Mortgage or No Mortgage: Why Your Personal Financial Plan Is Crucial

Whether or not to pay off your mortgage is a very individual decision that is based on a number of factors. My sister and I were having a conversation not too long ago about mortgages as she and her spouse were refinancing their home in Northern California. I was throwing ideas out to her about keeping the original first mortgage they had in place and blasting away the second using a debt elimination tool like Shred My Mortgage. The first mortgage had a healthy balance but a relatively low interest rate and the second mortgage was hovering around $40,000 with a higher than market rate. I was trying to convince her that by creating income efficiency through leveraging a Home Equity Line Of Credit as a checkbook, she could knock out the 40k in a matter of a few months and be left with just the first lien (which could be paid back in about 7-10 years using this system). Then she asked me, “what if I don’t ever want to pay off my house?” That question got me thinking about their unique situation versus my unique situation. And to that extent everyone’s unique situation. My situation I’m a serial entrepreneur having not held a “real job” (as my in-laws have described it) for over 12 years. There is no pension plan waiting for me, no guaranteed health benefits down the road from a past employer, no 401k match (that’s not provided by yours truly), no paid time-off. So naturally, …

Love Your Kids? Let Them Struggle.

**Originally published on The Huffington Post – February 7, 2017** “What do you do when your girls are texting you to put money in their account?” This was the first question asked by a group of parents at a college parent night where I had been invited to speak. The look on this particular dad’s face suggested it wasn’t a hypothetical situation but something that was happening occasionally. So I turned the question back on him, “What do you do when your girls are texting you to put money in their account?” “I usually put some in there for them, but it never lasts as long as it should.” He replied. “And why do you put money in their account?” (I had a good feeling about what the answer was going to be before asking, but had to make sure…) After thinking about his answer for a long 20 seconds, this dad replied, “I love my girls and I don’t want them to struggle.” At that point I looked around the room at all of the parents and asked four or five of them point blank, “Did YOU struggle when you were 20? Did YOU struggle when you were 20? Did YOU struggle when you were 20?” All of them, it seemed, had struggled financially while in college. And while I understand the desire to make things better for your children than perhaps the way you experienced life, why have we made struggle and love mutually exclusive for this generation …

Sizzling Tulips- Why You Shouldn’t Try To Time The Market

What follows is a cautionary tale that perfectly illustrates why – when it comes to investing – we should all avoid trying to time the market. In essence, avoid the sizzle. The year is 1634. The place – Holland. Tulips made their way to the Dutch from Turkey and, being a new flower, were pretty pricey. People were paying a pretty penny for the pretty flower, but the tulip’s hay-day was still yet to come. After the flowers contracted a unique virus that presented itself as a flame-looking pattern on their petals, the craze began. As the variations continued to expand and prices continued to rise, “tulip-speculators” emerged as a real class of investor. People lost their minds. They traded in their homes to buy these things, liquidated life savings, cashed out on large assets, and probably the family dog too. The tulip bubble was intense. Tulip mania was real. At the height of the craze, a tulip would go for an entire estate. At the bottom, really – just the actual price of a flower (go figure). Guess what happened? Yup – high-volume holders of tulips began to sell, which created a domino effect and the market for this fine flower came tumbling down. The following depression was devastating, even for those that profited from the original sale of their flowers. The bottom line? When everyone’s piling on, that’s a great signal to stay away. Sizzling is really only awesome when it’s associated with a steak at Applebees being put in …

Your Financial Survival Guide

With the Dow Jones still above 20,000, most people aren’t giving a second thought to a stock market collapse, a massive devaluation of the dollar, or an attack on our banking system. That being said, now is THE BEST TIME to prepare yourself in the event of a financial armageddon. The problem with high flying economies like ours is they create a false sense of security. Seeing the DOW break 20,000 had some people celebrating the end of the recession, the next goal of 30,000, and rosy futures for all investors. The flip side of this coin is every high has a low, we’re still pumping up our economy based on rampant printing of money and governmental debt will reach unprecedented highs under the new administration. (It can’t NOT rise with the sheer amount of debt and level of interest paid on the debt. Take a look for yourself at www.USDebtClock.org to see real-time updates.) Candidly, the motivation for writing this article came from my Christmas grab bag gift for men at my in-laws extended family party last year: A sweet Bear Grylls survival tool. What came with it was a miniature instruction book of how to survive the great outdoors with only your know-how and this incredible device. It got me thinking about how people would survive if the stock market collapsed, their credit & debit cards stopped working, and prices ballooned to epic proportions. To comprehend where this begins, you first must know that as of February 2017 …

The 5 Things You Must Do When Having A Child

Granted all you want to do is stare lovingly at the magical being you and your partner created, there are five things that you MUST do when having a child for the first time. I heard Jim Gaffigan once describe life before kids as almost perfect — you get to sleep in on the weekends, get to do whatever you want at night, eat at great restaurants, have extra money for the things you like, have a clean house all the time… and then you get to thinking, “you know what would make this even better? Let’s have A KID!” My wife and I had that very discussion back in 2002 which led to the birth of our daughter in 2003. I remember coming home from the hospital with our little pink bundle, Piper, thinking, “surely I have to get someone to sign off on my ability as a parent?!” Yet, everyday, millions of new moms and dads take their little bundles of joy home and spend hours upon hours just staring at them, totally unaware of the fact that life as they once knew it, is over. The new life — the one with kids in the picture — changes what needs to be done almost overnight, yet there is no operator’s manual, no instruction guide. Most new parents rely on the guidance of their own, or at the very least their friends who are in the know, when making first baby moves. Here are the 5 things you …

5 Beneficial Ways To Use Your Tax Refund

5 Beneficial Ways To Use Your Tax Refund While tax time can be a dreaded time of year, your tax refund can set you up for greater financial success IF you use it to your benefit. Seemingly unlike everyone else, I really enjoy tax season. Working at a financial firm for years, we were consistently busy just before tax day. While our clients were stressing to make the deadline, I had started preparing my taxes January 1. Minus the fact that I am a finance nerd, the excitement of  filing my taxes and deciding what to do with my refund made the process enjoyable. Assuming you’ll be receiving a refund, the big question is what to do with it to gain the greatest benefit? While the majority of people want to spend their tax refund right away, maybe this year you should put a little more thought into how you will use those newfound funds in the best way for your finances. Here are 5 ways to use your refund that pose the greatest benefit to your financial health: 1. Pay off Debt Whether you have credit card debt of $500 or a student loan debt of $42,000, paying off some of this debt can be beneficial to you. Paying off your debt may not seem glamorous, but it could boost your credit score and take away some financial stress. Consider using the amount on the lowest balance you have remaining in an attempt to knock out that debt once and for all, …

Investing In Yourself

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Investing In Yourself One of the things that has separated me from a number of my peers is the sheer amount of professional development that I’ve done over the past 10 years. I’ve spent $30-40,000 in courses, weekends, boot camps, books, CD’s, and webinars. And to be quite honest, that is a drop in the bucket compared to what some of my friends spend. (I know one very entrepreneurial couple that will spend $100k this year alone in professional education!) What amazes me is meeting people who question how much they’ll spend on a weekend training program or CD set. Spend is the operative word. What they’ll spend is a fraction of what they’ll learn and eventually earn using the information they obtained. That’s why I never perceive professional development an expense, but an investment. It’s an investment in me. And from past experience, an investment in me pays way better than an investment in the stock market, real estate, or going out on the town with friends. Let me suggest this… if you are someone that claims you don’t have enough money to do something that could radically change your world, then your not having enough money is only part of the problem. The rest of the problem is you don’t have the right mindset. Money is a very infinite thing. There is an infinite amount of money in society today. Trillions of dollars are flowing around the world right now as you read this. And yet, for most …