Hope for your financial life and beyond

Why I’m Thankful for First and Second Chances

We’ve all had moments in life when we were granted first and second chances even though we probably didn’t deserve it. Remember how that first big break felt – that first chance to show the world what you were made of? Perhaps it took years to break through and secure it. If you are like me though that first chance to prove yourself happened fairly early in life, sometime in your 20s.

second chancesThere is no logical reason why anyone would give a person in their 20s a chance. Generally speaking, 20-somethings have no money, no experience, and no patience. They are idealistic to a fault, thinking they alone hold the key to changing the world. They disdain the older generation(s), thinking they are pessimistic, set in their ways and out of touch with contemporary culture.

Of course I’m exaggerating with this characterization. Many 20-somethings are not like this. I sure was though even though it may not have appeared so to those around me.

Yet someone still gave me a first chance.

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10 Can’t Miss Warren Buffett Quotes On Life and Money

warren buffett quotes on lifeWhere do you seek out sound advice?

Your parents?

Friends at work?

A counselor or pastor?

The Bible or other religious literature?

As I see it, the problem with a lot of advice is threefold:

  • It’s not actually helpful…
  • It’s given by someone who has a damaging, personal life issue that clouds their bias and…
  • It’s coming from a person who has an alternative agenda (i.e. they are driving you to a decision that benefits them)

This makes it extremely hard to find advice that you can run with. Put the wrong advice in your head and hands and the results could be disastrous.

When it comes to money, perhaps no businessmen and investor has achieved more in his lifetime than Warren Buffett. From humble beginnings of selling chewing gum, Coca-Cola and magazines door-to-door as a kid, he has become one of the wealthiest men in the world. People pay money to sit at his feet for a few minutes so they can pick his brain about life and money.

So when I ran across some Warren Buffett quotes on life and money awhile ago, I couldn’t help but pause and reflect on how I felt about a few of them.

Famous Warren Buffett Quotes On Life and Money

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Attention 9th Graders: Some Focus Right Now Will Make You Rich

Thought I would perform a public service announcement today for the freshman out there starting high school this fall. I don’t have any good tips on how to avoid getting stuffed in your locker or fighting off that wedgie as you change after gym class. You might just have to endure those things…such is the right of passage into high school.

dissecction in biology

Focus – Work Hard – Be Rich

What I’d rather do is snap your mind into place as you start taking classes and get you thinking about the future.

Sound boring? Listen, I get it. The last thing you probably want to think about right now is studying for a literature test. And those Algebra I problems…ugh! When are you ever going to use that in real life?

I’m not going to try and convince you of the practical uses of Algebraic principles once you graduate high school. What I do want you to know is that your approach to Algebra (and all your other classes) has huge implications for your future. In fact, what you do right now – this 9th grade year – could eventually make you rich.

The Two Biggest Challenges of High School

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How to Invest 1,000 Dollars at Age 18

I recently had a conversation with a former student of mine who is looking to invest in the stock market. He’s in college now and has some money sitting around that he doesn’t need for school. He wanted to know how to invest 1,000 dollars or more at this stage of his life and whether it was realistic or not.

how to invest 1,000 dollarsHis situation is similar to what many 18-year-olds face. They’ve worked full-time summer jobs since they were 16 and maybe even part-time ones during the school year. Their college expenses are taken care of either through scholarships or the bank of mom and dad. The money they have earned is just sitting in their savings account drawing little to no interest. Does it make sense for them to do something else with it, like beginning to invest?

The answer is “YES…Absolutely!” but with a very big BUT.

Before I get to the BUT though lets look at some assumptions about 18-year-olds that are going to impact how they invest and where they put their money.

Assumptions About 18-Year-Olds

While not true for all, these generalizations pretty much highlight what most 18-year-olds are going through:

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Why Parents Should Never Give Kids Money for Good Grades at School

Parents (and now some schools) have often given money for good grades as a tool to motivate their kids to do well in school. During my years as teacher and principal of a private Christian school, I knew about it happening at all levels, from kindergarten through high school. The rates I heard varied from $5 – $100 being offered by parents for kids earning A’s in a class.

money for good gradesYes…that’s $100 per A…per semester.

Start calculating that out over 6 or 7 classes and it makes me want to go back to school. Seeing that I was a straight A student I would have made a killing.

Some parents had higher standards that required their child to get A’s in all classes in order to receive any money. The theory behind that approach is to develop a well-rounded child who excels in everything. Make them work hard in every class to get rewarded.

Neither of these options ever felt right to me. So early on my wife and I decided we would never give our kids money for good grades. Here’s our reasoning and what we chose to do instead.

Why We Are Not Giving Money For Good Grades

The biggest reason we do not give our kids money for good grades in school is…

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Why I’ll Cherish Every Moment of the Next Four Years

It’s a Milestone Monday of sorts at our household. Today at 7:45 I’ll be dropping off our four kids for their first day of school. That may seem ordinary but it’s not the start of just another school year for us. This year is a bit more special.

hourglassOur oldest daughter Kelly is entering high school.

14 years down.

4 more to go.

Four more years until…

…she likely moves out for the first time.

…she doesn’t regularly join us at the dinner table.

…she isn’t in our home church each and every Sunday.

…she really learns what it’s like to depend on herself.

…we face the college tuition bill (oops, sorry…that’s a tangent of thought for another day).

I used to not care about this stuff. When she was two, high school and college seemed so distant. I’d find myself in circles of older parents who would say, “Cherish these moments because it will fly by so quickly.” I’d politely nod at their exhortation and think, “Sure, sure…I won’t miss anything.”

Now I wonder where all the time has gone. Why did it happen so fast? How can it be 14 years since my first child was born?

Ironically, now I’m the older parent sharing the value of cherishing time with those just getting started on the journey.

Everything Has Its Time

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How to Protect Your Child From Identity Theft

Most adults realize the dangers of identity theft and take reasonable steps to protect themselves. However, did you know that child identity theft is a growing problem? In fact, The Center for Identity at the University of Texas at Austin estimates that a child is 35 times more likely to have their information stolen than an adult.

So why is a child’s identity so attractive to a thief?

3 Reasons Children Are Targets For Identity Theft

identity theft cartoonFor starters ­a child’s Social Security Number (SSN) is clean. The chance to obtain an untainted SSN that has no credit history or credit problems is very attractive. It is significantly easier for a thief to combine a child’s unused SSN with a new name and address.

Another issue is that securing a child’s SSN is also much easier. In many circumstances the culprit ends up being a family member or another person known by the family.

Social security numbers can be found in public spaces such as a doctor’s office, school, and on forms at athletic recreational leagues, clubs or other organizations. We’d like to trust the workers at those locations who set eyes on the forms that contain our kid’s information but some have used their position to gain access to SSNs.

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10 Important Money Questions You Need to Ask Before Marriage

A huge issue that needs to be addressed before marriage is each person’s belief about money. Too many marriages end due to money fights or money related problems. If it’s one of the biggest reasons couples get divorced it should be a key area they address prior to marriage.  And you can only do that by asking certain money questions.

One would think you could get to fully know your partner through dating. You really can’t, not 100%. Dating is all about making a positive impression. Marriage is when personality, habits, beliefs, etc. truly become known…warts and all.

money questions before marriageThat’s why good pre-marriage counseling is important. It forces you to dig deeper in your understanding of one another. If it’s done properly there will be fewer shocks and surprises after you say, “I do.”

But where should the conversation about money start? What money questions need to be asked?

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A Time For Choosing Freedom

Eerily, this man’s words, penned in 1964, are coming true on many levels:

American flag“Every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement…[and] policies of accommodation…”

“If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand, the ultimatum…and what then?”

“…And someday when the time comes to deliver the final ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary because by that time we will have been weakened from within spiritually, morally and economically…”

 But there is hope found through courage and sacrifice:

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The Difference Between Married and Single Homebuyers (Infographic)

Perhaps you heard that existing home sales rose 5.1% in May from April according to the National Association of Realtors. That’s the strongest pace for homebuyers since September 2009. It’s good news but don’t get too excited just yet. The housing recovery is happening but has been slow and uneven at best (sales were down in April).

The rise in home sales in May was attributed to first-time, younger homebuyers entering the market. These buyers have been cautious about purchasing a home having seen what the recent recession did to home values. Traditionally, first-time homebuyers have made up about 40% of the housing market. Right now that mark sits at 32% so we have a bit to go before the statistics return to normal.

Buying a home versus renting remains a difficult decision. So many variables come into play – from affordability, to employment security, to school systems, to size, to neighborhood – the list goes on and on.

My wife and I bought our first home after we had rented for two years. Job security prompted the purchase, as we were confident my career in education would keep us in one location for some time. We were first-time homebuyers at age 27 and bought a typical ranch-style starter home.

The biggest priority for our home purchase was affordability. We didn’t care about driving distance to work, location to activities or size of the property. We wanted something small but with enough room so we could expand our family (in other words – have children).

Married vs. Single Homebuyers

Had I been single and not looking to start a family, I doubt I would have bought a home in the suburbs at age 27. My priorities would have been on friends, activities and advancing my career. Anything but settling down.

It speaks to the difference that age and marital status have on the decision to buy a home. Where a person is at in life factors into when/if they buy and what they look for in a home. Today’s infographic from my friends at Choice Home Warranty highlights these differences between married and single homebuyers.

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The 10 Best Summer Jobs for Teens and College Students

Memorial Day marks the official beginning of summer. For teens and college students that means one of three things. Either you are:

a) continuing school by choice (to get ahead) or out of necessity (because you failed)…

b) looking for a summer job to earn money or…

c) in for a really boring summer sleeping in and playing video games.

(I know…some of you think “C” is the best option of the three.)

summer jobs for teensBut I also know teens and college students need money. You have lots of expenses, many of which your parents can’t or don’t want to fully fund. So it’s about time you begin to support yourself my working a summer job.

What job would fit your time frame though? You really only have three months to work as the typical school ends in May/June and returns to classes in August/September. Won’t employers be hesitant to hire you if they know it will only be for three short months?

Some might be. Others however, rely on the seasonal influx of workers because summer is their busiest time of the year. So the fact that you are only available for three months matches up with the increased seasonal activity of that position. The employer will be fine when you leave the job to return to school in the fall because he or she won’t need your help anymore.

Jobs You Could Easily Find During the Summer

To that end, here are 10 great summer jobs for teens and college students. In all these areas, employers will be looking for workers during the summer:

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