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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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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So It’s Been Awhile but I’m Back from My Blogging Break

Yeah, so it’s been awhile since I wrote an article on this blog. Judging by the date of the last post it’s been three months. That’s a long time in the blogging world to let your site lie dormant with no action.

But the decision not to post was intentional. Why you may ask? Well there were several personal reasons that drew my attention away from writing. In the past few months my family has experienced a change in my career, the school my kids go to and the church we attend. And the most time consuming of all our family events is that we moved to a new home. And, if you’ve ever sold a home and bought a new one, you know the time required for that.

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How to Save One Thousand Dollars in a Month

If you are serious about getting out of debt and building any kind of financial future, then you must save money on a regular basis. The best part is you don’t have to begin with much. All you need to do for starters is to save one thousand dollars. That will give yourself some cushion.

When I worked construction I learned that every building requires a solid foundation. For your financial life, that foundation is savings. Without adequate savings you will struggle to get out of debt and will always be susceptible to emergency situations.

save one thousand dollarsNow I know the process of saving money isn’t sexy. We’d rather go spend our money on gadgets and entertainment that would give us an emotional high. Saving money and leaving it in the bank is an emotional blah.

To save one thousand dollars in a month may or may not sound like a daunting task depending on your situation. Some of you may be struggling to pay your basic bills.

But you can save one thousand dollars quickly. In fact, you could do it in only one month. Here’s how.

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How Much We Pay Our Kids For Chores

If you’ve ever wondered how much to pay kids for chores you are not alone. It’s a question my wife and I have wrestled with again and again. I’ve mentioned before why we don’t give our kids allowances. I’m not giving them money just for existing. It seems like that is what an allowance implies. Kids need to feel the burden of work so they can experience the joy of its rewards.

how much to pay kids for choresIn addition to earning some money, doing chores around the house is teaching them responsibility. The home is where they should begin to learn basic life skills. When I was in school, I knew some college freshman who couldn’t do their own laundry. My oldest two children have been doing that since they were nine.

Over the years my wife and I have adjusted how much we pay our kids for chores. The amounts started out small and increased as they got older. Now that our oldest has turned 16, we are looking at another radical change. Before I get to that, here is some background information that helped us decide on how much to pay kids for chores.

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The Best Advice From God About Playing Video Games

I have a confession to make – I LOVE playing video games. In fact, even today at age 43 – I have to keep myself from playing them because it’s so easy for me to get sucked into their grasp. I can still play all day if I let myself go.

Technology propels society forward perhaps like nothing else. I came of age in a decade where the video game industry saw leaps and bounds like never before. I was seven in 1980 when perhaps the greatest video game of all time was released. Want to take a guess which game that was?

That’s right – Pac-Man.

But the 1980s saw even greater innovations that propelled the numbers of kids and adults playing video games to new heights.

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A Christmas Memory That Still Challenges Me to This Day

I love the Christmas season. Yes, it’s hectic. I know, it’s cold. Yes, travel is a nightmare. Each of those issues may bring back a Christmas memory you’d rather not recall.

a christmas memoryDespite all that, I look forward to Christmas. Always have. As a young child it meant a trip to my grandparent’s house in Indiana each year. We’d usually stay for a week with the rest of the extended family crammed into the house. My sister and I camped out on air mattresses in my grandfather’s study.

I don’t know how my grandparents did it, especially my grandmother. Cooking for 15 plus people for the week must have been exhausting. In fact, from our sleeping position in the study, my sister and I could see the light of her bedroom and the kitchen click on early – EARLY – each morning. She always pulled it off though with the perfect mixture of meats, fruit salads and desserts that we all liked.

It was crowded in that house but for a young child, it was as close to nirvana as one could come. So many things happened during the week that were out of the routine. There were later bedtimes, watching endless TV (sports) with my uncles, playing in the snow outside and having a steady stream of board games going on the inside.

But what I remember more than anything – and what ended up touching my life the most to this day – was our annual gift exchange.

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