Hope for your financial life and beyond

How to Make Sure You Never Need a Car Loan

My wife and I have recently bought a new car. It was used but new to us. The best part about the whole deal was that we didn’t have to take out a car loan.

We paid cash.

car loanNow, we are both in our forties and well established financially. So you might think this purchase was a piece of cake. On the contrary, it wasn’t. It took us two years of preparation to be able to buy this vehicle. But it was worth the effort to avoid needing a car loan.

How did we do it? I’ll share that in a minute and show you the steps to take to never need a car loan again. But first, let’s look at the reasons why people feel the need to take out a car loan in the first place.

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10 Futuristic Money Saving Ideas That Are Already a Reality

Technology is changing the face of the world as we know it and it’s doing so at lightning speed. For example, think about this article. Ten years ago the platform on which you discovered it was either non-existent or looked totally different. Fifteen years ago you might not have been able to even conceptualize the device you’re using to read it. Twenty years ago you wouldn’t have anticipated this information – and many other things you need to know – being so readily available.

The mainstream financial services industry has not moved at quite the same pace. Traditional banks have not led the process but followed along with the sort of lag you’d expect from an old Windows PC. A major reason has been security concerns. It’s been challenging figuring out how to make financial services immediately accessible without compromising the safety of the huge amounts of money involved.

But the non-traditional financial services companies have made big strides. And with increased safety, it’s becoming easier to innovate ideas that save you money. The following 10 startups have produced some of the most revolutionary money saving ideas out there.

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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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My Carvana Review: The Online Vending Machine For Buying Used Cars

In my adult life I’ve been involved in eight total car transactions. In all those transactions – both buying and selling privately and at a dealership – I’ve never had an experience like the one I’m about to share in this Carvana review. This 2-year old company based in Atlanta may be revolutionizing how used cars are bought and sold.

carvana reviewYou may have heard about Carvana from their “lazy man” Super Bowl ad spot. I first ran across their name while shopping for a used Suburban. I did what a lot of consumers do when they see an unfamiliar name the first time – I ignored it and looked away.

But their name surfaced again in an advertisement when my wife and I were doing a private sale of my Toyota Tundra. We had run into some headwinds (i.e. no one was interested) in our initial attempts using Craigslist and were looking for other options to move our truck. So she decided to check out Carvana and see if selling them our truck might be an option.

Here’s what we learned about the company…and eventually experienced first hand.

Some Background on Carvana

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5 Budgeting Tips to Save Money for the Holidays

Want to save money shopping this holiday season? Today’s guest post by freelance journalist Ivan Serrano begins our countdown to Christmas with these five budgeting tips.

With Thanksgiving only a week away, Americans are already shopping for the holidays.

budgeting tipsAccording to the 2014 Accenture Holiday Shopping Survey (.pdf), the average American is expected to spend $718 on holiday gifts alone. In addition, one-fourth of Americans plan to spend more on holiday shopping this year than they did in 2013.

While many Americans are planning to spend more during the upcoming holiday season, consumers are still looking for ways to save. Ninety-six percent of Americans believe discounts will be important for their purchasing decisions this year according to Accenture.

As you plan for the upcoming season, here are five tips to help you budget money for the holidays:

Set a short term savings goal for the holidays

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My 6-Yr. Old Has Earned 100 Dollars and We Are Opening a Savings Account

This past Saturday my 6-yr. old son and I made a trip to our local bank. This trip wasn’t for me though. He was there to open his very first savings account.

savings jar with $100 bills His first deposit was for $103, a very cool amount of money for a six year old to already have. The best part about this money though is that it was earned. All of it came from commissions he has earned from doing work around the house.

My wife and I don’t give our kids allowances for reasons that I’ve shared before. We believe in giving commissions. We developed a chore sheet with assigned tasks for each child based on their age.

Our kids do the assigned work they’ve been given each week and they get paid for that. Don’t complete the work and they don’t get paid. It’s as simple as that. I think that accurately reflects what will take place in a real world work environment.

Teaching Kids About Savings and the Bank

We start our kids out with doing paid chores at age five. So for one year and a few months now Doot-Doot (our 6-yr. old) has been doing five chores per week for which he gets paid five dollars. Two dollars goes into his savings jar, two goes into spending and one dollar goes towards giving.

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The Best and Worst Places to Save Money in the Budget When Getting Out of Debt

Lets assume that you’ve finally decided getting out of debt is a priority and are looking to save money in the monthly budget by cutting expenses. Where do you start?

getting out of debt

The Headache Factor Equation will help you determine which spending categories to cut first.

Not all categories are created equal. In some you can find money savings quickly. Others are going to take a little more time and effort. Some budget cuts will be easy to endure while others might lead to some family frustration at the lack of spending for that category.

In order to better identify the best places to save money in the monthly budget I’ve created the “Headache Factor Equation.” This formula takes into consideration three factors that are each scored on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being positive and 5 being negative. The lower the total cumulative score of the three factors the better when determining where to start saving money first.

The three parts of the equation are:

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Emergency Fund Basics: The Step On Which All Other Success Is Built

emergency fundWhat’s that? Oh…I see…you are just getting started with the “getting-my-financial-act-together” bit and don’t know where to begin. Well welcome to Emergency Fund Basics, the first step to success in all other areas of personal finance.

That may seem like a bold statement, saying that an emergency fund is the basis upon which all other financial decisions should be built. I can attest though, from personal experience, having money set aside strictly for emergencies is the #1 strategy that has propelled us forward in paying off debt, saving for retirement and college and investing in the stock market.

Why is that?

Because it’s a fact – emergencies are going to come and we will have to manage through the crisis. Sometimes they will rain in droves.

If cash is not available to take care of the emergency the moment it hits our door, then we are really only faced with one alternative – go into debt to deal with the situation. And the constant accumulation of debt hinders our ability to accumulate great wealth over time. The “going-into-debt-to-solve-the-emergency” cycle MUST be broken.

So today I’d like to outline the basics of the emergency fund process. You’ll learn when to start one, what to use it for, how much to save and the best way(s) to fund it.

What is an emergency fund?

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“O Lord Jesus It’s a Fire!” – Saving For Emergencies

o lord jesus its a fireEver walk to the refrigerator, maybe to get you a cold pop, and when you opened the door the light did not come on and there was no cold air? Or maybe you’ve been BBQ-ing, the fire got too hot and you burnt the chicken. Guess we are going out for dinner.

Maybe you’ve had an unexpected bout with bronchitis that required expensive medicine. Or you suddenly remembered it’s back to school time and the kids had no shoes to wear for PE class. Perhaps something bigger has happened like a house fire where you were displaced from your home and possessions for a time.

Our reaction when crazy life events happen is basically to say, “O Lord Jesus, it’s a fire!” and then we do our best to put the fire out. Usually that requires the spending of money to make the situation right or normal again. The question for us then is “How can we be prepared when the fire comes?”

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