How to Prepare for a Market Crash Before It’s Too Late

Our friends Dow and Jones sure are sensitive fellows, aren’t they? They hear one thing in the news and then you can’t control what crazy stuff they’ll do. 

When you begin to feel the rumblings of a market crash earthquake, what’s the first thing you do? 

That’s why we have to prepare!

I’m not talking financial doomsday. But at the beginning of the year that must not be named, we had no idea that the market would fall nearly 35% in value in just over a month. So what’s the number one thing we should do in preparation for a market crash?

If a Market Crash is Coming

Get an emergency fund.

“Emergency Fund” is not a sexy term or anything but it becomes sexier as the stock market falls.

When we talk emergency fund, we’re talking 3-6 months of expenses. Or even just a starter emergency fund of $1000 if you’re working through paying off your debt. The fact is, an emergency fund will lower your stress levels as the financial sector starts to go south for the winter. Or for the summer or whenever market dips.

Protecting Your Money as a Retiree

Now here’s what many people miss when covering an emergency fund: you retired folks. Many of our retired friends have enough money invested in the stock market in order to live off the interest every year.

For example, with a cool $1M invested, if the market gains 8%, that’s $80k of returns to live on without even pulling any of the $1M out of the market. But with the downturn in an economy, every dollar taken out of the market then becomes, relatively speaking, more expensive to use. 

Let’s go back to the $1M example. 

If the market saw the same 35% drop that it did in the year that must not be named, that means the same $1M turns into a measly $650k (more than 10x my 401k!).That means that every dollar taken out during the downturn will cost the same retired couple the equivalent of a buck fifty when the market comes back. $80k right now is $120k when the market heals. So how do we avoid this? 

With a big freaking emergency fund. 

Since downturns in the economy last an average of 15 months according to Acorn Investing, I think at least a 15 month emergency fund makes a lot of sense. In training for financial coaching, we are actually taught 18 – 24 months when coaching retired folks.

And yes, you’re losing out on growth in the economy when you have that much money in cash. But if you put it into a high yield savings account, you can at least keep from losing as much to inflation’s chopping block. And at retirement age, generally you are far more risk averse because there’s far more to lose. 

With a large emergency fund, you don’t have to worry about pulling money out of retirement accounts when each dollar is less valuable. Just use that emergency fund until the market comes back and proceed as usual. 

Don’t Do This Before a Crash

When you begin to feel the rumblings of a market crash, this is what you should not do: Don’t pull your money out of the market. Just let it ride, okay? The market will come back. Continue to invest the way you’ve been investing. 

Just say in the coolest way possible, “Mr. Fidelity, I’d like to make another deposit.” And any money that you invest as the market is dropping will be more valuable when it comes back and hits the next all time high. 

To clarify, I’m talking about people with stability in their finances. If you can afford to continue investing through a downturn, obviously do it. If you have to conserve due to a job loss or something, do what’s best for your family. Make sure you have the necessities taken care of before you continue throwing money into the market. 

Conclusion

I know that a downturn in the economy can be scary. But preparing with an emergency fund and continuing to invest will help level you out emotionally. 

Another 2020 will come..uh…another year-that-must-not-be-named will come. Maybe not in the same way. HOPEFULLY not in the same way. But it will come. Markets will fall. And they will come back. Just stay focused. 

So I’ll pass this question onto you: Are you ready for the next market crash? 

I’d love to hear from you in the comments down below! 

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Get Financial Coaching

Are you overwhelmed by debt and feel like there’s no way out? Feeling intimidated by budgeting?

I can help! I’m a financial coach trained by Ramsey Solutions to guide people in their financial lives. Set up a free consultation below and I’ll listen to your situation and guide you on the right steps forward. There’s no commitment.

Financial Coaching: How It Works and Who Should Get It

What is a financial coach and how is it any different than a financial advisor? In this post, we’ll break it down. Then we’ll cover who should get financial coaching and how it works.

Spoiler, I don’t think coaching is for everyone. I don’t even think it’s for everyone who has financial problems.

Financial Advisor

  • A financial advisor is someone that you generally think of for long term financial help. They can help you with wills, estate planning, investing, long term care, and asset allocation.
  • Financial advisors have to pass a test and are licensed, usually under the letters CFP or Certified Financial Planner.
  • Financial advisors generally get paid commission based on the products they sell or a fixed percentage of the assets they manage. Some charge a fixed hourly rate.

Financial Coach

  • A financial coach will work with you on what I call the nitty gritty of personal finance. A coach will help you create an effective budget, pay down debt, deal with collectors, avoid bankruptcy, prepare for kids’ college, begin saving for retirement.
  • Financial coaches don’t need a license because they don’t sell financial products.
  • Financial coaches just get paid a fixed rate per coaching session. 

Now, these differences are fairly standard. Some coaches and advisors do more, some do less. 

Why Would You Ever Need a Financial Coach? 

I’ve got 6 reasons why financial coaching may be for you.

1. You need a person not attached to your situation who can help clarify your next steps. 

Money is incredibly personal. Well, money isn’t personal, but decisions involving money are personal. And unfortunately, that means these decisions can heighten emotion. Paying off debt, personal. Buying a home, personal.

When personal and emotional mixes with finances, it can get messy quickly. I’ve been coaching someone who is in a difficult, personal situation. In the two sessions I’ve had with him, I can tell he’s in a very emotional place. This individual reached out because they knew they needed someone with an outside perspective to help them with their financial priorities. 

A financial coach can speak into your situation with an objective viewpoint while still understanding the emotions involved.

2. You have debt and it feels like no progress is being made with it 

Credit cards, student loans, personal loans, Helocs, they all take away from your income. Sometimes it feels like no progress is being made, especially when there’s barely enough cash to live on, let alone make extra payments on debts.

A financial coach can help you find ways to not only make progress on your debts, but pay them off and become financially free of payments forever. 

3. You are confused about priorities of finances. 

Should you pay off debt first and if so, which debt is more important? Or is it better to save for retirement so your money has as long as possible to grow? Is now the right time to buy a house or should you wait? 

A financial coach can help you find the priorities with your money by listening and understanding your situation.

4. You’ve got no budget and need help making one that will be effective for you

You’ve tried a budget in the past and it just hasn’t worked. You know it’s important but you don’t know how to make it effective for you!

A financial coach can help you make a budget that makes sense for you and is simple to follow.

5. You have a working budget and want to make it better

Maybe you have a working budget but you need help tightening it up so that you can make progress towards your goals more quickly. 

A financial coach can help you with that. 

6. You need help clarifying your goals and comparing to where you’re at. 

If you know where you want to be in the future, sometimes you just need someone to help you with the steps to get there. A financial coach can help you clarify those goals and help you walk through the steps to achieve your financial dreams. 

So How Does Financial Coaching Work?

Let me walk you through it. 

First, we would have a consultation where we would determine if financial coaching is right for you. You may think that I’m trying to get as many people as possible to get financial coaching but I’m not. Though I think it’s beneficial, some people don’t need it. Even more-so, it’s just not right for everyone. 

If you aren’t willing to commit to making drastic changes in your life to accomplish a goal and free yourself of financial problems, financial coaching isn’t for you. The consultation is a time to determine if it makes sense for you. This consultation is completely free. Normally this is just a phone call or a virtual meeting.

In it, we talk about your hopes and dreams and your current financial situation.  If I think you’re reading for coaching and if you would like to move forward with it, we set up our first session. 

Second, I’ll send you a form called the “financial snapshot.” 

This one page form is designed so that you can help me understand your numbers. Income, debts, savings, housing as well as your personal priorities when it comes to money. 

Then we have our first session. 

We’ll talk about your financial struggles, your financial successes, as well as hurdles you’re experiencing with your current goals. My job as a financial coach is to fully understand where you’re at with money so this is a chance for you to lay it out and for me to listen. 

We’ll get into your numbers and talk specifics based on your situation. 

And from there, we develop a plan together with action steps that will help you reach your goals. 

How long does coaching last?

Some people need only a couple sessions, some want coaching on an ongoing basis. It’s up to you how long you’d like to continue with coaching. I’ve had 2 sessions with one individual and they just signed up for 3 more. 

Financial coaching isn’t for everyone 

You have to be vulnerable and honest. I get it, that’s not easy! But consider this, what do you have to lose by not getting a coach? 

  • What if debt continues to suffocate you slowly?
  • What if you’re never afforded the freedom to spend the time you want with your family now or in retirement? 
  • What if you never gain financial peace?
  • What if all your future needs is some accountability to get you there? 

Financial coaching can help you with these.

Your Future

Just imagine a future where you have no worries about your money. Where you have no debts and no payments. Where you can give to whoever and whatever you want. A future where retirement isn’t filled with money problems.

I’ve been trained as a financial coach, my wife and I have no debt aside from a mortgage, and we’ve been successfully budgeting for almost 4 years.

I have a very non judgmental approach to coaching. No one’s money is perfect. I’m just here to provide hope in tough situations.

Let’s Talk!

If any of this resonates with you, set up a free consultation with me so that I can understand your situation. No commitment is required at all.

And from there, we can determine if coaching is right for you.

And so I’ll pass this question onto you, is talking money with others awkward for you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments down below!

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What Economists Say About How To Use Stimulus Checks

Round three stimulus checks are coming! Is it economically irresponsible to not spend it? I mean, it is meant to stimulate the economy, right? What have we learned from the impact the last stimulus checks have had on our economy?

What the Economists Say

With the third round of stimulus checks being sent out, I’ve been curious how the last two rounds have influenced our economy. Here’s what I found.

Despite these being “stimulus checks,” the National Bureau of Economic Research actually found that of those surveyed on the use of their checks, only 15% reported they spent the majority of it. Another third of people said they saved the check and the rest put it towards debt repayment.

Of course, many of those people split their use between the three categories. But that 15% surprised me. It seems really low for the number of people saying you should go out and help the economy with the money you received.

Economists say that during an economic downturn, people tend to stock up on savings a bit more. Not surprising. What did surprise me is that from my research, there were fewer people than I expected who said that not spending the stimulus checks was hurting the economy.

This was, I think, for a variety of reasons.

1. Spending Options

For one, the National Bureau of Economic Research made note in their study that the downturn in the economy provided fewer options for the spending of money. Even for those who were ready to spend money, restaurants weren’t working at full capacity, many stores were closed, and non-essential activities were not operating.

2. Personal Decisions

Second, I think many people realized this pandemic has been incredibly personal. Personal financial problems result in personal financial decisions, not necessarily decisions that are “best for the greater economy.”

3. Broad View of the Economy

And third, many economists and those in the financial trenches have a broader view of the economy as it pertains to people’s personal finance.

Greg Mcbride, the Chief Financial Analyst of Bankrate, said this in a recent NBC article,

“This is the short view versus the long view. In the short term, stimulus money put in savings or used to pay down debt may not give an immediate boost to the economy, but households that have more savings and less debt are in a better position to spend on a consistent basis going forward,”

He continued by saying,

“Even among people who don’t have immediate plans to spend that money, that doesn’t mean it’s not going to get spent”

I thought this was an insightful viewpoint. McBride makes it clear that he doesn’t have a problem with increasing savings and paying down debt with stimulus checks. Furthermore, in the same article, the NBC contributor mentions the possibility that once the pandemic is over, the extra savings may supercharge extra spending.

Contrary to what has been thought in the last year, it seems much of the stimulus checks will go towards longer term economic recovery. So, what do we take away from this? Let’s look at what your impact is on this economy. As the next stimulus check arrives, keep this in mind.

You Are Your Own Microeconomy

Economies get smaller and smaller as you move down the ladder. If you look at the world’s economy, we see the economic effect of nations on other nations.

We zoom in a little and we see our own national economy and how money moves across different sectors and geographies. Zoom in again, and we see our state’s economy. Again, we get closer and see our local economy and money in the hands of real people we know and love. Zoom in once more and we see the economy of our own household.

It’s like we’re all little nations. We’ve got our own GDP (what we produce) and our own imports and exports (what we buy and sell). There’s exchanging of goods and services; money comes in and money goes out.

When you look at economics, you see can see how improving a smaller economy helps the economy at large. If Ohio’s economy improves, industry increases, unemployment decreases, and that only helps the national economy of the United States.

It’s got ripple effects into other states and other industries.

So, it stands to reason that our own microeconomies of our households also works in the exact same way. When we are overextended, when we spend too much, when we are putting money towards debt, it hurts our own personal microeconomy. And it trickles into other economies as well. Local, state, national and world.

My point is this: We don’t have to spend our stimulus checks because they are stimulus checks.

What we should do is improve our own microeconomy so that it influences the economies higher up. And much of that improvement can come from saving and paying down debt. It seems a bit counterintuitive given the “stimulus checks,” but as Greg McBride says, just because money isn’t being spent now doesn’t mean it won’t be spent in the future.

What to do With Your Stimulus Check

Having said that, how should you handle your next stimulus?

If you are in a circumstance where money is particularly tight, especially if you have no job, focus on the four walls first. That’s food, utilities, housing, and transportation in that order. The number one priority is to make sure you have these four categories covered.

1: Food. Keep food on the table!

2: Utilities. Keep the electric, water, and gas turned on in our homes and apartments.

3: Housing. Stay up to date on our mortgage and rent. Gotta keep that roof over our heads!

4: Transportation: Ensure you’ve got transportation taken care of so you can keep making the money at work if you are fortunate to have a job.

Here’s another post I wrote during the last wave of stimulus checks where I cover the 4 walls in greater detail.

The Baby Steps of Personal Finance

Next, we look at a starter emergency fund. Do you have $1000 saved for emergencies? Put your stimulus towards that if not. It’s not going to feel like a lot because it isn’t, but it’ll provide some cushion as you move into the next baby step of personal finance. Here’s a post breaking down Dave Ramsey’s baby steps for reference.

Next step is paying off all non-mortgage debt.

After that, you build a full 3-6 month emergency fund.

ONLY THEN do you begin investing for retirement. Now, I know it’s tempting to just throw that stimulus money into the stock market or bitcoin because of how it is going up. But DON’T. Not when you have bills and debt and no emergency fund.

As I’ve mentioned in this video, you may feel like you’re missing out on this market and the magic of compound interest, BUT, paying off debt has the same effect as investing when it comes to your net worth. Both increase net worth and you mathematically experience the same benefits of compound interest with both. Except, when paying off debt, you decrease risk in your life.

Once you get that full emergency fund, you can decide how you want to spend your stimulus check. Put it towards baby steps 4, 5, and 6, by saving for retirement, saving for kids college or paying extra on the mortgage principle. Or you can increase your generosity and give some to a person or organization that needs some extra help during these times.

However you choose, you’ve got some options, just don’t let the unnecessary options (like going shopping) get in the way of the necessary ones (like stocking up on chocolate milk).

And just to be clear, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t support your favorite local restaurant. I get it, small businesses need our help. But don’t use the pandemic as an excuse to spend money when you’ve got your own financial problems.

How Are You Using Your Stimulus Check?

So let me pass this question onto you: How do you plan to use your stimulus check? Do you agree or disagree on the proposed usage of these stimulus checks?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Like what you read (or watch)? Give the blog a follow in this little box below.

Get Financial Coaching

Are you overwhelmed by debt and feel like there’s no way out? Feeling intimidated by budgeting?

I can help! I’m a financial coach trained by Ramsey Solutions to guide people in their financial lives. Set up a free consultation below and I’ll listen to your situation and guide you on the right steps forward. There’s no commitment.

How to Find Your Net Worth and Why It Matters

People talk about “net worth” but how do you actually find it? In this post, we’re going to look at net worth and why it’s helpful. We’ll also look at its one major downside of net worth.

Let’s start with the definition.

Net Worth Definition

Net worth is what you own minus what you owe, or your assets minus your liabilities. Assets are anything of significance that you own and liabilities are any debts that you possess.

Here’s an Example

Carl has a number of assets:

  • House: $200k
  • Car: $10k
  • 401k: $40k
  • Savings: $2k

This would total $252k in assets.

Carl also has a number of liabilities:

  • Mortgage: $175k
  • Car loan: $12k
  • Student loans: $35k
  • Credit cards: $6k

This would be $228k in liabilities.

Thus, Carl’s net worth is $252k – $228k = $24k.

Net Worth Calculator

Calculating net worth is pretty simple stuff overall but it is hard to remember everything. Like personal loans, HELOCs, and loans for other big ticket items like campers, ATVs and boats.

This is why I like this net worth calculator I’ll include here. It walks you through the items to include on both the assets and liabilities and automatically calculates it for you.

Why Does Net Worth Matter?

Net worth is a measurement. For some people it’s a good measure for their personal financial goals.

Increasing net worth is easy to measure, because if you save money, you increase your assets, and if you pay off debt, you decrease your liabilities. Both of which increase net worth.

It’s also something that can help you prepare for retirement. It’s just important to mention that there’s more to retiring than having a large net worth. If Carl has a $2M net worth at retirement, that all sounds great except having a $2M paid-for house with no cash or investments doesn’t put food on the table.

It may not be perfect but net worth is a good place to start when preparing for retirement. At least Carl could downsize to a smaller house and invest the money to live off of.

Here’s the Downside of Net Worth

Net worth, in many ways, can be confused with human worth.

Net worth does not equal human worth.

It doesn’t matter if your net worth is $1 billion or less than $10. Your worth as a human being is priceless so don’t let a number dictate how you see yourself or how you see other people.

So let me pass this question on to you. Is your net worth about where you want it to be for your age? Are you behind or ahead on a net worth goal?

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Get Financial Coaching

Are you overwhelmed by debt and feel like there’s no way out? Feeling intimidated by budgeting?

I can help! I’m a financial coach trained by Ramsey Solutions to guide people in their financial lives. Set up a free consultation below and I’ll listen to your situation and guide you on the right steps forward. There’s no commitment.

How to Combine Finances After the Wedding

When two people get married, what’s the best way to handle the finances? Keep it separate or make the money pot a little larger? What other financial things should we consider when we get married?

This weekend, Bailey and I attended the wedding of some friends. Cue the bells and sparklers! So I am taking this appropriate opportunity to talk about finances when households are combined. 

Bailey and I had to go through this very thing when we got married. Believe it or not, we’ve been married for 3.71781 years already! Full transparency, that’s rounded up to the nearest hundred-thousandth of a year.

Anyways, there are 3 things newlyweds need to focus on shortly after the wedding

1. Joint Bank Accounts

When you tie the knot, do your finances tie the knot as well? And by that I mean, should you get joint bank accounts? I say absolutely. And here’s why. 

One of the number one characteristics of a healthy marriage is trust. When trust doesn’t exist, bitterness can set in and cause issues within the relationship. Combining finances takes one more question of trust out of the marriage equation.

There’s this thing called financial infidelity. It’s where one spouse is being dishonest with the other by keeping something financially a secret. Maybe it’s a debt, maybe some kind of indulgent expense. When finances are combined, everything is transparent. Either spouse can log into the bank and see exactly what the purchases are. 

Unfortunately, this isn’t all Dr. Pepper and chocolate milk. Uhhh…we’ll use a more relatable term. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Having joint bank accounts can cause some headache too when one spouse says to the other, “You spent how much on _______??”

Which brings us to our second point that MUST be combined with the first. 

2. Budget Together!

You knew I was going to say this, you were just waiting to see which number I put it at. Seriously, this is so important to work as a team on money. When you’re on the same page, there are fewer arguments that arise that are financially focused. 

A study conducted by Kansas State University found that money fights were one of the leading causes of divorce in America. Why not get off on the right foot and stay focused on your money together? 

3. Life Insurance Beneficiaries

This might not be something you have to worry about just yet if you don’t have life insurance. Which I would recommend if you don’t have it already! 

If you do have life insurance, make sure your spouse is your number one beneficiary for it. It just makes it a lot easier for them to access life insurance money if something happens. 

Don’t get too large of an insurance policy, though. We don’t want you to have to sleep with one eye open! 

Conclusion

I get it, many people don’t like the idea of combining finances in marriage. It certainly throws off what you’re used to with the handling of money. 

But I firmly believe that as a couple, it’ll be far easier to accomplish your financial goals with combined finances. It’ll likely lower your spending too because you’ll be accountable to someone. 

One other thing, please don’t combine finances until after you’re married!It will save you a whole lot of headache if you break up. You won’t have to deal with separating your money after that. 

So let me pass this question onto you: what’s your view of combining finances with your spouse? I’d love to hear from you in the comments down below! 

Like what you read (or watch)? Give the blog a follow in this little box below.

Get Financial Coaching

Are you overwhelmed by debt and feel like there’s no way out? Feeling intimidated by budgeting?

I can help! I’m a financial coach trained by Ramsey Solutions to guide people in their financial lives. Set up a free consultation below and I’ll listen to your situation and guide you on the right steps forward. There’s no commitment.

How to Gain a Healthy View of MONEY as a Person of FAITH

For those of faith, sometimes it seems like money and faith are opposites. We have a hard time figuring out how they can work together.

Unfortunately many people in the church have an unhealthy view of money. “It’s inherently evil and will destroy your life!” It can seem dirty. The reason for this preconception is because Jesus teaches how the earth isn’t our home.

We’re here temporarily, merely a dot on the timeline of eternity. Money, as a result, has no eternal value to it.

Here’s the video version for those less inclined to the written word!

And Christ says in the sermon on the mount,

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Matthew 6:24

Paul says that the “love of money is the root of all evil” in one of the most misquoted verses in scripture.

Again, Jesus warns of the traps that money brings when he tells the rich young ruler to give all that he has to the poor and to follow him.

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.

Matthew 19:24

Clearly there’s a lot of faith based concerns about issues that money can bring in life. “But if you have enough of it, you don’t have to worry about anything! You can buy anything you want, do anything you want, go anywhere you want!”

Which is where an unhealthy view of money begins.

The issue for people of faith is this: our one and only god in life should be God. Not money, not fame, not a big house, not a nice car. We are to rely on God in all that we do. The challenges of life give us the opportunity to surrender all control to God, trusting he’ll sustain us. When I have money, it can rob me of the opportunity to give full control to God because, hey, I have what I need, I can do what I want.

Money is a tool. It’s inanimate. It’s amoral. It’s neither good nor bad.

Money isn’t the problem. It’s a heart problem. That’s why Paul specifically says “The LOVE of money is the root of all evil.” Anything you put into that sentence can be the root of all evil if there is an unhealthy love of it.

Then why is it that Jesus focuses on money so much? I think it’s because money is the most versatile tool we have. If you have money, it’s easy to get things you want and need. And it’s easier to replace God in your life.

So how do we get a healthy view of money?

Let’s look at 3 ways we can work on this.

3 Ways to Gain a Healthy View of Money

1. Practice generosity

The first way to understand a healthy view of money is by practicing generosity. When we give what we have to those in need, it impacts our worldly viewpoint. As Christians, we’re called to give a tenth of our money to church as a tithe.

I think regular giving is incredibly important to maintain a healthy perspective on money. It helps us focus on whose money it actually is. It keeps us grounded and helps prevent greed from taking over our lives. In fact, no joke, when we can tell greed is starting to creep in, Bailey and I try to increase our giving.

Which brings us to our second point.

2. Understand from where money comes

A healthy view of money simply begins by understanding from where it comes. In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, Jesus talks about a master who entrusts his servants with his money before he leaves on a trip.

Before the master returns, his first servant doubles the money entrusted to him. The second also doubles the money entrusted to him. But the third hides his portion out of fear.

In the parable, we see two things — First, the money is ENTRUSTED to the servants. It is never theirs to own, it is only theirs to manage. Second, the first two servants are good stewards of the money entrusted to them.

Everything we have has been entrusted to us by God. We’re merely managers of what he’s placed before us. Our responsibility as managers is to spend, give and save money in a way that glorifies God. Just like you expect your financial advisor to manage your retirement funds well, God expects us to manage his money well. And just as your financial advisor has to answer to you for the way he manages your money, we have to answer to God.

This doesn’t mean we have to give 100% of our money away. Obviously there are needs you and your family have as well. But, as Christians, we’re called to give 10% back to God for his work, while managing the other 90% in a way that honors him.

3. Pray for an eternal perspective

And the third point is simply that prayerfully asking God to give you an eternal perspective will help you maintain a healthy view of money.

Wrap up

So is money evil? Absolutely not.One step further, is it wrong to have nice things? Absolutely not. But, when money is an idol in your life, it’s an issue. Just like anything else that takes the place of God in your life.

Money is a necessary tool and when we focus too much on it, we don’t give God the space to show himself in our lives.

So let me pass this question onto you — What’s your perspective of money relative to your faith?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments down below!

Like what you read (or watch)? Give the blog a follow in this little box below.

Get Financial Coaching

Are you overwhelmed by debt and feel like there’s no way out? Feeling intimidated by budgeting?

I can help! I’m a financial coach trained by Ramsey Solutions to guide people in their financial lives. Set up a free consultation below and I’ll listen to your situation and guide you on the right steps forward. There’s no commitment.

What Covid Relief Does to Your Taxes (Stimulus, Unemployment, PPP)

There was a lot of money handed out by the government in 2020. Last year’s chaos brought the need for unemployment and stimulus checks to help many people get through financial challenges.

First we had the $1200 stimulus checks. The $600 per week of unemployment started about the same time. The Small Business Administration began giving forgivable PPP loans shortly after so small business could retain their employees. Then the second stimulus checks of $600 were sent out at the beginning of this year. 

How does all this “free money” affect your taxes come April 15th? 

The short answer is, it depends on how you get it. So let’s get into stimulus checks, unemployment, and the PPP loan and how you may be affected tax-wise.

Here’s the video version for those less inclined to the written word!

1. Stimulus Checks

First, the stimulus checks are not taxable. So you can breath one sigh of relief. 

Or two sighs if you’ve gotten your second check!

2. Unemployment

The unemployment checks are taxable, not only by the federal government but also the state depending on the state in which you reside. If you live in California, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, or Virginia, you’re in luck because you’ll get to keep your unemployment benefits free of state income tax. Same with those who live in income tax free states like Texas or Tennessee.

Being an Ohio resident, I’m super jealous

In the remaining states, taxes will need to be paid for these unemployment benefits when filing state and federal tax returns. One thing to note, when you signed up for unemployment, you should have had the opportunity to opt into tax withholdings for your checks throughout the time you would receive them. 

If you did, you have nothing to worry about! If not, you may have some preparation to do. But with it being February, you still have a little bit of time to save up before your tax bill comes due on April 15th. 

The wife of a friend of mine was laid off last year and got unemployment until she was called back into work. Unfortunately, he just found out that taxes weren’t being withheld. He just told me today that after having filed their taxes, they’ve got a good size bill they have to take care of now.

If you normally get a large tax refund, you might not owe anything. It just depends on how long you’ve been on unemployment.

What I would recommend is going to a service like TurboTax, fill out your income and unemployment information for taxes, then use that to figure out if you will still receive a tax refund or if you will owe the IRS when you file. Or, better yet, a CPA can look at your taxes and help you understand whether you’ll owe or not.  

3. PPP Loan

Now for you Small business owners who got the PPP loan from the small business administration, how does this apply to you? The short answer is that business expenses that the PPP loan is used for are tax deductible. 

But keep this in mind, the SBA has VERY SPECIFIC guidelines for how the PPP funds can be used. You can’t just use the money for any “business expense” and write it off. For one, 60% of the funds must be used to maintain employee salaries based on historic salaries paid. The other 40% must be used on utilities, mortgage interest, rent, etc. 

If any of those funds are not used for those categories within the time period the SBA specifies, those funds cannot be forgiven and will require repayment to the SBA and will qualify as taxable income. 

Get ready for tax day!

With all that money given out last year, we want to be well prepared for tax day! I hope this helped provide you with a bit of understanding how you might be affected. If you’re on the wrong side of the tax bill, take it on yourself right now to start saving as much as possible to make your taxes right!

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Get Financial Coaching

Are you overwhelmed by debt and feel like there’s no way out? Feeling intimidated by budgeting?

I can help! I’m a financial coach trained by Ramsey Solutions to guide people in their financial lives. Set up a free consultation below and I’ll listen to your situation and guide you on the right steps forward. There’s no commitment.

Disclaimer: Do your own research. My content is intended to be used and must be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment based on your own personal circumstances. Though I teach financial principals, I am not an investment advisor and none of my advice constitutes legal, tax, or investment as a professional. Everything I share is based on my own research and is intended for your benefit.

5 Unconventional Side Hustles (and How to Choose One for Yourself)

Today’s blog post about side hustles isn’t going to be your traditional post where I say “Ok you can do door dash, you can do Uber, you can do Lyft, you can get an evening job!”

Nope. There are plenty that cover side hustles you can do. My goal is to open your mind a bit to creative hustles you could start in your own life.

I am by no means a side hustle expert, nor have I made a boatload of money doing side hustles. But I’ve tried my fair share and want to share some of the more uncommon ones here.

This blog post will have 3 parts. First, I’m going to tell you the 5 relatively unconventional side Hustles I’ve had. Second, I’ll give you 5 points to consider when starting up side hustles of your own. And third, I’ll tell you the next 6 side hustles I am either in the process of trying or will try in the short term future.

Let’s get into it.

Here’s the video version for those who are more inclined to the spoken word!

1. Mowing Lawns

This was mostly a side hustle I did for family. Before my dad retired, I, along with my brother, Josiah, mowed the lawn for him for years.

We also mowed for a neighbor for a couple years. It made for a pretty good summer hustle. This has normally garnered $300-$800 per year depending on the year and who we mowed for.

2. Selling Firewood

We lived on a farm growing up where there was almost an unlimited amount of firewood. Josiah and I started out using a sledge hammer for our business but then upgraded to a log splitter with my dad and sold firewood for a time.

They still do, I’m just less involved because YouTube and blogging takes all my time!

I wasn’t good at tracking the finances on this one but we did fairly well in terms of hourly rate. People love to have fires on their back patio where we live.

3. Wedding Videography

This has been the most profitable side hustle for me.

I started videography back in 2011 when I got my first camera. I loved it so much I began filming weddings with a friend and it’s grown a bit from there. I tend to do only 1 or 2 weddings a year and will make about $40 an hour while filming and about $25-$30 an hour while editing.

Here’s a recent wedding I filmed!

4. Real Estate Drone Photography

I love flying drones. I think it has to do with getting a perspective that’s unique.

So, when I bought a drone for the fun of it, I turned it into a side hustle for real estate drone photography. I got some flyers, had them put up in a local real estate office and have done about 10 jobs since.

It’s been a fairly good hourly rate of $30-$40 an hour because I just take the pictures and videos and do some simple edits before delivering to the realtor.

5. Making Vinyl Decals

This is a hustle I started late last year. I’ll design a decal that I like, then post it on Etsy for purchase. I’m still working out how to be more efficient with my processes but I have done $144 in sales of these unique stickers.

And I’m working on a honey label design for a guy that makes his own bourbon barrel honey in our area.

Yeah, this is a pretty wide range of side hustles!

There’s one thing that they each have in common though — I really enjoy each of them.

Mowing the lawn and chopping firewood is a lot of manual labor but I love being outside and getting some fresh air in my lungs. Wedding videography is so much fun because I get to see the emotion of a bride and groom as they remember their big day. And I just love flying drones. The fact I can make money at it is a bonus. The vinyl decals are probably the weirdest hustle I have, but as someone who prides himself on his quirky humor, designing these stickers has been a lot of fun.

So, having said all this, let’s look at what you should consider when getting a side hustle up and running.

Questions for choosing your own side hustle

So, here are the top things I believe you should consider.

  1. What are the things you love to do? This is seriously the number one because 70% of people spend their lives working in jobs that they don’t find fulfilling or engaging.
  2. What we don’t want is for you to take on a side hustle in your evenings and weekends, even though you don’t enjoy it. I’d hate to think of you coming home from a job you don’t like to do a hustle you don’t like.
  3. What physical resources do you have? Lawn mower? Snow shovel? Camera? Is there something you are particularly knowledgeable about and people come to you for advice?
  4. What opportunity has the most profit potential? Do some research into any ideas you have. Is anyone else doing them? What kind of demand is there?

Chris Guillebeau is THE side hustle guy. I’ve read several of his books and listened to his podcast on the topic. He says that any side hustle you have should make you more in hourly rate than you do from your main job. Now, I don’t think that’s a deal breaker necessarily, but it’s a great goal to shoot for.

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  1. What can be turned into money the fastest? This seems similar to the last one but it’s not. The two most profitable side hustles needed me to purchase a camera and a drone and find clients who may not need me immediately. There are things you can do to make money as a side hustle faster than others. If you’re on track for a horrible tax season, you may want to find hustles that less time to get up and running.

Don’t be afraid to just start. Maybe delivering groceries or giving drunk people rides is something you do enjoy!

Remember that my examples weren’t intended to be a list you could just pick from and start making money at today. You absolutely can, but most of mine actually have a higher capital investment than most side hustles need. These were just intended to provide some inspiration for ways you can turn some ordinary things into some cash.

6 Side Hustles I’m Working to Build

1. Blogging

I’ve had this blog for several years. I used to write posts focused on personal growth, then late last year I began to focus on personal finances. So far I have made a whopping $0.38 from the blog!

So, uh, less than minimum wage.

This is something I plan to continue posting on and my hope is it turns into another stream of income that is maybe more than a dollar per hour!

2. Selling eggs

Bailey and I just got some chickens recently! Bailey’s always wanted them so it’s more of a fun addition to our home. But, they do provide eggs. What we’d like to do is sell the eggs we don’t use and at a minimum pay for the feed.

Maybe not so much a side hustle and more of a hobby with a goal to make it financially sustainable.

3. Airbnb

Bailey and I want to get into the hospitality industry and open our own Airbnbs to give people a unique lodging experience here in central Ohio. We’re really excited about the ideas so far and our plan is to open up our first one in 2022. More details to come. 🙂

4. YouTube Monetization

The personal finance videos I make for my YouTube channel take a ton of work! I love making them but my goal is to ultimately turn this into a side hustle this year by monetizing my channel.

This means garnering 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours of watch time.

Got a little ways to go. If you’d like to check out the channel, click here!

4. Candle making

Sounds like a weird one but I got into this because of the stickers I make. I thought, hey, I can make fun candles with funny labels since I make stickers!

I’m still exploring this one. I know people sell candles on Etsy for anywhere from $8-$25. Last night though, I actually got my first candle up on Etsy! Check it out here.

Jasmine  Patchouli Candle  Essential Oil Candles  Soy image 0

6. Financial coaching business

This is number 6 on the list but actually my number one. I love helping people understand money and budgeting. That’s why I started this blog and my YouTube channel.

Both were made to help with content creation for my financial coaching business. Ultimately, if I could turn this hustle into a full time gig, I’d be a happy man.

Conclusion

So what do we take from this?

My hope is that you can see there are nearly endless ways to make money on the side. But they might not all be perfect for you. The main 4 things you have to keep in mind are these:

  1. What do I love to do?
  2. What physical resources do I have?
  3. What skills do I have?
  4. What is profitable?

You hit the sweet spot on these questions and you’ve got your hustle.

So let me pass this question onto you — why do you want to start a side hustle? I want to hear from you in the comments down below!

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The Problem with “Pay Yourself First”

You hear the phrase “pay yourself first” all the time. I agree in theory, but when we look at it deeper, how does that affect other areas of your financial life? Is the “pay yourself first” mentality really the best way to make progress with your money? 

Here’s the video version for those more inclined to the spoken word!

“Pay yourself first” is a frequently used phrase to just say, “Hey, you work hard for your money. Don’t let it get snatched up with frivolous and unnecessary expenses!” I agree, but I am here to challenge the thought process because I don’t think it takes into consideration one major factor — debt. 

“Pay yourself first” is just another way to encourage saving. Saving for an emergency, saving for retirement, saving for a house or maybe a vacation. 

Saving and investing are absolutely important! But I want you to think about why the “pay yourself first” movement resonates with you. Is it because you want to be able to handle an emergency? Are you afraid you won’t have enough money for retirement? Are you trying to ensure you don’t miss out on the magic of compound interest? 

Consider this possibility 

Paying off debt is a form of paying yourself first. 

Compounded interest is great for sure, but only when you have it working for you. In the case of most debt, compound interest is working just as much against you as your investments are working for you. 

Let me prove it with an example. In this, we’ll use the tool of net worth to explain. Boiled down, pay yourself first is essentially a strategy to increase net worth by taking advantage of compound interest combined with time. So we’re able to use net worth to create a quantifiable means of determining which situation is best in our example.

Net worth is what you own minus what you owe so the highest net worth in our example wins. 

As one caveat, I understand this isn’t a perfect example by any means. It cuts out a ton of life variables that could affect it. This is merely a way to prove a mathematical point about pay yourself first. 

Here’s an example

Let’s make this super simple and say you have $10,000 invested at a 5% rate of return. You also have $10,000 in credit card debt, also at 5% interest rate. In this case, your net worth is $0 because you have $10,000 in investments and $10,000 in debts. 

Situation 1: Extra money to investments

If you had $1000 of extra money per year to put anywhere, “pay yourself first” would say, “Let’s throw it at the investments. Let’s take advantage of that compound interest!”

If you did this but neglected the growing debt, ultimately in 5 years, your net worth would grow by $5525. Your investments would be at $18,288 and your credit card debt would be at $12,763.

Situation 2: Extra money to debts

Now, on the other hand, if you took that $1000 and put it towards paying down the debt while neglecting to contribute more to your investments, your net worth would STILL grow by $5525. After these same 5 years, your investments would be $12,763 and your credit card debt would be $7238.

Which one wins?

In both examples, net worth is the same. However, in the second example, the risk is lower. Whenever your debt is lower, your risk is inherently lower.

Now, keep in mind, this example shows has an interest rate of 5% for both investments and credit card interest. This example would change significantly depending on the type of investments and debt you use within it. The average interest rate for credit cards in America is much closer to 15% whereas the federal student loan interest rate is about 2.75%. Clearly this wasn’t meant to be a perfect example. But it was meant to challenge the reasoning behind the “pay yourself first” mentality. 

Paying off debt is a guaranteed rate of return

Here’s one more thing. When you make an investment in the stock market, you are hoping to receive a good rate of return. The average rate of return in the stock market is about 10% according to Nerd Wallet. But, nothing is guaranteed in the stock market. 

What is guaranteed is the interest rate on your loans. 

As we’ve already established, paying down debt is the same as increasing net worth because you are diminishing the amount you owe on the loan. If your credit card interest rate is 15%, you are effectively guaranteeing a 15% rate of return on the money you use to pay it off. That’s a pretty good return!

Get the full picture

“Pay yourself first” is a great way to handle your money if you understand the full picture. Saving money, investing, AND paying off debt all fit. As a financial coach, I just really want you to get rid of that debt. It’ll increase your net worth and decrease your stress. 

So let me pass this question onto you. How do you look at debt relative to the pay yourself first mentality?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments down below!

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The Hidden Opportunity Cost of Every Purchase

Imagine you’re driving to work and realize you completely forgot your 20¢ iced coffee at home. I guess you gotta snag a quick cup of joe from the Starbucks on your way. 

As you creep forward in the drive thru, you notice the price for a cup of their signature Pike Place is now $34. Oh geez, to caffeinate or no? 

Here’s the video version for those less inclined to the written blog posts!

Opportunity Cost

Opportunity cost is defined as “the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.”

In plain terms? Each opportunity you take means that another opportunity can’t be taken. Having said that, let’s go back to you in your car, sitting in the drive thru. 

Would you purchase this $34 coffee? 

It seems like a ridiculous question because it is. $34 is a stupid amount of money for a single cup of coffee, even for Starbucks. But that is effectively the opportunity cost of purchasing a $3 coffee today. 

If you take that $3 and were to invest it at a 6% rate of return over 40 years, you’d have $34 more in retirement than if you bought that $3 coffee right now. If you buy one $3 coffee on every one of the 250 days you go to work during the year (well, during a normal, non-Corona year), that could turn into $8250 in retirement under the same situation. And that is from a single year of buying coffee every day on the way to work. 

“Caleb, why do you have to ruin my morning ritual of coffee, man?”

Let me be clear. 

I want you to enjoy a coffee if you want to buy one. But even more, I want you to understand the opportunity cost of purchasing a coffee, or an app, or a playstation 5 or even a gallon of chocolate milk (even though the chocolate milk is probably the best purchase of those options).

Go ahead, purchase coffee or whatever, but do it while using a budget. The budget will control the amount you spend in one category. That’s why Bailey and I spend any amount of money on fun things like restaurants or coffee or Go-Kart racing at Go Pro Motorplex in North Carolina. We pay for things intentionally, because we save and invest intentionally. And we want to have some fun while we’re at it!

But we understand the opportunity cost. 

This principal applies to literally anything you purchase. Everything bought has its own opportunity cost. I just used coffee because people drink it every day (me included). 

This isn’t to say Starbucks or any other coffee shop is bad. I enjoy a good Starbucks coffee. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with it if you’ve got a designated fund for making such coffee purchases in your budget. The key is just understanding that any purchase, coffee or otherwise, will cost your future more than you might expect.

How about you? What frequent purchase could you reduce or cut out to improve your future financial situation?  

Ours is probably being more careful with what we purchase at the grocery store. Recently, we’ve gone over in our groceries for a few months in a row.

I want to hear from you in the comments below!

Like what you read (or watch)? Give the blog a follow in this little box below.

Get Financial Coaching

Are you overwhelmed by debt and feel like there’s no way out? Feeling intimidated by budgeting?

I can help! I’m a financial coach trained by Ramsey Solutions to guide people in their financial lives. Set up a free consultation below and I’ll listen to your situation and guide you on the right steps forward. There’s no commitment.