The Best Kind of Vacation

Baseball Tour 2013

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I just returned from a great vacation with my wife. We are both great baseball fans and for the second year in a row, we went on a Baseball Tour.

The road trip included 6 games in 7 days including stops in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Detroit and St. Louis.

We truly had a great time the trip ranks right at the top of our list for a vacation. My wife is already thinking about what cities will be part of Baseball Tour 2014!

We came home with lots of souvenirs and pictures and many memories. But you know something we did not bring home? Credit card bills. That’s right, this vacation did not follow us home.

We have made a commitment to a debt-free lifestyle, which includes how we have our fun. Taking a vacation is a great thing and you should do it. But don’t go and plan a vacation thinking about relying on credit cards to make it happen.

Instead, spend some time planning your vacation. Based on where you want to go and what you want to do, come up with a vacation budget. Typical items may include air fare, lodging, car rental, gas, event tickets, tolls & parking, souvenirs, and food.

Then, start saving for your vacation. Add a line item to your budget for a vacation sinking fund to make sure you are saving with a purpose.

I hope you enjoy your next vacation and I truly hope you have the best kind of vacation: a debt-free vacation.

When are you planning to take your next vacation?

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Life after Debt: Letting the Trees Grow

Neighborhood TreesSubscribe to future posts from Figueroa Financial by e-mail

“We are not cisterns made for hoarding, we are channels made for sharing.”
Billy Graham

Today I conclude my short series on what happens after you get out of debt.

If you recall, I view financial wellness as a journey in three stages that are analogous to the building of a home: laying down a firm foundation, building up your financial household, and letting the trees grow.

Last week I talked about how you build up your financial household by the wise use of savings and risk management. This week we will focus on the last stage of our financial journey: letting the trees grow.

If you drive through an old, well-established neighborhood, you will notice that the trees are tall and strong. These trees provide beauty, shade, and a place for children to climb and play. They also can be great gathering spot for friends and neighbors.

The benefits provided by those trees are not limited to where they are planted. Similarly, as you progress in your financial journey you can begin to be a blessing to others outside your immediate household.

But remember that giving should not be ignored in the first two stages. It’s simply that after you have paid off your debts, built your emergency fund, and addressed retirement and college savings you are in a very strong position financially.

Now you can give extravagantly. That’s the real purpose of wealth building.

So where could you start? You can go beyond the inner circle of your immediate family to extended family/friends and charitable organizations.

Extended Family & Friends

There is a couple of ways you could share your blessings with friends and extended family.

First, perhaps they are in need of learning the lessons you have learned to win with money. It is quite possible that as you share your winning story with them, they will ask for your advice. Be gentle and kind. We all have made mistakes with money.

Second, there might be a time where you actually can help financially. But again, be careful on how you define help. Make sure you are truly helping and not enabling bad behavior with money, making a bad situation worse.

Charitable Organizations

If you are a person of faith, giving to your church is a great place to start. Perhaps this is the time where you can go beyond the tithe. You could start helping fund mission trips and other ministries of your church through special offerings.

If you are not involved in a church or any other faith organization, you can still be generous. There are plenty of people who need help in this world. Find a cause that’s close to your heart and get involved.

Now you can help from a position of strength. Carefully review the goals and operations of the organization you are evaluating and help as much as you can.

So, are you ready to extend blessings you have received with others? There is no better time to start being generous than today.

“The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”
Proverbs 11:25 (NLT)

Question: Who would you like to help with extravagant giving today?

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Life after Debt: Building Up Your Financial Household

House under Construction

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 By wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established;
And by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
Proverbs 24:3-4 (NASB)

Last week I began a short mini-series on what happens after you get out of consumer debt. I wanted to discuss where you need to apply all that energy and focused intensity you used to get out of debt.

If you recall, I equated a financial wellness, as a journey in three stages that are analogous to the building of  a home: laying down a firm foundation, building up your financial household, and letting the trees grow.

Today I want to cover stage 2: building up your financial household. After you get out of debt your next step, to strengthen your financial position. You want to focus on increasing your savings and managing the risks to your finances.

Savings

Savings fall in three major categories: emergencies, large purchases, and wealth building. Just like when you are building a home, some rooms will have higher priority than others. In the list below, I would personally pay initial attention to items 1 & 2.

  1. Increase your initial emergency fund ($1,000) so you can cover 3-6 months of your monthly expenses.
  2. Start saving for retirement (15% of your annual household income) and college expenses if you have children.
  3. If you don’t own a home, this might be a good time to start saving for a down payment that will cover 20% of the purchase price. If you own a home maybe it’s time to save for that renovation project you have been putting off for a while. Or you could start paying extra on the mortgage principal so you can retire that mortgage earlier.
  4. Is it time to replace one of your vehicles? Well, start saving now so you can buy a nice, reliable, used car with cash a few months from now. Stay away from car loans and car leases. Remember, the name of the game is to stay out of debt.
  5. How about saving money for some fun? You know, the financial wealth journey has to include some stops for fun and rewarding your hard work. You don’t have to wait until you are in your 80s for that cruise around the world. How about saving for a short weekend getaway or a 2 week vacation? And don’t forget about saving for Christmas!

 

Risk Management

The skill of managing risks is essential because life happens. We don’t’ control many things that happen to us, but we can control how we prepare for them.

  1. Review your insurance needs. It’s time to make sure you are prepared for what might happen. You need to properly transfer that risk to someone else via the wise use of insurance.
  2. Prepare a will. We all come into this world with a limited time. You need to be sure that you leave accurate instructions for your loved ones when your time comes.
  3. Get into the habit of checking your credit report with regularity. Each of the 3 Credit Bureaus is required by law to provide you with a free copy of your report every year. You could end up with 3 free reports each year (one from each bureau). Pay attention to your financial reputation.

 

 Question: Where do you need to put more focus today on your finances, savings or risk management?

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