You might have heard this billionaire's name, but who is Mark Cuban, and how did he make his money? It's possible you know him as one of the sharks on the hit show “Shark Tank,” and you might have seen pictures of Mark Cuban’s wife, Tiffany Stewart, and his children. Cuban is more than just a TV personality and family man — he’s also the owner of the Dallas Mavericks and a successful investor. In fact, he's so successful that he made his first million in 1990 after selling his business to CompuServe and then earned a $5.9 billion paycheck after he sold his online streaming audio service to Yahoo in 1999.
Cuban knows how to be rich and successful, and he isn’t afraid to share his insight. Check out these 10 pieces of financial advice from Mark Cuban, and learn how to think like a billionaire.
1. Be a Little Bit of a Risk Taker
Talk to any self-made millionaires or billionaires and they might preach the importance of taking calculated risks. Sometimes, risks and rewards go hand-in-hand, as Cuban pointed out in a 2017 interview with Money magazine while discussing the value of investing your savings. He explained that it's possible to save a million dollars, but only if you’re disciplined and take risks. Many who achieve higher levels of financial success aren’t afraid to invest for the betterment of their future — whether they’re investing in the market, a business or their education.
In an exclusive interview with Young Money, personal finance education and media company, Cuban offered this general investing advice and then followed the statement by saying, “The idiots that tell you to put your money in the market because eventually it will go up need to tell you that because they are trying to sell you something. The stock market is probably the worst investment vehicle out there.”
Although some investors believe the stock market is the ticket to wealth, others believe the market is too risky and volatile. Your stock can be profitable one day, yet it only takes one downturn to lose it all. Rather than put all your eggs in the stock market, Cuban encourages keeping some money in a savings account for a rainy day, so you're protected if something goes wrong. In his own words, “Buy-and-hold is a sucker’s game ... Those who put their money in CDs sleep well at night and definitely have more money today than they did yesterday.”
3. Find a Way to Invest Inexpensively in the Market
If you want to dabble in the market, Cuban advises doing so safely to minimize your risk. In his conversation with “Money,” he suggested investing in a low-cost mutual fund. These are investments that let you pool your assets with the assets of other investors, which provides a cheaper way to diversify your portfolio. As Cuban puts it: “If you can find a way to invest inexpensively in the market, you can start to build your net worth.”
4. If You Don’t Fully Understand the Risks of an Investment You Are Contemplating, It’s OK to Do Nothing
Cuban gave this advice in a blog titled, “The Best Investment Advice You Will Ever Get.” Although investing can build your net worth and put you on the path toward financial freedom, there’s no guarantee that an investment strategy will pay off.
Before investing, make sure you know the risks and prepare for the possibility of losing money. If you have doubts — or if there's too much uncertainty surrounding an investment — there's nothing wrong with holding onto your cash until the right opportunity comes along.
5. Don’t Let Fear Be a Roadblock
Cuban shared this statement in his book, “How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It.” Fear is a natural feeling, but it's also one of the worst enemies to success. If you want to get ahead, get out of your own way and stop hiding behind fear — it keeps you stuck in the same place and stifles growth.
If investing is new to you, fear and apprehension are normal. Rather than let it hold you back, educate yourself on different investment strategies to build your confidence — when you are ready, start with cheaper, safer investments.
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13 pieces of money advice you can't afford to ignore
13 pieces of money advice you can't afford to ignore
1. Pay yourself first
"People still don't grasp the fact that they need to save a dime out of every dollar," author and self-made millionaire David Bach told Business Insider in a Facebook Live interview. He said the average American who's saving money is saving just 15 minutes a day of their income, when they should be saving an hour.
Bach noted troubling research from the Federal Reserve that revealed nearly half of Americans wouldn't have enough money on hand to cover a $400 emergency. Yet, he continued, millions of those people will buy a coffee at Starbucks today and expect to buy the new $800 iPhone next year. Americans have money, he says, but we aren't saving it.
So get on the "pay-yourself-first plan," as Bach calls it, and automatically save an hour a day of your income. "When that money is moved before you can touch it, that's how real wealth is built," he said.
2. Beware of lifestyle creep
There's a lot of pressure in your 20s and 30s to keep up with your friends. Maybe they're buying a nicer car or a house, but if you're not in the financial position to keep up, don't try.
"I always refer to it as 'lifestyle creep' because one of the big things that people can do — that's an advantage to them — is keep their fixed expenses somewhat stable and reasonable for what they make," Katie Brewer, a Dallas-based certified financial planner who founded Your Richest Life, told Business Insider.
Planning for your recurring costs — like mortgage, rent, a car payment, and insurance — ensures that expenses won't creep up on you and derail your financial future. Of course, Brewer said, if you're making good money you should have the freedom to spend it how you wish, as long as your lifestyle doesn't overtake your income.
In short: Live below your means.
3. Take advantage of an employer-sponsored 401(k)
Putting money into a retirement plan as early as you can, no matter the amount, is a smart and easy way to pay yourself first.
If your company offers a 401(k) plan, take advantage of it. In some cases, employers will offer a contribution match. "That means the company contributes a set amount — say, 50 cents for a dollar — for every dollar you contribute up to a specified percentage of your salary," Beth Kobliner writes in her book "Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance In Your Twenties and Thirties."
"That's free money, equivalent to a 50% or 100% return. There's nowhere you can beat this!" she writes.
Plus, 401(k)s allow you to contribute your pre-tax money, meaning the more you contribute now, the greater the growth (thanks, compound interest) and the more money you'll have down the road, though you will be taxed when you withdraw the money for retirement. For 2017, the maximum contribution to a 401(k) is $18,000.
4. Invest in the stock market, just don't try to time it
"No one can time the market, so know that if there is a decline, it's going to bounce back. Over time, being in the market pays off more so than staying out of it," Michael Solari, a certified financial planner with Solari Financial Planning, told Business Insider.
Sometimes known as "set it and forget it" investments, these diversified funds automatically adjust their asset allocation and risk exposure based on your age and retirement horizon. Early on, when the need for that money is still a couple decades away, the fund will adopt a more growth-focused strategy. As you ripen toward retirement, it dials back the risk.
You may not get the average annual return of 11% in your target date fund — given you'll be invested in a blend of stocks, bonds, and alternative assets — but if you get even 6% per year, an original $10,000 investment will be worth more than $32,000 in 20 years without you having to do a single thing. Compare that with $12,200 in your high-yield savings account or $10,020.20 in your traditional savings account.
kid put coin to piggy bank on the vintage wood background, a saving money for future education concept and copy space for input text.
5. Build an emergency fund
Let's face it: It's really not a matter of if you'll need to fork over cash for a car or home repair, child expense, or medical emergency, but a matter of when.
"No matter how well you plan or how positively you think, there are always things out of your control that can go wrong," Bach writes in his bestseller "The Automatic Millionaire."
"People lose their jobs, their health, their spouses. The economy can go sour, the stock market can drop, businesses can go bankrupt. Circumstances change. If there's anything you can count on, it's that life is filled with unexpected changes," he wrote.
Most financial planners suggest stockpiling anywhere from three to nine months worth of expenses in an emergency fund that you can turn to when in need. If you don't have savings at the ready, you run the risk of having to rely on family or friends for help, or worse, falling into debt.
6. Pay off your credit card balance in full every month
Sometimes a credit card can feel like free money, until you're slapped with the bill. Even then, most credit cards only require you to pay 1% to 3% of your balance each month, which can be an alluring prospect if your budget is tight. But consistently paying the minimum could cost you a fortune in the long run, damage your credit score, and affect your ability to qualify for a mortgage.
Not only did she swipe her credit card with no reservations and adopt the bad habit of paying just the minimum amount — Torabi said she once forgot to pay the bill all together.
She remembered incurring a late fee that showed up on her credit report and gave her a true "wake-up call." The incident happened before she "realized the power of automating" her bills, a practice that can save you money on late fees and relinquish you from remembering due dates and the embarrassment of missing a payment.
Though you're "never going to kill your financial future" by accumulating money, Brewer says, "you're losing out on opportunity costs by having money sitting around ... especially if it's sitting in an account making barely anything in interest."
If you're risk-averse, one way to manage savings overflow is to move your money into a high-yield savings account, where you could be earning 1% interest on your money, rather than the 0.01% earned in a traditional savings account. Or, as previously mentioned, stick it in a low-cost target date fund and see your returns balloon over time, with little to no work required.
8. Have more than one credit card
It may seem financially reckless to have a wallet full of credit cards, but it's actually smart. According to John Ulzheimer, credit expert at CreditSesame.com, having a single credit card can damage your credit score, thanks to something called your credit utilization ratio — that is, how much of your available credit you're actually using.
"That percentage is very, very influential in your credit score," explains Ulzheimer. "People say that you're in good shape if you keep your utilization within 50% of your available credit, or 30%, but really, it should be below 10%."
Available credit counts all the cards you have: If you have one card with an $8,000 limit and one with a $6,000 limit, your total available credit is $14,000, even if you only spend $1,000 a month. With a single card, you have no unused credit cushioning the impact of your spending. The closer you get to your limit, the harder the hit on your credit score.
"Say you have $5,000 of credit card debt at an 18% interest rate. Say you happen upon $5,000 of money. If you take some of the advice out there, and split the use of that $5,000 (half to establish an emergency fund, half to pay down credit card debt), you still have $2,500 of credit card debt and $2,500 of money sitting in cash.
"The $2,500 of credit card debt at an 18% interest rate costs you $450 a year. The emergency fund earns almost nothing in interest. So you're out $450."
Bottom line: You'll save more paying off the debt than you'd earn if you invested it, whether in a high-yield savings account or the stock market.
10. Always be insured
Every American citizen is required to have health insurance, or be fined hundreds of dollars by the IRS each year. Kobliner advises signing up for insurance should be "your No. 1 financial priority" because it'll protect you from unforeseen accidents or illness, and prevent yourself or your family from going bankrupt in the case of an emergency.
If your employer offers health insurance, take it, Kobliner says. It's almost always cheaper than buying a policy on your own (but keep in mind that you can be covered by your parent's insurance until age 26). Before signing up, though, make sure you understand the cost and extent of the plan, including your deductible, or how much you'll be paying out-of-pocket before insurance takes over.
If you do end up needing to purchase a policy on your own, head over to healthcare.gov to compare plans and pricing.
11. Track your spending
Business Insider's Libby Kane has written, edited, and read hundreds, maybe thousands, of stories about money during her career, and says she's learned that "the best, most critical first step you can take to improve your finances is to track your spending."
Keeping tabs on where your money is going, whether fixed expenses like rent or mortgage payments and transportation costs or discretionary spending like dining out and travel, is a crucial part of mastering your money.
"Whether you owe money to the tax man at the end of the year or not, it's always a smart move to file your taxes," Kobliner advises.
And be aware that you can save money on taxes by taking advantage of deductions, or the specific expenses you're allowed to take out of your income before calculating your owed taxes. The standard deduction — $6,300 for singles and $12,600 for couples — is a good place to start, Kobliner says.
You can also itemize deductions to maximize your savings by listing specific deductions, including expenses for housing costs like mortgage interest or property taxes, and charitable donations, or making use of tax credits.
And if you don't file your taxes? You could pay a penalty fee of at least $135, plus interest on the money you owe, and lose ground on your credit report, among a host of other financial consequences.
13. Be patient
When bestselling author and motivational speaker Tony Robbins asked billionaire Warren Buffett a few years ago, "What made you the wealthiest man in the world?" Buffett replied, "Three things: Living in America for the great opportunities, having good genes so I lived a long time, and compound interest."
"The biggest thing about making money is time," the investor, who's now worth more than $76 billion, said in a recent HBO documentary about his life. "You don't have to be particularly smart, you just have to be patient."
In his latest letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, Buffett announced that he was on his way to winning a $1 million bet he made in 2007 that his investment in an S&P 500 index fund would outperform five hedge funds over a decade.
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6. Be a Smart Shopper
There’s a definite connection between being a smart shopper and a savvy investor. In a blog post, Cuban explains how cash creates transitional returns. He encourages analyzing how much you spend over the course of a year and then suggested taking advantage of cash, quantity and discounts to get a better return on your money. In other words — it’s best to buy in bulk.
“Saving 15 percent on $1,000 worth of items you know you will absolutely spend money on is a better return on your money than making 15 percent in a year on a $1,000 investment because you don’t pay taxes on it,” said Cuban.
7. Rarely Take Third-Party Advice on Investments
Cuban isn’t afraid to march to the beat of his own drum, particularly when it comes to his money and investing. In an interview with Forbes, Cuban stated that he rarely takes third-party advice on his investments, thus underscoring an important point: Don’t put all your trust in someone else.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek guidance from financial advisors. Their insight is invaluable when you’re just starting out and have limited investment knowledge. At the same time, don’t give someone complete control over where your money goes. Learn the ins and outs of investing for yourself so you can have a say in how you invest your money. If you're just starting out, pick up a book to start learning.
8. Go to the Cheapest School Possible to Get Your Freshman — and Maybe Sophomore — Classes
College can be an excellent investment in your future and provide the skills and knowledge you need to improve your financial outlook — but acquiring said knowledge isn’t without costs. Cuban offers a cheaper approach: Enroll in a local or community college for the first couple of years of your undergraduate education.
Some might argue for the benefits of attending a prestigious school, but Cuban encourages young people to think about the long-term financial ramifications. “Do you want to be saddled with $40,000, $50,000, $80,000 or $100,000 in debt? I’ll give up the incremental value of freshman English at a great school to not have the stress,” Cuban said.
9. Have Disciplined Spending
Cuban knows a thing or two about being disciplined and living frugal — after college, he moved into a house with five roommates, lived off macaroni and cheese and drove an older vehicle. Rather than invest in expensive belongings, he invested in himself and his future goals. Likewise, a frugal mindset can propel you toward your goals. If you make money and build a nest egg, you’ll have the resources needed to make smart investments.
Live beneath your means and reduce spending to help build your savings. Consider driving an older car, buying secondhand goods, living with your parents a little longer or getting a roommate to lower housing expenses.
10. Pay Off Credit Cards After 30 Days — or Don’t Use Them at All
Credit cards serve a useful purpose, but they can also lead to debt if you don't manage them responsibly — which is why Cuban gave this advice to consumers. He doesn’t discourage using a credit card, but he does encourage paying off balances in full every month to avoid wasting money on interest.
“Using a credit card is okay if you pay it off at the end of the month,” said Cuban. “Just recognize that the 18 percent or 20 percent or 30 percent you’re paying in credit card debt is going to cost you a lot more than you ever could earn anywhere else.”
For advice on money and investing, seek out those with a successful track record. Your chances of a one-on-one session with Mark Cuban are probably slim to none — but this doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from his wisdom. Between his blogs, interviews and Q&A sessions, he’s proven that he’s more than willing to share what he knows with others.