Monday Money Tip: A Must Have Helpful Money App – Mint.com

In this week’s Monday Money Tip, I’m sharing about a great money app that I personally use. I’ve found this app very helpful with managing my personal and business finances. Check out the below video for all the details:

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Ready to Get Organized? Part THREE

There are two types of people – those who are organized and those who aren’t. Which do you fall under? How about with your finances? It’s extremely important to have your finances organized. In fact, I believe that a lack of organization is one of the top reasons that people do not reach the peak of their financial potential. So, are you ready to get organized? Here we go!

PART ONE  Understand why you are doing this in the first place

PART TWO  Prepare a list of all of your financial accounts

PART THREE  Information to include on your Financial Accounts Form

This form is meant to be the be-all end-all location for your entire financial picture. When you are looking for key financial information, you won’t have to go far because it is all contained within this file. When you pass away, it will allow your estate executor to easily understand what they are dealing with.

Here are the key items to include on your Financial Accounts Form.

  • Investment Accounts: Include your 401(k), 403(b), 457, TSP, Roth IRA, IRA, Stocks, Bonds, and Mutual Fund Investments
  • Bank Accounts: Include checking, savings, money market, CDs, and any other accounts held at a bank or credit union.
  • Real Estate: If you own real estate, be sure to list the addresses and the financial status of these holdings.
  • Will: According to LexisNexis and LegalZoom, 55% of Americans do not have a will or other estate plan in place. Have one, and include it’s location and your assigned executor on this document.
  • Power of Attorney: Healthcare POA, Limited POA, or other legal assignments of responsibility should be included in this document
  • Insurance Policies: Include Life Insurance – be sure to include policies provided through your workplace. Also include insurance on key possessions owned.
  • Jewelry (or other valuables): If you have valuable possessions, be sure to list them and their location
  • Safe Deposit Box: If you have one, indicate it on this document and include it’s location.

I know! I know! This can seem overwhelming, but it is absolutely worth the effort to put this together!

 

Ready to Get Organized? Part TWO

There are two types of people – those who are organized and those who aren’t. Which do you fall under? How about with your finances? It’s extremely important to have your finances organized. In fact, I believe that a lack of organization is one of the top reasons that people do not reach the peak of their financial potential. So, are you ready to get organized? Here we go!

PART ONE  Understand why you are doing this in the first place

PART TWO  Prepare a list of all of your financial accounts

If you are a slightly or very disorganized person (like I used to be!), this is probably going to be the most difficult part of the entire organizational process. It is important to gather together your financial statements so you can easily prepare a one or two page document that details your entire picture.

To speed up the process, we have a tool that you can use to consolidate all of your information into one place. You can download a copy below:

Financial Accounts Form (PDF) or Financial Accounts Form (MS Word)

Below is a sample of how the information can be written into the file:

In the next step of this series, we will talk about specific types of information that you need to be sure to include on this document.

Ready to Get Organized? Part ONE

There are two types of people – those who are organized and those who aren’t. Which do you fall under? How about with your finances? It’s extremely important to have your finances organized. In fact, I believe that a lack of organization is one of the top reasons that people do not reach the peak of their financial potential. So, are you ready to get organized? Here we go!

PART ONE  Understand why you are doing this in the first place

Let’s face it. We are all extremely busy. The last thing we need to do is initiate another paperwork process just for the sake of what “might” happen. I believe, however, that this process is an extremely valuable step toward maximizing one’s financial potential. If you take the time to complete the steps in this series, you will discover areas where your financial plan is lacking AND also where you are winning (which is very satisfying to see).

Here are some reasons to get organized financially:

  • Control: It is hard for the finances to run out of control when you are focusing this intently on your financial affairs
  • Improved financial focus: We tend to improve that which we focus our attention on
  • We will die someday: Our family will appreciate a clearly organized set of financial affairs

Organization and a great financial plan are two of the key reasons that Jenn and I have been able to experience financial freedom!

Is It Worth It?

Is it worth it?

I had a person express to me the importance of them receiving a paycheck because they are living paycheck to paycheck.

This individual has been working over 20 years and is still living paycheck to paycheck.

WOW!

Is everything they have purchased with their money been worth living paycheck to paycheck for 20 years? Balancing each week to pay the bills without bouncing a check?

OUCH!

If you keep doing what you are currently doing, are you going to look back in 20 years and still be living paycheck to paycheck? 10 years from now? 5 years from now? 1 year from now?

Really?

You see, I believe that for more than 95% of Americans the issue is NOT income. It is OUTGO! I believe that you can change your financial future. I believe that I can NOT change your financial future. You will change your financial future only when you have committed yourself 100% to the goal of living beyond the life of “paycheck-to-paycheck”.

I can help teach you. I can help educate you. I can plead with you. Your spouse can beg you. Only you can do it!

Looking for a next step? Check out my latest book for all the details – HERE.

Fun Summertime Activities For FREE (or close to it)

Well we’re getting ready to say goodbye to spring and hello to summertime! That means heat, no school, and lots of free time. In this tight economic time, a lot of people are getting very creative about how they spend their time and money. Let’s face it, we all want to have fun – even more so when the money is tight and times are stressful! Here are some ways that I have seen people having fun and it is costing them NOTHING (or next to it).

  • Start a blog
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Play a board game, card game or any kind of game
  • Check out the community calendar
  • Library visits – just to peruse the books, magazines and check out free movies
  • Bake a new dish using stuff that is already in the pantry and freezer
  • Clean up the yard
  • Learn a new skill (maybe how to change your car’s oil)
  • Start a DIY project
  • Start a new workout routine
  • Attack one room in the house and reorganize it
  • Volunteer at a local community center, food pantry, or animal shelter
  • Take the train downtown to people watch – I LOVE doing this in Chicago!
  • Catch up on some old shows with Hulu.com
  • Take time to pet and play with the dog and cat
  • Go on a hike or a walk
  • Pick-up basketball games at the local park

These are a few ideas. What are your favorite things to do that cost little or no money?

 

4 Benefits of Having Financial Margin – Part 4

Margin is an alternative way to communicate “space.” Remember when the English teacher ruined your life by announcing that you must hand write a two page composition? She would say, “Be sure to avoid writing in the “margins.” In other words, it was important to maintain appropriate spacing. The same is true for your finances. Financial margin creates space in your life. During this series, I’ll be focusing on the real and emotional effects of living WITH and WITHOUT financial margin. Ready?

PART ONE – LESS STRESS

PART TWO – FREEDOM

PART THREE – IMPROVED RELATIONSHIPS

PART FOUR – FILL UP THE TANK
There are so many benefits to having financial margin, but one of the greatest is the ability to just “fill up the tank.” Let me explain.

When there is no financial margin, it may not be possible to drive to the gas pump and fill up the gas tank. Lack of margin means that one has to put $16 in one time and $37 the next. Whatever money is available goes into the gas tank. This can be very costly – especially in time costs!

When you are not filling up the tank every time, you lose time because:

  • You have to fill up more often
  • You have to waste time figuring out how much can be spent this time

For many people, it also costs more money because more visits to the gas station equal more trips into the convenience store to buy super-overpriced soda and snacks!

When you have margin, you can just “fill up the tank.”

Here are other ways this applies to having financial margin:

  • You can buy the proven name-brand appliance instead of the el-cheapo model
  • You are in the position of power so you are not subject to obtaining financing and buying the junk they are trying to sell you
  • Pawning, short-term financing, and other highly expensive ways to obtain money become completely unnecessary

To me, the sacrifices to obtain financial margin are worth it just to “fill up the tank” every time!

Looking for more information on creating financial margin? Check out this resource (HERE).

4 Benefits of Having Financial Margin – Part 3

Margin is an alternative way to communicate “space.” Remember when the English teacher ruined your life by announcing that you must hand write a two page composition? She would say, “Be sure to avoid writing in the “margins.” In other words, it was important to maintain appropriate spacing. The same is true for your finances. Financial margin creates space in your life. During this series, I’ll be focusing on the real and emotional effects of living WITH and WITHOUT financial margin. Ready?

PART ONE – LESS STRESS

PART TWO – FREEDOM

PART THREE – IMPROVED RELATIONSHIPS
Individuals who are against the wall financially for extended periods of time can many times hurt people in ways that they never would do if they had financial margin. I’ve seen business owners (with no margin) who completely lose their minds on a customer who owed them $1,000 even though they are late on $10,000 of bills to their own suppliers. They are agitated, angry, and threatening. But a third party could easily say that the business owner is completely out of line. What is causing this issue? No financial margin!

I’ve seen countless relationships injured or destroyed because of no financial margin – families, friendships, business relationships, working relationships. My bet is that you’ve seen it too or maybe you’ve experienced it! It is incredibly hurtful and can cause enormous stress and heartache.

Here’s a question to ask yourself:

What would these situations look like if each person had financial margin?

Wouldn’t there be a lot less borrowing? Wouldn’t there be less heartache, pain, and agony?

Make the greatest investment into your peace and state of mind – establish financial margin!

4 Benefits of Having Financial Margin – Part 2

Margin is an alternative way to communicate “space.” Remember when the English teacher ruined your life by announcing that you must hand write a two page composition? She would say, “Be sure to avoid writing in the “margins.” In other words, it was important to maintain appropriate spacing. The same is true for your finances. Financial margin creates space in your life. During this series, I’ll be focusing on the real and emotional effects of living WITH and WITHOUT financial margin. Ready?

PART ONE – LESS STRESS

PART TWO – FREEDOM 
When financial margin is established, it provides a sense of freedom! I know that when we finally established some beginner margin in 2003, it was like scales fell from our eyes. We saw life in an entirely new light! Instead of wasting tons of energy determining how each bill was going to be paid (anyone who has lived paycheck-to-paycheck KNOWS the energy this takes!), we began looking forward. It allowed us to start asking new questions like:

  • How much should we save each month for our children’s college?
  • Any question that starts with “I wonder what would happen if … ?”
  • Who can we bless this month?
  • How can we use our gifts and talents in the most impactful way?

When we established margin, I discovered the freedom of knowing that I could pursue a dream! It did not matter as much if I really did pursue the dream – what mattered most was the fact that I could pursue the dream! I’m not sure this really makes much sense, but knowing that fact was incredible. Let me share a few examples to better explain this. I am entrepreneurial by nature. This means I love starting things. When I was broke and living paycheck-to-paycheck, the option to start a business or new venture was out of the question. Financial margin gave me the freedom to consider the options without being overcome by the fear of living in a cardboard box.

Here’s another example. When I took the leap of faith to go on staff at NewSpring Church, a church Jenn and I were a part of starting and LOVE being a part of, I took a massive pay cut. Jenn was able to make the decision to work or continue to be a stay-at-home mother without really having to worry about the financial aspects. This was only possible because we had financial margin.   How many people can take a 50% pay cut and still have this option available to them? Not many, but I will tell you with 100-percent confidence that those who have established financial margin CAN – and that FREEDOM to choose is incredible!

If you have no financial margin, make a decision to start building it today! If you do have financial margin, celebrate the fact that you have made the necessary choices to establish it and then use that freedom to pursue a dream!

4 Benefits to Having Financial Margin – Part 1

Margin is an alternative way to communicate “space.” Remember when the English teacher ruined your life by announcing that you must hand write a two page composition? She would say, “Be sure to avoid writing in the “margins.” In other words, it was important to maintain appropriate spacing. The same is true for your finances. Financial margin creates space in your life. During this series, I’ll be focusing on the real and emotional effects of living WITH and WITHOUT financial margin. Ready?

PART ONE – LESS STRESS 
I still remember the day that my family first established financial margin. It was in February 2003 and we had just received our tax refund. Instead of immediately using this money, we put it into our savings account. This meant that we were not able to attack debt with this money, but our eyes had been opened to the need of establishing financial margin. Depositing the check into our savings account was incredible, but it was the emotional feeling that surprised me! We were able to breathe in a way we had never breathed before. I’m talking about literally being able to breathe differently. With that one key decision, we eliminated a load of stress that we did not even realize was there.

Gone were the days of fearing the question, “What will happen next?” Over were the days of stating, “How in the world will we pay for THAT?” Instead of dreading the clunking sound coming out of the dryer, we could simply say, “Appliances break. Let’s purchase a new one – with our financial margin money.”

STRESS! It is the #1 reason why most people want to meet with a financial coach. The stress of living with no financial margin can lead to a lot of effects:

  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Feelings of dread
  • Marital discord (or even divorce)
  • Anger
  • Combativeness
  • Snappy responses
  • Impatience
  • Frustration
  • Feelings of scarcity/lack
  • Craving
  • Unfulfilled

Having money is certainly not the answer to all of life’s issues, but the establishment of some financial margin certainly goes a long way toward easing many of the struggles of daily life! I definitely know that is true in my own life.

With all of the negative consequences related to living life with no margin, is it not worth the effort it will take to establish some financial margin? I recommend starting with at least one month’s of expenses. Saving one month of expenses allows you to manage your finances with a monthly budget, even if you are paid at some other frequency. It won’t happen overnight, but it can happen faster than you ever thought!

4 Ways to Quickly Get Rid of the Mortgage – Part 4

It’s my hope that this series can help you eliminate what is usually the single largest expense in the household budget and free that money up to much greater things!

PART ONE – Lower The Interest Rate

PART TWO – Pay 10% Extra Each Month 

PART THREE – Pay One Extra Payment Each Year

PART FOUR – Eliminate one non-essential monthly expense and put it towards the mortgage 
How much do you spend on non-essential monthly expenses? One example is cable/satellite. Let’s say that it’s $70/month ($840/year). If you’re really interested in getting rid of your mortgage quicker, cancel the cable and use that money towards the mortgage payment. Yes, this does require some sacrifice BUT just think about the end goal –> no mortgage payment! That should get you fired up!

Other items that could be reduced/eliminated include:

  • Dining Out
  • Clothing
  • Spending money
  • Grocery bill (use coupons!)
  • Insurance premiums

Less payments toward these items mean more money for payments toward mortgage elimination!!

 

4 Ways to Quickly Get Rid of the Mortgage – Part 3

It’s my hope that this series can help you eliminate what is usually the single largest expense in the household budget and free that money up to much greater things!

PART ONE – Lower The Interest Rate

PART TWO – Pay 10% Extra Each Month 

PART THREE – Pay One Extra Payment Each Year
One of the most common ways that people get rid of their mortgage is by sending in one extra payment each year. This will eliminate 5 to 7 years from a 30-year fixed rate mortgage.

You can send one extra payment each year using a variety of methods:

  • Send in one extra payment when you receive a tax refund or profitability bonus
    • Since this money is extra and not part of the normal budget, it’s easier to put this money immediately towards the mortgage.
  • Set up 1/2 payments to be made every two weeks
    • Since there are 26 two-week periods in a year, this means that 13 full payments will be made each year. Presto! An extra payment!
  • Send in 1/12 (8.3%) extra on each monthly payment.
    • 1/12th payment/month X 12 months = 1 full payment per year

You can run the numbers for your specific mortgage by using the Early Pay-Off Calculator. This is a great tool to discover how much sooner you could be debt-free by making extra payments each month.

4 Ways to Quickly Get Rid of the Mortgage – Part 2

It’s my hope that this series can help you eliminate what is usually the single largest expense in the household budget and free that money up to much greater things!

PART ONE – Lower The Interest Rate

PART TWO – Pay 10% Extra Each Month 
Interested in eliminating 7 years or MORE from your 30-year fixed rate mortgage? Just add an extra 10% to your monthly payment! For instance, if your mortgage payment (including escrowed taxes and insurance) is $1,000, you would send in an extra $100 per month – $1,100/month.

Example – Let’s say you have a $150,000 – 5.5% fixed-rate mortgage with a monthly payment (include escrow) of $1,000 with $852 being applied to principal and interest each month (the other $148 being applied to taxes and insurance). If you send in $1,100 each month (extra 10%), there is now $952/month being applied to principal and interest. This will reduce a 30-year note to a 23 year 4 month note!

You can run the numbers for your specific mortgage by using the Early Pay-Off Calculator. This is a great tool to discover how much sooner you could be debt-free by making extra payments each month.

 

4 Ways to Quickly Get Rid of the Mortgage – Part 1

I’ll never forget the day that I signed my first home mortgage. I financed such a large amount of money that I couldn’t really comprehend the amount. That day I only knew two things: I wanted to purchase a house and the bank was willing to lend me the money. It wasn’t until after I made my first mortgage payment that I realized just how much this debt was going to cost me. As I begin to discover the enormity of this debt, I set out to find ways to eliminate my mortgage quickly so that more of my money would be applied to the principle balance instead of the interest.

It’s my hope that this series can help you eliminate what is usually the single largest expense in the household budget and free that money up to much greater things!

PART ONE – Lower The Interest Rate
One key way to quickly getting rid of the mortgage is to have an excellent mortgage interest rate. Current mortgage rates are still near an all time low. CNNMoney’s has an excellent online calculator that can be used to evaluate different refinancing alternatives to see which one is best for your situation. It can be obtained HERE.

Just lowering the interest rate by 1% on a $100,000 mortgage will save nearly $1,000/year! That, my friends, will spend just like money and I would much rather apply that money toward principal reduction or funding a dream than sending it as a gift to my mortgage lender!

Another great tool is the Early Pay-Off Calculator located on our website under the Tools tab. This tool will show you how much more quickly you can pay off your loan if you obtain a lower interest rate.

This can seem very basic, but it is easy to get caught up in the day-t0-day bustle of life and miss one of the key ways to eliminate the mortgage more swiftly!

Monday Money Tip: How to Pay Off Your House in 10 Years or Less

Welcome to another Monday Money Tip! In today’s tip, I’m sharing how you can pay off your house in 10 years or LESS! I was able to pay off my house in just 6 years using this technique. I’m confident you can apply it and see dramatic results too!

Want to automatically receive a helpful and practical money tip every Monday? Just sign up HERE (It’s FREE)!

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