Join the top 5% percent club

“No one’s ever achieved financial fitness with a January resolution that’s abandoned by February.” – Suze Orman

Working toward financial freedom is a great goal. Some say lofty. I say if you can believe it, you can do it.

No doubt you have heard the naysayers tell you it can’t be done.

Well, I have read enough stories to know that anything is possible.

They say you become not what you want, but what you believe.

Therefore, only you can decide what is best for you and what you can achieve.

In a previous post, I share with you my view on how to join the ten percent club of wealth.

Well I’m back again. Just in case you missed the last one you can read it by clicking on the link above.

This time I will focus on the top five percent of wealth club.

Let’s keep it simple and define families in the top five percent as those with a net worth of $1,500,000.

That is simply 1.5 times the top ten percent net worth of $1,000,000.

That means that if you fall into the top five with a net worth of $1,500,000 in 2018, you have more wealth than 95% of the population. And you are a member of the top five percent. Let’s pop the cork and champagne all around.

How do you get to $1,500,000? In keeping with simplicity, you could have a paid off home or home equity with a value of $500,000.

The other $1,000,000, which is needed to reach the upper echelons of wealth in the five percent club, would be in savings and investments.

To accumulate $1,000,000 in savings, you need to save $8,500 a year for 30 years starting at age 35 and earn a rate of return of 8%.

Side note: If you can accumulate $100,000 in a retirement account, it will take another 30 years to have $1,000,000 without adding another penny just from compound interest of 8% or above.

Check out this chart from the book I read called the Automatic Millionaire by David Bach and see how much regular saving can get you to millionaire status.

So, keep this in mind. If it takes you 15 years to save up a $100,000 in a 401(k), then in another 30 years you could be a millionaire. And that’s if you stop contributing.

However, saving is habitual. The likelihood of that happening is very slim. Therefore, you would likely reach millionaire status before 30 additional years of compounding your savings. Just knowing you have the option to stop contributing is a whole other thing all together.

This means you have more options. For instance, you could put money in certificates of deposit (CD’s), money market accounts, a Roth IRA or just a savings account. Then use these funds to start a business, pay for your nieces, nephews, or grandkids college educations, or go on an around the world vacation.

Either way you have more freedom or options that were not there before.

I read numerous books on personal finance to help me decide financial freedom was the way to go. I just read the book reviews on Amazon before purchasing.  The Automatic Millionaire also has a workbook you can check out as well.

This is just something to chew on. Now let’s get back to the being a five percenter.

Basically, you could amass an excellent nest egg of a $1,500,000 net worth by paying off a $500,000 home and saving $8,500 over 30 years to join the top five percent. All this done simultaneously over a 30 year career, would equate you to having accumulated a net worth of $1,500,000.

No matter what the numbers or how long it takes you, such as saving $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000 annually doing this continually and consistently yields results.

The key is to be consistent. It is the same with building muscle, but instead of building up your body you are building up your wealth. Understand this: both require discipline and repetitions. Do your reps. Earn money, put it to work, leave it alone. Repeat.

Money can’t sit still. Money can’t just be idle. Money has to be invested, so it can be put to work making more money. That’s right. Invested dollars work 24/7/365. Even though you cannot, your money can.

Imagine being in the top five percent club of all wealthy families in the world. It is amazing what discipline, savings and compound interest can do.

I know what you’re thinking. That is incredibly hard to do in today’s gig economy.

Where others see problems, I only see solutions.

Walt Disney was laughed at for dreaming up a talking mouse. However, he stuck with his passion which was drawing and made it happen. He said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Let his words inspire you.

Why not to own a $50,000 car on a $25,000 salary

“A penny saved is a penny earned.” – Benjamin Franklin

Car mania is in the water.

It feels like every time I turn around someone is buying not a used car, but a brand spanking new car.

What happened to the days when people bought a beater and made due until they could afford a nice ride. As we know, it’s not the ride, it’s the rider.

Owning an expensive car on an unrealistic salary is starting to become the norm. At least it is where I live.

I live near the nation’s capital: Washington DC.

When the spring comes, I can almost set my watch to the time when someone is going to say I just bought a new BMW.

Now a BMW is an impressive machine, but it comes at a price. A hefty price tag, that can be more than some folks make in a year.

The average American income is reportedly around $50,000. However, many folks are spending a huge chunk of their income to finance a car that can’t take them back in time or to the future when the speedometer hits 88 mph, fly, self-clean, or self-drive itself.

Nope. None of that. However, people are spending upwards of 50% of their income on their ride.

Well, they better be prepared to live in it should something go horribly wrong. That percentage is way too high!

I have read that 50% of your income should go toward all your living expenses. This includes housing, utilities, and transportation.  People are actually spending this amount on one item!

And a car of all things is one of the worst wastes of money you can possibly have.

Let’s do the math. (I used an online calculator)

Summary

Vehicle Price$50,000

Tax, Title & Fees (est.) $3,400

APR3.50%

Term Length72 MOS

Down Payment$2,500

Monthly Payment$785

So, for a $50,000 vehicle, even if you factor in the interest rate, fees, and down payment, then you are still paying an incredibly high car note at $785 per month.

Edmunds.com says the average car payment is a whopping $479 a month! You haven’t eaten, taken grandma out to bingo, or even put gas in your tank.

If you just save that amount instead, you will have $56,520 in the bank. That’s no joke.

You could start a business or put a down payment down on a home.

It makes no sense to pay this type of money for a car when you really can’t afford it.

What if you needed that money for medical expenses, a new roof, or dental work? Worst yet, what if you lose your job? Dealerships are not exactly known for working out long term refinancing options.

Even if you can agree to new repayment terms, if you miss a payment, they can repossess the car.

Here’s some food for thought: If you pay on your vehicle for 71 of the 72 required months, then are unable to pay the last payment, they can still repossess the car.

Stop making payments for a few months or more and this is a very real possibility.

That means you would have paid well over $50,000 including interest and they can still take the car because you do not own it.

Same rules apply with a home. Until you pay it off the bank owes it.  If you pay on the home for 29 years, then can’t make the last year of payments, they can take your home. Pretty scary stuff.

Therefore, it makes no sense to have high fixed expenses like buying a $50,000 car on a $25,000 salary with a fixed payment of $785 a month.

Instead, go for a more affordable car and home. A car note should be around 8% of your income not 50% and should be for no more than three to four years. For a home, you should try to keep the mortgage payment to less than 30% of your income and go for a 15 year mortgage instead of 30 years.

If those tasks sound daunting, then it probably means you cannot afford to buy that $50,000 car or $500,000 home.

If you are approved for those amounts, then deduct 25% from these amounts to make the purchase more affordable so there are no signs of struggling to pay the bills when they come due.

For instance, 25% of $50,000 equals $12,500. Deduct that from $50,000 and that means you would purchase a car for $37,500 instead.

You can do this for any purchase. Find what you want. Get the price. See if you can get it for 25% less.

If so, you could save yourself thousands of dollars a year.

They say you miss 100% of every shot you don’t take. We’ll guess what, let’s flip this saying and instead of doing more you just do less when it comes to spending money and you do the opposite and save.

Then, instead the saying would go like this: You get to keep 100% of every penny you don’t spend.

Money Lessons I learned from Scrooge McDuck

“No man is poor who can do what he likes to do once in a while.” -“Uncle” Scrooge McDuck

I am a huge Disney fan and one of my favorite characters is Scrooge McDuck. He was a Scottish Pekin duck that lived in a huge mansion in a city named Duckburg and had a money bin the size of a skyscraper. For those of you not familiar with this cartoon character I will give some background information.

Scrooge McDuck was created in the 1940’s by Carl Barks for the Walt Disney Company. He was modeled after Ebenezer Scrooge, the main character in Charles Dickens’ 1843 classic, “A Christmas Carole.” Like Ebenezer, McDuck is a tightwad and whose miserly behavior made him a fortune through frugality and hard work. In addition, he has strong similarities to the wealthy American industrialist Andrew Carnegie, who was also a Scottish immigrant, that made his fortune through work and ingenuity. Scrooge also shows similar traits of John D. Rockefeller.

Rockefeller was at one point the world’s richest man and first ever American billionaire. Considering he was a billionaire in the early 1900’s he is still considered as the richest person in modern history. When a reporter asked him, “How much money is enough?” He responded, “Just a little bit more.”

Scrooge’s penny-pinching ways are a constant theme throughout his life, but his belief in thrift, square business dealings through honesty and ingenuity are the reasons for his success. He is often criticized for being tight-fisted and cheap, but admired for his values and work ethic. Even though he is immensely wealthy, he does not shy away from an opportunity, no matter how arduous, to earn more. He often laments that the young want to start in at the top instead of working up from the bottom like he did. The lessons Scrooge teaches his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie in the series are always to be smart, have morals, values, good work ethic and to play totally aboveboard meaning fair and square. A short biography is provided below.

Bio

Name: Scrooge McDuck

Birth year: 1867

Nationality: Scottish

Gender: Male

Nickname: Uncle Scrooge

Occupation: Entrepreneur and Business Magnate “Adventure Capitalist”

Education: Informal (school of hard knocks)

Known for: Swimming in his money bin

Amount of wealth: unknown but estimated in the billions

Hobbies: Treasure hunter and adventurer

Relatives: Donald Duck (nephew) Huey, Dewey, and Louie (grandnephews)

Life Lessons from Uncle Scrooge 

Humble beginnings. Scrooge truly started from the bottom. He was not born into wealth and started without a dime. He was born to poor farmers and started working as a young boy to earn money. A true Dickensian existence he lived, as he and his family were poor.  Regardless, no matter how poor you are, you still have worth. Therefore, know your worth and do not accept anything less. Remember this: “I believe that virtue shows quite as well in rags and patches as she does in purple and fine linen. – Charles Dickens. His first job was as a shoeshine boy in Scotland.  This is where he earned his first dime, which he never spent, but would save as a reminder of the importance of hard work. This is the start of his thriftiness and the secret of his wealth.

Scrooge also worked as a cabin boy on a ship to America. He left Glasgow, Scotland as he decided he would be able to make his fortune in America and was inspired to do so after earning his first dime, which was an American coin. He learned from a young age that life is full of tough jobs, but he wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He prospected for gold in the Klondike and that is how he made his first million. His past is not so rosy as not all of his business dealings are done legally, but he learns from these experiences and changes his ways to only doing business fairly.

Education. School of hard knocks. McDuck had no formal education because he went to work at an early age, but became a self-taught and lifelong learner by reading.  His extensive travels and business dealings to seek out opportunities allowed him to learn numerous languages where he is able to cut out the middleman as he states he has outsmarted the smarties. There is no one job or niche that secured his wealth. He would go on to diversify his mining money into as many opportunities and investments that he could use to grow his money.

He teaches his nephews the principles of economics, including the history of money, and inflation. Scrooge always does his due diligence and researches any investment before investing because knowledge, discipline, and understanding are the foundation to building a profitable wealth portfolio. Note this witty adage: Wall Street is the only place that people ride to in a Rolls Royce to get advice from those who take the subway. – Warren Buffett

Invest in yourself. Scrooge knew that investing in a good education pays the best dividends. He became an avid reader and linguist. This allowed him to do business with people all over the world. Thus, increasing his fortune as there is plenty of money to be made internationally. Scrooge would often say that “knowledge is power.” Due to his research in looking for investment opportunities he built a huge personal library.  The secret of wealth is not complicated, but it does require you learn how money works by becoming financially literate. Therefore, your home should look like a Barnes & Noble if you want to build and keep a fortune.

Work ethic. Scrooge believes in hard work and not being a spendthrift are the first steps toward success, he understands that real success comes in working smarter and not harder. Generating multiple streams of passive income, such as ownership of a business or other enterprises are the keys to building lasting wealth. Staying away from get rich quick schemes and knowing that time is your ally not your enemy.

Investments. Scrooge McDuck was shrewd and close-fisted when it came to spending money, but was big on saving. He preferred to have his money work as hard for him as he worked for it through investing in a diversified portfolio of holdings such as art, gold, diamonds, farms, newspapers, rubber, real estate, and other assets. Buy assets that go up in value. Cars and clothes do not. However, rare coins, stamps, books, and art do. He believes in “trickle back economics” in where he gets a piece of the profit from every investment he makes such as from customers buying products from a company he invests in or owns.  He limits and cut costs to the bone and only spent when ready or necessary and always would seek to gain a profit.

Inflation. Scrooge teaches his nephews about inflation in the animated short entitled Scrooge McDuck and Money (1967). Basically, as the price of good and services rise the value of currency falls. Meaning that the money in the bank today will be worth less tomorrow. He wanted to teach his nephews that without something solid and secure behind the money, then you get inflation where money becomes worth less and less. A dollar would not be worth the paper it’s printed on. He says “it’s what you can buy with what you have got that counts.”

From worker to owner. Scrooge was bright and not afraid of hard work. He listened to the sound advice of his father and decided he would work smarter not harder. It took him mere months to save enough money to go to overseas to America instead of years through his ingenuity. Businessman was his goal through ownership of numerous commodities. Put money to work for you. Money does not sleep.  He even owed the very banks that housed his money! The money is in ownership. He had a simple business motto: Keep it simple so he could run the business himself.

Find your passion. Scrooge always did what he enjoyed which was earning a living and gaining vast sums of money through investing and treasure seeking. Passion means you go the extra mile and continue working even after the clock strikes five. You don’t need vacations or breaks when you’re having fun and doing what you love. When it starts being more work than fun, it’s time do something else.

Treasure hunter. Scrooge likes a challenge. When he learned about the value of artifacts he started to seek out treasures from all over the globe. He works well under pressure and in tight situations that arise from these excursions as he knows pressure makes diamonds; not only in jewelry, but in character.

The infamous Money Bin. Scrooge used to keep his money under his mattress, but when it got too high he decided to build a money bin to keep it more safe and secure, which is why we use banks. It was a three-cubic-acre building and the vault housed the very first coin he ever made called his Number One Dime. He placed it placed on a velvet pillow in glass enclosed case. The Dime’s origins are described in the story called Getting That Heathy, Wealthy Feeling (1964). The bin housed only some of his money that he earned by himself from his personal dealings as he is once heard telling his nephews that the money stored here is “petty cash.” He would often swim in it. It was constantly under attack from his enemies, but he always thwarted them in the end.

Emergency Fund. Scrooge knew that, if something can go wrong it will. He believed in keeping savings and liquid assets just in case. At one point, he hid assets as startup capital should he ever need to start over.

Morality. Scrooge is aggressive when it comes to life and his pursuits, but exhibits strong amounts of self-control. He also has a temper just like his maternal nephew Donald Duck. He does not however use lethal force as he does not want to deal with feelings of guilt, anger, or despair. When helping others, he does not wait or request a thank you. He simply does what he is going to do. He does not believe in burning bridges, but understands that an enemy can be made and is not to be underestimated. He has said that only in fairy tales do bad people turn good, and that he is too old for them and old enough to not believe in fairy tales. “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” – Winston Churchill

He does not believe in cheating and dishonesty as those traits are not prosperous. He also believes in keeping his promises once his word is given. He has once said “Scrooge McDuck’s word is as good as gold.” He practiced what he preached: thrift and integrity. He constantly preached budgeting and being square. If you live your life like you are being followed around all day by a reporter, and everything is on the record, then you may do things differently. Scrooge also believes in the golden rule: treat others as you would want to be treated.

Attitude. Scrooge is very optimistic. There is always another rainbow. Plenty to go around. More than enough for all. The glass is always half-full. Opportunities are always just around the corner.

Resilience. Scrooge is never one to walk away from a challenge or money making opportunity. Regardless of how difficult the terrain or objective may be, Scrooge McDuck can grind it out with the best of them.  He has also shown great physical fitness through beating bigger characters, swimming, running and the like. Meaning he still continues to exercise and maintain a stamina that allows him to be mobile and agile well into older age. He has learned to quickly adapt to his surroundings and thrive in any environment and come out on top. He credits his success, which is due to his determination, grit, and will power, on the fact that he is “tougher than the toughies and smarter than the smarties.” Do not give up so easily. When times get tough, get tougher. Work harder, but also smarter.

Persistence. Scrooge is generous and kind in his older years to his nephews, but in his younger days the slaps of life hardened his character. Failure is not an option. He has learned to endure the difficulties of life with a tough exterior and personality to match. Do not be too soft or you will be taken advantage of by others. A great quote by Churchill: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Charity. When Scrooge left for America his mother asked him to write to them and he promised his mother that he would send money home. There are times when he has donated to the poor or given money to the Salvation Army as well as gifting those who have helped him and have less than him. One of the best lessons in life is that you can help others including family. In life, you can’t get something for nothing. You have to give to get.

Family. Although Scrooge has no family of his own, he does have his nephew Donald and his great-nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie. These are his greatest and most prized possessions: his kin. In one episode of the animated television show Ducktales (1987), episode twenty-two entitled Down and Out in Duckburg which aired on October 13, 1987, the family ends up in the poorhouse. They decide to stick together in the tough times even as people mock and mistreat them. They all even end up washing dishes together to eke out a living.  In the end, they stick together as a family, tough it out and regain his fortune. The lesson here is to not ever take for granted or underestimate the importance of family.

Value of money. Scrooge always knew the value of a dollar. He would teach his nephews this through his actions and his words. He was a skinflint who only parted with money when absolutely necessary.

In another episode of the show, the boys asked for a raise in their allowance. Their Uncle Scrooge denies their request as he told them if he raised their allowance they would “grow up to have no respect for money, learn to live a wasteful life and end up out in the street begging for a few measly coins.” If the government just creates money, it loses its value. If everybody had lots of money, prices would go up, and then everyone has to have more money which leads to chaos.

This episode entitled “Dough Ray Me” aired on November 3, 1989 and was the 82nd episode of the series. The boys are able to duplicate money and the self-duplicating coins spread through Duckburg. The town is drowned “funny money” and buried in a “cash avalanche” causing sky high inflation.  The episode provides a very funny narrative through its series of events that show how inflation works.

The most notable theme is that money’s only value lies in how hard it is to obtain; “easy or funny money” loses value and leads to inflation. In this story, the boys learn a life lesson in everything that glitters is not gold. There is a price to be paid for everything and the bill always comes due. For example, future inflation grows to gargantuan proportions and money becomes worthless in this episode.

  • During the “cash avalanche” a newspaper is selling for “only” $200.
  • A lollipop costs a little girl $5,000; she hauls up a wagon full of money, saying in that case, she’ll take two.
  • A bus fare costs one poor guy an astounding $10,000 in exact change, which he heaves aboard in a huge sack.
  • At the dentist’s office, one man is told fillings for his two cavities will cost $40,000 per filling for a total of $80,000. He remarks by saying “Well, at least some prices haven’t gone up…”
  • Even the nephews complain at one point that it will cost them $30 just to use a gumball machine.
  • Money is so abundant that the Beagle Boys (series villains) try to rob a bank that has now become a money landfill to the cheers and applause of the bank employees.
  • In a twist of fate, the “funny money” implodes and everything goes back to normal proving that you really cannot make or get something for nothing and the coins are essentially worthless.

Many revelations are shown throughout the episode. For instance, even the show’s villains think the townspeople are acting unusual and overly generous. The triplets realize spending all their money on the first day of summer was unwise. They start to gain a respect for money in understanding that you need to know more than the price of everything or you will know the value of nothing. Like the Marshmallow experiment or test, that it is often called, of 40 years ago done at Stanford, the boys learn patience is a virtue and delayed gratification and self-control are important characteristics to have in life if one is to be successful.

Profit even in bad times. Profit also can come from unexpected events and misfortune. In one of the comics, a classic tale published in 1951 called “A Financial Fable,” where all of Scrooge’s money is lost in a cyclone blasting all the money to citizens in town is a great example. One day his money bin just explodes and all of his wealth ended up in the hands of the townspeople of Duckburg. He lost all his possessions and wealth, but looked for a way to make it all back. Instead of getting angry or wallowing in despair, Scrooge kept his head down and worked by growing crops on a farm he owned outside the town.

The newly minted rich townspeople stopped working to enjoy their new money and the trappings that go along with wealth. They did not believe in saving for the future, spending wisely, investing or delayed gratification. They spent with reckless and wild abandon. Scrooge’s crops just so happened to reach harvest exactly when the town was running out of food and, since the other farmers had quit growing crops, Scrooge had an effective monopoly on a vital good of commodities. He sold eggs for the price of one million dollars! Of course, Scrooge quickly recouped his fortune from selling his crops to the town at the sky-high prices (millions of dollars) that he was able to set due to the lack of competition. He was able to name his price for his goods and he made them high. This is how fortunes are made.

A monopoly. Like the game with the guy in the top hat, monopoly is all about collecting the most properties, cash, utilities and other holdings to win. A monopoly is a business or industry that is dominated by one corporation, firm or entity. Basically, you cannot buy products or services from virtually anywhere else other than this one place. Monopolies are the extreme result of capitalism. Without any restraints, and absent any regulations, the enterprise becomes so big that it owns all or nearly all of the market (assets, commodities, and supplies).

Anti-Trust laws. Laws were put in place to stop this practice of being a monopoly to ensure the marketplace stays open and competitive. This started in 1890 with the Sherman Anti-Trust Act that was used to break up John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil company. Monopolies are illegal because businesses can become discriminate and hurt the public because customers will be at the businesses mercy. Although Scrooge is the richest duck in the world, he believes in healthy competition and obeying the law.

Budgets and Bargain hunting. Scrooge finds deals galore, sticks to a strict budget, and likes anything for free or at a discount. He even teaches economics and inflation to his nephews in how you must manage the household finances through budgeting which is financial discipline. He says proper budgeting should leave a profit. Then you invest the profit. Money should not be idle and should be put to work. He allows the boys to invest in his company and become shareholders to grow their own money into wealth. After consulting his nephews, he requests a small fee and tells them that good things are never free. Remember this: When your good at something never do it for free. –  The Joker, DC Comics

In life you make mistakes, but the key is to learn from them. The key to building wealth is to stay out of debt and pay cash for large purchases like cars and appliance. Credit is no replacement for cash. Cash is king.

Bottom Line. Fictional characters can teach valuable lessons in life, such as morale character and finances. The only place that success comes before work is in the dictionary. Working, saving, and investing is the true path to wealth and success.

 

New banking rules: Clear a check payment in a day

 

“When bills come due, only cash is legal tender. Don’t leave home without it.” – Warren Buffet

I do not know about some of you out there, but I have noticed a change in the way a lot of banks operate.

I remember years ago that I would write a check and it would take three to five days to clear. Not anymore.

I wrote a check a few months ago and it cleared my bank account the next business day. That’s right, the next day!

There is no room for error in this new era of banking. The slightest margin of error is only allowed if you have your checking account linked to your savings account as overdraft protection.

However, that would require you to have cash in the first place to cover your checks.

I am a firm believer in not writing a check you can’t cash. And since cash is the only legal tender to pay bills, it is best that you have some.

I did some research and found some very interesting information.

A bank that I use sent a notice that they would now be doing faster processing of funds. This included same day available funds for checks.

I also read that banks typically do deposits five days a week but do debiting of accounts seven days a week.

This means that if you have a deposit coming in that is not done on Monday through Friday, but continuing to use your account over the weekend, this could cause you to go negative if you overspend.

In addition, if banks decide to structure transactions it could negatively affect your bottom-line.

Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, that you have check payments outstanding and are using your debit card at the same time. You write checks on Wednesday, use your debit card on Thursday and get paid on Friday.

If your payroll direct deposit comes in first, then all your payments and transactions are covered.

However, with just a flick of a button, a bank could strategically decide to do all transactions in a different order.

By first processing the cashing of the check payments, then posting debit card transactions and having your payroll come in last.

This type of financial rearrangement could wreak havoc on your bank balance if you go negative and cause numerous overdraft fees.

I one time had a bank charge me over $100 in overdraft fees for approximately $5 in several small charges that placed my account in the red!

Safe to say, I closed out that account.

Just some food for thought.

You can be festive on a budget

The holidays are just around the corner. I feel like Christmas decorations start getting put up as soon as Halloween ends. Sometimes before!

Don’t let the decorations, garland, and twinkling lights fool you. Retailers want you to spend. Shop ‘til you drop as they say.

Well word to the wise:  make a budget for gift shopping.

There is no reason that buying presents should mean that you have to burst the bank.

With piggy banks already on life support, there is no logical reason why shoppers should spend what they don’t have.

It really is the thought that counts.

I suggest to large families that they draw names out of a hat and just buy for that person. If you decide you want to do more, especially for the kiddies, then may I suggest planning for it well in advance. Regardless, of what method you use just make sure it’s cash that buys the gifts and not plastic.

Nothing is worse than buying presents on credit with money you don’t have.

It always feels better to buy with cash. Once the purchase is done, it’s done.

There’s no credit card bill coming in the mail for months after.

The holidays will be long gone and you are still paying off grandma’s toaster oven. Who wants that? Nobody, that’s who.

Set a realistic limit to spend and stick to it.

Limit the amount of gifts you buy and decorations. Save excess wrapping paper and tinsel for next year.

The point of gift giving is to show people you care not how much you can spend.

Some of the best gifts I have seen come from the heart. Those gifts are enjoyed and last a long time.

I once heard a saying that love leaves a memory that no one can steal.

Those are the types of gifts you want to give to others. The ones no one can lose.

If you really want to enjoy the holidays, instead of sparring no expense make a commitment to yourself to limit what you give from your wallet but not from your heart.

Happy Holidays!

College season: Time for the FAFSA

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

It’s that time of year again. The Fall is when high seniors start to apply for college admissions.

If your child is interested in attending college next Fall, then there are a few steps you will need to complete the application process. For most colleges this includes: application and fee, high school transcripts, and SAT scores.

Colleges may also request letters of recommendation and/or an essay as part of the admissions requirements.

To begin the process, you should first start with listing all the schools that your son or daughter is interested in attending.

You will need to apply to several colleges in order to increase your chances of admission.

Generally, there are three types: match, safety, and dream.

According to The Princeton Review, the match school is one where your credentials meet or exceed college admission requirements.

A good number of match or target schools to apply to would be around three. Preferably to colleges that are in-state with affordable tuition.

A safety school is a college that is likely to accept you as your credentials are above the requirements for admission. This just gives you reassurance that you get in somewhere.

If you do not want to be stuck at home, you should apply to at least two safety schools and that includes community colleges that may allow freshman to live on or near campus.

Lastly, there is the DREAM school. Oftentimes, referred to as the reach, because it can be a long shot to get in. If money is no object, then this is when you shoot for the stars.

Usually dream schools are just that because your credentials fall below the admission standards at this college. However, you can still apply and “see what happens” as far as long shots go, that is the point after all.

The goal is to apply for at least three dream schools for a chance to possibly get into one.

Once you have settled on a college you then have to start thinking about how to pay for it.

Unless you live under a rock, you will notice that college prices are now creeping up to mortgage prices.

If you want a chance to lower the cost of college, you may want to consider affordable in-state or community colleges.

If you are determined, to go out-of-state where you will likely pay three times as much for crossing state lines.

In order, to be considered for federal student loans and state aid, you will need to complete the Free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The FAFSA now opens on October 1 starting in 2017 for the 2018-2019 academic school year.

You will want to get this done early if you want to be eligible for all the possible merit scholarships given by the college and federal Pell grants. The U.S. Department of Education offers student loans that you repay over time, as well as grants, such as the Pell Grant, that you don’t need to pay back.

Grants are free money for school that does not have to be repaid. So, get those FAFSA applications in ASAP.  Grant money is on a first-come first-served basis, so the earlier you apply the better.

After completing the FAFSA, you can complete your college applications online for a fee to the colleges of your choice.

You should then contact your high school guidance counselor to request copies of your transcripts to send to your selected colleges.

Finally, you will want to send your SAT or ACT scores directly from the CollegeBoard to be considered for admission.

Do not be overwhelmed. It is a straightforward process. Just follow the steps above and get it done.

Good Luck!

 

Financial Freedom built attracting one dollar at a time

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