Hope for your financial life and beyond

The 4 Stages of Investing and How to Win Long Term

I’ve been investing now for almost 20 years and have experienced various stages of investing during that time. My wife brought several mutual funds into our marriage and that became my first exposure to the stock market. It didn’t take long for me to see how investing could have a positive impact on our financial future.

the 4 stages of investingOver the years our investments have evolved and our assets have grown. We’ve branched out into other avenues of investing beyond the stock market. It took some time to get there but the results have been worth it.

Making money in the market is a journey. You’ll go through various stages of investing along the way that are marked by specific decisions. How you handle each one of these stages will determine your ability to win long-term.

The 4 Stages of Investing

I hope you are thinking about investing. Next to the personal earnings you receive from your job, investing is the #1 way to build wealth. It does take some time for significant wealth to accumulate and you’ll have to go through these stages of investing to get there:

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5 Important Life Lessons From My Freelance Writing

Yes, you could take that headline as an announcement. I’ve officially entered the world of personal finance freelance writing. Is anyone out there looking to hire?

writing in a notepad My blogging journey to this point has been an interesting one. As long time readers here know, last summer I quit my job in education to become a stay at home dad. It was a big step but one that I don’t regret. The added time has allowed me to better manage our family activities and devote myself more to blogging.

The results in our family life have been tremendous.

Less stress. More downtime. More kid time. More moments for enriching activities.

Additionally, the extra time devoted to blogging is causing Luke1428 to take off. I already have more page views than I did all of last year. It really is amazing what some additional time, effort and connection building can do.

As great as that is, I’ve felt I could still do more with my time. So I was intrigued when contacted several months ago about writing for a new website. I’d never done that for money before and thought it would be a good experience if only for me to understand the world of freelance writing.

It’s been quite the experience.

Life Lessons Realized From Freelancing

To date I’ve written seven articles for SafeBee.com, a website devoted to making the world a safer place. I’ve really enjoyed it but writing for someone else is not like writing for your own blog. However, it’s reminding me of some valuable lessons that can be applied to any life situation. Here are my initial thoughts about what I’m dealing with:

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Secret Advice For Teenagers Who Love to Spend Money

You know who you are…teenager who loves to spend money like it’s going out of style. You spend money faster than it takes a snapchat to disappear. Money comes into your hand one minute and it flows out like water the next.

spend moneyAnd you like it that way!

If that’s you, I have some special advice today. It’s unusual, maybe even secret advice you may never have heard in your life. In fact, I’m actually running a huge risk by even sharing this with you. Your parents may hate me for saying this because it might go against how they have instructed you to handle money. (That alone should excite you to listen up, right?)

But before I reveal this big secret about spending your money, you have to promise me something.

The promise I’m asking you to make is to read this entire post. You are going to love what I have to say about spending money but you can’t take it as stand alone advice without understanding the bigger picture. As they say, the devil is in the details so I’m asking for five minutes of your time to help you avoid failure on this issue.

Ready for the big, secret advice? OK, here goes…

Go ahead and spend money because you’ll never know a time with fewer financial obligations than you have right now.

Now remember that promise to read the rest of the post? Good…because I’ve got some serious cleaning up to do with the mess I just created.

Six Possible Reasons You Love to Spend Money

Have you ever thought about why you love to spend money? Don’t fret if it’s never crossed your mind. Most adults haven’t considered it either.

Based on your age right now (ages 13-19) one of these issues is likely driving you to spend money all the time:

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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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Is the Bible Really Clear About Paying Taxes?

Hidden Nuggets Series #83 – “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” – Matthew 22:21

taxes in the bibleLike you, my tax paperwork is due to be filed by April 15th. I’ll grant you this is no fun to fill out every year. It’s become a much easier task though since my wife became a CPA.

Talking about taxes sets our blood to a boil. We don’t like that we work so hard only to see that much money taken from each paycheck. “Isn’t there a way to avoid it?” we ask.

That question should raise alarm bells for everyone. While certain maneuvers with money are legal, many others are not. If we are not careful, that question can lead us down a path of handling our money in a way that we might regret one day.

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What Do I Need to Know About Homeowner’s Insurance?

Getting the right type of homeowners insurance is a must to be able to put your life back together should a tragic event strike your home.

Imagine this scenario:

You awake from a drowsy sleep at 2 AM to the blaring noise of an alarm. Your eyes are stinging and you begin to cough as you are forced to breathe in the smoke filled air. You leap from the bed as your survival instincts kick in. Grabbing anything of value you quickly rush to the nearest exterior door and head into the yard. In horror you watch as flames are emanating from your attic.

Fortunately no one is hurt and emergency services arrive in time to keep the home from being a total loss. But the damage is severe and you wonder how you will recover from this tragedy.

homeowners insuranceI’ve known a few people who have lived through a house fire, flood, tornado or other significant event that damaged or destroyed their home. I can’t imagine the emotion that comes with watching your possessions being destroyed. We pour so much time and effort into making our home an enjoyable space in which to exist that they really become an extension of ourselves. Losing them means losing a piece of who we are.

The silver lining is that life can be put back together. You might not be able to recoup all the possessions you lose but you can move on with the help of a good homeowners insurance policy. If you own a home – or are even a tenant renting a home – having homeowners insurance is a must.

What Is Homeowners Insurance and What Does It Cover?

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Keep Your Emergency Savings Fund Under Your Mattress?

What should you do with that emergency savings fund money you’ve been accumulating?

I don’t know. Why don’t you just keep it under your mattress? That’s probably the best idea.

(Cricket noise…)

April fools! (Sorry, just couldn’t resist.)

emergency savings fund under mattressNo, no, no…a thousand times NO! Please don’t keep your emergency savings fund money under your mattress. That’s one of the worst places to keep cash around the house. Under the mattress or the bed will be one of the first places a burglar looks for valuables.

Now there is nothing wrong with keeping cash around the house. You might need some for a spur of the moment issue. Banks aren’t always open and you might not be able to get to an ATM. But you don’t want to keep the emergency savings fund around the house.

Why?

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Is Investing in Collectibles Like Valuable Baseball Cards Worth It?

Like so many young boys my love affair with baseball cards began in Little League. Each week our coach would give us 50 cents or $1 to spend at the concession stand after the game. On weeks where we won and received a $1, I’d get a pack of cards and a cream soda, secretly hoping some of those might turn into a valuable baseball cards.

valuable baseball cardsIn those early days I didn’t have a lot of money so the collection grew slowly. I amassed only several hundred cards and kept them rubber-banded together in a shoebox. I shuffled through them a lot so the surfaces became dull and the edges worn.

Then in 1986, I scrounged up enough money to buy my very first complete set of Topps baseball cards. I also bought plastic card pages in which to insert each card and a three ring binder to hold all the pages. So began a decade of collecting the full sets and the update sets each year. By the time I ended college, I had amassed over 15,000 baseball cards.

Then guess what happened…

Marriage…grad school…buying a home…kids…career…more kids. Through all that the baseball cards I had enjoyed collecting spent years boxed up in the back of the closet rarely seeing the light of day.

My love affair with collecting baseball cards resurfaced about 10 years later in my early 30s. This time around though I wasn’t attracted to purchasing individual packs or complete sets. I wanted to focus specifically on valuable baseball cards – which can only be found by collecting those that are professionally graded.

This was a change in strategy and required me to understand what I was getting into and why I was doing it.

How Do You Define Investing in Collectibles?

The above question is tricky to answer in part because it depends on your definition of “collecting” and “investing.”

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The Stock Market’s Dirty Little Secret

Enjoy this post today about investing by blogger and Chartered Financial Analyst Joseph Hogue.

I have built my career around investing and analysis of investments. I’ve done a good job and am proud of the advice I’ve offered clients but there is a dirty little secret that most analysts will not talk about.

The secret…many investors may not even need us.

Analysts are able to provide valuable information on stocks that helps keep the market so efficient and running smoothly. While it is difficult for anyone to “beat” the market consistently year-over-year, research shows that some analysts have been able to earn higher returns after adjusting for risk.

But the problem is that many investors just don’t need the few extra percentage points in returns that stock market analysis can provide.

Why would anyone pass up extra investment returns?

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What Is An Undergraduate Degree and Do I Need One?

You may have heard the term undergraduate degree thrown around from time to time. It’s not meant to be a confusing term but it could be, especially for a high school student. “What degree would I be earning where I am under a graduate?” you may be asking yourself.

what is an undergraduate degreeThe term undergraduate has nothing to do with where your body is physically positioned or your rank in relation to other graduates. But it does have something to do with what you earn. It’s actually better known by a much simpler term — a college degree.

Undergraduate Degree Defined

An undergraduate degree is any academic degree you might get at an institute of higher education, such as a college or university. It’s a program of study traditionally taken after high school that leads to an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree.

It’s called an undergraduate degree to differentiate the type of degree. You will seek your Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree first after high school. Then, if you want to continue, you will proceed to graduate level studies. These are known as Master’s and Doctorate degrees.

So the progression of schooling typically looks like this:

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How to Avoid Worrying About These IRS Audit Red Flags

We are smack in the middle of tax season again as everyone is trying to meet the April 15th deadline. Many dread the prospect of an IRS audit so getting all the information correctly coded on the tax forms is of course a high priority. No one wants to worry about the IRS knocking on their door (which I don’t think they initially do, opting instead for the conventional letter in the mail).

time to conduct an auditThe unfortunate reality is that there is no silver bullet to avoiding an IRS audit. The IRS can choose to investigate and audit anyone they please at any time. Even low-income earners can be subject to an audit if the IRS becomes suspicious.

What would make them suspicious? Well there are a variety of factors, red flags if you will, that can make an IRS agent question a tax return. Some of them can’t even be avoided. But what can be avoided with all of them is the worry. If you are handling things correctly there is no need to worry about any of these situations.

Common Red Flags That Might Trigger an IRS Audit

While this is not an all-inclusive list, these represent common issues that might pop up as a red flag to the IRS:

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