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Best method to eliminate debt

#NaymarChallenge and you personal finances: debt.

You’ve probably seen Brazil’s star player fake a trip during their match versus Mexico.

Credit:Kmo7iProd HD

After rolling around for what seemed like an eternity and drawing the Mexican’s ire, Naymar would soon become a meme where thousands across the world are using him to make a point!

Naymar and Personal Finances

What did you think of his theatrics?  As he rolled and rolled this got my creative juices flowing!  Let’s apply the #NaymarChallenge to eliminate debt.

You ready?! Let’s go!

First, list all your debt from smallest to largest.   The interest rate does not matter unless two payoffs are similar then you can list the highest percentage to lowest.  You also include the payoff, minimum payment, new payment.

The goal is to work on the first debt while making the minimum payments on the debts listed.  While working on the first listed debt you will need to Naymar (roll) additional money into this debt.  You should be making the minimum plus the additional money on the debt being worked on.   In the example below, Card1 payoff is $150 with a minimum payment of $25.  An additional money, $125, is combined with the minimum making the New Payment $150.

Screen Shot 2018-07-14 at 11.58.46 AMAdditional Money

There are different means to get additional money.  Look around your home and sell those old electronics you no longer need.  Look at taking an additional shift or asking for overtime.  Get creative here!

As soon as the listed debt is eliminated, the minimum payment from this debt is combined with the minimum payment for debt immediately below.  Now the amount being paid towards the debt has grown.  No longer is the minimum payment being applied.  Notice how Card2 has a New Payment amount, $45.  This was the minimum from Card1 plus the minimum from Card2.  There is  no additional money on this payment.

Screen Shot 2018-07-14 at 12.02.25 PM

Follow this pattern until all the listed debts are paid.  Remember any time you payoff the debt that minimum payment needs to be applied to the next debt.   The temptation will be to use that new found money to purchase something new. Don’t!  Naymar your debts as quickly as possible.  Don’t keep your debt lingering around.  Go ahead and kick them out.

 

 

 

 

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Living Paycheck to Paycheck | How this NEW Method Provided Financial Independence

Living Pay Check to Pay Check is NEW Financial Strategy
Spenders Rejoice

Living paycheck to paycheck has gotten a bad rep.  Wouldn’t you agree?

“You need save more or you’ll never be financially set”, the financial pundits scream.  I mean you turn on the TV, radio, or check out any personal finance blog and that’s the message.  If you’re anything like the normal consumer you’re probably tired of being chastised for living paycheck to paycheck.  

There Shame in Living Pay Check To Pay Check

My family and I live paycheck to paycheck and couldn’t imagine living any other way.  This lifestyle has allowed us to fund the girls college education, save for a comfortable retirement, and payoff debt.  This wasn’t accomplished by “saving” or being frugal.  

I am not a fan of savings or being frugal.  In fact, practicing this will set you back hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Savings are for the birds I say.  

Savings accounts are not intended to make you wealthy.   The only person getting wealthy is the financial institutions themselves.  Look around,  how many of these institutions are in run-down buildings?  I see none. These buildings are fancy, climate appropriate, offer you popcorn, and have smiling attendees ready to serve you.  

The last few months, a couple approached us and in discussing finances they brought up their savings accounts.  Their concern was how much they earned over the last year.  As you can imagine it was a measly annual percentage. Fortunately, for them this wasn’t their only “retirement” account.  They were wise and bought real estate. 

Seeing this statement I was livid.  We took immediate action and set them up with a certified planner and invested the money in a mutual fund.  You continue to leave your money in a bank and the pundits are correct, “you’ll never be financially set”.  The banker is financially set but the patrons not so much. 

On the topic of frugality I’ll save that for another day.  This only serves to emphasis the scarcity mentality and very contrary to an abundant lifestyle.   Let’s get over the Great Depression and the 2008 financial meltdown.  

Small Savings

But Joel, don’t you save anything?  We do! We save only enough to cover 6 month’s living expenses.  That’s It!  I refuse to let the bank make any more money off of me than necessary.  

How can you afford to fund college tuition and retirement living pay check to pay check?

Let me show you the method we have used to live paycheck to paycheck and have enough for tuition and retirement.  (You may want to take notes here. I’ll wait for you to grab a pen and paper).  The method is called zero-based spending plan.  Spenders rejoice! 

“Spend” all you earn

The premise is this,  you want to be able to “spend” all your income.  Whether it be weekly or monthly, single earner or combined income.  Let’s walk through a zero-based spending plan.  

Get your FREE Google spreadsheet download to follow along.

The Process- Zero Based Spending Plan

My wife and I are paid on a weekly schedule.  Our zero-based spending plan includes the number of pay periods corresponding to the month.  We love those five pay period months!  

 

  1. Having the spreadsheet in front of you is recommended. The very first cell,’B2’, will be the total $ amount you have left after spending everything. It should be ‘0’.  See where the name came from now?  Screen Shot 2018-06-28 at 9.51.36 PM
  2. This simply means you “spent” all your money for that week.  When using the Google Spreadsheet there is no need to enter any number in ‘B2’. The spreadsheet will calculate the dollar figure as you enter all expenses in column ‘A’.
  3.  The next cell, B3, is your take home pay or your income.  This is what you are paid.  In our household we tithe to our local church and this is the first line we “spend” the money.  The spreadsheet will deduct that from the starting “Take Home $” amount. 
  4. Next, enter all your expenses you have for that period.  Continue and work the spreadsheet for all pay periods.  Note that not all bills are on the same pay period.  Split the expenses as they are due.  This needs to be paid on time to keep from getting late charges.  
  5. It’s recommended that the spending plan be done weeks in advance.  I shoot for 3 months out as my expenses are similar.  Again, this has been my practice for the last 11 years and have it done.

Irregular income

If your income is irregular,  varying from pay period to pay period, take the lowest pay period from the previous year.  This dollar amount will be your starting point. You want to lowball here and have a little extra than to shoot high and not have enough to cover the expenses.  On the expenses you take the highest from previous year and use this as a starting point.  

Don’t get frustrated if the spending plan doesn’t….This may take a few tries before you’re able to get it down perfectly.  

Simple enough correct?  Who would have thought that spending would be so much fun and at the same time allow you’re achieving financial independence.

You can learn more about us here.   

This 3 Part Communication Style will make money talks easy

Marriage and Money

Marriage and money are hard.  Even more-so when spouses are not able or willing to communicate about them.  As with any relationship,  effective communication is the key for it to work!  It takes practice and application.

Solution

Check out this YouTube video where I explain an easy and effective 3 part communication method that will help you handle the most stressful conversations.  The 3 parts are: behavior, event, and emotion.  This method is better known as the “I” Message.

Behavior

This is the behavior that needs to be addressed.  For example, one spouse overspending every month or not paying the bills on time.   Avoid words phrases like “you never” or “you always”.  These phrases will make the situation worse.

Event

The event is an action caused by the behavior.  Often this event will be a negative action the spouse took because of the behavior.  Using the example from above, not paying bills on time, an event triggered would be the credit scored is negatively impacted or there will be late charges.

Emotion

The last component of the message is the emotion.  Emotion is used to describe the feelings caused from the event.   Here one can focus one the emotion the event caused.  How did the event make you feel?  Perhaps you were embarrassed, afraid, concerned, uneasy and so on.  These emotions will tend to be negative.

Putting it all together

Now let’s combine the 3 parts.

Because the bills are not paid on time (behavior)  the late payments are causing unnecessary charges and this will affect my credit score (event),  I’m afraid this will cause a bigger balance (emotion).

Here are a few pointers.

  1. Make sure the behavior is tangible (can not be disputed) and you have observed it first hand
  2. Do not use the conversation to address more than one behavior
    1. Don’t piggyback on conversations
  3. Do not address in front of others
  4. Make sure there are no other topics discussed
  5. Make this a one on one discussion
  6. Avoid all distractions
  7. Avoid causing blame or guilt
  8. Avoid using words like “you”
  9. Do not use to manipulate
  10. Do practice or rehearse

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel where I share finance and practical application to help you achieve success.

How Can I Get Consistent Returns?

8 behaviors to consider when investing
8 behaviors to consider

Recent studies have shown that female investors enjoy more consistent returns with consistent performance

If you’re a man reading this chances are the title either disturbed you or you are ROTFLOL, rolling on the floor laughing out loud.  Not what you thought about investing did you?  This hurt!

If you’re a female you might have had a hunch that you’re better than your hubsand but couldn’t prove it.  Until now that is.  Please don’t gloat about this.   

Ok, maybe gloat for a minute or so.

In a book authored by Louann Lofton, Warren Buffett Invests Like a Girl and Why You Should Too, she brings forth research indicating that women have enjoyed more consistent returns with consistent performance. The author looked over Mr. Buffett’s investment strategy and he too demonstrated all behaviors listed.

Consistency is what you want.  

Why should you take her word? 

You’re right you shouldn’t but consider that the research she presents was conducted by several teams and all concluded that women are better investors.  Better investors in the sense that they are consistent. 

Eight temperament behaviors that the women from the book exhibited are:

  1. Trade less than men do
    1. Will ignore market conditions and not act on a whim
  2. Less overconfidence
    1. Know what they don’t know and are not afraid to question it
  3. Take less risk
  4. Less optimistic
    1. It pays to be pessismitc and a realists
  5. Value research and consider different view points before investing
  6. Peer presssure does not influence their choices
    1. Men will fall into the peer pressure for fear of rejection
  7. Learn from their mistakes
  8. Less testosterone
    1. Are naturally inclined to take less risk

Women in the studies did not necessarily pick better stocks but they had the fortitude not to trade or sell when the market was tanking. 

The men money took the money and ran.  The goal to any investment is to ignore the noise and hang on to the stocks for the long term.  The author suggests that investments need be long term and Warren Buffett is of the same logic too.   

Let’s be honest with ourselves.  It’s ok to say we don’t know.  The study highlighted women’s honesty in admitting they knew what they don’t know.

As an example, the author mentions Mr. Buffett’s tendency to avoid technology companies.  These are outside his comfort zone and he avoids them.  He wants to understand the business before acting on.

Start to hone in on the eight identified temperament behaviors and your portfolio will thank you.

Struggling With Your Finances

How this psychological behavior is causing you to lose lots of dollars

loss aversion
The pain of losing is twice as strong as the gain

Hey, did you notice an increase in your paystub?  You may want to check it out.   If you did, you are part of the 90 percent of Americans who will have experienced a positive net gain in their take home money.

But have you given much thought to what you will do with that extra money?

Chances are you haven’t given it much thought.  Honestly, I have not done much with mine yet.

Unfortunately, you and I will struggle to save that extra income because it is so much fun to spend rather than save.  Who can relate?

Wait, I have a mental condition?

Yes, we all do!  There is  a psychological behavior that will keep you from saving.  This behavior is known as loss aversion, or the hate of losing.  Loss aversion is a psychological state of mind where the “pain of losing is twice as powerful as the pleasure of gaining”.

We know we need to do something smart with that little extra money and yet we choose to do nothing.   This same behavior is seen  in different areas of one’s life:  health, spiritual well-being, education, and list continues. We know the benefits gained from each of these actions are great, but the pain of losing time, money, relationships, or other resources will keep you from taking action.

Look around your influential circle of friends and you may see the benefits experienced by overcoming loss aversion.   These benefits did not happen overnite.  They probably battled loss aversion at some time yet they did something about it and they took action.

Inaction breeds company and it will have an impact in many areas of your life.

Now that we know that loss aversion keeps us from investing let’s explore the solution

The more steps or actions an activity requires the less likely we are to take a step forward to bettering ourselves.   For example, we need to get in shape and for some reason we believe we need a new workout wardrobe, hire a trainer, and post your accomplishments.  These are but a few things that keep you from taking action.  So many unwritten rules to follow it seems.  But disregard those and get going.

 Let’s look at savings and retirement

The lingo alone will drive one insane!  Annual percentage rate, annual percentage yield, certificates of deposit or CD, bonds, IRA, 401K, etc etc!  That is why your accounts have not grown or you have not started.  According to a report, 50 percent of Americans don’t participate in their 401Ks and reasons stated include: feeling overwhelmed with the many choices, laziness, and struggle with deposits.  I remember feeling all the mentioned emotions as I enrolled in my company 401K.  Trying to be in compliance with company policies, understand vacation policy and now 401K!

The struggle was real and I’m glad I took that plunge. I was afraid to ask questions. Here’s an MBA student who has no idea how to invest, I thought they would say.  I had no idea or direction and no one to turn to.

Don’t let that hold you back! Take action.  My experiences have shown that the first step you take, is the most important one.  Over time you will become more educated and can make wiser choices in your finances.

Turn the challenges into solutions

You might have heard the acronym KISS- Keep It Simple Silly.  Try taking advantage of automatic contributions.   Let the accounts withdraw from your check before you have time to spend it.   If you don’t see it you will not miss it.

Understand as you save more it does not necessarily mean you will spend less.  If you have a budget in place this will keep you focused on your goals.  I’m old school and prefer to look at spreadsheets when using my budget.  There are apps that keep this process simple.  Don’t see saving or investing as a present loss but a future gain or victory.  Keep focused on your goals.

Helpful bits

We are visual creatures.  We like wooing and awwing over beautifully created pictures.  I can spend hours on hours looking through Pinterest and Instargram.  Do the same for  your finances.  Use visuals rather than figures to help you achieve goals.

For example, instead on fixating on a $500,000 retirement, use visuals that that money will help you reach.  Visuals such as vacations, nicer home, or activities you enjoy doing with your family and friends.

Don’t allow loss aversion keep you from achieving your goals.  Learn to focus on the gains and not what you will be losing.  Remember the pain of losing needs to be dealt with.  Keep reminding yourself of the benefits or gains you will be able to enjoy.

How have you been able to overcome loss aversion?  Care to share?

 

How Do I Get the Most Out Of Volunteering?

church ministry opportunity
Enjoying Church Ministry

 

Read These 5 Suggestions Before Volunteering

Jay Martinez wrote a great piece about millennials being ready to make a difference.   Check it out here. He pointed out that millennials are willing to step up when the church invests in them.  Are you ready?

The Good News

So you might have been approached by someone in the church asking to volunteer or help out in some capacity.  Chances are you’re feeling excited and believe you’re ready to make the jump and volunteer.

Congrats!  Let me share 5 suggestions that will allow you to enjoy ministry to its fullest and at the same time prevent you from experiencing burning out.   Yes,  volunteers will at some point feel overwhelmed and burned out.

Your volunteering metamorphosis will unfold in the following pattern.  The person who asked you to volunteer will be very helpful in providing direction and guidance.  After a while you will begin to wonder, “Where is all the help!”  The person who asked you to volunteer will have probably been burned out themselves.   The freshly recruited volunteer, YOU, is the getaway opportunity they saw and took.  Remember this is not a reflection on their spiritual maturity so don’t be to harsh when left alone wondering where to go now.

Here are 5 Suggestions You Can Start to Practice Before Volunteering

 

1. Take your time

I’m often in awe of those individuals that join a church and can immediately plug in to a ministry and they excel at it!  Others will jump into as many opportunities as asked to and unfortunately for both, the church and the volunteer, they will slowly start to fade.  They will start to be absentee in their ministry and eventually their church attendance will suffer.  The church body would rather see you in the seats, listening and growing, rather than not attending at all.   On the flip side, if you have been in church for several years you’ve had plenty of time 🙂

2. Don’t accept every request

Don’t rush into everything and anything that you are asked to do.  Remember, you have an idea of what needs your time and by taking extra opportunities you will be stretched too thin.  Out of all your priorities one will suffer and more often the ministry will be left unattended.  This will be a good time to evaluate your priorities and shed those time-consuming affairs.  Those that don’t add any value.

3.  Ask for Help

When suddenly you are left alone with a roomful of loving kiddos you need to ask for help.  Don’t let this fester and bring it to the attention of your ministry leaders.  The last thing any church parents want is the kid’s ministry to become a Sunday daycare.

4.  Set boundaries

Not sure about your spiritual gifts?   Churches offer spiritual gifts sessions and those are great.  I believe in application as well and you might want to try out different opportunities to explore those gifts.  If you decide to do this I strongly encourage you to set boundaries.  For example you can say, “ I plan to serve in this capacity for 6 months” or “ I can only serve 1 Sunday a month”, etc.  You set the time-frame.  This will allow the seeker to plan accordingly.

5. It’s ok to say no

Hear me on this- You can say no and it is perfectly fine!  I understand you don’t like to disappoint but master this pointer and you’ll be spectacular .   No one will be offended if you say no.  They will respect that you value your time and theirs.  You may not be ready and it’s ok to voice that.  Leave yourself an opening if that is an area that interests you.

Summary of the 5 Suggestions I shared for a successful volunteer career

  1. Take your time
  2.  Don’t accept every request
  3.  Ask for Help
  4.  Set Boundaries
  5. It’s Ok to say No

These suggestions came at my expense and at the disappointment of others.  I felt obligated to help out as much as possible and the time requirements took their toll on me.  It wasn’t until later in my spiritual walk that I learned how to kindly and respectfully decline volunteer opportunities.  I shared the suggestions to encourage you to get involve and go about it in a strategic manner.

I’ll leave you with the following comment:

Be a specialist and not a generalist.  Be spectacular and caring in one ministry rather than general and unspectacular in many.

 

Women Outlive Men

How prepared will you be when you retire? Now is the time to take hold your finances.

The Social Security Administration Reported That Women Outlive Men

Women Outlive Men

This Got Me Thinking…

Does Jessica Know What Our Retirement Accounts Consist Of?

I figured women outlived men.    Men are risk-takers and most men would agree that this risk is fun!   I recall my brief thought of being a bull-rider at the age of 23.  That idea lasted for a split second and am grateful it did.

There are the exceptions. My grandfather is approaching 96 years old while my grandmother passed away almost 35 years ago.

According to the Social Security Administration, Jessica is expected to outlive me.  This motivated me to bring her up to speed on our net worth, asset allocation model, taxes, IRA to Roth IRA conversions, etc.

I typically handle the finances but  needed to immerse Jess in investment terminology and options.  Finances are typically seen as a men’s world and the reality is they need to be managed by both spouses.

As a Result I Developed a Cheat Sheet To Guide Her

I have put together a guide that I have used to grow our retirement account.  This includes an overview of different types of retirement accounts, our portfolio and asset allocation model.    

The idea of making more money in retirement than in our working years is a reality and not a dream.   It’s exciting to know that we have changed our family legacy!  My daughters will not have to go into debt to pursue their college education or worry about retirement.

And more importantly, Jess will have been educated on retirement.

I Challenge You To Make Retirement a Reality

I share this cheat sheet not to boast but to encourage and motivate you to start or evaluate your retirement strategy.  Trust me, retirement will sneak up on you and you’ll need to be ready.

Growing up in low-income home I believed retirement and investments were for a select people. That is no longer my mentality and hope you believe the same.

It gets easier the more you investing you do.  You develop your financial muscles 💪🏽.  Investing has been part of our strategy for over 14 years.  There is no reason that you should not be able to retire.

Retirement is for all.  It does not discriminate or is it exclusive to one social economic group.

How A Masters Degree in Business Did Not Provide the Financial Guidance I Needed

While I am proud of having received an MBA degree I was ashamed that my finances were in rubbles.  The degree taught me how to do great research as many papers were written.  And the personal finances class I might have missed at some time.  I had to learn to manage my personal finances on my own and  at a high expense. 

Financial Disruptor

This tagline has brought some healthy conversations.  I believe that anyone can be a financial disruptor.  A disruptor is defined as a person that prevents something, especially a system from continuing as usual.  

That usual was our finances. It wasn’t until we started budgeting, eliminating debt, and investing that we disrupted our finances.  Action was taken and  Financials were Disrupted.  I say we because it is a team effort.  Jess, myself, and the kiddos.

Ready to See What We Are Doing For Retirement

The available guide details our portfolio and asset allocation model.  The model is not unique to our financial situation and can be mimicked.  Most asset models can be duplicated as majority of investors place their funds in large capital, small capital, international funds, and stocks. These terms are defined in the reading.

Feeling motivated?  You can sign up to receive the FREE guide.

Disclaimer:

I am not a licensed professional. I do play one at the Gallegos’ residence and have done well.  Those are the words of my financial advisor.  You can expect the material you read to be educational, informative, and entertaining.   

One Mistake I Was Doing That Kept Me From Experiencing Church

One Mistake

 

Would you agree that attending church on a consistent basis is getting harder and harder to do?  You are not alone!  Jess and I struggled with this too.  

It should come as no surprise that the number of church attenders has been on a steady decrease.  A recent study concluded that 59 percent of Millennials are leaving the church.  That statistic is an eye-opener!

So how did we manage to avoid being one of the 59 percenters that leave church?  Not only did we avoid becoming a stat but become more involved?

Jess and I had been dating for several years now and were close to marriage.  Before finding a home church, where we invested 11 wonderful years, we visited several churches.  While those churches had sound biblical teaching and amazing worship we failed to make a connection.  We had to take a hard look at ourselves and ask the honest question, “what gives and what’s missing?

   Jess and I were the missing.  

We were physically and spiritually present and our desire to connect with other well-meaning members was not.  Jess and I came to the realization that in order for us to fully embrace the Christian walk as intended we would have to allow ourselves to be embraced.  There were older couples that invited us to dinner and we turned down and younger couples we distanced ourselves from.  They all were wonderful people but we did not connect with them.

The Ugly Mistake Revealed

We decided that we would get involved.  The first time it was gut wrenching as we had to learn to be open and vulnerable.  This was the mistake we were making…not being open and vulnerable.  This would mean stepping out of our comfort zone and investing in relationships.  It was not easy but is very doable.  We learned to let our guard down, which included inviting people to lunch or going to lunch when asked.  Yes, those moments were AWKARD but manageable.  Here’s a tip- find common ground you can all discuss.  Use the message series as a starting point or the kids recent activities.

How Liberating!

Had we learned to be open and vulnerable at an early stage our story would have been different and that’s ok! We are both fine with the outcome.  😃

It is when one decides to be open, transparent, and vulnerable that we can make meaningful connections.   BTW this also works in any relationships and career.

You too can decide to no longer be MIA…Ready to make an impact?!    

 

That’s not all  —–>  Check out the Millennial Moment of the month.  This month’s Millennial has a servant’s heart!  He has lead and organized mission trips to New Mexico, Houston, TX, Texas/Mexico Border.

Good Steward

What this blog is about

I’ve been blessed with a fulfilling career, a growing ministry, and beautiful family.  The road here has not been an easy one but by the grace of God I am learning to find joy in all.  I believe we are uniquely created and it is this uniqueness that gives us a story.  What one does with that story is up to you.  I want to be found a good steward of my time, resources, knowledge, and experiences and will freely share them.

The purpose of this blog is to share my experiences, encourage the reader to step out in faith, and to highlight young professionals who serve the Lord.

Have a minute?   Head over to the Millennial Moment page to read up on this month’s highlighted millennial.

Will you share your story?