Paying Off Debt: Why, Ultimately, It’s All About “Me”

Should I focus on paying off debt by paying extra on my student loan and mortgage debts, or should I just pay the monthly amount due and put extra into my investments? I’ve been asked “Should I be focused on paying off debt or investing?” more times than I can now specifically recall. My old answer was: “Are you nuts?! Pay off the debt as fast as possible!” Where I come from, debt is bad. The entire thought of it gives me the heebie-jeebies. My soul hurts when I remember the days of living under my debtor over-lords. I took a staunch, all-or-nothing, debt-free or bust mentality. The problem with that solution? Everybody’s not me, and for some people “bust” might be a more likely outcome of focusing solely on debt elimination. So what’s my answer now? “It depends.” When faced with paying off debt or not, there are some factors to consider. We’ll get to what it depends on in a minute, but just like everything else – what’s right for someone else may not be right for another. A personalized financial game plan will include a written debt elimination strategy, but that strategy will be largely dictated by where we fall on the Math-Emotion (ME) Spectrum. The Math-Emotion Spectrum I call this the Math-Emotion Spectrum because, well – most people don’t live 100% at either end. Although we may feel like we’re absolutely at one end or the other, some soul-searching would probably result in us finding that we …

Is The Scholarship System Legit?

With the high (and ever-rising) cost of college, many people turn to scholarships to help fund their higher education. Hear how one debt-free graduate did it and turned her knowledge of scholarships into a business. And you’ll finally get the answer to the question – Is The Scholarship System Legit? Student loans are predicted to push past the $3.3T mark by the year 2024 which should have parents, students and Universities quaking in fear. Parents because they’ll be on the hook for a chunk of those loans, students because they’ll be paying off the loans for the next 20+ years, and Universities because at some point society will begin to question whether or not higher education is worth the price of admission. No matter which group you fall into, know this: There are ways to minimize what you have to pay in tuition if you look hard enough. People are figuring out ways to take advantage of you to “help” you navigate this process. Scholarships Are Part Of The Answer While the estimated numbers vary, suffice it to say there are billions of dollars worth of scholarships that go unclaimed every year for a variety of reasons. When I’ve asked high school and college students why they don’t apply for more scholarships they give me answers such as: “I’m too lazy” “Don’t know where/how to look” “My grades aren’t good enough” and “I hate writing essays”. All of which are valid (and very honest) reasons. But none are GOOD reasons. …

Sizzling Tulips- Why You Shouldn’t Try To Time The Market

What follows is a cautionary tale that perfectly illustrates why – when it comes to investing – we should all avoid trying to time the market. In essence, avoid the sizzle. The year is 1634. The place – Holland. Tulips made their way to the Dutch from Turkey and, being a new flower, were pretty pricey. People were paying a pretty penny for the pretty flower, but the tulip’s hay-day was still yet to come. After the flowers contracted a unique virus that presented itself as a flame-looking pattern on their petals, the craze began. As the variations continued to expand and prices continued to rise, “tulip-speculators” emerged as a real class of investor. People lost their minds. They traded in their homes to buy these things, liquidated life savings, cashed out on large assets, and probably the family dog too. The tulip bubble was intense. Tulip mania was real. At the height of the craze, a tulip would go for an entire estate. At the bottom, really – just the actual price of a flower (go figure). Guess what happened? Yup – high-volume holders of tulips began to sell, which created a domino effect and the market for this fine flower came tumbling down. The following depression was devastating, even for those that profited from the original sale of their flowers. The bottom line? When everyone’s piling on, that’s a great signal to stay away. Sizzling is really only awesome when it’s associated with a steak at Applebees being put in …

Your Financial Survival Guide

With the Dow Jones still above 20,000, most people aren’t giving a second thought to a stock market collapse, a massive devaluation of the dollar, or an attack on our banking system. That being said, now is THE BEST TIME to prepare yourself in the event of a financial armageddon. The problem with high flying economies like ours is they create a false sense of security. Seeing the DOW break 20,000 had some people celebrating the end of the recession, the next goal of 30,000, and rosy futures for all investors. The flip side of this coin is every high has a low, we’re still pumping up our economy based on rampant printing of money and governmental debt will reach unprecedented highs under the new administration. (It can’t NOT rise with the sheer amount of debt and level of interest paid on the debt. Take a look for yourself at www.USDebtClock.org to see real-time updates.) Candidly, the motivation for writing this article came from my Christmas grab bag gift for men at my in-laws extended family party last year: A sweet Bear Grylls survival tool. What came with it was a miniature instruction book of how to survive the great outdoors with only your know-how and this incredible device. It got me thinking about how people would survive if the stock market collapsed, their credit & debit cards stopped working, and prices ballooned to epic proportions. To comprehend where this begins, you first must know that as of February 2017 …

The 5 Things You Must Do When Having A Child

Granted all you want to do is stare lovingly at the magical being you and your partner created, there are five things that you MUST do when having a child for the first time. I heard Jim Gaffigan once describe life before kids as almost perfect — you get to sleep in on the weekends, get to do whatever you want at night, eat at great restaurants, have extra money for the things you like, have a clean house all the time… and then you get to thinking, “you know what would make this even better? Let’s have A KID!” My wife and I had that very discussion back in 2002 which led to the birth of our daughter in 2003. I remember coming home from the hospital with our little pink bundle, Piper, thinking, “surely I have to get someone to sign off on my ability as a parent?!” Yet, everyday, millions of new moms and dads take their little bundles of joy home and spend hours upon hours just staring at them, totally unaware of the fact that life as they once knew it, is over. The new life — the one with kids in the picture — changes what needs to be done almost overnight, yet there is no operator’s manual, no instruction guide. Most new parents rely on the guidance of their own, or at the very least their friends who are in the know, when making first baby moves. Here are the 5 things you …

Car Care 101: 3 Proactive Ways to Keep Your Car Running

For the record, car care is not an emergency. Cars, as much as they might be an asset/worth something if you want to sell it, are really a big honkin’ liability. They cost money. And it’s the least fun money to spend. If I can help you understand in this article what it takes most people years (um, me) to learn about their car, then I’ve done my duty. Find a Reliable Mechanic Mechanics tend to get a bad rap — and that’s because some of them fix things on your car that either don’t need fixing to squeeze more money out of you, or they suck at their jobs and you pay them for half-hearted work. Ugh, neither of those are good things. Find a mechanic who will explain what’s wrong with your car in simple terms, allowing you to ask questions and learn what they’re talking about. My mechanic is amazing. Everyone at his shop is dedicated to quality work. Sure, I think I pay a bit of a premium dollar-wise by going to them, versus some other shop, but I also know that my car is being thoroughly cared for. The best part? I don’t have to ask my dad all of these questions. It’d be great if I could, but he lives 70 miles away, and there’s a point where I need to take care of my own car and not rely on him to do it for me. Shout out: Major props to my dad for …

Over $1,000 in NIKE gear for FREE!

You’ve no doubt heard the old adage, “if it’s too good to be true, then it probably isn’t”. But what about when too good to be true changes to even better than before?! This is the case with the NIKE store survey offer at the bottom of their receipts — a strategy you can leverage to get over $1,000 in sweet NIKE merch for absolutely zilch. Here’s the scoop: My wife is the kind of shopper that plans ahead, she knows birthdays and other gifts she needs to buy for throughout the coming months, and finds some of the most ridiculous deals imaginable. (We’ll be sharing even more of her finds on the blog!) I like to call her the Coupon Princess because her mom is the Coupon Queen. One of the coupon/rebate offers that she is fond of is at our local NIKE factory outlet store. Up until about 4-6 months ago, when you took NIKE up on the offer to rate the experience you had with their store, they’d email you a $5 coupon good on any NIKE product in any company store. It was an easy $5 off for pairs of socks, mini-basketballs, and even occasionally a pair of shoes when the kids’ soles were wearing through. But lo and behold, over the past few months we’ve had more and more NIKE bags showing up around the house and I started inquiring about what was being brought in and at what cost. My wife and son started …

Debt Distortion: Why Dave Ramsey and Robert Kiyosaki are BOTH Right

Imagine a world where everything you perceive to be true about finance, family, fitness, food, etc… is not what millions of other humans perceive to be true. Not only that – people attempt to bring you down for your beliefs, or talk quietly amongst themselves about how stupid you are for doing the things you do. To be fair, you don’t think that highly of them either. You’re experiencing selective distortion – welcome to planet Earth. A Tale of Two Titans Let’s take a look at two highly successful, well-respected financial gurus and their respective stances on debt: Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, says that there is such a thing as good debt – or debt used to buy money-generating assets like rental properties and business equipment.   Dave Ramsey, radio personality and author of The Total Money Makeover, teaches followers to avoid debt altogether, often quoting Proverbs 22:7 – “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” Both agree that  debt carried on credit cards and cars is to be avoided, because these things only make us poorer. Kiyosaki is not against using credit cards persay, but teaches that balances should be paid in full every month. While some see Ramsey’s stance on not using credit at all as extreme, the fact that the Federal Reserve estimates that almost half of U.S. households are unable to pay their credit card bills in full each month, and that these households owe more than $800 billion in card debt …