Hope for your financial life and beyond

Your Best Investment Ever Won’t Be In The Stock Market

What is the best investment you’ve ever made? Historical analysis suggests an investor in the U.S. stock market can reasonably count on an average annual return of 8-10%. There will be good years and bad to live through, but that’s a pretty good return for your money.

best investmentWhile the stock market is known as the great creator of wealth, it’s not the best investment you can ever make. It’s also not land, rental properties, CDs, bonds, or commodities. None of those will bring the level of return needed to really succeed in your life, in your career and with your finances.

One investment outshines all these in terms of total lifetime return. That’s the investment you make in yourself. Nothing will move you forward quicker, push you farther and have more lasting impact than the time and money spent on oneself. Here’s how.

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7 Tips on How to Handle a Teenager’s Car Accident

Calls in the middle of the night are never good. Neither is the one when you say “Hello” and your teenager is crying on the other end. Your heart immediately drops because you know they are hurting. That’s the phone call I received recently when my daughter was in her first car accident.

car accidentShe had just left basketball practice and was traveling at the legal speed on a country road. As she came up over a small hill, cars were stacked up four deep waiting for someone to turn left. She wasn’t on her phone but admittedly was a little tired and distracted. By the time she realized what was happening in front of her, it was too late to brake in time. The truck she was driving rear-ended the last car in the line. The driver of that car had her foot slip off the brake and hit the accelerator, propelling her down into the ditch. On the way, she clipped the car in front of her.

As rear-end car accidents go it wasn’t pretty. Our airbag deployed. The car she hit had damage in the back end and the front, as it hit a telephone pole when it went to the ditch. And the third car had minor bumper damage. In the end, our used truck – that we had owned for less than a month – was totaled.

Thankfully, everyone was OK. No hospital visits were needed. And the people involved were pretty nice about it. I think they could see how upset this 16-year old girl was having caused her first accident.

I hope I never have to take that call again from any of my other kids. Odds are I will. But as the oldest child often does, she broke new ground and helped us figure out how to deal with a teenager’s car accident. Here are 7 things I learned from the incident.

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6 Special Reasons Why I Love Having a Travel Budget

travel budgetI love having a travel budget! For my wife and I it was a priority from the beginning of our marriage. We both went on family vacations growing up and wanted to carry on that tradition with our kids. And never was that ideal more driven home than on a hot, summer afternoon at a tourist beach in St. Maarten.

This is no ordinary beach though. It’s Maho Beach, situated just yards away from Princess Juliana International Airport. Oddly enough, people don’t come to this beach for the beach. They come to watch the planes land.

It’s 1:00 pm in the afternoon and dozens of tourists are standing on the beach looking out over the water. The chalkboard at the nearby restaurant lists the daily landing times. As we looked, right on schedule a tiny speck appeared out over the water.

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How to Turn a Hobby Into a Career

Ever want to turn a hobby into a career? Maria Cannon at HobbyJr.org did just that with her love of quilting. Now she is trying to help others do the same. In today’s guest post she shares some practical tips that can help you get started.

Many people these days are looking for a new career. There are many ways that can be accomplished without going back to school. One such way is to use an existing hobby to make money.

It’s a valid path to pursue, especially for those who feel like they’ve hit a lull within their jobs and want to try something different. Starting your own business is a wonderful option when you’re ready to branch out. However, it’s not without its challenges. Done poorly it could blow up in your face and leave you worse off than you are right now.

So, the question is, “Where do you start?” If you already have a hobby that could be a potential moneymaker such as sewing, baking, or making jewelry, you’re already halfway there. If not, you’ll need to think of ways you can earn money while doing something you love.

Here are a few tips on how to get started.

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A Spring Cleaning To-Do List For Your Finances

Do you love spring cleaning? I used to think that I loved to clean. Now that I’ve had some more time around the house as a stay at home dad, I realize I don’t love the process of cleaning. It’s something else.

spring cleaningWhat I actually love are the results and satisfaction that come from cleaning. For few brief moments of my life that space I just worked on is perfectly in order. It’s fresh, purified and clean. It’s organized and pleasing to look at.

During this time of year I usually embark on the spring cleaning of something. I’m working on our garage right now. What an organizational task!

In my mind, spring cleaning serves several purposes. First, it’s a purging process – getting rid of what you don’t need. But I also use spring cleaning to get organized and freshen things up a bit. And if I get really ambitious, I tackle those hidden places in the house where dirt and bacteria thrive.

The house isn’t the only place though to work on spring cleaning. You can’t forget to look at your finances. Granted, it’s not something that you might naturally think to do during the spring. But this area of your life also gets a little messy from time to time. So while you are cleaning everything else, why not give it a look as well.

To get you started, here are places where you should give your finances a good spring cleaning checkup.

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10 Tidbits of Financial Wisdom on My 45th Birthday

Forty-five. That’s the age I turn today – March 7, 2018.

A lot has changed in our world since 1973. Almost every area of life I can think of has made advancements. Mostly these have been for the good of society and have ushered in new eras for technology, medicine, science, politics and sports just to name a few.

One thing really hasn’t changed though. And that is our need for money. We need it now just as much as my parents did when I was born. Money provides us with the means to secure the most basics needs for our survival – food, clothing, shelter, utilities and transportation. If any one of those key areas is missing in the equation, then we are more or less suffering to some degree.

I’ve been blessed in that I’ve never had to worry about meeting these needs. However, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a challenge at times. But both my parents when I was young and now myself leading my own family have always been able to manage. I’ve truly been blessed in that way.

In my 45 years of life, I’ve learned some valuable lessons about money and finances. So today I’d like to give you 10 quick bits of financial wisdom that have helped shape me over the years. I won’t get bogged down in the details about how I learned these lessons. If you want to read more details, click on the links I’ll provide.

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Refinance Your Mortgage Now While Rates Are Still Historically Low

A home purchase is one of the most exciting and expensive financial transactions a person will make. Because homes cost so much, most people choose to buy one by getting a mortgage. They borrow money from a lender at an agreed upon interest rate for a designated length of time. When the loan is paid off, the house is legally theirs.

refinanceThe rate lenders charge for interest on a mortgage does not stay the same. They fluctuate, sometimes even from day to day. Because they can change frequently, Person A may end up getting a lower rate than Person B. It seems unfair that one person could get a better rate and save money just because they had better timing on their home purchase.

That’s where refinancing comes in to play. If done properly, it can end up saving homeowner’s money in the long run.

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Choosing the Right College Starts by Answering These Questions

Choosing a college at 18 years of age presents a daunting challenge. For most high school students, the decision represents the most difficult one they’ve ever made. With so many choices, it’s easy to lose a few hours of sleep trying to sort it all out.

choosing a collegeOur first child is beginning the college search right now. She’s not losing sleep over it, thank goodness. However, with so many options it’s easy to not know where to start.

Information from the College Board shows there are approximately 4,000 private and public, two or four-year colleges and universities in the United States. Whittling that number down to a manageable few is some task. How can a high school student narrow their list so they can select the right school?

I did it by asking questions.

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How to Price Your eBook

Have you ever thought of writing an eBook? I’ve toyed with the idea recently. After all these years, I’ve got a lot of content on this site to draw from.

An eBook is an electronic version of your writing, thus giving you the option to avoid traditional printing. It would be available via digital download to a computer or a handheld device like a Kindle or iPad. This ease of delivery has made them very popular for writers and readers alike.

But the real question is, after putting in the effort to write your eBook, what do you price it at? For example, pricing it at $2.99 a copy might feel like you are giving it away for next to nothing. You’ve put a lot into writing the book and you want to be rewarded for your efforts.

Keep in mind though that selling eBooks is all about volume. If you sell 100,000 copies at $2.99, that’s $299,000. Of course, in some instances, $2.99 might be considered too high. In another case, it might be too low. Additionally, you will have to keep all your other expenses (like royalty percentages) in mind.

In short, there are many key factors you’ll need to consider when you’re contemplating how to price your eBook. Here is a look at a few.

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How to Make a Will and Protect Those You Love

Today I’m going to talk about a personal finance related topic that many people ignore – how to make a will. In fact, this topic is more avoided than you think. A recent survey at Caring.com showed that only 42% of Americans have estate planning documents. What’s even worse is that for those with children under the age of 18, the number drops to 36%. Yikes!

how to make a willIt’s not surprising a large number of people avoid making a will. Making a will requires a person to think about one very uncomfortable event – their death. I don’t think anyone of us is looking with anticipation towards that specific day.

However, the reality is this – that day WILL come. It is unavoidable. And the real truth of the matter is, we don’t know when it’s going to be. Not all of us are guaranteed to live to 100.

So before I get to how to make a will, I want to show you why it’s important and how it helps protect your family.

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Emergency Fund Basics: The Step On Which All Other Success Is Built

If you are just getting started with the “getting-my-financial-act-together” bit, you might not know where to begin. Have I got good news for you. It’s time to cut through all the clutter and for you to realize one important truth. The first step to success in all other areas of personal finance is creating an emergency fund of cash. Then you need to save it for a crisis.

emergency fundThat may seem like a bold statement. I can attest though, from personal experience, having money set aside strictly for emergencies is the #1 strategy that has propelled my wife and I forward in paying off debt, saving for retirement and college and investing in the stock market.

Why is that you ask?

Because it’s a fact – emergency situations in life are going to come. We cannot escape them. So it just makes sense that we learn how to manage through a crisis.

If we don’t have cash that is easily accessible to take care of the emergency the moment it hits our door, then we are really only faced with one alternative – going into debt to deal with the situation. And it’s this constant accumulation of debt that hinders our ability to accumulate great wealth over time.

You must break the going-into-debt-to-solve-the-emergency cycle.

In this article, I’ll outline the basics of having an emergency fund. You’ll learn when to start one, what to use it for, how much to save and the best ways to fund it.

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