Hope for your financial life and beyond

Home Maintenance Items Landlords Should Do Between Tenants

As a landlord, I would love to keep tenants in my properties forever. While some stay a long time, most eventually leave to seek housing elsewhere. This is either by personal choice or through an eviction. Whenever that time comes, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to conduct some home maintenance and get the unit ready for the new tenant.

home maintenanceTurning a rental house around for the new tenants can be a time consuming and financially draining time. Hopefully, as a conscientious and aware landlord, you’ve kept track of what is going on at the property and have a good idea of what to expect in terms of potential home maintenance. There really shouldn’t be any surprises, but it seems like there always is.

Because even minor renovations will cost money and require time to complete, some landlords choose to skimp on or refuse to complete repairs. I disagree with this philosophy. As much as possible, I want the property to be in really good condition for the new tenants so that our relationship begins on the right foot.

Tenants need to know that you are a landlord that prides themselves in the condition of the unit and wants to treat them well. Hopefully your attention to detail and professionalism will bleed into the tenant’s mind and they will in turn do their best to keep the property as clean and damage free as can be expected.

Home Maintenance to Conduct Between Tenants

Some repairs and home maintenance will obviously be required before the new tenant moves in. While all facets of the house need inspection, these five areas are a must for any landlord to address:

[Read more…]

Should I Cosign? Here Is the Truth About What God Says

“Do not be one of those who shakes hands in a pledge, one of those who is surety [ cosign ] for debts.” – Proverbs 22:26

If you’ve ever had a situation where a friend or family member asked you to cosign a loan, you know it’s a tough spot to be in. On the one hand, you want to help. But the idea of being responsible for someone’s debt has you a little squeamish.

cosignSay “No” to them and it seems like you don’t care.

Say “Yes” to them and you are opening yourself up to financial risk.

Maybe as you thought about what to do, you should have considered asking this question: “What does God have to say about it? Would He want me to cosign for this loan?” It may never have occurred to you to seek advice from a higher power.

The truth is God talks a lot about money in the Bible. He even has advice about cosigning which really surprised me when I found it. For anyone really, the real world application is sound. But especially for people of faith, His advice is worth listening to.

God’s Advice on Whether to Cosign

[Read more…]

4 Easy Ways to Get Your Finances Back on Track

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many in a financial ruin (or at least in less-than-ideal financial circumstances). People are reeling from what the shutdown and quarantines did to the economy and to their personal wealth. It’s important, maybe now more than ever, to make sure your finances are on track to meet your future goals. 

It’s is a good thing that businesses and travel have started to open back up. People are staring to get their lives back. Life is beginning to return to pre-Covid19 normal as vaccines are rolling out. With all this taking place, it brings additional incentive to look at your finances and see if you need to make adjustments to stay on track toward your goals. There is no better time than now to get started. 

There are many factors to consider with this. That’s why so many cannot and do not manage their finances well.  It simply can be a daunting task to know where to start and how to plan things out well.

It’s not overstating it to say that for many, finances can be one of the greatest causes of stress and anxiety. However, there are some simple tasks that can help get you started. Here are just a few easy ways for you to make sure your finances are on the path to success. 

[Read more…]

Is Investing in Collectibles Like Valuable Baseball Cards Worth It?

Like so many young boys, my love affair with baseball cards began in Little League. Each week our coach would give us a $1 to spend at the concession stand after the game. I spent my money on a cream soda and a pack of cards (none of which would become valuable baseball cards).

valuable baseball cardsIn those early days I didn’t have a lot of money so the collection grew slowly. I amassed several hundred cards and kept them rubber-banded together in a shoebox. I shuffled through them a lot so the surfaces became dull and the edges worn.

In 1986, I scrounged up enough money to buy my very first complete set of Topps baseball cards. I bought plastic card pages in which to insert each card and a three ring binder to hold all the pages. So began a decade of collecting the full sets and the update sets each year. By the time I ended college, I had amassed about 20,000 baseball cards.

Then marriage happened and grad school and buying a home and kids and a career and more kids. Through all that, the baseball cards spent years boxed up in the back of the closet rarely seeing the light of day.

My love affair with collecting baseball cards resurfaced about 10 years later in my early 30s. Some life events reinvigorated my love of the hobby. The best part was that I had more money than when I was 8.

I decided to do something different instead of purchasing individual packs or complete sets. My focus shifted to buying individual cards, ones where I could be more certain about their projected value. This can only be done by collecting those cards that are professionally graded.

This change of strategy required me to understand what I was getting into and why I was doing it.

How Do You Define Investing in Collectibles?

The above question is tricky to answer in part because it depends on your definition of “collecting” and “investing.”

[Read more…]

How Long Do Common Household Items Last?

Did you have an appliance or other household items that need repairing? We have had several big household items hit our budget over the years. The washer-dryer combo, a new refrigerator and a new stove have all needed to be replaced over the years. And who could forget the really big one – the new heating and cooling units that brought in a new air conditioning and furnace. Wow – those were really expensive!

All in all, having lived in three homes over the course of our marriage, my wife and I have had to replace the following list of items:

3 new air conditioning units, 2 new furnaces, 2 new refrigerators, a new stove, a new dishwasher, a new microwave, a new garbage disposal, 2 new water heaters, a new dryer, 2 new washing machines (bad luck here), 5 new vacuums (we buy the cheaper ones), 4 new televisions, 2 new garage doors (main and basement), 3 new lawnmowers and countless other electronic devices (computers, iDevices, clocks, etc.)

In case you didn’t know, this is the reality of owning a home. All these items will break at some point. When that occurs, you will either have to a) do without or b) replace them. So it may be helpful before you purchase to know how long these items will last.

[Read more…]

4 Reasons Why Paying Off the Mortgage Early Was Right for Us

Paying off the mortgage early is a hot topic when it comes to money management. There seems to be a good amount of quality logic for keeping it and equally valid logic for paying it off early. So what’s a homeowner to do?

paying off the mortgage earlyAfter we bought our first house, I began to look into this issue. I read many opinions and ended up agreeing with the major arguments for NOT paying off the mortgage early. These points seemed solid to me. The logic goes like this:

“You have such a low interest rate.”

“You could invest instead and get a better rate of return on your money than putting into extra mortgage payments.”

“More of your money is tied up in your house and you can’t get to it for a big emergency.”

“You are getting tax breaks for carrying a mortgage.”

“A mortgage is a hedge (protection) against inflation, especially with a fixed rate mortgage.”

Then during 2010, my wife and I went through some life changes. We began to rethink many money related things including our mortgage. After a lot of back and forth, we decided to pay off the mortgage early. The reasons may surprise you because only one of them is based on a mathematical concept or equation.

[Read more…]

Sam’s Club Does It Again with Scan-and-Go App for Gas

A while ago, I wrote about how Sam’s Club had introduced a Scan-and-Go app that allows you to scan the barcodes of your items as you shop. It records each scan in a digital shopping cart. When you are finished shopping, you simply check out in the app and leave the store.

sam's club scan and go gasThe huge advantage of this is of course saving time. There is no need to unload and then re-load your shopping cart at the checkout line. You can skip that entirely! And that is a huge advantage when you are shopping at Sam’s, especially during peak hours. Sometimes those checkout line waits can take forever.

Too this day, I am amazed at how many people still do not use this feature on their phone at my local Sam’s.

As you know, Sam’s Club also sells gas to its members. And recently I was greeted with a pleasant surprise when I rolled up to the pump one day to get gas. The interface screen had been changed and a QR code was now staring me in the face.

That’s right…I could now use my Sam’s Club Scan-and-Go app to purchase gas. Let me tell you how it works and then discuss a few reasons why it’s a big deal.

[Read more…]

“I’m Rich!” – How to Handle a Lump Sum Payment of Money

I’m sure you’ve daydreamed at some point about how life would change if a large lump sum payment of money came your way. Say like a million dollars? We’ve all played this game and fantasized about all the good we could do for ourselves and others with that much money.

lump sum paymentBut let’s be completely honest. For most people, this will not happen. The better likelihood of a person becoming rich is that it will take many years of hard work accompanied by traditional saving and investing. That’s the more likely path to wealth and the financial freedom that comes with it.

However, people’s lives can change quickly because they receive a lump sum payment of money worth six or seven figures. How could this happen? Well, there are more ways than you might think. So, Ill detail a few ways here that are not get-rich-quick schemes. Then we will look at what you should do if ever faced with this situation.

[Read more…]

How to Determine If People Really Want Help With Money

I have been interested in personal finance for quite some time now and love to help with money. I could teach the subject and dish out solid advice for hours. In fact, that’s what I do at my full-time job as high school economics and personal finance teacher. Teaching my students satisfies my appetite on the topic of money.

help with moneyThe funny thing though is, in everyday life, I rarely get into conversations about money.

Why?

Because people rarely ask. Every once in a while someone will approach the subject because they know my interest in it. But not often.

And even more rare are those times when I bring up the subject to someone else. I even resist when I see them making a poor personal finance decision. I’ve learned that when I initiate conversations about money it doesn’t go well.

[Read more…]

Buyer Beware: Renting a Car With a Debit Card

For a significant portion of our adult life, my wife and I chose to live without the use of a credit card. 99% of the time we had no issues when it came to making purchases. We would simply use our debit card or pay with cash when making a transaction. The one major instance where we had difficulty was when renting a car with a debit card.

renting a car with a debit cardWe ran into trouble twice with this type of transaction and in both cases it nearly had us stuck. The worst of those moments was on our vacation to Yellowstone. It 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 researching for our trip, she had the chance 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. However, it just didn’t click in our brains. We just missed it.

So we booked a minivan with Hertz two months prior to leaving and didn’t give it another thought. Until we got to the Cody, Wyoming airport.

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]