Hope for your financial life and beyond

Attention 9th Graders: Some Focus Right Now Will Make You Rich

Thought I would perform a public service announcement today for the freshman out there starting high school this fall. I don’t have any good tips on how to avoid getting stuffed in your locker or fighting off that wedgie as you change after gym class. You might just have to endure those things…such is the right of passage into high school.

dissecction in biology

Focus – Work Hard – Be Rich

What I’d rather do is snap your mind into place as you start taking classes and get you thinking about the future.

Sound boring? Listen, I get it. The last thing you probably want to think about right now is studying for a literature test. And those Algebra I problems…ugh! When are you ever going to use that in real life?

I’m not going to try and convince you of the practical uses of Algebraic principles once you graduate high school. What I do want you to know is that your approach to Algebra (and all your other classes) has huge implications for your future. In fact, what you do right now – this 9th grade year – could eventually make you rich.

The Two Biggest Challenges of High School

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The 4 Stages of Investing and How to Win Long Term

I’ve been investing now for almost 20 years and have experienced various stages of investing during that time. My wife brought several mutual funds into our marriage and that became my first exposure to the stock market. It didn’t take long for me to see how investing could have a positive impact on our financial future.

the 4 stages of investingOver the years our investments have evolved and our assets have grown. We’ve branched out into other avenues of investing beyond the stock market. It took some time to get there but the results have been worth it.

Making money in the market is a journey. You’ll go through various stages of investing along the way that are marked by specific decisions. How you handle each one of these stages will determine your ability to win long-term.

The 4 Stages of Investing

I hope you are thinking about investing. Next to the personal earnings you receive from your job, investing is the #1 way to build wealth. It does take some time for significant wealth to accumulate and you’ll have to go through these stages of investing to get there:

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More Money More Problems: The 10 Challenges of the Wealthy

Everyone has money problems…even the wealthy. They may not be the same type of problems that someone with a hundred thousand dollars in student loan debt is experiencing but they exist nonetheless. It would seem that having more money doesn’t isolate a person from having more problems.

more money more problemsI don’t consider myself rich by any means. I’m not even sure how to accurately define whether someone is rich. What net worth number does a person have to reach before they are considered wealthy? $1 million? $5 million? $10 million plus?

For me, I would consider someone with $10 million in net worth to be rich. If they had all that money in cash, they could retire and live off $200,000 a year for 50 years. Does that sound rich to you?

Although we’ll probably never reach the $10 million dollar plateau, my wife and I have come to the point in our financial lives where we are worrying less about money. We don’t have to concern ourselves with paying off a mortgage and the kid’s college tuition is pretty much on pace to be adequately funded. The same goes for our retirement. According to Dave Ramsey’s baby steps you could say we’ve reached Baby Step 7 – building wealth.

While we don’t struggle with putting food on the table I’ve noticed other problems creeping into our lives as our net worth has increased. It got me thinking about the money issues of the wealthy and what they might be dealing with on a personal level. We haven’t experienced most of these but I’ll admit to being shaken on a small scale by a few of them.

The More Money More Problems of the Wealthy

While not exclusive, these are the 10 problems I see creeping into the life of someone with considerable wealth.

Dealing with the fear of losing it

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Beware: All That Glitters Is Not Gold

Hidden Nuggets Series #44 – “When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them.” – Joshua 7:21

all that glitters is not goldYou could see in his eyes the burning desire to possess the golden treasure. The moment he had waited for his entire life had now come. The reward was within his grasp and nothing could stop him now.

Except the chain reaction that occurred once Indiana Jones lifted that little idol off its intended resting place. You just knew that bag of sand he used to replace the idol when he picked it up was not going to work.

In the next few moments, he would face a collapsing cave roof, poison darts shooting from the cave walls, a giant rolling boulder, and natives with spears. The worst part is he didn’t even get to keep the idol, having to turn it over to his treasure-seeking arch rival. Sure does seem like something bad happens when we try to attain something that we are not supposed to have.

The Eyes Are The Window to the Soul

Of all our senses I believe we are most enticed by what we see. We see people with power…we want it. We see wealth…we pursue it. We see people take shortcuts to get ahead…we attempt them. We see fame…we crave it, even if just for 15 minutes.

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7 Unfortunate Reasons People Spew Hatred at Dave Ramsey

Dave RamseyIt could be argued that Dave Ramsey has become the most influential financial voice of this generation. His radio program draws nearly 8 million listeners every week, placing him third in the talk radio genre behind Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity respectively. Clearly he has developed an enormous following and has helped millions of people develop restraint, follow a plan and get their financial lives back.

Count me among those people.

Despite his influence and popularity, I continually read of people skewering Dave Ramsey for the message of hope that he brings. I’ve tried for the life of me to figure out why someone who has been so helpful would be the target of such outrage. In some cases, I’m sure it’s simply people taking a contrarian opinion to draw some attention to themselves. However, I think the main issue is much bigger than that and it’s something everyone says when it comes to the area of personal finance.

The Reasons People Hate Dave Ramsey

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Sometimes I Trust in the Wrong Things

Hidden Nuggets Series #2 – “Some trust in chariots and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” – Psalm 20:7

HorsesMisplaced trust. I’ve done that before in an effort to help me get by.

Friendships. Money and material possessions. Love. And, of course, my wide array of incredible talents. (OK…it may not be a wide array, but I have a few there.)

I love friendships. I enjoy money and appreciate the material possessions in my care. I love being in love. When my talents are used to accomplish something great, I’m thrilled.

There is a big problem however, with all these and other external things I put my complete trust in.

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Investing Made Easy (Part II): When Should I Start?

Between the ages of 16-22, I was employed at three different summer jobs. First, I worked in the concession stand in our community swimming pool for several years. I then moved up in ranks and became a lifeguard for two summers. During the second season of being a lifeguard, I only worked in the evenings because during the day I had taken a second job as a construction worker. That summer’s dual-employment schedule was brutal, but I made more money than I had ever seen to that point.

Mom and Dad blocksOnce I graduated from college, I worked full-time in construction while I waited for my bride-to-be to finish her degree. As I recall those years, I really don’t remember having any focus on where my money was going. I was saving some, spending some and giving some, but I never took the time to understand how money, placed in the right type of instrument, could grow and enhance my lifestyle.

My wife brought into our marriage a small mutual fund, compliments of her grandmother’s generosity. Over the years since it’s inception, the fund had grown and paid for some college expenses and for her car in total. “Hmmm,” I thought. “Money invested in stock market funds grows over time and pays for things we want or need. Cool idea. Wonder how this works?” That’s when I started my investing journey.

You may be asking, “How do I know if I’m ready to start investing? When should I start?” They are great questions that I would like to shed light on today in Part II of this Investing Made Easy series. And I’m sure to hear it for this comment, but deciding whether or not to invest is sort of like deciding to become a parent – we are never quite sure we are ready.

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What’s Rich to a 6-Year Old?

IMG_1322Nothing quite says summer like swim lessons. It has been an annual ritual in our household for the last five years as our two oldest, and now our two youngest, are learning the basics of swimming pool survival. It really puts me at ease knowing my kids can make it to the ladder in the deep end. (But I’m still on guard when they jump off the diving board.)

This past week it was swim lessons for our youngest two who are 5 and 6. We take private lessons at a lady’s house who has been doing swim lessons for the past 34 years. She loved teaching so much she built her own in-ground pool in her backyard 32 years ago and has been packed with would-be swimmers ever since. She is known throughout our town as being one of the best around.

Her pool and deck area is beautifully landscaped with shrubbery and flowery plants all around. There is a rock waterfall nearby that flows to a pond at the bottom, filled with lily pads and small goldfish. She also has three friendly dogs that roam the backyard which my kids love.

On Tuesday, as we were leaving lessons, the 5 and 6 year old were having a discussion about all the “cool” things that were at the lady’s house.

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Health, Wealth and Moments of Clarity

moments of clarityThe personal finance blogosphere takes the accumulation of wealth seriously. One can literally read hundreds of posts each day espousing the virtues of saving more and spending less in the hopes of one day reaching financial independence. That’s the pinnacle of wealth accumulation we strive for – the day when our money makes more for us in a year than we could make for ourselves in a year. That’s a sweet place to be.

So we spend much time and focus in this area of our lives. Researching. Writing posts. Sharing with others. Developing our blogs. It’s all part and parcel of the gig.

I can tell you, having been at this for almost a year now, blogging can eat you up if you allow it. So can working too hard at your day job. So can spending too much time watching television. So can updating Facebook all day long. So can any activity or hobby taken to excess.

By definition, when we overindulge in one area we naturally neglect other areas of our life that need attention. It’s impossible to give maximum total attention to every facet of our lives at the same time. Something inevitably has to give.

In addition to our personal finances, another area we sorely neglect is our health. There was a time in the not so distant past when this was true of me. I was consumed with my work. I was not getting enough sleep and I rarely exercised. I was sluggish, not eating well and sat around for most of the day. And the numbers on the scale kept getting higher and higher.

Then, to quote Zangief from Wreck It Ralph and Street Fighter II fame – “I have moment of clarity.” That clarity came in two separate events.

Two Personal Moments of Clarity

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2 HUGE Reasons We Need to Save to Build Wealth

build wealthIf you have been following my posts recently, I have been discussing why it is important to save money. I talked about saving for emergencies and then outlined saving for purchases and bills. These serve as a solid foundation for our financial health and to build wealth for the long-term.

They are foundational because we have to work through a lot of emotional baggage. We have to re-wire years of incorrect thinking about our saving habits. That’s not easy because we have to admit our mistakes. But once we have succeeded in changing our mindset about saving, we’ve conquered a giant obstacle. As I’ve said before most people aren’t thinking this way.

These saving concepts are foundational because they allow us to move on to the next phase of money management – to build wealth.

What Does It Mean to Build Wealth?

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