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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How to Stop the Money Problems in Your Marriage For Good

Are you finding yourself having the same money problems over and over again in your marriage? Tired of fighting with your significant other about money? Well, you are not alone. Money problems consistently ranks as one of the top reasons marriages end in divorce.

money problemsThis should not be surprising to anyone. The big priorities of life such as shelter, food, transportation, careers, education, healthcare and retirement all have money affixed to them as a central core element. Whenever a major life decision has to be made it almost always involves money.

Then when all the minor day-to-day decisions get thrown into the mix, it becomes clear money is at the core of almost everything we do.

I’ll admit when I first got married I wasn’t prepared for the challenges money decisions would create. I thought we could just out-earn whatever expenditures we wanted to have. The more money we could make the more we could get. I thought, “Money problems? We’ll never have them.”

Nor was I prepared for how each of us would bring into the relationship different backgrounds, personalities or opinions. Money is enough to create problems in and of itself. Mix in those three variables and a marriage could be headed for a host of money problems.

The more conflict that comes with money problems, the more discouraged couples get. Every discussion seems to lead into a fight with both parties not listening to the other and becoming more entrenched in their own beliefs. Before long, they are questioning whether or not they are meant for one another.

It’s such a common scenario but it doesn’t have to be this way. Couples can take steps to solve their money problems and live in harmony together.

Steps to Cure the Money Problems

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10 Last Minute Gift Ideas For Him This Christmas

Do you have trouble shopping for that special guy in your life? Let’s face it, men are tough to shop for. It’s not easy to crack our code and find out what we’d really like to receive as a gift.

last minute gift ideas for himWaiting until the last minute to shop of course adds even more pressure. You’ll probably panic and end up buying him some socks. Not that we wouldn’t appreciate it – we’ll love any gift we get (or at least pretend to love it). In the interests of helping my men-fellows though, here are some last minute gift ideas for him that we’d appreciate even more.

Last Minute Gift Ideas For Him

Of course you know your man best. Some of these last minute gift ideas for him may not work. Additionally, you may have financial limitations that prevent these purchases. But I’m pretty sure, if you can afford it, he’ll absolutely love these items:

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10 Important Money Questions You Need to Ask Before Marriage

A huge issue that needs to be addressed before marriage is each person’s belief about money. Too many marriages end due to money fights or money related problems. If it’s one of the biggest reasons couples get divorced it should be a key area they address prior to marriage.  And you can only do that by asking certain money questions.

One would think you could get to fully know your partner through dating. You really can’t, not 100%. Dating is all about making a positive impression. Marriage is when personality, habits, beliefs, etc. truly become known…warts and all.

money questions before marriageThat’s why good pre-marriage counseling is important. It forces you to dig deeper in your understanding of one another. If it’s done properly there will be fewer shocks and surprises after you say, “I do.”

But where should the conversation about money start? What money questions need to be asked?

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How to Manage Your Side Hustle and Family Life So You Don’t Go Insane

There may come a time in your life where you want to or need to create a side hustle to earn extra income. A side hustle can be many things depending on your skills and the depth of your need. Regardless what you choose it will be something you do on the side (apart from your day job) to bring in additional money to the family budget.

Side hustles can be a financial blessing. They can help you build up your savings account or pay off debt or meet any a number of financial goals you might have. A few bloggers I know have turned their writing side hustles into full-time jobs and now run their own personal finance websites. Others, like my friend Cat Alford at Budget Blonde have figured out how to make a full-time income from writing for popular blogs. Now she is teaching others to do the same in a brand new course she has developed – Get Paid to Write for Blogs.

side hustle IIIWhile the additional income of a side hustle is welcome there is a dark side that many are unprepared for. Side hustles done improperly can be a curse on family life.

It’s one thing to have a side hustle if you are single. I remember talking with a blogging friend last year who told me how he’d work his 9 to 5, take a 30-minute dinner (maybe) and then work till past midnight writing and networking. I’m not saying that’s necessarily an easy schedule but it’s not like you have anyone else to account for. It’s just you.

When a spouse and/or kids are in the picture side hustles take on a whole different dimension.

The first thing you’ll notice is the tension that surfaces the minute one member begins a side hustle. What was a normal life is no longer normal.

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The Difference Between Married and Single Homebuyers (Infographic)

Perhaps you heard that existing home sales rose 5.1% in May from April according to the National Association of Realtors. That’s the strongest pace for homebuyers since September 2009. It’s good news but don’t get too excited just yet. The housing recovery is happening but has been slow and uneven at best (sales were down in April).

The rise in home sales in May was attributed to first-time, younger homebuyers entering the market. These buyers have been cautious about purchasing a home having seen what the recent recession did to home values. Traditionally, first-time homebuyers have made up about 40% of the housing market. Right now that mark sits at 32% so we have a bit to go before the statistics return to normal.

Buying a home versus renting remains a difficult decision. So many variables come into play – from affordability, to employment security, to school systems, to size, to neighborhood – the list goes on and on.

My wife and I bought our first home after we had rented for two years. Job security prompted the purchase, as we were confident my career in education would keep us in one location for some time. We were first-time homebuyers at age 27 and bought a typical ranch-style starter home.

The biggest priority for our home purchase was affordability. We didn’t care about driving distance to work, location to activities or size of the property. We wanted something small but with enough room so we could expand our family (in other words – have children).

Married vs. Single Homebuyers

Had I been single and not looking to start a family, I doubt I would have bought a home in the suburbs at age 27. My priorities would have been on friends, activities and advancing my career. Anything but settling down.

It speaks to the difference that age and marital status have on the decision to buy a home. Where a person is at in life factors into when/if they buy and what they look for in a home. Today’s infographic from my friends at Choice Home Warranty highlights these differences between married and single homebuyers.

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The Most Important Things You Need to Know About Life Insurance

The topic of life insurance is one that many do not like to discuss. The reason is simple – it involves death, most notably our own. And since death routinely shows up on lists of common fears, its obviously something we choose not to think about.

life insurance

Next to purchasing quality health insurance, I believe this is the second most important insurance a person should buy. I feel this way because there is nothing you can do about it once you are gone. You can’t buy a life insurance policy after you are dead. You can’t provide any financial comfort to those left behind once you are in the ground.

See what I mean about life insurance? Even writing those sentences brought a tinge of emotion I’d rather not feel. That’s what makes it so easy to avoid dealing with this.

But we have to. Life insurance is a big piece of the puzzle to our financial lives – even if we, as the deceased, will never see any of the money.

What is Life Insurance?

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The Biggest Home Security Issue Everyone Is Missing

When it comes to home security issues, we typically think of analyzing and paying for the basics: quality dead bolt locks, an alarm monitoring system, and multiple smoke detectors. Maybe we also purchase a dog for the heightened sense of awareness they bring. These are all commonplace methods to deter entry into the home and keep us feeling safe.

home securityYet there happens to be another major home security issue that is usually overlooked. This one is so big it’s hurting individuals and destroying families. Though we know it’s out there we refuse to take the necessary steps to stop its incursion into our home.

What could be so devastating?

The lack of internet security as it relates to online access of pornography.

Your failure to attentively monitoring the use of technology – mainly the access to apps and the Internet on computers and mobile devices that have become the main tool for the distribution of pornography – may be causing untold damage to your family.

Why the Internet Is a Big Home Security Issue

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Reasons I’m Thankful to Be a Stay at Home Dad

Six months ago I announced that I was quitting my job to become a stay at home dad. That decision was the culmination of a four-year life transition that saw my wife begin a new career so we could become a one-parent-stay-at-home family. We didn’t know at the time how it would turn out but were willing to give it a shot.

So far it’s been spectacular!

I Am Thankful written on chalkboard

Life has certainly changed and for that I’m very thankful. Not that life was so bad before. However, in the past six months I’ve witnessed multiple issues our family used to have melt away because of what I now do. Plus, I’ve seen new avenues open that could not have been pursued in our previous state of life.

What’s Changed That I’m Thankful For

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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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The Ups and Downs of My First Month As a Stay at Home Dad

star wars storm trooper standing with sonEven though I announced in May I was leaving my 17 year career in education to become a stay at home dad, it’s only been one month since the kids have gone back to school and I’ve been truly alone.

Boy, the house is eerily quiet from 8 am to 4 pm when Kim and the kids aren’t here. I don’t know how the dog has done it the past few years being cooped up in the garage when we were all at work. Sometimes I turn on the radio or the TV just to create some background noise.

Despite the quiet, I’m loving my decision to this point. But it hasn’t all been perfect. I’m finding some things challenging that I didn’t expect.

The Downside of Being a Stay at Home Dad

1. No set schedule

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