Hope for your financial life and beyond

Kids, Money and High School Graduation Day

In a few hours, my firstborn child will walk across a stage and receive her high school diploma. It’s been 18 years in the making and now we are here. One of the milestone days any parent looks forward to.

It seems like only yesterday.

You hear people say this phrase all the time, “It seems like only yesterday.” Well, it’s true. Mom and dad are really feeling that today. I was just talking with a friend this morning about how quickly time passes. And I can vividly remember the day my daughter Kelly came into this world.

What a joy it’s been to raise this child. She’s been obedient…kind to her siblings…dependable and reliable…driven…generous…sweet.

And I’ll tell you something else she has been…costly. (Hey, this is a personal finance blog…what did you expect me to talk about.)

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The 3 Main Advantages of a Debit Card

advantages of a debit card

Are there advantages of a debit card that makes them better than using a credit card?

Debate rages sometimes in the personal finance world over which one of these payment options is better. I see how both can be used responsibly to assist people with their money management. The key word in that last sentence though was “responsibly.” Of these two options, credit cards by far have the most potential for abuse.

Advantages of a Debit Card

Banks and other financial institutions issue debit cards as a way for customers to access their accounts to pay for goods and services. The card links to your checking account at the bank. When you swipe it at a business, the amount of the transaction is withdrawn from your account to pay the merchant.

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Secret Advice For Teenagers Who Love to Spend Money

You know who you are – 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 an 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 failure on this issue.

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

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How to Get the Most Out of Christmas

Weeks ago, at the beginning of November, stores already had Christmas decorations on display. I know those stores are just trying to get the most out of Christmas season. But it’s too early at that point for me to think about Christmas.

get the most out of christmasFor me, December 1st officially starts my holidays. That’s because I know that in the 31 days of December, my family will attempt to cram more into each 24-hour period than is usually desired. For me, the annual cramming revolves around two specific lists – my December To Do List and my Present Wish List.

The To Do List for December is very important. It’s filled with kid activities, social get-togethers, Christmas programs and of course shopping. Additionally, home chores are also part of the To Do List. So, because I’m a teacher, I get a “vacation” during Christmas break which gives me a greatly needed window to do these activities and catch up on all that I’ve let slip by.

The other list – the Present Wish List – is all about what I would like to receive on Christmas day during our annual gift exchange. This one is a little tricky and here is why.

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The Sam’s Club Scan N Go App Is a Shopping Game Changer

Have you ever missed out on something for so long and when you finally heard about it, felt stupid for not knowing sooner? That’s how I feel right now about the Sam’s Club Scan and Go app. I’ve been shopping at Sam’s for about a year now and just learned about this app several months ago. It’s actually been out since 2016.

Sam's Club Scan and GoThe only thing helping me shed my feelings of stupidity is the shopping experience this app provides. It’s that amazing!

One of the challenging things about shopping at warehouse clubs like Sam’s or Costco is the checkout line. First of all, there is the line itself. It’s usually long, especially during peak hours. I’ve easily stood in line for over 20 minutes before on the weekends.

Secondly, it’s just a bear to check out with all your massive, bulky items. You have to unload at the checkout line and then reload carts after the items are scanned. Even the most skilled checkout attendant can take 5-plus minutes if you have a cartload or two. But we put up with this because we are saving money by buying in bulk.

That’s where the Sam’s Club Scan and Go app comes into play. By using it you can bypass the whole checkout line process! Here is how simply it works.

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Give Money and It Shall Be Given Unto You? (Luke 6:38)

 Hidden Nuggets Series #77 – “ Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” – Luke 6:38

give and it shall be given unto youI’ve spent a lot of time cataloging all the Bible verses about money. I started this site so that I could share what I learned about money from my Bible reading. There are literally hundreds of verses that give us positive instruction about the use and abuse of our money.

Unfortunately, individuals and churches have misinterpreted many verses in the Bible about money. They use these verses to teach and promote a message that isn’t there. And perhaps no other verse is abused more than Luke 6:38. It reads:

“Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (KJV)

Why is this verse so abused? It’s done so in a way that makes people think they will profit financially from giving.

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6 Ways a Monthly Budget Brings Freedom, Not Bondage

Here is a little test for yourself. When I mention the word budget do you think of the word “freedom” or do you think of the words “constraint” or “bondage.” The word you choose probably identifies your basic attitude about having a monthly budget.

budgetI love budgeting! I know some people think that’s crazy. For them, budgets bring to mind images of people in straitjackets, unable to move. The household budget acts as a restrictive torture device, in most cases forced on them by someone who thinks they know how to manage money better. Budgets can make people feel confined and boxed in.

I’ve been there.

I love to spend money as much as the next person. At one point in my life, I felt like a budget wouldn’t help me accomplish any financial goal. I knew for sure it wouldn’t make me feel good because I couldn’t buy the things I wanted. Budgets seemed difficult to piece together and I frankly didn’t have the time (or want to take the time) to figure it out.

Fortunately, I came around by doing some soul searching and through the gentle prodding of someone close to me – my wife. Eventually, I agreed to give budgeting a three-month trial run.

That decision changed my life. Not only that, it changed our lives. And the best part was, we received something I never thought a budget could possibly produce: Freedom.

In just a few short months I realized budgets produce freedom, not bondage. Here are six ways they can bring the same freedom to you.

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6 Special Reasons Why I Love Having a Travel Budget

travel budgetI love having a travel budget! For my wife and I it was a priority from the beginning of our marriage. We both went on family vacations growing up and wanted to carry on that tradition with our kids. And never was that ideal more driven home than on a hot, summer afternoon at a tourist beach in St. Maarten.

This is no ordinary beach though. It’s Maho Beach, situated just yards away from Princess Juliana International Airport. Oddly enough, people don’t come to this beach for the beach. They come to watch the planes land.

It’s 1:00 pm in the afternoon and dozens of tourists are standing on the beach looking out over the water. The chalkboard at the nearby restaurant lists the daily landing times. As we looked, right on schedule a tiny speck appeared out over the water.

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10 Tidbits of Financial Wisdom on My 45th Birthday

Forty-five. That’s the age I turn today – March 7, 2018.

A lot has changed in our world since 1973. Almost every area of life I can think of has made advancements. Mostly these have been for the good of society and have ushered in new eras for technology, medicine, science, politics and sports just to name a few.

One thing really hasn’t changed though. And that is our need for money. We need it now just as much as my parents did when I was born. Money provides us with the means to secure the most basics needs for our survival – food, clothing, shelter, utilities and transportation. If any one of those key areas is missing in the equation, then we are more or less suffering to some degree.

I’ve been blessed in that I’ve never had to worry about meeting these needs. However, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a challenge at times. But both my parents when I was young and now myself leading my own family have always been able to manage. I’ve truly been blessed in that way.

In my 45 years of life, I’ve learned some valuable lessons about money and finances. So today I’d like to give you 10 quick bits of financial wisdom that have helped shape me over the years. I won’t get bogged down in the details about how I learned these lessons. If you want to read more details, click on the links I’ll provide.

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Refinance Your Mortgage Now While Rates Are Still Historically Low

A home purchase is one of the most exciting and expensive financial transactions a person will make. Because homes cost so much, most people choose to buy one by getting a mortgage. They borrow money from a lender at an agreed upon interest rate for a designated length of time. When the loan is paid off, the house is legally theirs.

refinanceThe rate lenders charge for interest on a mortgage does not stay the same. They fluctuate, sometimes even from day to day. Because they can change frequently, Person A may end up getting a lower rate than Person B. It seems unfair that one person could get a better rate and save money just because they had better timing on their home purchase.

That’s where refinancing comes in to play. If done properly, it can end up saving homeowner’s money in the long run.

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Emergency Fund Basics: The Step On Which All Other Success Is Built

If you are just getting started with the “getting-my-financial-act-together” bit, you might not know where to begin. Have I got good news for you. It’s time to cut through all the clutter and for you to realize one important truth. The first step to success in all other areas of personal finance is creating an emergency fund of cash. Then you need to save it for a crisis.

emergency fundThat may seem like a bold statement. I can attest though, from personal experience, having money set aside strictly for emergencies is the #1 strategy that has propelled my wife and I forward in paying off debt, saving for retirement and college and investing in the stock market.

Why is that you ask?

Because it’s a fact – emergency situations in life are going to come. We cannot escape them. So it just makes sense that we learn how to manage through a crisis.

If we don’t have cash that is easily accessible to take care of the emergency the moment it hits our door, then we are really only faced with one alternative – going into debt to deal with the situation. And it’s this constant accumulation of debt that hinders our ability to accumulate great wealth over time.

You must break the going-into-debt-to-solve-the-emergency cycle.

In this article, I’ll outline the basics of having an emergency fund. You’ll learn when to start one, what to use it for, how much to save and the best ways to fund it.

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