Hope for your financial life and beyond

A Wedding To Do List For After You Say “I Do” (Infographic)

If you are inside of one year until you tie the knot with your significant other, you probably have a million things to accomplish on your wedding to do list. OK, maybe not one million but there are a lot of things to take care of. I’m sure it seems like it’s happening so fast. Just when you check one item off another one pops up.

I’m being reminded of how fun yet frantic wedding planning can be by my cousin. She moved to Georgia a few years ago and wouldn’t you know it met the man of her dreams. They are getting married in May of 2017. And it seems like every time we get together with them she’s telling us of another item she checked off her wedding to do list.

The latest item was the biggie – her wedding dress. Her mom came down last week and the two of them picked out the perfect one. I say it’s perfect because no one has seen it yet. And no one will until wedding day which is fine.

It’s drawing me back in time to so many things that happened for my own wedding 20-plus years ago. I’m remembering some of the things we did right, some of the things we did wrong and some of the things we forgot to do altogether. It’s easy to let things slip by – especially after the wedding.

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This Smith and Wesson Stock Chart Reveals Our Biggest Fear

Smith and Wesson stock is reaching heights never seen before in the history of the company. The stock price closed at $29.07 on Friday, just 30 cents shy of it’s all time high. However, that alone doesn’t tell the whole story.

Smith and Wesson stock has been tracing higher for the last five years. As you can see from the stock chart below, on Sept. 26, 2011, it traded at $2.52. If you would have bought then, you’d be looking at a 1,053 percent increase. Not bad for a five-year investment.

smith and wesson stock

Chart courtesy of Morningstar.com

The bulk of the rise in the stock price has occurred since January of 2015. Since that time Smith and Wesson stock has risen from around $10 per share to what we see today. Again, not a bad return for a year and a half investment.

So what’s driving the stock price? Well, in the most basic of investment world terms, it’s company sales. Just a few weeks ago the company announced fourth quarter sales of $221.1 million. That figure was an increase of 22.2% over the fourth quarter of last year.

So the company is growing by selling more of its product. Those sales are leading to increased profits and a healthier company balance sheet. Investors are taking notice and more are purchasing the stock for their portfolios (hence the rise in Smith and Wesson stock price).

“But what’s driving sales?” you might be asking. Well, in case you don’t know Smith and Wesson manufactures and sells firearm products and accessories. That’s right…it’s a gun company.

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How to Resolve the What Career Should I Have Dilemma

Have you ever asked yourself the question, What career should I have?  If so, you know the answers aren’t that obvious. Coming to a decision about what career bests fits you can be quite a dilemma, no matter if you are right out of high school or in your mid-30s looking for a career change.

It sure was for me.

what career should i haveAfter high school graduation, everyone wanted to know what I was going to study in college. I didn’t know so I just told everyone I’d be taking my general education requirements first and decide on a degree track later. Seemed like the wise thing to do considering I didn’t know what else to do.

In the end, I chose psychology and counseling as a course of study. I didn’t know where that would ultimately take me later in life. All I knew at the time was that it matched up with my personality, my ability to listen and my desire to help people.

My chosen field of study didn’t lead me to a counseling career per se. After grad school, I ended up in education, first as a teacher and then as a principal at a small private school. Years later, I laid down my career as an educator and am now working as a youth pastor. While I’m not counseling in the strictness definition of the word, my education did prepare me in a lot of ways for things I faced (and am facing) when it comes to dealing with families and kids.

So in college, when I asked the What career should I have question, did I end up choosing the right one? Was my path of study appropriate, especially since I didn’t end up pursing that career in the end? Could I have gone through some steps to make a better choice that would have led to a career that aligned with my educational goals?

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Want to Deduct Your Homeowners Policy? Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

Owning a house comes with many responsibilities. You have to maintain the home, pay taxes, and in most cases, make monthly payments on your mortgage. Then there’s also the cost of home insurance.

Home InsuranceWhen it comes to reducing your monthly billable costs and going for a more frugal approach in life, there’s only so much you can do to reduce your mortgage – and even less you can do to make sure your house is well-maintained affordably (either through time or money invested) – so you turn to the homeowners policy.

Now, we all know the advice people give when it comes to finding the right insurance provider. Shop around, ask questions, clean up your credit and so on and so forth. But what if you already have an insurance policy? What if you’ve shopped around, and gotten the best deal you could find? Is there still a way to further cut down on costs?

In short, the answer is: probably. But to really get into it, you’ve got to ask a few questions. To help you along on your quest for more affordable – and smarter – home insurance, here’s an extremely simple list of five questions you should ask yourself.

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Should I Do My Own Taxes? Here is How to Know

Each year starting sometime in January, we begin to think about that special season coming up. No, it’s not the spring season or baseball season. It’s tax season. And with that season comes the usual question, Should I do my own taxes or not?

should i do my own taxesAt some level we feel like consulting a tax professional would be a good step. Maybe they could save us money because they know something we don’t. I mean, who really wants to pay the government more than they have to?

On the other hand, hiring a tax professional takes money. A good accountant or CPA could cost hundreds of dollars. We wouldn’t want to pay for their services if we really didn’t need it.

So it leaves us wondering, “Does my situation require professional help? Should I do my own taxes instead of bringing in someone who will cost a lot of money?”

The answer may surprise you, especially for those of you who know I’m married to a CPA.

Should I Do My Own Taxes?

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What Does a Financial Advisor Do and Do I Need One?

Most likely you have run across someone in your circle of friends who is working with a financial advisor. This may have you thinking that you need to have one as well. It sounds like it might be a helpful step but you don’t really know the answer to the question, What does a financial advisor do for me?

what does a financial advisor doIt’s a great question. Before you hire professional services you need to know what they are all about. You need to understand if they can help with your specific need. You wouldn’t hire a tax professional to do your lawn care, right?

So I’ll help you with both questions today. Let’s tackle the What does a financial advisor do? question first.

What Does a Financial Advisor Do?

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The Savvy Shopper: Budgeting for Auto Insurance

Auto insurance is a must for everyone who wants to drive. Why is it so important to purchase you ask? Well, for one thing, it’s the law. Get caught driving without it and you’ll face some tough consequences.

But the main reason you should have auto insurance is to protect yourself in the case of an accident.

Now, auto insurance isn’t cheap. It’s going to cost you so you’ll have to figure out how to manage that in your monthly budget. You can be a savvy shopper though by learning how to budget for auto insurance. And it all starts by making sure you get the right type of coverage.

Planning for the Right Coverage

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How to Save Money on Car Insurance for Teens

In about a month, our oldest child will turn 15. In our state, that means you can apply for a learner’s permit to drive. She hasn’t expressed a big desire to do this yet but I know it’s coming. So naturally I’ve started looking into car insurance for teens to see how much another driver in the household is going to cost me.

car insurance for teensWhat I’ve found is there are many ways to save money on car insurance for teens. There are reasons why your car insurance rates will go up, chiefly because you have an inexperienced driver behind the wheel. Insurance companies are taking on a higher risk of having a payout. Your teens’ enthusiasm for being able to drive coupled with their lack of skill makes accidents more likely.

Short of holding onto the keys yourself, there is no way around paying more on your car insurance with a teen in the house. But you can take steps to lessen the amount of increase. The good news is most of these steps will require the help of your teen. Getting them engaged in the process will go along way in teaching them responsibility. They also might learn some cool financial lessons along the way.

11 Ways to Save on Car Insurance for Teens

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Count the Cost: The Secret Step for Success at Anything (Luke 14:28)

Hidden Nuggets Series #101 – “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish…” – Luke 14:28

count the costWould you like to have success at anything you do? Of course…so would I. Nobody sets out with the intention to fail. However, many times we do fail and it’s often because we refused to count the cost ahead of time.

What do I mean by count the cost? Does that have something to do with money? Well, maybe but not necessarily.

Put simply, when you count the cost you plan ahead. You take inventory of everything that needs to happen before you pursue a goal. Now, you may not know every little detail that needs to be achieved in the process. But you can at least get a sense of all the big rocks that will need to be accomplished in order for you to have success.

This concept isn’t a new one. The term “count the cost” actually has its origins in the Bible. And Jesus used it with his disciples to prove a very important point about planning ahead.

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5 Innovative Retirement Planning Tools to Help You Save More

Enjoy this post on retirement planning tools by guest blogger Alfred Stallion.

retirement planning toolsOne of the key aspects of retirement is ensuring that you have sufficient funds in investments and cash to continue living comfortably for many years. By adhering to sensible investment principles and saving guidelines, this can be attained. Thanks to advanced technology and mobile apps, it’s easier than ever to know how much you need to retire, how much you have to save, and how aggressively to invest in order to lead a happy life in your senior years. Mobile app technology keeps progressing, and anyone with a smartphone can now keep track of his finances, and thus plan for retirement much more conveniently.

Here are several retirement planning tools to help you save more money along the way.

Retirement Planning Tools

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The U.S. Federal Budget Breakdown For Your Tax Money in 2016 – Infographic

With the first primary elections just a few short months away, it’s been interesting to hear the would-be presidential candidates take on taxes. Some are proposing to tax the rich at a higher rate to fund the federal budget while others highlight the virtues of cutting taxes on the middle class. Once again it appears the “take-more-money-from-the-people” or “give-money-back-to-the-people” debate will be a central theme in the 2016 presidential race.

monopoly luxury taxGenerally speaking, we like to keep the money for which we work so hard. Nobody in my circle of friends is saying of a tax increase, “Sure, I’d be happy to…take another 5% out of my paycheck to fund the government. I don’t mind.” Know anyone who thinks that way? I don’t.

Regardless on how you feel about taxes, they do allow our government to function. It’s every American’s responsibility to pay taxes into the government’s budget. If you don’t well, let’s just say there could be some serious consequences (i.e. big fines and/or potential jail time). After several years now of living with a CPA in the house, I’ve come to appreciate (#fear) the tenacity with which the IRS takes its job.

Have you ever wondered where your tax dollars really go though? How does the government use your tax dollars in the federal budget? The people at Community Tax have researched that question and put their findings into the following infographic.

2016 U.S. Federal Budget Breakdown

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