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When is it OK to Take on Debt?

You’ve heard it said: “There is ‘good debt’ and there is ‘bad debt’.” Perhaps this has caused you to wonder how any debt could ever be good at all! Some debt is certainly worse than other debt, but what factors separate bad from good?

Debt and the decision of whether to take it on can often be stressful. Relax. The following information will help you understand a situation regarding debt with more clarity; leading to a more knowledgeable approach to debt in your everyday life. This will bring clarity to when it might be OK to take on debt.

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Investing for Millennials

Investing for the first time can stir up myriad of emotions. First time investors often feel overwhelmed, anxious, and confused. If this is you, you’re more than likely experiencing at least one of two things. Either you don’t have the know-how to get started, or you don’t believe you have the means to begin investing. Worry not. This article is for you, as well as anyone else wanting a high-level introduction to the world of opportunity that investing opens.

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Thankful for 3 Years in Business

June 1st marked the three year birthday of Wacek Financial Planning.  A lot has been overcome to grow the business into what it is today and I can attribute very little of the success to myself – I have much to be thankful for.

It has also become somewhat of tradition for me to make an annual blog post that gives a few shout-outs sharing my gratitude.

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Six Things I Learned from my Encounter with Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett has amassed over $70 billion primarily through investing. Few argue against the fact that the 86 year old is the greatest investor the world has ever seen. I recently had the opportunity to spend an entire day listening to him and absorbing knowledge.  The occasion, Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholder meeting, drawing over 40,000 to CenturyLink Arena in Omaha, Nebraska.  As you can see in the cover photo that I snapped, to say that Buffett is a celebrity at this event would be an understatement.

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Why and How to Pay Cash for Your Next Vehicle

Cars are expensive. The average American spends almost $9,000 per year per vehicle on repairs, fuel, insurance, taxes, and car payments. Add on that cars rapidly depreciate in value and it is quick to see why decisions about purchasing a vehicle significantly impact your financial picture. But you aren’t reading this post to be convinced that cars are expensive; you already knew that. Rather, this article focuses on the costs of car ownership that you can control. Namely, this article shares how to eliminate car payments altogether by paying cash for your next vehicle.

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Is Your Financial Planner a Fiduciary?

The word ‘fiduciary’ is unfamiliar to most. In simplest terms, a fiduciary is someone who works on behalf of a client with their best interests in mind. The reason it hasn’t had much mainstream attention is because, to date, financial planners have not been required to operate as fiduciaries. But that is all about to change. A new standard was recently approved by the Department of Labor (DOL) requiring all financial planners to act as fiduciaries when advising on retirement accounts.

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Six Biblical Money Principles

The Bible has lots to say about money. In fact, money and possessions are referenced over two thousand times throughout the scriptures! That is approximately seven times more often than “love”, which is the second most referenced topic. Money was an important topic in Biblical times, and it remains an important topic today.

So what does the Bible teach us about money? Perhaps more importantly, how can we apply what the Bible says about money to our daily life today?

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Charitable Giving, Generosity, and... Taxes

Jesus commissions His disciples in Matthew chapter 10 to serve the sick and the marginalized in society. His words to them are of selfless generosity, saying “Freely you have received, now freely give”. In the same way, we should generously and joyfully give out of our abundance to the Church and to organizations that are outreaching to others in need - in fact there are many reasons why we should give willingly.

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Retirement Savings and the Millennial Generation

 

Are you a millennial and wish that you had more (or anything) saved for retirement?  If so, you're not alone.  A shocking 80% of millennials are not invested in the stock market!  This is a major problem, but thankfully there is still plenty of hope for millennials and their retirement.

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Is Retirement Biblical?

Retirement is the most talked about topic in financial planning.  It is often portrayed as the ultimate end goal or as the purpose for working hard at a job for multiple decades. For these reasons I ask: is retirement Biblical? This blog post answers this simple yet important question, and in doing so also explores how Christians should spend their retirement years. To begin, however, it’s helpful to start with a quick background of retirement’s history in America as a basis of understanding where our culture is today.

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6 Tips for New and Expecting Parents

Ask any parent and they will gladly confirm without hesitation -- kids change everything.

Becoming a parent is an immense blessing that changes our view of the world, our capacity to love, and our priorities. No doubt, having kids can therefore drastically change our finances. Adjusting to the new norms and overall financial impact of raising a child can be a challenge. These 6 financial tips can be a helpful guide to any couple who is preparing for or has recently become a new parent.

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Thankful for Two Years in Business

It’s hard to believe, but June 1st marked the two year birthday of my business!  Although I’m not content with where my business is today and I pray that I will be able to accelerate the number of clients that I’m able to serve in the coming years, the purpose of this blog post is to pause and reflect back on all that I’m thankful for since the inception of my business – just as I do when presenting a financial plan to a client.   

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How Refinancing Student Loans May Change Your Investment Strategy

Nearly 50 million Americans have student loan debt. Ask any one of them and they can tell you something far more enjoyable they’d rather do with that monthly payment. Dubbed a national crisis, student loan debt has created an opportunity for a new wave of social finance lenders to shine. Private lenders like SoFi, LendingClub, CommonBond, and Earnest are all over social media (and now TV) boasting five-figure savings and fairytale endings.

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Why You Should Consider Saving into a Health Savings Account

Imagine holding an asset that enjoys the contribution benefits of a Traditional IRA and the distribution benefits of a Roth IRA. What investment portfolio wouldn’t benefit from this kind of tax-efficiency? Read on to learn about the increasingly popular Health Savings Account – the only type of account that is never taxed if used properly.

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How to Reduce Your Monthly Cell Phone Budget to as Low as $10

Twenty years ago a “cell phone” category didn’t even show up on a budget, while today the average American spends more than $100/month for cell phone service.  In this blog post I want to tell you about a way to bring your monthly cell phone bill closer to that of 1995 ($0), than 2015 – and I’m not asking you to give up your cell phone!

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How to Save 44% on Your Grocery Budget without Ever Clipping a Coupon

Every dollar that passes through our fingers is God’s. Our job is to be good stewards of it. Big or small, every purchase is important when we take this view of money.

Therefore, the next series of blog posts will feature practical tips on how to be wise with money in your everyday life. My hope is that this blog post might help you to spend less money on groceries and that you may use the freed up funds in a way in which you feel God is calling you.

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Celebrating My First Year in Business

One year ago today I left the comforts of a stable job in order to start Wacek Financial Planning.  As I expected, there have been numerous challenges that have come with launching a new business. However, the reasons to celebrate have far exceeded any difficulties.  On this one year birthday, I wanted to take some time to reflect back on this first year and to give thanks.

Some of the highlights of the first year include:

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7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Business

According to a recent study done by moneytips.com, 67% of millennials want to start their own business at some point.  Having started my own financial planning firm less than a year ago, I can relate to this desire.  There are certainly a lot of benefits to owning a business: a flexible schedule, choosing who you work with, and making business decisions.  But starting a business is also a lot of work and comes with risks. 

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You May Still Be Able to Contribute to an IRA for 2014

Have you contributed to an IRA yet for 2014?  If not, did you know that you still may be able to contribute to one of these accounts up until April 15th

This blog post is by far my most technical writing to-date and will help you to determine if you are eligible to contribute to a tax advantaged IRA for 2014.  Although this is not an exhaustive list of the characteristics of IRAs, I hope that it will also help you to understand the differences between Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs.

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10 New Year's Resolutions to Improve Your Financial Situation: Part 2 of 2

Last week I shared five New Year’s resolutions to improve your financial situation.  Today I share five more.  My hope is that one or two of these resolutions will aid you in stewarding your resources in a more meaningful way.  

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10 New Year's Resolutions to Improve Your Financial Situation: Part 1 of 2

I’m a fan of New Year’s resolutions - and setting goals in general - because I find that they help me to focus on the things that are most important and they help me to live more intentionally.  

In order to help others steward their resources in a more meaningful way, I’ve put together a list of 10 potential New Year’s resolutions that will help you to improve your financial situation.  I’ll share five today and then five more next week.  

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7 Reasons Why You Should Give Willingly

During this time of the year there are more opportunities to give than at any other time of the year.  Opportunities to give gifts to family, friends, and co-workers.  Opportunities to give financially to churches or other organizations who are doing year-end fundraising campaigns.  And opportunities to give to those in need every time that we walk past a red bucket and bell ringer. 

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Protecting Your Largest Asset

For a person in their 20s or 30s, their ability to earn an income is likely to be their largest asset.  While those in this demographic may not have much saved for retirement, they are likely to earn a significant amount of money during their remaining working years.  For example, a 30 year old earning $50,000 per year will make more than $3 million between ages 30 and 65 if their income increases by 3% per year.

One of the greatest problems that I see with my young financial planning clients is their failure to properly protect against a potential loss of these earnings. 

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Questions to Ask When Making a Purchase

What are the questions that you ask before making a purchase?  Based on my own experience and from talking with others, there are generally two questions that most people ask:

  1. Do I want it?
  2. Can I afford it?

For most of us, if the answer to both of these questions is “yes,” then we make the purchase.  But are these really the best questions to consider?  They certainly should be part of the decision making process, but are they the only questions to consider?

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4 Questions to Ask When Deciding if You Should Pay Off Student Loans Early

My clients with student loans often want to know whether they should just pay the minimum on these loans or pay them down more aggressively.  Like most financial planning questions, the answer depends on the situation.  Below is a list of what I believe are the four most important questions to consider, if this is a question that you are asking.

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Should Rental Property Be Part of Your Investment Portfolio?

Clients often ask me about whether it would be wise for them to own a rental property (or properties) as a part of their long term investment portfolio.  Although, in general, I think that saving into a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds is the best tool to build wealth over time, I think that there are many instances when owning a rental property can be a wise financial decision.  When helping my clients determine whether purchasing a rental property is right for them, we usually begin by considering the advantages and disadvantages of this type of investment.  

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The Lie of Needing "the Best"

We live in a society that tries to convince us that we can find lasting fulfillment in having the best stuff.  Our smartphones need to be faster, thinner, and look cooler; our food more healthy and trendy; and our houses larger and newer.  Regardless of the item, our minds are trained that what we currently have isn’t good enough.  We need better – we need the best.  If we just had the best, we would be happy. 

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Cash Flow: The Foundation of a Financial Plan

The financial world is complex and trying to predict where the stock market is headed, what the average inflation rate will be, or what the Social Security program may look like in twenty years is challenging, if not impossible.  But these are all things over which you as an individual don’t have control.  Rather than worry about the items that you can’t control, my recommendation is to focus your attention and energy on the things that you can control.

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20 Personal Finance Tips I Learned in My 20s: Part 2 of 2

In my last blog post I shared 10 personal financial tips that I learned in my 20s.  Today I share ten more.   You’ll notice that in addition to personal finance lessons, this post includes a few career and life tips as well.  Regardless of your age or stage of life, I hope you find value in these ideas.     

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20 Personal Finance Tips I Learned in My 20s: Part 1 of 2

Last week I hit a milestone in my life – I turned 30!  I thought that this would be a good opportunity to look back on the last decade and recall some of the lessons that I’ve learned concerning my finances.  Regardless of your age, I hope you find value in these ideas.  Because the list was rather long, I decided to share 10 tips today and 10 more in my next post.  Enjoy!   

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9 Starter Financial Planning Tips for Missionaries

One of the groups that Wacek Financial Planning specializes in providing financial planning advice to is missionaries around the world.  I really enjoy working with missionaries because of the significant eternal impact that they are making around the world.  It is amazing to hear about the sacrifices that they make and the ways in which God is using them. 

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3 Reasons to Pay for Services You Can Do Yourself

Today marks an exciting day for Wacek Financial Planning as I am officially launching my business, my website, and my blog!  Over the last several months I have taken several steps to get to this point and I have paid for a number of services along the way – most of which I could have done on my own to save money.   

To give some context, my wife and I are generally not excessive spenders.  We regularly shop at four different grocery stores in order to get the best deals at each, we don’t have cable, and the average year that our two cars were manufactured is 2002. 

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