Thank You: Time to Turn the Page

Victory @ The Finish LineThere is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—
A time to give birth and a time to die A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-3 (NASB)

How do you know it’s time to turn the page on a chapter in your life? There are seasons in life and they eventually all come to an end.

That’s the case now for this personal finance coaching blog. After much prayer and consideration, I have decided to conclude the journey for the Figueroa Financial Blog.

When I started this journey almost 7 years ago, I wanted to create something that would encourage you to take the reins of your financial destiny for yourself and for your family. I wanted you to experience the same blessings I have received after applying sound biblical principles for the handling of your money.

I am very proud and satisfied with the work I have done here. I am also very thankful to God for the opportunity and for every person who ever read and/or commented in one of my posts. I had something to say and I am glad they were many of you who wanted to hear.

I learned quite a bit about blogging, social media, newsletters, and even podcasting. I also I am thankful I had the opportunity of writing 3 books on personal finance. I am thankful for every single purchase/download of each of those books.

Still, the time has come to move on to something different. The Figueroa Financial site will remain active and you will still have access to the blog posts (over 200 of them), reference materials, and everything else I was able to create.

I still want to help anyone who wants to achieve financial freedom.

Before I turn the page, I wanted to leave you a reminder of the most important lessons on personal finance I have learned. This is the core of what I wanted to share with you through the blog:

  • The most powerful tool in your arsenal is a working budget. Without a budget, you can’t control your money. Without control of your money, you can’t win.
  • Debt is a crutch that will keep you from walking on your own financial strength. You will never prosper financially by relying on debt.
  • Savings for now and for the future will give you the freedom to make better decisions.
  • If you are married, you need to work together with your spouse on your finances. If you are not working together, you are working against each other.
  • Generosity is not dictated by the size of your bank account or your pay check. Generosity is a muscle that needs to be developed. People who are generous with their time, their money, their talent can prosper. Be a river and not a pond.

So, thank you for reading and for listening. And remember that there is always:

Help and Hope for your Finances

On the Move: Figueroa Financial is Relocating

On the MoveHello everyone!

I just wanted to let you know that I am in the process of moving this blog to a new hosting provider.

The process has just started and it should not take very long.

But until I the migration process is completed, I won’t be posting new content.

The blog should be available for the most time during the transition and I am also keeping the same URL.

But if you have trouble accessing it is most likely due to the migration.

I will return with more updates soon.

Thank you!

Can You Learn to Handle Money?

Can You Learn to Handle Money?It’s a good time to ask this question since April is designated as Financial Literacy Month.

If you have always struggled with your finances, you may think that you can’t learn to handle money. The reality is that we all can learn something new.

Let me give you an example. Lots of kids learn to ride their bikes at an early age, maybe 5 or 6.

In my case however, I was 9 years old and I still had not learn to ride a bike for a number of reasons. So obviously, I needed some help.

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Learning To Ride

My mom got re-married and we just had moved to a new neighborhood. I did not know anyone yet but then I met Nelson.

Nelson was one of those kids that didn’t seem afraid of anything. He learned I had a pretty much brand new bike that I was not riding and he could not stand it.

Summer break came and he insisted that he could help me learn to ride my bike. I wasn’t so sure but I was really ready to ride my bike. So I let him give me a few pointers and give me a push.

The first time, I felt great, I kept my balance for a little while. I could hear Nelson encouraging me and yelling behind me. I did crash that and then I could hear him laughing but it wasn’t an evil laugh. It was just funny how I crashed. I was laughing too.

But I had rode my bike for a while. I was encouraged so Nelson helped me to try again a few more times. A few more crashes but I did get better at it, I did learn to ride my bike.

What about You?

What’s keeping you from handling money well? Is it your family history? Is it the number of times you have tried and failed? Is it because you don’t know where to turn?

Sometimes you just need a little help. I can coach you and teach you how to handle money better. I know what to do because I had to learn it myself. Like Nelson helped me, I can help you.

There is no better time than the present. Think about all the things could do now only if you had control of your finances.

Think about all the things you could in the future if you just could get on solid financial footing. Think about all the good you could do if you were able to give and bless others.

Financial Literacy Month is the best time to learn how to handle money.

Question: What are you waiting for? 

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The Power of Focus in Personal Finance


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How do you get things done? I mean, how do you manage to accomplish the myriad of tasks that are in front of you every day? And in the middle of doing that, how are you ensuring you’re staying on track to meet your goals?

This post is a little different from my regular teaching on personal finance, but it does have an important application there as well so stay with me.

The Background

Over the last few months I have been dealing with the questions in the opening paragraph. As you may know, I have a full time day job as a Project/Program Manager for a large IT/Services company. I have been with that company for a little over 20 years now and I have had what I consider a successful career.

But as you also may know, I have been working on launching a personal finance coaching practice for a little over 3 years now. Since I have a full time job, the time I have left to devote to this personal finance coaching practice comes from evenings, early mornings, and the weekends.

So I recently started taking stock of where I am with the coaching practice. As a good project/program manager, I defined a set of key monthly measurements and I have been keeping track of them since January of this year.

After careful analysis of my results, I have determined that time is the limiting factor in taking the coaching practice further in the next couple of years.

Don’t get me wrong, I have learned quite a bit over the last 3 years and I have connected with some great people. I started blogging on a regular basis and I also jumped into the social media fray.

I also can tell you that I am very proud of the new things I have learned to do this year like writing 2 e-books, starting a monthly newsletter, and launching a personal finance Podcast in Spanish. So I have made some progress and I am thankful for that.

The Decision

But I also know that when you are working on something new and you want it to grow and prosper, it needs more of your attention and time. In other words, it needs the power of focus.

When I look at the amount of “free time” I have outside of my day job, it has to be enough to cover everything else in my life. This includes my spiritual and physical well-being, my marriage, my family, and my service to God.

In other words, you and I can’t do everything and I found myself having to make some tough decisions about where to spend my time at this juncture.

In his book “Start”, best-selling author Jon Acuff speaks about the concept of “dropped balls”. These are things in your life that you may have to set aside so you can focus on achieving your dream.

These are not bad things, but you can only do so much in any given day, month, year. It’s like Gandalf told Frodo: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

So after much prayer, I decided to stop serving in 2 ministries that I love because I was spreading myself too thin. I was not putting enough focus on the coaching practice and I did not think I could continue at that pace and still reach my short and long term goals.

As the great Zig Ziglar said: “I’ve got to say no to the good so I can say yes to the best.

The Application to Your Personal Finances

And here is the application for your finances. Regardless of where you are with your money today, the power of focus will be your best weapon going forward.

There is nothing like laser like intensity to help you accomplish what you are trying to do with money. For example:

  • If you are just getting started, your immediate focus should be on gaining control of your money via a monthly budget.
  • If you have no savings, your immediate focus should be on saving a beginner’s emergency fund so you can avoid having to rely on debt when you have an emergency.
  • And if you are trying to get out of debt, focus on that with all your energy and attention. This is no time to worry about retirement or college savings. You will get there, trust me.
  • If you are out of debt and are thinking about buying a home, make sure you focus first on saving an emergency fund of 3-6 months of expenses and then focus on saving enough for a down payment for your home.

There are exactly 61 days left in 2013 after today. This might be a good time to take a moment and see if it is time for you to turn on the power of focus in your life.

It could be in any dimension: spiritual, professional, relationships, finances, health, etc. But spending some time deciding where your focus should be, will enable you to finish strong in 2013 and start 2014 on the right foot.

Question: Which area in your life could benefit the most from the power of focus?

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5 Financial Products That I Avoid

No ThanksTeaching and coaching involve sharing knowledge on how to do certain things. In the case of personal finances I usually focus on the  method for doing something with your money like how to do a budget or how to get out of debt.

But it is also important to share what not to do with your money so you can keep more of it! So today’s coaching post is devoted to what products to avoid in your financial plan.

Here are 5 Financial Products That I Avoid:

1. The Single Stock

I believe investing in the market it’s a great idea. Once you have your financial household in good shape, you should be investing for long term goals such as retirement/college savings and also to build wealth. However, I do stay away from the single stock purchase and focus instead on diversification by investing in mutual funds.

A mutual fund is an investment where thousands of people combine their money to purchase a wide diversity of stocks, bonds or other types of investment. I invest in 4 types of stock mutual funds, so that’s diversification on top of diversification. If all your money is one single stock or only in one type of investment fund, your risk is too high.

2. The 30-year Mortgage

30 years has been the standard length for a mortgage loan. There is not much rhyme or reason to it except that someone a long time ago decided it was the right length of time. However, you can save a lot of interest by using a 15-year or 20-year mortgage instead. With interest rates as low as they are today, the difference in the monthly payment is not that significant but the savings in interest are.

We chose a 15-year mortgage for our home and we are paying extra so we are planning to pay it off early.

3. Extended Warranties

When you purchase a home appliance or a piece of home electronics, you will be met at the register with the offer for an extended warranty for 2-3 years on top of the standard warranty. The sales pitch is that the warranty will cover the costs of replacing or fixing if the item breaks. However, you are better off using your emergency fund to cover the replacement costs in the eventuality that something does break down. There is no need to pay extra for the “protection”.

And frankly, if the equipment is that fragile that it could break inside of 2-3 years, maybe you should be looking at a different brand.

4. The Home Warranty

Here the sales pitch is to address a “major” item such as the furnace or a major plumbing/electrical repair. When we purchased our home about 2 years ago, the previous owners had an existing home warranty so it came with the house. We tried to use it one time and on top of the annual fee of about $500, we had to a pay a service call fee of $75 for someone (of their choosing) to just come and look at the problem.

We canceled the home warranty the next year because it was not worth it. Instead plan for home repairs with with an emergency fund.

5. Whole Life/Universal Insurance

If you have anyone depending on your income, you need to make sure they will be taken care of in case something happens to you. However, the whole life/universal type of policy it’s too expensive.

Your best value is to have 20 to 30 year Term Life insurance. You can get better coverage for less money. The monthly savings can be used for paying down on debt, savings, or investing.

What do you think? Have you used any of these products? What has been your experience? Are there any other financial products you avoid?

Presione aquí para la versión de este artículo en Español.