Hope for your financial life and beyond

Plan Like There’s No Tomorrow

Big Ben New Years5…4…3…2…1…Happy New Year!

And so, 2012 was put in the rear view mirror this morning as the clock struck midnight. Across the world, the coming of the New Year was greeted with cheering, confetti, fireworks and kisses. We celebrated making it through another year.

However, New Year’s Eve is more than a celebration of the past. Its focus is really looking ahead with hopeful anticipation for all that we plan to accomplish in the coming year.

Do you know what you want to accomplish in 2013? Do you already have plans drawn up? If not, you need to begin now for one simple reason. You don’t know what the future has in store.

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Why the Rich (And Maybe All Of Us) Can’t Sleep

can't sleepSo, you have finally accomplished your financial dreams. Through sheer hard work and sacrifice you are now able to live comfortably. You have enough money stored up so that you can purchase anything your heart desires.

Your problems are over, or so you thought. Because now there is a new problem to face, one that keeps you up for all hours of the night. You can’t sleep.

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Of Marathons and Money: Recovery Week Edition

Recovery. It begins the moment you cross the finish line. First step, take the shiny, thermal blanket to stay warm. Then, keep walking…drink…eat…stretch. Once you are home, it’s hot tub soak…eat and drink some more…and Tylenol PM so you can sleep. The next few days means no running, maybe a massage, and lots of stretching to relieve muscles soreness. All in all, the physical recovery from completing a marathon takes about a week for most people.

The mental recovery will most likely take longer.

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Of Marathons and Money: Post Race Edition

Success! I completed the Atlanta Marathon Sunday morning in 4:07:54. That time ended up being a 9:23 pace per mile which I was really satisfied with. A 9:30 pace had been my goal. The weather was in the mid-50s and cloudy. We ended up running through several patches of drizzle but nothing to make one uncomfortable.

Overall I ended up 321st out of 982 finishers, placing 38th out of 113 in the 35-39 age group.

The biggest challenge of the race was the physical wall you hit about mile 20. I knew this was coming because I had read so much about it and had experienced it a little bit in training.

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Of Marathons and Money: Pre-Race Edition

When was your last life-changing day? We have these randomly littered at various points throughout the course of our life. Most life-changing days we never see coming…they just spontaneously happen. The day of that spiritual awakening…the day you get a proposal and a diamond…the day of a personal tragedy…the day we get fed up with __________ (fill in your blank) and decide to do something about it. It is the day we realize, “Huh…things are going to be different.” My most recent one occurred on October 15, 2011, the day I finished my first 5K race.

Something about finishing that race drove me to continue running. Now – almost 800 miles, 7,000+ minutes of running, and 3 half-marathons later – I am set to tackle my first full marathon this coming Sunday. 26.2 miles. Crazy…I know.

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Scary College Debt Statistics

In case you missed it, the cost of a college education is increasing dramatically. Public and private colleges alike are increasing tuition significantly, many because of state budget cuts. This has left many high school seniors in a bind. For years they have heard the media, their parents, their teachers and counselors say the best way to get a decent job with good pay is to earn a college degree. But now they wonder how they can afford it.

The Institute for College Access and Success’ Project on Student Debt conducted a recent survey that gives us insight into how students are paying for a college education. The results are astonishing and scary.

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Waiting Until Next Year Will Cost You Big Time (Part II)

Many of us are born procrastinators. We love to put things off until the last possible minute. When that moment arrives, we go into manic mode in a desperate, final scramble as our backs are up against the deadline. This usually involves locking ourselves in a room away from the rest of humanity and a steady supply of coffee (or other caffeinated beverage) so we can forego our normal sleep patterns as we pound out the final details of our project.

If you are like me, you don’t like it when you procrastinate and you vow each time to NEVER let this happen again. Or you may try to fake yourself into believing that it doesn’t matter – like it is positive character trait – by saying “I work really well under pressure.” If I am honest with myself, I hate the tension and frustration that comes when I put myself in that predicament. It highlights my lack of discipline. It reminds me of all the time I wasted. It makes me realize the truth of the saying, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

There is no hard and fast deadline when it comes to our personal finances. This project is very open ended as it lasts your entire lifetime. So procrastinators rejoice – you can delay dealing with your financial problems for years. But if you do, it will cost you greatly.

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Six Clues You Are a “Wait Until Next Year”-er (Part I)

The 2012 Major League Baseball season has almost concluded. Several teams are still battling it out to see who will be crowned World Series Champion. Most of the MLB fan base has moved on to be entertained by the NFL or college football or whatever as their team has officially been eliminated. The two teams I follow both exited the playoffs early, one to a blown infield fly rule call and the other to a blown 2-0 playoff series lead. (Seriously Cincy…how can you lose three in a row at home!?)

Each season ends in disappointment for 97% of all the teams and their fan bases. And in locker rooms, office buildings, bars, message boards and anywhere else across America people discuss what went wrong with this season, one phrase will be heard that gives hope to all who utter it — “Wait until next year.”

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A High Wall…Build It or Not?

In ancient times, the city wall was a symbol of strength. A finely constructed wall could ward off one’s enemies, keeping the inhabitants of the city safe. The more advanced the construction and the higher you could build the city wall the more secure you were. And when the Israelites came to the city of Jericho on their conquest of the Promised Land, they faced something they had likely never seen before…a walled-system so grand in scheme that it would dishearten the most elite of would-be invaders.

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Does Poverty Itself Destroy the Poor?

Does your worldview begin with blaming others?

In the first phrases of Proverbs 10:15 and Proverbs 18:11, we see that Solomon describes the rich man’s wealth as his strong city. Although wealth cannot protect us from evil, sicknesses, or other life emergencies, it can provide our life with some level of security and stability. It lessens our emotional anxiety, knowing we have enough resources to pay for things. It helps us manage through unexpected and expensive life events. We can also use wealth to produce more and, in the process, benefit others along the way as we give.

In the concluding phrase of Proverbs 10:15 Solomon offers a contrast to the strong city analogy when he says, “…the destruction of the poor is their poverty.” I find this interesting because Solomon does not say that a series of unfortunate events happened in these peoples’ lives and those events are what destroyed them (or made them poor). The emphasis here seems to actually read that poverty itself is what causes their destruction. Interesting. What is he referring to here? What destructive impact would an impoverished financial state have on a person’s life?

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Wealth Is Like A Strong City

Some proverbs just pop with imagery and for me this one brought back memories of the many hours of sleep I lost playing SimCity. I loved building those cities, although I never quite took the time to really understood what the whole point of the game was. I mean, once your map was full and you were connected to all of the side cites, what was supposed to happen next? Were you just supposed to make it stronger, better and more futuristic? Was there ever an endpoint to the game? Oh well, I digress…but I want to play it again right now.

These proverbs also caught my attention because Solomon repeated the same phrase twice in different parts of his book. So if the wisest man who ever lived repeated something twice, it probably requires some extra special attention. [Read more…]