Posted in College & Student Loans, You and Your Money

Back to School

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Well, here we are again.  One week from today, my daughter will be heading back to college for her junior year.  Where does the time go?  But I digress.

This time of year can be a major budget breaker if we are not careful.  Last year, I spent a lot of money getting her everything she needed for her dorm thinking this was a one time thing.  But every year they change dorms so of course there is always that “need” for new stuff.  And if your children are in K-12, don’t think you are off the hook.  Every year the schools provide a new supply list based on their grade.

The one big lesson that I have learned, however, is that just because the school or even your student says they “need” it doesn’t mean you have to buy it.  Below are a few tips for saving money when the “Back to School” season starts:

  • Take an inventory – Whether it is clothes, school supplies or dorm items, make sure you take an inventory of what you already have.  Just because it is a new school year doesn’t mean everything has to be new.  Did you know that it is possible to start the new school year without one single new outfit?  Or one new notebook?  I’m not saying don’t buy anything – I’m just saying be realistic about what they need and what they want.  Don’t break the budget buying items that they already have and are in perfectly good shape.
  • Stick to the budget – I love a good sale!  Who doesn’t?  And the sales at this time of year can be amazing.  But it is only good if you need the item that is on sale and if you have the money budgeted to buy the item.  Be careful not to get swept up in all the sweet deals.
  • DIY – This is mostly for the college readers, but can apply to anyone.  Instead of spending hundreds of dollars decorating your dorm room, use stuff that you already have from home to make it feel more comfortable.  Also, make stuff to decorate with.  Get a cool frame from a yard sale, thrift store or even the dollar store and put your favorite picture in it.  Decorating doesn’t have to cost a lot of money and you will feel at home if you have touches of it with you.

It is so easy to get swept up in the chaos that is back to school shopping.  And it is easy to spend way to much if you don’t go in with a plan.  Using the steps above, you will be well on your way to making this the best year ever without breaking the bank.

I hope everyone has an awesome year – whether you are starting school for the first time, moving on to the next grade or heading to or back to college.  These years are precious and need to be treasured, not for what you bought but for the experiences you will have.  Sending you prayers, love and encouragement!  Go kick some butt!  ~Debbi

Posted in Building Wealth, Financial Freedom, Winning with Your Money, You and Your Money

Key to Prosperity

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I love sharing this picture over and over.  People think that they can build wealth and reach financial freedom by spending more than they make or waiting until they are older to begin investing in their future.  And it is simply not true.

Today, however, I don’t want to talk about the math.  I want to talk about the emotions of prosperity.  Personal finance is 10% math and 90% emotion.  We get the math shown above, but how we think and the decisions we make keep us from building wealth.

The biggest obstacle we face is ourselves – believing that we can or even should obtain wealth.  God says in Deuteronomy 8:18 that He has given each and every one of us the ability to obtain wealth.  This means that it doesn’t matter where you were born, what your job is, or what your circumstances are.  It doesn’t matter what others do.  All that matters is that you believe in yourself and that you partner with God to make His will happen.

There are so many people in the world, especially Christians, that believe that God doesn’t want us to be prosperous.  They believe that God wants us to remain poor.  And nothing could be further from the truth.  God wants us to remain humble, always, and to give Him the glory, but He also wants us to be prosperous.

First of all, He not only wants to meet our needs, but to give us the desires of our hearts.  He wants to partner with us to have and do the things that mean the most to us.  This is why what one person may receive is different than what others receive.  For example, my dreams include a lot of travel.  For others, their dream is to have a nice home.  Everyone is different and God works with us each individually to reach those dreams.  He also wants us to be an awesome example out in the world.  How can people see how great God is if all of His people are poor?  And if we remain poor, how can we help those in need and be used by Him to meet the needs of others?

God is a god of love and He wants the best for all of His children.  He wants us to have the career that we want to have.  He wants us to have the things that truly make us happy.  He wants us to give to others knowing that giving is a great contributor to happiness.  God wants us to be happy!  He doesn’t want us “just getting by”.  Jesus came “that we may have and enjoy life and have it in abundance.”  John 10:10 (AMP)  

Stop having a poor person’s mentality.  Stop believing that it is God’s will that you struggle or that you are stressed.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Start partnering today with God to find your true passion, to lay out all of your dreams (current and future), and to believe that you can have anything you want if you just believe.  “Believe and you shall receive.”

Have a blessed and prosperous week!

Love ~Debbi

http://www.debbiking.com

http://www.lovellministries.org

 

Posted in Car Buying, College & Student Loans, Debt Free, Financial Freedom, You and Your Money

To Buy or To Lease – That is the Question

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This weekend I was having an intense conversation with my 19 year old daughter about all of the options for buying a car.  In her mind the only option is paying cash for a used car and at her age that is the best option.  No one in college or even a young adult starting a family should have a new car with an average car payment of $350.  One of the many things that I have realized over my 15 year career is that there are 2 important steps in making all financial decisions:  always do the math and do what will work for you personally and not anyone else.

Having said that keep in mind that debt doesn’t work for anyone.  Never buy anything that you do not have the money for.  This is why the only option, in my book, for a millennial is paying cash for a used car.  But as we get older, many of us build up our savings accounts and we end up having the money to comfortably drive a new car.  So how do we decide what to do between the two options that are available for getting a new car.  The Bible is an awesome book of instructions that God has given us, but no where in the Bible does it tell us to buy a car over leasing or vice versa.  However, it does tell us to be good stewards and great managers of what God has given us which is where the math comes in.

The math when it comes to buying vs. leasing has to be looked at long term.  For example, if you are planning on owning a car for 10 years, you need to total in the amount you pay for the car in addition to repair bills that will be paid over the course of that time.  About 3 years ago, my husband and I were in need of a different vehicle.  We had the financial ability to get a new car and so we began the numbers game.  The van we had that needed to be replaced had 420,000 miles on it and we had owned it for 9 years.  We paid $20,000 for it and had put in at least $5-6K in repairs including a new engine.  That means that over the time of owning the car, it had cost us $240 a month to have that vehicle.  So we decided to look at both of our options and decide if we wanted to buy or lease our new vehicle.

I want to be up front before I go any further.  Leasing is not for everyone and you should never lease just for the low payments.  It can be very attractive especially to people who live in a monthly payment, paycheck to paycheck world.  And just like deciding whether to rent or to buy a home, you need to do what is going to work for you in a positive way.  Leasing is not what it was 20 years ago and there are advantages to leasing, but you must do your research and be honest with yourself about your needs.

Here are a few things to consider when making the decision between buying and leasing:

  • When you buy a car, you own it but cars are not investments and they are only an asset to the extent of what they are worth minus what you owe.  Don’t pay more for a car just because you will “own” it.  Research the car you are looking at and know how well they hold their value.  For example, a Honda will be worth more 10 years from now than a Kia will.
  • When you lease a car, you have no maintenance and this can be a big deal to many people especially as we get older.  An average lease is for 36 months and that is the minimum warranty on most vehicles.  And tires and brakes usually last at least 40,000 miles so you would only be responsible for oil changes which many dealerships will throw in.
  • As you probably know, new cars lose value quickly in the first year or two.  Most leases come with GAP insurance included which will cover the difference should your car become totaled from an accident.  This is an additional purchase when buying (if you are financing) and should be included in the math.
  • When you buy a car, you can drive it as many miles as you want.  However, with a lease you are limited in how many miles you can drive per year (average is 12,000/year or 36,000 total).  When your lease ends, if you don’t purchase the vehicle you will be responsible for paying for the miles over at the rate of the lease agreement (usually .20/mile)

I am not one of those money people who says “never buy a new car” or “never lease a car”.  I have done the research and there are advantages to both.  You can have anything but not everything.  This means that in life we have to choose what is important to us and use our financial resources to do those things.  God loves giving us the desires of our hearts, but He will never help us get something that is going to hurt us.  You work hard for your money and God wants you to enjoy life.  A godly life has great balance.  That may mean that if you have a new car you can’t travel as much or have as big of a house as some.  It may mean that you don’t buy “stuff” everyday.  But if having a nice car is important to you, you will be willing to sacrifice in other areas in order to have what adds value to your life.

Let me close with this – new cars are not evil.  They are awesome and frankly can give you peace of mind when traveling the highways and byways.  But they can also cripple you and take you into bankruptcy if you buy them before you have the ability to pay for them.  Debt is not ok – God made that one pretty clear.  This is true for a used car or a new car.  Anytime you are looking at getting a new car, weigh all of your options, know your true financial situation and always do the math.  Do what is going to move you forward, not backwards.

Have a blessed week!  Lots of love!

~Debbi

http://www.debbiking.com