I’m Co-Leading a Financial Peace University Class this September!

Hello hello!

I’m pretty excited to share that in September, I will be co-leading a Financial Peace University class at our church! For those who don’t know, FPU is a 9-week class created by Ramsey Solutions. They designed it to help people pay off their debt, build wealth, become financially independent and be unbelievably generous.

A lot of the writing on this blog revolves around pursuing passion in a responsible way. Master the Simple to Become the Expert. That’s partly why I’m so excited about this class — I have passion for this.

Shortly after Bailey and I got married, we took Financial Peace University online and learned a lot about finances, budgeting, retirement, insurances, real estate, and mortgages. I’ve also listened to well over 100 hours of the Dave Ramsey Podcast. So I’m very familiar with the organization and the financial principles they teach.

To anyone who has read my book or followed this blog, it’s no surprise that I like Dave Ramsey and the resources his team has built to help people.

Here’s why I like Financial Peace University and why you should take the class.

1. It aligns with my beliefs

What FPU teaches it biblically based. Stewardship is a significant theme in the Bible and Ramsey’s program focuses on that as a goal.

What God calls us to do with our finances is to be stewards of the money He has given us to manage. Just take the parable of the talents. In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus calls people to be wise with what God has given them.

Plus, the Bible clearly states in Proverbs 22:7 that “the borrower is the slave of the lender.”

2. It’s not a Get-rich-quick scheme

What Ramsey teaches is not a get-rich-quick scheme — he literally says it’s slow and steady that wins the race. He teaches that becoming wealthy comes from consistent saving and investment through intentional decision making.

This means taking responsibility for personal choices. No one can make your money behave but you.

3. It focuses on generosity

Something I love about the Ramsey plan is that it doesn’t focus on becoming filthy rich for the sake of having money. FPU focuses on creating flexibility in your life while being unbelievably generous.

Generosity is one way how we show God that we trust in his provision for our lives. And with wealth and no debt, you can do a lot of good through giving to others.

Live like no one else so that later you can live and give like no one else.

Dave Ramsey, Financial Peace Univeristy

4. It creates hope

One of the most inspiring parts of Dave Ramsey’s show is the “Debt Free Screams.” In these, normal people come into the headquarters and tell Dave about their story and how they worked their ways out of debt. In the last 17 years, people who have done the screams have paid off a combined half of a billion dollars. That’s just the people who have told Dave about it in studio. That’s inspiring and hopeful.

And that’s why I’m excited to help teach this class.

If you live near Columbus, Ohio, consider joining our class. I would absolutely LOVE to see you there!

Plus, if you use this link to sign up, you’ll get $20 off your registration!

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments or you can email me at cbtiger1@gmail.com!

3 Ways Giving Impacts Your Soul

Growing up, my parents paid us kids for chores we did around the house. We always called it an allowance but now I understand it was more of a commission — we didn’t get paid unless we did the work.

Regardless, when the highly anticipated payday arrived (yay, $1.50 in the BANK!), my parents would use it as a two-fold learning opportunity.

  1. They taught us how to tithe from our very first dollar earned.
  2. They taught us how to figure out what 10% was ourselves (that decimal point is a tricky one).

For those who don’t know, the tithe is a form of giving that God commanded the Israelites to do back in the Old Testament.

Here’s the definition straight from the dictionary.

tithe | tīT͟H | 

noun | one tenth of annual produce or earnings, formerly taken as a tax for the support of the Church and clergy.

My parents taught us that as Christians, we give 10% of what we earn to the church and then we give offerings as well. To be clear, the “tithe” and the “offering” are different. Tithe is the first tenth, and offerings are above and beyond the tithe.

Okay, but why give?

For one, God commanded it. Seems legit.

Giving started in the Old Testament and continued into the New Testament as a way to provide for the needs of widows, orphans, and church workers.

God has given each of us certain possessions that we value immensely. Some more, some less. It doesn’t even have to be money that we value; the point is that it all comes from God.

But what are some practical reasons we should give away what we’ve worked so hard to gain?

Here is why Bailey and I give and why you should, too:

1. Giving builds our trust in god to provide for our daily needs

What better way of surrendering your trust to God than by giving away something you need to live?

This act of faith is expressed very well in Mark 12 when a widow gives her last two pennies to the church of her day. Jesus makes note that she gave more in faith than all those who put bags of money into the treasury.

2. Giving Reminds us whose money it is that we hold

This may be difficult for some to understand but literally nothing we have is actually our own.

In the Bible, Job had everything anyone could have asked for at the time. He had a large family, servants, and an unbelievable number of livestock. The Bible describes him as “greatest of all the people of the east” (Job 1:3b). However, God allowed the devil to take away everything from Job, leaving him with nothing but a nagging wife and a horrible skin disease.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible shows his reaction at his weakest point.

And [Job] said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Job 1:21

Job went from owning everything to nothing in less than a day. And yet, he understood the source of his wealth. He held everything he had with an open hand. What he had was taken, but if you read to the end of the chapter, you’ll find even more was given back.

Again, let me say, he understood the source of his wealth. Living with this kind of attitude honestly gives a lot more room for happiness in life. It’s a lot easier to give a friend’s Xbox back to him when you know it was only yours to borrow in the first place.

3. Giving creates the ultimate retirement account

We like to think that giving is an entirely selfless thing to do. It is selfless if it is done with the right intensions, however, there’s definitely a rewards system mixed in. Giving is kinda like a retirement account.

What is saving for retirement? In essence, it is delayed gratification.

You have to delay buying what you want in order that you will have money later in retirement. God created us humans to be motivated by rewards which is why he puts some motivation straight into the Bible.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6: 19-21

What is being said is this: Here on Earth, everything we have is temporary. Our money, our possessions — we will lose it all when we die. But by giving our money to God’s work and those in legitimate need, we are building for ourselves the ultimate retirement nest-egg — eternal treasure! The delayed gratification of not buying everything we want here on Earth is that we get much more in heaven.

P.S. This talk about good works is not to be confused with the work of Christ dying on the cross which is the only way to heaven.

I love what the famous missionary, Jim Elliot, had to say on the topic of giving:

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

~Jim Elliot

FOR BAILEY AND I, Giving is personal

I can honestly say that giving has influenced how Bailey and I handle our money. I am naturally materialistic.

Like, recently, I have had this fascination with the new Chevy Colorado. It’s a pretty sharp vehicle and I want one just for the sake of having one.

Giving, on the other hand, puts the money we have into perspective. And I find that as Bailey and I have increased our giving from just the tithe into the realm of offerings, it humbles me. And that makes it really personal for us when we put a check in the offering plate.

How does giving affect your view of your possessions?

I want to hear from you in the comments below! And as always, if you found value in this post, give it a like and give me a follow!

-Caleb

If you’re interested in reading an absolutely excellent book about giving and what it means from a Christian perspective, check out The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn. I loved this book and wrote about it briefly in a post about the books I read last year.

3 Tools to Help Guide You Towards Retirement

Happy Resource Friday!

I love talking finances. The only thing I like more is having easy-to-use tools for making finances as effortless as possible. Personally, I believe that mastering finances is one of the building blocks of life. When we don’t have financial issues, stress is decreased in so many other areas of life relationships, career, etc.

I think when we simplify finances as much as possible, it allows us to invest our energy into other areas that we care about. That’s partially why I haven’t used a credit card in two years. It’s so much easier for me to track my finances without something I have to pay off every month!

So today, I want to share a site with you that will make your finances easier to track. I’ve talked about Chris Hogan many times in blog posts and in my book. He’s a retirement expert who has written several books and has a podcast to help direct people in their future ambitions.

Hogan’s website has three great tools for you to use.

  1. An Investment Guide
  2. R:IQ Assessment
  3. The Net Worth Calculator

1. The Investment guide

The investment guide is a great tool for learning some of the basics about investing today. It teaches you about some of the basics of investing: the amount you should invest, what diversification means or even what compounded interest is.

2. R:IQ assessment

This is a sweet tool for future planning. If you take the assessment, you will put in the amount of money you expect you will need per month in retirement, what kind of lifestyle you will want to have, as well as your age and when you’ll retire.

Then it spits out a number your R:IQ or your Retire Inspired Quotient. This will tell you what amount of money you need by the time you retire and how much you need to save monthly to accomplish that.

The R:IQ is a tool to help you understand where you need to be and the Net Worth Calculator will help you understand where you’re at currently. Plug in some numbers and this tool will tell you how much your total assets are worth right now!

Check out these tools and tell me what you think in the comments below!

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3 Great Apps to Help You Budget TODAY

This post contains affiliate links.

Happy Tuesday!

Budgeting is such a simple part of mastering our finances, we have to visit it a lot. I’ve written on this topic in several other blog posts. And I dedicated an entire chapter to budgeting in my book Graduated and Clueless (which happens to be a free ebook through the end of today!).

I like writing about budgeting because I like numbers. But you don’t have to love numbers in order to master it!

Let’s look at three simple apps that are excellent options for budgeting. YOU can start budgeting TODAY.

1. Every dollar

From the start, I’ll say that Every Dollar is the personal budgeting app that Bailey and I use. It’s the one we got started with and we’ve been very happy with it since.

It’s really very simple how it set’s up your budget. It gives you areas to split your monthly finances — giving, saving, housing, transportation, lifestyle, insurance, tax, and debt. Every month, you set the money you have coming in and split it among these categories with specific line items like clothes (in lifestyle) or electric bill (in housing).

The point is to give every dollar a place every month.

If you don’t, you’re likely going to be more like me and use that “extra cash” for the restaurant line item! Hey, food is a major part of my life. I literally link every good meal I eat with a place and a time in my head. It just happens.

The thing I like about Every Dollar is the simplicity and functionality. You can create funds (like a tire fund) so that you can save for something specific months in advance (did someone say vacation?)!

Give the app a try. I recommend it.

2. Ynab

As an acronym (You Need A Budget), YNAB is another excellent app with great functionality. It has very similar features to Every Dollar except it “gamifies” budgeting a bit more.

It allows you to connect with other people to gain encouragement in the difficult space of budgeting. Plus, it gives you medals when you accomplish certain financial goals.

I actually thought this was a clever feature. People love connecting with others, especially on difficult activities (like working out, yuck). People also love virtual medals and trophies. Hey, it’s hard to beat that shot of dopamine.

The only thing I didn’t like much about it is that you have to pay after the initial free trial. Now, it does allow you to sync your budget with your bank and import transactions. That is a nice feature that Every Dollar also allows you to do for $10 a month.

I just like having the free option. And I’ve tried linking my bank with my budget and it takes too long for transactions to appear. And if I don’t record a transaction immediately, I will forget by the time the budget syncs with the banks.

3. mint

Mint is Intuit’s budgeting software. What’s awesome about this is that if you use TurboTax for filing your taxes, it’s really really nice to have everything with the same company. It makes controlling your finances, taxes, and maybe your invoicing (Intuit Quickbooks) if you have a business super easy.

I have a business and I like having my softwares connected. And Mint is another intuitive and user-friendly software. I just have been using Every Dollar and it’s been working for me. But I wouldn’t have any problem with using Mint.

Plus, it’s free.

Choose an app and get started budgeting today.

Today. Seriously. I’m not joking, if you don’t tell your money where to go, it will bite you at the end of the month. Control your finances and don’t let it control you! You can reach your financial goals!

Do you budget? if so, how do you do it?

I want to hear from you in the comments below! Do you have any budgeting questions? I will do my best to answer any that you have. And as always, if you found value in this post, give it a like and give me a follow!

-Caleb

Thanks to Alexander Mils from Pexels for the use of the main photo on this post!

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This is an email that I get every morning that updates me in an entertaining way of the happenings in the world. It’s a long form email but it’s easy to skim and pick up the information you find interesting or relevant. Plus it’s a great way to support the blog and won’t cost you anything!


The best way to get physical books

If you like to read, I highly recommend Thriftbooks. It’s a great way to get discounted books for a fraction of what you might pay on Amazon. I’ve bought over $150 of books from them in the past two years and have had zero complaints! Plus you can get 15% off your first order!


Perfect graduation gift

I’m really liking my Panda Planner. I’m learning how to use it to make my time more productive. It would make a great gift for a new graduate! Especially those who are heading into college and don’t know how to plan out their time accordingly.

No Time to Drift (and 4 Questions to Help Prioritize Time)

A new condition has surfaced recently called FOMO (probably not that recent but hey, I’m frequently behind the times).

FOMO stands for “Fear Of Missing Out” and conveys in four words the reason so many of us experience priority issues. 

Take me as an example of the struggle. I have a hard time going to bed early. If I have the opportunity to meet up with a friend after work, I want to take it. We meet on the opposite side of town and we don’t meet that often so we’re generally out late. And that makes me tired.

Or given an opportunity that I may not have in the future, I’ll take it for fear of missing out.

I read a book in the past year by Michael Hyatt, a time management and productivity expert, called Living Forward. He says that no one gets to where they want to go by drifting.

If you have FOMO like me, you’re likely to drift.

That is unless you’re intentional about your priorities. This is where I’m at right now. Here are a few of my priorities that I’m working to pursue so I don’t drift.

CLEAN DISHES

Ok, so this is kind of a joke. But I seriously would’t finish this blog post until I finished cleaning dishes. I hate a full sink. Ok, onto the serious ones.

WRITING

I’m working on writing a lot more. For one, I wrote a book. Two, I’m writing on this blog once a week in order to help develop my writing voice more fully and improve my communication.

Priority: Practicing my writing voice regularly in order to gain more experience and understanding of effective communication. 

SPIRITUAL LEARNING

I’m trying to grow spiritually through the reading of my Bible and learning through fellow Christians’ writing and teaching. This is a particularly difficult one for me if I am being honest. I find it difficult to really spend the time that I would like on spiritual learning, particularly in reading my Bible. I read a portion of scripture every night with Bailey, though sometimes our comprehension is low due to heavy eyes.

I listen to 5 sermons per week outside of the sermon I hear on Sunday morning. I’m actively involved in a biweekly Bible study. As a part of my new year’s reading goal, I am working on reading 1000 pages of spiritual learning books. Currently I’m reading Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby and Everybody, Always by Bob Goff.

This all will by God’s grace push me to a deeper relationship with Him. Of course, nothing I do will change His love for me but pursuing that relationship will make a difference on how I view His Word and how He works in my life.

Priority: Growing closer in my relationship to God so that I can more effectively share Him with others.

PHYSICAL FITNESS

I’m working to develop healthier habits when it comes to staying active. Given my new year’s goal, Bailey and I have been going to the gym regularly about 10 times per month. Recently this has been particularly difficult because of both of our schedules which is why we have been considering an earlier morning workout to start the day.

Priority: Developing habits of physical activity to remain healthy in the coming years.

FINANCIAL HEALTH

Bailey and I both have dreams for the future. We want to own a home in less than 15 years. We want to continue to cashflow the remainder of her education without taking out any loans. We want to continue increasing the percentage we give to church and other organizations every year. We want to consistently save for retirement by delaying gratification.

Priority: Budgeting monthly, tracking expenses, saving and talking regularly about financial goals. 

RELATIONSHIP WITH BAILEY

Bailey’s my wife and I value our relationship greatly. From our relationship will stem the growth we experience together (both personally and spiritually) as well as the environment in which our future children will be raised (Lord willing). Because of this, we aim to spend at least one night per week doing something together. Maybe it’s taking a walk and watching a show. Or grilling out. Or hitting a local rodeo (that’s a recent one). The key is we are attempting to strengthen our relationship so that our kids have a strong home in which they can grow up. And that will bleed into innumerable other areas of life.

Priority: Cultivating a loving and growing relationship with my wife and raising godly children.

Here’s the list I like quite a bit less.

THINGS I NEED TO WORK ON PRIORITIZING

  1. Sleep (I hate to admit it but the amount of sleep I get is abysmal)
  2. Biblical reading (I only read my Bible before work if I conveniently have time)
  3. Organization (I am utterly horrible at putting papers away, keeping my office clean and knowing where things are when I’m looking for them. Setting things down after work is something Bailey would say is one of her husband’s many flaws.
  4. Healthy eating (Yeah so I like mac n’ cheese a lot. What about it?)

 

So how do we overcome these areas in which we need to learn prioritization?

Here are 4 questions I ask that can help you determine your priorities as well:

1. What do you want?

Do you want financial freedom? How about a healthy lifestyle? Do you want it enough?

2. Why do you want it?

Are you tired of debt? Sick of living paycheck to paycheck? Do you not want to be winded when you get to your office after taking the steps? On a more personal level, you have to Start with Why as leadership expert, Simon Sinek, would say.

3. What steps do you need to take to prioritize [blank] starting today?

How about skip the Starbucks and put that $4 to paying off the student loans? If this is what it takes, open a bank account and put money into it every day that would have been coffee money. Or take a walk over lunch break if health is your priority. I try to do this daily and it is remarkably refreshing! Break these down into small, manageable goals. But make it something you can do today.

4. Who can help you with your priorities?

Does one of your friends have their financial life together? They’d be a great person to help keep you accountable. Do you know someone who’s fit and hits the gym? Ask them to help you. Chances are they will be more than happy to help.

Conclusion (YAY)

I want to be clear, I certainly don’t have all my priorities straight. I struggle with them, just like you. However, I know life is too short to drift or have regrets at the end so I better have a plan for my time now.

Also, I’m sorry if you got this whole thing in email. It’s super long.

-Caleb

Money Growth: How Much Should I Invest for Retirement?

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I had a low-key babysitting job when I was twelve but that income was entirely active income. Not a cent of it grew without me doing anything. I had to actually provide a service to someone in order to add to my piggy bank (ok, it was actually a doggy bank).

Retirement, however, is a passive form of income. When money is invested in something like a 401(k), it grows passively. Meaning, you don’t have to do anything. (For more information about a 401(k) and its tax benefits, check out my blog post.) You don’t have to do anything to make it grow aside from investing it in the right places. If you invest in a 401(k), you literally make money while you’re asleep. How ’bout that!

But how much do I need to invest in order to have a successful retirement?

First of all, the fourth “baby step” of the Dave Ramsey plan (if you have read my book, you’d know I’m a fan) is to put 15% of your gross income into retirement. That means 15% of your overall income, including your spouse’s, goes into your 401(k) after paying off all your debt (so that you pay off debt with more intensity).

Fifteen percent is generally agreed upon in the investing world to be the amount that will provide a reasonable retirement nest egg. However, depending on whose advice you’re taking, this amount does not include the money that is contributed as an employer match. If your employer matches 5%, don’t put yours at 10% and call it good. Do the full 15% of your income. That way, the employer match will just be icing on the cake when you hit retirement. Now, 15% feels like a lot (it is, especially for young people). You will likely have to work your way up to it. Currently, Bailey and I aren’t contributing 15% because we are also cash-flowing her school and are saving for a house. But 15% is the goal.

 

Let’s look at a pretend real-life example of how much to invest.

Let’s assume that you, at age 22, just graduated debt-free and your overall income is $50,000 per year. By the 15% rule, you would be putting $7500 into retirement per year ($625 per month). If you invested that at an 8% return and never got a raise (not likely), you would have $2,669,622 by the time you turned 65. The best part is that $2,347,122 was growth from interest! And that’s not even including employer matches. That’s remarkable!

That amount of contributions may be unrealistic for you. I know it is for us currently. If you could only afford $100 per month to put into your 401(k) at an 8% return and never increased the amount you contributed, you would still have $427,139 by the time you turned 65.

There is a very high likelihood that you will get a raise and that you’ll be able to contribute more than $100 per month (plus, in today’s money, $427k won’t get you very far in retirement). To put you just over $1,000,000 (making you a millionaire if you are debt free), you would only have to contribute $250 per month. Again, your contributions would equal only a fraction of the full nest egg when you reached retirement. Then, in retirement, you would (hopefully) be able to live off of the yearly dividends that your retirement account produces in interest.

On a $1,000,000 account, assuming 8% interest, that would provide an $80,000 income. Plus, it’s quite possible to get higher than 8% in interest!

 

Chris Hogan, a retirement expert, says this in his book Retire Inspired: “Retirement is not an age. It’s a financial number.” I like that quote quite a bit because we’ve been seasoned to believe that we have to put 40+ years into a job we don’t like (jobs and passion is for another blog post) in order to live comfortably for the last 20 years or so of our lives. But according to Chris, if we know what financial number we are shooting for, we can retire earlier.

On Chris’s website, he has an excellent tool to calculate your R:IQ (Retire Inspired Quotient). In it, all you have to do is answer some simple questions about your goals and desired living arrangements and it’ll give you an amount of savings you should shoot for and the amount you would need to invest monthly to hit it. Check it out here!

What are you doing to save for retirement? What are your concerns about the subject? I want to hear from you in the comments!

-Caleb

How to Avoid Being Old and Broke (And How a 401k Can Help)

cash-cent-child-1246954I wasn’t very good at saving as a kid. Money burned a proverbial hole in my pocket. I liked to get gum when we went to the grocery store because it felt good to spend a dollar. To this day, I tend to be a spender. In fact, in our budget, Bailey (my wife) and I call the money allocated to spending as our “blow funds” because it is for us to literally blow on anything we want. What makes me different from when I was as a kid is that I actually have a budget now to control that spending urge. I’m more future-focused! And part of being focused on the future is saving for retirement. That’s where the 401(k) comes in.

What is a 401(k) anyway? It is a saving system that allows you to invest money you earn so that it can exponentially grow for the future. This is how it works.

A 401(k) is offered by most employers. If one signs up for a 401(k), it gives the individual the opportunity to put a percentage of each paycheck into a retirement account. For me, I have my employer put 10% from each paycheck into my 401(k). This is called an investment because it will grow within the account. Generally speaking, one can expect a 7-10% rate of return on their 401(k) if the money is invested into good growth-stock mutual funds.

This is where the big bonuses of a 401(k) come into the conversation. They have major tax benefits! There are two kinds of 401(k)s: traditional 401(k) and Roth 401(k).

The traditional 401(k) is tax-deferred. This means that one defers paying tax to a later date and thus, the money put into the account is pre-tax. So when an employer directs 10% from an employee’s paycheck into the traditional 401(k), no tax is paid. In retirement, however, taxes must be paid when withdrawals are made.

The Roth 401(k) is similar but the employee pays tax before the employer directs the hypothetical 10% of the paycheck into the account. This means the money used is post-tax.

But when money is withdrawn in retirement, it is not taxed.

Let’s make this easy. Say you are able to save enough for retirement that your 401(k) is able to grow to $1,000,000 (which really doesn’t take much saving). Generally speaking, over a 40-year period with a 10% rate of return, you would have contributed 8% of your savings and the rest of it would be growth. So..

Contributions: $80,000

Growth: $920,000

Total: $1,000,000

With a traditional 401(k), your contributions would be pre-tax. Thus, you wouldn’t be taxed on your contributions, but when you retired, you would be required to pay taxes on the entire $1,000,000. This means that if you were in a 10% tax bracket, you would lose $100,000 to taxes and would have only $900,000 left.

With a Roth 401(k), your contributions would be post-tax, meaning you would pay taxes on only the contributions. If we assumed once again that you were in a 10% tax bracket, you would pay $8000 in taxes on your contributions but wouldn’t have to pay anything on the growth.

Here’s a summary on taxes paid:

Roth 401(k): $8,000

Traditional 401(k): $100,000

Now tell me, which would you rather pay? And which 401(k) do you think is better?

In some coming blog posts, I’ll cover the amount we want to save for retirement and what we can expect in growth.

I want to know in the comments, are you saving for retirement? What are your dreams for your “golden years”? Bailey and I want to travel. Let me know what you think!