Hope for your financial life and beyond

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

What if? We all ask that at some point, maybe even about your net worth. It’s a reflective question, focused on things that have happened in the past. What could have resulted if the events or actions in our rear view mirror had proceeded in a different fashion?

net worth

In the absence of a Back to the Future time machine, we can’t change what has happened or that we did things the wrong way. So it does little good to dwell on it. That really only leads to regret.

However, the past does serve a big purpose. The past is the best teacher for our future. The victories we achieved and the mistakes we endured should help us 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. In our youth, we also 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 of 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.

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Giving for the Wrong Reasons this Christmas (Or anytime)

Christmas giving

In December, everyone’s focus is Christmas. There are so many activities to attend, so many destinations to travel to, and so much delicious food to consume. And there will be so much Christmas giving that takes place.

December is the month specifically devoted to giving. We regularly give in many ways throughout the year, but it all becomes focused during the December holiday season. Schools have students bring in clothing items for distribution to children in low-income families. Pastors preach sermons and urge their congregation to fill local food pantries. The Salvation Army kettles show up outside department stores. And of course, families celebrate the season by gathering around the tree on Christmas morning.

These are all good things designed to meet needs and bless people at a special time of the year.

However, if we are not careful, we can get hooked into Christmas giving for inappropriate reasons. This can have a negative impact on our budget, not to mention our emotional and psychological health. That’s why it’s important to analyze why we are giving in the first place.

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5 Money Saving Questions to Ask Before Buying Christmas Gifts

My wife and I never go shopping for Christmas gifts on Black Friday. I don’t care how good the deals are the crowds are just too much for us. We are more Cyber Monday or wait until the last minute type of people.

christmas giftsBuying Christmas gifts is always fun for us though because we love to spend money on the people we care about. It’s become even better recently since we’ve learned how to save money throughout the year to spend at Christmas. Now all of our Christmas gifts are paid for in cash and we never see a credit card bill come January.

While we all get excited about spending money on the people we love, it can get seriously out of hand. What happens in December can have short and long-term financial consequences if you don’t keep your spending on Christmas gifts in check. So here are five simple questions you should ask yourself as you buy Christmas gifts for those special people in your life.

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Secret Advice For Teenagers Who Love to Spend Money

You know who you are – a teenager who loves to spend money like it’s going out of style. You spend money faster than it takes a Snapchat to disappear. Money comes into your hand one minute and flows out like water the next.

spend moneyAnd you like it that way!

If that’s you, I have some special advice today. It’s unusual, maybe even secret advice. I’m pretty sure you’ve never heard any adult say this to you before. In fact, your parents may hate me for saying this because it might go against how they have instructed you to handle money. So I’m actually running a big risk here.

But before I reveal this big secret about spending your money, you have to promise me something.

The promise I’m asking you to make is to read this entire post. You are going to love what I have to say about spending money,  but you can’t take it as stand alone advice without understanding the bigger picture. As they say, the devil is in the details. So I’m asking for five minutes of your time to help you avoid a huge potential failure when spending money.

Ready for the big, secret advice? OK, here goes…

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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:

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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

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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. 

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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