By

Lois Center-Shabazz

3 Important Facts to Know Before You Invest in Mutual Funds

3 important facts to know before you invest in mutual funds

Here are three facts that are the bare bone necessities to know before you start to invest in mutual funds. In this series, I will give you information little by little about mutual funds until I feel you have a great grasp on the topic, and can choose your own high quality funds.

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1. WHAT IS A MUTUAL FUND?

A mutual fund combines money from several investors to invest in different types of investments or investment companies. The investments could be stocks, bonds, money market instruments’ or other types of investments.

Each investor in the mutual fund hold a proportion of the investment in the way of shares. There are low-risk, mid-risk and high risk mutual fund companies, as well as low earning and high earning companies.

One mutual fund company is typically very diversified and can invest in as many as 400 companies or as few as 40 companies. Diversity is what takes much of the risk out of mutual funds.

Important facts to know about mutual funds

2. HOW DO I PURCHASE A MUTUAL FUND?

Stocks are purchased from stock exchanges, such as the New York Stock Exchange, usually through a brokerage office or online broker. Mutual funds are baskets of stocks and can be purchased from a variety of places.

Mutual fund shares are purchased from the mutual fund company itself or from a broker. When you are educated in mutual funds, which I intend to do, you can easily purchase your own mutual funds online at any number of investment companies.

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3. WHO OVERSEES THE MUTUAL FUNDS I INVEST IN?

Registered and licensed Investment Advisers, in a team or individually, manage investment portfolios of mutual funds.

Investors have an advantage, by using the expertise and experience of the advisers.

You can go to sec.gov or finra.org to verify that your adviser is a registered investment adviser.

Lois Center-Shabazz | Course Delta Agency

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3 Big Problems When You Buy Real Estate to Flip For Profit

When You Buy Real Estate to Flip For Profit it is Tricky
3 Big Problems When You Buy Real Estate to Flip For Profit

Flipping real estate for profit seminars, advertising, and marketing is going on in my town and all over the internet and television. Since I have experience in long term real estate investing and I have friends who have tried to flip for profit, I would like to share some of our experiences.

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I, and some of my friend’s own properties out of state and we constantly get letters from people who want to buy our properties? We get letters, cards, brochures and everything in between.

Some of the letters are almost begging us to sell our property to them. Some claim they have all-cash, and others claim they are immediately qualified to buy. Here are many of the problems flippers have with those properties, so you may want to think hard before you answer advertisements to attend a flipping seminar who makes their money up-selling tapes and books after the seminar, that don’t work.

  1. It is Difficult to Find Properties That Aren’t Ready for the Bulldozer

Many of the so-called flippers are going to public records to find owners who live out of state and therefore, their reasoning is that they should want to sell. Many of the properties have family members who are taking care of the properties, living in them, and paying the rent. When you buy real estate to flip the most difficult task is finding a property that is not near condemnation.

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The fact that dozens of the flippers are going to public records to find sellers tells me the difficulty they are having finding quality properties to buy and flip. Many of the properties that are readily available are in bad shape, so after renovation there would be no profit. Properties that are held by realtors are already priced for the current market. Those that are auctioned off in foreclosure are usually bid up too high for a profit after renovation.

The surprises, especially to the amateur flippers are enormous. The missed surprises include hidden floor dry rot, floor and wall dry rot, rotten plumbing pipes buried under a slab, large holes in the roof, outside gas leaks, damaged foundation, bad electrical junction boxes in the wall or under the house, clogged main drain, asbestos in the outside shingles or inside in the walls, and mold. These are real life problems I have seen others have when buying a fixer or home to flip.

Any of these problems can take anywhere from $2000 to $20,000 or more to fix, each.

Home buying the right way take skill

  1. Flippers Real Estate Agents Offers That Generate Profits For the Flipper

Flippers contact homeowners and write ridiculously low offers, so they have money to flip for profit after fixing up the property. Most of the offers are rejected, even if the home is in bad shape. If the home is in an area with properties that sell quickly and the resale is high, they constantly beg for offers that are below appraisal. This process is easier in areas were homes have low sales value or with homes that stay on the market for a long time.

These homes tend to have more hidden disasters since they have stayed on the market longer. What happens is that the flipper, out of desperation takes the best offer they can get and after finding they bought a home in bad shape they will hide existing problems or get a false appraisal that is too large.

  1. Most Flippers are Forced to Get Financing from Investors

To buy real estate to flip you must have financing. Banks don’t want to do business with most of the flippers who have no assets, little experience, and may not sell the home before they run out of money for renovation, upkeep after renovation, and mortgage payments until the property sells.

After the flipper finds that the home was overpriced for profit and they find the house is in much worse shape than originally thought, then they find that after sharing their profit with their investor or pricing the home for the market, they don’t have much left after sales, sometimes nothing. Then, this is where the flip begins to turn into a flop. Because of these problems, most flips are not profitable, and many flippers constantly find themselves in deep financial trouble.

The ultimate home buying course for women

Before you think you can buy real estate to flip you should have some command of  both real estate buying and selling, the construction process, and the tax consequences when you have to pay short term taxes. Read the FHA rules to flipping properties.

There are many more facts to consider that you will have the privilege to read when my new eBook about Real Estate Investing comes out.

You can get my sample of “The Ultimate Guide to A Great Money WorkOver” and 7 other eBooks along with expert help with my course.

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Lois Center-Shabazz | Course Delta Agency

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5 Frequently Asked Questions About Mutual Funds For Women

Frequently asked questions about mutual funds

5 Frequently Asked Questions About Mutual Funds For Women
I have given a lot of lectures about mutual funds for women. I like mutual funds because, if you do your research you can purchase low-cost and low-risk mutual funds on your own. Mutual funds are easy to understand and invest in. You can do it yourself once you have done some research. Here are five of about twenty-five of my most frequently asked questions about mutual funds by women I lectured to. After a few decades of successfully investing in mutual funds, I felt it is only fair that I share my expertise with you.

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  • ARE MY MUTUAL FUND INVESTMENTS GUARANTEED AT ALL?

Insurance is provided by the SIPC, which covers fraud. In other words, if you invest your money in company “C”, a registered investment company (registration with finra should be checked), and it is stolen by the President of Company “C”, you will be covered for up to $500,000 for each account, depending on the circumstances. Example: If a husband and wife have a joint account it is covered up to $500,000, if the each have additional retirement accounts in their separate names, the retirement accounts each are covered up to $500,000. Here is the SIPC insurance breakdown.

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  • WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF INVESTING IN A MUTUAL FUND?

With a mutual fund you will get professional management, diversification, an affordable investment, and it is liquid. This is one of the main reasons that I encourage investors to invest in mutual funds, after reading my frequently ask questions about mutual funds. It only takes a little research and study to master mutual funds, but because there is a learning curve I encourage you to master them first.

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  • WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF INVESTING IN A MUTUAL FUND?

You still have costs even when returns are negative, you don’t control the investments totally, you don’t know for sure if the price will go up after you purchase – but after research you can verify that you are getting a quality mutual fund where there is a good chance the price will rise in the future. If you invest on your own you can keep cost low and more money will go to you, but if you go with a broker, you will be required to pay brokers fees which are sometimes hidden and costly.

  •  YOU CAN EARN MONEY FROM YOUR MUTUAL FUND IN THREE WAYS

Dividend Payments — A fund may earn income in the form of dividends and interest on the securities in its portfolio. The fund then pays its shareholders nearly all of the income (minus disclosed expenses) it has earned in the form of dividends.

Capital Gains Distributions — The price of the securities a fund owns may increase. When a fund sells a security that has increased in price, the fund has a capital gain. At the end of the year, most funds distribute these capital gains (minus any capital losses) to investors. Most mutual funds pay money into your mutual fund account yearly, a few pay on a quarterly basis. This means if you pull your money from your mutual fund that pays out capital gains and dividends at years end, you will lose your profits.  So, be patient, and know your payout date.

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Compounded Returns – unlike simple interest accounts the interest on top of the dividends and capital gains will compound year after year, giving you compounded interest.

  • WHAT IS THE NAV OF MY MUTUAL FUND

Increased NAV (Net Asset Value) — If the market value of a fund’s portfolio increases (from dividends and capital gains), and after deduction of expenses and liabilities, then the value (NAV) of the fund and its shares increases. The higher NAV reflects the higher value of your investment. The more the NAV increases, the more money your investment will be worth. The NAV value can fluctuate from month to month or year to year, the important point to look at is that it has a net increase over time.

You have two choices:

Let someone else manage your money and end up with little or nothing OR learn some simple basic rules that could turn a little into a lot over time. I provide you with all the help you need in my eBook on Mutual Funds. I even give a 30-minute free clarification session after you read this article. The eBook I have written is clear and concise, after you finish it you will understand how to efficiently invest in mutual funds.

Lois Center-Shabazz | Course Delta Agency

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I cover dozens of frequently asked questions about mutual funds in this eBook. Get this eBook and 7 more when you take the “Course for fantastic Finances”

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Why Women Need to Understand Investing Now

Investing Money for Beginners

Why women need to understand investing now

There Are No Guarantees if Women Do Not Understand Investing

Women need to understand investing now because there are no guarantees you will stay married or even get married, women need to know how to take care of their finances. This is the start of investing money for beginners. This includes learning stock mutual funds, bond mutual funds and simple index funds. With these three types of funds you can buy stocks inexpensively, with low risk and learn to read charts that are not difficult. 

But understanding investing now means you need to understand sane savings (my mantra), mega-money management (because everything is ultra-expensive), and investing (because you need to stay ahead of inflation to keep your money growing).

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Far too many women are still taught to be financially dependent, even when you work, and many don’t get involved in family finances since you feel prince charming will be there to protect them forever. It is important to work together on finances, and staying out of family finances could have dire consequences foreither spouse. Stay involved in your family finances.

Divorce or Death Effecting Your Finances

Because you have at least a 50% chance of divorce and even greater chance of being separated from your spouse, it is imperative that you understand all the nuances of money, including investing. I focus on mutual funds because, 1. That is where my long term expertise and success is, 2. They are easy to understand once you put some “peddle to the metal” and study some of what I call, “mutual fund research”. 

Understand investing now

If you are not dependent on your husband to take care of all finances during your marriage, or an adviser if you are single, then you will know what to at any time, including with an illness, accident, or death. Dependency is not a good thing.

Many women fall victim to con artist who prey on women with money and no financial skills, because they are not familiar with the ease at which others prey on those without financial experience. Understanding stocks, bonds and mutual funds will create a knowledge bubble around you, that will keep you safe.

There are literally millions who have lost millions due to being trusting and naive. Don’t make yourself a victim by keeping your financial knowledge and skills very low. The potential for divorce or death from a spouse are a major reason why women need to understand investing.

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Protect Yourself Now and in The Future and Protect Your Money

There are many women who never write a check or pay a bill, after getting married. That is hard to imagine, but it exists. Writing checks and paying bills are a powerful way to keep yourself aware of family finances and the limitations of money.

Then you monitor investments in mutual funds, or other investments for savings, college, or retirement, this gives you another layer of awareness and will help protect your finances now and in the future. I speak to beginning investors all the time who can’t analyze the simplest investments. This is not acceptable. Teaching investing for beginngers is something I am passionate about so you can protect specialty finances. 

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Therefore, women need to understand investing. Social security is meant to be a supplement, that is why the payout is very low for most people. Your 401k can be overrun with success if you know investing money for beginners. If you have a pension or get your husbands pension from death or divorce you can still benefit from know how it invest money. 

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When you understand investing, the chances are good you will also understand how to grow your investment retirement account and hold on to the accounts build by you or your spouse. Understanding why women need to understand investing will create an entire class of new and capable investors, who can also teach their daughters.

Lois Center-Shabazz | Course Delta Agency

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3 Tips For Big Thing Budgeting for Groceries

3 Tips For Big Thing Budgeting for Groceries

Budgeting for groceries seems like a simple task. Make a list and buy what you need. Well, it usually doesn’t happen that way. If you are not precise about shopping, the list will be meaningless, and you will end up spending more money than you need to. Shopping the right way can save you thousands of dollars every year. Here is a short list of quick things you can do for big thing budgeting for groceries.

money quotes; budgeting for groceries seems like a simple task

YOUR SHOPPING LIST
1. Shopping with a list is important, but the list must be well thought-out. You should decide what your menu will be for the week, comparison shop for groceries by using prices online or in your weekly sales paper.
It is best to use your list to shop the isles for grocery shopping is much less expensive than the end of isles, where new products are often displayed.

Shop within the confines of a menu. Know exactly how many pieces of fruits, vegetables, meat packages, loaves of bread, box of cereal etc. Know what you will pay for each item and stay within a strict budget.

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BUY, PREPARE AND EAT IN A FEW DAYS
2. Buy and prepare only as much as you can eat within a few days. Food waste is a big reason for going over budget with your grocery bill. Clean your refrigerator at least once a month to closely monitor food use. It is even better to clean and monitor your refrigerator once a week if you have time.

Keep your refrigerator and cupboards well organized so food is used on a timely basis. Concentrate on fresh foods to prepare, not junk food or food that is already prepared. 

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SHOPPING WITH COUPONS WILL HELP
3. Coupons will help if you buy items you need. In other words, don’t use coupons to purchase items just because they are on discount. The next money saver is the sales paper and prices online. Another option is extreme couponing if you have time.

The savings comes at the cash register, when you have product for weeks, and when you sell product that is in excess. Buying in bulk also saves money on food, but you have to calculate your savings, it doesn’t always work. Shop with a calculator. 

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BE VIGILANT ABOUT SHOPPING FOR GROCERIES
Being vigilant about shopping and budgeting for groceries will make a big difference in your grocery bill. The savings can be enormous if you shop the right way.

Shop when you are calm and hopefully you are not bothered by kids sneaking expensive groceries into the cart. When you follow these simple guidelines budgeting for groceries and saving money will become easy.

Get organized with your budgeting by using my award-winning BUDGET PLANNER,  WITH  THE  COMPRENSIVE  FANTASTIC  FINANCES  COURSE.The easy budget planner

Lois Center-Shabazz | Course Delta Agency

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Save Money When You Buy A Used Car, The Right Way Part 1

Buy a Used Car The Right Way

You may not be on the market to buy a used car, but at some point, your child, niece, nephew, grandchild or other relative friend or neighbor may be. Buying a used car can come with many “gotcha’s” that can ruin your savings. So, here are a few helpful hints.

WAYS TO BUY A USED CAR

There are many ways to buy a used car. Some are efficient and some are not. You can buy from a family member or friend and know the history of the car. You can also buy from the used car lot side of a new car lot, which is a good option when you go to a car lot.

You can purchase a certified used car, but it is a good idea to check out the VIN number any. The certified used cars are usually 3-4 years old and typically are in good shape.

You can also purchase a used car at one year old, from a rental car agency. You can also buy directly from a used car dealer, this requires a lot of homework on your part to make sure you have a quality used car, and you don’t get an over-priced car or predatory loan.

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A lady I spoke to at a seminar of mine told me she was concerned for her son. He went alone, to a used car lot and brought home a car. She was proud of him for taking the initiative to go alone, negotiate a car price and loan, and provide his transportation to and from work.

He was told the length of his loan period, but it was not true. That time period has long past, and he still owed a lot of money on his car loan. She could not understand how this could happen.

I told her to get the contract out, read the fine print, and get back to me. Before she contacted me, I told her what to look for. The following items are what she looked for, and sadly, many are what she found.

Credit scores can make or break your finances for car buying

GET INFORMATION ABOUT USED CAR LOANS FIRST

I informed her that she should talk to her son and tell him the importance of “doing his homework” before he makes a major purchase of any type. The next time he sees; “used cars for sale” – he should immediately start his research.

The first thing to do is to call the local banks and credit unions to find out what the going APR and interest rates are. Currently used car loans interest run from 2% to 5%. If you go to a used car dealer and he offers you 20%, you are better off riding the bus.

Alternatively, if he offers you a 7-year loan on an inexpensive used car, that is also a red flag — that something is wrong.

If you can qualify for a used car loan from a bank or your local credit union, these loans are far superior to the used car dealer loans.

You can get qualified from your bank or credit union first, then take your “evidence of loan qualification” papers with you to the dealer.

Learn car buying skills like a pro

DEALER INTEREST KICKBACK

The women I spoke to about her son’s used car loan informed me that her son’s contract stated he was paying 21% interest, he was told the interest rate was 9% by the dealer. Understand more about debt and money when you get your free ebooks on debt, money, and finances.

Used car dealers can charge something called a “dealer rate” over the “buy rate”. The dealer works with a lender who gives him the loan and allows him to “mark-up” the interest rate as he wishes, this is the “dealer rate”.

The dealer is not really concerned about the markup because he will get the difference between his rate and the lender’s rate, or the lenders “buy rate”. He uses the excuse that his clients all have bad credit, and are high risk.

That is not true, her son had good credit. His only problem was that he was a low-information buyer. The lenders “buy rate” is the lower rate the car buyer qualifies for — her son had a very low “buy rate”, but did not know it. Her son did not understand what the sign, “used cars for sale”, really meant, and neither did she.

A sad trick that some used car dealers’ play on low-information buyers is the conditional sale agreement. The buyer unknowingly signs a “conditional sale” agreement, after they have the car for a while, the dealer calls and tells them to bring back the car.

Used Car Buying Borders on Rocket Science,   -Lois Center-Shabazz

He then, informs the buyer that he/she must now sign a permanent sells agreement, but the interest rate has been increased.

Lois Center-Shabazz| Money Strategist | Course Delta Agency

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How to Go to College Without School Loans, Debt-Free College Should Be Your Goal Part 2

Debt-Free College Can Happen When You Understand The Various Options You Have

Going to college without student loans should be your goal, stay debt-free

Getting a debt-free college education begins with a deep understanding of the different types of colleges and universities. There are many different types of colleges you can attend, and it is important that you know the difference between them. Not all colleges and universities are good for all people.

You must know which is best for you, both financially and academically. I will start with a brief explanation of junior colleges, (also called community colleges), and end with for-profit colleges.

Junior Colleges Your Best Value for Debt-Free College:

If you want to get a certificate or a 2-year AA (Associates of Arts) degree in something that has high job value, the community college is a best value. If you are poor, low income or a struggling single parent you may be able to attend with a Pell Grant, avoiding loans. If you do have to get loans they may be minimal.

Do your research, and work out your best solution. You must keep yourself motivated if you attend a community college. Some find it difficult to focus since you are no longer in high school, but also you don’t have the attention of a four-year college.

You can also later transfer to a four-year college to complete a bachelors’ degree if you decide to get it sometime in the future. Transfers are allowed at most four-year colleges.

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State Colleges and Universities:

Your absolute best value for colleges and universities, under junior colleges, are your state colleges and universities. These colleges and universities have the lowest cost of tuition and fees for a four-year degree for most colleges. The books and room and board, as with all colleges and universities are extra.

If you live at home or with a relative a state college or university can be a real value and leave you with little or no loans. Most employers in local towns gives preference to their local state college and university students for employment, since they usually know the quality of those schools.

For poor and lower middle class students many can go to their local four-year college with a Pell Grant and part-time job, leaving them with no school loans if they live at home. This is huge. Most HBCUs are priced similar to state colleges, a few are priced as expensive private colleges or universities, so remember to do your research.

Studends don't get that masters degree too soon, go to college without student loans

Private Colleges and Universities:

This includes famous and not-so-famous colleges and universities. Some of the colleges that fall into this category are expensive Christian schools, some are ivy league schools and some are small little known colleges and universities. They all have one thing in common, and that is enormous costs.

Enormous costs that will leave you with school loans of $40,000 to $200,000. This is a near tragedy for poor or middle income students, these loans could take 30 years to repay. No college graduate should be braced with that much of a load on their backs for so long.

These schools have enormous hidden costs, so it is imperative that you research costs at the schools’ website, otherwise you could be left with severe sticker shock after you start. You can get a good job if you go to an inexpensive school, as well as an expensive school, so why not protect yourself, your finances, and your future, with a low-cost college or university.

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For- Profit Schools, Colleges, and Universities:

In for-profit colleges, the learning is usually quick, the courses are short, and the costs are high. How do you know if a school is for-profit? They do a lot of advertising on TV, they are usually located in a strip mall, business park,  office building or online only – they don’t normally use college campuses. When you research for-profit schools the graduation rates are usually very low and the student loan pay-back is also very low.

They offer short, quick programs and degrees. You may have to do a lot of research to find them listed as for-profit online. Some of them claim to be non-profit, but they are not. Many of them give college degrees in a little as 1-2 years, or certificate programs in as short as 6-8 months. Some employers don’t recognize degrees from for-profit colleges. Since for-profit colleges have been accused of and found guilty of numerous problems against students, some are now calling themselves non-profit. But, they are still for-profit with another name. Most are located in office type buildings, or store fronts, they offer quick classes and very poor financial aid packages, with education that is not always recognized by employers.

Get Debt-Free College by Knowing Your Options, Go Here

The biggest problem with these schools are that most of them include loans for even the poorest students, the courses are often times quick, they offer a lot of certificate programs that require the passage of an exam to get your certificate.

Many kids don’t pass the exam because the courses are so quick, so they don’t get their certificate, and now they have loans with no ability to get work. This is usually the most difficult way to get debt-free college.

The government has recently cracked down on for-profit schools since the default rate on exams, including board exams is high. One for-profit nursing school had a pass rate on board exams of zero. None of the students passed the nursing board exam, but they all had loans they could not repay.

One type of for-profit school that was closely scrutinized was found to brace students with near $80,000 in school loans, this was the Corinthian Colleges.

After petitions and media attention, the government forgave all their student loans with forgiveness, this is rare. The problem was that students could not get jobs after attending. The employers told them they did not recognize the school as adequate for job placement.

The students were told they would have no problem getting jobs when they enrolled. Itt technical Institution was recently shut down due to its predatory methods against its students.

It is a part of the government crackdown on predatory for-profit schools. You can search google for a list of for-profit schools that have been closed by the government. Understand the current student loan debt crises to keep your student loans at 0 or very low.

Financial aid packages in for-profit colleges almost always includes loans, and for many who can’t get jobs, it is not possible to pay the loans back. These loans can leave students with a lifetime of poor credit.

Your best bet for debt-free college:

The best way to get debt-free college is 1. Go to a junior (community) college on a Pell grant, work part-time, and live at home. 2. Go to a state college or university with Pell grant, work part-time, get a relative to help, and live at home. 3. Go to a state college or university with the help of a relative or on a full scholarship. 4. If you decide to go to an expensive private college or university, go with the help of a relative or a guaranteed full scholarship or fellowship for graduate school.

Understand that cost is the most important factor when it comes to choosing an education with debt-free college. It is absolutely essential that you know all cost and academic programs of your chosen school, by reading their online catalog. A last reminder, that if you do not pay off student loans you have signed for,  and you get behind, the government will catch up with you, and garnish your check.

Lois Center-Shabazz | Course Delta Agency
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How To Go To College Without Student Loans, Get Debt-Free College Part 1

 You Can’t File Bankruptcy on Student Loans, Understand College Without Student Loans, and Subsidized vs. Unsubsidized Loans.

How To Go To College Without Student Loans, Get Debt-Free College Part 1

There are many reasons you should strive to go to college without student loans, one is the crushing pain of debt, another is that you are not allowed to file bankruptcy on student loans due to hardship.

If you start a business with any amount of money and your business fails, you can file a business bankruptcy on your loan balance due and later start over with replenished credit. If you buy a home and fail, you can short sell your home or let it go into foreclosure and you can later buy another home, once your credit clears.

This is not the case with student loans, politicians have rigged the system, so no matter what, you have to pay. You only have a short grace period after you graduate, but your grace period, if you don’t have a job, you still have to pay. If you don’t have a relative who is willing to step up and make the payments until you get a job, your life can be ruined forever with bad credit.

subsidized vs. unsubsidized student loans

The unpaid school loan balance grows exponentially due to collection agency cost and interest on interest overdue charges. The balance can double every 3-4 years until one day you open a letter and find you owe $100,000 on an original $5000.00 student loan. It has happened to many and it does not have to happen to you or anyone else.

Recent New Programs to Save College Students Credit

The new programs the Obama Administration created for college students with student loans has made payback easier, but you must apply for them, and even though your payments are decreased to an affordable rate until you find a decent job, you must still make your payments. There is no hardship benefit for most.

The program is called the income-based repayment program. There are others as well. This program is mostly for government subsidized loans, but there are programs for private or unsubsidized loans, but they are more difficult to get them to help you. If you delay regular student loan payments with an income based repayment plan, the delay in paying interest can raise your balance two to three times the original loan balance. So, it is recommended that you do EVERYTHING in your powers to make your reglalar payments.  The situation is direr for unsubsidized loans; these lenders can be brutal.

It is better to find an actual loan forgiveness program. There are different types of programs listed at Consumer  


They charge interest while in school,
and you don’t get the benefits that come with government subsidized loans. Subsidized loans don’t charge interest while you are in school and therefore cost much less than unsubsidized loans, sometimes as much as half.

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I Went to College with Almost no School Loans

I went to graduate school with a horrible amount of school loans so I know the difference. I had unsubsidized and subsidized, it seemed to take forever to pay off my unsubsidized loans. In college, I had one very small subsidized loan that took only a couple of years to pay off. I figured out why my unsubsidized loans took so long to pay off, but by then it was too late, I just suffered and eventually, they were paid. It took me a total of 12 years to
pay off my loans, it would have been sooner if I figured out the game they were playing with interest and time.

When it comes to graduate school, most of the financial aid is student loans, and some the predatory unsubsidized loans. Focus on scholarships or fellowships if you plan to go to graduate school.

 I Was Lied to About the Cost of my Private University Graduate School Up Front

It is extremely important to research each and every school you consider attending before you apply. I attended a state university for undergraduate school and had no problems with loans. I only had to take out a tiny loan, which I paid back quickly after graduation. I researched every school I considered attending graduate school.

The one problem I had with the graduate school I actually attended was that I did not include current students in my research. I was given an estimate of the cost of attendance for four years by the student affairs office. It turned out the actual cost was double what I was told, and that was after I lived like a pauper in graduate school.

At one point I planned to leave because the costs were getting out of control, but after a lot of introspection, I decided I was half way there so I should finish.  I don’t recommend you go to a private school unless you have a full scholarship, full fellowship, rich parents or family members who can pay for your college.

If you are poor or middle class your financial aid package will be lop-sided with huge loans, and in some cases bad unsubsidized loans. You have to ask yourself; Do I want to spend the rest of my life paying on school loans? It could very well happen if you attend a school too expensive for your budget.

Understand Student Loans and College Cost with This eBook

Do Your Research Before You Apply to Colleges That Interest You

Every college and university catalog is currently, online. If you have a computer at home, you are all set. If you do not you can go to your local library and use the computer there. Here is what you do. First of all, look at the cost, many of the more expensive colleges have their cost hidden, so don’t give up, it’s there. Search total cost to attend college X (substitute the name of each in the X field).

You should find a grid. In that grid, it will explain all of the costs for four years, down to the paperclip. I have looked, and it is the norm, I did not find a single college or university without the four-year cost of college grid. The private schools will display outrageously expensive costs, some of them I looked at a cost between 200.000-300,000 for four years.

Those costs are definitely for rich kids or the lucky few who get guaranteed scholarships. It makes no sense at all to go to a school like that with a financial aid package that includes school loans.

Your loan bill at that school could definitely scar you for life.  You will have either a lifetime of loan payments or have a good chance of a lifetime of loan default if you become ill, disabled, or can’t find a job that pays enough to make the payments – there are no guarantees. Coming Soon, Part 2 of this article.

As of 2017 we now have a new administration. They have not said what they will do with student loan fulfillment problem, but have hinted toward doing nothing, and taking down the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau website. Because of this, the student loan crises could hit epic proportions if students continue to have more debt than they can pay with low job opportunities including, no job or low paying jobs.

Lois Center-Shabazz | Course Delta Agency

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5 Reasons Great Small Business Records are Essential

5 reasons great small business records are important

Small businesses are often times under staffed and the owners are over worked. But that is no excuse for maintaining poor small business records. Some small businesses don’t understand the “records” part of their business to the point where written records are almost non-existent.

Not keeping detailed small business records or no records at all can cause serious problems for your business and the agencies that regulate your business. For some, record keeping is just one of those task they don’t want to deal with, others complain they don’t have the time.

No matter what your reason for poor small business record keeping, the reasons for good records are immense; they range from not missing important tax deductions to preparing financial statements.

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Budgeting For Small Business Starts With an Affordable Car
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Here are 5 major reasons for keeping detailed small business records:

1. Maintain business ethics and stay honest with the IRS and other regulatory agencies, as well as your own peace of mind
2. Support items reported on tax returns
3. Monitor Your Small Business Progress for Profits
4. Understand Your Net Profit Subject to Tax
5. Prepare your financial statements

  • Maintain Business Ethics and Regulations

It depends on the industry your business is aligned with that determines which agencies regulate your business. But, no matter what agencies regulate your business, good records will keep you prepared if you are questioned. Honesty is an absolute must, to maintain the integrity or your business product and service, and keep your doors open. Staying honest will avoid having to worry about being caught for dishonesty later, effectively maintaining business peace of mind.

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  • Identify Your Source of Receipts To Support IRS Deductions

When the IRS scrutinizes your business the first thing they want to see are authentic and honest receipts. Keep them to keep your business honest. All receipts must be original and not tampered with. Keep your receipts organized and safely stored. The last thing you want is for the IRS to be forced to guess your actual costs due to poor record keeping and no proof of costs. To facilitate your tax preparation and reporting, as well as your responses to potential IRS inquiries, it is beneficial to record and store your documentation of any transactions between related parties. An example of transactions between related parties, i.e., a corporation and its sole shareholder, may be subject to special scrutiny.

For great small business records you must know your finances like the back of your hand

  • Make a Profit and Monitor Your Small Business Progress

You need to know how much you are spending on your business to keep it running efficiently. Understand your break even point to arrive at a profit. For example: “How much do I need to spend to create and sell my product or service?” Always keep good records of all of the costs of taking your product or service to market. You can avoid having a business that loses money each time you sell a product or service without knowing it. A sure road to small business failure is not knowing the exact cost of every item of your business.

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  • Calculate Your Lowest Net Profit Subject to Tax

You cannot deduct expenses that you approximate or estimate. You must be able to prove (substantiate) your business expenses with timely and accurate records to support the amounts deducted to compute your net profit. Burden of proof is on you, if you are ever audited. The proof is in accurate and honest receipts, expenses and your
small business records

Borrow Money From a Banking Institution or Other Commercial Lender

Potential lenders are going to check your credit and analyze projections to repay a business loan. All business assets, sales and receipts will be verified. Business relationships are sometimes subjected to scrutiny. Keep personal finances separate from small business finances, to avoid confusing regulatory agencies and prompt an audit, or prevent your ability to get small business bank funding. Understand the difference between your business and personal affairs by maintaining seperate accounts for each.

Lois Center-Shabazz | Course Delta Agency

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14 Ways to Save Money for the Holiday Season

Shop with Cash for the Holiday Season

Save money for the holiday season by shopping with cash, sounds simple but the number or people who shop with credit cards, feeling that their budget is unlimited is huge. You don’t have to fail at holiday shopping just because your neighbor is, or you THINK everyone else is.

Your misery afterwards will only be shared by you, not others. So, when you keep that in mind that will make it easier to shop with cash and save money for the holiday season.

Also considered cash, as a standalone debit card, where you can go to your bank and ask to purchase a debit card with the maximum amount you want to spend. You can also purchase debit cards everywhere these days, grocery stores, drug stores and other places.

Save Money When You Set Aside a Limited Amount for the Holiday Season

If you have saved in a holiday savings account, take the money now to shop for the holidays. If you have not, start a savings account now, you still have time to save for the holidays.

No matter what you plan to buy, there absolutely must be a limit to avoid going into debt. Set your limit and stick with it no matter what. You can find out how much everything cost and do comparison shopping by going online, online price comparisons are quick and easy.

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Make Sure You Shop with a List

Take your list with you when you shop. Save time, money and gas by mapping out your route before you shop. Some folks will go from store to store wasting precious gas money, sometimes as far away as 20 or 30 miles.

Know before you go holiday shopping by 1. Knowing exactly what you plan to buy, 2. Know where you plan to buy it, 3. choose several stores in the same location so you don’t waste money on gas.

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Don’t Shop During the Holiday Season When You are Tired or Hungry

If you holiday shop when you are tired or hungry, you will tend to over-shop, so you leave the store quickly. Your thought process becomes “muddled” and you buy stuff you would not have bought if you were relaxed and on a full stomach.

And, when you’re tired you will tend to make mistakes due to a cloud in your thought patterns. When you are hungry, your stomach starts to growl, you will think more about getting something to eat than what you are picking up off the shelves.

So, sounds like common sense, but a lot of people just don’t take the time to note whether they are hungry or tired before they go holiday shopping, so a warning to you, “take note” of your condition before you leave the house.

Your Kids May Not be the Best People to Help You Buy Holiday Gifts

Don’t ask your kids for advice on buying gifts for others. Most kids just don’t have the ability to understand the limits you should put on every single gift.

So, you be the “captain of the gift buying ship” and decide what you will buy, and only you decide. Of course, you can ask your kids to give you choices for themselves and let them know you will choose a few holiday gifts from their choices.

Don’t let your kids think “money grows on trees” during the holidays, let them know there is a limit.

Can You Really Afford That Holiday Party?

Holiday parties are all over the place during the holidays. But, before you go all out for your holiday party, ask yourself if it makes sense to spend the money.

To make it an affordable holiday party, you can do a “potluck”, where everyone brings a dish. And to make it less work for you, ask a few friends or family to be on the cleanup crew.

Ask everyone to bring a unisex gift under $10, and pick names from a hat to give a gift at the party. Here I have created at least 3 ways to save money during the holiday season.

Why Holiday Gifts Don’t Always Cost Money

You can teach your kids or grandkids that holiday gifts don’t always cost money. For example, you know that pantry you wanted to clean and organize – let you child know that would be a great Christmas gift to Mom.

Your elderly neighbor’s yard may need to be cut and trimmed – let your child know that would be a great gift to the neighbor who watches your house when you are on vacation or who brings in your newspaper when you come home late.

Maybe your attic is cluttered and disorganized, let your children know that would be a great gift to Mom and Dad to have them declutter and organize the attic. These are a few suggestions for “holiday gifts” that don’t always cost money, you can think of more.

Your Holiday Budget Does Not Have to be Complicated

Plan for your holiday budget. When it comes to your holiday budget, please don’t throw “caution to the wind”. In other words, take your holiday shopping serious and you can save serious money during the holidays.

It is easy to get distracted with all the beautiful holiday decorations and Christmas music in the stores. Even if you shop online, which many of us love to do, most of us want that holiday experience in the stores also.

But, be careful, that experience is alluring. But you can keep your head on straight as long as you realize that the atmosphere is designed to make you spend all the money in your pocket and on your credit card.

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Save Money with Re-arrangement For Your Holiday Budget

You can re-arrange your monthly spending to include enough gift money for the holidays. Cut back on something you don’t need to buy or do for the next few months, that you have done on a regular basis.

That may be going out to eat once a week or saving money on gas by skipping your weekly card game. You can think of at least a few things you regularly do that you can cut back on for the holidays, then use that money for holiday spending.

Write Down Your Holiday Budget and Your Holiday Gifts

The more you write, the more you save. Writing down your savings just keeps you, your mind and heart, informed about the money you are spending moment by moment.

If you know how much you must spend, in most cases you won’t go over your spending amount. It also lets you know when it is time to leave the store or online shopping site.

The more you write, the more you will become aware of your limits. All you need is a small diary, some cell phones come with a writing pad, you can use that. Also, you can use a word document if your cell phone permits.

Write a Diary of Holiday Gifts and Why Everyone Deserves it

Know who deserves which holiday gift. Make a note of why they deserve the gift. For example,

1. If your son brought his grades up and learned to keep his room clean, 2. If your daughter does household chores without being told.
3. The times your neighbor took you grocery shopping and to run errands when your car was in the shop.
4. When your sister helped you get your car fixed after you lost your job. These are just a few examples, but you get the idea.

The holiday gifts should be in line with the deeds. The holidays are a great opportunity to let folks know that you appreciate them and what they have done for you during the holidays. It is also a great opportunity to teach your kids or grandkids why we give gifts with a purpose.

Set a Holiday Budget Spending Limit According to Importance

You know what your holiday spending limit is. Unfortunately, too many shoppers go over that limit before they realize they put themselves in holiday debt.

Keep the credit card in your pocket. You can use cash or get a debit card with a limit, at your bank. So, if your Holiday spending limit is $500 dollars, you would get a debit card for $500 and keep track of all your receipts and balances left.

You Can Understand Budgeting and Wealth Accumulation Like a Pro

Remember That You Don’t Ever Have to Spoil Your Kids During the Holidays

I haven’t figured this out yet, but some parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, feel it is important to spoil their kids for the holidays. My suspicion is they feel their kids won’t feel loved if they don’t get all the material things they want. Not true.

Love is not gifting it is positive time and attention. So, when you feel you have to buy that over-priced gift or another gift they may not use after a short time, try sitting and have a long thought-out conversation with your child about their life, and what they do when they leave the house, their friends, their favorite interest.

Kids feel important when adults, especially their parents show them they care enough to have a deep and long conservations with them about their interest. So, the gifts should not only be in line with what they deserve, but also, what you can afford.

Budgeting, It's what you do with what you make

Who is The Most Important Person on Your Holiday List?

Make a list of your holiday persons. I know this sounds like favoritism and it is, so start at the top and move to the bottom with a list of the most important to the least important people to give a holiday gift to.

The most important may be a spouse, parent or child who has been special to you during the year, the least important may be the holiday secret gift at work. No matter who gets a gift, make sure you keep it in perspective and give accordingly.

I have listed 14 ways to save money for the holiday season, now that I have you started, you can think of more.

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14 ways to save money for the holiday season

14 Ways To Save Money for the Holiday Season

Should You Sell Your Home With a Real Estate Agent or Sale by Owner

Sell Your Home With a Real Estate Agent and Avoid Major Mistakes

Should you sell your home by a real estate agent or sale by owner

Here are major issues you may face selling your home by owner:

  1. Real estate agents know the process and documents you need to execute the entire selling process properly.
  2. The real estate agent will understand how to fill out all the real estate documents correctly.
  3. The real estate agent can monitor the process and make sure everything is done in a timely manner. They will get the right documents, and help you find the right mortgage and escrow company, title company or real estate attorney.
  4. Sometimes the real estate agent can negotiate a higher price for your home, than you can since they know the price trends in your area.
  5. Safety is a major concern when you do a “sell by owner”. When a real estate agent brings someone to your home, they have usually vetted them and met them at the real estate office in advance. Most of the potential buyers you let into your home will drop in randomly from the sign in your yard, so they may have sinister ideas when they come visit, and are not actually looking for a home.

I don’t recommend that anyone sell their home by owner unless you have a buyer you know already as a friend, relative, neighbor, or close associate. Make sure you research the process thoroughly before you start.

The only reason I can think of that anyone would want to sell a “home by owner” to the greater is that 1. You MUST sell to move 2. Don’t have enough equity to pay a real estate agency (the fee is as much as 6%-7% of the sales price).

I have sold two homes as a “for sale by owner” seller. So, it is possible to do a “sell your home by owner” home sell, but It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. If you sell you home with a real estate agent you will avoid mistakes that can cost you later.

real estate home buying success you must know your finances like the back of your hand

I made the decision since I had not owned the one home long enough to generate enough equity to pay a real estate agent commission, they other home I wanted all of the equity for a down payment on my next home.

These are the things I learned from my actual experience, my research, talking to real estate agents, and talking to others who had sold a home. I spoke with two friends who are ex-real estate agents, and they helped me quite a bit.

I also took an appraisal course many years ago in anticipation of starting a real estate appraisal business. I did not start the business, but I learned a lot about appraising homes.

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First, expect to be bombarded by real agent’s eager to list your home, when they see your, “For Sale by Owner” sign. They will contact you over and over hoping that you will become frustrated with the whole process, throw up your hands and say, “where is that pesky real estate agent? I’m listing my house with her or him, yesterday!” Unfortunately, sometimes you will feel like that, but don’t give up too soon.

The following “for sale by owner” information should be helpful: 

  1. There are many legal forms, those dreaded forms! They are dreaded but necessary for the legal transfer of your property to another person. You will need legal real estate sales and disclosure documents for your home sale.

You can get these documents from a title company or you can pay a real estate lawyer to do the work for you. The real estate lawyer will provide you with the documents and fill them out correctly, for no more than an hourly fee. Verify his/her fee, the time it will take, and agree on a fee before he/she fills out the documents.

  1. Then you need to decide how much to sell your house for. If your asking price is too high, your home could stay on the market a long time. If your asking price is too low you may lose money you deserve. There are several ways to find out the right sales price. If the homes in your neighborhood are very similar, i.e. square footage, number of bedrooms (bathrooms), and similar size yard, you can use the recent sales from the last two homes like yours, in your immediate neighborhood. It gets a bit more complicated when the homes are all different, but appraisers use a similar method.
  1. You will have to find homes with your similar square footage, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, and if the home is on a lake, gulf course or ocean, or has a lot of land. You can also pay for a sales appraisal, use your local yellow pages for a listing of real estate appraisers. The next option is to check city or county records. Just call your local city records office and ask them where you can find information on the most recent home sales in your area. Verify which of these homes are like yours and use those comparisons to price your home.
  1. Fix up your home to make it presentable to sell. That includes electrical and plumbing in tip-top shape, clean carpet, clean walls, clean doors, an attractive front door, and well-groomed landscaping, and maintenance painting, just to name a few.
  2. Let the buyer know that he/she can pay for an independent inspection of your home, and put it in writing. The new buyer can have an inspection for plumbing, electrical, and structural soundness as well as other things. To be on the safe side, I paid for an independent inspection on my home sells, I had several things fixed as a result, before I sold the home.
  3. Let them know that they need to choose a mortgage company, you can also talk to mortgage companies up front. Both buyers in my case had never purchased a home. So, I did some research on the best mortgage companies in the area and gave them several to choose from, this just helped to speed up the process.

In real estate and home buying successOpportunities don't happen, you create them.

The mortgage company gave them title companies to choose from or they can search for their own title company. For safety purposes, you could have the person go to your mortgage company of choice and get pre-qualified, before you show your home. This way you will know, who the person is, and that they are serious about purchasing your home.

  1. Talk to escrow companies before your put your home up for sale, (in the case of fee simple states-talk to a title company or real estate lawyer for closing).
  2. Now let’s get back to those pesky real estate agents. There may be an aggressive real estate agent or two who will present you a buyer. If that agent is willing to take 3 or 4%, which very few can, and they have a buyer, then you may want to talk, if your equity covers that reduced commission.

The problem you may experience is trying to negotiate with an experienced real estate agent, they will most likely try to get you to reduce your price for their buyer. Make sure you add up your cost, 4% to the realtor, fixing up the home for sale, your mortgage sellers cost (sellers usually pay around 2%), and your moving cost. This is one of the disadvantages you face when you sell your home with a real estate agent and you don’t have much equity.

Do you have enough equity in your home to pay these costs and still have a substantial amount to put down on another home? Most homeowners who sell their own home, do so because they don’t have enough equity to pay a real estate agent cost of 6 or 7%.

Home buying the right way take skill

So, don’t let an experienced real estate agent come along and talk you into decreasing the price of your home, and giving them 3 or 4% real estate commission, in that case you could have hired a real estate agent to do everything to begin with, and the agent could get full commission for your home. If there is not enough equity to pay the commission, you will have to come out of pocket to pay the commission, using an agent.

  1. Keep yourself safe. Consider “for sale by owner” only when you can’t justify the real estate agents commission (6-7% of sales cost). Take appointments from interested buyers, get caller ID and ask for their name and address first. Send a postcard to the address your potential buyer gives you to remind them of their appointment. If the postcard comes back, “not at this address” cancel the appointment.

10. Ask lots of questions on the phone of your potential buyer. Get their name, address, and employment and salary, if they are pre-qualified for a loan or if they will pay in cash, before you give them an appointment. Ask to see an ID before they look. Verify information you are given by searching the internet for their presence. Use a private investigator to authenticate information if you can afford it.

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Doing a “for sale by owner” can also be done by companies that help with the process. In other words, most areas have “for sale by owner” real estate agencies that assist you with the process to make sure the sells process is done right and they will help to keep you safe. These agencies usually charge a flat fee. Here you can “have your cake and eat it too”, you will sell your home with a real estate agent, but do it at a greatly reduced cost. The process and the contracts are different for each state, be sure to research your state.

If you have plenty of equity in your home, a real estate agent should be your first option. Make sure you get references on which real estate agent to use, don’t choose one at random. There are good agents and bad agents.

Lois Center-Shabazz | Course Delta Agency

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7 Steps of Budget Planning to Avoid Financial Disasters

Budgeting Planning to Avoid Financial Disasters

  1. The First Step of Budget Planning to Avoid Financial Disasters 

Budget planning to avoid financial disasters starts with not buying too big with the big stuff such as cars and homes is one of the biggest reasons many cannot withstand a small business or personal financial disaster.

Many of us forget that there are affordable ways to buy homes and cars to avoid future financial disasters. What happens, is that these two items are based on way too much emotional buying. Keep your head on straight by researching before you purchase. Learn more on my instagram.

Ask questions like; Do I really need a new car? What will the warranty maintenance cost on my new car? What if I purchase the same car 3-4 years old, what would the savings be?

If you have a job, no matter how secure you think you are, that security could be in jeopardy at any time. So, purchasing a car that you can buy cash or with very low payments will be the better option.

The same holds true with a home, if it is too large, with a stressful payment, the smaller home with the lower payment, that carries less stress may be a better option.

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  1. Stay Properly Insured

The second step to budget planning to avoid financial disasters seems to be plain old common sense. But, sometimes people with a home and car let important insurances lapse due to illness or thinking they don’t have the time, they let important insurance lapse, due to simple negligence.

Stay fully insured with a car, home, health, life, and if you own a business – all applicable business insurance. A small business lawsuit should always be covered with business liability insurance, not your personal assets –  so, don’t take the chance.

  1. Don’t Waste When Times are Good and Income is High

We have had many economic downturns and upturns in the past several decades. The one regret I have heard a lot when I talk to people who make a lot of money when times are good is — “I lost my mind when I had a lot of money, and spent without regard to the reality to the future, then a financial disaster came”.

Because nothing is guaranteed, even good times, it is important to handle your money as if the money will stop anytime, that will help protect your assets.

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  1. Let Your Kids know Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees

There are some parents who, despite much evidence to the contrary, feel it is important their kids need to have all the material trapping they did not have. It is not necessary, and it is not true.

Your kids will literally begin to think that money grows on trees and drops from the sky. Your kids know you love them when you give them positive time and attention, so it is not necessary to spoil them, and it may lead to a financial disaster.

You can reward them without giving them too much, some parents to the tune of going bankrupt. At this point your kids probably are not aware of potential financial disasters, but at least you can start to teach them money skills.

  1. Have a Sick Fund for Days Not Covered by Extended Illness

Most jobs have sick leave, most small businesses have no sick leave unless they create it themselves. As an employee, you may run out of sick leave if you have an extended illness. Save money in a sick fund to cover an extended illness. This is especially important for small business owners.

  1. Make Your Savings a Bill

Create a general savings fund and treat it like a bill. You are probably seeing a pattern here. Saving money as several bills is just as important as paying existing bills. It should be a part of a general budget plan for financial disasters.

  1. Don’t Borrow From Your 401k, Borrow From Your General Savings

As far as I am concerned, borrowing from a 401k is a budget planning financial disaster unless you are suffering from a fatal illness, borrowing from your 401k should not be a consideration.

You should have an automatic saving account for financial disasters that you can borrow from.

The 7 steps of budget planning to avoid financial disasters will above will get you on the way to solid financial success.

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Lois Center-Shabazz| Money Strategist | Course Delta Agency

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Big thing budgeting in 7 ways - budgeting tips