Hope for your financial life and beyond

I Have a Lot of Debt: Can Hard Credit Checks Impact My Credit Score?

Debt has become the standard way for people to manage their financial life. Instead of cash, families and individuals are turning to credit more and more. It seems an easier form of payment, granting access to things when we need or want them.

But, the amount of debt is a major problem many Americans face. According to a 2022 financial report by CNBC, the average US household with debt owes an average of $155,622. That is up 6.2% from over a year ago. The debt includes credit cards, mortgages, home equity, lines of credit, auto loans, student loans, and other household obligations. This makes one wonder whether using debt is a wise path in the first place.

Regardless of where you fall on that issue, existing debt makes it harder to pass credit checks and get any additional financial applications approved.  Banks are less willing to extend additional lines of credit to someone already swimming in debt. So, you need to understand what you are facing if you are wanting additional financing for something. 

In this article, we’ll be diving into credit checks and how they impact your credit score. We’ll also see if there are any work-arounds to help you get the financial assistance you need.

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5 Tips to Manage a Joint Credit Card with Your New Spouse

Sharing finances is essential when building a strong relationship with a spouse or long-term partner. We wouldn’t have it any other way. There is much more benefit to managing your finances together as a couple than trying to have separate bank accounts with his and her money.

The best way to manage your money together is to get on a plan that gets you out of debt quickly and on a path to investing so that you can build extraordinary wealth. However, a good portion of society does not believe in living a debt free existence. So their method of payment for most things ends up being credit cards.

If you choose to go this route, there are things for newlywed couples or committed spouses to consider when merging their finances. You will need to learn how to communicate as you learn to share a credit card and pay bills for the first time together.

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How to Find a Good CPA to Do Your Taxes

Most people are capable of doing their own taxes. Almost 90% of individual tax returns were filed through the electronic system. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), these are normally done by tax preparers. Regardless of that statistic, many people find filing their returns quite tedious and time-consuming. (1)

So, if you hate doing your taxes or have a complicated financial life, hiring an expert to work out your taxes is a wise decision.

A certified public accountant (CPA) has the skills, training and knowledge to accurately calculate your returns and submit them within a short time frame. Hiring their services can take the frustrations off your shoulders.

And. for some industries like HVAC, hiring a specialized CPA and accounting firm will come with the added benefits of working with someone who knows exactly how to navigate the intricacies of tax law for that specific industry.

However, giving the job to the wrong person could harm you more than good. With that in mind, here are some tips for finding a good CPA to do your tax returns.

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How to Save Money Without Losing Track of What It’s For

One question I routinely get asked by friends and readers of this site is, “Can you teach me how to save money without losing track of what it’s for? How do you account for your money when you are saving for an emergency or for a future need?”

how to save moneyThe problem boils down to this issue: you have to keep track of what money is to be used for what purpose.

When you deposit money into your savings account, it gets mixed in with all the other money in the savings account. How do you keep the boys separated and make sure the money designated for the new dishwasher actually ends up going for the new dishwasher and not the car insurance or the baseball card fund?

Like many others, this frustrated me too. But then I remembered something my parents used to do that helped with this. So I took their system and enhanced it for the digital age. It completely fixed my issues and has been a lifesaver ever since.

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Here’s What a 529 College Savings Plan Covers

It’s no secret the cost of college has and continues to skyrocket. It makes it very difficult to go to college debt free. This is especially true if you do not start saving early enough. If you can start saving though, you have some options. A 529 college savings plan is one of the smartest investments you can make for your child’s future success.

college savings planA 529 college savings plan is a state-administered plan. The IRS does not tax withdrawals, as long as they are made for qualifying educational expenses. As an added bonus, a 529 plan can be used for a beneficiary’s tuition expenses for elementary through high school, in addition to college, graduate school or trade school.

The rules change however, when a withdrawal is made that the IRS doesn’t consider a qualifying expense. 529 college saving plans are federally taxed, even though they are administered at the state level. If you want to use the plan to pay for a non-qualifying expense, the withdrawal will incur a 10% penalty and receive the federal tax.

That’s why you should be absolutely sure which withdrawals qualify. So here is a brief guide to assist in your decision-making on whether this type of plan is right for you. 

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Beyond the Retirement Plan: 3 Things to Do Before You Stop Working

Have you started thinking about your retirement plan? For most, the retirement plan consists of saving enough money to cover their life expenses after they stop working. More than likely, the retirement plan revolves around socking money away in investment accounts such as a 401(k), traditional or Roth IRA, a savings account, or real estate. Some may even horde cash in a savings account or CD.

retirement plan

In one sense, the retirement plan is about the money. But it’s not JUST about the money.

Other concerns abound besides having enough money to pay for housing, food, and other expenses. The money side is important but other issues can impact if have a fulfilling retirement. Addressing these ahead of time will make a big difference in how comfortable you feel and your family feels.

So before you start planning your retirement party, make sure you’ve addressed these important issues.

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What Does the Bible Say About Debt? Wait Til You See

I turn to the Bible for a lot of questions in my life. After all, God has a lot more wisdom than I do. So why not tap into that knowledge? It seems that no matter what I’m dealing with, I can find some answers within the pages of the Bible.

what does the bible say about debtA few years ago, I’m reviewing our finances and this question randomly pops into my head, What does the Bible say about debt?  The truth is it wasn’t a random thought at all. My wife and I were trying to get out of debt so the topic was weighing on our minds. I knew what I thought about debt but didn’t really know what God said. So I decided to give it a look.

What I found was a little surprising and served as a wake-up call. Not only that, but at another level, it provided encouragement and hope. I realized there was a better path to take than the one I was on.

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4 Ways to Take Control of Your Financial Wellness

When you hear the term “wellness,” you may understandably think of wellness of the physical, emotional, and/or spiritual variety. These forms of wellness are all important. Without wellness being present in those areas, life would be difficult.

However, there’s another type of wellness that is also crucial. It may not be on par in importance as the ones mentioned above but it can improve on your life. What we are talking about here is financial wellness.  

Money doesn’t solve every problem. However, it can solve some problems. If your financial life is not well, you will have difficulty paying for the things you need, raising a family, and saving enough money for retirement.

So what is financial wellness and how do you get there? Let’s define it and then look at some steps to get you moving in the right direction.

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God’s Giving Nature Shines Brightest On Easter

EasterWe don’t often think of Easter as the holiday of giving. Giving is most characterized by the Christmas season. We love giving presents to show those we love how much we care about them.

Are you one who loves to give? Have you ever wondered where that desire came from? Well, a starting point would direct us back to the time when the greatest gift ever given was bestowed on mankind.

I’m quite sure giving is a character quality God possesses Himself. He passed that gift down to mankind during the days of creation so many years ago. The book of Genesis describes how we are created in His image. So it would be logical to conclude that God passed on His giving nature to humanity during that creative process.

And then, one special time on the holiday we now call Easter, God showed us just how extreme a giver He can be.

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6 Money Management Tips For Seniors

There may be no other group more valuable to our society than the elderly. They have so much wisdom and life experience to share with the younger generation. They need to be respected, honored and taken care of as best as possible. 

There is something else though that seniors have over the younger generations. Generally speaking, they have more money. Good old-fashioned saving, budgeting and spending discipline has led many of them to accumulating a sizeable nest egg. 

Despite this, many seniors lack knowledge regarding financial decisions, despite managing their spending habits for years. Retirement is the phase of life that requires careful planning so that one can remain self-sufficient and live independently. It’s not the time for debts to continue piling up or for wild, spur-of-the moment spending to begin happening. If those were to begin and continue, it may damage their ability to care for themselves financially. 

Additionally, health concerns are a major factor in retirement, including the loss of some cognitive abilities. It’s reasonable to conclude that this is why scammers so frequently target this demographic. That’s all the more reason to be vigilant with managing money as one grows older. 

Other vital factors tied with retirement can take up a lot of a senior’s time. Managing money may be tricky for some, especially when juggling it alongside other responsibilities. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few money management tips to help seniors.

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How to Get Out of Debt and Win in Five Simple Steps

Are you up to your eyeballs in debt? Don’t see anyway out? If so, take heart. You are not alone. Millions of Americans live with this burden. They either never think about how to get out of debt or they think that it is impossible for them to get out of debt. So they never deal with it.how to get out of debt

It would be unwise for you to ignore the mountain of debt that is piling up. You need to wake up and pay attention because excessive debt will cripple your wealth building process. It will mess up your savings, helping the kids with paying for college, and even your retirement investing.

And sadly, in many cases, it also ruins relationships.

Debt is a chain of bondage around your life. It’s an anchor weighing you down. You can’t go where you really want to go because it’s holding you back.

In order to break free, you’ll need to change your perspective, your behavior and your systems for purchasing things. But it’s all possible. It will be a journey you will never regret.

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