Hope for your financial life and beyond

Count the Cost: The Secret Step for Success at Anything (Luke 14:28)

count the costWould you like to have success at anything you do? Of course would. So would I. Nobody sets out with the intention to fail. However, many times we do fail and it’s often because we refused to count the cost ahead of time.

What do I mean by count the cost? Does that have something to do with money? Well, maybe but not necessarily.

Put simply, when you count the cost, you plan ahead. You take inventory of everything that needs to happen before you pursue a goal.

Now, you may not know every little detail that needs to be achieved in the process. But you can at least get a sense of all the big rocks that need to be accomplished in order for your endeavor to be successful.

This concept isn’t a new one. The term “count the cost” actually has its origins in the Bible. And Jesus used it with his disciples to prove a very important point about thinking and planning ahead.

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Should I Save For Retirement or the Kid’s College First?

I’m a very linear person. My default mode is to move in a chronological order, doing things step by step according to a predetermined plan. So it’s confusing when trying to decide whether to save for retirement first or our kid’s college.

save for retirementOn the one hand, it’s been drilled into me that saving for retirement is important. However, I know the costs of college tuition are increasing every year with no end in sight. I’d love for my kids to graduate from college debt free and feel an obligation as a parent to help with some of my own money to make that happen.

College is a nearer-term goal than retirement. That fits with my linear life narrative. Prepare for the financial situations that are coming sooner and push off financial decisions that can be made later. For most people, college costs will come before retirement costs so shouldn’t we be focusing on that first?

It seems logical to prepare for college first but I’m going to suggest today that we should do the illogical. The exact opposite should happen. Save for retirement first and college second.

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How to Invest in Stock for Beginners

As I have stated many times on this site before, it is of utmost importance to be invested in the stock market. The earnings you make from your career will be your biggest wealth building strategy. However, second only to that, will be what you invest in. Many people have been able to build significant wealth through investments. 

While you can find many tools and resources on this topic on both online and offline platforms, a beginner may find it hard to know where to start. What should you be looking for anyway? And what are the key things to think about and ask before you even put down money on an investment? This article will give you some tips to get you started as a beginner. Hopefully after reading, you’ll realize that this is not as hard as you may think.

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2 Milestones You Need to Reach Before Investing Money

investingWhen it comes to investing money in the stock market, time is your greatest ally and your greatest enemy. The longer you are investing money the greater likelihood you’ll generate great wealth. Shortening that time period by just a few years could significantly reduce the amount of wealth you’ll create.

That’s why it’s important to get started early – in fact, the earlier the better. Time is the most critical element in the investing equation. It doesn’t matter if you are a high school student making minimum wage at a summer job, a college student figuring out how to pay your way through school or married with your first child on the way. The earlier you start investing, even in small amounts, the more one can maximize big returns in the long run.

Don’t believe me? Read on and check out the following example.

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Online Business Ideas That Make You Money

In 1991, the Internet as we know it went live to the general public. At the time, there was little fanfare. And it would take most of the rest of the decade before it became mainstream.

Now the Internet is everywhere. And have people sure learned how to use it…especially to start an online business and make money.

As the Internet has evolved, people continue to spend more and more time on it. More eyeballs looking at content means more opportunity for people to monetize that content. So, for many, starting an online business sounds like a good idea.

There are a multitude of ways to make money on the Internet. And if you have never worked on the Internet before, that should not be something to stop you. Those who are willing to learn can be a success and make enough money to either earn a living or provide a little extra on the side in their monthly budget.  The work itself does not have to be full-time. Plenty of people are adjusting their schedules and juggling both their regular work as well as an online side hustle. 

So, if this is something you are interested in, you will need an idea for a business plan first. 

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7 Positive Lessons from Job’s Friends on Helping Hurting People

Ever felt like you had no clue how to help someone who was hurting? It doesn’t matter if the pain is physical, emotional or spiritual. Too often we simply freeze, not really knowing how to best help our friends in need.

Should I give them advice? Try to cheer them up? Give them a hug? Offer to help them in some way? Who really knows, right? It’s simply hard to know the appropriate way to respond so as not to hurt or offend them further.

jobs friendsThe Bible records a story for us about a man named Job (pronounced “jobe”). In his story, we see him experiencing some of the deepest emotional and physical pain one could be dealt. In his distress, three of his friends came to be with him. The initial steps they took serve as an example to us all on how to respond when one of our friends is hurting.

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All Work and No Play: Combating the Dangers of Workaholism

All work and no playDo not fear. I’m not writing from a snowed in mountain resort lodge. I have to admit for years I assumed the proverb “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” came from that Stephen King horror novel turned Jack Nicholson movie thriller The Shining, which mistakenly came in front of my eyes as a youth (thank you older cousins). I say mistakenly because no one under the age of 21 should put that imagery into their head. (And maybe if you are over 21, you shouldn’t either.)

As it turns out the phrase “all work and no play” was originally published in Proverbs in English, Italian, French and Spanish (1659) and is attributed to a writer by the name of James Howell.

The warning of the all work and no play proverb seems clear enough to me. If we don’t release ourselves from the pressures of work from time to time we will become dull and uninteresting. We become like the automated robot on the assembly line who only finds fulfillment in one thing – doing its job. When life becomes our work, we neglect time for hobbies, family, friends, exercise, watching sports, reading, or just plain vegging, all of which could add significant value to life if we let them.

That type of existence doesn’t spark a fire in me at all. Work definitely has value and should be something we take seriously. But life is so much more than working all the time.

So what should people battling with workaholism do? Fortunately, there is a path forward to a better work/life balance.

A Guideline For Work

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Should I Hire An Apartment Rental Manager For My Property?

As I have mentioned here many times before, having a rental property is one of the most lucrative businesses that you can have. It doesn’t matter if it is your full-time passion or a business you do on the side. Owning property and renting it out to others is a great way to bring in income. 

First and foremost, you must always set good strategies to ensure the properties you choose are outstanding. The key strategy with this is finding the ideal locations where you can buy property. Look for areas with good neighborhoods, outstanding school systems, convenient distances from goods and services and easy access to major travel routes. In this way, it will be easy to convince tenants of the value of moving into your property.

As great a business as it can be, managing rental properties or apartments can be hectic, especially if you lack the skills of management. If you feel overwhelmed, I would advise you to use a rental manager who can help you run your property. Of course that comes with a fee for their services. But in the end, it may be a wise move to help you relieve stress, free up your time and actually make you more money. 

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Does God Want Me To Attend College?

Every fall like clockwork, the same ritual happens during the months of August and September – students return to high school. Each year a special group of these students enter their senior year, excited about wrapping up one of the most exciting times of their life thus far. And chief among their thoughts as they start their final year of high school is this question, “Should I go to college or not?”

should i go to collegeFor people of faith, there is an underlying component to this question that sometimes factors into the answer to the college question. That element is this – “Does God want me to go? Does He really care if I attend college or not?” Mom and dad sure have made it clear they think it’s important. They’ve been pounding the table for months to get those applications finished.

But what about God? Does He even have an opinion on college?

To those with no religious inclination this may seem silly. Why consult a higher power at all about a non-spiritual issue like whether or not to attend college? I understand that line of thinking.

However, for those who value their relationship with God, it’s huge for several reasons.

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How to Increase Your Number of Rental Properties Without Losing Your Mind

rental propertiesI’ve written here from time to time about the advantages of owning rental properties. Owning property that other people pay you to use is a great investment that can have significant long-term benefits. Not only do you get extra cash flowing into your monthly budget, but the diversity it brings to your investing portfolio can be very comforting. While stock markets can fluctuate wildly, property generally maintains its value over time.

There comes a time though, when you might be ready to expand the number of rental properties in your portfolio. That first one is the hardest to get. But once you get comfortable with knowing how to run a rental business and have more cash on hand, you may want to increase your number of rental properties.

That sounds like a solid plan in theory. However, with more homes comes more responsibility. The added properties can mean an uptick in maintenance costs, more time spent supervising your rental business and more headaches from problem tenants. These issues can add additional stress to your already busy life.

If this seems overwhelming and gives you pause, never fear. You can successfully add properties to your portfolio. Below are some tips for keeping you sane while building up your rental portfolio.

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How to Prioritize What’s Important When You Make a Budget

I remember the first time my wife and I really tried to make a budget. So many expenses were coming to our mind it was difficult to prioritize which ones were most important. We messed up many things in that first month’s budget and felt really frustrated at our effort.

It didn’t deter us however from trying again…and again…and again. Interestingly enough, we found that after several months of trial and error, certain expenses always drifted to the surface first. It was apparent that we were drawn to some spending categories more readily than others because they represented fundamental needs for our family each month.

So what expenses go first when you make a budget? Then how do you determine what comes next? Today I’m going to outline our five-step thought process as we make a budget each month. Hopefully it will give you some direction as you try to figure out how your hard earned dollars will be allocated.

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