Hope for your financial life and beyond

How to Push Through the Scary Questions at the Start

ID-10083769Do you want to finish what you start this year? Maybe you have made a New Year’s resolution and aren’t confident you can do it. Or maybe there are simply so many unanswered questions and doubts in front of you it’s becoming overwhelming.

Finishing is huge for our psyche. It gives us so much confidence that we think anything is possible. It releases pressure and tension when we finally reach our goal. Finishing creates momentum and catapults us forward to even greater things.

Related Content: Winning is More Valuable Than Losing

Unfortunately, we don’t start at the finish and get those great rewards. We start our journey at a more logical place – the start.

The start of anything can be a very confusing place to be. It’s exciting and scary all at the same time. And the start is always full of questions like…

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6 Financial and Emotional Considerations Before You Retire Early

reasons to retire earlyThink you have some good reasons to retire early? It is exciting…the thought of leaving your career and setting aside the accompanying stress that it produces. In fact, you may already have begun to plan how you might be able to do that 10 or 20 years before your retirement benefits are available.

It’s a lofty goal to retire early. But it’s a decision you must be sure about. You can’t just wave a magic wand to make it happen.  It takes planning and deep consideration of all the financial and emotional reasons to retire early before you pull the trigger.

To that end, it would be wise to consider the following issues as they relate to early retirement. You may find after working through them that you want to hold onto that career for a few more years.

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4 Basic Strategies for Retirement Planning Everyone Should Know

The retirement years are one of the most rewarding and also potentially delicate phases of life. People experience many joys in their later years. However, they may also have to endure diminishing physical strength, slowing of mental faculties and the onset of age-related illnesses. Given the inevitability of health conditions in old age specifically, it‘s vital to keep the controllable factors in check to avoid exacerbating medical problems. This can be done with good retirement planning.

retirement planningPerhaps the most important such controllable factor is your financial stability. Money doesn’t equal happiness or freedom from sickness or other problems. However, the more funds you accumulate, the higher your chances of having a less stressful retirement when it comes to the financial side of things.

With that in mind, here are a couple of valuable tips for retirement planning that aren’t difficult to do but whose payoff is huge.

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6 Ways We Survive the Dark Side of Rental Real Estate

My wife and I purchased our first home to be used as a rental property seven years ago. That move was the culmination of several years’ worth of reading about and planning to own rental real estate. It took us that long to feel knowledgeable and confident enough to put a plan into action that would earn us a steady income stream aside from our normal careers.

For the most part, our experience has been a positive one. In fact, I’d say overall it has been great. However, we have had our share of challenges along the way, like:

rental real estate…an unexpected new well we had to drill and install (that was pricey!)

…leaky copper pipes that had to be replaced in an entire house

…a dual tenant situation where one roommate left, leaving us with half the monthly revenue stream on that property until another roommate could be found

…tenants who don’t inform you of repair issues in a timely manner (“Really? It’s been leaking how long?”)

…tenants who won’t pay on time, or ever

…tenants, who by their actions force you into court (that’s a post in itself!)

…managing the finances to account for repairs, taxes and the house that sits vacant for months while you do said repairs or find a new tenant

…dealing with the emotions that come when facing these tough circumstances

…the time it took away from our already busy schedule to take care of all this

Are you prepared for all that and more? If you are game, then I have five suggestions that will help you manage through some of the dark times that will inevitably come. And I’ll tell you the sixth thing we’ve done recently that has taken our rental real estate business to the next level.

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Should I Retire Early? – 9 Questions to Help You Decide

What do the numbers 61, 65 and 73 have in common? You might guess they are the home run records set during various Major League Baseball seasons by Roger Maris (1961), Mark McGwire (1999) and Barry Bonds (2001) respectively. However, for our purposes here those numbers represent peoples ages. Specifically, the age they may be looking at to mark the beginning of their retirement. In fact, we could also put in numbers like 55, 50 or even younger as even people at those ages are asking could I or should I retire early.

Let’s just get this out of the way right at the beginning…clearly a person can retire at any age they choose. However, to receive full financial benefits from the Social Security Agency will require a person to work until a certain age (based on when they were born). For example, I was born after 1960, so full retirement age for me isn’t until age 67 according to the Social Security website.

I could begin to receive benefits as early as age 62. However, those benefits would come to me at a reduced rate. The calculation used by Social Security is based on the number of months once I retire until full retirement age is reached. In my case that would be 60 months if I retired at age 62.

Retiring early at age 62 sounds great. However, it would really cost me. It would turn a potential $1,000 benefit into only $700, a 30% reduction. $300 dollars a month would go a long way. The Social Security website has a great chart showing all the ages and reduction percentages.

So the choice to retire early isn’t a no brainer. In fact, there are many other things to account for aside from the financial considerations.

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Always Plan a Budget Around These 5 Expenses First

The first time I sat down to plan a budget with my wife, we didn’t know where to start. There were literally dozens of expense categories popping into our head at once. The whole process seemed a bit overwhelming.

plan a budgetAt some point it dawned on us that we needed some clarity about the process. We needed to narrow the field and focus on certain priorities in the budget. By doing that, it became obvious what areas of the budget we needed to focus on first.

What we found was that there are five fundamental expenditures to focus on when you plan a budget. Without them, any person would have a difficult time surviving. Coincidentally, these categories will also be some of the most expensive budget items each month. Those two reasons alone – basic survival and cost – should justify why it’s important to start with them when you plan a budget each month.

Five Basic Categories When You Plan a Budget

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A Wedding To Do List For After You Say “I Do” (Infographic)

If you are inside of one year until you tie the knot with your significant other, you probably have a million things to accomplish on your wedding to do list. OK, maybe not one million but there are a lot of things to take care of. I’m sure it seems like it’s happening so fast. Just when you check one item off another one pops up.

I’m being reminded of how fun yet frantic wedding planning can be by my cousin. She moved to Georgia a few years ago and wouldn’t you know it met the man of her dreams. They are getting married in May of 2017. And it seems like every time we get together with them she’s telling us of another item she checked off her wedding to do list.

The latest item was the biggie – her wedding dress. Her mom came down last week and the two of them picked out the perfect one. I say it’s perfect because no one has seen it yet. And no one will until wedding day which is fine.

It’s drawing me back in time to so many things that happened for my own wedding 20-plus years ago. I’m remembering some of the things we did right, some of the things we did wrong and some of the things we forgot to do altogether. It’s easy to let things slip by – especially after the wedding.

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What Does a Financial Advisor Do and Do I Need One?

Most likely you have run across someone in your circle of friends who is working with a financial advisor. This may have you thinking that you need to have one as well. It sounds like it might be a helpful step but you don’t really know the answer to the question, What does a financial advisor do for me?

what does a financial advisor doIt’s a great question. Before you hire professional services you need to know what they are all about. You need to understand if they can help with your specific need. You wouldn’t hire a tax professional to do your lawn care, right?

So I’ll help you with both questions today. Let’s tackle the What does a financial advisor do? question first.

What Does a Financial Advisor Do?

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How to Stop Waiting for Next Year to Get Your Finances Right

Sports fans are always waiting for next year. In any given season, only four teams out of 122 in the four major U.S. professional sports leagues win their respective championship. 118 teams and their fan bases are left hoping that next year will be different.

waiting for next yearOf course we always have hope, right? A few shrewd personnel moves from the front office management can surely turn things around. And maybe, just maybe the manager will finally figure it out next year and make all the right decisions.

Unfortunately, most of the time things don’t get better. The team doesn’t improve. There are injuries. Managers get fired. Free agents go elsewhere.

And once again we are left waiting for next year to get things right.

Many people adopt this same approach with their finances. Instead of addressing their money problems right now they take the “waiting for next year” approach. People who follow this way of thinking typically:

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5 Innovative Retirement Planning Tools to Help You Save More

Enjoy this post on retirement planning tools by guest blogger Alfred Stallion.

retirement planning toolsOne of the key aspects of retirement is ensuring that you have sufficient funds in investments and cash to continue living comfortably for many years. By adhering to sensible investment principles and saving guidelines, this can be attained. Thanks to advanced technology and mobile apps, it’s easier than ever to know how much you need to retire, how much you have to save, and how aggressively to invest in order to lead a happy life in your senior years. Mobile app technology keeps progressing, and anyone with a smartphone can now keep track of his finances, and thus plan for retirement much more conveniently.

Here are several retirement planning tools to help you save more money along the way.

Retirement Planning Tools

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How to Choose A College So You Don’t Waste Money On Tuition

You may have noticed recently the federal government stepped in to help 18-year-olds with one of the biggest decisions of their lives – how to choose the right college. Although you don’t necessarily need a college education to have a successful career, the U.S. Department of Education estimates that a college graduate will earn one million dollars more on average over their lifetime when compared to someone with only a high school diploma. That figure alone makes attending college a worthwhile consideration.

college fund jarBut what college should you attend when there are thousands to choose from? Enter President’s Obama’s Consumer Reports-styled College Scorecard. It’s an initiative headed by the Dept. of Education where, “You’ll be able to see how much each school’s graduates earn, how much debt they graduate with, and what percentage of a school’s students can pay back their loans,” the President noted in a recent radio address.

The scorecard tool offers much more information than that however. Prospective students can input a college name into the site and receive all kinds of useful information about the school’s program. Among other things, potential schools can be sorted by location, size, degrees offered. The site is receiving rave reviews as the latest advancement in helping students choose the right college.

You will have to take some steps to make your college decision an easier one. There is simply too much money at stake for you to make the wrong choice. Here are the three most important things you can do.

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