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A 2.5% Savings Account Return

life hacking Jul 29, 2022

I shared with you in July 2021 about HYSAs (High Yield Savings Accounts). I told you that one of my favorite HYSA was the Marcus account by Goldman Sachs.

Well, I wanted you to know it just got better.

Last year, the APY (annual percentage yield) on the Marcus account was .50%, not too great. Yet it was still better than a lot of the rates out there.

Due to changing market conditions, the Marcus account is now yielding 1.5%, triple what it was last year.

But it gets even better.

If you don’t have an account and someone refers you, like me, we both get an additional 1% for 3 months.

That means we would both get 2.5% for the next 3 months.

But it still gets better.

You can then refer other people to the Marcus account once you have yours — up to 5 people per year. And once you refer them, you and them both get an additional 1% for 3 months which would be 2.5% right now. You could keep this rate just by referring one new person every 3 months. Pretty cool!

The rates on the...

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A Triple Dip Investment

life hacking Jul 01, 2022

What if I told you there was an investment vehicle where you could contribute pre-tax, it grows tax free, and you can withdraw it tax free when used for certain expenses? You’d probably want to use it, right?

There is such an investment that I’ve used over the years and I love it!

It’s called a Health Savings Account or HSA for short.

You can invest in an HSA if you have a qualifying high deductible insurance plan with your employer (or with your own insurance provider if self-employed). You should check to see if your current health plan has an HSA option or if it makes financial sense to switch to another health plan with an HSA option.

The contribution limit for an HSA each year is $7,300 for a family (this is the 2022 rate & it usually goes up each year).

So, check this out:

- When you contribute $7,300 over the course of the year, it reduces your taxable income by that same amount - awesome!

- Then as the $7,300 grows in a good, low-cost index fund,...

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A 9.62% ROI Virtually Risk-Free?

life hacking May 20, 2022

Most interest-bearing checking accounts return less than 0.25% on your money. My High Yield Savings Account is at 0.7% right now. Getting better but not great.

How would you like to earn 9.62% virtually risk-free on some of your money over the next 6 months & probably close to this amount virtually risk-free for another 6 months? Too good to be true?

Believe it or not, the Series I US Government Savings Bond (I Bond) is offering an initial interest rate through October of 2022 of 9.62%. Yes, you read that right. 9.62%!

These bonds were introduced in 1998 & this is the highest inflation rate the bonds have earned since then. The highest in 24 years! Wow!

The reason I say “virtually” risk-free is because the US is not likely to default on its debt. These are backed by the full faith & credit of the US government. Treasuries are considered some of the most conservative investments out there. Much like a High Yield Savings Account.

The I in these Series I Bonds...

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Do You Really Need An Emergency Fund?

life hacking Apr 22, 2022

I mean, after all, you’ve never had a big emergency so far, right? And the likelihood of a future emergency is also low, right? Why save up all that money for something that probably won’t happen?

This is the unfortunate thinking of so many Americans. And it’s the reason why most Americans live paycheck to paycheck and have very little savings.

“It will never happen to me,” they think.

Well, they’re wrong. Emergencies happen to all of us. And even if somehow they never encountered an emergency, just the fact that they aren’t prepared for an emergency is an emergency.

You need a buffer between you and life.

An emergency fund is of critical importance.

How much should be in it?

Some financial advisors say 3 months of expenses, others say 6 months, and some say a year. The more the better.

I’ve personally kept 3 years worth of expenses set aside for years now. That’s a huge buffer, I know. More than necessary for sure. But...

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Why Are You Still Spending Money On That?

life hacking Mar 11, 2022

When is the last time you evaluated all of your recurring monthly expenses?

Many of us are aware of our monthly expenses, but we haven’t evaluated them in awhile.

What do I mean?

Our family realized years ago that there is so much money to be saved by regularly evaluating what we spend each month.

Asking questions like:

  • Am I still using this?
  • Do I still like this?
  • Is this still worth it?

You could basically give yourself a raise by eliminating monthly expenses that aren’t useful/satisfying/worth it anymore.

It’s so easy to get in the pattern of just paying for things because we’ve always had them, rather than evaluating if they’re even worth paying for anymore.

My wife and I still regularly have discussions about this.

Years ago we recognized that we rarely watched TV, especially cable TV. But I had been paying $100+ per month, every month, for cable TV that we hardly used. Why?!? Because that’s what we had always done. We cut it soon...

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The 4% Rule

life hacking Feb 04, 2022

If you keep up with the Financial Independence community online, you’ll hear a lot of talk about “The 4% Rule.” When I was first introduced to Financial Independence (also called F.I.R.E.), this rule really helped me wrap my mind around how I could get to a point where I would no longer need to work to earn money. In other words, the money that I had already earned & invested would be earning enough money for me that all of my living expenses would be covered. Rather than me “working” to earn money, my money would be “working” to earn money & it would fully provide for our family.

If you want to learn more about Financial Independence, check out my post, Introduction to the F.I.R.E. Community.

Here’s the gist of the 4% Rule.

  • The 4% Rule refers to the Trinity Study, which was an influential paper from 1998 written by three professors at Trinity University. One of the topics the paper dealt with was “safe withdrawal...
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Get Out of Debt & Stay Out

life hacking Dec 10, 2021

There is almost nothing that will impede your financial progress more than debt.

This shouldn't surprise us.

Solomon said, "The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender." (Prov 22:7)

The implication here is that you're probably not going in the right direction financially if you're a financial slave to someone else.

Just a few verses later, Solomon again warns of the danger, "Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you." (Prov 22:26-27)

That's scary. Who wants their bed snatched from under them? Solomon is trying to warn his listeners about the potential consequences of going into debt & not being able to repay. Perhaps his warning will cause his listeners to rethink "shaking hands in a pledge" by going into debt.

I think he's suggesting we ask the question, "If you go into debt, how do you know you'll have the means to repay?"

In other words, we're...

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Introduction to the F.I.R.E. Community

life hacking Oct 29, 2021

The people I want to introduce you to belong to a community online called the F.I.R.E community. F.I.R.E. is an acronym for Financial Independence Retire Early.

These are some of the most savvy investors & life hackers (aka optimizers) I've found online.

This community is pursuing Financial Independence which would allow them to Retire Early if they wanted. And by retire, they usually don’t mean sitting by the beach for the rest of their lives. They mean no longer having to show up to a 9-5 job they don't like. They can do this because their passive investment income now meets or exceeds the income they were earning from their jobs. This frees them up to be able to spend their time doing whatever they'd like.

In the same way, as tentmaking pastors, missionaries or Christian leaders, we're trying to generate income to free us up to do what we've been called to do — ministry!

A common story in the F.I.R.E community will sound like this: John graduates college with a...

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How To Sell Your Home For Top Dollar

If you're wanting to use your house to make extra income, you'll want to sell it for top dollar every single time!

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but you wouldn't believe how many people leave money on the table when they go to sell their home. And I'm not talking a few dollars here and there. I'm telling you people leave thousands on the table, that could be theirs, when they sell their home.

I don't want that to happen to you. Next time you sell your home, I want to help you get top dollar for it.

My wife and I have sold many homes at top of the market value, sometimes even over market. We've had houses under-appraise on several occasions. That means the appraiser doesn't even think it's worth what someone is willing to pay us.

Here are the 5 items you need to focus on to sell for top dollar:

  1. Remodel the areas of your home that are in need of being updated

    People don't want to pay top dollar for a home that doesn't look top dollar. That doesn't mean you need to spend a ton...

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Why You Should Invest In Index Funds

life hacking Sep 24, 2021

Let me start with a disclaimer.

I'm not a licensed financial advisor (which may be a good thing for this blog post). I'm neither a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) nor a CFP (Certified Financial Planner).

I'm just a Tentmaking Pastor sharing educational information that has helped me and may help you as well.

When I first started saving for retirement, the professionals that I talked to recommended that I place my money in actively managed mutual funds that would hopefully "beat the market." No guarantees of course. I didn't realize at the time how much they, and many others, would benefit from me investing in these types of mutual funds. And I also didn't realize how often I wouldn't "beat the market" by investing in these funds.

I figured if I was going to be saving hundreds of thousands of dollars over my working career investing in these mutual funds via my retirement accounts, I better understand how they work.

What I ended up learning from the likes of Warren Buffett,...

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