Hope for your financial life and beyond

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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A Time For Choosing Freedom

Eerily, this man’s words, penned in 1964, are coming true on many levels:

American flag“Every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement…[and] policies of accommodation…”

“If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand, the ultimatum…and what then?”

“…And someday when the time comes to deliver the final ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary because by that time we will have been weakened from within spiritually, morally and economically…”

 But there is hope found through courage and sacrifice:

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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 10 Best Summer Jobs for Teens and College Students

Memorial Day marks the official beginning of summer. For teens and college students that means one of three things. Either you are:

a) continuing school by choice (to get ahead) or out of necessity (because you failed)…

b) looking for a summer job to earn money or…

c) in for a really boring summer sleeping in and playing video games.

(I know…some of you think “C” is the best option of the three.)

summer jobs for teensBut I also know teens and college students need money. You have lots of expenses, many of which your parents can’t or don’t want to fully fund. So it’s about time you begin to support yourself my working a summer job.

What job would fit your time frame though? You really only have three months to work as the typical school ends in May/June and returns to classes in August/September. Won’t employers be hesitant to hire you if they know it will only be for three short months?

Some might be. Others however, rely on the seasonal influx of workers because summer is their busiest time of the year. So the fact that you are only available for three months matches up with the increased seasonal activity of that position. The employer will be fine when you leave the job to return to school in the fall because he or she won’t need your help anymore.

Jobs You Could Easily Find During the Summer

To that end, here are 10 great summer jobs for teens and college students. In all these areas, employers will be looking for workers during the summer:

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A Soldier’s Pledge – If This Doesn’t Inspire You, Nothing Will

“America is depressing…mixed up…adrift…an afterthought.”

Have you sensed these themes rippling through our cultural narrative in the past few years?

A lack of pride in who we are seems to have blossomed. There is little passion for greatness. Few believe America’s best days lie ahead.

Everyday the news points out our flaws…can’t get our economy right…can’t get our race issues right…can’t get our foreign relations right…can’t even get our rights right.

Everything rises and falls with leadership – including America. So perhaps our malaise can be contributed to the uninspiring and ineffectual leadership we see in our government…in our communities…in our churches…in our homes.

We don’t have to settle for this though. We can choose a different path. We don’t have to feel blasé about America.

How do I know this?

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6 Shocking Things Your Broke Friends Need to Hear You Say

If you’ve ever gotten into conversations with broke friends about money, you know how hard it is to determine if they actually want your help. There are ways to figure that out and perhaps lead your discussion to deeper levels. If that happens, you’ll learn more about your friend’s financial struggles and perhaps be able to offer some counsel.

The counsel part is when it gets really tough. If you’ve had success with money, you know what has to be done…

broke friendsChange your habits.

Spend less.

Save more.

Follow a budget.

Get out of debt.

Invest, invest, and invest some more.

But your broke friends might not want to listen or hear any of that.

When someone is in a heap of financial trouble there are reasons for that trouble. Those reasons could be diverse. However, more than likely they result from lack of knowledge and poor behaviors/decisions.

When our way of life becomes ingrained – in other words, normal and acceptable to us – we really don’t want to hear ways to live differently. We have your set routines and way of thinking. The more we practice the same things over and over the less likely it will be for use to break out of the mold and see things differently.

Even in the realm of money.

In order to break through and see outside the box, we either have to experience severe pain, be faced with a crisis or be shocked by someone or something. We don’t simply wake up one morning and say “I think I’ll change all my habits today.”

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How to Determine If People Really Want Help With Money

I’m totally into personal finance and love to help with money. I could teach the subject and shell out advice for hours. That’s why I love leading Financial Peace University classes so much. It satisfies my appetite.

But in everyday life I rarely get into conversations about money.

Why?

Because people rarely ask.

And even more rare are those times when I bring up the subject to someone else, even though I see bad personal finance decisions around me all the time.

help with moneyI’ve learned that when I initiate conversations about money it doesn’t go so well. People feel violated, like it’s an intrusion on their personal space. It’s like offering unsolicited advice on how to parent or what political party could best solve our problems. All three of those topics are an invasion into personal privacy and opinion, so it seems.

It’s a challenge to know when to jump on a person’s comments about their personal financial situation. If I’m in FPU class it’s no problem. The people there are motivated to change and I know they want my advice.

In normal everyday life it’s hard to tell if people are just whining or truly want help with money. Are they complaining and have no desire to change? Or are they throwing out innocuous comments to see if I’ll bite?

To help me in these situations, I’m working on a go-to list of statements and questions to determine a person’s intent. Each one can’t be used in every situation as they are tailored to certain types of statements. However, the responses from the individual tell me if they are willing to move the conversation along and if they really want help with money issues.

Do You Want Help With Money?

When people insinuate, complain about or make general statements about their financial life, interject these statements to find out how far they want to go:

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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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How to Make a Good Decision Every Time

Hidden Nuggets Series #79 – “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise.” – Ephesians 5:15

(This bonus Hidden Nuggets article is dedicated to my kids. May you always make good decisions.)

how to make a good decisionHave you ever been in a difficult situation and wondered how to make a good decision? Silly question I know. Who hasn’t been in a tough spot like that?

We face decisions every day – small and large. Some are routine and have little to no impact on our lives. Others weigh heavy on our minds, causing us to lose sleep at night. Decisions can chart the course of our present and define our path for the next 10 years.

Whether they are in the moment decisions or ones that take time to think through, it is difficult to know how to make a good decision. How do you enter the decision making process – blindly or with your eyes wide open? What do you draw on to help you make a good decision, one that will be profitable for your future?

I’ve often thought my decisions were pretty good, even though there have been some I regret. My big issue is getting to the best decision quickly enough. I usually take a long time to come to a conclusion on weighty matters. Sometimes that frustrates me. At times I’ve missed the opportunity entirely because of my procrastination.

What if there was template that could teach you how to make a good decision? What if you could get instant clarity in some cases on whether to move in a direction? Would that be worth it?

I’ve found such a template [that I can’t take credit for] and it all rests in one broad question and three deeper questions you have to ask.

Our Problem in Making Good Decisions

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Dodging Sex and Money Conversations With a 6-Yr. Old

Ever wondered when to have sex and money conversations with your kids? My suggestion…take it slow and only share when they are ready. You have to be alert and on guard for these moments or you could make a mistake, like I almost did the other day when this happened to me…

The chore of walking our dog is a daily ritual. As I lasso him up for another stroll my six-year old son asks to join us. Sensing this would be a great bonding experience I say, “Sure buddy, come on” and we head off into the subdivision.

spidermanThe first few minutes are filled with the usual blathering that can only come from a six year old. I’m not even really paying attention given his topics have no connection to reality. I mean really…what’s the point of responding in depth to questions like “Can Spiderman shoot his webs underwater?” or “What if animals controlled people?”

Oh boy (cue eye roll). This is going to be long walk. Think I’ll keep the responses simple. “I don’t know, bud.” “Oh yeah…that would be crazy.”

Then, in the midst of the mundane, comes THAT topic every parent knows they will have to address but is never quite ready for. And it started like this…

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