Hope for your financial life and beyond

What to Do If Your Wallet or Purse Is Stolen

“My wallet’s gone!”

thief stealing purseAren’t those words horrifying to even think about. There have been several instances in my life when I truly thought my wallet had been stolen. Those moments filled me with such fear and anxiety I could hardly think straight.

Of course the initial reaction is to panic as your mind starts ticking off all the items that might leave you financially vulnerable. Information like credit card numbers, social security card, driver’s license and home address could be exposed and make you at risk to identity theft.

What I realized is that I needed to keep my head…panicking didn’t help. I thought through where I had been and retraced my steps. In each of my situations I eventually found my wallet and life returned to normal.

However, if you are able to confirm that your wallet or purse has indeed been stolen, take these steps immediately to protect your financial assets and limit your exposure to identity theft.

Your Wallet/Purse is Gone…Now What?

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How to Protect Your Child From Identity Theft

Most adults realize the dangers of identity theft and take reasonable steps to protect themselves. However, did you know that child identity theft is a growing problem? In fact, The Center for Identity at the University of Texas at Austin estimates that a child is 35 times more likely to have their information stolen than an adult.

So why is a child’s identity so attractive to a thief?

3 Reasons Children Are Targets For Identity Theft

identity theft cartoonFor starters ­a child’s Social Security Number (SSN) is clean. The chance to obtain an untainted SSN that has no credit history or credit problems is very attractive. It is significantly easier for a thief to combine a child’s unused SSN with a new name and address.

Another issue is that securing a child’s SSN is also much easier. In many circumstances the culprit ends up being a family member or another person known by the family.

Social security numbers can be found in public spaces such as a doctor’s office, school, and on forms at athletic recreational leagues, clubs or other organizations. We’d like to trust the workers at those locations who set eyes on the forms that contain our kid’s information but some have used their position to gain access to SSNs.

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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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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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