Hope for your financial life and beyond

Saving Money Throughout College

Enjoy this guest post today from my blogging friend Glen at www.howtosavemoney.guru.

glasses and highlighter resting on bookAs Brian has been talking all things college lately, I thought I would chime in with my own take on how college students can save money.

Avoid borrowing more money than you need

When I was first told that people in the US borrow money to go and live on campus (essentially borrowing to pay rent), I actually couldn’t believe it. Not only that, but my friend (who is from the US) told me that it is common place for students to do this.

I live in Australia, and while there certainly isn’t as many colleges to choose from as there are in the USA, the idea of getting a loan to pay for accommodation close to college just wasn’t an option.

Instead, I decided that I would attend a local college and utilize the public transport system to get to and from my classes. I had to plan my journey to fit within the transport timetable, but I also saved so much money.

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4 Sneaky Ways to Save More Money and a Giveaway!

Enjoy this guest post (and giveaway!) by Brent from VOSA. Brent’s a world record holder, inventor, engineer, entrepreneur, world traveler & eternal optimist. You can read more of his writing about personal finance, entrepreneurship and travel at VOSA.com.

shoes and tv

Do your personal finance habits have you lost?

Left sock, right sock. Left shoe, right shoe. Right shoelace, left shoelace.

That’s the routine I’ve followed when putting on my shoes for as long as I can remember.

It’s so engrained into my mental and muscle memory I literally have a hard time doing it any other way even when I try.

Now I’m sure there are some behavioral psychologist reading this saying “claaaasssiiic O.C.D.”.

O.C.D. or not, habits like this rule our lives more than we know it.

Just think about how you put on your shoes, or the first three things you do every morning when you wake up, or how you respond when someone ask you “how are you?”

Chances are, that you too, have some standard routines that you weren’t aware about until just now.

Don’t get me wrong, habits are a great thing. They allow us to save mental capacity for when we have to make bigger and more important decisions than which sock and shoe I should put on first or weather you should brush your teeth before or after your shower in the morning.

Studies have proven that willpower is a finite element that you can exhaust over the course of a day.

This is why you’re more likely to eat that piece of cheesecake at 11 PM after a long and stressful day compared to 9 AM when you’re putting out fires and savings lives at your day job.

How Habits Form

Knowing how habits can govern your actions can help you financially. In this post I’m going to focus on four different sneaky ways to use habits to save more money.

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Guess Which Age Group Is Starting To Save?

Young woman with broken down car

Will you have enough saved if this emergency happens?

You may have seen this article last week in the Wall Street Journal that detailed the current status of Americans and their emergency savings. I probably don’t have to describe to you the article’s tone. Your intuition tells you it was filled with negative statistics.

The study from Bankrate.com showed that:

26% of Americans have no emergency savings…

66% of Americans don’t have the recommended six months of expenses saved…

Those with enough saved to cover expenses for three months shrank to 40% in 2014, compared to 45% in 2013 and…

Only 46% of those earning $75,000 or above have six months of expenses saved.

That last one is especially disturbing. $75,000 is a fine yearly income. That equates to 300k earned in 4 years time, assuming no raises or bonuses. Throw a tax refund or two in there and you are telling me 54% of the people in this situation can’t save six months of expenses in four years? That’s fascinating.

Of particular note, guess who the most likely savers are turning out to be according to the study?

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After 7 Years of Wedded Bliss We Are Dumping Costco

Costco wholesale warehouse entranceSeven years ago, I was introduced to and fell in love with Costco. For those who may not be familiar with its format, Costco is a membership only wholesale warehouse club that sells a wide selection of merchandise in bulk sizes. It’s a giant of a company coming in only behind Walmart on the 2014 list of largest U.S. based retail stores for total worldwide sales.

The allure of Costco is palpable the moment you walk in the doors. Big open spaces, big shopping carts, big packaging, big slices of pizza at the food court…it’s all big. Add to that the big savings of buying in bulk and you have a shoppers dream.

Indeed, I was intoxicated all those years ago at its format and the prospect of saving money. “Look how much we are saving on diapers!” I remember exclaiming the first time we shopped there. It only took one trip for me to become hooked.

Two years ago the unthinkable happened. I began to fall out of love with Costco. The reason was simple…the company began to rethink its target audience.

Costco Business Centers

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How We Are Paying For Summer Vacations With Cash

summer vacations

Niagara Falls

Our school is out for the year, so for me that means summer has arrived. I know the official start date of summer here in North America isn’t until June 21st. The astronomers and weathermen can push that date all they want. Once the kids start sleeping until 9 am or later, I know something has changed.

Summer brings with it summer vacations, which our family thoroughly enjoys. We usually take one big trip (a week+) and one short trip (3-4 days) each summer. This year will be no different as we will be embarking on a week long trek from Atlanta to Niagara Falls and back, followed later in the summer by a weekend cruise to the Bahamas.

Neither of those trips will be cheap, although we did get an incredible deal on the cruise (more on that in a moment). Nevertheless, we won’t be going into debt for either of them. All our vacation expenditures will be paid for in cash (through using our debit card).

How are we doing that?

Two words: “planning” and “saving.”

Summer Vacations With Cash

Here’s how we pay for all our summer vacations with cash:

Early Planning Leads to Deals

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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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18 Ways to Reduce College Costs, Plus One Huge Bonus Tip

In case you missed it, in Part I of this series covering college costs, I talked about the five most popular ways students pay for college.

college costsThe focus today will be on reducing the total college costs in whatever way possible. Of course things like scholarships, grants and military funding are all givens as I discussed in Part I. But what other practical things can a student do to bring down college costs?

I’ve divided the cost cutting topics into three categories: things that can be done in high school, things that can be done in the preparation phase and things that can be done while enrolled in college.

And at the end I’ll provide one bonus tip on how to dramatically reduce the cost of college.

Cut College Costs While in High School

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How to Love Paying Bills and Going Christmas Shopping

paying billsThree weeks ago I’m standing in Target crossing off the list Christmas gifts we had already purchased. My wife, who had been looking at some kid clothes, comes up to me and says, “I’m having so much fun Christmas shopping this year!”

Amazed at her enthusiasm I said, “Who are you and what have you done with my wife?”

After giving me the duck face, she replied to my quip, “It’s just so much more fun when you use cash when paying bills and purchasing the.”

That comment was in my top 5 moments from this past Christmas. Knowing our money management system was enhancing our relationship and making such an emotional impact on my wife was priceless.

If you are wondering how we had the cash to pay for all our gifts, it’s not because we allocated that much more in our December budget than normal. We started saving for Christmas in January, using a tried but true concept known as a sinking fund.

The Sinking Fund Theory to Paying Bills

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Getting An Electric Car For Free Through Tax Credits

Welcome to a Q & A tax session at Luke1428. Today we are discussing how to fund the purchase of an electric car with tax credits. Some states offer tax credits as incentives for many transactions, including purchasing or leasing an electric car.

To answer your tax credit questions I’ve pulled in none other than Mrs. Luke 1428, who just happens to be a CPA. So here we go.

Electric Car

The Nissan Leaf – source of a nice little state tax credit

Q: What are tax credits and how can I use them?

A: Great question. First, I’d like to make sure that we’re clear on the difference between a tax credit and a tax deduction. As an example, let’s assume you have $50,000 of taxable income, and your tax rate is 10%. Let’s compare the difference between a $1,000 tax credit and a $1,000 tax deduction.

A tax deduction lowers your taxable income. Without any deductions, your tax would be 10% of $50,000, which is $5,000. So, a $1,000 tax deduction lowers your taxable income to $49,000. Then we apply the 10% tax rate and come up with a tax of $4,900.

Tax Deduction Savings: $100.

Now, instead of the tax deduction, let’s try a tax credit.

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Dealing With My Daughter’s BIG Milestone

Growth AheadMy oldest daughter, Miss LukeTeen28 (MLT28), is quickly approaching a major milestone. To be honest I’m having difficulty believing my wife and I have reached this point. It seems like only yesterday we were meticulously buckling her into the car seat at the hospital (as only newbie parents can), readying her for the first car ride home.

Boy, did I take that trip carefully.

Now 12 ½ years later, we are about to cross that invisible yet unmistakable line that serves as a right of passage for kids as they grow towards young adulthood. Most parents dread this moment because it signals their child is becoming capable of deciding his or her own path. While I will admit to a certain level of anxiety, I’m really looking forward to it. I want to see how all these years of teaching, training and modeling will play out as she makes decisions.

The right of passage to which I refer has nothing to do with my daughter becoming a teenager though. It’s a much greater issue that will provide her with great lessons as she matures into adulthood. What could possibly be this big a deal for an almost 13 year old?

Making her first BIG purchase with her own money. Here is what she wants:

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I’m Saving Thousands in 60 Seconds or Less

60 seconds or lessPersonal finance bloggers love to help people develop sound money habits that will yield positive results if consistently applied over time. Many of these habits are hard to develop especially when they require great amounts of sacrifice. It took me a long time to realize I had issues with spending and an even greater length of time to bring that habit under control.

But success with finances doesn’t have to be difficult or take years of intense work learning how to budget or invest properly. In fact, there are some simple, everyday activities that take 60 seconds or less that could greatly impact a person’s future financial well-being. These require only minor preparation and even less time to execute.

Four 60 Seconds or Less Activities

Here are the four, everyday money-saving activities I’m doing right now that take me 60 seconds or less to accomplish:

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