Hope for your financial life and beyond

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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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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How to Increase Your Number of Rental Properties Without Losing Your Mind

rental propertiesI’ve written here from time to time about the advantages of owning rental properties. Owning property that other people pay you to use is a great investment that can have significant long-term benefits. Not only do you get extra cash flowing into your monthly budget, but the diversity it brings to your investing portfolio can be very comforting. While stock markets can fluctuate wildly, property generally maintains its value over time.

There comes a time though, when you might be ready to expand the number of rental properties in your portfolio. That first one is the hardest to get. But once you get comfortable with knowing how to run a rental business and have more cash on hand, you may want to increase your number of rental properties.

That sounds like a solid plan in theory. However, with more homes comes more responsibility. The added properties can mean an uptick in maintenance costs, more time spent supervising your rental business and more headaches from problem tenants. These issues can add additional stress to your already busy life.

If this seems overwhelming and gives you pause, never fear. You can successfully add properties to your portfolio. Below are some tips for keeping you sane while building up your rental portfolio.

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How to Prioritize What’s Important When You Make a Budget

I remember the first time my wife and I really tried to make a budget. So many expenses were coming to our mind it was difficult to prioritize which ones were most important. We messed up many things in that first month’s budget and felt really frustrated at our effort.

It didn’t deter us however from trying again…and again…and again. Interestingly enough, we found that after several months of trial and error, certain expenses always drifted to the surface first. It was apparent that we were drawn to some spending categories more readily than others because they represented fundamental needs for our family each month.

So what expenses go first when you make a budget? Then how do you determine what comes next? Today I’m going to outline our five-step thought process as we make a budget each month. Hopefully it will give you some direction as you try to figure out how your hard earned dollars will be allocated.

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How to Enjoy a Life of Guilt Free Spending

guilt freeI would love to enjoy a guilt free life, especially when it comes to spending money. Have you ever heard the same voice rattling around in your head that I’ve heard in mine? It usually says something like, “Why did you spend that money? That was stupid! You know you shouldn’t have done that.”

If you’ve had that thought, then you know you spend the rest of the day kicking yourself and feeling like you’ve done something wrong. Additionally, some time during that same day might be spent seeking forgiveness from your spouse, which can always be a tense situation. And to top it all off, you will spend the rest of the month struggling to figure out how to make the budget cover your spending decision.

Guilt is powerful. But have you ever stopped to consider why?

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How to Be a Successful Landlord: 5 Best Practices

I love owning rental real estate! When I purchased my first property eleven years ago, I mistakenly payed a bit too much for it. Initially, didn’t know how to be a successful landlord and I let my excitement cloud my judgment when buying that first property. But I simply wanted to get started – that was all I cared about.

how to be a successful landlordI’ve learned many things since then and survived my share of dark moments as a landlord, including living through my first eviction. Ending up in front of the county judge to settle that dispute was frustrating but valuable all at the same time.

Nobody should become a landlord without doing some serious reading on the subject. That will help eliminate some mistakes you could easily make.

Related Content: 5 Common Rental Real Estate Mistakes You will Make

But head knowledge can only take you so far. Some things are only learned through experience. So based on what I’ve been through, here are my best practices for how to be a successful landlord. If you follow these, your experience will be much more enjoyable and profitable.

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Teaching Kids About Money to Get the Best Results

teaching kids about moneyA major role of parenting (and one that is often neglected) should be teaching kids about money. For many reasons, parents drop the ball in this area and raise children who carry an improper understanding of money into college and adulthood. Unfortunately, these children then face challenges when they go to seek employment, earn an income and determine how to manage their financial lives.

But what is a parent to do? How do you go about helping kids develop a proper understanding of how to relate to and handle money? It seems like such an overwhelming process, especially for those parents who don’t handle money well themselves.

The good news is that it’s not as difficult as you might think. For starters, what children should learn about money varies depending on their age. A five year old needs to hear different messages from the parents than does a teenager. However, there are three fundamental money lessons that every child needs to learn no matter what the age:

1) to save money for future needs,

2) to spend money wisely and

3) to give generously.

These three principles serve as the foundation upon which other money lessons build. Stick with these and you will see the best results when they are consistently applied over time. Let’s see what that practically looks like.

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Should I Borrow Money to Get What I Want?

There is no denying it. Credit is available everywhere. Our cultures screams “Have It Now!” to us at every turn. “Borrow money now to get what you want!” people say.

We expect fast food within 5 miborrow moneynutes or less in the drive-thru.  We want to make quick money for as little work as possible. And we are first in line for the newest technology gadget the day it is released. Simply put, most of the time we can’t wait. We gotta have it.

This “Have It Now” culture has skewed our reasoning ability, in that it has masterfully helped us change our “wants” into “needs.” Our brains have reclassified the things that we desire to have into things that are priorities. And in some cases, our wants are taking precedence over issues that are needs.

So why don’t we just go ahead and borrow the money to get the things we want? Seems like a logical step. However, blindly borrowing money to satisfy all your needs can cause great damage to finances, as well as your mental and emotional life.

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