It’s that time of year again when everyone wants your money. Brace yourself for more dinnertime phone calls and mailbox solicitations.

In this season of giving, charity seems to be getting an extra jolt because next year the popular tax deduction for donations, for many, will lose a lot of its punch.

Let’s get personal

Fundraisers and requests from charities used to bother me. So did the collection plate at church. I felt guilty because no matter how much money we made there was never enough to give some of it to others. And with all our debt (we had plenty!), how could I be expected to help others when I couldn’t even help myself?

Then our financial house of cards came tumbling down. It was ugly. Losing our business, our income and getting a notice that our home was scheduled to go into foreclosure was a huge wakeup call.

When I was at the darkest point, I made a promise: If I ever see another dollar, I’m going to give some of it away. First. Then I will do the best I can with the rest. And I meant it. Read more

You hear it all the time, but do you know what it means to live below your means? Have you figured out how to do that?

To live below your means is to choose a lifestyle you can pay for with the money you have and still have some left over. 

hand with a calculator. money saving concept.

Living below your means in this high-pressure, credit-based, gotta-have-it-all-right-now culture is not exactly easy.

It takes skill and determination to go against the tide and buck a system that encourages spending all we have now plus what we hope we’ll get in the future. Read more

You’re a parent and you are responsible to take care of your child financially. But you are equally responsible to take care of yourself. Taking on student loans so that your child can enroll at the college of his or her dreams may sink your dreams of ever retiring.

Couple getting advice from college Financial Aid Officer

Contrary to the advice you will get from many financial aid officers, you shouldn’t take out loans to pay for your children’s education, under any circumstance. Parents should not borrow money to pay for their kids’ college educations.

Locking eyeballs with the financial breakdown for your son or daughter’s first semester will be painful—even if he or she is attending a public college.

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The email message contained a single-word subject: Help! The sender, I’ll call her Emily, had been asked by her community group leader to give a 15-minute presentation on how to achieve financial freedom. She was honored to have been asked, excited to do it, but also panicked by the thought. She asked if I would help.

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My first thought was I can’t even introduce myself in 15 minutes. How could I, Emily or anyone else tackle that subject in just 15 minutes? But then I got to thinking: If money management is, as I believe, not that difficult, why couldn’t she do it? Why couldn’t I do it? I decided to give it a try.

Save

Do not confuse saving money with spending less, as in “I save money when I buy things on sale.” You are not saving at all, you are spending less. Saving money means that you actually put money into a safe place for some future time. Do that. Starting right now and forevermore, make it a rule that you will put some amount of your paycheck into a savings account before you spend any of it. Make it automatic and you won’t miss what you don’t see. Goal: 10-percent of all you receive goes straight into savings.

Give

Give away the same amount as you save. Just give it away—no strings attached—as an act of gratitude for what you have and how you are blessed. Goal: 10 percent of all you receive, give it away.

Live

Rein in your lifestyle so that it fits into 80 percent of your net (take-home) pay. Pare down your lifestyle. Reduce your spending in every area of your life by a small amount, and you will be able to achieve this goal—probably sooner than you ever dreamed.

Don’t Miss: Best Inexpensive Laptop Computers for Students of 2018

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When a University of Michigan survey asked people what they believed would improve their quality of life and make them happy, the answer given most often was, “More money.” 

In the book The Day America Told the Truth, James Patterson and Peter Kim asked, “If you could change one thing about your life what would it be?” The number one response at 64 percent was, “Greater wealth.”

Opening the wallet full of money.More recently, a University of Southern California study found that greater wealth didn’t translate into greater happiness for many of the 1,500 people surveyed annually over three decades. USC economist Richard Easterlin said, “Many people are under the illusion that the more money we make, the happier we’ll be,” but, according to the study, that isn’t true.

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Bents, characteristics, abilities, and tendencies are the conduits through which you can pass your values to your kids. But exactly how do you make the pass? Though your life. The way you live.

Kids learn most effectively through observation and imitation. It’s the witness of our lives, more than anything we say, that is taken in slowly and cumulatively by our children.

Raising Financially Confident Kids Book sitting on a white shelf with basket of bright colored tulips

Children drink in everything around them. They see the way we act with others. They listen to everything we say. They observe the way we handle our money. They hear what we say on the phone and the way we deal with salespeople. Children compare what they see with what they are told and in the case of a clear conflict, they usually go with what they see.

There are many ways to communicate your values to your kids. There are formal lectures, specific talks, books and discussions on what has been read; reprimands, reminders, various kinds of discipline and punishment, and religious education with all of its related activities.

All of these ways of communicating with your kids do count for a great deal, but they cannot come close to your children observing their parents living out their values consistently, specifically, and diligently day in and out. That’s the surest way to pass on to your kids the values and principles they need to guide their lives—values that will take root in their hearts, not simply stick on the outside until they can get away from your authority. Truth be told, values are more often caught than taught.

 

It’s easy to get so hung up on the mundane side of parenting—cooking, cleaning, carpooling, taxi driving—that we forget about the single most important job parents have to do, which is to successfully pass on our values to our children. Read more

At the tender age of 11, I made a solemn vow that when I grew up I was going to be rich. My plan was simple: Marry well. 

I bless the day I married my husband, a man who is rich in character and unfailing love. I assumed his money would follow.

money flying around out of thin air

While waiting for wealth to descend upon me, I made the tragic error of spending as though I were already rich. That 12-year descent into the pit of financial despair landed us in so much trouble, it took 13 years to repair.

The experience taught me a very important principle: How much you spend matters much more than how much you earn. It’s the money you don’t spend that gives you the freedom to build wealth and live the life you love.

But let’s get real. If it were that easy, wouldn’t everyone be fabulously wealthy? There has to be more to it, so I asked financial experts for their best tried-and-true rules for building wealth.

No matter where you are in your financial journey, start following this advice right now so you can keep more of what you earn. That’s the way to grow rich.

Rule #1: Live Smarter 

Enough is enough. ”Living below your means is the secret to prosperity,” says Michelle Singletary, nationally syndicated personal finance columnist for The Washington Post. “In this country, we define rich as having a lot of material things. Look at what you have already and say with confidence, ‘I have enough.’ You don’t need to borrow more money to get more stuff, because all that means is you’ll have to work more to pay for it.” 

Stop trading up. Jonathan Pond, in his book, You Can Do It! The Boomer’s Guide to a Great Retirement, he says, “Over 40 years of car ownership, someone who trades in a car every 10 years will have almost $500,000 more in the kitty than someone who trades in their car every three years.” 

Related: Rules for Buying a Car for All Cash

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One of the toughest things I battle in my life is procrastination. My natural response is I’ll do it later.

There’s a part of me that despises that procrastinator and wages a daily war to defeat it. That’s how I’ve come to rely on the power of habits and routines. If I can avoid having to make a decision, I lose the choice to put it off until later.

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Habits are those things we do so often, they become automatic. Take my MacBook Pro. You’d be shocked to know just how many hours a day I am on this thing. The keyboard is part of me. My muscles have totally memorized every stroke, the location of every key. Until something changes. 

Due to a series of technical complications, I was forced to move the dock from the bottom of my screen to the left side. We’re talking about a 90-degree relocation from horizontal to vertical. And I’m ready to be committed. 

Everything in me wants that dock at the bottom. Every muscle recalls exactly where each tool should be. For nearly three weeks I have battled this annoying change and it is driving me to the brink of insanity. My routines are disrupted, my old habit is screaming in torment. My brain, muscles, and fingers are trained to reach effortlessly to get what I need. It was so automatic I didn’t have to think about it.  Read more