Category Archives: LIFE AND MONEY

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30 Life Lessons I Learned at Age 30

The older I become, the faster time passes by and the more I understand how much more I still have to learn. As I reflect on the last year and look forward to turning 31, I would like to share 30 life lessons I learned as a 30-year-old.

While many of the life lessons below are money-related, several of them extend beyond the reach of the almighty dollar. I have learned that money has a big impact upon my life – for reasons both obvious and subtle – yet my learning and growth in the past year has also encompassed relationships, business, and overall life satisfaction.

Life is full of countless important lessons to be learned! As I reflect on the last year and look forward to turning 31, I would like to share 30 life lessons I learned as a 30-year-old.

The 30 Biggest Life Lessons I Learned at Age 30

I sincerely hope the life lessons below resonate with you and provide as much as insight as I have gained from learning them.

It is best to give without any expectation of receiving in return

Even though I’ve always been a natural giver, I have to be honest and admit that my generosity has its limits, especially when it comes to my time.

This year, I have learned to value opportunities to help others more than I value my time. The truth, for most of us, is that we waste countless hours each week that could be put to better use to make an impact, even if we won’t receive any benefits in return.

Financial emergencies will happen

After a steady streak of relative financial peace, my wife and I tapped into our emergency fund multiple times this year. I had an emergency root canal (money well-spent, as I told the dentist who put me out of my misery) and our water heater sprung a leak and required replacing.

These problems were stressful and irritating, but they would have been far worse if we had to scramble to pay for them.

Related Reading:

Good family and friends are a blessing

2017 has been a rough year, as both my wife and I lost our grandmas. Though death and loss are never easy, we both felt fortunate to receive so much support from our family and friends.

A life of excess isn’t pleasing

We live in a culture that preaches the virtue of striving for more, but ironically, it is simply too easy to move that imaginary line. Over the past several years, I’ve caught myself – multiple times – saying “I’ll be fully content when . . .”

Last fall, our trip to Las Vegas helped me realize that this is a battle that can’t be won.

Related Reading:

A life of purpose IS pleasing!

Finding your passion and purpose and spending my time and resources accordingly may be the best accomplishment of the past year.

Side hustles can be a fun way to reach financial goals faster

This year I started part-time work as a realtor and began monetizing this website. Both side hustles have helped us reach our financial goals.

Money management isn’t only about money

This past year confirmed what I have always known – personal finance is about much more than money!

Haters will hate – count on it!

I have long believed that comparison is the thief of joy, but that doesn’t stop the haters from rearing their ugly, jealous heads from time to time.

This used to bother me and cause me to become defensive, but I am finally learning to take it in stride – and sometimes even laugh!

Setting detailed goals is critical to success

As the old adage says, goals without an action plan remain dreams.

Related Reading:

If your spouse pushes you to do something that stretches you, do it!

Every day when I work on my blog I am reminded that I never would have started it if I hadn’t finally given in and listened to my wife’s advice to start this site.

Time is and always will be the most valuable commodity

I constantly ask myself, “What is it time for now?” to make the most of my time.

Blogging is a rewarding business

I started blogging as a way to have a fun hobby and help people. I never expected to earn income as a blogger, but it has been a joy to build a business which is solely focused on helping others.

Your 20s are a great time to reach for your dreams, but it’s not too late in your 30s

Dreams change, and they don’t have deadlines.

You become whatever and whomever you surround yourself with

So choose your friends carefully.

Self-pity is self-defeating

It is far more productive to channel emotion into positive action.

Home renovations are a lot of work

From start to finish, planning and overseeing our basement renovation project was a great experience and one of the toughest life lessons of the past year.

Related Reading:

It’s important to plan for the future but live in the present

Balance is key.

Exercise and mental health are intertwined

The direct correlation between my stress levels and activity becomes more noticeable as I grow older. Running and playing basketball are still the best therapies for me.

People, myself included, are wasteful

I have to fight my natural inclinations in this area.

Life’s greatest rewards aren’t found on the sidelines

It is worth taking calculated risks from time to time.

A good estate plan is important

When my Grandma passed away, I watched my parents and uncle go through a lot of stress executing her estate plan. She even had all of her ducks in a row and made the process as easy as she could; I can’t imagine how hard the process would have been for them if she hadn’t been well-prepared.

“No” is a powerful word

It is critical to keeping appropriate boundaries.

Life is full of countless important lessons to be learned! As I reflect on the last year and look forward to turning 31, I would like to share 30 life lessons I learned as a 30-year-old.

There is tremendous joy to be found in experiences

Like most millennials, I have grown to value experiences – vacations, days out with friends, time spent with my family – over everything else.

Comparison is the the thief of joy

And the truth is that the grass usually isn’t greener, it just appears that way.

You can always learn something new and important from others

Sometimes you have to invest in yourself to grow

Learning is and always will be a complicated process, but learning from others and choosing to pursue growth make it easier.

Keep a notepad and pen on your night stand

After waking up with ideas in the middle of the night only to forget them, I finally learned my lesson and started writing them down – immediately!

Opportunities are not always obvious

Always keep an eye out!

Knowing your values and following them is the ticket to happiness

As the old adage goes, be true to yourself.

I still have lots to learn, and that is exciting!

I’m looking forward to the life lessons that the next year holds.

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned this year?

Life is full of countless important lessons to be learned! As I reflect on the last year and look forward to turning 31, I would like to share 30 life lessons I learned as a 30-year-old.

Five Home Upgrades Almost Guaranteed to Lose Money

Today’s post, “Five Home Upgrades Almost Guaranteed to Lose Money,” was contributed by Anum Yoon, the founder and editor of Current on Currency, a site devoted making personal finance more approachable for 20 somethings and international students.

Five Home Upgrades Almost Guaranteed to Lose Money

Just because you upgrade your home doesn’t mean you will get a higher selling price, because not all upgrades and home improvements are worth the investment. You may be surprised to learn some of the home upgrades you should forget about, including these five.

Not all home upgrades are created equal! Before you start your next project, be sure you aren't losing money and choose a smart investment.

Adding a Pool or Hot Tub

You may think adding a pool or hot tub would greatly increase the value of your home, but that is not true. Why? Pools and hot tubs are expensive to maintain, they raise taxes and, if problems arise, the cost to fix them can be enormous. You should also consider the impact it can have on homeowners insurance.

To some buyers, the pool is seen as a liability because accidental drowning is a common problem and can be a safety issue for families with children.

Outrageous Color Choices

Just because you like purple walls or a bird mural on the ceiling doesn’t mean potential buyers will. While it’s fine to add a fresh coat of paint to increase your home’s appeal, it is not a good idea to use unusual colors or customize to match your unique style.

Though the new owner can make changes, potential buyers would rather buy a home that doesn’t have to be changed right away. Choose neutral colors to paint rooms and ordinary design schemes. This way the potential buyer can take their time in repainting, not forced to cover up something that doesn’t suit their tastes at all.

Converting Rooms Into New Functions

Room conversion is a home upgrade that doesn’t always pay off. For example, it may seem like a great idea to convert your garage into a den or a small bedroom into a home office or walk-in closet, but these improvements aren’t always the best decision.

Making changes like these can actually reduce the value of your home. Consider the neighborhood and the size of your home. Would a bedroom be more practical than a walk-in closet? Most likely the answer is yes. In most cases, room conversions and luxury home upgrades are a just a bad idea.

Major Landscape Upgrades

Not all home upgrades are created equal! Before you start your next project, be sure you aren't losing money and choose a smart investment.You may think bigger is better, but that’s not always the case when it comes to outdoor landscaping. Creating a backyard oasis complete with pond or gazebo sounds nice, but it’s costly and usually doesn’t add any value to your home.

If you want to spruce up the backyard or front walkway, that’s fine. You can add more value for less cost by planting flowers or bushes near the entryway or investing in lawn maintenance to ensure your grass is green and inviting.

Adding a Deck or Sunroom

Sunrooms and decks can be a fun gathering place, but they are not always a smart investment. It costs nearly $80,000 for the average sunroom addition, for example, and you get barely half that back in value. Decks are also costly and add little value to the home.

These two projects require a lot of materials, labor and other costs to complete. They also need upkeep, which some potential buyers may not want to burden themselves with.

Home Upgrades Worth Pursuing

While this list may surprise you, keep in mind this general theme: when it comes to home upgrades, overdoing anything is not a good idea. The best improvements for the home are those that add value, such as improving efficiency and fixing problems that may lead to costly repairs later.

Simple improvements, such as adding fresh paint and improving the look of the home outside, are your best way to go. Don’t go overboard and try to make your home into a showplace.

Instead, focus on creating a clean, uncluttered inviting home. Keep upgrades standard and simple. This way, you can be confident that your chosen home upgrades will be a wise investment for years to come.

Anum Yoon is a millennial money expert and runs Current on Currency. Sign up for her weekly money newsletter here if you want to read more of her posts!

Further Reading:

What home upgrades and projects have you pursued recently?

For readers who have upgraded homes and then sold them, did your project help you earn more money on the sale of your home?

Not all home upgrades are created equal! Before you start your next project, be sure you aren't losing money and choose a smart investment.

What to Do If Your Spouse Won’t Talk About Money

Even in today’s world of automated budgeting software and other sophisticated technology, money remains a hot button topic for many couples. There are usually types of people in a marriage: one spouse who enjoys managing money, and another spouse who is care free. Dave Ramsey refers to these roles, respectively, as “the nerd” and “the free spirit.” What do you do if you’re the nerd in your relationship and you find that your spouse won’t talk about money with you?

This may leave you feeling like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. After all, life is full of many competing demands, and managing your money is just one of them. It can be incredibly hard to go it alone and be the family Chief Financial Officer without any input or support.

Maybe you’ve tried to get your spouse on board with managing your family’s finances. It’s possible that you’ve even read books or taken courses to try to prove to your spouse that your finances are important. And your spouse still won’t talk about money without becoming distant or angry.

If this is you, I’m here to tell you there is hope! Do not give up! 

It's hard to work on your finances together, especially when your spouse won't talk about money. The right strategies can help you get on the same page.

Keys to Getting a Reluctant Spouse to Talk About Money

I don’t have all the answers, but my experience as a husband, “the nerd,” and school teacher/administrator have provided a wealth of experience in mitigating conflict and bringing them to lasting resolution.

They key to finally getting your spouse to talk about money with you and ultimately get on the same page with you lies in the development of mutual understanding, respect, and teamwork. Read on to see how you can implement steps to improve these aspects of your relationship!

Know Your Spouse’s Dreams

If your spouse won’t talk about money or other important matters without becoming disconnected or irritable, it could be a sign that you’re lacking connection in other areas as well.

When was the last time you and your spouse laughed together? When did you last discuss your hopes and dreams for the future? When was the last time you really blocked out other distractions and focused on each other?

A long time ago, I learned an important lesson reading several books by Dale Carnegie:

People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.

If you’re the type that plans out a budget, sits down with your game face on, and is ready to share your brilliant plans with your spouse before you do anything else, expect failure. I know this to be true because I’ve been there.

When I learned to listen to my wife’s feelings, ask her about her day, and form an emotional connection with her before talking about money, she stopped resenting our financial conversations and grew to look at them as times in which we connected and discussed our hopes and dreams for the future.

I can also tell you that a powerful thing happens when you have an understanding of your spouse’s dreams: it becomes much easier to talk about money as a tool to help you reach those dreams. Now we know that we won’t be able to bring her dreams and mine into reality unless we remain on the same page with money.

Start Small and Appreciate the Little Victories

If your spouse won’t talk about money matters currently, it is important that you realize that this isn’t likely to change over night. You need to be patient! It will be far easier for you to change your mindset than it will be you to change your spouse’s mindset.

The best way to begin having productive money discussions with spouse is by introducing healthy discussion gradually. You might mention an interesting tip you recently read, mention your desire to plan a family vacation, or just happen to be playing your favorite debt free scream YouTube video when your spouse walks in the room.

The point is that you need to ease into financially-related conversation in a gentle, non-threatening manner. And the best way to do that is by talking about money topics that don’t involve either of you.

Continue to Set a Good Example

While you are working on building a base of healthy money conversation, maintain your own good habits with money. If you keep a monthly budget, make sure it stays up to date. Continue to do everything you can to manage your family’s money responsibly. Even if your spouse won’t talk about money, it is likely that he or she will notice your good attitude and actions.

Remember, according to basic learning theory, we learn better when we are shown how to do something verses being told how to do something. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, your example is being noticed and it is is making a difference.

What Not To Do If Your Spouse Won’t Talk About Money

The unfortunate reality is that it can be incredibly frustrating if your spouse won’t talk about money with you. If he or she continues to do his or own thing with money, it might make you angry. You might even begin to lose some trust in your spouse.

Don’t Quit

It's hard to work on your finances together, especially when your spouse won't talk about money. The right strategies can help you get on the same page.You may want to throw in the towel, hit the mall for some retail therapy, or trade in your set of wheels for something newer.

Remember that it is always easier to justify emotions than to justify actions. If you give in now, you’re damaging any good will that has been building up in this area. It is far better for you to continue to do things yourself the right way than to give up.

Keeping yourself from acting on your emotions may cause a blow up at some point. Do your best to avoid yelling or displaying anger. The truth is it won’t help.

No Name Dropping

The odds are high that your spouse won’t talk to you about money because he or she has felt attacked in the past. As tempting as it may be, don’t bring outside names into your discussion. Avoid mentioning your spouse’s parents (or your own) at all costs.

This is not the time to mention an article from a finance blogger you read or bring out the “Dave Ramsey says” tool kit. Appeals to authority are rarely effective during money fights. In fact, they’re a good way to ensure your spouse won’t talk about money for a long time!

Where to Turn If You Really Need Help

When many couples are on the brink of divorce, counseling is often a last resort. Please don’t misunderstand me: I am in NO WAY insinuating your money fights are this serious. However, if you and your spouse can agree to work together, a money intervention could be the thing you need to get on the same page.

If your spouse agrees to work with you, I recommend you check out the ONLY online personal finance course I endorse: Budgeting for Budget Haters.

This couples-friendly course is designed by my friend Adam Hagerman, a certified financial planner (CFP) and accredited financial counselor, and is designed to help couples (and singles, too) achieve financial freedom.

When you sign-up Adam will personally help you:

  • It's hard to work on your finances together, especially when your spouse won't talk about money. The right strategies can help you get on the same page.Gather the right information needed to create your budget
  • Set smart financial goals and use them to avoid the debt/savings roller coaster
  • Create an annual budget and plan like you’ve never planned before
  • Budget for periodic expenses
  • Budget for the fun stuff and incorporate guilt-free spending
  • Budget with a variable income
  • Prioritize debt repayment
  • Use budgeting software (with on screen instructions!)
  • Talk money with your honey
  • Set up your budget so it requires low maintenance
  • And much more!

I’ve personally reviewed Budgeting for Budget Haters and feel it is one of the best step-by-step money courses today. If you want access to a top professional who will walk you through every step of the way, Budgeting for Budget Haters is for you!

You can try the course out 100% risk free for 60 days. If you’re not satisfied after completing all of the forms and related course steps, Adam offers a 60-Day Money Back Guarantee.

If you’re serious about Taking Back Control of Your Life and Money, sign-up for Budgeting for Budget Haters today using our link for FinanceSuperhero readers and secure your spot in the course for only $97 (or two monthly payments of $57).

Do you have a spouse who won’t talk about money (or other touchy topics)? What tips do you have for managing this kind of difficult communication?

It's hard to work on your finances together, especially when your spouse won't talk about money. The right strategies can help you get on the same page.

Five Money Lessons My Dad Taught Me

With each passing year my belief is strengthened that the most important lessons we learn in life aren’t found in classrooms or books. Instead, we learn a majority of our most important lessons by seeing and doing. This is how I learned to shoot a basketball, drive a car, and play trombone. It was also how I took in the money lessons my Dad taught me.

Dad has always been a quiet, unassuming man who says more through his actions than words. But that didn’t stop him from teaching me many valuable lessons which I still carry with me today.

I learned many important money lessons from my Dad, including the value of hard work, taking pride in your job, and the true role of money in life.  I am grateful to have had such a great example to look up to as a child and to still learn from my Dad today.

Five Meaningful Money Lessons My Dad Taught Me

In celebration of Father’s Day, this post will touch on the five most memorable money lessons my Dad taught me. I hope they resonate with you as well.

Hard Work is Honorable

Growing up, my favorite time of the day was when my parents came home from work. Dad started his day at his aerospace manufacturing job several hours before I woke up in the morning, so it was always extra exciting when he came home from work. Sometimes I met him at the corner and raced him back to our driveway.

In the summer, Dad routinely put in 12 hour days in extremely hot conditions. I remember that he often talked about the conditions, but he rarely complained about them. His hard work was an honorable way for him to provide for his family.

Dad started a new job when I was in high school, and it required him to work third shift. I’m sure this was a difficult change for him, but he took it in stride and adjusted. His example of hard work and dedication left a lasting impression on me.

Money is Secondary to Family

As I have mentioned, my family is not overly verbal. My parents, especially my Dad, show love to others through acts of giving and service. They never hesitate to help and support family and friends who need it.

At a young age, I was shown that money is important, but family is more important. I saw this when my Dad got out of work early to come to my basketball games and track meets – even when our team traveled far from home. I saw it when Dad endured 8 hour round trip drives after working all night to bring me back to college after a weekend at home.

Knowing that there is nothing my Dad wouldn’t do for me and my wife has taught me a lot about proper work-family balance. I feel well-prepared to be a devoted father myself thanks to his example.

Be Proud of Your Contributions

I will always remember my first meeting with my parents and college admissions counselor. During introductions, the counselor asked my Dad about his career. Dad explained that he worked for an aerospace engineering company.

The counselor’s ears perked up and she asked, “Wow! That sounds so so interesting. Are you an engineer?”

Dad proceeded to share a 30 second elevator pitch about the nature of his job: performing quality control checks for a wide variety of small aerospace components. The counselor acted interested, but I could tell that she was unimpressed.

But that’s not the part of the story that made an impact on me. I will always remember and respect the pride and enthusiasm with which Dad spoke about his job that day. Even today, he takes great pride in his work and productivity records.

Many times, Dad has told me that if he could do it all over again, he would probably become a chef or nurse. His job is far from his natural area of passion, but that will never stop him from taking pride in it and doing his best every day.

Money Isn’t Everything

By now this is clear, but my Dad has never been one to focus too much on money. His behavior with money has always shown that money is just a tool to live your life as you see fit.

In our conversations about money, Dad has always reminded me that money and responsibility go hand in hand.

Contentment is Key

The most remarkable lesson of the many money lessons my Dad taught me is the importance of contentment. In 31 years, I have never heard my Dad express jealousy of other people’s careers, homes, or cars. He continues to be a great example of the power of contentment.

A key to Dad’s overall contentment with his life lies in finding joy in the small things – his coin collection, fresh fruit, sports, and cashews. In a culture which encourages people to push for more and more, Dad is my reminder that what most people really need is more gratitude in their lives.

I often think of Dad’s example when trying to balance my natural-born ambition with my desire to be content in my current stage of life. His example reminds me that I am blessed in many ways and helps me appreciate what I have even while I work to build a better life for my family.

Final Word

Without question, my Dad has taught me many valuable life lessons in addition to the money lessons above. If you’re reading this, Dad, thank you for setting a good example, for not letting me win our basketball competitions in the driveway, and for supporting me in all my endeavors.

Happy Father’s Day Dad!

I learned many important money lessons from my Dad, including the value of hard work, taking pride in your job, and the true role of money in life.

What lessons did you learn from your father?

The Surprising Benefits of Being a Frugal Weirdo

Today’s post, “The Surprising Benefits of Being a Frugal Weirdo,” is a guest post from Mrs. Picky Pincher, the blogger and money saving-maven behind She writes about paying off $225,000 of debt while living the good life.

You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Read on to see the benefits of taking frugality to new levels!

There’s nothing wrong with saving money. Nobody wants to pay more money to live the good life. We all want to be the next money-saving savant, but there’s just one small problem. To really save money in this world, you’ve got to be a total frugal weirdo.

We live in a culture that loves big-ness: big houses, big cars, and big mounds of stuff. The bigger you are, the more successful you clearly must be. But too often big-ness comes at the cost of high debt loads, stress, and working until you collapse to pay off your sports car.

Nobody wants to make debt payments until they’re 80 years old. And that’s why it’s so important to be an utter and complete frugal weirdo.

A frugal weirdo is a person who rejects most of the conventional rules about what we need to spend money on. Instead, the frugal weirdo saves his or her buckaroos to work towards financial independence, whether that takes the form of paying off debt, saving, or investing.

We all want to save money, but there's just one small problem. To really save money in this world, you've got to be a total frugal weirdo.

Car payments, credit cards, student loans, and even laundry soap are all up for elimination when you’re a frugal weirdo. It’s the key to escaping debt and retiring early. There’s no way you can live independently if you’re chained to a bank note for 30 years, after all.

Don’t get me wrong; it does suck a bit to be the odd gal out. I’ve experienced my fair share of witch hunts from people who want me to upgrade my car, buy a bigger house, and not pump all my money into debt payments.

Haters are gonna hate, though, y’all. I like marching to the beat of a different drummer, and that’s how I’ve discovered the surprising benefits of being a frugal weirdo:

It’s cool to be weird!

Tips to Embrace Your Inner Frugal Weirdo

Thankfully, I’ve never been cool or popular or remotely interesting, so it’s been easy to live on my own terms. Here are a few of the frugal-yet-weird lifestyle changes I’ve made to save a lot of money–and how they’ve benefited me tremendously.

Cloth napkins and hankies

I did the math and realized we spent $15 a month on Kleenex and paper towels. That’s small potatoes to most people, but to me, it was money literally in the garbage.

After poking around Pinterest, I realized I could make my own reusable items to replace pricey one-use items. I was tempted to toss out the toilet paper, too, but Mr. Picky Pincher nearly started a household mutiny, so the toilet paper stayed (grumble grumble).

To replace our paper towels, I bought a set of very nice cloth napkins from my thrift store for 25 cents apiece. I paid a grand total of $1.50 and I had fancy cloth napkins instead of Brawny. It took a bit of training to get out of our paper towel habit, but now we feel mighty fancy using cloth napkins to wipe the spaghetti sauce off our faces. Ahhh, luxury.

I couldn’t find cloth hankies at the thrift store to replace my beloved Kleenex, so I made my own hankies. I took a few of Mr. Picky Pincher’s old flannel shirts, rags, and fabric scraps and went to town. I’m not a great sewer, but thankfully all I had to do was cut the fabric into squares and put a hem on them to prevent fraying. The result was 40 pieces of homemade hankies for $0.

Making yogurt 

I am addicted to all things dairy. I have at least five different types of cheese in my refrigerator right now, several quarts of yogurt, and a gallon of kefir. Ahhhh, heavenly deliciousness.

My favorite snack is yogurt, which I used to buy in single-serving cups from the grocery store. It wasn’t until I analyzed my spending habits that I realized how much my dairy obsession cost each month. After doing the math three times, I was shocked that I spent $20 just on yogurt each month. What the hell??

At first I laid off the yogurt and forlornly ate a banana when I was hungry. Then I realized that plenty of people make yogurt at home. I’m clumsy and mess everything up, so I was nervous to do any type of fermenting (knowing my luck, I’d get botulism or something). But my love for yogurt was so strong that I took the plunge and made my own yogurt.

And you know what? I’ve been making my own yogurt for over a year! Instead of spending $20 a month on single-serving yogurt cups, I make one gallon of organic yogurt a month for about $7. 

Weird? Definitely. Worth it? Absolutely. 

And you know what?

I was ridiculed for my weird ways. But by making small life changes and cutting my expenses ultra-low, I was able to save over 50% of my income. It wasn’t easy and I spent plenty of nights huddled over pints of ice cream, wondering if my life had gone off the rails.

Final Word

The surprising benefits of being a frugal weirdo come down to the numbers. I paid off $14,000 of credit card debt, eliminated a $10,000 car payment, paid for a $12,000 renovation in cash, and paid off $20,000 in student loans. There’s no way I could have done that with my previous spending levels!

The lesson I’ve learned is that it’s more than okay to make your own rules. You’ll find that there are plenty of pleasant surprises when you do what’s best for you.

Thanks again to Mrs. Picky Pincher for sharing her frugal wisdom. Be sure to check out to learn more about the journey to Make Frugality Cool Again.

What frugal tips do you have to share? Would you consider yourself a frugal weirdo?

We all want to save money, but there's just one small problem. To really save money in this world, you've got to be a total frugal weirdo.

A Guide to Planning a Home Renovation From Start to Finish

This “Guide to Planning a Home Renovation From Start to Finish” post is underwritten by Hearth. Hearth specializes in educating consumers regarding home renovation products and helping them find the best offers to avoid overpaying for renovation projects. All opinions expressed are mine.

The process of renovating your home can be one of the most stressful and overwhelming experiences as a homeowner. Decisions regarding paint colors, decor, flooring, and themes are challenging in their own ways, but larger projects introduce new sets of challenges and excitement.

You may be excited about renovating your home, or it may be your only option if you purchased your home at a higher price point than what you could sell it for today. Either way, a reasonably priced and well-executed renovation project could be just what you need to make your home more enjoyable and livable for your family.

In the past year, my wife and I experienced the home renovation process when we opted to finish our 800 square-foot basement. We were fortunate that our project went according to plan and stayed on budget.

The sad truth is that many people have a worse experience when starting and completing home renovation project. Selecting a space, creating design ideas, determining a budget, hiring a contractor, and completing a project can be incredibly stressful and costly.

Even in the age of HGTV, the average consumer is poorly-equipped to make smart decisions when it comes to home renovation projects. This is especially true for millennials.

This guide is designed to help you navigate the home renovation process from start to finish and make the process smooth and enjoyable. Whether you’re new to home ownership or a longtime homeowner, this guide will help you avoid costly home renovation mistakes every step of the way.

A home renovation project doesn't have to be scary or stressful. This guide will help you plan your remodeling project on budget from start to finish.

Starting Your Renovation Project

According to a recent study by Hearth, 45% of millennials surveyed expressed a strong desire to renovate their homes. Starting a renovation, not just as a millennial, is often the biggest hurdle to leap based on several factors:

  • Existing debt obligations (student loans, auto loans, credit card debt)
  • Lack of basic financial literacy
  • Little understanding of which renovation projects will maximize return on investment

Fortunately, a wealth of resources is available for anyone considering a renovation. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) recommends consumers consider their reasons for remodeling and develop a vision for how their completed project will add value to their lives in the future.

Highest Value Renovation Projects

Understanding your potential return on investment is critical before starting a new renovation project. The simple reality is that few projects instantly increase the value of your home in proportion to their cost, but many projects lead to increased values and high returns on investment over a period of just a few years.

According to a article, the following projects feature high returns on investment:

  • Fiberglass insulation in attic
  • Steel entry door
  • Stone veneer (manufactured or real)
  • Kitchen remodel
  • Siding replacement
  • Bathroom remodel/addition
  • Universal bathroom redesign/remodel
  • Basement finishing

Determining What You Can Afford

One of the most critical components of any home renovation plan is a budget. The sad reality is that many people skip this stage entirely and rush into their project without a plan to pay for it.

As a result, many people exhaust their cash resources and take on high APR credit card debt in order to complete their projects. The previously mentioned study by Hearth revealed that an alarming 16% of millennials are likely to refinance a home renovation project using credit cards.

Credit cards are admittedly convenient, and 0 percent APR financing offers can be alluring. However, financing large home renovation projects using credit cards can trigger unexpected high payments and crippling interest charges once promotional offers expire in 6 to 12 months.

A wise rule of thumb when planning a renovation budget lies in estimating total project costs and adding 15-20%. My wife and I used this technique when planning our basement renovation, and it helped us to determine how much cash we could afford to spend (without exposing ourselves to financial emergency) and whether we would need to seek affordable financing to complete the project.

Ultimately, we qualified for a small loan with low payments at an interest rate which was lower than our current mortgage interest rate.

Considering Financing Options

Once armed with knowledge of how much you need to borrow, it is best to research financing options from a variety of sources. One common renovation mistake is applying for a loan with only one lender and accepting their offer right away.

Many borrowers fear that applying for multiple credit offers is too time consuming, damaging to their credit score, and exposes them to identify theft. These worries may have been relevant in the past to varying degrees, but today’s processes have largely eliminated these worries.

The Hearth Advantage

For example, a borrower who is seeking attractive financing options for a home renovation project can receive multiple personalized offers just by filling out a secure 60 second form with Hearth.

Hearth’s process is quick, won’t impact your credit score, doesn’t require fees or collateral, and will provide personalized rates from leading companies like SoFi, LendingClub, Prosper, and BestEgg.

Unlike other companies, Hearth is not a lender. They work with lenders on behalf of borrowers to gather pre-qualified offers for personal loans. Collecting these offers does not require a hard credit pull until the final stage of application, which is why the initial process does not affect your credit score.

Once your offers have been gathered, Hearth simplifies the process of considering your options by helping you compare interest rates, fees, total interest cost, monthly payments, and more. Unlike other companies, the core of Hearth’s service lies in educating consumers to make wise decisions.

All offers gathered by Hearth are sent directly to your email inbox and are valid for 30 days. Applying for one of these loans is as simple as one click. At this time, you will need to provide further information to your chosen lender to complete your application. Assuming you provided accurate information from the start, the final terms and rates offered by your lender are likely to be similar or the same to those quoted initially by Hearth.

Once your application is complete and approved, funds are typically dispersed in 1 to 14 days. This is important, as quick access to cash can often be a difference maker when securing a contractor.

If you’re not sure whether you’re ready to dive into your renovation project, Hearth has created a useful quiz to help you determine your readiness for your remodel. It asks important questions about your project plans and provides actionable advice based upon your responses.

Starting Your Home Renovation Project

As in nearly every industry, money talks and cash is king. When starting your home renovation project and selecting a contractor, having cash in hand can help you compete for top contractors in your area, many of whom would rather be paid in cash than on credit.

The process of choosing a contractor to oversee and complete your project is far less stressful when financial concerns have been removed from the equation. With a funded loan and cash in your account, you are in better position to take your time interviewing multiple contractors, check their references, compare bids, and check reviews with the Better Business Bureau.

Before choosing a contractor, be sure he/she is licensed in your area and has appropriate liability and worker’s compensation insurance (for subcontractors). Any history of complaints or unethical behaviors are cause for concern.

You will be working with your contractor for the length of the project, so it is also important your personalities mesh well. You want to work with a contractor who is an excellent communicator and is able to show you in-depth plans and timelines for completing your project.

Make Your Renovation as Smooth as Possible

Home renovation projects can be very exciting, but the truth is that they can be scary and stressful. At a basic level, any remodeling project involves trust, as a relative stranger is redesigning a huge part of your life.

The best way to make your renovation as smooth as possible is to minimize your risk exposure from the very beginning. You can avoid contractor conflict, running out of cash, and taking on high interest credit card debt, and risking foreclosure thanks to home equity issues when you take advantage of sensible lower interest personal loans.

Despite sensationalist headlines to the contrary, the American Dream of home ownership is alive and well – and it doesn’t end when you buy a home! Making your house a home may require changes. Simply put, home renovation decisions can have a lasting financial impact for years -even decades- to come.

If you’re serious about making your renovation process as smooth as possible for yourself and your contractor, start by making the right decision about how to pay for it. You can review your options and make the most-informed decision by planning your project well, considering responsible lending options with Hearth, and selecting a well-reviewed contractor.

Related Reading:

Disclaimer: Shogun Enterprises Inc D/B/A Hearth is not a lender, does not broker loans to lenders and does not make personal loans or credit decisions. This article does not constitute an offer or solicitation to lend. Hearth will submit the information you provide to a lender. Providing your information to Hearth does not guarantee that you will be approved for a personal loan. Hearth is not an agent, representative or broker of any lender and does not endorse or charge you for any service or product. For more information, please visit and

This article is not intended to provide legal or financial advice is purely provided for entertainment and informational purposes only. All opinions contained herein are the property of


How to Determine Your Financial Priorities

Imagine the following scenario. You are down to your final $100 in your checking account, your savings and emergency funds have been wiped clean, and you’re faced with the following obligations: filling up the gas tank in your car, buying groceries for the week, paying your cell phone bill, and buying birthday gifts for your niece. How would you determine your financial priorities?

Fortunately, most of us don’t face such difficult circumstances when determining how to spend the money we earn, but the overall concept still applies. Allocating your income each month can be a challenging juggling act whether you earn $2,000 or $10,000 per month.

The sad reality is that many families float along month after month without a financial game plan. It’s not uncommon for high-earners to live paycheck to paycheck because they don’t have a grasp on their personal financial priorities. And even those who make efforts to spend wisely forget to adjust their game plan when major life events (think child birth, job change, sale or purchase of a home) come along.

No matter where you fall on the financial game plan spectrum –from no plan at all to a perfectly executed one—it is critical to be sure that your overall plan aligns with your financial priorities and values.

Read on to learn how my wife and I establish and evaluate our financial priorities –and how you can do the same!

No matter what your financial strategies, it is critical that your overall money plan aligns with your financial priorities and values.

Why You Need to Define Your Financial Priorities in the First Place

As stated above, defining financial priorities for your family is a critical piece of your overall game plan with money. If you agree with this concept, skip ahead to the next heading. If you find yourself challenging or questioning this, there are several reasons why it is important.

  • Progress is hard to achieve without an understanding of your financial priorities. Think of heading out on a vacation without knowing your destination. This might be fun for a while, but if you do it continuously you’ll end up nowhere, even if you are making decent time.
  • Without defined priorities, it is easy to float from one goal to another without careful thought and planning. This may cause you to be unprepared for major financial events like college, weddings, and retirement.
  • If you do not have ranked financial priorities, you will most likely finding yourself multitasking with your money. Aside from research which proves that multitasking doesn’t work, multitasking with money is especially dangerous because it lengthens the time for completion of even the simplest tasks.

Building a List of Your Priorities

When you’re ready to begin building a list of your financial priorities, you may feel overwhelmed by where to begin. I recommend two approaches that have worked for me and my wife; though both are different, I believe they will effectively lead you to similar conclusions.

Values-based Planning

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve probably noticed that I frequently refer to Values. Simply put, I define values as your personal principles or standards of what is most important to you in life. In your quest to Take Back Control of Life and Money, ensuring that you make money, spend money, save money, invest money, and give money in alignment with your values is critical.

When it comes to determining your financial values, I recommend asking yourself a few simple questions:

  • What is your main reason for earning money?
  • What use of your money do feel is most fulfilling?
  • How do you best contribute to your overall financial well-being?
  • What kind of legacy do you wish to leave behind?

Answering these questions may not be easy, but your answers will reveal what is most important to you. A proper understanding of your values can help you identify and rank your financial priorities. For more information on discovering your values, sign-up below to receive my FREE Money Values Toolkit.

Following Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps

No matter what your financial strategies, it is critical that your overall money plan aligns with your financial priorities and values. A values-based approach may seem too time consuming for some people, especially those who are extremely busy. The 7 Baby Steps, as created by personal finance expert Dave Ramsey and pictured to the right, represent a ready-made plan for defining your financial priorities and translating them into an actionable game plan.

Related Reading: 7 Ways Dave Ramsey is Right About Money

When my wife and I first were married, Dave Ramsey’s teachings in The Total Money Makeover and Financial Peace Revisited helped us narrow our focus and define our financial priorities. They helped us discover that we value Dependability, Giving, Stewardship, and Order.

Translating Priorities into Action

As a result, we did what few newlyweds do: we committed to a budget, chose to live in an inexpensive rented town home instead of high-priced corporate apartments, rarely went out to eat or bought new clothes, and focused on being content with what we had.

Having a clear understanding of our financial priorities helped us to define a vision for our future. This vision led us into action to pay off a small car loan, save for a house down payment, secure term life insurance policies for each of us, and pay off my student loan debt over the course of the first six years of our marriage.

Related Reading:

Final Word

Understanding your financial priorities is important, but acting on them is what matters most. Once you’ve narrowed them down yourself, you can begin to Take Back Control of Life and Money and experience deep fulfillment.

What are your current financial priorities? How often do you review your priorities and plans with money?


11 Genius Money and Time Saving Routines

Have you heard the old adage “time is money?” While this is true, I often remind myself that time is so much more than that. Time is the great equalizer for all people. For example, Mark Cuban is a billionaire, and you’re most likely not, yet you both only have 24 hours in each day. What counts is how well you utilize your time to live your best life. And with so many things competing for your attention in the noise of life, developing time saving routines can be critical to maximizing your life satisfaction.

As a full-time teacher, realtor, and blogger, I have learned to build time saving routines into each day. They are the reason I am able to pursue three career avenues while also maintaining time for family, friends, and recreation. To be fully transparent, I haven’t always been so efficient with my time. I developed my routines through trial and error, and from time to time, even extreme efficiency cannot help me to juggle it all.

Looking to save time and save money? They go together! Our tips will give you the routines you need to save tons of time, reduce stress, and be happier.

Life-Changing Money and Time Saving Routines

If you’re overwhelmed by life and feel that there just isn’t enough time to do it all, the following time saving routines may be the tricks you need to make the most of your time and boost your happiness! Pick a few to implement this week after reading the tips below.

1. Start Your Day the Same Way Every Day

If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then it also stands to reason that the first half hour of your day is the most important. I strongly believe that the first 30 minutes of my day can set the tone for the rest of my day. After coming to this understanding, I decided to structure my waking moments as follows:

  • Press “Snooze” on my alarm clock (not my iPhone – more on that below!) and spend five minutes in quiet to pray and run through the events of the day in my mind.
  • Get out of bed, shower, and get dressed for the day.
  • Let our dogs out and pour myself a cup of coffee (set to brew on a timer from the previous night) while standing at the island in our kitchen.

On the surface these steps may not seem like time saving routines, but if you look a second time, you’ll notice that I don’t do what nearly every person does upon waking up: check my iPhone. 

In the past, I used to spend an easy 30 minutes (or more!) reading the news, scrolling through Facebook and Twitter, checking e-mail, and more before even getting out of bed. One day, it dawned on me that this is a huge time vacuum! And the worst part is that it often led me to start my day out grumpy and stressed out about everything I needed to do that day.

My time number one money and time saving tip is simple: find time saving routines that work for you and implement them to start your day off in a positive way.

2. Choose Your Clothing the Night Before

At the risk of having my man card revoked, I’ll be honest: I like clothes. A lot.

In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for me to stand in our closet and decide on outfits for several minutes each morning.

By choosing my clothes the night before when I am far more alert, I save myself an estimated 30 minutes each week.

3. Set-up Automatic Payments on Everything

Have you ever sat down to pay bills and realized you didn’t have any envelopes? Cue a trip to Office Max. You resume the process and discover you don’t have any stamps? Off to the post office you go.

Today, there is no reason to waste so much time paying bills when you can automate payments through your various service providers or your bank. Make a list of your regular bills and set up auto pay as soon as possible.

Related Tip: It’s a wise move to review your bills for unused subscriptions every few months to make sure you’re not just throwing money down the drain for services you don’t use.

Trim Financial Manager can help you with this task – and it’s free! Trim Financial Manager, help you find unused subscriptions and even help you cancel them!

4. Handle Mail and Other Documents Only Once

When my wife and I got married, we quickly developed the dreaded pile of mail on our kitchen table. Maybe we thought the other person would just take care of it, or if we just ignored it maybe it would go away. Even today, it rears its ugly head when we both are unusually busy.

Of all the time saving routines I have implemented, handling mail and other documents only once may be the easiest to apply consistently. When I open mail, I quickly choose a course of action: recycle it, shred it, act upon it, or file it.

5. Make the Most of Idle and Busy Work Time

Call me weird – you know you want to – but I enjoy menial tasks even when they’re simple “busy work.” Mowing the lawn, folding laundry, cleaning the house, and running errands are my jam.

Why? I make the most of this time by listening to podcasts, audio books, and even writing articles for this site via voice dictation. For a driven, type A personality, accomplishing two things at once is thrilling.

While I caution anyone against multi-tasking – it doesn’t really work – making the most of your time by engaging your mind during mindless activities is one of my favorite time saving routines.

6. Set Limits Using Timers

I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but I have a rare ability to make even the quickest tasks take a ridiculous amount of time if I know I have time to burn. For example, I once spent an hour writing a simple thank you note that should have taken only five minutes. My face should probably be plastered all over posters for Parkinson’s Law (work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion).

Setting timers to keep yourself on task is one of my favorite time saving routines because it provides the simplest form of accountability. Do your best to set realistic time limits for all tasks and your productivity will soar.

7. Maintain an Electronic Family Calendar

Whether you are newly-married or have a large family of several children, saving time is all about being organized. My wife and I do not have children, but our electronic family calendar is often the only thing keeping us on top of everything that we have going on.

You can use any number of apps to share an electronic calendar with members of your family. We keep all of our important events, birthdays, bill due dates, vet appoints for our dogs, and much more on our shared Google calendar. It only takes a few minutes to update each week and even less time to check each day, and it is one of the easiest time saving routines you can implement.

8. Tidy Up Often

Have you even gotten to the end of a busy week only to realize that you had let dishes, clutter, and dirty laundry slide for five days? I have, and it’s awful.

time saving routines, save time, save money, clean the house, clean up, tidy up

One of my least favorite but most impactful time saving routines helps us fight back against the weekly build up of clutter: we take five minutes each day to tidy up our house. I like to use a small basket or box and collect items that haven’t been put away, round them up all at once, and then put them away. Even if you do this every other day, it will make a big difference and help you save weekend time for more important and fun things.

9. Cook With Your Crock Pot

If you’ haven’t embraced the mighty power of the Crock Pot, let me say this: it’s time, and you’re going to love it! I estimate that Crock Pot cooking saves us a minimum of 2-3 hours each week.

Related: Get started with our 10 favorite money-saving Crock Pot meals.

10. Batch Meal Prep and Cooking

On a related note, batch meal prep and cooking saves us time when we aren’t using our Crock Pot. It uses fewer dishes, knives, cutting boards, and also cuts down on prep and clean-up time.

11. Carry a Water Bottle

How does carrying a water bottle count as one of our time saving routines? Your efficiency in any task is greatly diminished when you are dehydrated. By carrying a water bottle regularly, you will help your body work closer to its peak efficiency and you’ll avoid having to drop several dollars on bottled water each day.

Start Implementing These Tips

As mentioned earlier, you only have so many hours and minutes in each day. Implementing time saving routines and making them a consistent part of your week can greatly help your efficiency and improve your overall life satisfaction.

If you’re looking for tips to save money, be sure to check out the articles below – they are full of money saving tips that may help you save hundreds or thousands each year!

Related Reading:

What time saving routines do you recommend? Do they also help you save money?

time saving routines, save time, time savers, save money, clean up, tidy up

How to Talk About Money With Your Spouse

How comfortable are you when the time comes to talk about money with your spouse? Not very, in all likelihood. According to a recent article from the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts (IDFA), the three leading causes of divorce are “basic incompatibility” (43%), “infidelity” (28%), and “money issues” (22%).

In fact, one survey respondent said, “Many couples lack the communication skills necessary to navigate financial disagreements in their marriage. The emotional connection of money with safety and security in many people makes the financial disagreements more salient than other disagreements.” Another said, “I have long believed financial disagreements to be the most common cause of marital conflict. . . Now we have empirical evidence. . .”

Most of us don’t require empirical evidence to prove that it can be stressful to talk about money with your spouse; we experience it for ourselves often enough to know the truth. My wife and I agree on most things when it comes to managing our finances, but even that hasn’t stopped us from having some heated conversations from time to time.

Money fights are a leading cause of marriage stress and divorce. These tips will help you to talk about money with your spouse in a healthy and happy way! Let us show you how to share your feelings without blaming the other person, agree to a budget that works, and eliminate silly money fights before they start.

How to Talk About Money With Your Spouse and Get on the Same Page

However, the truth is that my wife and I rarely have fights or disagreements about money because we have a system that helps us stay on the same page. It works for us because it has helped us define our vision, values, and financial goals as a couple. Finding this common ground didn’t happen overnight; in fact, it took a long time! But it was worth the effort and patience spent to reach the level of teamwork and support we now enjoy.

I hope that the following guidelines and principles will help you to talk about money with your spouse without unnecessary drama, arguments, and fights. I can’t promise that it will lead to conflict-free conversation – in fact, that would probably be a bad thing. But I am confident that our system can help you and your spouse improve your communication and help you reach agreements when discussing financial matters.

Basic Ground Rules

When you talk about money with your spouse, it is important to realize that the entire conversation is similar to taking a walk on thin ice. Over the years, my wife and I have learned to embrace the following principles to keep our financial conversations on track.

1. Avoid using the word “you”

Think about the last time you went on the defensive during a conversation or argument. Did your spouse make an observation about your words, actions, or character?

The truth is that “you” based statements can quickly derail any positive momentum and feelings of good will in a conversation with your spouse. Worse, it can turn minor disagreements into a full-blown shouting match.

Instead of using phrases like “You spend too much money on clothes,” or “I hate when you act like a cheapskate in front of my life,” search for a way to share your own feelings without labeling them as a response to the words or actions of your spouse.

2. Do not place blame on your spouse

Part of the reason why the word “you” is so divisive in conversation is because it places blame on your spouse. However, placing blame, even when it is deserved, will rarely lead to any kind of meaningful resolution to ongoing financial disagreements.

how to talk about money with your spouse without fightingConsider, for example, the phrase “You spent $125 on shoes last weekend, and now our checking account is almost overdrawn.” We can break it down clearly into the following components:

Action/Cause: You spent $125 on shoes last weekend
Result/Problem: Our checking account is almost overdrawn

More broadly, a disconnect surrounding spending on shoes within the budget clearly exists. Rather than placing blame, discussing the matter factually and unemotionally is an approach which is more likely to lead to change.

Consider these subtle changes to the original statement:

“I noticed a $125 charge on our statement a few days ago. Can we talk about our budget line item for shoes?”

This statement is emotionally neutral, and it is followed by a question intended to invite a response and keep the conversation moving forward. Best of all, it articulates the problem without placing blame and invites a teamwork approach to solve it.

Use a Talking Piece

In my experience as a school administrator and teacher, my training in the basic principles of Restorative Justice have influenced my thoughts on conflict resolution. Without a doubt, a single person’s domination of the conversation is one of the biggest problems impacting couples locked in money disagreements.

The solution to helping you talk to your spouse about money without one of you dominating the conversation is simple: use a talking piece.

You can select any object to be your talking piece. The main point is simple: you may speak only when you are holding the talking piece, and you must pass the talking piece to your spouse at an agreed upon time interval. (It is not necessary to use a timer, but you may if you wish.)

What Should You Do If You and Your Spouse Have Big Money Disagreements?

The general advice above will help most couples have financial conversations without becoming quickly derailed, but digging deeper into the details of money problems will require more nuanced conversation and planning.

In particular, some basic preparation is necessary before you talk about money with your spouse in order for the conversation to be focused and fruitful. I recommend that you and you your spouse spend time individually recording your responses to the following simple questions.

  • What do you think is working with regard to how we are handling money?
  • What isn’t working?
  • How does our current budget (or normal spending, if you don’t have a budget) reflect how you would to spend, save, and give money?
  • How does our current budget (or normal spending) fail to align with our family values (i.e. what we care most about in this world)?

Your individual answers to these questions should reveal your individual and collective financial strengths and weaknesses. Based upon your individual answers, you will easily find areas of agreement and opportunities for getting on the same page with money.

Eliminate Conflict Before It Starts

Inevitably, you and your spouse will have areas in which your values overlap and areas in which they do not. Creating a budget is one of the quickest and easiest ways to eliminate conflict over your differences and how they lead to spending.

Over the years, I have heard a number of excuses and complaints about budgets.

  • Budgets are too restrictive.
  • Budgets are for people who have money problems.
  • Budgeting doesn’t work for us.

Related Reading:

If you identify with these complaints, consider these counterpoints.

  • Many people report feeling like they have received a pay raise when they go on a budget for the first time.
  • If billionaire Warren Buffett uses coupons when he takes Bill Gates out for lunch at McDonald’s, creating a budget is not beneath you; swallow your pride.
  • Call it whatever you wish – a budget, a spending plan, an agreement – but financial success simply does not happen by accident. If you do not have a plan for managing your money, you will continue to struggle and experience money fights.

If you do not yet have a budget, follow the link below in a new tab. I will show you how to create a budget that works in an easy-to-follow, step by step manner.

Read: Budgeting for People Who Suck With Money

Allow Some Free Spending

Many people wrongly assume that living on a budget means you must discuss every single financial transaction with your spouse. A basic spending allowance, or blow money, is one of the best ways to ensure that you are not embroiled in constant money fights with your spouse.

The process is simple: set an amount that you and your spouse may spend individually each month – no questions asked – and withdraw that amount in cash at the beginning of each month. If you agree to never spend more than this amount without discussing it first, you will eliminate many money fights before they even begin.

Try an All-Cash Month

In a world full of credit and debit cards, cash is often an afterthought for most couples. However, the truth is that for most people, spending cash is much more emotionally-impactful than swiping your card. Research has proven that spending cash actually activates the pain center in the human brain.

Try a one month fast from your credit card and debit card and see how it impacts your spending habits. No, you don’t have to cut up your credit and debit card and never use them again. However, you and your spouse may learn a lot about your tendencies during a cash-only month.

Money fights are a leading cause of marriage stress and divorce. These tips will help you to talk about money with your spouse in a healthy and happy way! Let us show you how to share your feelings without blaming the other person, agree to a budget that works, and eliminate silly money fights before they start.

Last Resort

For most people, the above advice will be sufficient to help you talk about money with your spouse and solve your financial disagreements. If you still find that you and your spouse are having frequent disagreements after implementing them, I have one more recommendation.

My friend Adam Hagerman, a certified financial planner (CFP) and accredited financial counselor, created the only online personal finance course I endorse: Budgeting for Budget Haters.

I’ve personally reviewed Budgeting for Budget Haters and feel it is one of the best step-by-step resources on creating a budget available today. If you want access to a top professional who will walk you through every step of the way, Budgeting for Budget Haters is for you! You can try the course out 100% risk free for 60 days. If you’re not satisfied after completing all of the forms and related course steps, Adam offers a 60-Day Money Back Guarantee.

Adam’s course is one of a kind, and when you sign-up he will personally help you:

  • Budgeting for Budget Haters | talk about money with your spouseGather the right information needed to create your budget
  • Set smart financial goals and use them to avoid the debt/savings roller coaster
  • Create an annual budget and plan like you’ve never planned before
  • Budget for periodic expenses
  • Budget for the fun stuff and incorporate guilt-free spending
  • Budget with a variable income
  • Prioritize debt repayment
  • Use budgeting software (with on screen instructions!)
  • Talk about money with your spouse without fighting
  • Set up your budget so it requires low maintenance
  • And much more!

As a member of Adam’s course, you get a LIFETIME membership to access four hours of video guides with step-by-step instructions to build a budget that will work for you, access to downloadable forms, worksheets, and spreadsheets, and access to your own personal financial coach who is able to answer specific questions. This last benefit alone is worth HUNDREDS! And as the course is updated over time, you receive all updates at absolutely no cost.

If you’re serious about Taking Back Control of Your Life and Money, sign-up for Budgeting for Budget Haters today using our link for FinanceSuperhero readers and secure your spot in the course for only $97 (or two monthly payments of $57).

Again, Adam could charge $500+ for this course, but he has the heart of a teacher and wants to help you gain financial freedom.

You have literally nothing to lose and Control of Life and Money to gain, so sign-up for Budgeting for Budget Haters today!

Final Word

Money is a stressful subject, and it can be difficult to talk about money with your spouse, especially if you regularly disagree with each other. With the right mindset and a process in place, you can start having fruitful conversations and get on the same page with your spouse.

What tips do you have to talk about money with your spouse?

Money fights are a leading cause of marriage stress and divorce. These tips will help you to talk about money with your spouse in a healthy and happy way! Let us show you how to share your feelings without blaming the other person, agree to a budget that works, and eliminate silly money fights before they start.

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.

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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%.

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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?

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