Hope for your financial life and beyond

2 Milestones You Need to Reach Before Investing Money

When it comes to investing money in the stock market, time is your greatest ally and your greatest enemy. The longer you are investing money the greater likelihood you’ll generate great wealth. Shortening that time period by just a few years could significantly reduce the amount of wealth you’ll create.

That’s why it’s important to get started early – in fact, the earlier the better. Time is the most critical element in the investing equation. It doesn’t matter if you are a high school student making minimum wage at a summer job, a college student paying your way through school or married with your first child on the way. The earlier one can begin investing, even in small amounts, the more one can maximize big returns in the long run.

The following examples demonstrate this point:

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Check Your Debt Emotions at the Door

Getting out of debt and moving towards a cash based existence can create a lot of emotional turmoil. Today I’m guest posting at The Debt Myth about my experience with just such a move.

There is a door waiting for you to walk through. It leads to a land of contentment where you can live without fear of creditors dialing your number. There will be no late fees or interest payments in this land and the money you make will be 100% fully yours.

This place I speak of is known as Debt Free Land. It exists…it really is out there.

I navigated the path to this land and have been living peacefully here for the last year – 100% debt free, payments to no one.

But it wasn’t an easy journey. There were many obstacles and emotions I had to overcome along the way. In fact, the most difficult part was simply starting…

Click here to continue reading at The Debt Myth…

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The Best Solution For Those Buried in a Snowdrift of Debt

In the winter of 2004, we had the fortune/misfortune of visiting my parent’s house in Ohio just before a severe winter storm hit. We had arrived just as the snowfall began and it…just…never…stopped…falling. Snow, snow, snow for two straight days.

van buried in a snow driftBy the time the skies cleared their tiny little town had received over two feet of snow – a kid’s dream but an adult’s nightmare. It had blanketed and buried everything in sight, including our van as you can see by the picture to the right.

Walking through that knee-deep snow I kept thinking to myself, “How will we ever get out of this mess?” It’s not like it’s going to magically melt away. No one in town is going to come rescue us – they have their own snow problems.

In fact, some exacerbated our problem. Thank you snow-plow man for clearing the road and pushing another two feet of snow to our curb.

Even worse, as I started to look at the mountain of snow from different angles the situation seemed even more desperate. At least in the first picture I can still see the van. From this viewpoint hardly anything is visible…

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This Is What Makes Dumping Girlfriends and Credit Cards Hard

Do you remember your first love? I don’t mean that boy or girl you kissed in kindergarten. I mean that first true love…the person with whom you were destined to spend the rest of your life.

breaking up with credit cardsI do and when I was with her she seemed perfect in every way. A match made in heaven.

However, it didn’t last. We broke up after a few years, the reasons for which won’t be mentioned here.

But then we got back together a few months later and it was just like old times. It was like we hadn’t missed a beat. And this time things would be different. We were committed to make our relationship last.

Except it didn’t. Again we split after less than a year.

But…

…you know what’s coming next.

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3 Tips to Boost Your Credit Score Before Getting a Loan

Getting a loan soon? In today’s guest post, Certified Financial Adviser Joseph Hogue shares some ways to boost your credit score before you apply for a loan.

The original title of this article was going to be, “3 Tricks to Boost Your Credit Score…,” but then I thought better about giving the impression that your credit score and lenders were something to be tricked into giving you a better interest rate. Like most things in life, there is no quick-and-easy solution to improving your credit score but with a little work and these three tips, you can save yourself thousands in interest over the life of a loan.

The graphic below shows the five credit score factors used by credit bureaus to determine your credit score and on which is based the interest rate you pay on loans. Using ways to manage each one of these will go a long way to boost your credit score and save big money.

boost your credit scoreMore than 5% of credit reports contain errors

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Does My Credit Score Affect My Spouse?

The following is a guest post from attorney Adam Black, a member of the ABA and New York State Bar Association.

Recently married? Have you been married for years? Either way, your spouse’s credit history can have an impact on you.

credit scoreOn many occasions, clients ask our firm if their credit scores, and overall financial situation, can affect their spouse. In regard to how your credit score will affect your spouse, there is some good news. The short answer is that it won’t – your credit score will not directly impact your spouse’s credit score. Although, in some instances, a spouse with a poor credit score can have an indirect effect on your ability to obtain new lines of credit.

Your Credit Score Remains Yours, Even After Marriage

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Debt Begins When You Swipe a Credit Card

Today I’m guest posting and commenting at the Debt Free Guys. Join me there by following the link below. I’d love to hear your take on this topic.

credit cardsI often hear people justify their use of credit cards this way, “Well, I pay it off every month so it’s fine.” The implication imbedded in that statement is that they are not really going into debt if they pay the card off at the end of each month. The balance is zero so there is no and never has been any debt.

That mindset could not be more wrong.

Click here to continue reading at the Debt Free Guys…

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Is Your Credit Score Simply a Measure of How Much You Love Debt?

credit scoreIs a high credit score really just a measure of how much you love debt? Seems like a tough question especially when you put the words “love” and “debt” right next to one another. I’m sure you are cringing right now just reading that.

The financial services industry pounds the table on how to have a high credit score. In fact, I’ve read in multiple places online that a high score is “crucial” to one’s financial success. Without one you can’t get ahead and live the life you want. Hmmm…interesting.

So what does a high credit score look like?

Scores range from 300 – 850 with anything over 700 being considered a good rating. Excellent level ratings kick in around 750. The higher the score the more likely a lending institution will consider providing you with a credit card, mortgage or other loan.

In a credit driven society a high credit score seems like a must. The only problem is that to get a high credit score you HAVE to go into debt and stay in debt over time. There really is no way around that fact.

How Is A Credit Score Calculated?

Credit scores take into consideration five categories as this image from MyFico.com shows:

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Confessing a Really Stupid Money Mistake

Stupid money mistakes. We all try not to make them. Fortunately I’ve done a decent job of avoiding them in my life.

Longtime readers know I’ve been preaching against debt and the use of credit cards since the early days of this blog. I know some people believe in their use, especially for the reward points they offer. For some reason, we were never able to get credit cards to work in that way. All they created for us was overspending.

stupid moneyDebit cards and cash became our salvation, as we learned to only spend what we earned each month. Taking that step away from credit, coupled with our budgeting efforts were big steps in moving us toward financial freedom. The journey, in the past five years especially, has been a wonderful ride, one that has allowed us to pay off our mortgage earlier than expected.

It would be easy to let my head swell and the buttons on my shirt pop with pride at our financial success. Funny how life has a way of keeping us humble. It did to me this past week when I received a curious and infuriating letter in the mail from Bank of America, informing me of a stupid money  mistake:

The letter read:

“Your above referenced account is currently past due. If you’ve already scheduled a payment, thank you. If not, your current balance is $299.56.”

Pardon me?

My Stupid Money Mistake

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

emergency fundWhat’s that? Oh…I see…you are just getting started with the “getting-my-financial-act-together” bit and don’t know where to begin. Well welcome to Emergency Fund Basics, the first step to success in all other areas of personal finance.

That may seem like a bold statement, saying that an emergency fund is the basis upon which all other financial decisions should be built. I can attest though, from personal experience, having money set aside strictly for emergencies is the #1 strategy that has propelled us forward in paying off debt, saving for retirement and college and investing in the stock market.

Why is that?

Because it’s a fact – emergencies are going to come and we will have to manage through the crisis. Sometimes they will rain in droves.

If cash is not available to take care of the emergency the moment it hits our door, then we are really only faced with one alternative – go into debt to deal with the situation. And the constant accumulation of debt hinders our ability to accumulate great wealth over time. The “going-into-debt-to-solve-the-emergency” cycle MUST be broken.

So today I’d like to outline the basics of the emergency fund process. You’ll learn when to start one, what to use it for, how much to save and the best way(s) to fund it.

What is an emergency fund?

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A Singular Focus of Paying Off Debt Leads to Peace

Today I’m guest posting and commenting at the personal finance blog The Frugal Farmer. Click the link below to read about what distracts people from paying off debt.

sunset in HawaiiEarlier this summer, my family and I took a weekend excursion to the Bahamas aboard Royal Caribbean cruise lines. We were fortunate enough to walk into an incredible offer Royal Caribbean was pushing where the third and fourth occupants of a cabin sale free. For a family of six already looking for a short getaway, that’s an offer not to be passed up.

For those who have never been on a cruise I would highly recommend it. And when you go, consider upgrading to a balcony room. Lounging with the calm ocean breezes in your own private zone is one of the most relaxing experiences around.

Balconies are about peace. They produce it because there are no distractions, unless your kids are screaming on the balcony next to you. Perhaps some playful dolphins catch your eye for a moment and there is the occasional enemy cruise ship passing in the distance. Mostly though, there is nothing there to distract you. It’s only water and sky for as far as the eye can see…

Click to Continue Reading at The Frugal Farmer…

Next Post: 5 Life Changing Moments That Lead to Lifestyle Inflation

Prior Post: Rethinking the Definition of Success