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Archive for July, 2011

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.

Are You Willing To Take The Leap?

July 5th, 2011 at 02:52 pm



The original post can be found here: Debt Free

“We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal and then leap in the dark to our success.” ~ Henry David Thoreau



I read that quote recently and it really got me thinking. It seems that most people fit into one of two categories:


The first category is made up of people who don’t really have any goals. What I mean is that the people in this category just accept mediocrity and status quo. They eek their way through life, content to just go to work, earn a paycheck, pay their bills and look forward to a 2 week vacation each year. They’re always doing “just fine.”


The second category of people I call “Dreamers.” These people have big dreams and high aspirations. But their mantra is, “Someday…” Some day I’ll be debt free. Some day I’ll be wealthy. Some day I’ll pursue my passions. Some day I’ll start planning for retirement. They know they WANT better. But they never really DO anything about it.


But then there’s that tiny sliver of the population, that small percentage of folks who have a dream and reach for it. They set a goal and work for it. They make a plan and carry it out.


When it comes to taking control of your money and your life, there has to come a point when you say “THAT’S IT!” Either you’re so tired of the way things have been, or you’re so excited about what you want for the future, that you actually get up off the couch and GO FOR IT!


You may not know exactly how to get there. You may need some help and guidance along the way. But the people who achieve their goals are the ones who start walking toward them and then make the leap! They do whatever it takes! no excuses, no procrastination, no holding back! They get relentless and intense and nothing stands in their way.


So what is it you want in life? What is it that you want in your finances? Once you know those answers, it’s time to get about the business of MAKING IT HAPPEN!

So Get To It!


Yours In Freedom,

Clint


How To Eliminate Money Fights

July 1st, 2011 at 09:31 am



The original post can be found here: Debt Free

If you are married or have thought about getting married or know someone who is married, it probably doesn’t surprise you that money is one of the greatest causes of arguments, disagreements and stress that a couple will face. And we’ve been there! Stressed, overwhelmed and feeling trapped, our young marriage was hanging on by a thread. After all, conflict over money is still the leading cause of divorce today, according to Psychology Today.

Debt and financial strain put an intense amount of pressure on a married couple. Disagreements are inevitable. But learning to communicate and work through your finances together is key to having a healthier financial future and a happier marriage…and who doesn’t want that?

Here are some basic steps you can take toward getting on the same page with your spouse.


1. Agree That it is OK to Talk About Money

Not only is it OK to talk about money,it's a MUST! If you and your spouse haven’t discussed your finances in months or even years (no…if you cussed or threw things, it doesn’t count), then it’s time to schedule a meeting. Your first discussion should be focused on whether or not it’s OK for you to talk about finances together (and it is). Talk about your desire to work as a team and to understand each other. And do everything in your power to give each other “space and grace.” Work to make your money talks safe, open, mature discussions (like adults). No finger-pointing or name-calling (I know from personal experience that this doesn’t work).


2. Accept Your Differences

Right off the bat, let’s acknowledge that everyone is different. Your parents each had their own way of handling money and they passed that on to you. You have unique God-given personalities and have experienced money in different ways. And that’s all perfectly normal and good. But if you don’t learn to work together, you will both be frustrated and you’ll never reach your goals.

It’s very likely that one of you is a Saver and one of you is a Spender. Neither is necessarily good or bad. And it’s OK for you to have different opinions about how much to save, how much to spend, how much to give, how much to set aside for retirement or college funds for your kids, and how much each spouse can spend without having to consult the other. Accept your differences. Learning to agree about financial decisions will require consideration, some compromise and even some sacrifice from each of you. But when you’re both pulling in the same direction toward the same goals, you become unstoppable.


3. Share Your Dreams and Goals

The biggest reason money talks are so stressful is that most couples only focus on problems. Don’t forget to talk about positive stuff too. What are your goals? What are your dreams for the future? Sit down and do a little dreaming together. Talk about your long term savings goals, your desire to travel, your desire to buy a home in the suburbs, your longing to turn your passions into a career. If you haven’t shared your vision and hopes with your spouse, there’s no better time than now. Then you can set your goals together and get about the business of pursuing them as a team.


4. There’s No “I” in Team or in Money

Disagreements about money cause many couples to avoid the subject all together. But that only makes the problem worse. No matter what state your finances are in, it’s time to start talking and working together. As Stephen Covey says, your goal should be to “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” This doesn’t mean avoiding the issues or not confronting extreme behaviors. It means that whatever the issues are, you are going to lovingly work together. This is a joint effort! Taking control of your finances or tackling your debt will require you to support and encourage one another.


Like every other part of marriage, it takes work, sacrifice, compromise and communication to get on the same page about money. But by taking these steps together, you are well on your way.

Now get to it!



Yours In Freedom,

Clint



Join the conversation…what do you think is the biggest obstacle that prevents couples from being on the same page about money?