How to be the top 10% no matter what you do

How to be the top 10% no matter what you do

What Does It Take to Be in the Top 1 Percent? Not As Much As You Think

When you think of the top 1% of all income earners in American households, how much do you think this group rakes in? Millions? Tens of millions? What about the top 10%?

On the contrary, to be considered in the top 1 percent of taxpayers nationally, you’d need an annual income of $480,930. The top 10% of taxpayers make at least $138,031. These figures are based on 2015 income tax data, the most recent year available.

This income level varies widely by both state and city. In San Jose, California, the top 1% income threshold is close to $1.2 million, almost double the level for Los Angeles. As seen in the chart below, the spread is fairly wide between the top 10 most populous cities in the U.S. In San Antonio, Texas – home to U.S. Global Investors – you’d need to make $416,614 annually to be considered in the top 1%, slightly below the national threshold of top 1 percenters.

Top 1 Percent Income Level Varies Greatly By Location

U.S. Global Investors

Earning enough income to be in the top 1%, 10% or even 20% is no small accomplishment, but chances are good that many people you know, and may not think of as wealthy, fall into the top 1%, 10% or 20%.

Is the Top 1% Paying Their Fair Share?

Contrast the above income statistics with the picture often painted in the media that the wealthiest Americans aren’t paying their fair share. According to the Tax Foundation, the top 1% of households collectively pay more in taxes than all of the tax-paying households in the bottom 90%.

Take a look at how much this has changed over the past few decades. In 1980, the bottom 90% of taxpayers paid about half of the taxes. The top 1% contributed about 20%.

Now, the top 1% pays more than the bottom 90%. Perhaps this is more than their fair share?

Top 1 Percent Now Pay More than Bottom 90 Percent

U.S. Global Investors

Below is the line chart from the Tax Foundation showing how the income tax share for each category has changed since 1980. For the majority of years, the share of the bottom 90% fell while the share of the top 1% rose.

Income Share of Top Earners Has Been Rising

U.S. Global Investors

Individual Tax Rate Cuts Take Effect in 2018

Taxpayers in the highest bracket should see a noticeable change when filing for the 2018 tax year since the top rate fell from 39.6% to 37%. President Donald Trump’s administration passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in late 2017, which included small reductions to income tax rates for most individual brackets plus changes to exemptions, deductions and more. The average top 1 percent taxpayer will get a tax break of over $50,000 in 2019, according to estimates.

The new tax bill, however, eliminates the ability of taxpayers to deduct more than $10,000 in state and local taxes from their federal tax returns. This could significantly increase the tax burden of top earners who itemize their deductions in high-income tax states such as California and New York. One possible solution for these investors could be to take advantage of municipal bonds, which are often exempt from local, state and federal taxes.

Maximize Tax-Advantaged Investment Vehicles

Although it can be discouraging to see how top earners pay the majority of income taxes, there are still tax advantages for hard-working Americans who make saving and investing a priority in their lives.

How can you help make sure less of your money is going to the government and more of it is working for you in your investments? One way is to maximize your contributions to tax-advantaged investment vehicles such as an individual retirement plan, a 401(k), individual retirement account (IRA) or simplified employee pension (SEP) for the self-employed, all of which offer tremendous tax benefits.

To make it easier to have the discipline to set money aside, try an automatic plan that invests a fixed amount at regular intervals, such as the U.S. Global Investors’ ABC Investment Plan.

Wealth Isn’t Just a Number

No matter how much you earn, wealth is determined by how much you keep. My friend, Alexander Green, chief investment strategist of the Oxford Club, is a great source of inspiration for me and for many investors with his uplifting, holistic articles that relate to both health and wealth. Alex says wealth isn’t necessarily determined by an income figure. Instead, real wealth is determined by looking at your balance sheet. Here’s his formula:

“Maximize your income (by upgrading your education or job skills). Minimize your outgo (by living beneath your means). Religiously save the difference. (Easier said than done.) And follow proven investment principles.”

What matters most is being grateful for what you have. I’m a big believer that wealth is not a number or an amount, it’s an attitude and the umbilical cord to attitude is gratitude.

Do the rich pay their fair share of taxes? How about you? Our handy tool will help you answer these questions.

How to be the top 10% no matter what you do

You’ll be hearing a lot about tax inequality during the 2020 presidential campaign season. All the Democrats seeking their party’s nomination are talking about taxing the rich more heavily. There’s no shortage of proposals to impose “wealth taxes,” raise the top income tax rate, increase estate taxes, and eliminate tax breaks for the wealthy. On the other side, President Trump will point to those parts of the 2017 tax reform law that help many middle- and lower-income taxpayers, such as supersizing the standard deduction, doubling the child tax credit, and lowering rates across the board. Before casting your ballot, you’ll have to decide for yourself if our tax system is “fair” and whether some groups should pay more (or less) in taxes.

Then there’s your own situation. No matter how “rich” or “poor” or “middle class” you are, are you bearing your “fair share” of the nation’s tax burden? Do you have the faintest idea what portion you pay . beyond a gnawing feeling that it’s too darn much?

To help answer your questions about tax equality, we created a tool to show how the nation’s taxable income and the country’s federal income tax bill are distributed among its citizens. Our tool uses the latest IRS data to shine a bright light into what are too often murky shadows.

We’ll also show you how your own income stacks up against that of your fellow Americans.

Are you ready to see where you fit in? With our simple calculator, enter a single number from your tax return, and you’ll instantly know the answer.

A look at the big picture

The latest numbers from the IRS—based on data from 2017 tax returns—show what it takes to be among the top 1% of income earners: At least $515,371 of adjusted gross income. That’s $34,567 more than it took to buy into this rarified status a year earlier. The 1.4 million returns reporting this elite income status accounted for 21% of the total adjusted gross income reported on 2017 returns.

That’s right. One percent of taxpayers reported about one-fifth of all income. And that same tiny group kicked in more than 38% of all the federal income taxes paid.

How much do you need to make to be in the top 50% of earners? Just $41,740.

Fall below that level, and you are in the bottom half, along with about 71 million of your fellow taxpayers. All told, that group earned just 11.3% of the AGI reported on 2017 federal returns. And they paid about 3% of all the income taxes paid.

Use our calculator to see if you’re in the top 1%, 5%, 10%, 25% or 50% . . . or the bottom 50% of income earners.

Our income and tax-burden breakdowns come from information reported on 2017 individual income tax returns. Income categories are based on adjusted gross income, which is basically income from taxable sources minus certain deductions—including deductible contributions to IRAs, alimony paid and student loan interest—but before subtracting the value of exemptions (before the 2018 tax year) and either the standard or itemized deduction.

Income Category 2017 AGI Percent of All Income Percent of Income Taxes Paid
Top 1% Over $515,371 21.0% 38.5%
Top 5% Over $208,053 36.5% 59.1%
Top 10% Over $145,135 47.7% 70.1%
Top 25% Over $83,682 69.1% 86.1%
Top 50% Over $41,740 88.8% 96.9%
Bottom 50% Below $41,740 11.3% 3.1%

(Note that these figures include only federal income taxes. According to Treasury Department estimates, most wage earners will pay more in payroll taxes—Social Security, Medicare and unemployment taxes—than they do in income taxes.)

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Shawn Langlois

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“ “When the top 10%’s bubble pops in 2021, the loss of illusions/delusions of security and wealth will be shattering to all those who believed artifice and illusory ‘wealth’ were real.“ ”

That’s Charles Hugh Smith, previously hailed by CNBC as one of the best alternative financial bloggers on the internet, offering up his unsettling outlook for the coming year.

“Those in America’s top 10% who have reaped virtually all the gains in income and wealth of the past 20 years live in a bubble that they view as unbreakable: no matter what problems arise, their personal income and wealth is secured by the government, central bank, etc,” he said.

In other words, those at the top of the wealth-power pyramid are confident any financial pain will quickly be soothed by the Federal Reserve and its willingness to keep printing money.

“Any spot of bother in the gravy trains that fund the top 10% — local and state government, universities, Big Tech, Big Pharma, Department of Defense, Wall Street, hedge funds, venture capital, etc. — will be doused with trillions of dollars borrowed or printed into existence by the Treasury or Fed,” he wrote on his Of Two Minds blog. “No matter what spot of bother arises, the solution — more trillions — is just a few keystrokes away.”

While that has, indeed, been mostly true for years now, Smith pointed to the folly in that thinking.

“We cannot print wealth, or borrow it into existence,” he continued. “All we can print/borrow is artifice, phantom representations of illusory ‘wealth’ that will vanish into thin air, in a reverse of how the ‘money’ was created — out of thin air.” This will lead to assets of the elite getting “crushed” without the backstop of liquidity. Stocks, he warned, “will go bidless as phantom wealth dissipates.”

Ultimately, Smith envisions a shake-up of the status quo in which the drying up of the Fed money flow is only one factor in a larger unwind.

“On top of this myopic belief that their success is all the result of their own endeavors rather than a tide of financialization, the top 10% are equally blind to the toxic consequences of the wealth/income inequality that has so richly benefited the few at the expense of the many,” he wrote. “But tides do not run in one direction forever, and a revolt against the unprecedented inequality that heavily favors the top 10% is not ‘impossible,’ it’s a certainty.”

Soon, he said, the bottom 90% will demand fairer distribution of wealth and a system that functions for the greater good, instead of “parasites” and “leeches” further lining their pockets.

“Not only will their lifeboats prove unstable, every level of government will come after whatever is left as taxes will soar on virtually every form of income and wealth,” Smith went on to explain in his blog post. “The comfortable are about to experience some of the discomfort that is everyday life for the bottom 60% and an increasing percentage of the next 30% who still aspire to fantasies of middle-class security.”

As it stands now, such a reckoning in the stock market will have to wait, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.16% was up triple-digits on Wednesday in its penultimate trading session of 2020. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, -0.99% and S&P 500 SPX, -0.41% were also higher.

23 October 2017

How to be the top 10% no matter what you do

Dark Matter is a puzzle that has plagued scientists for almost a century. Here’s everything we know, and everything we don’t.

1. Dark matter is EVERYWHERE

Planets, stars, asteroids, galaxies – the things that we can actually see – constitute less than 5% of the total universe. So what makes up the rest? Therein lies the mystery.

Dark matter is the name we give to all the mass in the universe that remains invisible, and there’s a whole lot of it. Research suggests that about 70% of the universe is composed of dark energy, whilst the remaining 25% is composed of a mysterious substance known as dark matter. We can’t see it, we don’t understand it, but we know it’s out there.

2. It’s completely invisible

Dark matter is really hard to study, because we have no way of seeing it. This weird substance doesn’t interact with light, so it’s totally invisible.

So how do we know it exists? Well, because it affects the universe in strange ways; and that’s something we can see.

3. Dark matter binds galaxies together

So dark matter can’t be seen, but it can be felt because of its powerful impact on space.

Dark matter exerts ‘gravitational force’, meaning that it draws other matter towards it. And there’s so much dark matter that its gravitational force is enough to hold entire galaxies – like our own Milky Way – together. That’s why dark matter is often likened to a giant spider’s web, meshing galaxies in place.

4. It distorts the appearance of space

We can also see the effects of dark matter simply by looking up at the sky. When astronomers observe distant galaxies, they often appear stretched and oddly shaped.

This effect is known as ‘gravitational lensing, and it’s caused by dark matter’s gravitational force. This force is so huge that it physically bends the light around galaxies, distorting their appearance.

5. Scientists have created dark matter ‘maps’

Scientists have been able to piece together maps of space, indicating where they think dark matter is hiding.

By studying ‘relic radiation’ left over from the Big Bang, scientists can identify areas in space where more radiation exists – and more radiation means more matter. In this way, we can identify ‘hotspots’, where higher levels of dark matter may be concentrated.

How to be the top 10% no matter what you do

6. We don’t know what dark matter is made of

The majority of scientists believe that dark matter is some sort of exotic particle.

We already know about photons, electrons, quarks and many other particles, but there may be plenty of others waiting to be discovered. One or more of these unidentified particles could be responsible for effects – like gravitational lensing and the ‘spider’s web’ – that we associate with dark matter.

7. Dark matter might not even exist

Dark matter might be an undiscovered particle, or it might be nothing at all. Some scientists believe that the effects we associate with dark matter are actually caused by gravity.

It’s possible that our existing theory of gravity is flawed, and that the effects we attribute to dark matter could simply be a quirk of gravity that we don’t yet understand.

8. Spaceships are hunting for signs

So is dark matter a particle or a consequence of gravity? Well, we don’t know, and more research is needed before either theory can be proved true or false.

If dark matter particles exist, then they should occasionally collide with one another: an interaction that produces radiation. And so spacecraft have been fitted with advanced detectors to search for signs of this radiation. Some interesting results have cropped up, but the search for hard evidence is still on.

9. Some countries have dark matter labs hidden deep, deep underground

If hard evidence for dark matter is ever found, it will be in the form of very small, subtle effects. And so, in order to detect these tiny signals, scientists have developed dark matter laboratories deep underground, far from the effects of overpowering background noise.

In the UK, there’s Boulby Underground Laboratory: a dark matter lab in North Yorkshire, located over 1,000 metres below the Earth’s surface. And other similar facilities exist across the globe, from Canada to Australia.

10. We are edging closer to the truth about dark matter

There’s still a whole lot we don’t know when it comes to dark matter, and some mysteries might never be unravelled. But as technology advances, we are edging closer towards the truth.

Dark matter may be complex, elusive and mysterious, but scientists all over the world will continue the hunt – and what they find could eventually transform our very notion of the cosmos.

These key tactics come in handy when you’re raising kids.

Parenting advice changes so often that it’s easy to feel like you’re doing it wrong no matter what.

But Laura Markham, PhD, author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids, has her own tips that have nothing to do with choosing between grounding and the time-out chair. Instead, they’re all about your relationship with your child.

Set aside “10 minutes of special time with you every day for each child. Call it ‘Hannah time’ or ‘Ethan time,’ so they know it’s all about them. One day, they pick what to do. The next day, you pick. But focus all your attention on your child, with all your heart.

“Make sure any siblings are occupied elsewhere — and put your phone away! Ninety percent of your interactions with your child should be about connecting so she can accept the 10% about correcting.”

2. Control your own emotions first.

“No matter what the issue — bad grades at school, temper tantrums, refusal to eat dinner — before you intervene with your child, always start by calming yourself. Most of the time, an issue with your child may feel like an emergency, but it isn’t. You can take a deep breath and step away in order to calm yourself and be the parent you want to be.”

3. Reconnect when you set limits.

“Don’t yell, ‘Clean up your Legos, it’s time for bed,’ from the kitchen. Go to where he is, get down on his level, and take a look at what he’s doing. We’re always rushing kids through the schedule. Take a minute to sit down and admire what he’s made — then talk about bedtime. If you set your limit with empathy, he’s more likely to cooperate.”

4. Don’t shut down the conversation.

“If your child says, ‘I hate math! I’m never going to school again!’ he’s probably not just being difficult. Heightened emotions mean something’s going on. If you just say, ‘Of course you’re going to school, now do your homework,’ you’ve closed the door on finding out what he’s really feeling.

“Instead, open the door by saying something like, ‘It sounds like you really don’t like math. Can you tell me about it?’ That helps the child feel safe opening up to you.”

Continued

5. Welcome tears.

“Part of your job as a parent is helping your child manage his or her emotions, and sometimes we all need to cry. Parents think that when kids cry you have to quickly calm them down, but it’s the opposite. Teach them that those big emotions, like hurt and anger, aren’t dangerous. If you see your child getting cranky or aggressive, take a minute to acknowledge your own irritation (see tip No. 2) and then shift to compassion and empathy.

“Your job is to help your child feel safe enough to express the big, scary feelings — and yes, even let him have a meltdown in the safety of your arms. If he can’t articulate them, you can help him show you by setting kind limits, saying something like ‘Oh sweetie, I see you’re upset. I’m sorry this is so hard.'”

6. Take lots of time for laughter.

“Kids need belly laughs. Set aside time for roughhousing and goofiness. Laughter helps kids feel safe, and helps them transition when they have to leave you for school or a babysitter, because they feel connected.

“But I don’t recommend tickling to get kids laughing. … It doesn’t accomplish the goal of release, and it can make kids feel out of control.”

7. Avoid power struggles.

“We are told as parents that we’re supposed to be in charge, and children are supposed to do what we say. But no one wins a power struggle, so don’t get stuck on showing who’s boss.

“For example, if your child always resists dinner, think about the real needs involved. If she says she’s not hungry now but then she’s hungry later, maybe she means it. Is it the end of the world if she eats her dinner while you read her bedtime story?”

8. Don’t take it personally.

“If your child is upset and lashes out, it’s usually not about you. Don’t attack back. If your child is rude to you, I would try responding, ‘Ouch! We don’t speak to each other that way. You must be very upset to talk to me like that.’ That opens the door for talking instead of escalating.”

Continued

9. Help your child learn self-discipline.

“Self-discipline is giving up something you want for something you want more. That’s essential as a child grows up. If they want to get good at something, they have to learn to manage themselves through the hard spots. If his train tracks won’t fit together or her puzzle is too hard, empathize with the frustration and encourage your child to work through the problem.”

10. Never interrupt a playing child.

“OK, you can’t always follow that rule. But play is a child’s work. If they love doing something so much that they lose themselves in it, that’s the kind of passion and flow they’ll need to be successful in whatever they do as an adult.”

Sources

Laura Markham, PhD, clinical psychologist; author, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting, Perigee Books, 2012.

How to be the top 10% no matter what you doIt seems like I’m constantly stumbling across references to “The New 50.” “50 is the new 40″ articles and posters crop up online and on Facebook seemingly by the minute, assuring us to whom it matters that we may be 50-something, but we can look 40-something. Not as easy as it sounds.

For many of us, our 50s are an age where we begin to struggle with issues that seem to have cropped up overnight. (I swear I gained 10 pounds the day I turned 50, and they’ve permanently parked themselves across my midsection with the tenacity of chewing gum in a toddler’s hair.) Suddenly phrases like “age-appropriate” filter into our clothes shopping, makeup we’ve worn forever now looks somehow wrong, and we’re wondering if we should grow our super-short hair into a more flattering length, but aren’t quite sure what that is.

Having been in the retail beauty business since the invention of lip gloss (I was teaching for Estee Lauder in Canada the year they introduced the first Clinique counter into the country. God, I’m officially older than dirt), I’ve learned that the best source of beauty advice is, not surprisingly, other women. Women are wonderfully willing to share insider secrets and tips, and I’ve yet to meet a beautiful woman who’s tired of being asked how exactly she got that way. I’ve collected dozens of tips over the years on how to age well, and what I’ve learned is that what you don’t do is as important as what you do. So I’m sharing my most-repeated advice from gorgeous women with you (because I’m generous that way).

Top 10 Things to Avoid to Not Look Old:

1. Mom jeans. High-waisted, tapered or cropped at the ankle, and made of heavy denim that adds the equivalent of a backwards fanny pack right where most of us need it the least. The belly. You don’t need to pay $175 for flattering jeans, but you do need to shop at stores whose names don’t end in “Mart.”

2. Bad bras. Ill-fitted, with not enough support for two Chiclets, much less gravity-assaulted beagle ears. By your 50s, it’s time to start buying bras that actually fit and that get ‘em up there. Keep the lacy, dental floss styles for the bedroom.

3. Overdone makeup. Heavy foundation falls into the cracks, red lipstick bleeds, and thick eyeliner starts looking a little “Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.” Lighten up. You’ll look years younger and your pillowcases won’t look like a four-color Rorschach test every morning.

4. Mall hair. If your bangs resemble a large cauliflower floret attached to the center of your forehead, it’s time to rethink your stylist. I’m not sure why hair schools teach that unfortunate cut, but they must, because it’s everywhere in rural America. Repeat after me. Bangs should not look like they sprouted from your forehead, independently of the rest of your hair.

5. Baggy, oversize clothes. If you could fit a hamhock up under your shirt, I guarantee you that you look heavier and older than your years. Baggy clothes don’t hide middle-age weight gain. They draw attention to it by suggesting you’re actually filling up all that space. Think maternity clothes. What woman ever looked thinner in anything called a “smock”? Find a style that flatters your shape, then buy every color they make.

6. Conversely, your daughter’s clothes. This is a epitome of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Yippee for you (and I mean that. Really, I do) that you’re 55 and still wear a size 2, but this does not give you free rein to root through your size-2, 17-year-old daughter’s closet for what to wear to your high school reunion. Trust me, everyone will know how tiny you still are, even without the midriff-baring top and the vagina-peeking skirt.

7. No sunscreen. Very few things turn our faces into the backside of a saddlebag faster than sun exposure. Wear a minimum of 15 SPF. Every. Single. Day. And don’t be saying, “Well, I use sunscreen in the summer.” Swell, except that 80% of premature aging comes from UVA rays. The year-round ones that cut through clouds and glass, that we’re exposed to when we go get the mail. In February. And for those of you still using tanning beds… STOP THAT.

8. Church Lady clothes. Skirts longer than your va-jay-jay doesn’t mean a drab A-line down to your mid-calf, and less cleavage doesn’t mean buttoned up to your upper clavicle with a white Peter Pan collar and matching self-belt. If Laura Ingalls Wilder wore it to church on Little House, you shouldn’t be wearing it, ever. There are lots of choices out there that celebrate our shapes and sexuality (gasp!) without shoving it all up people’s business. If you’re not sure, grab a well-dressed girlfriend to go shopping with you and agree to try on every single thing she brings you. You’ll both have a ball.

9. Too thin. I added this one because I love you. Yep, too thin can be aging. The body and face need a little padding to soften lines and smooth the skin, making us look healthier and (there is a God) younger. After raising six kids, my mother mastered the art of brevity in life lessons and told her girls, “At a certain age, a woman has to choose between her face and her ass.” Bless you, Mom. So have a piece of cheesecake. And a glass of wine. Your face will thank you.

10. Woman on Top. Then there’s my Grammy, whose pithy wisdom I still miss every day. Years ago, she instructed me to grab a large mirror and lay it on the floor, then kneel over it on all fours. Look down. That’s what your partner sees when you’re on top. (Go ahead and try it. We’ll wait.) If your face skin falls forward like a TV ad for the Life Style Lift, or your boobs dangle like two sock puppets on a clothes line and your belly drops low enough to sway to the beat, it’s time to get underneath or consider dimming the lights. Hubs and I have been doing it in the dark since I was in my 40s. He blames it on childhood nightmares. He has no idea.

(Author’s disclaimer: I don’t follow all of these rules, so don’t take lessons from me. Most of the time, I’m an insecure mess who does as much wrong as right. But fortunately, I have a lot of beautiful friends.)

Every industry has its shining stars and bad apples. The mortgage industry is no exception. For most consumers, a mortgage will be the largest single purchase they make in their lifetime. This makes picking the right mortgage lender even more important. How do you know which companies to avoid? Look for these telltale signs.

Scam Signs

1. Not Taking Into Account Your Ability to Pay

Your mortgage payment should be no more than 28% of your gross monthly income.   It’s not the mortgage company’s job to create your household budget, but it should have a lot of questions regarding your finances. If it doesn’t, then it is probably not a company you want to deal with.

2. Not Getting the Option to Purchase Points

A “point” or “discount point” is like prepaying your mortgage interest. Borrowers purchase points to lower the amount of interest they will pay on the loan. Your lender should give you the option to lower your interest rate through the purchase of points.

3. Excessive Loan Costs

Many of the loan costs are fixed no matter how much you borrow. For a larger mortgage, expect the closing costs of your mortgage to be between 2% and 5%. If you’re borrowing less than $150,000, costs could exceed 5%. Some lenders will work costs into the loan in the form of a higher interest rate, but the lender should clearly disclose that to you. Always talk to multiple lenders about the total cost of the loan they are proposing. And if the costs are well beyond 5%, ask why before agreeing to the loan.

4. Prepayment Penalties

For certain loans, lenders can charge a penalty if you pay off your loan early. These prepayment penalties must be disclosed to you in your loan documents.   If you see it, ask for a loan with limited or no prepayment penalties.

5. Brokers and Lenders Who Don’t Clearly Disclose How They Are Paid

If you’re working with a mortgage broker, ask howt hey will be paid. Brokers are paid a percentage of the total loan and must disclose what they earn. Mortgage bankers, banks and direct lenders can charge extra without disclosing what they are making.

6. “Bad Credit Doesn’t Matter”

If you see this, don’t call, don’t e-mail, and don’t say yes to anything if the company approaches you. These loans are probably predatory in nature and will almost certainly come with terrible terms. These types of loans normally target lower-income individuals who are more likely to have damaged credit.

7. Balloon Payments

A balloon payment is a lump sum due at the end of the loan term. Sometimes the balloon payment can be as high as the amount originally financed. Balloon payments are not allowed on homes with a qualified mortgage.   Carefully evaluate if a balloon payment is right for you.

8. Income or Home Value Inflation

A lender shouldn’t help you qualify for a loan by inflating your income or the value of the home. First, it’s not ethical or legal and, second, you can’t afford the loan anyway.   If they’re willing to lie for you, they’re willing to lie to you. Not a company you want to do business with.

9. No Good Faith Estimate

Within three business days of receiving your mortgage application, a lender must provide a good faith estimate (GFE).   The GFE provides you with basic information about the loan including estimated costs of the loan. The estimate comes on a standardized form issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).   If it comes on any other form, or you don’t receive the GFE within three days, don’t use that company.

10. Fees Different From the GFE

Your good faith estimate will contain an itemized list of costs associated with the mortgage with some very exact figures. Based on certain factors, it won’t necessarily remained unchanged when you receive the final mortgage paperwork to sign. Some of the fees are allowed to change by as much as 10%. Others shouldn’t change at all. For more on this, read the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s explanation of fees.

The Bottom Line

The old saying still rings true. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Don’t fall for predatory loan tactics that may put you into a loan you can’t afford that has terrible terms.

Use the many websites dedicated to helping you find the right mortgage. Additionally, talk to your bank or credit union and read How To Spot A Predatory Lender and, if you’re targeting one of these, 5 Reverse Mortgage Scams.

How to be the top 10% no matter what you do

Many things in this world are a waste of time. I find myself wanting to maximize every second of my day–from the moment I wake up to the minute I fall asleep. Unfortunately, this high motivation creates a problem–discerning worthwhile habits from practices that don’t contribute long-term meaning.

As a life coach and licensed therapist, I’ve worked with many entrepreneurs and executives who have similar mindsets–always looking to maximize productivity and improve themselves. They, too, have difficulty adding meaningful non-work-related tasks into their lives, because by the time they have a second to catch their breath, the demands of family are in full force. One thing that has become clear in our work together, however, is that certain life practices are invaluable to creating happiness and fulfillment.

Each of the habits listed below helps successful people sustain productivity while making their lives more meaningful and enjoyable. These 10 things are worth the time investment and only continue to add value to your life.

1. Improving your physical health by consistently exercising, eating an appropriate diet, and prioritizing sleep

These three practices are fundamental to your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. While you can’t expect perfection, paying special attention to what you eat, ensuring that you get adequate sleep, and staying physically active will go a long way toward increasing the health and vitality you’ll want now and later in life.

2. Intentionally building meaningful, long-term relationships with people who add value to your life

When personal and professional lives get busy, it’s easy to lose contact with people you care about. However, when people are dying, most say that the most important part of life is creating meaningful relationships with others. It’s imperative that you are intentional about maintaining relationships with people you love–even if it takes effort and planning.

3. Staying committed to your passions–no matter what

Regardless of what you love–whether it’s creating music, writing, painting, or something else entirely–make time for it. When you’re building a career and part of a family, it’s easy to overlook the things that once brought you joy, but returning to these practices fosters creativity and reconnects old parts of yourself that need expression.

4. Engaging in a legitimate self-development practice like therapy or coaching to work through emotional barriers that prevent lasting happiness

Every single one of my clients who were ready to engage in serious personal work had transformative experiences. Even the most productive and successful people need an outside perspective to work through their emotional barriers, because it’s impossible to do alone. When you invest in your self-development, you’re buying stock that only appreciates over time.

5. Practicing gratitude for what is already present in your life and allowing yourself to appreciate the small things

If you can’t be happy right now, then you’ll never discover lasting joy. No matter what you achieve, it’ll never be enough to quench your thirst–which is why you need to celebrate the small things. Allow your heart to smile.

6. Finding an appropriate balance between the disciplined routines that build wealth and the spontaneity needed to enliven your heart

Consistent discipline helps you attain material success, but belongings don’t create happiness. Complete immersion into the present moment, something that spontaneity invites, is what generates happiness and the motivation you need to achieve your goals. Balance is everything.

7. Building compassion for yourself and others when people fail to meet your expectations

Turn down the volume on that hypercritical voice in your head. It not only creates suffering for you, it also lashes out at others when they fail to meet your (unrealistic) expectations. When you increase the compassion you feel toward yourself, you increase empathy for others, which makes the world a better place.

8. Being determined to learn from your inevitable failures and shortcomings so you can continue growing as a person and professional

Mistakes aren’t an exception, they’re part of the learning process. Stop giving them more power than they deserve and start understanding them for what they really are–opportunities to refine your knowledge.

9. Traveling and spending time in nature–away from work and constant stimulation

No meaningful life is complete without traveling and disconnecting from modern pleasantries. It’s important to reset your mind by immersing yourself in something other than phone calls, emails, and Netflix series.

10. Practicing nonattachment to ideas, plans, and expectations–knowing that flexibility creates adaptability, which builds happiness and sustains success

Businesses that fail to adapt to an evolving marketplace don’t survive. Similarly, people who fail to adapt to inner and outer changes live unsatisfying and unhappy lives. To continue growing as a person and professional, you need to practice nonattachment and maintain mental flexibility.

Don’t continue wasting your time practicing bad habits that don’t contribute meaningful value to your life just because others do them. Instead, discover the practices that build wealth–both material and emotional–and invest in yourself so that you reach your full potential.

I don’t think I’m over-the-top cocky, I’m just proud of where I came from.

You’ve got to have the same attitude each day. You’ve got to show up to work.

Everywhere I look, someone is telling me, ‘You’re not good enough,’ or, ‘You can’t do this or that.’ You can only hear that so many times before enough is enough.

I think I thrive under the spotlight; I live for a big moment.

You don’t build a great castle just all at once.

Family first, always, no matter what the situation.

How to be the top 10% no matter what you do

Life is a bunch of ups and downs. It’s how you handle it.

It doesn’t matter what cards you’re dealt. It’s what you do with those cards. Never complain. Just keep pushing forward. Find a positive in anything and just fight for it.