10 Years of Financial Peace

10 Years of Financial PeaceDo you remember what your financial situation was 10 years ago? I do and very vividly. It was not a good situation at all. Let me share with you where we were:

I had a very good stable job, with a great income. But we like many people, were living paycheck to paycheck.

We were using credit cards to make up the difference at the end of each month.

We also had almost $50K in consumer debt (car loan, credit cards, student loans, medical bills, etc.) and had no savings for emergencies or retirement and no plan to pay for college for our son.

Worst of all, my wife and I were not working together as a couple and we also realized that we were not honoring God in managing the money He had entrusted to us.

However, and most importantly, we also realized that we needed help to change our situation.

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What Did We Do?

It is true that the first step in solving a problem is admitting that you have a problem. Once we did, we turned to God for help. I prayed for a way to change our situation and He answered in a big way.

In September of 2005, our church offered Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU) course and I attended the course (which back then lasted 13 weeks).

I started learning and applying biblical principles for sound financial management. My wife joined me in the process and we began a life transforming journey for our family.

What Happened?

The changes we made paid off. We are still living on a budget. We still have a plan for our finances. We have learned to live on less than we make.

In 29 months we paid of all of our consumer debt ($50K). We now have a 6 month emergency fund. We were also able to pay for our son’s college education without borrowing money and without him borrowing money.

We have a structured plan for retirement savings which we know will give us options and control of when and how to move on to the next stage in our lives when the time comes.

More importantly: we are honoring the Lord with our financial management and we are working together as a couple in every area of our lives including our money.

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What Have We Learned?

As I reflect on how our lives have changed over these past 10 years, several thoughts come to mind.

First of all, I am always going to be thankful to Dave Ramsey for his FPU course and his financial teachings.

You may not agree with him on everything he teaches or on his methods and you may not like his personality, but for us, what he does was life changing and I know that he has helped millions of people more. So Dave, thanks for what you have done for us and what you continue to do for others.

You truly led us to have financial peace. I hope I can join you in helping others to win with their money.

Second: once I understood the incredible power of learning to control your money I knew I had to share what I learned with others.

That’s why I became a financial coach. That’s why I blog. That’s why I do a Podcast.

I want you to have hope for the future!

If we could achieve victory with our finances, you can too! All you have to do is decide that you need help and that you will do what you need to do to change your financial destiny.

Third: I am fully convinced more than ever that if you are married, you need to work as a team with your money. You can’t have the view that it is “my money” and “your money”. Or “your debt is your problem”.

You have to be all in as a couple. If you are engaged to be married, start talking about money now. Your goals and dreams. Your fears about money. Your mistakes with money. Your view on money.

Put it all on the table and begin your life journey together by getting together on a plan for your money.

And finally, the most fundamental lesson I have learned is that we are to honor and serve God by managing our money well.

It is not only about giving tithes and offerings although that’s important for those of us who claim the name of Christ.

It is also about honoring God in how we use our money. How we save, how we plan for the future.

And it is also about having a lifestyle of generosity. If you are in a position of strength, you are in a position to really help those who are in need. Only the strong can help the weak.

We are designed to be givers. To be rivers through which the blessings of God can flow to others.

Regardless of where you are today, decide that generosity will always be an essential element of your financial plan.

So what about you? Where will you be in 10 years with your money? Or where will you be in 10 months?

Will you have financial peace? Will you be in your way to financial peace or will you simply stay where you are?

The last lesson I have for you: It is all up to you!!!!

Question: What would financial peace look like in your life?

Stay on Track with Your Finances this Summer

Stay on Track with Your Finances this SummerWell, summer is here!!! School is over and for many people this is the time of the year where they take extended vacations.

With the change in season, comes a change in pace. I was recently reminded of the importance of having a routine for staying on track to achieve your goals even when our schedule changes.

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I am in a weight management program and at our last meeting we were reminded of the importance to keeping our routine. We could plan ahead for major events and attending as many weekly meetings as possible to remain accountable.

Our church also has a special summer emphasis on staying on track with our regular giving. As people schedules change, some of the things we normally do can get off track.

Successful financial management is also fueled by routine.

Preparing a budget every month. Paying your bills on time. Saving on a regular, systematic basis.

So if you are planning to be on vacation this summer, plan ahead. Look at your budget 2-3 months in advance.

Take advantage of on-line pay bills through your bank.

Place your savings and investment on an automated draft from your checking account.

Make sure your finances stay on the cool side in the heat of the summer!!!

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Year End Financial Checklist

Year End Financial ChecklistCan you believe we are near the end of the year already?

Time flies and I am sure that if you are like me,  you are looking forward to the holiday celebrations and some well deserved rest.

However, before the year runs out, I wanted to give you a year end financial checklist.

The great Zig Ziglar said: “It’s true. Spectacular preparation precedes spectacular performance.

These actions will help you prepare to  start the new year on the right foot with your finances:

1. Check your Credit Report

Have you checked your credit report lately? This is something you should do at least once a year.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):

A credit report includes information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued, arrested, or filed for bankruptcy.

Nationwide consumer reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.

So take the time to request a copy of your credit report.

  • You can order your free annual credit report online at annualcreditreport.com, by calling 1-877-322-8228, or by completing the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mailing it to:
    • Annual Credit Report Request Service
    • P.O. Box 105281
    • Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
  • Get a report from each one of the agencies.
    • They are supposed to cover the same information but there can be differences.
    • In some cases entries in one report will not show up on the other reports.
  • In case you cannot get a copy of your report from the online website, proceed with the phone call or complete the form to request via  mail.
    • Just make sure you get your hands on that report.
    • If I had done this, I would have taken the steps to correct the problem before starting the mortgage refinance.
  • Review your report for any inaccurate entries.
    • Keep in mind that only entries that are inaccurate can be removed from the report.
    • Don’t fall for scams that promise to “clean-up your credit”.
  • If you find any inaccurate entries, contact the appropriate credit reporting agency.
    • Send a letter via certified mail, return receipt requested detailing the inaccuracies.
    • Consumer reporting agencies must correct or delete inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable information.
    • Inaccurate, incomplete or unverifiable information must be removed or corrected, usually within 30 days.
    • Additional information can be found at the FTC website.

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2. Assess Your Insurance Needs

As you work on your financial plan, I also want you to consider the need to manage the risks to your finances by evaluating the role of insurance in your financial plan.

What is the role of insurance? In simple terms, insurance is the tool that is designed to protect you and your family against what might happen.

Ensure you have the right type of insurance and the right coverage to protect your financial plan.

3. Check Your Retirement Plan

Understand how your plan is progressing and make adjustments as needed.

Even with all the focus on personal finances today, planning for retirement is one area where we continue to come up short.

The good news is that you can do better than average. Seven years ago, I was part of those statistics but now I have a plan that is yielding good results.

Here is how I am preparing for retirement.

4. Prepare a Will

Do you have a will? If not, you are among 50% of Americans with children who have neglected this important step.

So what are some of your reasons for not dealing with this issue? You might think it is costly (it is not), or complex (it is not), or that simply you don’t have anything to leave to anyone so you don’t need a will (oh but you do).

Or you might just not want to think about your own mortality.

However, the reality is that we will all face death and the sooner you face that fact, the better off you will be.

So here are the 3 Reasons you should prepare a will:

  1. Because it puts you in control:
    • If you die without a will, the state takes over deciding what happens with your property.
    • The state already has too much say in what happens in our private lives.
    • There is no wisdom in leaving the disposition of your assets to the government.
  2. Because it is simple and cost effective:
    • You don’t need a high priced estate lawyer to do this. For most of us it is really a simple process.
    • Personally I used an online service that provided my wife and I with the required state specific forms for our wills.
    • It just took a few hours and less than $50 and we are able to put our last wishes on paper.
  3. Because it shows love for your family:
    • Imagine if something were to happen to you. In the midst of the grief and sorrow of losing you, your family also has to deal with the legal ramifications of what to do with your assets.
    • Don’t leave a problem behind. Love your family to the end by taking care of your will preparation today.

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5. Get on a Budget

I have always told you, the budget is the key to your financial success.

If you can’t control your money, you can’t build savings, you can’t pay-off debt, you can’t plan for the future.

Make 2015 your best financial year by starting to get control of your money today!!!

What other steps could you take this month to help you make progress with your money in 2015?

7 Principles For Financial Success

How are you building your financial household? Is what you are doing working? Do you see positive results?

Our family has been on a financial transformation journey for a little over 9 years now and I have had some time to reflect on how far we have come.

We have experienced the rewards of applying God-given, time-tested principles for winning with your finances.

I wanted to share these 7 Principles for Financial Success with you today because I firmly believe you too can win with your money if you are diligent in applying them.

If you want to know more, you can check my e-book in which I share more about how these principles have changed our lives.

If you are winning with money, I would love to hear how have you applied these or other principles to succeed. Share those blessings with others!

“The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.”
Psalm 19:7

7 Principles for Financial Success

The Opposite: Financial Wisdom From George Costanza

The Opposite: Financial Wisdom from George CostanzaIf you are a fan of the classic sitcom “Seinfeld, you are very familiar with the travails of George Costanza.

George was Jerry’s best friend and the prototypical underachiever, loser type.

George wanted all the benefits of a great life but was unwilling to pay the price required.

Instead, he would much rather lie and take the easy way to get there.

Only once did George experience some level of success.

In the episode “The Opposite“, George realizes that every instinct he has ever had, has been wrong.

He then decides from that moment to do the opposite of what his instincts tell him in every situation.

Here is the video:

What can we learn from George Costanza?

We could take a cue from George with regard to our financial wisdom.

If you do the opposite of what most people are doing with their money, you will succeed.

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Here are some examples. Statistics come from the 2014 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey conducted by the National Foundation For Credit Counseling):

  • 61% of Americans do not have a working budget to manage their money and keep track of their expenses. If you get on a budget, your money will work harder for you. Trust me, you will feel like you got a raise.
  • Only 29% of Americans are spending less than they make.
  • 34% of Americans do not have any non-retirement savings. This means that when an emergency comes, they have to borrow more money.
  • 32% of Americans do not allocate any money to retirement savings. This means they are relying on the Social Insecurity system to take care of them in their golden years.
  • 34% of Americans carry credit card debt from month to month. This means they pay more and longer for their purchases.
  • Many adults (41%) would give themselves a grade of C, D, or F on their knowledge of personal finance. Lack of knowledge leads to mistakes and lost opportunities.
  • Most Americans (71%) are worried about their financial situation. They lack financial peace.

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Are you in one of those groups above? If so, what will it take for you to change course?

You can get your finances on track, you can learn how to handle money. You can get out of your current situation.

Unlike George Costanza, your success does not have to be temporary. Make a decision today that will really change your life for good.

There is always Help and Hope for Your Finances!!!

“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”
Psalm 20:4 (NIV)