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Why Hispanics are spending more than usual

The pandemic convinced Hispanic-Americans to take their safety seriously – along with financial preparedness.

According to a recent survey conducted by Debt.com en Español, US Latinos and Hispanics are spending more preparing for natural disasters in 2021 than they did in 2020. The reason for the change in financial habits: COVID-19.

The pandemic took everyone by surprise, revealing just how scary life can be when you are not prepared. Now, data finds that Hispanics are spending more than usual to prepare for the unexpected. 

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Financial preparedness post-COVID

As hurricane season continues and wildfires spread throughout the western US, climate change and natural disasters are on everyone’s minds. Like a global pandemic, natural disasters can be devastating and unpredictable.

Even with warnings, one can never know how bad a disaster might be. This is why preparing and planning ahead is crucial. Both businesses and families should have a plan in place for dealing with natural disasters and the aftermath. 

US Hispanics and Latinos seem to have learned this lesson post-COVID. When Debt.com en Español polled more than 1,000 Hispanic and Latino Americans, 3 in 4 said they were either “spending a little more than usual” or “spending at least double” getting ready for hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, blizzards, and earthquakes. Only 1 in 4 said they were spending less than before and all said COVID-19 was directly responsible for their extra spending.

financial preparedness

Natural Disaster Survey 2021. (Image source)

“Even during the pandemic, we saw how Americans were changing their spending and saving habits, often for the better,” says Debt.com chairman Howard Dvorkin, CPA. “Now we’re seeing how long that will last. At least in this one area, for this one year, it’s obvious: COVID-19 took such a terrible and sudden toll, no one wants to be caught unprepared again – for anything.”

Additionally, Debt.com en Espanol’s Natural Disaster Survey revealed that most Hispanic-Americans will also be paying more attention to government warnings. The survey showed that 85% said they will take government warnings more seriously and will prepare much better than they have in the past. 

You might be interested: Damaris Diaz shares pandemic stories and how COVID has impacted the Latino community

Decrease in credit card spending

Survey data from Debt.com also revealed another interesting change in the past year: a decrease in credit card spending post-COVID. The pandemic has made people more aware of their spending and more concerned over accumulating debt.

Now, data shows Americans are charging less to their credit cards, and many believe the decrease in credit card spending will continue post-COVID, especially when it comes to approaching natural disasters. 

financial preparedness

Debt.com post-Covid credit card spending survey results. (Image source)

Financial counselor Howard Dvorkin was particularly intrigued by two survey results. First, for those who have been through a natural disaster before, less than 26% needed to use their credit card to pay for their recovery efforts. Yet those who did need their credit card for recovery efforts spent a significant amount: More than 4 in 10 charged over $500 to a credit card. 

“On the one hand, I’m encouraged that many people could get their lives back to normal without charging extra on their credit cards – because it’s a very expensive form of debt,” Dvorkin said. “On the other hand, I worry about those who charged $500 or more. I suspect some of them are still paying that off, since their interest rate could easily top 20 percent.”

As we move forward, post-pandemic it is important to remember the lessons learned. Financial preparedness will ensure families and businesses have the resources needed to recover whenever a disaster may strike. 

ABOUT: Debt.com is the consumer website where people can find help with credit card debt, student loan debt, tax debt, credit repair, bankruptcy, and more. Debt.com works with vetted and certified providers that give the best advice and solutions for consumers ‘when life happens.’

money managing, budget

Hate budgeting? Key money managing habits to thrive in business and life 

Budgeting, budgeting, budgeting! We’ve all heard about the importance of budgeting before, but many still overlook this crucial money managing practice when it comes to their personal and business finances. 

money managing, budget

Key money managing habits to make your personal and business finances thrive. (Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels)

Budgeting can look different depending on the area of focus. Your personal household budget vs your business budget will prioritize different things. However, at the core, there are also many similarities and the mechanics are the same. 

When you create a budget, you are planning your incoming and outgoing expenses. This core practice is the same for both personal and business budgets. 

Businesses and households that thrive know how to manage their money and keep their expenses in check. By implementing these money managing strategies into your life, you too can thrive and prosper in both business and life. 

Creating a personal spending plan

Often, budgeting begins in response to a financial crisis, however, ideally, budgeting is proactive, not reactive. Instead of being about damage control, it can be about monthly progress and strategic financial planning. 

By creating a personal budget, you and your household can better plan your spending and save for future emergencies or unexpected expenses. 

Budgeting also includes planning for major purchases. By creating a plan for purchasing big-ticket items, there is less potential for financial surprise and unexpected costs down the line. 

Entrepreneur, international speaker, best-selling author, licensed CPA, and a Chartered Global Management Accountant, Sharon Lechter shares key budgeting tips on her blog. Below are her tips to establish a solid personal budget, or as she prefers to call it– a personal spending plan. 

A personal budget should include the following steps

    • Establish your objectives (financial, lifestyle, etc.)
    • List all of your income sources (wages, investments, spousal support etc.)
    • Identify and list all expense categories (housing, auto, groceries, etc), broken into fixed vs. variable
    • Assign amounts to each spending category
    • Allocate savings
    • Account for fluctuations or one-time events
    • Track your progress and make adjustments if necessary

Managing your business budget

Business budgeting follows the same basic principles as personal budgeting, with a few additions. An accurate business budget will help you ensure your business has enough revenue to stay in business and continue to grow, while also giving you an in-depth window into how the business is performing and what to anticipate in the future.

money managing, budgeting, personal and business finances

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels.

Again, Sharon shares her expertise, laying out the core components to include in a basic business budget

Your business budget should include the following:

    • Your sales and revenue
    • Fixed costs (such as rent) and variable costs (raw materials that vary in price)
    • Debt service
    • Account for fluctuations or one-time events
    • Track your progress and make adjustments if necessary

One major difference between business and personal budgets is that in a business budget, forecasting is more crucial. For most people, predicting one’s monthly income is usually simple as income is fairly consistent from month to month. However, in a business, one must pay closer attention to their revenue forecast to plan for the months ahead. 

In a previous post on Latinas in Business, financial service and leadership expert Jesse Torres advised that business owners should sit down to thoughtfully estimate expected cash inflows and outflows. 

“Factors that to consider include the sales cycle, terms and discounts provided to customers, industry delinquency rates, and other factors that may affect the timing of incoming cash.

Similarly, it is necessary to estimate expenses and other cash outlays. This includes the timing of the purchase of equipment, raw materials, and supplies. It also includes the schedule for payment of salaries, taxes, and other day-to-day expenses.”

Business owners can utilize financial resources from SCORE, a national nonprofit support group for small business owners. SCORE provides a free budget template that business owners can use to manage their cash flow.

You might be interested: Financial matters are women reluctant to talk about money?

Budgeting for Unexpected Costs

One area where budgeting really pays off is when you are faced with sudden, unexpected costs. Most of the time, even without budgeting, we tend to know what costs to expect month to month in both our personal and business finances. You know you need to cover your rent, gas, utilities for instance and probably have that money set aside. However, will you be prepared for an unexpected expense such as a car repair? 

The SCORE blog offers budgeting resources to anticipate these unexpected costs and allows you to set aside funds to tackle these challenges when they arise. Marketing Content Manager, Lauryn Johnson breaks down the differences for anticipating unexpected costs for both personal and business budgets: 

At home: Those who are prepared will have sudden expenses covered by a portion of their budget, usually money set aside specifically for “incidentals.” Others may cover these expenses with their “rainy-day” fund. Either way, those who budget and save will be more likely to successfully navigate an unexpected expense without going into debt. The less prepared may end up having to charge the unexpected expense on credit cards, loans, or other high risk methods. 

In business: For most business situations, costs should be considered either fixed or variable. Much like your regularly budgeted personal expenses, fixed costs have to be paid regardless of your profitability each month. Variable costs, however, are where you should have a little more flexibility.

Implementing these budgeting money managing practices in both personal and business finances will help you thrive and prosper in all avenues of life. 

Manifesting financial goals with Valerie Sanchez, co-founder of Divine Asset Management

Valerie Sanchez is the partner and co-founder of Divine Asset Management, a women-owned and led financial services firm which provides the tools and…

Brittney Castro financial planning

Brittney Castro creates a financial planning firm geared toward women

After years of working in the male-dominated industry of financial planning, Brittney Castro saw an opportunity to use her skills and create a company that caters toward female clients. Castro is a Certified Financial Planner and founder of Financially Wise Women, a Los Angeles-based financial planning firm aimed toward teaching money managing skills to women and couples in fun, easy, and simple ways.

Brittney Castro financial planning

Brittney Castro, founder Financially Wise Women (Courtesy FleishmanHillard)

Discussing finances can often be intimidating and extremely personal so it is important that clients find the right person they trust to work in a comfortable environment.

Brittney explains, “I wanted to work with clients the same way I talk about money with my girlfriends–in a smart, personal, feminine way that’s compassionate, fun, and non-judgmental.” Castro has become an expert in her field and has been featured on various media outlets such as CNN, CNBC, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Glamour, and Elle to name a few.  

Her success though has come after many years of hard work and dedication to her field.

Castro began her career working at a firm called Ameriprise Financial shortly after finishing college in 2006. From there she went on to work for an independent financial planning firm in West Los Angeles.

It was during this time that Brittney began to build her brand as the financial planner for women. Finally in 2012, Brittney took the plunge and created her company, Financially Wise Women. She craved the creative freedom that she could not find within the confines of the corporate structure.

You might be interested: Financial planning a must to face life events

Financial planning for women and beyond

Brittney Castro financial planning

Brittney Castro, CFP at one of her television interviews (Courtesy Brittney Castro (Courtesy FleishmanHillard)

Creating her own company allowed her to focus on her female clients and build an environment that was more personal and inviting unlike the ridged corporate environments of the mainstream financial planning world. 

Brittney describes the process of building her financial planning company as “an exciting journey” that has also come with great success and as well as “a lot of obstacles and challenges.” These challenges have not deterred her but instead have helped her grow stronger and wiser.

“Each time I was hit with a challenge, I persevered,” she said.  This perseverance and resilience has followed her throughout her entire career and has been one of her keys to success. Castro credits many of these resilient traits to her “Latina ‘spice,'” as she says. She celebrates her Latina roots saying, “My drive, resilience and hard work are all traits I find in common in Latinas and I am very proud of who I’ve become and the things I’ve achieved in life and business.”

Financial Education Ambassador

Brittney Castro financial planning

Brittney Castro at #WEALLGROW Summit (Courtesy FleishmanHillard)

When asked about a favorite moment in her career thus far, Brittney described her experience as the Chase Financial Education Ambassador. In this role, Castro has been able to help educate people, and specifically Hispanics, about the importance of credit and financial literacy.

This job has been an immensely rewarding experience for Brittney. “Growing up I always wanted my own business and to help people in life,” says Castro. After much hard work and determination, Castro has realized those aspirations.

Her advice to other Latinas aiming to achieve success in their professions is hard work and “just keep going.” Success is created through “a lot of hard work, dedication, and passion” she explains. “I have never seen an ‘overnight’ success because of the many years of behind-the-scenes work that goes into an ‘overnight’ success.”

She also advises to pick a career that excites you and that you are passionate about. “Enjoy it all!” she says. “Laugh and celebrate all the wins and challenges along the way as that is truly what life is all about.”

When she is not busy in the office, Brittney can be found working out, enjoying a coffee or smoothie, playing with her dog Arya at the local park, “and, of course, dancing.”

credit cards credit history

Consumer debt, credit cards and the small business trap

Many small business owners rely on personal savings and credit cards for funding their business. The excitement and energy that helped them start might turn into stress and despair when cash is not flowing and debt starts piling up. If you are like most small business owners

Access to capital requires skin in the game

bank loan, investing in your business, access to capitalBy Jesse Torres

Most successful entrepreneurs at some point realize that they will need access to fresh capital if their business is going to continue growing. The capital may be needed to purchase new equipment to increase production or purchase raw materials or inventory to meet demand or all of the above.

In some cases the business owner may transfer personal assets into the business, borrow from family and friends or take on investors. In many instances, though, the entrepreneur must attract capital from another source: a bank.

Although many successful business owners will at some point seek a bank loan to grow their business, most have no clue what bankers look for when evaluating such a request. As a result, many entrepreneurs are not prepared for the process, resulting in a painful experience.

Bankers are not rocket scientists or magicians. Their method of evaluating loan requests is standard, straightforward and transparent. Ultimately, a banker’s objective is to determine how to best structure the borrowing, based on the business owner’s needs. A second objective is to determine if, based on current and reasonable projected business operations, the loan will be repaid as structured.

Bankers evaluate a number of factors including the past performance of the company, collateral coverage and the administration of the business and its projections. But most loan evaluations begin with determining the amount of skin the entrepreneur has in the game.

Business owners must have a “reasonable” amount invested in their business to receive favorable consideration for a loan. This ensures that, when combined with borrowed funds, the business can operate soundly and will not be overburdened by the loan payments. Also, a strong equity position supports the notion that a business owner is likely to do everything possible to protect the investment made in the company, thereby doing everything possible to repay the bank.

Debt-to-equity ratio, what is?

Banks scrutinize the business’ debt-to-equity ratio to understand how much money they are being asked to loan relative to how much the owner has invested. The smaller the ratio, the stronger the company and the more likely the bank will approve the loan.

As David A. Duryee explained in his book The Business Owner’s Guide to Achieving Financial Success, “a debt-to-equity ratio of 2.25 would mean that there is $2.25 in liabilities for every $1.00 of equity.” That means lenders have just more than twice as much invested in the company as owners do.

The first task that entrepreneurs anticipating a loan request must complete is to calculate their debt-to-equity ratio. Next, they should determine whether the debt-to-equity ratio is so high that it will likely kill a loan request. But how high is too high? The answer is, it depends.

Each industry has its own benchmarks for low, moderate and high debt-to-equity ratios. Within each industry, different variables figure in such as revenue size, location, years in operation or whether the borrower is operating a franchise.

Trade organizations often maintain metrics, including debt-to-equity ratios, for the business types they represent. For example, restaurant owners seeking to compare their debt-to-equity ratio to others can check CSI Market to find debt-to-equity ratios, as well as other metrics, for their industry.Business Handshake

Comparing a company’s debt-to-equity ratio to similar businesses is essential because different industries maintain different balance-sheet structures. According to Investopedia, “the debt/equity ratio also depends on the industry in which the company operates. For example, capital intensive industries such as auto manufacturers tend to have a debt/equity ratio above 2, while personal computer companies have a debt/equity ratio of under 0.5.”

Strong equity with a moderate to minimal debt level can produce a debt-to-equity ratio well below the industry average. The owner has thus granted the business an improved ability to sustain itself during tough times. In contrast, a business with minimal or nonexistent equity has a higher risk of default, particularly during difficult periods.

Strong equity, a business owner skin in the game

Strong equity investment demonstrates to a lender that the owner is very committed to the business. Sufficient equity is particularly important for new or expanding businesses since right after a launch or expansion the business may not be profitable and will require ongoing financial support by the owner.

Weak equity investment increases risk. Nonexistent equity can make obtaining a loan almost impossible, as the owner has not shown a commitment to the business.

The stronger the debt-to-equity ratio, the lower the risk and the greater the likelihood of a loan being be approved. By contrast, the owners of businesses with high debt and low equity are prime candidates for a painful experience.

 

 About Jesse TorresJesse_Torres

Jesse Torres has spent nearly 20 years in leadership and executive management posts, including executive management roles at financial institutions. In 2013 the Independent Community Bankers of America named him a top community banker influencer on social media. He is a frequent speaker at financial services and leadership conferences and has written several books. He hosts an NBC News Radio show called Money Talk with Jesse Torres.
Follow @jstorres or contact  Jesse@JesseTorres.com