Hope for your financial life and beyond

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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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 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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4 Basic Strategies for Retirement Planning Everyone Should Know

The retirement years are one of the most rewarding and also potentially delicate phases of life. People experience many joys in their later years. However, they may also have to endure diminishing physical strength, slowing of mental faculties and the onset of age-related illnesses. Given the inevitability of health conditions in old age specifically, it‘s vital to keep the controllable factors in check to avoid exacerbating medical problems. This can be done with good retirement planning.

retirement planningPerhaps the most important such controllable factor is your financial stability. Money doesn’t equal happiness or freedom from sickness or other problems. However, the more funds you accumulate, the higher your chances of having a less stressful retirement when it comes to the financial side of things.

With that in mind, here are a couple of valuable tips for retirement planning that aren’t difficult to do but whose payoff is huge.

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The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Investing Money the Right Way

Success in our personal financial life is something we all desire. What that financial success looks like is different for each situation. However, there is one undeniable truth that applies to all of us when thinking about how to achieve our financial dreams and goals – investing money will help you get there.

investing moneyThere are several challenges though when it comes to investing money. For one, people scare themselves out of investing money for fear of losing it. They see the ups and downs of the stock market and don’t want to be involved with that volatility.

Others may not know how to invest or where to start. I remember learning about investing money in my early twenties and feeling extremely overwhelmed.

Still others may feel they lack the time to really make investing work for them. They either started to late in life to make a difference or just don’t have time in their daily schedule to learn about it.

And finally, perhaps the biggest challenge of all – some just don’t have the money to invest.

If you fall into any of those categories or are a beginner just looking to learn about investing money, this article is for you. From my own experience, I had many questions of my own when I first started. So I’ll be answering some of the most basic ones I had like:

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Are CDs a Good Investment for the Average Joe?

I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who wouldn’t say “Yes” to the question, “Would you like to make/have more money?” Aside from our job, the best way to get more money is by investing what you have in various financial products like savings accounts, the stock market, real estate or business ventures. Some would even use CDs as a valid investment. But are CDs a good investment for the average person?

Let’s find out.

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Want to Chase Your Dreams? This Is the Right Way to Win Big

I hope you have some big goals you are trying to reach. Setting the right type of goals is key for personal and professional growth. But have you adequately prepared for what is ahead as you chase your dreams?

Our family faced a situation several years ago when my wife was facing a professional identity crisis. She enjoyed teaching math to high school students and was quite good at it. Although she loved the students, teaching wasn’t leaving her personally and professionally fulfilled.

So we began to discuss a big goal for her – making a career change that would take her from classroom math teacher to CPA. Those initial discussions were exciting. But, they were also filled with some indecision, apprehension and a little fear about how to accomplish the task.

chase your dreamsThe point here isn’t to be a discouragement as you chase your dreams. By all means, find your passion and go for it. However, many people have a tendency to jump before they think. That’s a mistake. You have to plan for the drawbacks and unforeseen situations that will arise as you chase your dream. The better you can prepare for those ahead of time, the easier they will be to deal with when they come.

We faced our share of issues during my wife’s transition. The great thing is we dealt with them and she eventually reached her goal.

Could it have gone smoother? Absolutely! That’s why I’m sharing five hints today from our experience that I hope will help you chase your dreams and reach that goal. You have to think these things through ahead of time and know how to deal with them if you want to win big.

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Should You Invest in the Stock Market During a Trump Administration?

Last week the stock market was setting all-time highs as the Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed 20,000 for the first time. Since the close of trading on Nov. 4th, the market has raced ahead by over 2,200 points to where it stands today. Of course it remains to be seen whether this market can sustain the momentum or not under the leadership of our new President, Donald Trump.

stock marketJust typing that last sentence seems surreal, for people in both parties. We hardly could have imagined this two years ago. Whatever your political views, you have to give him credit for doing what no one thought possible. It’s something we haven’t seen in the history of our government.

President Trump is still an unknown quantity. By his own words, he is new to the political scene. We do not fully know how he will proceed with matters of national policy or foreign affairs because he doesn’t have a long track record for us to parse through. But we do know one thing about him. President Trump is a businessman through and through. He has done well for his family and the thousands of people he has employed.

Will this expertise be good for businesses across the country though? And will it translate into upward momentum in the stock market? Should you invest in the market during the Trump presidency, be it four or eight years? Let’s try to find out.

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Should I Retire Early? – 9 Questions to Help You Decide

What do the numbers 61, 65 and 73 have in common? You might guess they are the home run records set during various Major League Baseball seasons by Roger Maris (1961), Mark McGwire (1999) and Barry Bonds (2001) respectively. However, for our purposes here those numbers represent peoples ages. Specifically, the age they may be looking at to mark the beginning of their retirement. In fact, we could also put in numbers like 55, 50 or even younger as even people at those ages are asking could I or should I retire early.

Let’s just get this out of the way right at the beginning…clearly a person can retire at any age they choose. However, to receive full financial benefits from the Social Security Agency will require a person to work until a certain age (based on when they were born). For example, I was born after 1960, so full retirement age for me isn’t until age 67 according to the Social Security website.

I could begin to receive benefits as early as age 62. However, those benefits would come to me at a reduced rate. The calculation used by Social Security is based on the number of months once I retire until full retirement age is reached. In my case that would be 60 months if I retired at age 62.

Retiring early at age 62 sounds great. However, it would really cost me. It would turn a potential $1,000 benefit into only $700, a 30% reduction. $300 dollars a month would go a long way. The Social Security website has a great chart showing all the ages and reduction percentages.

So the choice to retire early isn’t a no brainer. In fact, there are many other things to account for aside from the financial considerations.

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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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