Hope for your financial life and beyond

6 Ways We Survive the Dark Side of Rental Real Estate

My wife and I purchased our first home to be used as a rental property seven years ago. That move was the culmination of several years’ worth of reading about and planning to own rental real estate. It took us that long to feel knowledgeable and confident enough to put a plan into action that would earn us a steady income stream aside from our normal careers.

For the most part, our experience has been a positive one. In fact, I’d say overall it has been great. However, we have had our share of challenges along the way, like:

rental real estate…an unexpected new well we had to drill and install (that was pricey!)

…leaky copper pipes that had to be replaced in an entire house

…a dual tenant situation where one roommate left, leaving us with half the monthly revenue stream on that property until another roommate could be found

…tenants who don’t inform you of repair issues in a timely manner (“Really? It’s been leaking how long?”)

…tenants who won’t pay on time, or ever

…tenants, who by their actions force you into court (that’s a post in itself!)

…managing the finances to account for repairs, taxes and the house that sits vacant for months while you do said repairs or find a new tenant

…dealing with the emotions that come when facing these tough circumstances

…the time it took away from our already busy schedule to take care of all this

Are you prepared for all that and more? If you are game, then I have five suggestions that will help you manage through some of the dark times that will inevitably come. And I’ll tell you the sixth thing we’ve done recently that has taken our rental real estate business to the next level.

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How to Get Out of Debt and Win in Five Simple Steps

Are you up to your eyeballs in debt? Don’t see anyway out? If so, take heart. You are not alone. Millions of Americans live with this burden and never once think about how to get out of debt.

how to get out of debtYou shouldn’t ignore the mountain of debt piling up. It would be better if you paid close attention because excessive debt will cripple your wealth building process. It will mess up your savings, the kid’s college funding, and even your retirement investing. In many cases, it also ruins your relationships.

People choose to ignore the debt crisis in their lives for many reasons. Some aren’t self aware enough to see how debt is affecting their life. Others enjoy the perks that come from excessive spending and think debt is the only way to get what they really want. I’m sure in some cases, people see the mountain of debt is so overwhelmingly high. As a result, they don’t know where or how to begin climbing out of it.

Whatever your circumstance, what I am about to share can help. How to get out of debt involves five simple enough steps to understand. However, the steps themselves won’t be easy. A few will be challenging to implement. Your behavior will have to change if you are going to be successful.

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3 Principles from the Bible that Will Help You Build Wealth

The following is a guest post from ESI who blogs at ESI Money. He’s a 50-something early retiree who has amassed a multi-million dollar net worth by following three simple steps to build wealth — earning, saving, and investing (ESI).

As most Christians know, the Bible has a wealth of information and advice about handling money and the ability to build wealth. The book of Proverbs alone provides enough guidance to fill many personal finance books.

build wealthOf course the Bible doesn’t focus on becoming wealthy for wealth’s sake, but to bless others. That said, if you apply the principles in the Bible, you can’t help but become wealthy.

Over the past 25 years I have applied three simple steps to become wealthy. At the same time, my knowledge of what the Bible says about money has grown. Somewhere along the way I realized that my actions mirrored what was in Scripture. And even better, as I changed my actions to better reflect the Bible’s teachings on money, I prospered even more.

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Always Plan a Budget Around These 5 Expenses First

The first time I sat down to plan a budget with my wife, we didn’t know where to start. There were literally dozens of expense categories popping into our head at once. The whole process seemed a bit overwhelming.

plan a budgetAt some point it dawned on us that we needed some clarity about the process. We needed to narrow the field and focus on certain priorities in the budget. By doing that, it became obvious what areas of the budget we needed to focus on first.

What we found was that there are five fundamental expenditures to focus on when you plan a budget. Without them, any person would have a difficult time surviving. Coincidentally, these categories will also be some of the most expensive budget items each month. Those two reasons alone – basic survival and cost – should justify why it’s important to start with them when you plan a budget each month.

Five Basic Categories When You Plan a Budget

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Operation Christmas Child: Changing Lives One Shoebox at a Time

I believe the Bible when it says, He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor”  (Proverbs 22:9). There are spiritual and emotional blessings that come when we give to others, especially those in challenging life situations. And this time of year I can think of nothing better to give to than Operation Christmas Child. 

operation christmas childCan you imagine living in a world with no Christmas? What does that look like?

There are no kids eager to wake you up at 7:00 a.m…no smiles when a gift is received…no feelings of being special…no thoughts that someone cares for you.

What an unattractive and dismal scenario. Sadly, millions of children all over the world experience a Christmas just like this.  Their Christmas is bitter, meaningless and without hope.

That’s where Operation Christmas Child steps in. But they are only able to do so with your help. Here is how.

Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Program

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“I’m Rich!” – How to Handle a Lump Sum Payment of Money

I’m sure you’ve daydreamed at some point about how life would change if a large lump sum payment of money came your way. Say like a million dollars? We’ve all played this game and fantasized about all the good we could do for ourselves and others with that much money.

lump sum paymentFor most people, this will not happen. The better likelihood is that it will take many years of hard work accompanied by traditional saving and investing to become wealthy. That’s how most of us will reach our financial milestones.

However, people’s lives can change quickly because they receive a lump sum payment of money worth six or seven figures. How could this happen? Well, here is how and it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme.

Ways to Receive a Lump Sum Payment of Money

The following are ways a person could receive a lump sum payment of money:

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The Hidden College Debt Statistics You Never Hear About

The cost of college continues to expand with each passing year. With it, so does the amount of student loans being processed. It’s leading to an alarming amount of college debt that is hamstringing the life of graduates.

college debtBy now I’m sure you’ve heard the alarming student loan statistics. Americans now owe over $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. For the class of 2016, the average borrower will owe just over $37,000, a figure that is up 6% from last year.

But those are just your basic top line college debt statistics. They are the most visible numbers but they don’t tell the whole story. There are some hidden statistics (i.e. not usually reported) that highlight what this college debt is doing to students later in life. They show that virtually every decision in life can be impacted by college debt.

How College Debt Impacts Your Life

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How to Develop a Purposeful Plan for Giving Away Money

If you have found your way to this article, you most likely have a charitable heart and enjoy giving away money to a church, charitable organization, favorite cause or the girl scout who shows up at your door selling cookies. But have you ever thought about how you give away money? Do you give purposefully or haphazardly as opportunities pass in front of you?

giving away moneyDeveloping a purposeful plan for giving away money might seem silly. Perhaps you want to give wherever and to whomever you like without feeling constrained by a plan. There is great freedom in that philosophy. However, as I’ve found out over the years, there are also great dangers.

Putting together a purposeful plan for giving away money is a fundamental exercise you should go through to have success with your personal finances.

We try really hard to make a monthly budget that works. We plan for how we will pay for college and support ourselves in retirement. So why would we ignore this area of our finances where a lot of money could potentially pass through our fingers over the course of a lifetime?

Why We Got Purposeful

My wife and I both enjoy giving away money to our church and other causes we believe in. However, as we became more financially healthy, we realized we had a greater responsibility to manage our giving wisely. We decided to get purposeful with our giving for several reasons:

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How to Make Sure You Never Need a Car Loan

My wife and I have recently bought a new car. It was used but new to us. The best part about the whole deal was that we didn’t have to take out a car loan.

We paid cash.

car loanNow, we are both in our forties and well established financially. So you might think this purchase was a piece of cake. On the contrary, it wasn’t. It took us two years of preparation to be able to buy this vehicle. But it was worth the effort to avoid needing a car loan.

How did we do it? I’ll share that in a minute and show you the steps to take to never need a car loan again. But first, let’s look at the reasons why people feel the need to take out a car loan in the first place.

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Is Reliability, Price or Features Most Important When Buying a Car?

What do you look for when buying a car? The reason I ask is that we are on the verge of doing just that. Our two-year lease experiment with an electric car is coming to an end. We will not be renewing the lease and are looking at buying a car sometime in the next month.

buying a carWe have been tossing several models back and forth and have made a trip to our local Carmax to check them out. All we know at this point is that we won’t be buying a brand new car, won’t be buying a black car (have one already) and won’t be buying another Suburban (that’s the one we have already).

But we are open to most anything else, provided it fits our family needs. And that is where the big question lies when it comes to buying a car? What is our biggest need?

Do we need to worry about price? Do we need to focus on the new car features? What about reliability? Can we handle a car that might need a few repairs along the way?

Best case scenario is that we find a vehicle where we are satisfied in all those categories. To me though, one of these stands out above the rest. It’s the first thing I’ll look at as we work through buying a car.

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Your Mental To Do List Before Starting a Room Addition

So you’ve made all your plans and crunched the numbers and are finally ready for a room addition. That’s great news! But are you sure you know what to expect for the next couple months?

room additionMost homeowners think they know exactly what is coming. The truth is that most people have not done a room addition.  Consequently, they overlook some of the details that are involved. To that end, here is a list of daily activities and truths involved with any room addition you need to be aware of.

Prepare For Dust

You need to prepare for the worst if you or members of your family have OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) or are used to very clean environments. Things will most definitely get dirty. Walls will be removed, electricity re-routed, grading and excavation among other activities that cause a lot of dust and dirt.

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