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4 Ways to Get out of Debt

4 Ways to Get out of Debt

Dealing with debt can be scary.

Paying off your mortgage, car, and student loans can sometimes seem so impossible that you might not even look at the total you owe. You just keep making payments because that’s all you might think you can do. However, there is a way out! Here are 4 tips to help:

Make a Budget
Many people have a complex budget that tracks every penny that comes in and goes out. They may even make charts or graphs that show the ratio of coffee made at home to coffee purchased at a coffee shop. But it doesn’t have to be that complicated, especially if you’re new at this “budget thing”. Start by splitting all of your spending into two categories: necessary and optional. Rent, the electric bill, and food are all examples of necessary spending, while something like a vacation or buying a third pair of black boots (even if they’re on sale) might be optional. Figure out ways that you can cut back on your optional spending, and devote the leftover money to paying down your debt. It might mean staying in on the weekends or not buying that flashy new electronic gadget you’ve been eyeing. But reducing how much you owe will be better long-term.

Negotiate a Settlement
Creditors often negotiate with customers. After all, it stands to reason that they’d rather get a partial payment than nothing at all! But be warned; settling an account can potentially damage your credit score. Negotiating with creditors is often a last resort, not an initial strategy.

Debt Consolidation
Interest-bearing debt obligations may be negotiable. Contact a consolidation specialist for refinancing installment agreements. This debt management solution helps reduce the risk of multiple accounts becoming overdue. When fully paid, a clean credit record with an extra loan in excellent standing may be the reward if all payments are made on time.

Get a side gig
You might be in a position to work evenings or weekends to make extra cash to put towards your debt. There are a myriad of options—rideshare driving, food delivery, pet sitting, you name it! Or you might have a hobby that you could turn into a part-time business.

If you feel overwhelmed by debt, then let’s talk. We can discuss strategies that will help move you from feeling helpless to having financial control.


Pros and Cons of Simple Interest

Pros and Cons of Simple Interest

Brace yourself: You’ve been brought here under false pretenses.

This post is not so much about a list of pros and cons as it is about one big pro and one big con concerning simple interest accounts. There are many fine-tooth details you could get into when looking for the best ways to use your money. But when you’re just beginning your journey to financial independence, the big YES and NO below are important to keep in mind. In a nutshell, interest will either cost you money or earn you money. Here’s how…

The Pro of Simple Interest: Paying Back Money

Credit cards, mortgages, car loans, student debt – odds are that you’re familiar with at least one of these loans at this point. When you take out a loan, look for one that lets you pay back your principal amount with simple interest. This means that the overall amount you’ll owe will be interest calculated against the principal, or initial amount, that was loaned to you. And the principle decreases as you pay back the loan. So the sooner you pay off your loan, you’re actually lowering the amount of money in interest that you’re required to pay back as part of your loan agreement.

The Con of Simple Interest: Growing Money

When you want to grow your money, an account based on simple interest is not the way to go. Setting your money aside in an account with compound interest shows infinitely better results for growing your money.

For example, if you wanted to grow $10,000 for 10 years in an account at 3% simple interest, the first few years would look like this:

  • Year 1: $10,000 + 300 = $10,300
  • Year 2: $10,300 + 300 = $10,600
  • Year 3: $10,600 + 300 = $10,900

In a simple interest account, the 3% interest you’ll earn is a fixed sum taken from the principal amount added to the account. And this is the amount that is added annually. After a full 10 years, the amount in the account would be $13,000. Not very impressive.

But what if you put your money in an account that was less “simple”?

If you take the same $10,000 and grow it in an account for 10 years at a 3% rate of interest that compounds, you can see the difference beginning to show in the first few years:

  • Year 1: $10,000 + 300 = $10,300
  • Year 2: $10,300 + 309 = $10,609
  • Year 3: $10,609 + 318 = $10,927

At the end of 10 years, this type of account will have earned more than the simple interest account, without you having to do any extra work! And that’s not even considering adding regular contributions to the account over the years! Just imagine the possibilities if you can get a higher interest rate and combine that with a solid financial plan for your future.

One final thought: Simple isn’t always the way to go, and that can be a good thing.


She Got the House… AND the Life Insurance Policy?

She Got the House… AND the Life Insurance Policy?

Life insurance is great for protecting your spouse… as long as it’s for your current one.

Just don’t ask Judy Marretta, formerly Judy Hillman, about it! When her ex-husband, Warren Hillman, passed away after a battle with a rare form of leukemia, she was the one who got the life insurance check. Warren’s widow didn’t see a penny of it–even the Supreme Court ruled in Marretta’s favor!

Why? When Warren remarried, he never changed the beneficiary designation on his life insurance policy.

All that time and money wasted on legal battles could have been avoided by changing a name on a form! Speaking of which… When’s the last time you reviewed your own life insurance policy? After reading this, you may already be scrambling through your files to find it!

Let’s check up on your policy together. Contact me today, and we can get the ball rolling on:

  • Reviewing (or revising!) your list of beneficiaries.
  • Making sure you have the coverage you want.
  • Discussing the life insurance features you might have that you can use now.

Discover the full story here… Forbes: “Supreme Court Favors Ex-Wife Over Widow In Battle For Life Insurance Proceeds.” 6.3.2013


The Disadvantages of Hourly Wages

The Disadvantages of Hourly Wages

Is an hourly wage holding you back?

It might not feel like it, but getting paid hourly can limit your professional growth and your income potential. Here’s how…

If you’re earning an hourly wage, you’re quite literally getting paid for your time. That’s why it’s so common for shift jobs like security guards, restaurant workers, and retail employees to be paid by the hour. And it makes sense—they’re literally paid to be present (to get work done) at their place of employment for a limited number of hours each week.

But there are two ceilings you’ll hit with this system. First, you only have so many hours you can work. Let’s say you earn $15 an hour. If you could somehow work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for a full year, the maximum you could earn is $131,040.

But if we’re realistic, earning $15 per hour, working 40 hours per week with no time off, would get you less than a fourth of that, roughly $31,200.

Is that $31,200 worth it to you? With an hourly system, that type of trade-off is unavoidable.

Second, hourly wages don’t encourage efficiency. The more hours you punch in, the more you get paid. If you’re working in a project or sales-oriented field, that means you’re incentivized to drag your feet. Even worse, you’re actually punished for increasing your speed and ability!

What if you got paid by the project or sale? Getting paid this way, once you’ve finished one project or made a sale, you could move on to the next. The faster you complete your work, the more money you can potentially earn. Your income scales as your ability improves!

Hourly wages are acceptable if you’re starting out. But there will come a point where you’ll need a better compensation structure to grow your income. Either seek salaried work, or consider starting a business that pays by the job or by retainer. You may be surprised by the difference it makes for your cash flow.


Four Ways Parents Can Help Their Children Build Wealth

Four Ways Parents Can Help Their Children Build Wealth

Creating a financial legacy isn’t just for the wealthy.

Parents, you may be better positioned to build a legacy for your children than you think. That’s because if you leverage basic financial concepts and strategies, you might be surprised by how attainable a sizable inheritance is! Here are four ways you can help your child build wealth.

Save a nest egg for your child’s retirement. Do you have a million dollars lying around to give to your child? Probably not. But you have something that’s even more valuable—time.

What if the moment your child was born you put $13,000 in an account earning 6.5% interest? By the time they turn 67—even if you don’t add anything else to that account—it would be worth $1,000,000. That cash could make all the difference for your child’s financial future. To make the most of this strategy, meet with a licensed and qualified financial professional before your child is born. They can help you make the preparations to put it into place.

Start saving for college. A college education is a huge expense, and it’s one that will only increase in cost. So what should you do to prepare for this future burden?

Start saving as soon as your child is born! The same principle applies—the sooner you start saving, the greater your potential for growth. Once again, collaborate with a financial professional before your child is born to maximize this strategy.

Adjust your emergency fund. Nothing can derail well-laid financial plans quite like an unforeseen emergency. And nobody seems to attract unforeseen emergencies quite like kids!

That’s why it’s important to create an emergency fund to cover 3-6 months of income. It’s a time-proven line of defense that can protect you from dipping into your savings or going into debt to cover home repairs or midnight ER visits!

Create a will. Finally, it’s important to consider estate planning. Why? Because it ensures that your wealth and assets are passed down to your children. It’s a final and meaningful way to provide for your family, even if you’re not with them physically. Proper planning can also help shield them from the complexity of estate taxes and the burden of the probate system.

Leaving a financial legacy is far more doable than you may have imagined, and the time to start preparing is NOW. Collaborate with a licensed and qualified financial professional as soon as possible. They’ll point you towards practical steps you can take to start building wealth for your children today.


Is It Ever OK To Use a Credit Card?

Is It Ever OK To Use a Credit Card?

Is it ever OK to use a credit card? Yes… but with qualifications.

Let’s explore some situations where using your credit card makes sense…and what pitfalls to avoid.

You’re strategically leveraging rewards. It’s perfectly possible to reap the benefits of cash back rewards without going into debt to earn them. How? Try using your credit card just for everyday purchases like gas and groceries. If you don’t overspend, you’re essentially getting paid for using your card.

But that’s the trick. Those rewards can make it tempting to buy things you don’t need. It’s easy to justify excess purchases if you’re earning those extra points! But in the long-term, the rewards won’t outweigh the costs and risks of overusing a credit card. So if you think you can thread the needle of responsibly using a credit card to leverage points without overspending, go for it!

You’re making significant online purchases. The simple fact is that there are serious rewards—and protections—when you use your card for online purchases. This is especially true for travel. Some cards offer specific rewards for booking hotels or plane tickets that you should certainly take advantage of. There are also some protections for online purchases that credit cards offer. Once again, don’t plan a fancy vacation just to take advantage of rewards. But if you need to travel, you might as well get any benefits coming to you!

Wisely using credit cards is a matter of self-control. If you can take advantage of rewards and protections without overspending, good for you! For others, however, it may be wise to avoid cards altogether while they pay down their debt.

Not sure which strategy is best for you? Contact a licensed and qualified financial professional. They can help evaluate your situation and make a recommendation.


Why Generation Z's Financial Habits are Fascinating

Why Generation Z's Financial Habits are Fascinating

Gen Z has grown up in a world where social media rules. They’ve never known it any other way.

The older Gen Zers have just come out of college, but this group’s imprint on society is already clear. You might be surprised by their attitude towards money and wealth! Let’s explore how these digital natives interact with money and why their financial habits might be influencing your business strategy.

Social media is an integral part of their world. They spend more time on their phones, tablets, and laptops than any other generation. The iPhone was old news by the time younger Gen Zers were born. This generation needs a whole new set of rules for how they shop and find financial advice.

For instance, Gen Zers are 72% more likely to buy from brands they follow on social media.¹ And there’s been an explosion of financial advice–not all of it good–on TikTok—#personalfinance has 3.5 billion views on the platform.² So if you’re interested in not just understanding Gen Zers, but also getting their attention, it pays to keep up with social media trends.

Gen Zers have yet to accrue massive debt. Gen Zers have thus far avoided the traps of credit card and student loan debt that have burdened every generation before. The numbers aren’t stellar–on average, Gen Zers have over $10,000 in non-mortgage debt–but that’s just a fraction of the debt carried by the typical Millennial or Gen Xer.

Of course, Gen Zers haven’t had as much time to accrue debt. It could well be that in 10 years they have just as many student loans and high credit card balances as older generations. But there is hope! Why?

Gen Zers are avid budgeters. 68% of Gen Zers use some form of budgeting system.³ Only 41% of the general population can say the same.⁴ That’s a massive improvement! If Gen Zers can use their budgets to avoid massive debt, they could find themselves well positioned financially.

In other words, Gen Z is hungry to learn how money really works. They’re already taking steps to avoid the missteps of past generations. The real question is who will teach them what it takes to become wealthy?

¹ “Generation Z Spending Habits for 2021,” Lexington Law, Feb 8, 2021, https://www.lexingtonlaw.com/blog/credit-cards/generation-z-spending-habits.html

² “Viral or vicious? Financial advice blows up on TikTok,” Nicole Casperson, InvestmentNews Feb 15, 2021, https://www.investmentnews.com/financial-advice-blows-up-on-tiktok-but-at-what-cost-202260#:~:text=That%27s%20what%20financial%20advice%20is,form%20of%2060%2Dsecond%20videos.

³ “Generation Z Spending Habits for 2021,” Lexington Law, Feb 8, 2021, https://www.lexingtonlaw.com/blog/credit-cards/generation-z-spending-habits.html

⁴ “What Is a Budget and Why Should I Use One?,” Tim Stobierski, acorns, Sep 6, 2019, https://www.acorns.com/money-basics/saving-and-budgeting/budget-meaning/#:~:text=While%20many%20factors%20likely%20contribute,budget%2C%20according%20to%20U.S.%20Bank.


Bad Financial Habits and How to Overcome Them

Bad Financial Habits and How to Overcome Them

Read on if you ever find yourself struggling to stay afloat financially.

Do you ever feel like no matter how much money you make, it never seems like enough? You’re not alone. A recent survey found that more than half of middle-income families didn’t have three months of expenses saved.¹ Debt and spending can be out of control for many reasons—the economy, our upbringing, or even because we’re hardwired to want more. This article explores three bad habits that may be hurting your financial situation. You might be surprised by what they are!

Treating credit cards like free money. When you’re tempted to buy something and don’t have the cash, it’s easy to just use credit. But instant gratification can have serious consequences. Little by little, you may find yourself racking up more and more debt. Paying your monthly credit card bill can start requiring all of your cash flow… and maybe more. Yikes.

The solution? Limit your credit card usage as much as possible. Make a habit of only using your credit card for certain low-dollar items, like gas. If you can’t buy your impulse purchase in cash, go home!

Trying to buy happiness. It’s tempting to think that you’re going to be happy if you buy one thing or another. But what happens when the newness wears off? Suddenly, you have a closet full of clothes and shoes that really aren’t making you any happier! The same is true of houses, cars, gadgets, anything you can think of. Buying things to keep up appearances or just because you think they’ll make you fulfilled is a recipe for overspending on things that, ultimately, don’t matter.

The key is to find happiness beyond your material possessions. That’s no small task, and there’s no set road map for it. But it’s absolutely critical to find a source of meaning that isn’t tied to stuff and things. You could be happier—and more financially stable—for it.

Ignoring your financial situation. Let’s face it—finances can be scary! Overwhelming debt, paying for college, and feeling out of your depth are uncomfortable emotions. And ignoring and denying uncomfortable feelings is often a first line of defense.

But it’s a dangerous game. Ignoring what the numbers tell you can lead you deeper and deeper into financial instability. You could be setting up a much harder path for yourself in the future than if you tackled your financial situation now.

Tackling your financial fears isn’t always easy. It might require serious soul searching. Just know these three things…

Acknowledging the problem is the first step. Once you can admit that your finances need help, you’re ready to start making positive changes.

Seeking help is always wise. Whether it’s a friend, spouse, qualified counselor, or financial professional, enlisting help can give you the courage you need to face your fears.

You can do this! It might not feel like it, but you have what it takes to confront this challenge… and win! Don’t lose hope, and start moving forward.

Managing your money wisely requires more than knowing different techniques and strategies. It takes maturity. The more you invest in making improvements to your life overall, the better emotionally equipped you’ll be to navigate the world of personal finances.

¹ “A year after COVID, personal finances are not so grim for millions of Americans,” Jessica Menton, USA TODAY, Apr 9, 2021, https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/money/2021/04/09/irs-stimulus-check-2021-third-covid-payment-unemployment-benefits/7015277002/


Evaluating the Opportunity Costs of Your Career

Evaluating the Opportunity Costs of Your Career

Have you ever had a job that didn’t inspire you?

You know, one where you felt as if all your energy was being drained from the moment you walked in until the moment they kicked you out. Maybe it was a bad boss, or just something about the industry or type of work.

This article will help you evaluate whether or not your current career path is worth pursuing by considering the opportunity cost of staying where you are versus leaving to pursue your dreams.

First off, what is opportunity cost? It’s an economic term which refers to the benefit that a person must give up in order to attain something else. Typically, it’s calculated in dollars. For instance, career A might pay you $50,000 while career B may pay only $30,000. The opportunity cost of choosing career B would be $20,000.

But here’s the catch—there are factors beyond pay that you must consider when choosing a career.

What if earning boatloads in your career requires dedicating all your waking hours to that endeavor? Are you sacrificing your joy, freedom, or even mental health just for a paycheck? The opportunity cost of your career and salary might be your joy, your freedom, your family, and your state of mind!

So when considering a job or a career, weigh ALL the costs. Will your career consume your time, distract you from your true passions, and impair your mental health, all in exchange for a fat paycheck? Or will it enrich your life, use your time wisely, and allow you to make enough money without sacrificing the joys of family and friends?


These Numbers Are Hard to Believe

These Numbers Are Hard to Believe

1.82 billion people log in to Facebook every day.¹ Apple has now sold over 2.2 billion iPhones.² Google processes 2 trillion searches every year.³

And – perhaps the most difficult to believe of them all – the world hotdog eating record stands at 75 dogs in 10 minutes.⁴ I apologize ahead, but just visualize that. Seven hotdogs down the hatch every minute.

Here’s another number that’s almost beyond comprehension: 64% of Americans have less than $10,000 in retirement savings.⁵ You read that correctly. Substantially over half of Americans will reach what should be the finish line of their careers and have almost nothing to show for it. They’ll be forced to either downsize their dreams or trade a retirement on a beach for more hours in a cubicle.

Why share these hard to believe numbers? To motivate you – at whatever age you are today – that you can start saving more right now. If you want to have a million dollars at the age of 65, how much do you need to start saving every month? That depends on your current age. If you’re 25, you’ll need to save a minimum of $158.12 per month. At 35, the amount jumps to $442.00 per month. At 45, it’s $1,317 monthly. At 55, you’ll have to save $4,882.00 per month. And at 60, you’d have to save $12,913.00 every month.

How much do you need to save to hit your goals? What’s the right financial vehicle to help you do it? Getting the answers to these questions right is absolutely critical. Don’t wait to find the answers. Contact me, and let’s get to work on a strong insurance strategy.


¹ “The Top 20 Valuable Facebook Statistics – Updated October 2020,” Dan Noyes, Zephoria, https://zephoria.com/top-15-valuable-facebook-statistics/

² “How Many iPhones Have Been Sold Worldwide? – iPhone Sales Analyzed,” Damjan Jugovic Spajic, Kammando Tech, February 11, 2020, https://kommandotech.com/statistics/how-many-iphones-have-been-sold-worldwide/#:~:text=The%20latest%20data%20shows%20that,have%20been%20sold%20so%20far.

³ “Marketing Metrics: Daily Searches on Google and Useful Search Metrics for Marketers,” Kenshoo, Feb 25, 2019, https://kenshoo.com/monday-morning-metrics-daily-searches-on-google-and-other-google-facts/#:~:text=Although%20Google%20does%20not%20share,That's%20a%20lot%20of%20searches!

⁴ “Hall of Fame,” Nathan’s Famous, https://nathansfamous.com/hot-dog-eating-contest/hall-of-fame/

⁵ “21+ American Savings Statistics to Know in 2021,” Milan Urosevic, SpendMeNot, Mar 25, 2021, https://spendmenot.com/blog/american-savings-statistics/


Is Your Budget Too Ambitious?

Is Your Budget Too Ambitious?

Budgeting is a popular topic among people of all ages, and for good reason.

It can help you save money, stay on top of your finances and even reach financial goals. But how do you know if your budget will work for you? To help determine that, you’ll need to consider two things: if category groupings make sense for your family, and whether the amounts allotted for those categories are reasonable.

For instance, is your entertainment category too inclusive and/or is the amount too high? Does it include money to cover gifts for friends’ birthdays or other events, or just what’s needed for your own entertainment, like streaming services or concerts? Having categories that are too inclusive or vague may tempt you to overspend on certain items.

And there’s another danger—maybe the amount assigned to your entertainment category is too low and you’ve budgeted all the fun out of your life! If your budget is too strict, you may not feel like you can enjoy going out to eat or buying something special for the kids once in a while. You may feel like you’re always saying “no” to your friends and family.

But if you have too many “nitpicky” categories, you may feel overwhelmed and frustrated trying to keep up with all of them each month.

It’s important that your budget is realistic and works for you and your family’s unique situation. If it doesn’t, you may find yourself getting discouraged and giving up!

So when you’re creating your budget, keep in mind there are other alternatives to spending a lot of money. For entertainment for example, explore creative and cheap ways to have fun with your family. Organize a park day, go on a hike, or visit a free museum.

It’s also important to be flexible. If you’re going out with friends, don’t feel like you have to buy the cheapest item on the menu! And when someone suggests doing something that isn’t on budget but sounds fun, don’t say no right off the bat—see if you can work within your limitations or cut back somewhere else.

In conclusion, definitely budget! Just don’t make your budget a chore or painful to stick with.


The 5 Things To Do With Your Inheritance

The 5 Things To Do With Your Inheritance

If you are in the position of receiving an inheritance, congratulations!

You have a chance to make your life even better with this gift. However, it’s important to handle it wisely so you don’t create any regrets down the line!

Pay down debt. Receiving a sudden windfall is the perfect opportunity to take a chunk out of any credit card debt or student loans that are hanging over you. You may even be able to pay off your car or house!

The simple fact is that debt wears down your ability to build wealth. Using your inheritance to help pay off your loans can position you to start building wealth sooner rather than later.

Build your emergency fund. Having cash on hand can be a game-changer. It empowers you to tackle emergencies like a child’s broken arm, an unexpected car repair, or even short-term unemployment—without turning to debt.

If you don’t have three months of expenses saved, consider using your inheritance to create some financial peace of mind for your family by setting up an emergency fund.

Save for retirement. Now that you’ve covered your bases, you can start using your inheritance to start building wealth for the future. As soon as you can, meet with a licensed and qualified financial professional to start developing a strategy that will make your money work for your future!

Fund your kids’ college education. College is pricey. Whether your children are very young or almost at university age, now is a good time to start saving for college. Once again, it’s best to meet with a financial professional to decide the best way to go about funding your child’s education.

Finally, have fun! You’ve done the hard work of getting rid of debt and building your emergency fund. Now that you have a college education and/or your retirement savings strategies in place, there’s no reason not to splurge on something fun with your inheritance! Just be sure that your fun doesn’t send you back into debt or dip into your emergency fund!


Should You Apply For a Personal Loan?

Should You Apply For a Personal Loan?

Sometimes the world throws financial obstacles your way.

And that’s normally when your emergency fund would kick in. But what if you don’t have an emergency fund? Or what if there isn’t enough money in it to cover your current catastrophe? If you find yourself in this situation, you might consider applying for a personal loan to close the gap—but should you?

The simple answer? Probably not.

Starting with the basics—what is a personal loan? A personal loan is an unsecured debt that allows people or companies in need of money to borrow funds from lenders for any reason including but not limited to…

- Home improvements - Medical expenses - Debt consolidation

These loans are often set up for a short period of time with fixed monthly payments.

There are pros and cons to any form of debt. Personal loans are no different—they have their own set of benefits and drawbacks.

Personal loans can offer lower interest rates than credit cards, which can help you save money on interest payments. That can make them useful for consolidating other high interest rate loans.

However, personal loans can come with higher fees and significant interest rates. And for most financial emergencies, personal loans simply aren’t your best option. For instance, if you’re struggling with medical debt, you should first consider negotiating with your doctor’s office for more favorable payment terms first.

It’s not advisable to use a personal loan to make a large purchase, like a new TV, either. If you’re using the money for anything other than a last resort for emergencies or debt consolidation, it’s probably not worth it and could end up costing you more in interest payments down the road.

In conclusion, personal loans can be useful in specific circumstances or if you’re at the end of your financial rope. But they shouldn’t be your first option. Making sure you’ve got a sufficient emergency fund in place, a well-thought-out budget, and a solid savings strategy set up as soon as possible may help avoid the need for a loan and create more debt.


Two Techniques to Help You Prepare for Retirement

Two Techniques to Help You Prepare for Retirement

As with anything important, saving for retirement can be intimidating.

It’s a natural instinct to avoid tasks that seem overwhelming. But not preparing adequately for retirement can have serious consequences—you may find yourself rapidly approaching that time in your life with little saved!

Here are two simple, actionable steps that can help you overcome the intimidation of saving and move you closer towards your financial goals.

Save 15% of your income. This is a good rule to follow for the long term, but it may not be realistic all the time. Elderly parents living with you? A child going through college? If saving 15% feels impossible or overwhelming, start by setting aside something more manageable. Saving 1% of your income may not feel like much, but it’s far better than putting away nothing! And once you get used to saving, you might be surprised by how eager you are to increase that percentage.

Automate savings so they happen without any effort on your part. Set up an automatic monthly transfer from your checking into your savings accounts. This way, you’ll never have to worry about forgetting or neglecting your savings. It’s helpful to schedule the transfer right after you get paid. This technique, called “paying yourself first”, results in your paycheck helping to build wealth for you, and not someone else!

It’s never too early–or too late–to start saving for retirement. The earlier you begin, the more time your money has to grow and compound over a lifetime. And even starting closer to retirement is still better than never starting at all! Begin with these two techniques, and develop your strategy from there.


Four Ways to Fend Off Credit Card Fraud

Four Ways to Fend Off Credit Card Fraud

In 2019, 14.4 million people were victims of identity theft.¹

The internet has made it possible for someone to steal personal information and commit credit card fraud from the comfort of their own home. Being a victim of credit card fraud can seriously impact your financial well-being by decreasing your credit score and sinking you deep into debt. Repairing the damage can be stressful and time-consuming. Take a look at some tips on how you can fend off credit card fraud and stay safe online.

Don’t give your credit card number to anyone who calls you on the phone. Hang up and call their customer service line directly. Unless you can verify that you’re speaking with a legitimate institution, keep your card information to yourself. The same is true for emails, sketchy websites and landing pages, and social media posts.

Avoid sensitive accounts on public Wi-Fi. If you’re using a public Wi-Fi network, it’s possible that someone could be eavesdropping on your information. That’s because public internet is relatively insecure—hackers have far easier access to your passwords and account information in a coffee shop than in your workplace. It’s always safer to check your bank accounts on a private Wi-Fi connection that’s password-protected.

Review transactions often, if not daily. Make it a habit to check your credit card account regularly to ensure all charges are accurate. If you notice any suspicious activity, whether it’s a store you’re not familiar with or a charge from a location in another state, contact your credit card customer service immediately.

Separate your cards from your wallet. If a thief nabs your purse or wallet, will they have access to your credit cards? Consider buying a separate wallet to carry your credit and debit cards. It’s a simple step that might protect your bank account from pickpockets and muggers. (Hint: Consider using a minimalist wallet for your cards. Carrying two bulky wallets would just be inconvenient!)

In conclusion, there are many ways to avoid credit card fraud. Try following the tips in this article, and stay vigilant about your account information.


“What Are Your Odds of Getting Your Identity Stolen?,” Eugene Bekker, IdentityForce, Apr 15, 2021, https://rb.gy/tdft4g


What Can You Do To Increase Your Credit Score?

What Can You Do To Increase Your Credit Score?

For many families, a good credit score is the key to not only borrowing money but also buying your dream home and starting a family.

But what if you have bad credit? This blog post will explore strategies that might help increase your credit score so that you can borrow more money or get approved for loans more easily.

Keep your credit card balances low. Part of your credit score depends on something called credit utilization. Using up your credit limit can negatively impact your score and drag it down. That’s why it’s best to restrict your credit card usage to certain types of purchases. If you start closing in on that credit limit, consider putting yourself on a spending freeze or using cash for a while.

Don’t close old accounts that you have a good history of paying on time. Why? Because closing accounts can technically lower your credit limit. Even though you’re not borrowing more money, you’re suddenly utilizing a greater percentage of your credit. That can result in your credit score taking a hit, even though your credit habits haven’t changed. So keep those old accounts with good payment histories open!

Check your credit report for errors and inaccuracies. Did you know that anyone can get a copy of your credit report? It’s true! You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report every 12 months. Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s official website to discover how you can get your report. Once you have it, you can check it for errors that may have negatively impacted your score.

If you’re curious about how your credit score impacts your ability to make big purchases, let me know! We can review your situation and work on a game plan to improve your score and move towards your goals.


What You Need to Know About Debt Consolidation

What You Need to Know About Debt Consolidation

You’ve been struggling to keep up with your debt payments for weeks, months—maybe even years.

You’re tired of feeling like you’re drowning in a sea of credit card balances and student loans. The good news is that there are options available to help you break free from this cycle!

One option is debt consolidation. It involves taking out one large loan (typically through a bank) to pay off all your other smaller debts.

Let’s discuss how debt consolidation works, who may benefit from it most, and what you need to know before making a decision about whether or not this option is right for you.

Debt consolidation is a way to combine some or all of your debt into one loan. This can make a significant difference in your debt reduction by…

  1. Simplifying the repayment process
  2. Potentially lowering your interest rate

Let’s consider an example. Let’s say you have two debts, one that’s $3,000 at 10% interest and another that’s $5,000 at 15% interest. If the term of both loans is 5 years, you would pay almost $3,000 in interest! Consolidating your debt into one loan that’s $8,000 at 7% would almost halve your interest payments.

There are several types of loans that this process can deal with, including home equity loans or car loans. It’s also possible to use a new credit card with a promotional interest rate and high credit limit to pay down your other debts (use this method with caution). Debt management programs sometimes offer debt consolidation for unsecured debt like credit cards and medical debt. Just know that you may not qualify for these types of loans if it’s too soon after filing bankruptcy or if you have a low credit score.

But debt consolidation may not always be your best option, especially if you can’t secure a lower interest rate or the term of the loan is significantly longer than your current loans. It’s best to collaborate with a financial professional who can help you assess your situation and create the right debt-busting strategy!


Protecting and Growing Your Emergency Fund

Protecting and Growing Your Emergency Fund

Nearly 25% of Americans report that they have ZERO dollars saved for an emergency.¹

If something unexpected were to happen, do you have enough savings to get you and your family through it and back to solid ground again?

If you’re not sure you have enough set aside, being blindsided with an emergency might leave you in the awkward position of asking family or friends for a loan to tide you over. Or would you need to rack up credit card debt to get through a crisis? Dealing with a financial emergency can be stressful enough – like an unexpected hospital visit, car repairs, or even a sudden loss of employment. But having an established Emergency Fund in place before something happens can help you focus on what you need to do to get on the other side of it.

As you begin to save money to build your Emergency Fund, use these 5 rules to grow and protect your “I did not see THAT coming” stash:

1) Separate your Emergency Fund from your primary spending account. How often does the amount of money in your primary spending account fluctuate? Trips to the grocery store, direct deposit, automatic withdrawals, spontaneous splurges – the ebb and flow in your main household account can make it hard to keep track of the actual emergency money you have available. Open a separate account for your Emergency Fund so you can avoid any doubt about whether or not you can replace the water heater that decided to break right before your in-laws are scheduled to arrive.

2) Do NOT touch this account. Even though this is listed here as Rule #2, it’s really Rule #1. Once you begin setting aside money in your Emergency Fund, “fugettaboutit”… unless there actually is an emergency! Best case scenario, that money is going to sit and wait for a long time until it’s needed. However, just because it’s an “out of sight, out of mind” situation, doesn’t mean that there aren’t some important features that need to be considered for your Emergency Fund account:

  • You must be able to liquidate these funds easily (i.e., not incur penalties if you make too many withdrawals)
  • Funds should be stable (not subject to market shifts)

You definitely don’t want this money to be locked up and/or potentially lose value over time. Although these two qualities might prevent any significant gain to your account, that’s not the goal with these funds. Pressure’s off!

3) Know your number. You may hear a lot about making sure you’re saving enough for retirement and that you should never miss a life insurance premium. Solid advice. But don’t pause either of these important pieces of your financial plan to build your Emergency Fund. Instead, tack building your Emergency Fund onto your existing plan. The same way you know what amount you need to save each month for your retirement and the premium you need to pay for your life insurance policy, know how much you need to set aside regularly so you can build a comfortable Emergency Fund. A goal of at least $1,000 to three months of your income or more is recommended. Three months worth of your salary may sound high, but if you were to lose your job, you’d have at least three full months of breathing room to get back on track.

4) Avoid bank fees. These are Emergency Fund Public Enemy No. 1. Putting extra money aside can be challenging – maybe you’ve finally come to terms with giving up the daily latte from your local coffee shop. But if that precious money you’re sacrificing to save is being whittled away by bank fees – that’s downright tragic! Avoid feeling like you’re paying twice for an emergency (once for the emergency itself and second for the fees) by using an account that doesn’t charge fees and preferably doesn’t have a minimum account balance requirement or has a low one that’s easy to maintain. You should be able to find out what you’re in for on your bank’s website or by talking to an employee.

5) Get started immediately. There’s no better way to grow your Emergency Fund than to get started!

There’s always going to be something. That’s just life. You can avoid that dreaded phone call to your parents (or your children). There’s no need to apply for another credit card (or two). Start growing and protecting your own Emergency Fund today, and give yourself the gift of being prepared for the unexpected.


¹ “Nearly 25% of Americans have no emergency savings,” Quentin Fottrell, MarketWatch, Jun 9, 2020, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/nearly-25-of-americans-have-no-emergency-savings-and-lost-income-due-to-coronavirus-is-piling-on-even-more-debt-2020-06-03


How To Retire With Less

How To Retire With Less

If you had to totally trash your retirement strategy, how would you do it?

There are plenty of extravagant solutions—a gambling spree in Vegas, buying a boat, or shopping only at designer stores would probably do the trick!

But there are less obvious ways to retire with less. There are subtle misteps that may not lead to financial trainwrecks, but may still result in retiring with less. Here are a few!

Never start saving for retirement. The same is true for every undertaking. The easiest way to torpedo your music career? Never practice. It’s unwise to expect your retirement to be financially sound if you don’t start preparing and saving for it today. Starting is the most important step in your journey!

Buy a house you can’t afford. Few things will consume your cash flow and ability to build wealth more than a house that’s out of your budget. Mortgage payments, emergency repairs, and renovations can be costly even after extensive planning and saving. These expenses can scuttle your ability to build wealth if you end up becoming “house poor”.

Buy things you don’t need. Make no mistake—there’s a place for splurging and treating yourself. But there’s a point where buying more stuff simply weighs you down, both emotionally and financially. And if you’re using debt to keep shopping, you might be setting yourself up for less in retirement.

Be afraid of change. It’s incredibly difficult to pursue better opportunities if you fear change. Improving your financial situation, by definition, requires you to do something different, whether it’s spending less or changing careers. Unless you’re already on track for retirement, a fear of change can hinder your ability to reach your goals and live your dreams.

Never learn how money works. This is the easiest item on the list to avoid. Most people are never taught what their money can actually do and how to build wealth. But it can have serious consequences for your future. Not knowing how money works can prevent you from using critical tools like the Rule of 72 and the Power of Compound Interest to detect both bad deals and wealth building opportunities.

If any of these rung a bell with you, contact me. We can discuss strategies to start preparing for retirement, cut your spending, and find opportunities to increase your income!


Here's an Eyebrow Raiser...

Here's an Eyebrow Raiser...

The key word in ‘Life Insurance’? Life.

If your family’s quality of life were suddenly threatened, you’d step in, wouldn’t you? Of course you would!

Having a well-thought-out, tailored-to-you life insurance policy is a way to preemptively and proactively protect your family’s quality of life.

Here’s an eyebrow raiser: 36% of people surveyed intended to buy life insurance at some point, but only 54% actually have coverage!¹ Despite people’s good intentions, ownership is actually decreasing.

Here’s an eyebrow lowerer: Life insurance can be thought of as a financial safety net. One that gives your family the time and space to recover and rebuild in the event of trying financial circumstances.

Odds are, you already think life insurance is a good idea. But waiting until tragedy or a sudden loss of income strikes is waiting too long to consider the benefits of life insurance.

Give me a call or shoot me an email, and together we can take your unique circumstances into consideration and put together a life insurance policy that fits your needs.


“2020 Insurance Barometer Study Reveals a Significant Decline in Life Insurance Ownership Over the Past Decade,” LIMRA, Jun 2, 2020, https://www.limra.com/en/newsroom/news-releases/2020/2020-insurance-barometer-study-reveals-a-significant-decline-in-life-insurance-ownership-over-the-past-decade/


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