Hope for your financial life and beyond

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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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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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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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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How to Get Out of Debt and Win in Five Simple Steps

Are you up to your eyeballs in debt? Don’t see anyway out? If so, take heart. You are not alone. Millions of Americans live with this burden and never once think about how to get out of debt.

how to get out of debtYou shouldn’t ignore the mountain of debt piling up. It would be better if you paid close attention because excessive debt will cripple your wealth building process. It will mess up your savings, the kid’s college funding, and even your retirement investing. In many cases, it also ruins your relationships.

People choose to ignore the debt crisis in their lives for many reasons. Some aren’t self aware enough to see how debt is affecting their life. Others enjoy the perks that come from excessive spending and think debt is the only way to get what they really want. I’m sure in some cases, people see the mountain of debt is so overwhelmingly high. As a result, they don’t know where or how to begin climbing out of it.

Whatever your circumstance, what I am about to share can help. How to get out of debt involves five simple enough steps to understand. However, the steps themselves won’t be easy. A few will be challenging to implement. Your behavior will have to change if you are going to be successful.

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The Hidden College Debt Statistics You Never Hear About

The cost of college continues to expand with each passing year. With it, so does the amount of student loans being processed. It’s leading to an alarming amount of college debt that is hamstringing the life of graduates.

college debtBy now I’m sure you’ve heard the alarming student loan statistics. Americans now owe over $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. For the class of 2016, the average borrower will owe just over $37,000, a figure that is up 6% from last year.

But those are just your basic top line college debt statistics. They are the most visible numbers but they don’t tell the whole story. There are some hidden statistics (i.e. not usually reported) that highlight what this college debt is doing to students later in life. They show that virtually every decision in life can be impacted by college debt.

How College Debt Impacts Your Life

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How to Make Sure You Never Need a Car Loan

My wife and I have recently bought a new car. It was used but new to us. The best part about the whole deal was that we didn’t have to take out a car loan.

We paid cash.

car loanNow, we are both in our forties and well established financially. So you might think this purchase was a piece of cake. On the contrary, it wasn’t. It took us two years of preparation to be able to buy this vehicle. But it was worth the effort to avoid needing a car loan.

How did we do it? I’ll share that in a minute and show you the steps to take to never need a car loan again. But first, let’s look at the reasons why people feel the need to take out a car loan in the first place.

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4 Ways to Fund That Extra Mortgage Payment

For most people making one monthly mortgage payment is challenging enough. Why in the world would you want to make an additional one? Seems like that extra mortgage payment would be pushing the monthly budget a bit too far.

extra mortgage paymentWell, if you can see the bigger picture, the money you put towards an extra mortgage payment now can have significant impact on your long-term financial health. The more you pay and the earlier you pay it will reduce the amount of interest you owe over the life of the loan. You could be looking at tens of thousands of dollars saved in the long run.

If you don’t believe me, run your own numbers on any online mortgage calculator. You’ll be amazed on how much you can save.

Making an extra mortgage payment each month (or even a partial payment) takes a strategy. More importantly, it takes extra money. That’s where the real problem lies. When you look at your monthly budget you may be left scratching your head wondering where that extra money is going to come from.

Back when my wife and I decided to pay off our mortgage early, we faced the same problem. Here are the ways we came up with to free up some money to make that extra mortgage payment.

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What Does the Bible Say About Debt? Wait Til You See

I end up turning to the Bible for a lot of questions in my life. After all, God has a lot more wisdom than I do, so why not tap into that knowledge? It seems that no matter what I’m dealing with I can find some answers within the pages of the Bible.

what does the bible say about debtA few years ago, I’m reviewing our finances and this question randomly pops into my head, What does the Bible say about debt?  The truth is it wasn’t a random thought at all. My wife and I were trying to get out of debt so the topic was weighing on our minds. I knew what I thought about debt but didn’t really know what God said. So I decided to give it a look.

What I found was a little surprising and served as a wake-up call. Not only that but at another level, it provided encouragement and hope. I realized there was a better path to take than the one I was on.

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The Hidden Step to Pay Off Debt You’ll Not Want to Miss

If you are looking to pay off debt, the first place you’ll probably look is at your monthly expenses. That’s what my wife and I did when we wanted to pay off our mortgage early. We wanted to squeeze some extra money out of our budget. To do that we needed to cut expenses.

pay off debtWe looked long and hard at our budget and made some adjustments. While we were paying off our mortgage we disconnected our cable TV, ate out less, spent very little on things around the house (like landscaping and home furnishings) and pretty much stopped going to movies just to name a few things. The extra money we saved by cutting our expenses and changing our lifestyle we put towards the mortgage.

For us that was enough to speed up the process. We were overspending in some areas in the worst way. Believe me when the sacrifice was worth it to not have any debt following us around.

But for many others simply cutting expenses in the budget will not be enough to pay off debt at the pace the want. The reason is that you can only cut expenses so far. You’ll still need money to pay for food, housing, utilities, transportation and clothing. All those things cost money and you can’t eliminate them entirely from your budget.

That leaves many who want to pay off debt frustrated. They’d like to pay off their debt faster but they just can’t. There is too little money to go around and nowhere else they can cut expenses.

What they are missing is that there is actually a two-step process to find the money to pay off debt. Cutting expenses is only half the equation.

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