Hope for your financial life and beyond

A Time For Choosing Freedom

Eerily, this man’s words, penned in 1964, are coming true on many levels:

American flag“Every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement…[and] policies of accommodation…”

“If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand, the ultimatum…and what then?”

“…And someday when the time comes to deliver the final ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary because by that time we will have been weakened from within spiritually, morally and economically…”

 But there is hope found through courage and sacrifice:

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How to Manage Your Side Hustle and Family Life So You Don’t Go Insane

There may come a time in your life where you want to or need to create a side hustle to earn extra income. A side hustle can be many things depending on your skills and the depth of your need. Regardless what you choose it will be something you do on the side (apart from your day job) to bring in additional money to the family budget.

Side hustles can be a financial blessing. They can help you build up your savings account or pay off debt or meet any a number of financial goals you might have. A few bloggers I know have turned their writing side hustles into full-time jobs and now run their own personal finance websites. Others, like my friend Cat Alford at Budget Blonde have figured out how to make a full-time income from writing for popular blogs. Now she is teaching others to do the same in a brand new course she has developed – Get Paid to Write for Blogs.

side hustle IIIWhile the additional income of a side hustle is welcome there is a dark side that many are unprepared for. Side hustles done improperly can be a curse on family life.

It’s one thing to have a side hustle if you are single. I remember talking with a blogging friend last year who told me how he’d work his 9 to 5, take a 30-minute dinner (maybe) and then work till past midnight writing and networking. I’m not saying that’s necessarily an easy schedule but it’s not like you have anyone else to account for. It’s just you.

When a spouse and/or kids are in the picture side hustles take on a whole different dimension.

The first thing you’ll notice is the tension that surfaces the minute one member begins a side hustle. What was a normal life is no longer normal.

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I’m Losing Sleep Tonight For a Worthy Cause But Never Will Over Money

Tonight I’m going to do something I haven’t done in a long time – losing sleep by voluntarily pulling an all-nighter. The last two legit occurrences happened over 20 years ago in college while I was studying for finals. Then all it took was the fear of failing, a couple sleeves of Pringles and a two-liter of Mountain Dew to pull me through the wee morning hours.

losing sleepNow, at 42, I’m not sure all the Jolt Cola in the world will do the trick. The old body ain’t what it used to be. But I’m gonna give it the old college try.

Why would I put myself through this? Well, it’s for a worthy cause.

It’s a lock-in…at our church…for the youth group.

Some of you are wincing (or laughing) right about now knowing what I’m about to go through.

They need events like these every once in awhile though with crazy, sometimes chaotic fun. It will be memorable, which is what you want out of your teen years.

As the youth leader, I don’t mind losing sleep for this cause or any other worthy cause for that matter. But what I’m really thankful for that I’ll never lose sleep over money related problems. Because…

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Buyer Beware: Renting a Car With a Debit Card

My wife and I have chosen to be debt free and live without the use of credit cards. 99% of the time we have no issues when it comes to purchases. We simply swipe our debit card or pay with cash when making a transaction. The one instance where we’ve had difficulty is when we are renting a car with a debit card.

We’ve run into trouble twice with this and in both cases it nearly had us stuck. The most recent time, on our vacation to Yellowstone a few weeks ago, nearly cost us our trip.

My wife is an incredible trip planner. She can research and organize a trip with such precision I hardly have to pay attention. The most I end up doing in the trip-planning phase is giving minor advice and approval to her vacation to-do requests.

So when the chance came to save $700 on our rental car for the week that was a no-brainer. “Heck, yeah” I said. “Book that!”

My wife is member of the AICPA (the American Institute of  CPAs). As a member she is entitled to discounts with companies with whom the AICPA has an affiliation. One such company is Hertz.

She did all the fine-print reading ahead of time and found out Hertz does accept debit cards for rental car purchases. The one caveat is they require a credit check before releasing the car. That should have raised a red flag for us but we just missed it. (Our credit is of course shot because we don’t use credit anymore.)

So we booked a minivan with Hertz two months prior to leaving and didn’t give it another thought.

Renting a Car With a Debit Card: A Nightmare Scenario

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4 Big Mistakes of My 20s That Affected My Net Worth

What if?

We all ask that at some point. It’s a reflective question about the past. What might have been if the events or actions in our rear view mirror had proceeded in a different fashion? Just cue the Back to the Future trilogy to see how that turned out for Marty and George McFly.

net worthIn the absence of a time machine we can’t change what has happened. So it does little good to dwell on it to the point of regret. However, our past is the best teacher for the future. The victories we achieved and the mistakes we endured help us to make thoughtful and wise decisions going forward.

We make mistakes all the time but more so in our youth. This happens for many reasons but mostly because we lack experience, have a difficult time envisioning the future and have a limited sense of our own vulnerability. Arrogance, self-promotion and a live-for-the-moment mentality are all more characteristic of the young than they are the old.

As I reflect on the decade of my 20s I see many mistakes in all facets of life. These are the four that set me back financially and contributed negatively to the growth of my net worth.

Discontinuing Skill Development

All I could see after four years of high school, four years of college and three plus years of graduate work was that the end of school had come. I was sick of school and was done with learning.

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Stop Identity Thieves by Shredding the Right Paperwork

I got back from a fabulous 10 day-vacation yesterday only to be greeted by a box full of mail. We had it held by the post office while we were gone, so it all arrived at once. I could barely get the mail out as it was packed in the box tighter than a shrink-wrapped salami. Most I discarded in the trash before I even entered the house.

paper shredderBut I was careful what I threw away…and so should you be.

For example, always think twice before discarding any credit card offers or monthly bills in the trashcan by the garage. Thieves regularly practice “dumpster diving” — a tactic that involves picking through your trash at night or when you are not at home. They are hoping to find personal information to steal your identity.

For this reason, it would be a wise investment to purchase a paper shredder to destroy all documents that contain sensitive information. But what should you shred and what’s safe to toss in the garbage? What sensitive documents should be kept? And is there a certain type of shredder to use?

The answers to these questions are actually a big deal.

Shred This Paperwork

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What Contributes More to Financial Change – Knowledge or Behavior?

Several weeks ago I finished leading my most recent Financial Peace University class. I love leading Dave Ramsey’s FPU classes because the people there are eager for change. They know something is not right and are looking for a financial change.

financial changeTwo things are needed though for them to head in that new direction. One, they have to understand why financial change is needed. I call this gaining knowledge. Our mind has to become aware of something we didn’t know before. That awareness eventually leads to the change.

However, knowledge isn’t enough. We also must look at behavior. More often than not it’s our behavior that gets us into financial trouble. If we don’t alter our patterns of behavior financial change is not possible.

I think we can all agree that both are needed. My question today is, “Which one is most important? Which one contributes more to financial change?” You can make an easy case for either, but in the end I believe one is the clear winner.

The Case For Knowledge

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How Do You Respond to the I Need A Vacation Voice?

I need a vacation.

i need a vacationHow many times have you said that?

When work has become a drag…

When school has you worn down…

When family life has become monotonous…

When you’re just plain bored.

In all those situations I’ve found myself daydreaming and saying internally, I need a vacation. Get me on the next flight outta here!”

The question is – how will you respond to that little voice inside that cries I need a vacation so often?

Reactions to the I Need a Vacation Voice

Depending on your personality you may react in one of these ways:

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The 10 Best Summer Jobs for Teens and College Students

Memorial Day marks the official beginning of summer. For teens and college students that means one of three things. Either you are:

a) continuing school by choice (to get ahead) or out of necessity (because you failed)…

b) looking for a summer job to earn money or…

c) in for a really boring summer sleeping in and playing video games.

(I know…some of you think “C” is the best option of the three.)

summer jobs for teensBut I also know teens and college students need money. You have lots of expenses, many of which your parents can’t or don’t want to fully fund. So it’s about time you begin to support yourself my working a summer job.

What job would fit your time frame though? You really only have three months to work as the typical school ends in May/June and returns to classes in August/September. Won’t employers be hesitant to hire you if they know it will only be for three short months?

Some might be. Others however, rely on the seasonal influx of workers because summer is their busiest time of the year. So the fact that you are only available for three months matches up with the increased seasonal activity of that position. The employer will be fine when you leave the job to return to school in the fall because he or she won’t need your help anymore.

Jobs You Could Easily Find During the Summer

To that end, here are 10 great summer jobs for teens and college students. In all these areas, employers will be looking for workers during the summer:

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A Soldier’s Pledge – If This Doesn’t Inspire You, Nothing Will

“America is depressing…mixed up…adrift…an afterthought.”

Have you sensed these themes rippling through our cultural narrative in the past few years?

A lack of pride in who we are seems to have blossomed. There is little passion for greatness. Few believe America’s best days lie ahead.

Everyday the news points out our flaws…can’t get our economy right…can’t get our race issues right…can’t get our foreign relations right…can’t even get our rights right.

Everything rises and falls with leadership – including America. So perhaps our malaise can be contributed to the uninspiring and ineffectual leadership we see in our government…in our communities…in our churches…in our homes.

We don’t have to settle for this though. We can choose a different path. We don’t have to feel blasé about America.

How do I know this?

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6 Shocking Things Your Broke Friends Need to Hear You Say

If you’ve ever gotten into conversations with broke friends about money, you know how hard it is to determine if they actually want your help. There are ways to figure that out and perhaps lead your discussion to deeper levels. If that happens, you’ll learn more about your friend’s financial struggles and perhaps be able to offer some counsel.

The counsel part is when it gets really tough. If you’ve had success with money, you know what has to be done…

broke friendsChange your habits.

Spend less.

Save more.

Follow a budget.

Get out of debt.

Invest, invest, and invest some more.

But your broke friends might not want to listen or hear any of that.

When someone is in a heap of financial trouble there are reasons for that trouble. Those reasons could be diverse. However, more than likely they result from lack of knowledge and poor behaviors/decisions.

When our way of life becomes ingrained – in other words, normal and acceptable to us – we really don’t want to hear ways to live differently. We have your set routines and way of thinking. The more we practice the same things over and over the less likely it will be for use to break out of the mold and see things differently.

Even in the realm of money.

In order to break through and see outside the box, we either have to experience severe pain, be faced with a crisis or be shocked by someone or something. We don’t simply wake up one morning and say “I think I’ll change all my habits today.”

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