon, even richer than the King. The King sought to find the reasons as to why he was so independently wealthy, so he invited him in for an interview to understand what he learned. In this passage, I will cover some of the lessons and issues they brought up, and show you how they are still relevant today.

Lesson One: ‘Fatten Thy Purse’

One of the first lessons of the book and I believe is the most important is to pay yourself first. How can you expect to be a wealthy man if you do not have any priority of savings in your life? If a man receives 10 pieces of gold a year he is to keep at least 1 of them for himself and adjust his expenses accordingly. We can utilize this same method today by using an extremely powerful financial tool called the 401k or 403B. You can adjust this amount to come right out of your paycheck, Pre-tax or Roth, so the savings are out of sight and out of mind. Trust me, after a while you won’t even realize this money is affecting you because you will naturally adjust your expenses to what you can afford based on the lesser amount. Now what you have to be careful of is the credit card trap. With lines of credit, you still need to save 10% of your wealth but you cannot overspend on credit so that your net worth becomes meaningless.

Lesson Two: ‘Control Thy Expenditures’

This means if you are always buying the best most delicious food, the nicest robes and the finest horses you will have no money left over for creating wealth. What this translates into is if you are buying the latest Apple products, the newest Gucci loafers, always going on vacations or living above your means in a luxury apartment you are not saving because you are spending. The money is going into your pockets then leaving immediately. One of the biggest lessons of the rich is the concept of ‘frugality’. This goes along with another lesson that being wealthy is as simple as spending less than you make. A very simple concept but hard to put into action with the distractions that life throws at us these days. Advertising and credit cards make spending the easiest thing in the world.

Lesson Three: ‘Make Thy Gold Multiply’

The story goes on to give the laws of gold. This would be to put the savings you have(the 10%) into action by investing in smart investments to earn more money. He talks about them as your children and they will have children and multiply. This will make you a very rich man. These investments could be investing in a jeweler, traveler, salesmen, sword makers and in return set up a profit structure to get paid a return plus a rental of money fee also known as interest in this day and age. Today we can invest in things such as real estate, bonds, stocks, funds, gold, commodities etc.

Lesson Four: ‘Guard Thy Treasure from Loss’

Just as Warren Buffet put it, the name of the game is, “never lose money.” Whether that is safeguarding your smart investments, minimizing risk, adding “stop losses” to your trading account, or “protecting your pouch of silver from thieves and foreign armies.”

Lesson Five: ‘Invest in Your Dwelling’

Owning real estate is a great way to build equity and wealth where you live. Every mortgage payment is a way of paying yourself first so that one day you can refinance or sell the property for its future value. This also works well if you live in the property. The value will increase as well as paying down the debt.

Lesson Six: ‘Insure a Future Income’

One of the worries the ancients of Babylon had was that when they get old and tired they will not be able to work as hard and provide for their family. They can mitigate this by ensuring future income when they are older. Making part of your investments long term will help with this. Something we can do in this day in age I invest in long term funds or bonds that we will be able to sell when we retire and live off of the sale of the assets. Or a long term real estate holdings as an investment property. Either way, you want to be prepared for when you are no longer able to work effectively and provide for either yourself or loved ones.

Lesson Seven:  ‘Increase Thy Ability to Earn’

Once you have mastered the other lessons it is essential that you increase your wage as to multiply the lessons and become richer. Everyone has something that they are good at and the point is to find that skills and act on it to increase wealth for something that pays the most. If you have a job you need to figure out how to outperform as to get promoted or if you are a business owner how can you increase sales or product lines to bump up your income.

It is crazy to think that these lessons are still relevant in this day and age. When Babylon was uncovered from the sand, archeologists found ancient rock texts with these parables. You see them today to build your wealth as the ancients did in civilizations a long long time ago.

Reference:

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/249179


Want A Raise? Start looking at your Diet!

Eating vegetables and eating healthier is similar to getting a raise! I cut my grocery bill in half, while also still being incredibly healthy. Sometimes you can be incredibly frugal in your life by looking at some of your mindless purchases that you make at the supermarket.

What I’ve have been realizing more and more since I turned 28 is the fact that we as humans do not need a whole lot to survive. When you are a millennial living in a big city, you have an endless amount of things surrounding you that influence every thought. Whether it’s the things that your friends are doing or buying to what you should be eating when you go grocery shopping or how you should be eating whether its ordering seamless or following your co-workers to an expensive salad place for lunch. One of my goals for 2019 or resolutions was to not eat any lunch out during the work-week. In order to do this I was going to have to take my diet a lot more serious and learn how to cook a wide variety of things to sustain a healthy and low cost budget. We all have goals in life, why let expensive food get in the way of those goals.

The first things that i realized is that cooking is work. Whether its learning how to cook perfect rice, learning what foods go together and getting your timing down so all the food is ready around the same time. If you want to be good at something you are going to have to try and fail and keep trying. I almost always have a base of rice, farrow, lentils or my favorite “chickpea Pasta”. In terms of saving money Dave Ramsey always advocates for the “rice and beans diet” They are full of protein and will fill you up. The best part is that you can get a lot of basic food for a cheap price.

The second thing that I do is add a small amount of meat, turkey, pork, chicken or ground beef. Then the third part is to add a huge mix of cooked vegetables that I buy raw. Simply raw vegetables are some of the cheapest foods you can buy at the grocery store usually coming in around $1-3/lb. These are also the foods that are going to be the best for you. If you can make a couple meals at one time and spread them out during the week you can save a whole lot of money on food and living expenses.

After reading the book “how not to die” I realized the simple truth that a lot of the healthiest foods you can buy are also the cheapest. I started eating onions, zucchinis, kale, beets, Carrots and potatoes and my overall grocery bill went down significantly. At first last year I was paying $600/ month on food and groceries (Manhattan) after really trying to work my diet I got that bill down to $200-$250/month. This took a lot of practice meal prepping and being very disciplined. With how many options there are in NYC it’s easy to grab some quick hot food or hit up the local Duane Reade.  

List of Some of the cheapest Vegetables as well as some of the healthiest choices that i incorporate into my personal diet every week.

  • Lentils
  • Kale
  • Beets
  • Canned beans Pinto/Black
  • Chickpea Pasta
  • Bananas
  • Potatoes
  • Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Farro

Another tip: Water, Drink tons of water. It is the best liquid you can drink and will help replenish your body when it is thirsty. I was buying 2 cartons of almond milk (lactose intolerant) and it was costing me a fortune. One day I just stopped buying it and just drank water instead. I started feeling better and was saving $9 a week. After a few weeks I started noticing a drastic difference, my meals were averaging $4 a meal compared to a $15/work lunch and a $10 dinner. I was able to start saving loads of money from my paychecks, and in-turn investing more.

Everything You Need to Know About Cryptocurrency Regulation

Originally posted on UpCounsel by Gary Ross.

The meteoric rise of cryptocurrencies has taken the world by storm. Innovators, investors, users, and governments are scrambling to wrap their heads around cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology that they rely upon. The emergence of a new market and business model has created great opportunities for participants, but it also carries significant risk.

Cryptocurrencies present an inherently unique challenge to governments because of their new technology, cross-jurisdictional nature, and frequent lack of transparency. Governments are struggling to develop new ways to regulate cryptocurrencies, adapt existing regulations, and identify fraudulent schemes. Cryptocurrencies and their regulations are evolving before our eyes, and this article will provide a brief background on cryptocurrencies and an overview of where cryptocurrency regulations currently.

What are cryptocurrencies?

Cryptocurrency is, by any other name, a currency—a medium of exchange used to purchase goods and services. Or, as some have suggested, cryptocurrency is a “peer-to-peer version of electronic cash.” However, this currency has two qualities that distinguish it from traditional bills and coins.

First, cryptocurrency is a virtual currency that is created through cryptography (i.e. coding) and developed by mathematical formulas through a process called hashing. Second, unlike traditional bills and coins that are printed and minted by governments around the world, cryptocurrency is not tied to any one government, and thus is not secured by any government entity. The fact that cryptocurrencies are not secured by a government authority has led to concerns from critics that this is the second coming of Tulipmania, because we are ascribing value to an otherwise valueless item. However, the potential for cryptocurrencies as a medium of exchange remains enormous.

What is blockchain?

Blockchain is the technology at the heart of most cryptocurrencies, and explaining the technology in detail would require a blog post of its own. What is important to know is that blockchain is a record of peer-to-peer transactions categorized into blocks on a distributed ledger. Despite the obtuse terminology, blockchain functions similarly to a local bank authorizing and recording a transaction, but instead of only one party holding the entire ledger book, the transactions are recorded communally by member nodes, with each node being a computer in a peer-to-peer distributed network.

The blockchain can confirm a transaction within minutes, removing errors that exist when trying to reconcile and audit separate ledgers and transactions. Whenever a transaction takes place, the miners on the blockchain develop a new hash and digital signature to update the ledger and create a new “block.” This block, or recorded transaction, is time-stamped and encrypted and will remain on the blockchain for life.

Regulation in the US – Utility Tokens v. Investment Tokens

In the United States, there has been no federal regulation of cryptocurrencies. Instead, cryptocurrencies are often grouped into two non-binding categories: (1) investment tokens that fall under the purview of already existing U.S. securities laws like the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and (2) utility tokens, which remain largely unregulated (for now).

Security Tokens

Whether the tokens being offered in connection with a particular cryptocurrency are security tokens is decided on a case-by-case basis that even experienced securities lawyers can disagree upon. Tokens are usually analyzed under the four-part Howey Test below to see if the token is in fact a security. Securities must meet the following criteria:

  1. An ​investment of money
  2. in a ​common enterprise
  3. with an ​expectation of profits
  4. predominantly from the efforts of others

Each characteristic of the token is analyzed against this framework to see if the cryptocurrency is in reality functioning as a new-age security. If it is, then regulators treat it as such, and cryptocurrencies must then be registered and handled with all of the same disclosures and precautions as any other security sold in the United States or to U.S. investors.

 

Utility Tokens

Cryptocurrencies can also be categorized as non-security utility tokens. These tokens purport to offer intrinsic utility and value, and are typically instrumental in powering the blockchain technology. These tokens function more like commodities than securities, and while they may act like currency in a fully functional network, they also have other values.

However, having a utility token with a properly formed and functioning network does not preclude said token from being labeled a security by the SEC. In In the Matter of Munchee, Inc., a purported utility token with a non-functioning network was labeled a security by the SEC. While labeling a token without a functioning network as a security – as it has no present utility – is not unexpected, the SEC also concluded that: “even if [Munchee] tokens had a practical use at the time of the offering, it would not preclude the token from being a security.”

After analyzing the Munchee Tokens under the Howey test, the SEC concluded that they were investment contracts because purchasers of the tokens had an expectation of profits predominantly from the efforts of Munchee and its staff. The SEC further concluded that Munchee had primed such expectations through its marketing efforts.

While this new case does not eliminate the distinction between utility and security tokens, it does caution that, when deciding whether a given token is a security, the SEC will look beyond utility at the character of the instrument, and base their conclusion based on the terms of the offer, the plan of distribution, and the economic inducements held out by the token issuer.

State Regulation

So far only the state of New York has issued any kind of regulation specifically regarding cryptocurrencies: the BitLicense. The BitLicense is New York’s attempt to control cryptocurrencies within its borders by requiring cryptocurrency businesses to register and comply with several different disclosure and financial obligations. The regulation has been divisive, and many businesses have rallied against its high costs. While a few companies have applied for and received the license, most other companies have simply left the state or stopped offering services to its residents.

Regulation Abroad – The Ever-Shifting Jurisdictional Question

The United States is not the only country grappling with how best to regulate cryptocurrencies. Many cryptocurrency businesses face daunting questions regarding in which jurisdictions to form and to do business in. In the end, the question is quite difficult and fact-specific, requiring communication between legal counsel in different jurisdictions and taking into account nebulous and piecemeal country-by-country regulations. It is impossible to do a detailed analysis without knowing how a country’s existing securities laws, financial regulations, and banking regulations will operate (or will be adapted to operate) with cryptocurrencies. The fact that cryptocurrency-specific regulations are still developing does little to add clarity, and makes the analysis even more challenging. Yet a few global trends are noticeable:

Suspending Cryptocurrencies

Some notable countries, like China, and South Korea, have suspended cryptocurrencies. These countries have cited the risk of fraud and the lack of adequate oversight in suspending cryptocurrencies and their exchanges, forcing cryptocurrency companies and exchanges to relocate.

 

Regulating Cryptocurrencies

Other countries, like Japan and Australia, have adopted disclosure and regulatory measures, or have companies register with the applicable government authority. Several countries have also tried to implement disclosure or registration regulatory regimes when it comes to cryptocurrencies, but such regimes are cumbersome and expensive to fledging companies.

Cryptocurrencies as Commodities

On the other hand, Switzerland and Singapore, two of the countries at the forefront of the cryptocurrency market, have simply stated that cryptocurrencies are assets not currency, and that they will treat them as such under existing regulations.

Conclusion

Ultimately, cryptocurrency regulation remains in its infancy. Piecemeal regulation has already begun around the world as governments enact new regulations to control and legitimize cryptocurrencies, fold cryptocurrencies into existing regulations, or ban them outright. These splintered attempts at controlling a global phenomenon will keep the cryptocurrency market volatile, and pose a challenge to innovators, investors, and users. They will continue to work in the cryptocurrency space while pushing for legislation and regulation that will remove ambiguity and legitimize cryptocurrencies. At the same time, they must grapple with the possibility that new regulations may be confusing, detrimental, or have negative inadvertent effects.

Don’t Sleep – Robinhood Adding Crypto to Their Popular Mobile App Platform

Robinhood is a mobile stock market trading app. It has gained wide popularity because it allows you to buy and sell stocks and securities for no fees. The platform will soon allow stocks, options, ETFs and cryptocurrencies. I have owned this app, which required me to be on a waiting list for a long time for over two years now, and I am very happy with the integration and progression of the company. The app has a very simple and stylish design with 4 colors total and is completely mobile. A desktop version is coming soon.

1_ER7YBE3138afGPNmfkeRRw

The mobile app has just announced that they will be adding Cryptocurrencies in their new ad “Don’t Sleep” relating to the fact that currencies especially cryptocurrencies trade on a 24/7 global market around the world. This is very different from the American market which runs from 9:30a to 4:00p. According to news outlets and their site they will allow users to track 16 of the top cryptocurrencies and they will allow you to trade the top two “bitcoin” and “Ethereum”. This is largely due to the recent craze among these investment vehicles and gaining popularity around the world. It seems like these days, mobile companies are trying to capitalize and keep up with the times. They will still allow trading to be commission free even on the new cryptocurrencies. This is interesting because lately Bitcoin has been having issues with its high transfer fees and transfer speeds.

DQmSdSh23GzGePEJFHc69ADtZS7wXaMctKmTzGzEue1E3wX

The Sixteen Currencies that you can track include: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, XRP, Ethereum Classic, Zcash, Monero, Dash, Stellar, Qtum, Bitcoin Gold, OmiseGo, NEO, Lisk, and Dogecoin. This implementation will begin in February 2018. Stay Tuned.

 

Sources:

http://blog.robinhood.com/news/2018/1/24/dont-sleep

 

 

NEO, Also Known as the “Chinese Ethereum”, has a Future that is Looking Bright

NEO, or the Chinese Ethereum, is a coin that many investors and developers have their eyes on. NEO is considered the Chinese Ethereum because its “ first decentralized, open-source cryptocurrency and blockchain platform launched in China.” With it moving up as the ninth largest market cap with $9,871,550,000, it has a circulating supply of 65,000,000 and has a total supply of 100,000,000. As of January 18th, it has a value of 151.72.

Many developers and investors have bought into the coin because of the potential the coin carries. The goal of NEO is to use a combination of digital assets, digital identity, and smart contracts to create a smart economy. The idea of digital assets, identities and contracts are to take data and digitize it. Digital assets is an idea of protecting the assets one has possession of. Through smart contracts, a record of possession can be recorded and added to the blockchain allowing for decentralization of the asset. NEO wants to do this by taking assets and turn them digital. Digital identity is an idea of taking your personal information from passports to medical records all onto the NEO blockchain, so it’s all in the same location. This allows for a person to easily retrieve the data, through a various different ways like facial recognition, fingerprints, voice recognition, and SMS, in the same place. There is no confusion of misplacing data and information. The creation of digital assets and digital identities are done by smart contracts.

Screen Shot 2018-01-23 at 10.36.53 PM

In 2018, NEO is going to have a good year. NEO is an underrated cryptocurrency that has a good team of developers being the coin. 2018 should be a good year for the top 10 coin because there are already a number of ICO’s ready to launch in China using the coin’s platform technology. Neo also uses POS (Proof of stake technology and when a coin is staked it produces the underlying GAS coin which powers the blockchains. GAS has also been doing incredibly well in the markets with a lot of upward momentum at the end of 2017 and early 2018. You can look at GAS as sort of a dividend or reward from staking the coins and verifying transactions on the NEO blockchain. NEO Hit a high of around $160 and has recently pulled back to the $120 region. We could very well see NEO follow a similar trajectory of Ethereum because of the similarities of the platform and smart contract capabilities.

South Korea Halting All the Crypto-Fun.

December started with a new peak in most of the top 10 cryptocurrencies; however, January is starting with low numbers that people haven’t seen since November. Bitcoin is below $10,000, Ethereum is below $1,000 and Litecoin is below $200. Not only are the major players being affected, but altcoins are also seeing a hit. Many believe that this is the “crash” everyone has been expecting, but this isn’t. This decrease is due to the nature of fear many users and investors are having with government regulation. Especially in South Korea. South Korea has a major role in cryptocurrencies because of the amount of trading that is done in that region. With so much control over the market, one negative move that restricts cryptocurrencies caused a large effect across countries because of the global nature of the technology.

shutterstock_188428388-825x510

What South Korea is unsure of this new technology and the cryptocurrency uproar. Many young people are under a lot of pressure due to job supply and demand, so people are looking to make money on the side, people are also investing a lot of money and savings into the currencies and the government doesn’t want its people to get burned in the market because of a bubble. They want to regulate cryptocurrencies and decide how they want to proceed. Cryptocurrencies are being a larger and larger part of the future and South Korea is trying to figure out how to restrict them because of their lack of centralization; however, the same reason that South Korea wants to ban it is what makes it very hard to control. Since there is no one in control besides the blockchain, no one has control over it. This is leading to South Korea making very tight restrictions to avoid potential problems with scams, ICOs, bubble, etc. And therefore the buying of cryptocurrencies in South Korea has halted. And with any good free market supply and demand, the less people buying, the lower the price is going to be. In the end, the market is taking a hit.

This decrease trend is soon going to have a turn around and head in the other direction. South Korea is going to figure out the best ways to restrict cryptocurrencies and the market is going to rebound. If this doesn’t happen, China and the United States will take the market in their own hands and the market will soon be controlled by them, leading to a more stable market. These are just very uncertain times, especially with this new technology. It was a rough few days but things look like they are heading back up.