Hope for your financial life and beyond

How Being Flexible Saved Our Vacation

being flexible

Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier

Two Saturdays ago, I’m standing along the first base wall at Great American Ballpark watching my daughter get an autograph from Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier. It’s the first day of our family’s 8-day vacation that will take us to Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, OH, on to Niagara Falls, NY and back through the Smokey Mountains as we return home.

The weather is warm and sunny and the look of excitement on my daughter’s face as she gets the autograph makes me realize why I love vacations. What a memory she will have of that moment. I can’t think of a better way to get our vacation started.

I strike up a conversation with a couple standing next to us who were visiting from Columbus, OH. I’m interested in asking them how long the drive is from Cincinnati to Columbus because we intended to drive there after the game and spend the night on our way to Cedar Point. What they said next shattered my “this-vacation-is-starting-out-so-well” feeling.

According to a news report, Cedar Point had a major water main break. The park was closed Saturday and would be Sunday and possibly Monday. “Nooooooo!” I screamed on the inside. “Those are the exact days we plan to be there!”

The kids were going to have so much fun and now would be incredibly disappointed. Perhaps the couple misheard the report and it’s not as bad as they let on. I tried to console myself with this notion.

During the 6th inning my wife received an email from Cedar Point stating that it was indeed as bad as we had heard. Our reservations to stay at the park had been cancelled. Our plans foiled.

What would we do now?

Well, we learned the importance of being flexible.

Being Flexible Can Make or Break A Vacation

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This One Trick Started Our Process of Doing Successful Budgets

successful budgetsThe first attempt we made at budgeting years ago was a nightmare. Our intentions were good and what we did seemed logical at the time. However, after a few short months it became apparent we could not put together successful budgets.

For those first budgets, we calculated what we wanted to spend per category for the entire year. These numbers were based on our income and what we knew (or thought) our expenditures would be. The next step was to divide by twelve to get the budget number for each month.

Seems easy enough, right?

Well, there was one big problem that showed up rather quickly that forced us to conclude this type of process was not going to work.

Every Month Is Not The Same

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Finding the Qualities of Successful People in Yourself

The following guest post is from My Money Design, a personal finance blog that is all about developing your passion for success.

Andrew Jackson on $20 bill

MyMoneyDesign.com

When you think of famous celebrities or business figures, to what do you attribute to their success? Hard work? Talent? Or just the irrevocable notion that they got that way by being at the right place at the right time?

Sure we’d all like to believe that luck had everything to do with it. We also like to convince ourselves that we somehow missed the bus and could have been just as successful as these people if we had been in the right place as well. But that’s simply not true.

Developing the Qualities of Successful People

Although I’m no celebrity, I know that one of the best things I can do for myself is to emulate the qualities of successful people to get what I want. Everything I’ve ever gotten, I’ve earned through hard work and passion. I don’t owe chance anything for my accomplishments. I believe that success is less about being lucky and mostly all about creating your own luck.

Here’s another way I choose to look at it:

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Stay the Course: Our Success Happened One Step At A Time

Hidden Nuggets Series #40 – “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.” – Proverbs. 21:5

stay the course

One station at a time

It’s been a fun and busy week at Luke1428. On Monday, I shared that we had finally paid off our mortgage early. I followed that up on Wednesday by explaining the four big reasons why we chose that route. Needless to say, there has been a whole bunch of page views this week, more than I expected. I guess this is a hot topic after all.

Of course, those who commented here and on my Facebook page have been excited for us. Believe me, so are we. It’s been a conviction of ours that we have been pushing to complete for over four years.

I couldn’t help but feel that some who shared seemed discouraged. They talked about how long it would take them to pay off their mortgage and that they couldn’t ever imagine reaching that goal. Maybe I’m reading into the comments, which is a really easy thing to do.

If you feel that way, like the end is never going to come, I’d like to say three things:

1. We’ve all felt that emotion.

2. One step at a time.

3. The tortoise always wins.

Stay the Course and Have Success

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5 Warning Signs When Choosing a Financial Adviser

A few years back, my wife and I encountered some life planning issues that we felt inadequate to handle. Not wanting to cause significant damage to our finances, we decided to seek the counsel of a financial adviser. For weeks we conducted a methodical search to track one down in our area.

financial adviserWe felt very nervous, opening our financial life – warts and all – to a complete stranger. Fortunately, our research found that most of the financial advisers in our area offered an initial consultation that didn’t require we make a long-term commitment to them. So with that encouraging news, we contacted four prospects and scheduled interviews.

In those four interviews, I saw the good, the not so good and the bad of the financial adviser world.

Looking For a Financial Adviser

These were the kinds of financial advisers we encountered:

Interview #1: The Index Guy

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6 Awesome Lessons for Managing Through a Financial Crisis

Hidden Nuggets #32 – “Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you.” – Genesis 41:39

financial crisis

Will you be prepared for the next crisis?

At some point in our lives we will face a financial challenge. Perhaps it will reach the level of severity that we would deem it a crisis. Where the financial crisis will come from or how long it will last, we will never know. However, this is for certain – one will be coming and we will have to deal with it.

That fact alone should give us an incredible incentive to plan.

The life story of the Biblical character Joseph would make Hollywood giddy with the prospects of a full-length motion picture. The plot has everything you’d want: from family conflict and deception to seduction, slavery and redemption. Joseph faced it all. And it’s in his redemption phase where we learn a great deal of what it’s like to plan for and through a financial crisis.

The Bible describes a time where the Pharaoh of Egypt had a series of dreams as he slept one night. Pharaoh knows the dreams hold significant importance but he, nor his magicians can interpret the imagery. Enter Joseph, a man whom God had already blessed with the ability to decipher a dream’s meaning.

Joseph listens as Pharaoh shares the dream sequence. Then, with Godly assistance, Joseph explains to Pharaoh the good news and bad news:

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3 Steps We Took to Develop Financial Success in Our Marriage

financial success in marriageMy wife and I have had success in marriage despite the fact we exhibit many different personality traits. I am more reserved, take my time with decisions and love to spend money. She on the other hand, is an outgoing, get things done driver, who coincidentally loves to save.

Despite our different personality types, we seldom disagree on financial related things. We learned early on that disagreements over financial issues were detrimental to our personal marriage, not to mention one of the leading causes of divorce in America. So we established some guidelines and parameters for our finances that helped us develop oneness in our marriage.

Steps to Develop Financial Success in Marriage

Our financial decisions have not always been the best. In fact, many of our money guidelines have evolved and been enhanced over the years. Within the last five years especially, we’ve realized more and more what it means to be on the same page with one another. It’s in this most recent period of our lives that I’ve noticed success in marriage growing. In regards to our finances, it all boils down to three big issues.

Listening to each other

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The Basics of How to Pay for College

how to pay for collegeIn my years as an educator, I’ve always enjoyed the months of February and March. Basketball tournaments are in full swing, winter mercifully comes to an end and spring (break) is right around the corner. These are also the months when high school seniors begin to solidify their plans and make THE DECISION on where to attend college.

It’s quite a relief to finally answer with certainty the two big questions everyone has been asking – “Where are you going to school?” and “What are you going to major in?”  I was never so glad to put those questions to bed and that uncertainty behind me.

However, the question nobody asks is probably the biggest of them all – “How are going to pay for that?”

Unfortunately, many high school students and their families haven’t adequately thought about how to pay for college. They’ve spent so much time on the other two questions they’ve left out the most fundamental aspect of going to school – the fact that it costs money. If they haven’t thought about it until the last minute it can be a very daunting challenge to figure out.

Heck, it’s daunting even if you’ve been planning for years. Have you seen the cost of a four-year degree recently? It’s enough to make even the most financially sound shudder. We started setting aside money for college when my oldest turned five and I still don’t know if there will be enough to cover the costs of four years for four children.

The Basic of How to Pay for College

Whatever your situation – whether you’ve been saving for years or have just begun to think about it – you have to develop a plan. With that in mind, here is Part I of two on how to pay for college and reduce the costs of a higher education. These are the six top things you can do:

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Global Shares Plunge! OMG…The World’s Coming to An End!

ID-100178554It’s another typical early morning. With a busy day ahead, I’m getting a bit of writing done before the kids drag themselves out of bed and downstairs for breakfast. I’m clicking around the Internet and wiping the sleep from my eyes when I’m greeted with this headline from Yahoo Finance:

“Global Shares Plunge as U.S. Slowdown Adds to Emerging Markets Woes”

I quickly pulled up a stock chart and noticed the financial markets have been in a free fall since the start of January. As of this writing (the morning of 2/4/14), the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen over 1,200 points (about 7%) since Jan. 1st. Many are calling for another 3-5% drop from here. Yikes!

Well, faced with that news what could I do? I grabbed my shotgun, some bottled water and my case of Ritz Crackers ‘n Cheese and headed for the bunker I’ve built in the basement. It’s fully stocked for Armageddon. The wife and kids will have to fend for themselves.

Clearly the world is coming to an end.

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When a Snowfall Brings Panic, Excitement and Pressure

Atlanta traffic in snow II

Downtown Atlanta Tuesday Afternoon

You may have heard a fairly substantial snowfall swept through the southeast Tuesday dropping anywhere from 1-3 inches of snow in greater Atlanta where I live. For those of you living in a mountain region in the west or north of the Mason-Dixon line in the east it’s OK to scoff. I grew up in Ohio so I know a major snowstorm when I see one.

This wasn’t it.

Except for Southerners it is. We simply don’t have the equipment to deal with the road conditions as they deteriorate.

Few salt trucks.

Fewer snowplows.

Still fewer drivers with experience in snowy road conditions.

This storm left many motorists stranded and children stuck at school throughout the night. Many roadways are still a parking lot this morning, as ice developed overnight in the below 20 degree weather.

There is a wide range of emotions produced on a days like this. I’ve noticed that which one people express depends on their situation and who they are. Furthermore, and more importantly, how people deal with the situation and handle their emotions may influence how they view the outcome of the entire day.

Emotion 1: Panic

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My 8 Step Method for Writing a Blog Post

How do you put together a blog post? I had no clue how to answer that question when I first started blogging. I just started writing without much thought to methodology. After several frustrating months, I realized the need to come up with a procedure for writing a blog post.

I needed to be able to see an idea through from inception to publish date. So today I’m going to outline the process I developed for writing a blog post that has helped me avoid some frustration along the way.

8 Steps to Writing a Blog Post

From start to finish this is what I do:

Step 1: The Listing of Ideas

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