Credit Cards for Beginners

Credit-Card-TrapWhen I was around 22 years old, I got my first credit card. It was also my last credit card for about a ten-year period after I cancelled it. You see, like many young people (or even just financially inexperienced people, regardless of their age), I got into some trouble with my credit and it scared me off of cards for many years after.

Thankfully, I didn’t even get into real serious trouble– but it was scary, all the same. I had bought a computer and put it on my new card, not really understanding how the card worked (so I found out), and by the time my first monthly payment came along (which was a higher amount than I could afford), my parents were quickly bailing me out of my trouble and I was swearing off of credit cards forever. Now, I had thought I understood how my shiny new card worked at the time– but it turned out that I very clearly didn’t. So this post is all about the things I wish I had known about credit cards before I ever got one.
Continue reading

Happy (Financial) Independence Day!

flag-fireworksIt’s very nearly July 4th, when proud, patriotic, red-blooded Americans everywhere celebrate our nation’s independence by blowing stuff up. I read an interesting article recently that talked about the tradition behind fireworks; how John Adams decreed that we should celebrate with “with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

Independence, for John Adams, was worth celebrating, over and over until the end of time. I can understand why. I think you’d have a hard time finding anyone who has experienced freedom who doesn’t love it. It’s worth having a party over. Independence is awesome, whether it is independence from being ruled over, from being oppressed, or whether it’s simply having independence of thought and action. The human spirit longs for freedom; and often, freedom is won by fighting for it, which is evident in the countless wars (including the American Revolution) that have been fought since the beginning of time in order to wrest freedom from an oppressor. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

Now, what does this all have to do with our finances?
Continue reading

Renting vs Buying a Home

rent-vs-buyAccording to data from the National Association of REALTORS®, the months between April and July are when the most house sales take place. We’re right in the thick of that season. If you are thinking about buying a house, whether you’re a first-time home buyer or otherwise, there are more things to consider than just the number of bedrooms and baths you want.

I became a first-time homeowner two and a half years ago, myself. For those who haven’t experienced it, it can be a complicated process and maybe even overwhelming. Hopefully you have a good realtor and/or mortgage lender that can really help you through the process. The home-buying process is also something that requires quite a bit of foresight and preparation, which is something I find a lot of people overlook. If you’re thinking about buying a home, there are a number of things you should be thinking about. Let’s look at some of the basics.

Continue reading

Recognizing Achievements

thumbs upWhen I logged into WordPress today to work on “Be Well,” I noticed two things: 1) Yesterday, I had a record number of views for a single day (by a long shot, too); and 2) “Be Well” had passed 1,000 views. Pretty exciting times! I’m not sure what expectations I had when I started this project but 1,000 views in six months’ time seems like a nice target to have hit.

There’s a financial life lesson to be learned from this, too, I think. I think it’s important to recognize and celebrate your achievements. When you pay off a loan, that’s a big deal. When you get to the end of your first day or first week of your new expense tracking plan and have tracked and logged all your expenses, that’s a big deal. When you save up your first $100 or first $1,000, that’s a big deal. You work hard to change your financial life. Allow yourself the chance to celebrate it.

If you’re a regular reader, thanks so much for contributing to the early success of this blog. All those views help validate the time and energy that goes into it. If you find what you read here valuable, please tell other people about it. I’m already looking forward to that next 1,000 views. 😉