All posts by Hero

About Hero

I launched FinanceSuperhero in April 2016 to help others save money, get out of debt, earn more money, and live the best life possible. Send me an e-mail or a comment if I can help you in your journey. Thanks for reading!

How We Save Money on Food During the Summer

Summer is almost here, and with its arrival often comes big changes to the average person’s diet. Hearty soups, casseroles, and chili are replaced by seasonal vegetables, fruit salads, and delicious grilled meats. In this post, I’ll be sharing tips and tricks that help me and my wife save money on food during the summer months while still eating well.

Generally speaking, the tricks we use to  save money on food during the summer are somewhat similar to how we save on food any time of the year. However, there are a few tricks that work far better in the summer months than they do during any other season. So grab a notepad and pen, and read on to see the steps we take to save on food during the summer!

Summer is here! Check out these tips and tricks we use to save money on food during the summer months and keep more money in your budget now! Learn how to save money on produce, store your produce safely to maximize its freshness, find great deals on meat for the grill, and eat lots of fruits and vegetables without busting your budget.

You Must Start With a Plan

Have you ever found yourself at the grocery store without a list, with no idea what you have in your pantry and refrigerator, and an empty stomach? I’ve been there, and I can tell you that this is a recipe for disaster.

However, heading to the grocery store without a list during the summer months can be worse than any other time of the year. Our local grocery store of choice always has fresh fruit and vegetables near the main entrance. It’s almost like a trap, and if we don’t have a list, we fall for it. Every. Single. Time!

If you don’t have a list when you enter the store, you’re far more likely to end up with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in your cart. Normally, this is a good thing. But if you’re buying far more than your family will eat in a month, you’re just wasting food and money.

Related Reading:

Check Ads and Circulars for the Best Deals

Ten years ago, it was a normal practice to check weekly ads for the best grocery deals. I remember watching my parents do it every Sunday and Thursday. In a digital world, fewer and fewer people have a newspaper subscription, so ads can be hard to come by in some communities.

It is always a good idea to check out your grocery stores’ weekly deals, even if it means checking their website or downloading their app. Especially if you regularly shop at a few different grocery stores, checking out the deals in advance can help you save as much as $20 per week!

Helpful hint: We use our favorite grocery store’s app to save money automatically and earn rewards on items we would normally buy anyway.

Check out Farmer’s Markets to Save on Food During the Summer Months

If you live in a community with a farmer’s market, you owe it to yourself to check it out. As a kid, I spent many Saturday mornings visiting the markets with my Grandpa. He always had an eye for deals, and it wasn’t uncommon for us to head home with a back seat full of fresh beans, corn, tomatoes, apples, and watermelon.

Word of caution: Your local farmer’s market may not necessarily help you save money on food during the summer months on a weekly basis. Plenty of variables, such as your local economy, weather patterns, and even fees charged to merchants at your local market can have a big impact upon prices.

Download the Ibotta App

Simply put, the Ibotta app is one of the simplest ways to save money on the items you would already buy anyway. It is an easy replacement for people (like me) who hate couponing, and the savings add up very quickly over time. The best part is that they recently overhauled their app, making it much easier to save money.

Saving with Ibotta is easy. First, sign-up for free using my link - you'll receive a $10 welcome bonus just for signing up. Then download the app (available for Android and iOS) – you’ll need it later to scan your receipt.

Next, find your go-to stores (click here for a list of over 300 participating stores) in the app, link store loyalty accounts, unlock available rebates, and go shopping. When you’re finished, scan the bar codes of items featuring a rebate, snap a picture of your receipt, and submit. You’ll receive cash back into your Ibotta account within 48 hours, which you can later transfer using PayPal or use to buy gift cards.

Ibotta offers rebates on a wide range of products, including $2.00-$5.00 rebates on many varieties of beer/wine, toiletries, snack foods, and over the counter medicine, among other items.

Again, Ibotta is FREE to use and you'll receive a $10 BONUS if you sign-up today.

Know How to Store Fruits and Vegetables

Summer is by far our favorite time to buy and enjoy fresh produce. In our area of the country (the Midwest), it is also the best time of the year to get fresh, locally-grown produce.

One of the most important things to know when buying fresh produce is how to best store it to maximize its shelf life. Download the free printable to store on your refrigerator when you enter your e-mail address in the box – don’t worry, we won’t SPAM you or share your email address with anyone. You’ll also receive periodic communication from us, but you can unsubscribe at any time!

Score the Best Deals on Fresh Local Meats

Balancing the desire to support local farmers with the need to save money on food during the summer can be difficult. I know that when we host large groups for a barbecue at our house, I’m very conscious of how much money we spend.

If you are comfortable buying meat in bulk, Zaycon Fresh is aiming to change that one community at a time.

Zaycon Fresh provides high-quality, farm fresh meat directly from local farmers to your table – and their prices typically beat even Aldi and Wal-Mart! When you sign-up for FREE, Zaycon will leverage the buying power of several local families on your behalf and help you save money on food by purchasing items in bulk.

They send daily e-mail alerts on local sales events, and when you place your order, they take care of the rest. When your order is ready, you bring your receipt to a designated pick-up location near your home and collect your fresh, inexpensive meat without even leaving your car.

Pro Tip: Orders from Zaycon tend to be larger than the average family’s needs, but you can recruit a friend or two to divide up the bill, allowing everyone to save and still eat delicious meat!

Again, Zaycon Fresh is available in 1,200+ communities nationwide, and you can sign-up for FREE to save money on food today.

Stop Buying High Calorie, Dehydrating Beverages

During the summer months, hydration becomes even more important than it is during other seasons. If you routinely spend money on high calorie beverages, such as soda, juice, and alcoholic beverages, you can significantly reduce your budget during the summer by increasing your family’s water intake.

During the summer, my wife and I use these blender bottles for smoothies and water on a daily basis. If you make it a habit to carry a water bottle with you at all times, you’ll avoid the urge to splurge on expensive bottled water or sugary drinks when you’re on the go.

Try $5 Meal Plan

I’ll be honest: I can understand how buys families struggle to save money on food during the summer months. My wife and I don’t have children yet, but we see our close friends are always on the go to baseball practice, swim lessons, games, and much more.

When you’re this busy, it can seem like it is impossible to meal plan. Stopping in for a visit to McDonald’s is much easier, but the hit on your wallet can very severe.

If this is you, it may be time for $5 Meal Plan to come to your rescue. With their free, 14 day trial, summer can be a great time to try out their plans at no risk.

When you sign-up, each Friday at 11 AM ET, you’ll receive a meal plan in your e-mail inbox. The meal plan includes a shopping list and a detailed menu complete with the following:

  • Five dinner entrees with sides – Each week they include one freezer friendly, one slow cooker, and one 20-minute meal.
  • One lunch and one breakfast, plus,
  • A random goodie each week – sometimes dessert, sometimes a beverage, and sometimes it’ll be a snack (sometimes more than one!)
  • Gluten-free options (upon request)

As a member, you’ll also gain access to a private Facebook group to share recipes and tips with other subscribers.

If meal planning just isn’t working out, I recommend giving $5 Meal Plan a try. Again, you have nothing to lose when you sign-up for their FREE 14-day trial.

Final Word

I hope these tips and tricks will help you save money on food during the summer months and beyond. They have helped us save money on food during the summer while still enjoying good meals, and I believe they can work for you, too!


If you have any other tips and tricks to share that others could benefit from, please leave a note in the comments and I will add you tip to this post.

Summer is here! Check out these tips and tricks we use to save money on food during the summer months and keep more money in your budget now! Learn how to save money on produce, store your produce safely to maximize its freshness, find great deals on meat for the grill, and eat lots of fruits and vegetables without busting your budget.

 

 

Gold Investing: At Best, a Hedge – At Worst, Completely Silly

This post on gold investing is from Chelsea, the founder of Mama Fish Saves. It provides an in-depth look at the realities of investing in gold.

Gold investing was always a topic of heated debate in my house. My grandfather was a total gold bug. He was convinced that the dollar was essentially worthless since Nixon brought an end to the gold standard in 1971. No matter how often we sparred with him on the total doomsday scenario he created in his mind where we would wake up to a completely devalued US dollar, he was convinced. Gold was the only way to protect your wealth.

My grandfather passed when I was 16, but there is a vocal minority of people who still agree with him. And with markets at all-time highs, political uncertainty abounding, and low-interest rates the debate is arising yet again. So today, I wanted to share why gold should be, at most, a very small percentage of your portfolio. And why it’s 0% of mine.

Gold investing was once recommended by investment pros. But is it still wise in today's market? Stocks and bonds are a far better choice for your portfolio. Gold is artificially propped up by investors, useless in the event of a world-wide disaster, and does not generate high enough returns to warrant a place in your portfolio.

Why some people invest in gold

Overall, I think gold investing is silly and I don’t do it myself. But for fairness, let’s start with the valid reasons some people might invest in gold. Because, arguably, there actually are some. Today, gold is primarily an investment vehicle. Gold is discussed alongside interest rates and currency values, not end user demand like other commodities. But people have valued it for generations and it still could have a small spot in your investment portfolio.

Gold can be good for diversification.

When we face a recession, the US dollar weakens, or any kind of broader crisis occurs, stocks usually decline while gold rises. The point of diversification is to have different assets that don’t move in lockstep. The way gold moves opposite the market is a positive for smoothing returns.

Gold is good when you’re worried about inflation.

The core reason many investors purchase gold is because it holds its value. Gold investors like my grandfather don’t like that the Federal Reserve can “just print money whenever they want” and value gold for its scarcity. And over the past 50 years, they have largely been right. Since 1802, the value of gold has increased about 0.6% a year, on average, while the value of a dollar has declined 1.4%, according to AAII.

Over the very long term, gold has shown much weaker returns than the stock market, which we will discuss below. That has not been the case over the last 17 years, with gold up 348% since 2000. However, that is more indicative of an investment bubble than a strong track record. If you really want to invest in gold or are particularly worried about geopolitical issues, I would recommend viewing it as an alternative investment in your asset allocation. Cap your gold investments to 5% (maybe 10%) of your total investment portfolio and buy ETFs instead of gold bars and coins.

Related Reading:

Why gold investing is silly

Winston Churchill once said, “If you put two economists in a room, you get two opinions, unless one of them is Lord Keynes, in which case you get three opinions.” This is true on almost every economic issue with the exception of the gold standard.

In 2012 at the Initiative on Global Markets at the University of Chicago, a panel of economic experts were asked if they agreed that a return to the gold standard would improve life for the average American. Results were unanimous with 100% of economists disagreeing with the proposition. Chicago’s Richard Thaler went so far as to say, “Why tie to gold? Why not 1982 Bordeaux?”

It has been over a decade since I debated with my grandfather about the merits of the gold standard and investing in gold. But if anything, I think his arguments are more ridiculous today than I did then. Here’s why.

You’re giving up returns to “invest” in gold

Choosing to put your money in gold is one step above not investing at all. Stocks pay dividends, public companies grow over the long term and increase their stock value, bonds pay interest. Gold does, well, none of those things. While gold might not suffer the inflation risk of simply leaving your cash in a savings account, there is still an opportunity cost of holding it. Over the long-term you are giving up significant returns for perceived security. Below I included a publicly available chart from AAII, a nonprofit investment educator, to show the difference in historical returns adjusted for inflation. Since 1802, stocks have returned an average of 6.7% a year while gold has returned 0.6%.

Source link – http://www.aaii.com/files/images/articles/9298-figure-1.jpg

Gold pricing is propped up by investors

To me, the craziest part of gold investing is retail (personal) investors who say it is beneficial because it has intrinsic value that can be passed down through generations, unlike that ridiculous paper dollar. But gold doesn’t have intrinsic value. We don’t need it for almost anything outside of jewelry. We don’t consume it; the world wouldn’t stop without it.

Since 2000, gold prices have risen 348%. In that same time period, real demand for gold for jewelry and some other small industrial, dental and technology uses has fallen over 35% according to the World Gold Council. Demand fell and prices rose. Oops, we broke economics.

What happened was that investors stepped in. Gold ETFs (exchange traded funds) were created in the early 2000s which allowed individuals to purchase gold without having to actually bury gold bars in their backyard. Investment demand grew from 160 tons in 2000 to 1,574 tons in 2016. An increase of almost 10x! This meant that investment demand went from being 4% of total demand to 36%.

What do we think would happen to gold prices if investors suddenly decided they didn’t want to be invested in gold anymore? Or if the decline in popularity of gold jewelry continues and people start taking advantage of the high gold prices to sell old jewelry for cash? The price will plummet closer to real demand and kill any potential returns.

Gold has value because we say it has value. The same complaint gold bugs make about the US dollar and other floating currencies. The difference is, it is far easier to imagine the music stopping for gold than for the dollar.

The supply of gold is constantly increasing

When you use 15 gallons of gasoline in your car, it is gone. The world no longer has those 15 gallons and it will take the planet thousands and thousands of years to produce 15 new gallons. With gold, almost all of the gold mined in the history of the world still exists today. Whether in jewelry, gold bars, or dental fillings, the gold got processed but not consumed. Every year we mine more gold and the absolute supply grows.

We have way more gold than we actually need, which is almost ironic. The exact commodity prized for its scarcity is really quite abundant.

The doomsday preppers don’t need gold

I saved the silliest for last because it is a debate I actually had with my grandfather more than once. He would explain to me this dystopian scenario where the economy or U.S. government would collapse, the U.S. dollar would be worth nothing, and we would need gold. It is actually a relatively common argument among conspiracy theorists. They have a deep seeded distrust of the government and authorities so they hide in gold.

But in a collapse of the world as we know it, what would you possibly do with gold? If your neighbor had fresh water, and you had none, he isn’t going to give you any for all the gold bars in your basement. It would be useless to him! If some kind of global crisis is what you are preparing for, you probably aren’t reading this blog. You wouldn’t trust me. I’ve been told I don’t understand. However, if you are here, I’ve got some tips. I’m not going to try to convince you the world will be fine. I don’t know that and you wouldn’t believe me. But if you really want to prep, maybe focus on food, water, and fuel. And invest in the market, just in case everything turns out alright.

Gold investing is an inflation hedge, not a path to real returns

Overall, choosing to invest in gold is accepting that over the long-term you’re giving up returns. Gold is a hedge against inflation, and performs better than cash, but you shouldn’t have a lot of cash sitting around anyway. If you can invest through the cycle, with discipline, and for the long-term, you are almost always better off buying stocks and bonds over gold bars. But good luck convincing Grandpa.

Mama Fish Saves | Gold InvestingChelsea is a mother, wife, investment professional, and personal finance nerd.

She founded Mama Fish Saves, a personal finance blog for families to provide simple answers to all the money questions we didn’t get answered in school.

She hopes to help parents feel empowered about their finances so they can achieve their dreams and raise financially smart kids!

Subscribe to her blog and follow along here.

 


What is your take on gold investing? What percentage of your portfolio is in gold or precious metals?

gold investing | should I invest in gold? | gold

Self-Pity is the Enemy of Progress

Are you generally happy when you see others experience success? Or do you find yourself indulging in a round of self-pity, wondering why others achieve progress and reach their goals and you don’t?

Personally, I’ve been on both sides of the fence over the years. Though it is hard to admit, I spent much of my youth mired in pride which bordered on arrogance at times. I felt, unjustifiably, that hard work entitled me to success and getting what I wanted. Only in adulthood did I learn to practice humility and acceptance when things don’t go my way.

A funny thing happens when you learn to embrace humility; you realize that the universe does not revolve around you, that other people have intrinsic value, and sometimes things just don’t go your way. This lesson is not easy to learn, nor is it fun, but it is incredibly important.

When things don’t go your way, you have two choices. Accept the outcome, learn from it, and continue to persevere in the face of failure, or drown your sorrows in self-pity.

In my opinion, self-pity is always the wrong choice because it is the enemy of progress.

Please don’t misread my stance as insensitive. Rising above difficult circumstances is very challenging, especially emotionally. It almost always requires specific action. And as Einstein so eloquently stated, insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Related Reading:

If you're not where you want to be, the lesson is simple: stop the bitterness and self-pity and get to work on changing your circumstances. Nobody else is going to do it for you. You can take appropriate steps to improve yourself and get back on track when you accept responsibility for your circumstances.

You Choose Your Response

Last week, the story of how my wife and I paid off $18,000 of student loan debt in 54 days was featured on CNBC and Yahoo Finance. We received many kind messages from friends, family, co-workers, and bloggers who happened to see the article. I’m not one to enjoy being in the spotlight – in fact, it embarrasses me to a degree – but I was glad that our story was being shared with people who may be feeling stuck in debt. “It might help them,” I thought.

Friday evening, I made the mistake of reading the comments on one of the articles, and while I won’t give any of them space in this piece, suffice it to say that many of them were intensely negative.

This didn’t come as a surprise to me, as internet trolls are often the most egregious practitioners of self-pity. But it did lead me to think about how many of the people who whined and complained that their circumstances would never allow them to escape debt were casting self-fulfilling prophesies.

In comment after comment, I noticed that a majority of their authors seemingly felt victimized by their circumstances. And while many of them truly found themselves in tough financial situations, it appeared that few of them had actively accepted responsibility and ownership of the situation and formulated a game plan to do something.

Contrary to the prevailing theme of these comments, the truth is your circumstances have very little to do with whether or not you accomplish your goals – financial or otherwise. People who achieve their dreams take the energy that they could easily put into self-pity and instead channel it into action. They accept responsibility for enacting change, even when it is hard.

The moment you allow yourself to start the self-pity train in motion and allow yourself to believe that you are a victim, you’ve lost, in my experience. Bad things – job loss, massive debt, debilitating illness, and catastrophic loss – happen to people all the time.

Self-pity assumes, wrongly so, that you are somehow more special than others and should not have to experience hardship. This is demonstrably wrong.

Though you have little choice in whether they happen to you, you absolutely must believe that you DO have a choice in how you respond when adversity strikes!

How to Channel Self-Pity Into Action

For the sake of your health and happiness, it is crucial that you learn to accept that things won’t always go your way and. To take it one step further, you should be happy for others when they succeed.

Jealousy disguised as self-pity will get you nowhere. As William Penn said, “The jealous are troublesome to others but a torment to themselves.” Translation: allowing yourself to be jealous is like shooting yourself in the foot.

The truth is that one of the best ways to achieve success yourself is by emulating others who have accomplished what you want to achieve yourself. When I learned CNBC would be sharing our story, I had high hopes that many people would read it and copy our method to crush their student loan debt in a hurry.

Instead, many decided that our story was a lie, that it couldn’t be done, that my wife and I (two teachers) must have inherited money, that we must earn over $200,000 per year, and so on. Again, I’m not surprised or hurt by these comments. I stopped caring what strangers think of me long ago.

But I have to admit I am sad that so many of the commenters missed the point of our story entirely:

No matter what you circumstances may be, you and only you are responsible for taking action to change them and refusing to allow them to hold you back.

Want to lose weight but find that you keep eating junk food instead? Throw it out and don’t buy more.

Stuck in debt but find yourself living paycheck to paycheck? Do whatever it takes to earn more money and cut all unnecessary expenses.

Feel that you are underpaid in your current job? Prove that you deserve a raise or seek a new job and a higher salary.

Whining about your student loan debt while you drive around in a brand new car with a $500 per month payment? Stop it. And sell the car.

Final Word

If you’re not where you want to be, the lesson is simple: stop the bitterness and self-pity and get to work on changing your circumstances. Nobody else is going to do it for you.

Stop believing that you are a victim of your circumstances. Refuse to believe that you must continue to be stuck and unhappy. When you see others succeed, follow their path and channel motivation from their story.

And when you find yourself in difficult circumstances, don’t continue feeling bad for yourself for too long.

Remember: self-pity and progress cannot co-exist.

You CAN do it. I am rooting for you!


Readers: Is there an appropriate time for self-pity? Is my position too harsh?

self-pity | take action | change your circumstances

Create a Winning Action Plan to Reduce Your Financial Stress

If we were to conduct an informal poll on the street today and ask people what they are most stressed about, money would be one of the most common responses. It is easy to assume that financial stress exists only for low income families or those dealing with some sort of unusual crisis, but the truth is that everyone, rich or not, deals with financial stress on a regular basis. In fact, many people literally become ill because of their money worries.

A 2015 study by the American Psychological Association revealed that money is the leading cause of stress among adults under age 49. Respondents reported losing sleep over their worries, experiencing elevated blood pressure, and the compulsion to check their account balances, among other side effects.

I can attest to the cold fact that financial stress is scary, even crippling. I’ve experienced a wide gamut of money-related worries myself, including health concerns, job loss, and student loan debt. Each time, the burdens I experienced impacted my ability to function normally.

When we experience financial stress, the psychological weight of our worries not only impacts our abilities to perform usual day to day functions; it also makes it much more difficult to form and act on a plan to wipe out the cause of the financial stress.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or burdened by your financial situation, whether it involves job loss, enormous debt, feeling stuck in your job, or lack of a long-term game plan for your money, your situation is not hopeless. Set aside a block of time, grab a pad of paper, and follow the steps below to create an action plan to crush your financial stress.

Money is the leading cause of stress in the world today. You can reduce your financial stress by creating a winning action plan today! This guide is a quick read and the steps described take only minutes to complete.

Where to Start? Write Down the Causes of Your Financial Stress

When you are stressed about money, it can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint the exact causes. You may be dealing with immediate, time sensitive stress, like debt collectors and their annoying phone calls or late payment notices in the mail. You may be overwhelmed by long-term tasks that you’ve been putting off for years, such as getting life insurance, forming a will and trust, or refinancing your mortgage.

The best way to start to eliminate your financial stress is to do a brain dump. Grab a pad of paper and create a specific numbered list of everything money-related which is currently causing you to experience stress.

It can include things like regular bills, insurance matters, car registrations, taxes, mortgage refinancing, life insurance needs, scheduling medical appointments, and grocery shopping. It may also include far-off future events to plan for, such as weddings, college, retirement goals, long-term care plans, estate plans, and more.

When you create this list, remember: nothing is off limits! If it involves money and it is bothering you, write it down!

Related Reading:

Scan Your List for Quick Wins

Once you’ve finished your list, scan through it several times to look for quick wins, i.e. items that you can tackle right away to reduce your stress. For example, if you have a stack of unpaid bills sitting on your desk, pay them right away and set-up auto pay with your bank to avoid future stress.

From here on out, make it a habit to take care of future quick win items as soon as they arise. The following guidelines should help:

  • When bills arrive in the mail, pay them right away.
  • Handle all mail items only once. When you open it, decide right away what action is necessary based on the nature of the mail, i.e. pay the bill, file the document for later use, or shred it.
  • Schedule reminders in your calendar or mobile device for any time-sensitive financial events.

Rank Remaining Items

Now that your list of items causing financial stress is smaller, it is time to rank remaining items according to their priority. The most effective way to do so is by ranking items according to their urgency and overall importance.

To rank the remaining items by urgency, or time sensitivity, use a scale of 1-5. Rank items which are not time sensitive as a “1” and urgent items as a “5.”

Next, rank your items according to their overall importance in terms of financial weight. This extra step will serve as added protection to make sure that expensive and potentially costly items don’t slip through the cracks (i.e. missing a mortgage payment, failure to pay your federal tax obligations, etc.).

At this stage, it is easier to rate and sort the remaining sources of financial stress according to the four quadrants below.

Transferring the items on your list to the chart above will provide a visual action plan and reduce your financial stress because you will be able to clearly see what action is needed. Start by addressing the Urgent/Important quadrant, then Urgent/Not Important, followed by Not Urgent/Important and Not Urgent/Not Important.

The Best Way to Reduce Financial Stress

The method described above is not a magic bullet to prevent financial stress, but it does represent a simple and effective plan to reduce it in a manner of minutes.

No matter what obstacles your present situation has placed in your way, the presence of an action plan can provide the hope that you need to channel your emotions into action. Grab a pad of paper and pen and create your plan today!


How do you cope with financial stress?

Money is the leading cause of stress in the world today. You can reduce your financial stress by creating a winning action plan today!

The Best Financial Advice Is Not Sophisticated

Advice and pro tips on just about every topic imaginable are available in just a few clicks or swipes on a pocket-sized device today. The best financial advice is no exception. Based upon the wealth of information available to everyone with a mobile device, there are increasingly fewer and fewer reasons for the lack of wisdom and overall financial mismanagement which are common today.

Ironically, we just may be living in a period of the worst personal financial mismanagement of all-time, despite access to information having reached an all-time high.

Recently, I read a Yahoo Finance article about Derek Sall, the owner of Life and My Finances, who impressively paid off over $116,000 of debt before turning 30. In the article, Sall shared his best financial advice.

“The best tip I can give is just live your own life,” he said. “The best way to just live simply and be content is just to turn it all of and hardly pay attention to it at all. Because that’s what gets people in the most trouble.”

As I read this, I nodded my head in agreement with Sall. It’s very good advice from someone who has earned the right to talk the talk by walking the walk, so to speak.

Then I scrolled down and started reading the comments section – the place where mis-informed and overconfident readers typically congregate to spread poor ideas on large sites like Yahoo.

Apparently, Sall’s advice struck a nerve with the internet trolls. Here is a selection of some of the comments:

  • “Fake news”
  • “Thanks for the useless ad for [Derek’s] blog.”
  • “How much did you get paid for this useless tip?”
  • “So the tip is to just ‘live your life’?”
  • But folks . . . Not to rain on anyone’s parade here, BUT . . . If everyone did that, only buying what they need, just think how many people would be out of manufacturing jobs, retail jobs, mortgage jobs, etc. Also how much sales tax would the government be missing out on?”
  • “nothing new here”
  • “Bet this guy makes $100,000,000 on suckers who buy his book. There is no get-rich-quick scheme that is legal. BEWARE.”
  • “That’s awesome that this guy is out of debt. But it seems like he missed out on doing a bunch of stuff while in the prime of his life. I go to work to make money. The point of having some money is so I can do things that I want to do, as well as save some of it.”
  • “Let me guess, he cancelled his cable and quit getting a morning latte at Starbucks, it works every time.”
  • “The tip is don’t spend money, okay got it.”

After reading through all of the comments, the exact reason why so many people manage their money poorly occurred to me:

The best financial advice is not sophisticated.

Some things in life are just better when they are simple and uncomplicated. Despite countless common lies, the best financial advice is not sophisticated.

Complicating the Uncomplicated

More and more, it seems that people want to reject any kind of advice which is simple at its core. We are prone to rejecting basic ideas in favor of the more complex, as if complicated advice is somehow better by default.

Based upon the comments above, many readers assumed that there was no way Derek achieved debt freedom simply by living his own life on his own terms. In their minds, the secret to financial success had to be more complicated.

This attitude is all wrong.

The truth is that achieving financial success isn’t complicated and the best financial advice out there is not sophisticated.

The Best Financial Advice is Simple

The main reason I’ve always been interested in money and personal finance is because money is simple. It doesn’t have a mind or life of its own, and it does exactly what I tell it to do. It’s like every dollar I possess becomes a tiny employee who exists to answer to my every bidding.

And at the end of the day the total value of my money is largely dependent upon the actions of one person: me. My choices determine whether my financial net worth grows or dwindles.

If I use my basic arithmetic skills and reconcile my earnings and expenses properly, I can be sure that I stay in command of my  choices and my money. And if I plan ahead a bit, I may even save money!

Many people can’t bring themselves to accept that money management is really this easy and simple. They insist that such a basic approach – keeping a budget, spending less than what is earned, and saving the rest – is only for unsophisticated simpletons.

The truth is that there is a tremendous degree of sophistication in simplicity. And realizing and embracing this truth is not only one of the keys to overall financial well-being; it’s one of the keys to happiness in general.

The problem is that we live in a society which has completely rejected simplicity. Take a walk through your local grocery store with open eyes and you’ll see what I mean – dozens of varieties of toothpaste, entire rows devoted to snack foods, and more flavors of ice cream than Dairy Queen.

Variety makes life interesting, to be certain, but there is a breaking point in which complexity leads to analysis paralysis. This is true of grocery shopping, and it is true of personal finance.

Some things in life, including money, are just better when they are simple and uncomplicated. It’s time for all of us, the internet trolls included, to accept this truth, embrace it, and live happily.


What is the best financial advice you’ve ever been given? Is it complicated?

Some things in life are just better when they are simple and uncomplicated. Despite countless common lies, the best financial advice is not sophisticated.

Why College Isn’t For Everyone

These words are difficult for me to write. But in this season of graduation parties and commencement ceremonies, they need to be written: College isn’t for everyone.

I am a public school teacher who holds both BA and MA degrees. My mother earned her Associates degree, and my father completed his GED. They encouraged me to pursue higher education because they wanted me to live the best life possible.

My wife and I are small business owners. We owe much of our success to the excellent educations we received. In fact, we wouldn’t be where we are today without those experiences.

Despite the obvious impact of education in my life, I still believe college isn’t for everyone.

College and career options have been on my mind, in local Chicago news, and in the national news thanks to New York and news of free college tuition. A recent student petition at Naperville North High School has shed light on the enormous pressure being placed upon students to do everything possible to improve their chances of getting into a good college.

As the petition points out, the problem is that not every student will follow the college pathway. Underneath the steady buzz of the message that college is the only path toward success, many students are left wondering how to fit in now and move forward after school.

Encouraging every high school student to go to college is incredibly irresponsible, yet it happens – and not just in communities like Naperville. What follows is similar to pushing a square peg into a round hole. Countless students finish high school, wander aimlessly into college because it is expected, take out thousands of dollars in student loans, and then drop out after three semesters.

Why does this happen?

College isn’t for everyone.

The "college or bust" mentality misleads students, disrespects skilled trades, and promotes a dangerous lie: college isn't for everyone.

The Obvious Problems

As recently as a few decades ago, most communities respected a student’s decision to join the work force right away after high school. Many students found their niche in jobs in manufacturing, local agriculture, and trade skills, paid their dues, and moved up the ranks within their companies over time.

In the past, these career pathways were considered both valid and highly respected. Today, many communities stigmatize these jobs and teach their children that they deserve “better.”

There are two clear cut problems with this mentality:

  1. If everyone were to go to college, communities would face a dire shortage of plumbers, welders, automotive repair specialists, roofers, builders, handymen, electricians, HVAC technicians, and many other important cornerstone jobs.
  2. Jobs that require college degrees are in no way “better” than those with less education requirements. In fact, many skilled trades which don’t require a college education offer greater earning potential.

At its core, this “college or bust” mentality is extremely damaging and out of touch with reality. It places undue pressure on kids to begin resume building and choosing a career path as early as middle school.

And worst of all, it encourages young people to chase empty prestige while missing an opportunity to identify their passion and purpose.

The Consequences

When students decide to attend college, they understandably focus on their future career enjoyment, earnings, and quality of life. Those visions rarely account for the potential reality that their future just may be a life of student loan debt and no degree.

Related:

For many students, college is potentially the most costly mistake they’ll make in their lifetimes. They will lose years of earning potential and reduce the power of compounding interest in their investment portfolios.

I have several friends who took out student loans to attend college, some for as many as six years, and never completed their degrees. Some of them are too lazy to finish up a class or two to complete their programs, while others floundered from major to major every semester before calling it quits.

Each one of them wasted several years of their young adult lives taking upon debt to receive educational training which provides limited or no economic benefits to them today. Their embarrassment and regret are noticeable.

A Degree is Not a Guarantee

In high school, I distinctly remember being told many times that earning a college degree was a guaranteed ticket to a successful future. This is still taught in most schools today. The sad truth is that while a college degree offers many opportunities for career and earnings advancement, nothing is guaranteed.

I have many friends who went to college for 4-5 years, earned their degree, and now are not even using it due to one reason or another. Some of them realized they had pigeon-holed themselves into careers they hated. Others had made errors in calculation. A few people unexpectedly found themselves in dying or down job markets.

The disillusionment and anger these friends experience is both understandable and noticeable. Many of them are no closer to finding a career they love than when they finished high school. They have nothing to show for their years of studying, other than a punched ticket to the 10 year student loan debt club.

The Solution

The stigma that college is the only way needs to change. It is time for communities, school districts, and parents to acknowledge and promote the obvious truth: college isn’t for everyone after all.

Many communities already understand this and are taking active steps to help every high school graduate be prepared for what lies beyond high school. I am fortunate to live and teach in a school district which seeks to serve all of its students by providing options and training to those who wish to join the work force upon graduation. Every day, I count it a blessing that my former students have not been led to believe that college is the only pathway to success.

If you are fortunate to have a teenager or young adult in your life, please take the opportunity to remind them that college isn’t for everyone. Your words may empower them to shed family and peer pressure and choose a path which better aligns with their goals and strengths.


Do you believe everyone should attend college?

7 Critical Ways Dave Ramsey is Right About Money

Dave Ramsey is one of the biggest household names when it comes to personal finance experts. His story and teachings have helped millions of people get out of debt and build a well-balanced financial position, and his books, radio show, columns, courses, and videos are among the most popular personal finance materials available. Even so, a vocal contingent of critics question whether Dave Ramsey is right on many key issues.

Ramsey is not bashful about his strongly-held beliefs. He strongly opposes debt (other than 15 year mortgages in which the monthly payment is no more than 25 percent of a family’s take home pay), leads the charge against credit card use, and encourages people who are ridden with debt to pay off their obligations in order beginning with their smallest debts rather than base repayment on interest rates.

Millions of people have followed Ramsey’s Seven Baby Steps to achieve financial success, yet his advice is more widely-criticized than many other financial experts.

If you’re looking for a financial guru to follow, Dave Ramsey is certainly a popular choice. His advice is not always easy to follow, but it is difficult to argue with his results.

Read on to consider 7 ways Dave Ramsey is right about money – even in the face of criticism.

Dave Ramsey is one of the biggest names in personal finance, but he is criticized widely for many of his teachings. Read on to see 7 critical ways Dave Ramsey is right - and his critics are wrong - about money.

7 Ways Dave Ramsey is Right – and Others Are Wrong

Dave Ramsey is the first to admit that his life story and beliefs may be strange to some people. Through a rapid-rise in the real estate career, Ramsey became a millionaire by age 26 and promptly lost everything in bankruptcy soon after.

Writes Ramsey,

I was making $250,000 a year. That’s more than $20,000 a month net taxable income. I was really having fun. But 98% truth is a lie. That 2% can cause big problems, especially with $4 million in real estate. I had a lot of debt—a lot of short-term debt—and I’m the idiot who signed up for the trip.

When the dust finally settled, the resilient Ramsey was determined to recover and learn from his mistakes and help others win with money.

His Advice is Rooted in Experience and Research

Among the ways Dave Ramsey is right, it is most important to note that his teachings and philosophies are based upon both personal experience and expert research. Critics and competitors love to paint Ramsey as a fraud, but the truth is that he lived through the trials and struggles that his followers face and came out on top.

When Ramsey lost everything, he started a mission to learn everything he could about personal finance. He read every relevant book he could get his hands on, interviewed countless people who had experienced financial success, and acted upon everything he learned.

From the rubble, Ramsey created a framework that has helped millions of people, himself include, pay off debt and build wealth.

An Expert Motivator

While many financial experts take a strictly academic approach to personal finance, Dave Ramsey understands that motivation to get started is a foundational piece of each person’s financial journey. He is an expert when it comes to empowering people who want to change – as he puts it, those who are “sick and tired of being sick and tired” – and motivating them to take action.

The short video below is a great example of his ability to motivate people to take action.

Saving is the Best Way to Get Started

In Financial Peace University, Ramsey teaches students to build a $1,000 starter emergency fund before doing anything else with money. He calls this action Baby Step One.

Dave Ramsey is right when advising people to start with saving because it is an effective way to initiate change and protect against financial emergencies which could cause people to go further into debt.

Much in the same way that a running coach would not expect a new runner to step out and run a marathon on day one, Ramsey helps people start improving their financial situation with slow and manageable change by encouraging saving.

Related Reading:

Quick Wins Are Contagious

On a related note, Ramsey understands that personal finance is not just mathematical, but also emotional, behavioral, and psychological. People are able to start his program and stick with it thanks to the power of quick wins.

Once people move on to paying off non-mortgage debt in Baby Step Two, Ramsey advises people pay off their debts from smallest to largest balance. Thanks to momentum and positive excitement, Ramsey Solutions reports that students pay off all of their debt in 18-24 months, on average.

Money and Multi-tasking Don’t Mix

Over the past decade, consistent research has emerged demonstrating that multi-tasking doesn’t work. According to Psychology Today,

  • Multi-tasking wastes time
  • It decreases accuracy
  • The human brain is not equipped to multi-task

Ramsey deserves credit for realizing this back in the 1990s and incorporating this understanding into the development of the Baby Steps.

Simply put, Dave Ramsey is right – multi-tasking with money is slow, ineffective, and expensive. It is far wiser to focus on one financial goal at a time, especially when looking to pay off debt.

A Budget is Critical

One of the most memorable aspects of Ramsey’s teaching lies in his tendency to repeat teachings in the form of catchy sound bytes. For example, regular listeners have heard Dave say the following many times:

Your biggest wealth-building tool is your income, and the best way to harness the power of your income is the monthly budget because everything else flows from the budget.

The importance of a budget is just one way Dave Ramsey is right when it comes to financial advice.
A look at Dave Ramsey’s recommended budgeting percentages (Credit: EveryDollar)

Though some experts argue otherwise, I believe Dave Ramsey is right – a budget is a fundamental component of a winning financial plan. 

The truth is that people who don’t budget are much more likely to become financial reactionaries who wonder where their money goes each month.

The word “budget” has taken on all kinds of unjust negative connotations. Many people believe that a budget is too restricting, a thing of the past, or something that only frugal or cheap people follow.

As Ramsey points out, other people are afraid to start a budget out of fear of what they might discover. However, the numbers don’t lie – people who create a budget pay off more debt and save more money.

Related Reading:

Leveraging Debt is Risky

Among the ways Dave Ramsey is right, his teaching on the dangerous risk of leveraging debt may be his most famous.

Even in a time of historically-low interest rates, Ramsey continues to preach the virtues of debt freedom. Why? Ultimately, a life void of debt is a life of minimal financial risk.

On his radio show, Ramsey frequently reminds audiences that 0% of homes without a mortgage are foreclosed on every year. He also is quick to quote the world’s second-richest man, Warren Buffet (“You can tell who was skinny dipping when the tide goes out”), when discussing investment risk.

While some experts continue to falsely teach that debt is a tool to be manipulated for gain, Dave Ramsey is right – very few wealthy people gained their wealth by leveraging debt, and those who did got very lucky.

Final Word

Dave Ramsey’s financial advice is not equally effective for people in all financial stages of life, but there is a reason his framework has helped millions of people get their finances in order. As Ramsey says, his plan teaches people a systematic, common sense approach to managing their finances “God’s and grandma’s way.”

Undoubtedly, Ramsey will continue to draw the ire of critics, but results don’t lie.


What Dave Ramsey advice resonates with you? How do you follow and implement his teachings?

It’s Time to Stop Mom Shaming

Last month, I received a question via email from a reader – we’ll call her Anna – asking whether her friend should consider leaving her job to become a stay at home mom. Immediately, it made me think less about financial matters and more about just how wide-spread mom shaming has become. Anna wrote:

Hey FinanceSuperhero!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether to keep working full time hours to kick debt to the curb or to stay home with little kids and resume working full time when they are older. Asking for a friend…… 😉

Anna

With Mother’s Day approaching (husbands, consider this your reminder to head out shopping for gifts now!), today is the perfect day to answer Anna’s question. Though this is a personal finance blog, my answer may surprise you.

As a disclaimer, though I may be considered an expert when it comes to financial matters and paying off debt, I’m far from being a knowledgeable pro when it comes to motherhood.

I’m not even a father yet, but I can see that being a mother is a true superhero effort.

My opinions which follow are rooted in my beliefs and values regarding family and money, but they may or may not align with your values.

Take them with a grain of salt.

This post is for any mother who has ever dealt with stay at home mom shaming. It is also for the moms out there who have been made to feel guilty for continuing their careers after having children.

This post is for the moms who haven’t had more than 10 minutes to themselves in weeks or months. It’s for the moms who somehow manage to put dinner on the table, keep their kids in clean clothing, help with homework, chauffeur kids to practices on opposite ends of the Earth, and keep a clean house.

And it is for the moms who transition from board room presentations, the classroom, or the hospital to becoming everything for their children every day without skipping a beat.

In Defense and Praise of the Stay at Home Mom

Seventy years ago, nobody questioned a mother’s decision to stay home with her children. Over the decades, the pendulum has swung the opposite direction, and in contrast, today there is practically a full-blown war between stay at home moms (SAHMs) and working moms to determine whose job is more difficult and more important.

Related: The toxic myth that working moms fail their kids is fueled by decades-old bad science

Recently, stay at home mom shaming seems to have reached new heights. I’ve spoken with dozens of SAHMs over the past several years, and most of them have heard variations of the following comments:

  • “It must be SO nice to stay home every day.”
  • “What on Earth do you do all day?”
  • “Do you miss real work?”
  • “I wish I could stay at home like you but we have bills to pay.”

Some of these questions may seem innocent at first glance, but they are all classic forms of stay at home mom shaming. They demean and belittle the selfless actions of the stay at home mom. They imply that stay at home moms are second-rate contributors to society.

It’s an absolutely ridiculous notion, and it needs to stop.

stay at home mom | mom shaming | working mom | motherhood

As a teacher, I can confidently say that kids are rare creatures who can simultaneously be awesome and awful; sometimes they are perfect, and other times even Mother Teresa herself would lack the patience to deal with them. My additional experience as an uncle confirms this.

In my opinion, the difficulty in committing to raise children full-time makes the choice to be  a stay at home mom one of the noblest choices a woman can make.

Working Moms Deserve Credit, Too

On the opposite end of the spectrum, working moms receive their undue share of shaming as well. Even though Anna’s email above is very short, it’s easy to detect a hint of its effects on her thought process.

It is unacceptable that working moms are made to feel like they don’t truly love their children because they work outside of the home. All too often working moms are subjected to an onslaught of comments:

  • “You shouldn’t have had kids if you can’t be their mother.”
  • “Do you feel bad that you don’t get quality time with your kids?”
  • “Aren’t you worried about how your kids will turn out being raised in day care?”
  • “It must be so nice to get out of the house and have some time to yourself!”

Yes, working mom shaming is just as prevalent as stay at home mom shaming. 

And the worst part about all mom shaming, regardless of its specific nature, is that its basic premise assumes a mother’s value is found in her financial or child-raising contributions to her family.

The truth is that a mother’s real value cannot be evaluated by her bank ledgers, credit scores, work evaluations, tallies of minutes and hours spent with her children, number of loads of laundry washed and folded, or the cleanliness of her home. It is so much more than that.

A mother’s true inherent value is rooted in love for her children. Whatever ancillary titles we choose to bestow – stay at home, working, and others – are secondary if not entirely insignificant.

What can we learn from all of this?

It’s time to stop all forms of mom shaming.

The Decision: Stay Home or Work?

In light of the truth that a mom’s value has no connection to whether she works or stays home to raise children, the answer to Anna’s question becomes much more simple. In my opinion, it largely becomes a matter that must be decided on principle and personal preference.

That said, I believe there are a number of universal truths which Anna’s friend should consider before deciding to embrace the stay at home mom life or keep working to pay off debt.

First, it is important to realize that as a mom, you can always go back to work and earn more money after your kids are grown and in school. But you can’t go back in time and regain special moments with your kids once they’re grown.

Second, while money is important, it is far from being everything. In fact, it isn’t even near the top of a well-crafted priority list.

Third, money will not buy or replace your children’s happiness. Children genuinely crave and need positive interaction and quality time with their parents more than they need anything else.

Related: Buying More Stuff Won’t Make You Happy

Fourth, the choice to stay home with children need not be entirely an economic one. Salary and the cost of child care are certainly critical factors to consider, but they aren’t the only factors. Multiple children tend to complicate these decisions even further, as staying home vs. sending multiple children to day care could be a wash, financially-speaking.

Making a Difficult Choice

Ultimately, the decision to work or stay home with children is a difficult choice that every mother must make at some point. There isn’t a definitive right or wrong answer.

However, what is abundantly clear is that the mom shaming – on all fronts – needs to stop. Though I cannot possibly understand the frustration, anger, exhaustion, and countless other struggles you go through, I do know this, moms:

Participation in The Mommy Wars isn’t helping you or your fellow moms.

Stop tearing each other down with hurtful questions, snarky comments, and judgmental glances.

Support each other. Build each other up. Be encouraging.

After all, your kids are watching.

To Anna’s friend, and all mothers out there:

No matter what path you choose, remember that your job/career or choice to leave them behind has absolutely nothing to do with your value or worth as a person and mother.

Sometimes a job is just a job. An income is just an income. And debt is just debt.

Your contributions to this world, your family, and especially your kids, are so much more than monetary in nature. In everything you do, you’re the true superheroes.

So boldly do what is best for you and your family and make no apologies for it.

Have a Happy Mother’s Day.


Readers, what thoughts do you have to add for Anna’s friend and all mothers who are deciding between working and staying home?

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The Best Resources to Refinance Debt and Pay It Off Faster

Millions of people feel stuck in debt. You might be one of them. The weight of payments could be crushing your motivation and hope. You might be wondering how you’ll ever pay off your debts, if you should refinance debt, and where to start sorting through your financial mess.

A recent NerdWallet study revealed that the average American household with any debt owes over $136,000 in debt including mortgages. The consequences of such high debt levels range from minor inconvenience to financial devastation. High interest rates, long terms, hidden fees, and cumbersome payments and have led countless people to a fork in the road: refinance debt to gain some breathing room or pay it off early.

I know exactly how awful the weight of debt can feel. My wife and I were drowning in over $17,000 of student loan debt as recently as 2016. We were two of the lucky ones; we were able to trim our budget and lifestyle, take a few steps to increase our income, and pay off this debt in only 54 days.

Related Reading: How We Paid Off $17,000+ in Just 54 Days

But this isn’t reality for everyone. Your circumstances might not allow you to pay off debt so quickly. You could be in debt so deeply that even paying minimum payments or interest payments is stressful or very difficult. Perhaps you’re already on a bare bones, beans and rice budget and still find yourself struggling.

Maybe you’re reading this because you know that the chance to refinance debt could be your last hope.

Should You Even Bother to Refinance Debt?

If you're in debt, the choice to refinance debt could be the spark to start paying it off quickly. Check out these helpful resources and crush your debt! We'll show you how to refinance student loans, use personal loans responsibly to refinance debt, review your options to refinance your mortgage before rates go up, and much more! If you're looking to stop wasting money on high interest payments to lenders, you need to read this article!Whether you have a car loan, mortgage with a high interest rate, home equity loan, or student loan debt, it may be possible to refinance debt and save thousands of dollars in the process. Unless you’re able to pay off your debts very quickly, you at least owe it to yourself and your family to see if you can save money by refinancing.

Please understand that refinancing debt is not a cure for the problem. When you refinance debt, you still have to pay it back. It’s addressing the symptoms, not the cause.

However, if you can pay back your debt on more favorable terms by refinancing, that’s a huge victory. It could reduce your monthly payments and free up money in your budget to pay down your debt much faster.

The decision to refinance debt shouldn’t be entered into on a whim, but when done correctly, it has the potential to change your life forever.

Imagine a life with no debt and no obligations. Imagine sending the money that you currently pay to creditors directly into investments and watching your money grow each year.

How great would it be to never have to work again because your investments are generating enough income to support all of your family’s needs?

The sad truth is that you’ll never know what that feels like if you continue to be stuck in debt. If you’re ready to get serious about paying off your debt and want to pursue refinancing to kick start the process, read on.

How to Refinance Debt and Jump Start the Payoff Process

Start by collecting your free credit report and credit score. You need to know this information when the time comes to apply with companies to refinance debt. Many companies list their credit score requirements for those looking to refinance debt, so you’ll want to know your information before applying. Also, you want to be sure that there are no inaccuracies on your report.

You can get your free credit report and score in a matter of seconds when you sign-up with Credit Sesame. It is 100% free. They won’t ask you for your credit card information, and their service is secure thanks to advanced encryption technology.

The best part about Credit Sesame is that their report will help you examine the big picture of your debts and determine which ones are worth refinancing and which ones aren’t. Also, you’ll be armed with accurate knowledge of your situation, which will put you in the best position possible to negotiate with lenders.

Sign-up for Credit Sesame for FREE here.

Most debt freedom experts recommend that you collect a credit report and score from multiple services simply to compare the two for accuracy. Another great resource for grabbing your score for FREE is MyFreeScoreNow.com. If you’re looking to save money on an auto-loan refinance, they are a great place to start.

On the other hand, if you’re dealing with high amounts of credit card debt, MyFico may be able to help you kill two birds with one stone. Their Ultimate 3B Report pulls your scores and reports from all three major bureaus and will even help you analyze low interest credit card offers to reduce your rates and perform balance transfers.

You can learn more about MyFico's services here.

Next Steps

Now that you’re armed with your credit report and scores, you’re ready to get down to reviewing your options to refinance debt and speed up the repayment process.

Mortgage

At the time this article is published, mortgage rates remain low but are on the rise. According a recent CNBC article, mortgage refinance applications have been on the rise in recent weeks due to a projected increase in interest rates.  If you still haven’t taken advantage of these historically low rates, now is the time to apply and consider your options. You could save thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage.

The quickest way to discover your refinancing options is to fill out a short form offered by GuidetoLenders.  After supplying your zip code and a few other basic pieces of information, you’ll receive a list of free, no obligation quotes. You can start the process here, or alternatively, you can use the calculator below.

Student Loans

According to Student Loan Hero, Americans owe over $1.4 trillion in student loan debt, spread out among about 44 million borrowers, and you may be one of them. Depending upon the year you graduated, your repayment rates may be between 3.4% and 8.25%.

Again, refinancing debt isn’t the magical solution to debt woes, but it can speed up your repayment process significantly. I consistently find that LendEDU offers the best look at refinancing options for people who are serious about saving money and getting out of debt as fast as possible. It takes about 90 seconds to fill out their quick form and receive quotes from up to 12 lenders, including Earnest, LendKey, and Citizens Bank.

Click here to check out your student loan refinancing options with LendEDU.

You should also check out direct offers from SoFi. If you qualify, you can receive a $100 welcome bonus when you complete your refinance. With current fixed rates as low as 3.375%, you could save thousands of dollars. Again, it only takes a few minutes to see if you qualify but you could save thousands of dollars.

Personal Loans

Finally, if you have miscellaneous debt from credit cards, auto loans, or other higher interest personal loans, it’s worth checking out available rates on personal loans from two companies I recommend. If you’re dealing with sky high interest rates, you really need to make this a priority.

Prosper is a peer-to-peer lender that may be able to help you depending on your unique circumstances. In the interest of full disclosure, they can be very helpful to some people and not so useful for others. However, it is free to check your rates and it will not impact your credit score, so you have literally nothing to lose by checking out your options.

Another similar option is available through Lending Club. With APRs as low as 5.99%, you could save hundreds or even thousands when you refinance high interest debt. Again, checking out your options is FREE and won’t affect your credit score.

Note: Lending Club even offers options for investors, too.

Final Steps

Whether or not you refinance debt on your journey toward debt freedom, know this: you can pay off your debts much faster than you think you can if you’re willing to plan ahead and sacrifice.  Refinancing your debts won’t solve your money problems, but it may be the spark you need to start the process of freeing yourself from debt forever.

Be sure to revisit the resources above, gather a few quotes to fully consider your options, and develop a plan of attack today. Life is too short to continue on as a slave to debt.


Have you refinanced debt in the past? Do you have any debt that you could refinance to speed up the repayment process and save money?

If you’ve experienced a refinance in the past, tell us about the experience!

If you're in debt, the choice to refinance debt could be the spark to start paying it off quickly. Check out these helpful resources and crush your debt! We'll show you how to refinance student loans, use personal loans responsibly to refinance debt, review your options to refinance your mortgage before rates go up, and much more! If you're looking to stop wasting money on high interest payments to lenders, you need to read this article!

If you're in debt, the choice to refinance debt could be the spark to start paying it off quickly. Check out these helpful resources and crush your debt! We'll show you how to refinance student loans, use personal loans responsibly to refinance debt, review your options to refinance your mortgage before rates go up, and much more! If you're looking to stop wasting money on high interest payments to lenders, you need to read this article!

7 Unmistakable Habits of the Rich

Our culture is intensely interested in wealth. We have a billionaire president, shows like “The Rich Kids of Beverly Hills” are huge hits, and sometimes it can be tough to tell if you’re watching the Nightly News or Entertainment Tonight. These superficial glimpses into the lives and habits of the rich have become a surprisingly vital part of the low information American diet.

Some watch the lives of the wealthy purely for entertainment purposes. Others are interested in smearing rich people for everything they do, almost as if possessing wealth is inherently immoral. “Oh, they have money?” they say. “They must be evil!”

Want to become wealthy? The best way to get rich is to study and implement the habits of the rich yourself. This article will give you everything you need to get started, whether it's time management tips, health tips, improving productivity, how to save money, how to build multiple income streams, and much more!A shockingly low number of people are interested in following the lives and habits of the rich for the most practical and beneficial reasons: studying the habits of the rich is a wise way to reverse engineer wealth and success.

The honest truth is that many people are more interested in observing and living vicariously through the wealth of others than they are learning about how to get there themselves. (Perhaps that is why an alarmingly high number of Americans have less than $50,000 saved for retirement.)

So what’s the root cause of culture’s misplaced priorities?

Seven Habits of the Rich to Incorporate to Build Wealth

The truth is that our culture has adopted and embraced all of the wrong symbols of wealth. A high credit score is really an “I love debt” score. A new leased vehicle in the driveway every two or three years is really a sign that its driver prefers operating a vehicle in the most expensive manner possible. And large suburban mini-mansions with several extra rooms are still just as empty and hollow as the hearts of their owners.

If you’re tired of simply watching of the lives of the rich on TV and want to build wealth yourself, studying the habits of the rich is a great place to start. Read the following seven habits of the rich, slowly incorporate them into your lifestyle, and start building wealth.

Prioritize Saving Money

In The Millionaire Next Door, the late Thomas Stanley surveyed a panel of average everyday millionaires to find common characteristics among what turned out to be a widely varied cohort. Among many habits of the rich that Stanley discovered, a focus on saving money above all else was key.

Across the board, first generation wealthy people developed their wealth thanks to long-term saving discipline and dedication to living a frugal lifestyle.

When it comes to choosing between saving and discretionary spending on things like new cars, larger homes, lavish vacations, or expensive clothing, a majority of wealthy people choose the former. At the same time, wealthy people value quality over quantity, i.e. they prefer to own fewer possessions of high quality rather than many possessions of lesser quality.

Avoid Debt as Much as Possible

While it may be true that debt can help you get what you want even if you can’t afford to buy it with cash, it is equally true that excessive debt is one of the top barriers to building wealth. Buying anything using debt is inefficient, more costly, and it limits your ability to build your retirement portfolio, own real estate, or start a business.

Some wealthy people enjoy trying to beat the system and leverage others’ money to their advantage, but it’s worth noting that a majority of wealthy people prefer to avoid this kind of unnecessary risk. In other words, there are far more people who actually develop wealth by following The Millionaire Next Door model than people who follow the model of leveraging others’ money touted by Robert Kiyosaki in Rich Dad Poor Dad.

Maintaining low levels of debt, if any, is one of the hallmark habits of the rich. It puts them in position to take advantage of new and unexpected opportunities to grow their wealth. Perhaps this is way a majority of first generation wealthy people are business owners.

Interestingly, the presence of debt often serves as an unexpected litmus test for whether a person is truly wealthy or just living a wealthy lifestyle. Like Dave Ramsey likes to say, “You can find out who is skinny dipping when the tide goes out.”

Drive Used Cars

One of the most surprising habits of the rich is the overwhelming tendency to drive used vehicles. The average millionaire rarely, if ever, purchases a brand new car, allowing others with far less wealth to absorb the harsh hits of depreciation during the first 2-4 years. Then they buy well-maintained used luxury vehicles with cash.

Maintain Good Physical and Mental Health

It may appear that many wealthy people are workaholics, but the truth is that hard work and good physical and mental health are not mutually exclusive. In fact, maintaining good physical health through diet, exercise, and self-care remains one of the most common habits of the rich.

Want to become wealthy? The best way to get rich is to study and implement the habits of the rich yourself. This article will give you everything you need to get started, whether it's time management tips, health tips, improving productivity, how to save money, how to build multiple income streams, and much more!
In particular, starting the day off with a focus on health is one of the hallmark habits of the rich. A recent article in Business Insider outlined the habits of several wealthy people. John Paul DeJoria, the man behind Paul Mitchell hair products, begins each day with quiet meditation. Birch Box executive Brad Lande begins his morning with hot tea and yoga. Kevin O’Leary, the investor made famous in Shark Tank, starts his day with a 45 minute workout.

The reason behind such health-consciousness is simple: it is foolish to gain wealth if you do not maintain adequate health in order to live a long and enjoyable life.

Read two non-fiction books each month

Among the main habits of the rich, ongoing learning and growth is a consistent priority across the board. It’s not uncommon for people who have accumulated wealth to read two or more non-fiction books each month in an effort to learn new things.

For many people, the habit of reading and implementing new ideas served as the impetus for growing their brand or starting a business in the first place.

Build multiple streams of income

Of the most common habits of the rich, the development of multiple income streams separates the financially independent from typical high-earners. These forms of income vary greatly, from active to passive, and include the following:

  • Investment income via dividends
  • Owning real estate bought with cash
  • Developing a product
  • Owning a business (or multiple businesses)

The time and effort required to build these income streams is usually a heavy sacrifice initially. But there is no question that it pays off.

Give generously

Despite a report in The Atlantic which claimed the wealthy only give 1.3 percent of their annual income to charity, it is important to remember that large variances and anomalies tend to skew these types of statistics.

Ultimately, the main reason behind why so many wealthy people do give generously is that they have developed a healthy, well-adjusted attitude toward money. Psychologically-speaking, they understand that helping others who are in need is rewarding and self-satisfying. Simply put, it makes them happy.

One thought I heard on giving has always stuck with me. I don’t recall who said it, and I’m paraphrasing, but here is the basic idea: It is difficult to receive anything in life with a tightly closed fist.

How can you apply the habits of the rich in your life?

Studying the habits of the the wealthy has a very limited payoff without application. As in most endeavors, you can get started by chasing after the lowest hanging fruits.

If you’re not in the habit of saving and investing money, you need to take definitive steps toward gaining control of your cash flow. If you’ve never made a budget or analyzed your current financial situation, that is an easy place to start.

One of the simplest ways to gain a birds-eye view of your financial big picture is by signing-up for my favorite FREE financial tool, Personal Capital. With Personal Capital, you can monitor your spending by category, track all of your debt and assets, and even receive a personalized review of your finances. Get it here!

If you’re looking for a quick win, you can join thousands of others who have trimmed their budget of unwanted and unused recurring subscription services by using the FREE Trim Financial Manager. When you sign-up, Trim will review your regularly-recurring transactions, negotiate for better rates on your behalf, and even help you cancel unwanted subscriptions for you. You can learn more about Trim here.

Developing better habits may seem unlikely or even hopeless if you find yourself struggling with the burdens of debt. Refinancing is not the silver bullet to debt problems; in fact, it just serves to lessen the symptoms of the underlying problem. But if you’re paying sky-high interest rates, reducing them is an incredibly smart way to jump start a rapid repayment plan.

If you have high-interest student loan debt, I recommend giving LendEDU the opportunity to review your situation and provide options. If you have 90 seconds, you can fill out a quick form now and receive quotes from up to 12 different lenders without affecting your credit score one bit. If you still owe a sizable amount on your Associates, Bachelors, or Masters degree loans, this is literally one of the easiest ways you can free up money in your budget.

Finally, with mortgage rates likely to continue their recent slow rise, now is the time to consider refinancing and locking in a better rate, especially if this has been on your radar for a while. The two companies I recommend most to gather your options are LendingTree and GuideToLenders. Both can match you up with the most competitive rates for which you qualify and help you save thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your mortgage.

From there, start adding new habits to your daily routines. Go for an evening walk, grab a new non-fiction book at the library, and start practicing silence and solitude.

Remember, the common thread in all of the habits of the rich shared above is intentionality. Act consciously and deliberately and you can achieve great success!


How many of the habits shared above do you currently practice in one form or another? What other habits do you think wealthy people have in common?

Want to become wealthy? The best way to get rich is to study and implement the habits of the rich yourself. This article will give you everything you need to get started, whether it's time management tips, health tips, improving productivity, how to save money, how to build multiple income streams, and much more!