Money Monday: Three Money Principles to Get Your Financial Life Back on Track

BY: - 11 Aug '14 | Money

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Sometimes it appears hopeless.

Who has gotten tired of living paycheck to paycheck, avoiding creditor phone calls, or robbing Peter to pay Paul?

Feeling overwhelmed is natural, but we can tame our finances. Use the following financial principles to help you get started down the road toward financial prosperity.

Find Your Joy

Every day corporate America tells us that happiness can be had, for a price. And we buy into this fantasy hook, line, and sinker. How can we not?

Madison Avenue floods us with images of happy people driving expensive cars, relaxing in huge homes, and eating the best food. We’ve been seduced by a fantasy world, parading success in the form of material possessions.

But, instead of letting Corporate America dictate a fabricated vision of happiness, maybe we should ask:

What’s my joy? What really matters to me? What truly makes me happy?

I’m not talking about the temporary happiness that comes from the soft leather touch of a new Coach handbag, or the joy that comes from inhaling the intoxicating smell of a new car, – but the true happiness that makes life worth living.

If spending time with your kids is the source of your joy, why are you wasting two hours of your life each day in traffic commuting so you can get to your over-sized home in the suburbs?

Wouldn’t a smaller house closer to work make more sense?

Perhaps your passion is visiting new places or experiencing new cultures. Then pursue your passion with vigor, but slash and burn the other expenses that offer little value in your life.

Find the joys in your life, pursue them vigorously, and then ruthlessly cut back on all the other garbage advertisers say you need to be happy.

Stop Stealing From Yourself

“He who buys what he does not need steals from himself” – Author Unknown

Check any American home and you’ll likely find it overflowing with stuff. Dresses that at one time looked too cute to pass up, now languish on hangers. Our latest smart phone purchases quickly become outdated. Exercise equipment we swore we’d use collects dust while, DVDs, video games, and our kids’ toys magically multiply on the living room floor.

But our preoccupation with stuff sabotages any real chance for financial freedom. So how do we break the addiction of wanting more useless stuff?

It could be as simple as appreciating what we already have. Learn to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Far too often, we concentrate on what we don’t have instead of expressing gratitude for the blessings we’ve already received.

Try this. Every evening before you go to bed take a few minutes to reflect on the blessings in your life. Each night write down five things you are thankful for in an abundance journal.

Perhaps they are material possessions, your nourishing relationships, or the simple moments that brought you happiness that day. No matter how big or small, take the time to acknowledge the abundance in your life. It will do wonders for your soul and your pocketbook.

Give Every Dollar a Destination

Either you control your money, or your money will control you.

For many of us, money is a rebellious teenager. Despite our best efforts, it proves difficult to control. Our money comes and goes as it pleases. And worst yet, we’re often too timid, scared, or tired to put our money in its place.

Stop being a bystander. Take charge. Give your Washingtons, Jeffersons and Benjamins their marching orders.

Provide each and every one of your dollars with a destination, or as financial guru Dave Ramsey suggests, “give every dollar a name.”

At the beginning of the month sit down and tell your money exactly where it’s going. Decide which dollars will be used to cover the essentials like rent, transportation, and food. Tell your money how much of it will pay down credit card debt and how much of it will march on over to fund your retirement account. Even decide which dollars will be used for fun and entertainment.

When each dollar understands its mission, your financial life will fall into place. Some may call it budgeting. I call it having a plan for success.

Control your money or it will control you.

BMWK, What are some of the money principles you live by?

About the author

Alonzo Peters wrote 296 articles on this blog.

Alonzo Peters is founder of MochaMoney.com, a personal finance website dedicated to helping Black America achieve financial independence.

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Money Monday: The Most Important Question You Can Ask Before Your Kid Chooses A College

BY: - 18 Aug '14 | Money

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It’s that time of year when students start returning to school. For many high school seniors, much of their time will be spent focusing on college applications. And their parents…they’re likely sweating how to pay for higher education price tags that can rival small mortgages.

Yet, when mulling over school choices, we often overlook one of the most important questions anyone can ask:

What is the college’s graduation rate? What percentage of students graduate in four years, in five years, in six years?

Much is made of the crushing debt today’s graduates must endure. But, imagine having to finance tens of thousands of dollars in extra costs because your child didn’t finish within four years. Worst yet, imagine your child being indebted with no degree to show for at all because they never finished. This is especially important when you consider the graduation rate for white students starting at four year institutions is only 62.6%. For blacks, it’s an even more dismal 40.5%.

In this country, we pay a lot of attention on getting kids into college, but less attention on making sure they graduate. In the process, many colleges have simply become dropout factories.

College brochures, featuring grass covered quads filled with smiling undergrads, may never disclose the school’s graduation rates. College admissions deans delivering their campus pitches rarely disclose them either. In fact, this essential statistic can be downright difficult to find. Thankfully, parents can turn to College Results Online. The website uses data collected by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

Select a college of interest and College Results Online provides the school’s first year retention rate as well as its four-year, five-year, and six-year graduation rates. You can find data for public colleges, private colleges and HBCU’s.

For non-HBCU’s, College Results Online also allows you to compare a school’s graduation rates by race and ethnicity. This an important tool for parents seeking to identify those schools that have essentially eliminated the black-white graduation gap.

Take, for instance, the University of Illinois at Chicago. According to College Results Online, the university graduates black students at a rate of 38.8%, far below its 51% white student graduation rate.

Yet, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and University of California at Riverside both serve similar students as the University of Illinois at Chicago, but they graduate black students at nearly the same rates as white students. UNC Charlotte graduates 53.4% of its white students and 51.2% of its black students. UC Riverside graduates 67.4% of its white students and an even higher 67.8% of its black students.

Clearly, some institutions are superior to others in ensuring students complete their degrees. When selecting the best college for your child, information is power. The more you know, the better decisions you and your child can make.

BMWK – what was your experience like, did you graduate in 4 years?  What factors contribute to students not graduating in 4 years?

About the author

Alonzo Peters wrote 296 articles on this blog.

Alonzo Peters is founder of MochaMoney.com, a personal finance website dedicated to helping Black America achieve financial independence.

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