Hope for your financial life and beyond

How to Make a Home Inventory Checklist in Case of a Catastrophic Loss

Recent events surrounding the theft and eventual recovery of our family basketball goal have me thinking more about home security. One issue that presented itself during that incident was that I did not have proof (like a model number or receipt) or identifying marks on the goal that it belonged to me. If I had that proof the police could have pursued the matter more aggressively.

home inventory checklist in case of lossDuring the ordeal I had a conversation with a friend of mine who used to be a detective. He mentioned a case he investigated where a man had his entire music collection stolen. Fortunately for him, he had written down the title and artist of every CD in his collection. He gave that list to my friend who, believe it or not, was able to track down the collection. Of course, he was aided in his search by the fact that the not-so-intelligent thief sold the entire collection at once…to one pawn shop.

Wasn’t too hard to link those to events together.

My friend went on to say he has made a home inventory checklist of everything of value in his home. In case of a catastrophic loss such as a house fire, he will be able to present his home inventory checklist to the insurance company showing concrete evidence of what he did own. Of course that won’t help him recover the sentimental items he lost but it will give him a better chance of recouping the fair market value to replace all the consumer products he lost.

So, guess what the kids and I started doing over Christmas break?

How to Make a Home Inventory Checklist

We haven’t entirely completed our project but these are the steps we are taking to make our home inventory checklist:

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Reshaping My Focus in 2015, Plus a Short Survey For You

Happy New Year catMay I say an early Happy New Year to you! We’ve finally arrived at the final week of the calendar year. I hope 2014 turned out to be all you hoped it would. I’m excited about the future that lies ahead and am looking forward to making some big blog steps in 2015.

I’d like to take a few moments today to share several goals I have for Luke1428 and beyond in 2015. I mentioned the other day how not developing clear and specific goals for 2014 was a big disappointment. It caused me to drift around many a day in that I didn’t have targets on which to focus. I’m not sure why my apathy toward goal development happened in 2014 but I’m committed with renewed effort to a different course this year.

My Goals for Luke1428 in 2015

Here are the three main things I’ll be focusing on in 2015. They represent a change in focus as to how I’ve approached managing Luke1428 to this point.

Understanding the Needs of My Readers

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The Hidden Issue Behind the Best-Laid Plans

Hidden Nuggets Series #66 – “…you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away…” – James 4:14

“Mary, I know what I’m going to do tomorrow and the next day and next year and the year after that. I’m shaking the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I’m going to see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Coliseum…then I’m coming back here and go to college and see what they know, and then I’m going to build things…”

george bailey and mary hatchSounds like this man is going to have a wonderful life. His path is clear. His steps are ordered in sequence. His vision is grand.

Yet, the movie character George Bailey never saw how life might disrupt his best-laid plans. He wasn’t anticipating any curveballs, like the impending tragedy coming to his family…that he’d take over the Building and Loan…that he’d give his college money to his brother Harry…that Harry wouldn’t want to take George’s place at the building and loan…that he’d marry Mary…that he’d use his honeymoon money to solve an economic crisis…that he’d face personal financial ruin over no fault of his own.

Funny how life chews up our plans, spits them out and declares, “Take that!”

George didn’t accomplish any of the dreams hatched in his young adult mind. But that doesn’t mean he never should have planned. Planning is vital for success. Maybe he could have been less arrogant though by understanding who it is that really orders our path. That’s the hidden issue behind our plans…they are subject to the one who knows what the future holds.

A Better Perspective on Planning

In the Bible, these words from the apostle James bear this idea out,

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Starting a Small Business in 2015

One of my goals for 2015 is starting a small business. I’ve been thinking about this for some time now and believe I have an idea that’s worth pursuing. It does relate to writing and blogging so I do have some experience in figuring out how this venture can turn out to be profitable.

starting a small businessNeedless to say though, when starting a small business there is so much to plan for. One can’t be whipped up in a night. While this won’t be an exhaustive list of everything that must be considered, here are the top five things I’ve been thinking through lately.

Pursuing an idea or passion that fills a need

Ideas are a dime a dozen. The light bulb goes off on a new one every day. But does a small town with five pizza stores really need another one? Probably not, unless there is a unique angle to it that differentiates from the others. You will have a hard time getting started let alone succeeding in a town filled with so much competition.

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8 Questions to Ask When Setting Up A Family Inheritance

family inheritanceIt’s hard enough to deal with the topic of our own death let alone what will happen to our possessions once we pass away. Setting up a family inheritance can get complex and technical.

The aftermath of what we do could lead to a potential mess as this 2012 article from Fox News demonstrates:

“Heirs of a wealthy New York art dealer were left a $65 million sculpture [named “Canyon”]…The bequest comes with a $29 million tax bill, but since the piece includes a stuffed eagle, it can’t be sold…federal law makes it a crime to possess, transport, sell or otherwise convey a bald eagle, whether it is alive or, as in this case, stuffed…placing a value on an item that cannot be sold is no easy feat. The venerable auction house Christie’s placed the value of “Canyon” at zero. The IRS initially put it at $15 million, then jumped the figure to $65 million…”

Most of us will never have to deal with numbers that large. But it’s no wonder we get confused with our heirs, the courts and the IRS to account for. It all seems like a big tangled mess.

So what should we do?

Well, the wrong answer is to ignore the wealth transfer process. With better planning the wealthy art dealer mentioned in the article above could have avoided placing this conflict in the lap of her family. Perhaps asking some relationship and technical questions would have eliminated some confusion and helped the inheritance pass with greater ease.

Family Inheritance Relationship Questions to Ask

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The Hidden Costs of College: How to Manage the Incidentals

costs of collegeMy alma mater, Cedarville University in Ohio, has a favorite destination that attracts students each and every day while school is in session – Young’s Dairy in Yellow Springs. It’s definitely one of the hidden costs of college because I had no idea how much time I would spend there. It seemed like once a week someone in my dorm would yell, “Hey, we are making a Young’s run. Who’s coming?”

Boy, that was always tempting. Seemed like it always came at the right time too. You know…at 9 o’clock at night when your punching out that term paper and your stomach is rumbling. So what college student could resist a grilled cheese, fries and milkshake in that moment?

Defining Hidden Costs of College

Those late night snack runs are one example of the hidden costs of college. They are hidden because we miss factoring them into the overall expense of college. Students and parents focus on the big college numbers that are causing so much trouble: tuition, fees, room and board and forget there are a bunch of little incidentals that, when taken cumulatively, add up to big dollars.

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How Being Flexible Saved Our Vacation

being flexible

Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier

Two Saturdays ago, I’m standing along the first base wall at Great American Ballpark watching my daughter get an autograph from Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier. It’s the first day of our family’s 8-day vacation that will take us to Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, OH, on to Niagara Falls, NY and back through the Smokey Mountains as we return home.

The weather is warm and sunny and the look of excitement on my daughter’s face as she gets the autograph makes me realize why I love vacations. What a memory she will have of that moment. I can’t think of a better way to get our vacation started.

I strike up a conversation with a couple standing next to us who were visiting from Columbus, OH. I’m interested in asking them how long the drive is from Cincinnati to Columbus because we intended to drive there after the game and spend the night on our way to Cedar Point. What they said next shattered my “this-vacation-is-starting-out-so-well” feeling.

According to a news report, Cedar Point had a major water main break. The park was closed Saturday and would be Sunday and possibly Monday. “Nooooooo!” I screamed on the inside. “Those are the exact days we plan to be there!”

The kids were going to have so much fun and now would be incredibly disappointed. Perhaps the couple misheard the report and it’s not as bad as they let on. I tried to console myself with this notion.

During the 6th inning my wife received an email from Cedar Point stating that it was indeed as bad as we had heard. Our reservations to stay at the park had been cancelled. Our plans foiled.

What would we do now?

Well, we learned the importance of being flexible.

Being Flexible Can Make or Break A Vacation

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This One Trick Started Our Process of Doing Successful Budgets

successful budgetsThe first attempt we made at budgeting years ago was a nightmare. Our intentions were good and what we did seemed logical at the time. However, after a few short months it became apparent we could not put together successful budgets.

For those first budgets, we calculated what we wanted to spend per category for the entire year. These numbers were based on our income and what we knew (or thought) our expenditures would be. The next step was to divide by twelve to get the budget number for each month.

Seems easy enough, right?

Well, there was one big problem that showed up rather quickly that forced us to conclude this type of process was not going to work.

Every Month Is Not The Same

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Finding the Qualities of Successful People in Yourself

The following guest post is from My Money Design, a personal finance blog that is all about developing your passion for success.

Andrew Jackson on $20 bill

MyMoneyDesign.com

When you think of famous celebrities or business figures, to what do you attribute to their success? Hard work? Talent? Or just the irrevocable notion that they got that way by being at the right place at the right time?

Sure we’d all like to believe that luck had everything to do with it. We also like to convince ourselves that we somehow missed the bus and could have been just as successful as these people if we had been in the right place as well. But that’s simply not true.

Developing the Qualities of Successful People

Although I’m no celebrity, I know that one of the best things I can do for myself is to emulate the qualities of successful people to get what I want. Everything I’ve ever gotten, I’ve earned through hard work and passion. I don’t owe chance anything for my accomplishments. I believe that success is less about being lucky and mostly all about creating your own luck.

Here’s another way I choose to look at it:

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5 Warning Signs When Choosing a Financial Adviser

A few years back, my wife and I encountered some life planning issues that we felt inadequate to handle. Not wanting to cause significant damage to our finances, we decided to seek the counsel of a financial adviser. For weeks we conducted a methodical search to track one down in our area.

financial adviserWe felt very nervous, opening our financial life – warts and all – to a complete stranger. Fortunately, our research found that most of the financial advisers in our area offered an initial consultation that didn’t require we make a long-term commitment to them. So with that encouraging news, we contacted four prospects and scheduled interviews.

In those four interviews, I saw the good, the not so good and the bad of the financial adviser world.

Looking For a Financial Adviser

These were the kinds of financial advisers we encountered:

Interview #1: The Index Guy

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6 Awesome Lessons for Managing Through a Financial Crisis

Hidden Nuggets #32 – “Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you.” – Genesis 41:39

financial crisis

Will you be prepared for the next crisis?

At some point in our lives we will face a financial challenge. Perhaps it will reach the level of severity that we would deem it a crisis. Where the financial crisis will come from or how long it will last, we will never know. However, this is for certain – one will be coming and we will have to deal with it.

That fact alone should give us an incredible incentive to plan.

The life story of the Biblical character Joseph would make Hollywood giddy with the prospects of a full-length motion picture. The plot has everything you’d want: from family conflict and deception to seduction, slavery and redemption. Joseph faced it all. And it’s in his redemption phase where we learn a great deal of what it’s like to plan for and through a financial crisis.

The Bible describes a time where the Pharaoh of Egypt had a series of dreams as he slept one night. Pharaoh knows the dreams hold significant importance but he, nor his magicians can interpret the imagery. Enter Joseph, a man whom God had already blessed with the ability to decipher a dream’s meaning.

Joseph listens as Pharaoh shares the dream sequence. Then, with Godly assistance, Joseph explains to Pharaoh the good news and bad news:

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