FORBES EXPERT PANNEL
Here are the articles where I contributed to Forbes.
Get some money up front.
There are so many variables to consider when you structure a deal as an annuity payment. If the person buying your business or product is serious about its ongoing success they should be willing to make an upfront payment. You invested lots of time, money and energy, so make sure you get properly compensated for what you have done so far. – Vlad Rusz, Centaur Digital Corp.
Set aside 1% of sales—and then add more.
There are obvious cash-saving strategies you can employ, and then there are more subtle ones. Start by putting 1% of your sales in a separate account, and increase that percentage every one or two weeks until you start to feel the pinch. As your operating budget shrinks, necessity will breed creativity and you’ll come up with dozens of ways to save cash. – Vlad Rusz, Centaur Digital Corp.
Use multiple bank accounts.
Using a single bank account can make budgeting and planning hard. Keep your budget to under five categories and set up different checking accounts for each category. This way it’s easy to see exactly how much money you have left in your budget without having to number-crunch each time—because let’s face it, that’s never going to happen. – Vlad Rusz, Centaur Digital Corp.
Opt For Annual Over Monthly Subscriptions
You can get just about anything today for a low monthly rate—so low that you don’t take a second to think if you really need it in your life. Instead of paying monthly, choose to pay for a full year up front. If you can’t bring yourself to make a one-year commitment, maybe it’s not something you need. An added benefit is most companies will give you a significant discount if you pay up front. – Vlad Rusz, Centaur Digital Corp.
‘The world of finance is black and white.’
Most financial advice online paints a very black and white picture: debt is good or it’s bad, never do this, always do that. This kind of advice usually applies to very specific situations and shouldn’t be applied generally. Any advice that includes words like “always” or “never” should be looked at critically and never be applied generally to your overall financial situation. – Vlad Rusz, Centaur Digital Corp.
Decide what retirement looks like for you.
Retirement looks different for everyone. Sometimes retirement can be synonymous with a lifestyle change and a decrease in income, which can be much more easily handled than a no-work and no-income situation. There are so many interesting careers or jobs that people can still pursue once they are “retired” that it’s easy to find something that fits you. – Vlad Rusz, Centaur Digital Corp.
When there isn’t a lot of money to contribute to a 401(k) or IRA, some Millennials neglect it, since financially it won’t make a big impact. However, even when the contributions are small, it will still help you build a positive habit that will make it easier to contribute a larger amount later. Start with a small percentage, which won’t even feel like a hit to your finances, and slowly increase it! – Vlad Rusz, Centaur Digital Corp.
Speaking from personal experience, always consult your divorce attorney before making any changes, since some can be illegal in a divorce and cause more headache. If you’re afraid your spouse might make unauthorized changes, you can get a restraining order to prohibit it. Remember, divorce is temporary, and the best advice I received is that divorce is a bad time, but it will pass. – Vlad Rusz, Centaur Digital Corp.
The fees the unbanked and underbanked pay are still astonishing, but thanks to fintech this will rapidly change. Unlike in the past, if you have a cellphone, you can have a bank account, and that opens up so many possibilities for banks and other companies to provide services to this 22 % of households. – Vlad Rusz, Centaur Digital Corp.
Most people move every few years, so the resale value of the house should be considered, as well as the real estate agent fees you’ll pay to sell it. I recommend reading a residential real estate investment book to understand the concepts better, as well as the hidden cost of homeownership. Think like an investor and you’ll be less surprised by reality. – Vlad Rus, Centaur Digital Corp.
If you can’t generate enough revenue to cover expenses, you should reassess your business model and get more creative. Any loans used to fund expansion or a cash shortfall should be avoided; however, loans are often the best way to purchase revenue-generating assets with low interest and collateral in case you can’t pay back the loan. – Vlad Rusz, Centaur Digital Corp.
Accounting is the language of business, but it seems so few can really speak it or translate it into English. A good CPA should be able to concisely explain basic accounting concepts in a way that you can understand. Remember, in the end, it’s your business, and any advisors should just provide advice—you need to make the decision, and education is the first step to understanding. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
Don’t overlook the non-points benefits such as insurance, extended warranty on purchases and access to travel lounges (if you travel). I make sure to always use my Capital One card when I rent a car since it saves me from having to pay the astronomical collision insurance rental companies charge. I ignore bank offers—the perks are not worth the hoops you have to jump through to avoid fees. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
Unless you have strong financials and half a decade of history, most credit grantors will require a personal guarantee. Don’t overload your personal credit to fund your business or just to build business credit. Be a wise consumer of credit and lenders will be able to determine that you are a good risk. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
No one saves a million overnight, and most can’t go from saving 0% to 20% of wages. The best trick is to start small, saving just 1% so you can build a positive habit of saving in your life. Then you can slowly increase the percentage over time until you reach your goal of 20% or more! Once you see the savings accumulate you won’t go back, but you need to start. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
One overlooked feature is business bill pay. Why waste time writing and mailing a check? Who has time for that anyway when you are always on the go. A simple setup in your bank’s bill pay and a check is mailed directly to your vendor, and as an added bonus, the check is certified funds. Alternatively, you can ACH the payment if it’s an ongoing relationship — even businesses like direct deposit. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
Canceling student loan debt does not solve the problem of excessive college tuition. I was fortunate and walked away with only $10,000 and paid it off, but what I and my constituents were promised in 2006 when we started college were pipe dreams. In my opinion, if the kind of promises universities made were made by for-profit businesses, they would be in court and forced to pay that money back. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
Successful entrepreneurs know that to succeed, you need to develop strong business systems. As an angel, you usually get a first look inside a business, and the systems need to be there for the business to grow. Besides joining an angel group, this is the next most important aspect to keep in mind. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
If an IPO will make a dramatic impact on your business, then maybe you are not ready. The SEC has made it much easier this decade for IPOs. But it has also been a time of lackluster IPOs—even for big companies such as Uber—due mostly to market factors. It’s hard to time the market, so focus on building a strong business and success will follow. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
Engaging an investor in your startup can be a great step to the next level. However, not all investors are the same in what they provide (network, counsel, etc.) or in what they expect in return (equity, control, etc.). Startups are too quick to accept investment even when it’s not the right fit since they need the cash, so ask yourself: If you had enough cash, would you still accept this investment? – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
A well-planned business should not depend on a cash infusion from the owner to survive, which often occurs because the owner draws too much cash out of the business. The best plan is to keep the business and personal finances separate and have two separate “rainy day” accounts. Determine your business “rainy day” amount by doing some stress tests: What would happen if sales dropped 25, 50 or 75%? – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
As business owners retire, it can be difficult to transition from an operational role to a leadership role. However, since most business owners are heavily invested in the business, just walking away is not a sound financial option. Thus, business owners should protect themselves by maintaining a leadership role and oversight of the business. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
There are different fees associated with a 401(k) that fall on the employers to pay—some benefit the employee, but they never know it. Thankfully, with the rise of technology, these fees are substantially lower now, but for small employers, it might make more financial sense to offer a bonus or invest in financial education for employees than pay that money to 401(k) fees. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
For a small business, payroll is likely the most regulated part of the business. The big bad IRS is a cute kitten compared to the Department of Labor. The best way to avoid payroll fraud and ensure compliance is to employ a third-party payroll company while the owner keeps final approval and oversight to ensure everything is done correctly. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
Most people I interact with who have side gigs grossly underestimate the expenses associated with their side gig. A side gig is still a business and should be treated as such. One of the most important aspects is to understand exactly how much you take home. I estimate a lot of people can make more money by just taking a part-time job than doing a side gig that they likely don’t enjoy. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
People are risk-averse. No one wants to see their portfolio go down, and this leads to investment in “safe” securities or just holding cash for the long term. While this strategy reduces risk significantly, inflation will ensure it fails in the long term. The investments made should align with your strategy—there is no reason to invest in CDs if you are still 20 years from retirement. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
Your portfolio strategy should not be based on market moves. My recommendation is to always diversify your portfolio and decide on what percentage is allocated to each fund or asset class. Reallocations should be done on a regular time interval, such as monthly or quarterly, and not be based on market moves. Additionally, for long-term strategies, set a one-month limit between decision and execution. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
Many businesses know employee turnover costs money, but few know exactly how much. Thus, how can you attribute a financial loss to high employee turnover? The answer is to estimate how much it costs to hire and train new employees. For example, if it takes two weeks to train new employees, those first two weeks should be hiring/training costs, not wages. This will highlight where the losses are. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
Businesses need to draw a line between financial reporting—reporting to investors what has already happened—and managerial reporting, which is focused on leading indicators. External financial reporting should be implemented using as much automation as possible, while internally relevant management reports should focus on a few key performance indicators to assist in decision making. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
When you first start out, it can be overwhelming. There are tons of investments with virtually limitless options for risk tolerance. Start with something simple like a no-load exchange-traded fund that mirrors the S&P 500. Next, enhance your knowledge by reading investment books. This is your retirement we are talking about! You don’t need to be an expert, but you do need to understand it. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
Most businesses only begin to think about cash flow and how to weather a coming storm when it is already on the horizon. For most businesses, 2018 should have been a good year and a great opportunity to store up cash for any future downturns like the one likely in 2019. Having a plan for downturns will depend heavily on having a plan for the upturns when you can save your cash. – Vlad Rusz,Vlad Corp. USA
It’s too late for SEO; either you have it down or you don’t, and a few weeks will not make a huge impact. Instead, focus on your past customers. They purchased from you before and are likely to purchase again — and hopefully refer some business, too. A successful email campaign to your past customers, possibly advertising some gifts for referrals, can really make a big impact. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
Cut unnecessary spending, pay more than the minimum payment and fight against instant gratification. This is all great advice, but how do you fight against all the advertising telling you the exact opposite? If you are serious about getting out of debt, you have to build good habits. The way to do it is to start small, paying just a few extra dollars more than minimum, then increase gradually. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
If you have been in business for a while, you will likely know before the media when the downturn starts. Leverage your knowledge of your market in order to be prepared for it. Sometimes a recession is just about survival, but you can always learn from it and position your business to take advantage when the market inevitably turns around. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
For some, middle age can be their highest earning period, but it can be very difficult to substitute that income in the case of job loss. I have witnessed a few high earners get downsized and subsequently find it very difficult to get a comparable job. Job security is not 100% certain, and you should have a backup plan in case you find yourself in the market for a job once again. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
The most important thing is to build good investment habits and get educated about investments in general. Starting early means your money will grow for you, but it does not mean you can take unnecessary risks. I believe you should be willing to hold on to every investment you purchase for at least seven years. You probably should not invest if it’s not likely that the investment will be around that long. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
When I purchased a car a few years ago, I was surprised to learn that the dealership was willing to match the rate my pre-approval letter gave me. So many things in life we take as givens, such as the rates set by banks and credit card companies, but they can often be negotiated, so don’t forget to haggle a little if you get the chance. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
We no longer live in a world that requires most people to do menial labor every day, so you don’t really need to retire; what you need is financial freedom. That is the freedom to do what you want when you want it, and if you are willing to accept the reality of your skills and finances, you can “retire” in just a few years. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
Focusing on the numbers alone can be frustrating for someone who has not saved before. The first step is to build the habit of paying yourself first. Start by saving a small amount that’s almost inconsequential for your disposable income to build the habit. It is hard to imagine what a small amount can turn into until you see it for yourself. After this, you can start to work toward saving 20% or more. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
Just as you focus on building efficient systems in your business, I believe you should focus on building good habits when you manage your personal wealth. Once you set money aside for retirement or an investment outside your business, don’t put that money back in the business. To build wealth, I believe you have to invest wisely — both in your business and outside of your business. – Vlad Rusz,Vlad Corp. USA
If you own a business and it would fall apart the moment you stop working, you are working for your business instead of your business working for you. The time to think about your exit strategy is the moment you start your business, not when you are ready to exit. Your goal at the start of your business should be to be the chairman of the board, not the CEO. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
Investment deals should not be considered a “done deal” until the cash hits the bank. If your business’s survival depends on a deal, you are already going down the wrong path. Tough financial times can hit anyone, and it will lead to making some hard choices (like laying off employees), but it can also be a time of great opportunity to reassess and pivot your business for success. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
Everyone assumes that their future health care cost is some set number, but anyone can drastically decrease that cost, as well as the chance of incurring it, by choosing a healthy lifestyle. However, most people look for external factors instead of asking, “What can I do today (i.e., exercise and eat healthily) that will ensure vibrant health through retirement?” – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
One common piece of advice is to sell, sell, sell — and everything will fall into place. But what happens when your sales are on credit (due to be paid in 30 days) and you need cash to pay your employees today? Instead, business owners should focus on building systems and generating cash. Once you have the right system in place, replicate it to scale up sustainably. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
Looking at early retirement as the finish line is a sure way to be miserable during the “rat race” and once you finish. Traveling the world is fun, but it can be tedious and exhausting. Sipping a cold drink on a beach is great for the first week, but then boredom can set in. Meanwhile, you may feel miserable trying to reach that goal so early. What does retirement look like for you, and how can you make that a reality today? – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
Business owners have a disproportionate amount of wealth in one asset (their business). Following any good retirement strategy, you have to diversity, and if you can’t diversity, you have to protect with insurance. However, the big message is that you should not be investing all your money in a single asset. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
There are many ways to offer employees a path to save for retirement. A 401(k) is one option but not the only option. There are many other IRA accounts that offer more flexibility with the same, or even better, benefits. In the end, you have to ask yourself what is most beneficial for you, your company and your employees. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
I believe it’s easier for people to save when there is a purpose to what they are saving for. Outside of someone’s retirement savings, the next most important is to have a rainy-day fund. But, you must not forget to save for fun expenses, as well. A vacation that you saved for feels so much better and completely guilt-free than one paid for by credit cards. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
Blockchain will undoubtedly have a tremendous effect on trust in business transactions. While external auditing is rarely done for small businesses, the ability of blockchain accounting software to provide transparency to third parties will allow for easier access to capital for these businesses without the large expense of audits or the large premium charged for uncertainty. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
Making a lot of money or having a lot of money is not the only thing that matters. Are you truly wealthy if you can’t afford to take a month off from work? Are you not free to pursue hobbies and interests because you are too busy trying to increase your personal wealth? I guard my personal time now as much as I guard my financial accounts. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
There are many financial professionals, each with their own set of skills and expertise. The most important question is: How do you get compensated? One who is compensated by transaction fees is sure to keep recommending purchasing different securities. One who is compensated on total money under management is unlikely to recommend investing in a friend’s startup or a rental property. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
In order to build a strong credit record, you have to understand how the credit bureaus operate. Credit card debt is a major factor in determining your credit score. However, I would also advise not to forgo common sense or sound financial advice purely for the prospect of building a better credit record. If you have developed sound financial behaviors, your credit record will reflect that. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
Everyone plans on positive returns in their retirement portfolios, but what will you do when the market crashes and a large chunk of your money disappears? You need to plan for this inevitability and have a strategy on how to bounce back. Without a strategy, you might be inclined to make decisions based on fear rather than sound investment advice. – Vlad Rusz, Vlad Corp. USA
Similar to the retail store, retail banking will go through a transition period. As millennials and future generations become the breadwinners within the workforce, a significant shift in banking and making purchases will occur. It is my belief that mobile apps such as Samsung Pay or Apple Pay will change banking, buying, investing, saving and vendor payments forever. – Vlad Rusz, Sterling Rose Consulting Corp