Hope for your financial life and beyond

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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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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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 Make a Zero Based Budget in 3 Easy Steps

One task that may not be apparent to first time budgeters is to create a zero based budget. My wife and I had tried to make a monthly budget before but for one reason or another, our budgets never seemed to work. Putting this step in place helped us lesson those failures and moved us towards a place of continual success with our budgets.

zero based budgetThe process of putting a zero based budget together is not hard to understand. Like any other budget it does require some planning and attention throughout the month. You might have to tweak some numbers here and there as the month unfolds and life happens. In my opinion it’s the best type of budget to put together as it leaves no room for money to go unaccounted for.

It’s important to have records of where money goes. With records, you have built-in accountability that shows where you spent your money. You begin to see patterns of how you spent your money over time. Then, you can then make changes if those patterns reveal things you don’t like about your spending.

So, let’s walk through the process of how to put together a zero based budget.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Home Remodeling Costs

The first house my wife and I owned was brand spanking new – right out of the box. We walked in to fresh paint, clean carpets, new appliances and a cute little covered porch right off the back door. Everything was so perfect. We had no home remodeling costs to speak of.

home remodeling costsA few years and two kids later we decided it was time for some more space. So we moved into our second home for our expanding family.

This house was nice and definitely an upgrade when it came to space. But it was not new. It had issues.

The carpet was old. EVERYTHING in the kitchen was dated. The deck was falling apart. And there is no way I will ever forget the rust-toned, orange paint in the upstairs hall bathroom.

Of course we were thankful for finding a home to fit our needs. But we knew changes and upgrades to the home were in order.

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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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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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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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