The Debit Card Dangers You Never Knew Existed

The Debit Card Dangers You Never Knew Existed

Debit card dangers. It sounds like a great title for a bad romance novel. But it is not, it is a real-life risk we face. You purposely use debit cards to be financially responsible. The debit card automatically “debits” your savings or checking account. This guarantees you don’t buy $400 worth of electronics when you only have $300 in your account.

You thought you were doing the right thing by using your debit card instead of creating credit card debt.

And you are.

But there are specific debit card dangers.

Stay Alert to These Debit Card Dangers

Undetected Withdrawals

Since debit cards are connected to your bank account, any fraudulent charges will automatically result in a withdrawal. And if you do not check your bank statements online or otherwise, the withdrawal can go unnoticed for quite a while. If you use automatic withdrawal for other bills, you may miss important payments such as rent or insurance premiums.

Purchase Protection

In many circumstances, credit cards extend greater consumer protections than debit cards. For example, let’s say you purchase framed artwork online. Once the purchase arrives, you notice you have been overcharged, so you dispute the charge. While you are attempting to resolve the issue with the seller, and while the credit card company  investigates, you are not required to pay the disputed part of the bill.

On the other hand, if you used a debit card for the purchase, you would not receive this protection. The reason is when using debit the money is transferred out of your account almost immediately. The money is gone before you even receive the goods. How could you possibly freeze payment?

Unlimited Losses

Once you discover your debit card has been used fraudulently, you should contact your bank immediately. But there is no guarantee you will recoup your money. This is especially true if you did not notice the fraudulent charges right away.

If you discover the fraud and inform your bank within two business days of learning of it, you will still be on the hook for $50. If you wait longer than two days, but fewer than 60 calendar days after your statement is sent to you, you may be liable for up to $500. Beyond 60 calendar days, there is no liability limit. 

Lengthy Waiting Periods

Your bank has 10 days to investigate your claim. If the bank determines fraud occurred, it must replace the money within the next two days. That’s 11 days AFTER you brought the issue to the bank.

Avoid Debit Card Dangers

To minimize your debit card risks, follow these recommendations:

  • Memorize your PIN number (and don’t use your birthday or SSN).
  • Check bank statements regularly, or better yet, daily.
  • Only use ATMs at known institutions.
  • Keep a record of all your cards, PINS, and banks so you can call them immediately.
  • Know your daily purchase and withdrawal limits.
  • Never store your PIN with your card.



Selling Your Home? Here Are Home Improvements That Add Value

Selling Your Home? Here Are Home Improvements That Add Value

If you are considering fixing up your home before you sell, look at potential home improvements strictly as a numbers game. In other words, how much will you spend on home improvements and what added dollar value are you hoping for?

Should you remodel the kitchen? Or just slap on some new paint? Most home improvements cost money, but only some home improvements consistently increase the resale value of your home.

Five Home Improvements Which Can Increase Value

Replace Your Front Door

You take your front door for granted (unless you forget your keys). It lets family and loved ones in and out of the house, while protecting you from weather and intruders.

Part of taking your front door for granted is the fact that you never notice when it is a bit worn and chipped. Replacing an old front door with a new one (especially a steel one) improves curb appeal, saves on energy costs, and yields a return on investment. 

That Fresh Paint Smell

Everyone loves a fresh coat of paint, and that is one reason it is one of the easiest and most cost-effective improvements of all. Fresh paint can instantly transform a tired looking room into a vibrant, clean, and modern room. At an average cost of $25 dollars per gallon, this simple home improvement easily gets you a return on investment.

Energy-Efficient Fixtures

A new, quiet, decorative ceiling fan cools a room during those warm days when you don’t want to spend extra by using an air conditioner. The gentle breeze of the fan and its ability to double as a light creates a nice touch to any room.

Think of how much nicer this fan is than the squeaky, outdated fan you’re replacing. And it isn’t just ceiling fans which can be replaced and provide a return, any of your old fixtures can be inexpensively replaced with greener, newer models.

Clear the Clutter

When a potential buyer walks through your home, they are trying to visualize themselves and their belongings, in your space. The greater a seller’s clutter, the more difficult it is to visualize.  If your home is full of clutter, buyers will be too distracted to imagine where they’ll put their belongings.

Plus, the less clutter the more spacious a room or home appears. The nice thing about de-cluttering is it is free and can even earn you money (eBay)!

Rid Yourself of Dreadful Popcorn Ceilings

When potential buyers see popcorn ceilings they may feel as if they walked into a hotel room, or they may wonder how many ceiling cracks the popcorn is covering. Popcorn ceilings are incredibly easy to remove (except for the huge mess). But before you start removal, make certain a professional checks these ceilings for asbestos.

Add a Closet

It makes sense that the difference in price between a two-bedroom and three-bedroom house is more substantial. You’re buying more room.  To increase value, add a closet to a room currently used as an office or library and it becomes a bedroom.

Three Home Improvements That May Not Increase Value

Significant Bathroom Remodel

Add up the cost of all elements in a bathroom (including labor), and a major bathroom remodel costs an average of $18,546. The bathroom may look spectacular, but recouping all that money plus profit is not likely when you sell your home.

Homeowners make back an average sixty-five percent of the total bathroom remodel investment.

Major Kitchen Upgrade

A major kitchen remodel often includes new appliances, flooring, lighting, and countertops. The price point for the average major kitchen remodel is $62,158. Homeowners usually recoup an average of sixty-five percent of this cost.

Overdone Landscaping

A moderate amount of landscaping can increase curb appeal and home value. What is a moderate amount? Adding elements such as a few trees or shrubs, and investing in a weed-free lawn.

The problem is when folks over-landscape for the sake of home improvement dollars. Many potential homebuyers may see this maintenance upkeep as a pain in the neck (and pocketbook).

Research Home Improvement Efforts

You want to make certain your home appraises for as much as possible. Remember this, it’s a numbers game and any home improvements you make should be based on dollars, not conjecture.




Important Tips for First-time Home Buyers

Important Tips for First-time Home Buyers

For the last five years, the median age for first-time home buyers has remained consistent at 31 years of age. A home mortgage is a large investment, both figuratively and literally. It is imperative to do your homework prior to the big purchase.

So, what do you need to know? What are some helpful things to consider and mistakes to avoid? We’re glad you asked.

Six Things to Know for Those Ready to Become Home Buyers  

Study the Neighborhood

If you buy a house in a neighborhood of renters, you take the chance that a few bad renters or a bad landlord can make the neighborhood unappealing. What if the neighborhood is full of graduate students and single people? Will your children find playmates? Walk around the neighborhood at night, do you feel safe?

Loving your home is important, but all homes belong to a neighborhood, which you should appreciate as well.

Three Strikes, You’re Out

Three strikes and you’re out. Everyone knows this. It can also be a useful rule-of-thumb for home buyers. If a house property has three flaws, which are not easy to correct, move on. For example, if the house is on a busy street, has a tiny garage and only one bathroom, you may want to avoid it.

Practice Your Love Letter Writing

You have found a home you want…badly. Get your creative juices going and write to the sellers. Tell them how their house is the perfect fit for you. They’ll likely feel bittersweet about selling the home, and your appreciation for the house will likely make an impression on them. If multiple offers for the house come in, they may pick you just on the emotional appeal of the letter you wrote.

Don’t Hastily Count Your Gold

When buying a new home, how much of a mortgage can you afford? You want to buy a house you can afford. Base the amount on your current income. Do not project into the future, or leverage what you may earn in the near future. Mortgages must be based on current, stable income sources.

Do not anticipate your potential earnings, even if you are in the last year of nursing school or law school, or you know a work promotion is impending. You cannot predict the future. There are no guarantees down the road.

Make a List of Things You Will Not Negotiate

What are your values? What would enhance or deter your well-being? Make a list of these very things and let them guide your decision making. They will often define your desired location, choice of amenities, and more.

Continue to revisit this list and make amendments once you have started to shop around in earnest.

Scrub Your Credit Clean

Credit history and credit score are huge factors that go a long way towards determining your risk as a borrower. Before you apply for a mortgage, check your credit score and dispute any potential errors.

Pay down high balance credit cards—get your balances to less than thirty percent of every card’s credit limit.

And hold off on large credit purchases such as a car loan, since large purchases affect your debt-to-income ratio.

Accrue Knowledge

Current mortgage rates are low. Demand for homes is high. In other words, it is a seller’s market.

This means you need to enter the market with a great deal of knowledge. Follow the preceding tips to set you on your wisdom-gathering journey.

Best of luck with your hunt.




Building an Emergency Fund with an Eye To Disability Insurance

Building an Emergency Fund with an Eye To Disability Insurance

Has the shock of The Federal Reserve System’s Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2015 shocked you into getting serious about building an emergency fund?

If you have not read the blog we posted prior to this one, here is a statistic from the report that may be the impetus for immediate action and lifestyle change:

Forty-six percent of adults say they either could not cover an emergency expense costing $400, or would cover it by selling something or borrowing money.

This is attention-grabbing and a potential wake-up call for building an emergency fund.

Building an Emergency Fund   

Ok. Financially, things are tight. We understand.

However, if you want to be part of the population that can weather these aforementioned storms, there are two ways to go about building an emergency fund: 1) You must lower expenses; and 2) You must raise income. Here are some ways to do each.

Emergency Funds  

All of us will face a financial crisis at some point in our lives. Some will be short-term like paying to fix a leaky roof. There are others that last much longer like unemployment or medical costs for an extended illness.

Building an emergency fund should be near the top of your personal financial checklist, no matter what stage of life you find yourself in. (Suze Orman even goes as far as to say, “If you have an unpaid credit card balance [and] not much saved up in emergency savings, I need you to listen up. My advice has changed. I want you to only pay the minimum due on your credit card balance, and instead, make it your top priority to build as much of an emergency cash fund as you can.”)

Access to an emergency fund can turn a financial crisis into a financial inconvenience.

Build an Emergency Fund by Saving

  • Maintain a spending book: This is where it starts. Track your spending for a month, every cent. At the end of the month, sort your spending into categories and evaluate carefully. Examine every dollar that isn’t going to necessities. Then interrogate your necessities. Try one of these budget apps if you prefer not to use pen and paper.
  • Eliminate budget busters. Cable TV, yup. Go without it. There must be sacrifice: Brown bag it, make coffee at home, lower thermostat, and shop second hand. All small changes add up.
  • Renegotiate everything. Everything is negotiable. Call up all your service providers, and ask for better rates. Tell your bank you want to pay less interest on your credit card. If they say no, shop around. 
  • Bank the savings. Make depositing the money you save into your emergency fund part of your routine.

Watch your money grow.

Build an Emergency Fund by Earning More

The above cost cutting is only half the equation. Now it is time to increase earnings.

  • Sell something: Take some time to look around the house. You will be amazed at how many items you could convert to cash.
  • Find one-time income opportunities: There are lots of chances to do some quick work and earn money inside and outside your home.
  • Get a second job: None of us likes the thought of pulling extra hours when we’re already tired. But even a couple of weeks of an extra job can make a huge difference.
  • Sign up for focus groups: Marketers and pollsters pay for your opinion. Visit a site like FindFocusGroups.com, and earn $50 to $150 just for speaking your mind.

Watch your money grow.

Disability Insurance

Another shocking statistic revealed by the Fed’s report was the following:

Twenty-two percent of respondents experienced a major unexpected medical expense that they had to pay out of pocket in the prior year, and 46 percent of those who say they had a major medical expense report that they currently owe debt from that expense.

Disability insurance covers individuals who have lost the ability to generate a paycheck. Some of whom answered the above statistic might be part of that category.

Once you have your emergency fund healthy and established, your next task is purchasing disability insurance, because there are few things more important than protecting against the loss of your earning capacity 

The Task of Fiscal Responsibility

Yes, you are correct, financial preparedness and fiscal responsibility is a long-term, consistent, ongoing endeavor. But it is the difference between those who can afford a $400 dollar expense and those who cannot.

And the ability to sleep soundly at night is priceless.

Image Credit: Shutterstock



Has The Four Percent Retirement Rule Lost Its Usefulness?

Has The Four Percent Retirement Rule Lost Its Usefulness?

What Is This Retirement Rule?

The four percent retirement rule is a rule of thumb used by financial planners and retirees to help determine the amount of funds to withdraw from a retirement account each year.

This retirement rule attempts to provide steady funds to a retiree while maintaining an account balance to be withdrawn for a set number of years. The four percent rate rate is considered a conservative rate, with withdrawals largely drawn from interest and dividends. The withdraw rate is constant, but it can be increased to keep pace with inflation.

Does The Four Percent Retirement Rule Still Hold

The last decade has been one of low interest rates. Therefore, the four percent rule is no longer working well—unless you are wealthy or have more than enough socked away for later life.

Part of the problem with the four percent rule is that it was created in the 1990s, when interest rates were much higher. Retirees with bonds and annuities created more income than retirees today with the same assets.

Also, the market has had too many fluctuations. Therefore, this rule could work only if you are wealthy enough or young enough to withstand the volatility of market fluctuations. But for the average retiree (who is now also living longer) the four percent rule can lead to a nonexistent nest egg.

Recent research has shown that in this day and age, a retiree would be 50 percent more likely to run out of money utilizing this retirement rule.

However, to the credit of Bill Bergen (who created the retirement rule in 1994), he stated that “I always warned people that the 4 percent rule is not a law of nature like Newton’s laws of motion. It is entirely possible that at some time in the future there could be a worse case.”

Alternative Rules of Thumb

A retiree can plan to be more conservative with withdrawals, turning the four percent into the three percent retirement rule. Obviously, money would last longer that way.

Be flexible. If a retiree is withdrawing three percent annually and the stock market performs well for numerous years, one can adjust withdrawals.

When asked what type of nest egg would generate an annual retirement income of $100,000, Steve Vernon author of Money for Life offered his rule of thumb.

“My very general rule of thumb is to have savings equal to 25 times your desired amount of annual retirement income when you retire. So if you need $100,000 per year in retirement income, you’ll need $2.5 million in savings. If the $100,000 income is in addition to Social Security or includes Social Security, that makes a difference.”

Financial advisors can find plenty of four percent retirement rule alternatives to offer to investors, including deferred income annuities, immediate fixed annuities, and managed payout funds.

Retirees may be reluctant to disregard what has historically been a successful metric for withdrawal rates. But the preceding discussion should at at least indicate that alternatives should be explored.

Nobody wants an eggless nest.

Image Credit: Shutterstock




529 ABLE: Tax-Free Savings for Persons with Disabilities

529 ABLE: Tax-Free Savings for Persons with Disabilities

 

529 ABLE, or simply 529A, are state-sponsored savings accounts authorized in 2014 by the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act). They are modeled loosely on 529 college savings accounts.

The purpose of 529 ABLE is to ease the financial strain faced by people with disabilities by creating tax-free savings accounts, which can ease the burden of certain expenses such as housing, transportation, and education.

529 ABLE does not replace benefits provided through private insurance, Medicaid, or supplemental security income, and other other benefit sources.

Seven Important 529 ABLE Facts

Who Is Eligible?

Eligibility is restricted to individuals with the onset of significant disabilities prior to reaching 26 years of age. If you meet this criteria and already receive benefits under SSI and/or SSDI, you are automatically eligible to establish an ABLE account.
If you are not a recipient of SSI and/or SSDI, but meet the age of onset disability requirement, you could still be eligible to open an ABLE account if you meet Social Security’s definition and criteria regarding significant functional limitations and receive a letter of certification from a licensed physician.

How much money can be put in an 529 ABLE account?

The total annual contributions by all participating individuals, including family and friends, for a single tax year, are $14,000. Individual states dictate the lifetime contributions limit.
However, for individuals with disabilities who are recipients of SSI, the ABLE Act sets some further limitations. The first $100,000 in ABLE accounts would be exempted from the SSI $2,000 individual resource limit. If and when an ABLE account exceeds $100,000, the beneficiary’s SSI cash benefit would be suspended until such time as the account falls back below $100,000.

It is important to note that while the beneficiary’s eligibility for the SSI cash benefit is suspended, this has no effect on their ability to receive or be eligible to receive medical assistance through Medicaid.

Which expenses are allowed by ABLE accounts?

A “qualified disability expense” may include education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology, personal support services, health care expenses, financial management and administrative services, and other expenses which help improve health, independence, and/or quality of life.

Can I have more than one ABLE account?

The ABLE Act limits the opportunity to one ABLE account per eligible individual.

What if my state has not established a 529 ABLE program before opening an account?

While the original law passed in 2014 did stipulate that an individual had to open an account in their state of residency, this provision was eliminated by Congress in 2015.  This means that regardless of where you might live and whether or not your state has decided to establish an ABLE program, you are free to enroll in any state’s program.

Will states offer options to invest the savings contributed to an ABLE account?

Like 529 college savings plans, states are likely to offer qualified individuals and families multiple options to establish ABLE accounts with varied investment strategies.

How is an ABLE account different than a special needs or pooled trust?

An ABLE Account will provide more choice and control for the beneficiary and family. Cost of establishing an account will likely be considerably less than either a Special Needs Trust (SNT) or Pooled Income Trust. With an ABLE account, account owners will have the ability to control their funds and, if circumstances change, still have other options available to them.  More information, webinars, slides, and transcripts are available: ABLE Accounts, Trusts, Financial and Benefits Planning.

What happens to funds in an ABLE account when the beneficiary dies?

The federal law authorizes state Medicaid agencies to become a creditor and seek reimbursement for the Medicaid services a beneficiary has received since he opened the ABLE account. All outstanding qualified disability expenses will be given priority over the Medicaid claims. The remainder of assets in an ABLE account will go to the beneficiary’s estate.

529 ABLE—An Additional Option

529 ABLE provides an additional option for those looking for financial relief, which is definitely a positive for those looking for Achieving A Better Life Experience.

Advocates continue to work to enhance these accounts. For instance, many seek to increase the age of available recipients to those who became disabled after they reached the age of 26 years old.

If you would like to see benefits expanded, help get the ABLE Act passed in your state. Click here to see the status of ABLE in the states.

Image Credit: Shutterstock




The Advantages and Disadvantages of Early Retirement

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Early Retirement

It would be understandable if some people’s definition of the American Dream included early retirement. Perhaps certain American dreamers look to move to a warm locale, near their families, or near a great golf course to experience the glory of an extended retirement.

Early retirement isn’t possible for all workers, but for those who have the choice, what are the potential advantages and disadvantages of early retirement? Are there any disadvantages?

ADVANTAGES OF EARLY RETIREMENT

IT COULD BE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

A landmark study led by University of Sydney found that people become more active, sleep better, and reduce their sitting time when they retire.

“A major life change like retirement creates a great window of opportunity to make positive lifestyle changes—it’s a chance to get rid of bad routines and engineer new, healthier behaviors,” the lead researcher said.

The data revealed that retirees:

  • Increased physical activity by 93 minutes a week
  • Decreased sedentary time by 67 minutes per day
  • Increased sleep by 11 minutes per day
  • Stopped smoking (50 percent of female smokers)

YOU’LL ENJOY MORE TIME FOR TRAVEL.

The earlier you retire, the more years you’ll have before health issues begin to limit your mobility.

IT’S AN OPPORTUNITY TO START A NEW CAREER.

If you feel boxed in to your current career, early retirement may provide the opportunity to break away and move into a field you love or even start your own business. Sooner is better than later.

And if you want to be your own boss, you’ll have more time to get your business off the ground. A business you launch at age 60, for example, could easily keep you intellectually challenged for another 20 years or more.

DISADVANTAGES OF EARLY RETIREMENT

IT COULD BE BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH

In May 2013, the Institute of Economic Affairs published a report on retirement. According to the report, one disadvantage of early retirement is that it can increase the chances of depression and despair by 40%.

It has also increased the prospect of developing at least one physical disorder by approximately 60%. The report is vividly explained by the BBC.

YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS WILL BE SMALLER 

Another disadvantage to early retirement is the fact the sooner you start to take Social Security, the lower your benefits will be. For example, if you were born in 1960 or later and you start taking benefits at age 62, the earliest age at which you’re eligible, your monthly benefits will be 30 percent less than if you wait until age 67.

For each year you postpone from age 67 to 70, you’ll receive an additional 8 percent of your monthly benefit. After age 70, there’s no further bonus for delaying.

YOUR RETIREMENT SAVINGS WILL HAVE TO LAST FOR MORE YEARS 

If you retire at age 62 and live to 90, your IRAs and other savings will have to cover you for 28 years. If you retire at 70 and live for the same length of time, however, your savings will only have to last for 20 years.

Working longer also means you’ll have more years to contribute to a 401(k) or other retirement plan, and the money in your plan will have more time to compound.

YOU’LL NEED TO FIND HEALTH INSURANCE

Unless your ex-employer provides it, you’ll have to pay for health insurance on your own until you’re eligible for Medicare at age 65.

YOU MIGHT GET BORED AND MISS WORKING

Many retirees find one disadvantage of early retirement is the tough transition from the daily routines to the unstructured life of retirement. They may want to return to work; unfortunately it isn’t easy to get back into the workforce once you’ve left it, voluntarily or otherwise.

A 2012 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office noted that people over age 55 generally need more time to find new jobs than their younger counterparts do.

YOUR FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES MAY STILL BE WORKING

This means they will have limited time to spend with you, and they may still talk about work while you are around. In some cases, you might find yourself out of place in these conversations. This has more bearing on the emotional, psychological, and social aspects of early retirement rather than physical and financial aspects.

ADVANTAGES 3, DISADVANTAGES 5

For those people out there who love numbers, advantages of early retirement scored a three, and the disadvantages of early retirement scored a five. However, one could assume that even though the disadvantages of early retirement scored higher than advantages, many would take the risk. Especially once they know what to look out for.

Image Credit: Shutterstock




Is It OK to Create Wealth?

Is It OK to Create Wealth?

 

We have all heard the expression … often passionately spoken. Money is the root of all evil. Is it truly evil to attempt to create wealth for you and your young family? Let’s take a look at this question.

Money itself is neither good nor evil. It’s simply a medium of exchange. It’s a way for people to trade one thing—their money, time, or energy—for other things, such as  food, clothes, or housing.

What you choose to use your money for is what could be considered good or evil. You could create wealth and use it to ensure your children eat healthy, balanced meals or to purchase front row seats for the Daft Punk concert; or you could use your wealth to hire a hit man.

How you chose to use your money is a reflection of who you are and what you value.

Nearly Everybody Wants to Create Wealth

Do you want to see a young MBA squirm? Ask them, in mixed company, why they want to be an investment banker.

The obvious answer is “I want to make lots of money!” But, who would ever state that out loud to anyone but her closest friends?

So why the charade?

If you want to create wealth, do it. The more wealth you have, the more you can give away. Money also buys resources, such as more time to help more people, especially your family. If you are constantly trying to make ends meet, how much can you really help others?

If You Create Wealth, Think of The Possibilities  

Speaking about how you can help others, yourself, and your family, reflect upon the potential virtuous results that wealth can “afford” you and others in a less fortunate condition:

  • You might study harder in school
  • You might work harder at your job to get that raise and promotion
  • You might take more risks by starting a company, which creates jobs
  • You might be able to help more people in need by giving away money or time
  • You might be able to have the freedom to do things that you really want to do
  • You might be able to stop doing things for money and start do things for love

You Have to Choose Between Wealth OR Family. Not.

Steve Siebold, author of How Rich People Think, spent nearly three decades interviewing millionaires around the world to find out what separates them from everyone else.

One of the more interesting distinctions for the purpose at hand was the last of 21 differences in thought between the rich and everyone else:

Average people believe they must choose between a great family and being rich. Rich people know you can have it all.

The idea the wealth must come at the expense of family time is nothing but a “cop-out,” Siebold says. “The rich know you can have anything you want if you approach the challenge with a mindset rooted in love and abundance.”

The Council of Disability Awareness has created a series of e-books that help individuals and families that are interested in financial success throughout their lifetime. The Young Families e-book provides tips and wisdom about how to think about money and how to responsibly protect it. In other words, these e-books provide a blueprint on how to achieve both love and abundance.

Image credit: shutterstock




Tips For Climbing The Corporate Ladder

Tips For Climbing The Corporate LadderPeople focus their attention on climbing the corporate ladder for several reasons like to:

  • Acquire more wealth to protect their future
  • Gain greater influence
  • Grow professionally

Lynette Lewis, a business consultant and author of Climbing the Ladder in Stilettos, says “every person working will typically have the desire to move up, or perhaps the better way to say it is they will want to grow. Growth is a natural sign of being alive, so it is healthy to want to expand, develop, and advance both personally and professionally.”

However, climbing the corporate ladder isn’t usually an easy and straightforward career path.

Ford Myers, a career coach and author of Get The Job You Want Even When No One’s Hiring, explains “the culture has changed and people no longer stay at one firm for the entirety of their career. In the 1970s or 1980s, it was assumed you’d join a company, work hard, pay your dues, and climb up the ladder at the firm. Those were the unwritten rules of the game. But the world has changed.”

The rules of climbing the corporate ladder may have changed but most people still want to grow professionally, reach the top, and acquire wealth even if it means they have to do it more laterally.

Andy Teach, a corporate veteran and author of From Graduation to Corporation: The Practice Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder One Rung at a Time, states “most, but not all, still want to move up the corporate ladder, but climbing up isn’t always done in a straight line. Some workers make lateral moves to other companies, hoping there is more room for advancement at their new company.”

Here, we provide some tips on climbing the corporate ladder in today’s job market from the above quoted experts.

Have a Plan For Climbing The Corporate Ladder

According to Myers, to achieve your full potential you must have a long-term career plan which focuses on where you want to end up at the height of your career, as well as the steps you need to take in the interim to make sure you get there.

Make adjustments as you go but it’s crucial to plan early in your career.

Build a Strong Network

A strong and solid network is essential to grow a successful career. Make sure to network within your company and externally online and offline. Teach explains “the more people you know and who know you, and like you, the better.”

Work Smart and Work Hard

Always do the best work possible and aim to contribute more than the job description. In climbing the corporate ladder, Lewis states “don’t let yourself be limited by what you are officially assigned to do.”

Myers explains “this does not mean ignoring present responsibilities; it means working beyond achievements which are obvious or expected. Do more than most people, work harder and longer. Treat everything with urgency and volunteer for high-visibility projects. Always seek to contribute more, and be known as the go-to person or the get-it-done person. There is no replacement for hard work and smart work.”

Be Proactive

Proactive people move forward, look to the future, and make things happen. They actively engage instead of passively observe.

Teach says he “believes 90 percent of employees are executors, but it is the other 10 percent who initiate, who do things they are not asked to do, who move up the ladder the quickest.”

Be a Team Player

Teach explains being a valuable team member can open new career opportunities and help your career because your supervisors look carefully to see how well you work with others.

Lewis adds “the ability to win friends and influence others is a skill needed increasingly as you move up in any organization.”

Become a Resource

Continue to hone your own skills and knowledge outside the job to advance in your career. Myers explains being an expert in your industry gives you credibility not only within your company but outside in your field—and thus helps climbing the corporate ladder. 

Build relationships with others in your industry as this can open up significant opportunities for mentoring and promotion. Lewis advises “read, study, and follow industry leaders on social media, and attend industry conferences. This helps you grow beyond your job to know the industry and others in it.”

Express Gratitude

A simple thank you can go a long way.

Lewis recounts,

“I learned the value of this one time when I saw our CEO walking through the atrium at lunch. He did not know me but I thanked him for his weekly voicemails I knew he intended to be informative and encouraging to the workforce. Not 30 minutes later my boss told me the CEO had asked what my name was, and I realized my simple gesture of appreciation had left a positive impression.  From that point forward the CEO called me by name.”

Following the above mentioned tips can help you achieve your career ambitions of climbing the corporate ladder.