<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
You are viewing: Main Page
 

Good Ol' Fashioned Financial Common Sense

August 25th, 2011 at 01:39 pm



Occasionally, some well-intentioned soul makes the argument that having an emergency fund or planning for retirement means that you’re “a pessimist” or that you “don’t have enough faith,” and you “just need to trust God more.” Now I can appreciate people’s varying points of view. But there are times that I just want to say “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” Of course I don’t actually yell at them…that would be rude…but I do think it.

With all my heart, I want you to be debt free and prepared for the future, which includes a 3-6 month emergency fund and a solid retirement plan. Would that mean you don’t have enough faith or that you’re a worry-wart? I don’t think so!

Consider this famous story from Aesop’s Fables, circa 600 B.C. You may have read it before, but its’ wisdom is worth revisiting. You may remember that Aesop also gave us the morals of such stories as The Boy Who Cried Wolf and The Tortoise and the Hare. I think he was on to something!


The Ant and The Grasshopper


In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart's content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.

"Why not come and chat with me," said the Grasshopper, "instead of toiling and moiling in that way?"

"I am helping to lay up food for the winter," said the Ant, "and recommend you to do the same."

"Why bother about winter?" said the Grasshopper; we have got plenty of food at present." But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil.

When the winter came the Grasshopper found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing, every day, corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer.

Then the Grasshopper knew...

It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.



Of course, this concept of preparing for the future goes back even farther. Consider the words of the wise King Solomon, circa 1,000 B.C.:

Go watch the ants, you lazy person.
Watch what they do and be wise.
Ants have no commander,
no leader or ruler,
but they store up food in the summer
and gather their supplies at harvest.
-Proverbs 6:6-8


The moral of the story:

Become debt free, stay debt free, save up a 3-6 month emergency fund and plan for future expenses and your retirement. That’s just good ol’ common sense!



Yours In Freedom,

Clint



The original post can be found here: Debt Free

11 Key Actions That Helped Us Become Debt Free

August 11th, 2011 at 12:48 pm




You may have noticed by now that I’m a little bit fanatical about living debt free! Helping people realize that dream is our passion! But that wasn’t always the case. Being on this side of the debt-chasm feels great! But getting here was anything but easy.


To start, let’s take a look back at how we got into debt in the first place.

Katy and I started our life together in sunny San Diego, CA. She was in college and I was just beginning a career in real estate. Translation – we were broke! Our brilliant solution was to live on credit cards and Katy’s student loans. One year after our wedding, I was offered a ministry position in Texas. That meant more stable income and lower cost of living. So it made perfect sense for both of us to buy (finance) newer cars and a big screen TV. Fast forward two years where we set at our kitchen table, breaking through our denial and finally coming to terms with over $50,000 of debt. We were overwhelmed, stressed and completely insecure in our financial situation.

From that day at the kitchen table, it took us 16 months to break the chains of debt and open the door to the life we desperately wanted. There were 10 key actions we took that made our debt free dream a reality. They’re the same actions you can take to finally break free of the weight of debt and financial stress.


1. Started Talking
One of the biggest hurdles we had to overcome was to simply start talking about our money situation. We’re both very independent and it was challenging to learn to talk and work together. But if we hadn’t, we never could have become debt free.
Learn how to eliminate money fights.

2. Acknowledged That Our Debt Was a Problem
Like everyone else, we had believed the lie that debt is just part of life. When we finally took a close look at our finances, we realized that debt and payments were bleeding us dry. We also recognized that it just might be possible to live without debt. So we made the decision and the declaration...NO MORE BORROWING MONEY!!

3. Began Learning
We recognized that we didn’t really know how to take control of our money and get out of debt. So we enrolled in a financial Bible study at church and started learning.

4. Got Coaching
The knowledge was invaluable, but we still needed help to apply the knowledge. We made the decision to get coaching from people who were further along this journey. Being coached and mentored helped us apply the knowledge and formulate a specific plan for freedom. There is no way we would have stuck with the process if we didn’t have people pushing us, guiding us and holding us accountable! This was the best investment we ever made!


5. Developed a Spending Plan
A solid budget is the key to anyone’s financial success and we were no exception. Learning to live on a budget was painstaking at first. It was staggering to see how much money just blew with nothing to show for it. Once we decided to tell our money where to go, we suddenly had a lot more of it. And the feeling of being in control was a huge stress relief.

6. Cash Envelopes
There were some budget categories we would tend to overspend on. Groceries, restaurants and entertainment were the toughest for us to control. We chose to implement a cash envelope system for these areas. When we made our monthly budget, we would withdraw the allotted amount of cash for these categories and put the money in an envelope. Once the cash for that month was gone, we had no more to spend in these categories. Instant accountability!

7. Increased Income
When we made up our minds to become debt free, we went into “work our butts off” mode. We quit our hobbies, worked overtime and picked up extra projects and consulting work. I was in a commission-based position and I worked to become the best salesperson I could, in order to increase my income. It’s hard work and sacrifice! But it’s only temporary and it’s worth it!

8. Sold Stuff
Oh, we sold some stuff! Books, DVD’s, video games, board games, clothes, electronics, old jewelry, exercise equipment, furniture, unused wedding gifts... I’m talking garage sales, Ebay, Craigslist, Amazon... We realized these “things” weren’t nearly as important as being financially free!

9. Emergency Fund
Our first big milestone came when we had saved $1,000 as a beginner emergency fund. This safety net kept us from turning back to credit cards when emergency expenses came up. Once we became debt free, we saved up a full 6 month emergency fund. Talk about financial security!

10. The Debt Snowball Plan
There are plenty of plans for getting out of debt. But the Debt Snowball is the best, because getting out of debt is all about changing the way you think and behave. It’s much more akin to weight loss than it is to math homework.
What is the Debt Snowball plan?

11. Specific Goals
One of the most significant things we learned from courses and coaches was to set specific goals. We set a goal to be debt free within 18 months. We wrote it down, we posted it around our house, we told other people about it and we got accountability. Goals are powerful...we hit ours in only 16 months! We never would have become debt free if we didn’t have a specific plan, specific goals and the accountability to keep pursuing them!


Yours In Freedom,

Clint



Join the conversation…what specific actions are you taking to help you become debt free?

The original post can be found here: Debt Free

How to Save $1,393 with 4 Easy Phone Calls

August 3rd, 2011 at 12:12 pm




So you’ve heard about making BIG sacrifices to win with money. You’ve been told you need to get on a budget and cut out all discretionary spending. You’ve been told to cut out lattes, personal care, and eating out. And I know you’ve heard the phrase, “you have to give something up to get what you want.” And all these things are true. But there are some small, easy changes for those of you who want a big return with little to no change in lifestyle.

One Thursday, I got out my laptop, my phone and I started making some calls and saving some money. These are the changes we made and the money we saved…and you can do it too!


1.) Change Your Internet Provider
With new internet providers popping up all the time, you should be able check out a few that offer a low introductory rate for one year. You don’t have to sign a contract and you can always switch again once the introductory rate is up. We were paying $62 a month and with 1 quick phone call to a new provider we reduced that to $14.95 a month.

Annual Savings: $565.00

Side Bonus: We had the great pleasure and satisfaction of cancelling with a crappy provider that gave us horrible customer service! That one felt good!



2.) Lower Your TV Plan
How many channels do you really watch? With services like Netflix and Hulu, there is no reason you NEED over 200 channels. We called our satellite TV provider and switched to a less expensive package. If we really need to watch something that doesn’t come on our basic channels we just stream it from the internet. We went from paying $56 per month to $20 per month. The savings really do add up!

Annual Savings: $432.00

Side Bonus: The lack of “mindless” entertainment forced us to become spontaneous and interact more. Now we create our own entertainment and have more fun!



3.) Lower Your Cell Phone Plan
We called our cell phone provider and had them do a quick audit of our phone bill for the last 5 months. The sales rep told us we were consistently under our minutes and our text messaging plan. We switched to a lower plan that saved us $26 a month.

Annual Savings: $312.00

Side bonus: The sales rep told us about a new free service they offered to all customers on the plan we switched to! Don’t be shy to ask about new promotions and services.



4.) Report Home Security Upgrades to Your Insurance Company

Have you invested in a home security system? It could even be a deadbolt or a fence. We had actually already reported our upgrades to our insurance company. But you could save around $7/month for a newly installed home security system. Instant savings for a 5 minute call.

Annual Savings: $84

Side bonus: While you are on the phone with your insurance company, you could ask about any additional discounts available to you. You’ll never know if you don’t ask.


FINAL BONUS: Once you are debt free, you can begin putting the extra $1,300 annually into a retirement account that is earning around 8% (or more). If you start at age 30, over the course of 35 years, you will have added an extra $250,000 to your nest egg. Not too shabby for 4 phone calls!


It pays off BIG to shop around, and I think you’ll agree that it’s completely worth the time and effort. If you have a busy schedule, you might consider taking a ½ day or a full day off work to make these calls. And don’t think of this as just cutting your expenses. The process of making these calls and learning about your options will create a deeper awareness of your entire financial situation. It’s a big step towards taking control of your finances and creating a more conscientious mind set.

Now get to it!


Yours In Freedom,

Katy


The original post can be found here: Debt Free

Join the conversation…what other quick and easy changes could you make in order to save big? Leave your comments below.'

The original post can be found here: Debt Free

16 Lies We Believe About Money - Part 3

July 26th, 2011 at 03:15 pm




Throughout your life you’ve heard millions of messages about money, debt, credit, savings, retirement and spending. Most of them came from the advertising industry; some may have come from teachers and mentors. But perhaps your greatest source of financial influence came by observing your parents’ financial habits. For most of us, that’s not good news. We’ve all been sold a long list of financial lies. But it’s time to wake up to the truth and start making a better choice.

In parts 1 and 2 of this blog post series, we started the journey toward financial truth. Now to wrap up the series, I present:


16 Lies We Believe About Money

(part 3 of 3)




11. Everyone Should Aim to Save 10 Percent of Their Income.
“My parents always said that 10% of my paycheck needs to go straight in the bank.”

Why It’s Bogus: It may be a good idea to put 10% of your income into savings. But that percentage will vary (sometimes drastically) depending on your life-stage and where you are in your financial journey. You may need to save much more than 10% when you’re building up your $1,000 beginner Emergency Fund. Once you’re debt free, you need to build your Emergency Fund up to cover 3-6 months of your living expenses as fast as possible. That too may require you to save much more than 10%. If you’re on the verge of needing to replace a to vehicle, planning have a baby soon, going back to college, starting a business or saving for a down payment on a house, you most definitely need to be saving much more than 10% of your income.


12. Putting Money Into a 401(k) Is Always The Best Investment
“I just need to invest in my company’s 401(k) and I’ll be set at retirement.”

Why It’s Bogus: Another “usually”…it’s usually a good idea to invest for retirement inside of your company’s 401(k) plan. It’s almost always a wise choice to invest at least up to the amount your company will match you. However, most 401(k) plans have very limited, and often under-performing, investment options. If they don’t offer a match, it would be a better idea to invest in a Roth-IRA which gives you the same type of tax benefits, but with more investment options. Do your research and get professional guidance. Don’t flippantly set up a mis-allocated 401(k) plan and think it was automatically a good decision. It’s your money and no one will care about your money as much as you!


13. Money Is The Root of All Evil
“It says in the Bible that money is the root of all evil. People lie, cheat, steal and kill for money….it’s evil.”

Why It’s Bogus: I’m not here to preach, but let’s be clear…the Bible says no such thing! The often misquoted verse actually says that “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim 6:10). It is dangerous to love money. Greed causes people to do some horrible things. But money itself is neutral…it’s not good or evil. It’s just paper; it does what you tell it to. We sponsor a child in Africa with money, we help fund a non-profit with money. Money feeds the homeless, treats disease, cures addiction and provides shelter, clothing and education. Because of the good that money can accomplish, good people (including you) need to concern themselves with making money and accumulating wealth so we can do some good with it!


14. It’s All Their Fault
“I just can’t get ahead because of…the government…my parents’ bad example…bad luck…the crooked bank…”

Why It’s Bogus: Most people, myself included, are pre-programmed to shift blame and resist taking responsibility. But the truth is only you are responsible for your financial situation. The bank didn’t trick you when they jacked up your credit card rate. It’s not the mortgage company’s fault that you signed up for a mortgage you couldn’t really afford. Stop playing the blame game. We’ve ALL made dumb financial moves. But taking responsibility for your actions and learning from your mistakes is incredibly liberating! And when you do, you’re able to take the steps toward a solution. You can’t change the past, but you can take responsibility for creating the future you want!


15. If I just try harder, I can save more, keep a budget and pay off my debt.
“I just need to set my mind to it and exert my will-power.”

Why It’s Bogus: Let me have a Dr. Phil moment here and ask, “How’s that workin’ for ya?” Will power is great for launching off, but it’s almost never sustainable! If it was, we’d all be skinny and we’d all be rich. Just saying you want to do something and “trying harder” is a great plan for failure. Financial success does require some will-power and it does require you to try harder. But more importantly, it requires you to make some tough decisions, set some specific (written) goals, to develop a systematic plan, to seek accountability and to surround yourself with people who are moving in the direction you want to go. Learning to manage your money and getting out of debt is hard work. But if you have a solid plan, accountability and support, you can absolutely do it!


16. But Clint…you just don’t understand myyyyy situation…
(note the *whiny* emphasis on the “my”)
“You just don’t understand, I can’t….I don’t….”

Why It’s Bogus: In the words of Tyler Durden, “You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake” (us guys will recognize this from Fight Club). I’m not trying to be insulting in anyway. But I want to acknowledge that we are ALL in the same boat….and your situation…it’s probably not that unique. And you definitely shouldn’t let it hold you back! There are a million reasons NOT to start a budget…NOT to begin paying off debt…NOT to save an emergency fund…NOT to start planning for retirement… But you work too hard and make too much money to live your life broke and in debt! You, your family and your future are too important to make excuses. So unless your family is vastly wealthy, it’s time to start taking control of your finances…today…right now…get to it!


If any of these money lies have been preventing you from living the life you want, I want you to know there’s no better time than now to change course and start achieving financial freedom and peace!


This is your money and your life…take control!


Yours In Freedom,

Clint



***Join the conversation…what will you do immediately to begin taking control of your money and life?



Debt Free

16 Lies We Believe About Money - Part 2

July 19th, 2011 at 08:52 am


The original post can be found here: Debt Free

In part 1 of this series, we began looking at some of the myths, lies and the terrible financial advice that’s floating around out there. If you haven’t read part 1,I suggest you start here.

When you hear a lie often enough, you start to believe it. And when it comes to money and your finances, blindly following “conventional wisdom” without stopping to think for yourself can keep you from ever getting ahead. But confronting those lies and beginning to think for yourself will go a long way toward setting you on the path to winning with money.


To help you in your quest for truth, I want to expose:

16 Lies We Believe About Money

(part 2 of 3)




6. Investing In The Stock Market Is Too Risky
“I don’t want to take any risk. I’d rather just save my money in the bank where it’s safe.”

Why It’s Bogus: Investing in stocks and mutual funds does carry some risk. But so does not investing? The average inflation rate in the U.S. is around 4%. That means that every year, your “safe and secure” cash is worth 4% less than last year. By not investing and growing your money, you face the almost certain risk of losing 4% every year. Besides, investing isn’t nearly as scary as you may think and it doesn’t take a financial genius to do it. You simply need to educate yourself, understand the risks and learn to make wise investments under the guidance of a trustworthy financial advisor.


7. I’m Just Not Good With Numbers, So I Can’t Manage My Money
“My problem is that I’m just no good when it comes to math.”

Why It’s Bogus: The reason you feel inadequate with the numbers is simply that you’re unfamiliar with the process. The math required to balance your budget is nomore than adding and subtracting. The numbers are important. But learning to manage your money is much more about shifting the way you think and modifying your behavior. It’s a lot like weight loss. The math is simple (calories in/calories out). But to be successful, you must learn to control your emotions and change your behavior. And we can all learn to do that.


8. I’m Too Broke To Get Out Of Debt Or Save Money
“I don’t have enough money to pay down my debt or even save. I just can’t get ahead.”

Why It’s Bogus: There are rare and extreme circumstances in which a person really doesn’t have any extra money. But most people have the ability to at least save something. If you rationalize not saving in your current circumstances, you’re likely to rationalize it when your circumstances improve. But the excitement of seeing your debt decrease and your savings increase will help propel you even faster toward your goals. Don’t wait until you’ve got a bunch of extra money lying around to start paying down debt or saving. It’ll never happen!


9. Going to College Is Always Worth the Cost
“Everyone needs to go to college…the investment is always worth the cost.”

Why It’s Bogus: (First of all…save the hate-mail. I already know some will disagree with me here). In today’s world, the cost of a college education is much higher and the payoff is much lower than it used to be. The average college tuition is increasing at a staggering 7% per year. The high cost may be worth the investment. But do your research and consider that it may not be, depending on the profession you’re looking toward. I’ve worked with too many people with $100,000 of student loans, who are now a stay at home mom or decide they don’t want to work in their field of study. Don’t be one of them and don’t blindly follow the lie that college is always worth the cost.


10. Buying Someone Gifts Is the Best Way to Show Your Love
“Buying gifts for people lets them know how much I love them…”

Why It’s Bogus: Do you love your parents…your spouse…your kids…your bff? Is it because they buy you nice gifts? Or is it because of the bond you’ve developed, the time spent, the trust, the respect, the understanding, and the support? We’ve gone crazy with this idea that love equals stuff, and the marketing industry does everything in their power to propagate the lie! If you want to show someone you love them, spend some time with them, write them a hand-written card, give them a call, give them a hug…but don’t believe the myth that that buying a gift, especially an expensive gift, is the best or only way to show your love.


If any of these money lies and myths have been preventing you from living the life you want, I want you to know it’s never too late to change course and start achieving your goal of financial freedom and peace!

Stay tuned for part 3 of “16 Lies We Believe About Money!”


Let us know if we can help you achieve the financial freedom and peace you want!


Yours In Freedom,

Clint



***Join the conversation…which of the first 10 lies have you heard or even believed in the past? How did you come to know the truth?

16 Lies We Believe About Money

July 13th, 2011 at 03:34 pm



The original post can be found here: Debt Free

There are well-dressed foolish ideas, just as there are well-dressed fools. ~ Chamfort, French Playwright


We live in the wealthiest society in the history of the world. But in general, our attitude about money…well…it sucks! I admit, in the past (and sometimes in the present) my attitude about money has been unhealthy and just plain wrong. We’re brainwashed by so many false beliefs and terrible financial advice that it’s hard to know what’s true. Many of the myths sound very smart…even noble…so we never question them. But following them blindly can lead to disappointment and even financial disaster. But there is hope, there is truth, and there is a better way.

To help you begin to distinguish the truth from the lies, I want to expose:

16 Lies We Believe About Money

(part 1 of 3)




1. I Don’t Need To Do A Budget
“Budgeting is for nerds…it’s a waste of time…things will just work themselves out.”

Why It’s Bogus: Refusing to do a budget is like going on a road trip and refusing to look at a map. You’ll get somewhere…but it’s probably not where you intended. “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” A budget isn’t a document that restricts you and constantly tells you “No!” It’s simply YOUR way of telling YOUR money where YOU want it to go.


2. An Emergency Fund is Only For People Who Live In Fear
“An Emergency Fund? That’s so negative…people worry too much.” (And my personal favorite) “If you really trusted God, you wouldn’t need an emergency fund.”

Why It’s Bogus: Do you have auto insurance? Health insurance? Life insurance? Why? Because odds are you will face some kind of emergency at some point in life. An Emergency Fund of 3-6 month’s worth of your living expenses is another form of insurance. According to Money Magazine, 78% of Americans will face a major negative financial event in any given 10-year period. Having an emergency fund turns a crisis into a mere inconvenience.


3. If Only I had More Money, Then I’d Be Happy
“If I had a bigger house, a nicer car, took big vacations and could afford the “finer things in life,” then I’d be happy.

Why It’s Bogus: The “finer things in life” have very little to do with money. Waking up next to your spouse, hugging your kids, time with friends, deep faith in God…these are the finer things and they don’t cost a dime. “But Clint, if I had more money I’d be…” Are you sure? A 2006 Princeton study suggests otherwise: “Once you go beyond a certain level of poverty and well being, having more money doesn’t contribute to increased happiness. People with above-average income are…barely happier than others in moment-to-moment experience, tend to be more tense and do not spend more time in particularly enjoyable activities.” Don’t buy the lie that more money will magically make you happy.


4. Renting A Home is Like Throwing Money Away
“It’s a waste of money to be renting…you need to buy a home.”

Why It’s Bogus: Owning a home is usually a good investment. But when you are neck deep in debt with no savings, buying a home can keep you from ever getting ahead. Renting is almost always less expensive because you avoid things like taxes, maintenance fees and expensive repairs. So until you’re out of debt it may be a good idea to rent. With lower expenses, you’ll have more money to attack your debt and become debt free as fast as possible.


5. The Only Way To Get Rich Is To Lie, Cheat or Steal
“Look at those rich people…what a bunch of crooks.”

Why It’s Bogus: This lie is really just a judgmental excuse made by jealous people who don’t think they could ever become wealthy. But it’s just not true! In Thomas Stanley’s book, “The Millionaire Next Door”, the surveys reveal that the vast majority of America’s millionaires have extreme levels of integrity. They’re honest, ethical, generous people who work hard and make wise financial decisions. Don’t believe this lazy excuse of a lie.


If any of these money myths have been holding you back from living your best life, I want you to know it’s never too late to change course and start achieving your goal of financial freedom and peace!


Stay tuned for part 2 of “16 Lies We Believe About Money!”



Yours In Freedom,

Clint



***Join the conversation…what other lies and myths have you heard or believed about money? Share them in the comments section below.