Category Archives: Life

Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft, Data Breaches, and Scams

Data breaches and identity theft are becoming a regularly part of our lives. Learn how you can protect and secure your personal information!

How to Secure Your Info from Data Breaches

 Identity theft, data breaches, and scams are something that many of us are dealing with way too frequently.

Recently, I got a letter from the medical system that we use for doctor's appointments and, it, went a little, something like this:

Dear Valued Patient:

We're committed to improving the health and well-being blah blah blah

Earning and maintaining the trust of our patients is paramount and reflected in demonstrating transparency, accountability more stuff to soften what we have to admit


In support of these principles we are writing to let you know that information related to your use of our health portal may have been transmitted to a completely different and unrelated company in error.

Ooops

via GIPHY

Crazy thing is this isn't the first or worst notification we received about our data being possibly compromised or shared.

If you've ever shopped at a Target, been a T-Mobile user, or used Facebook, chances are you got notified about one.

I just named a few big ones, but basically you can check out sites like Wired to find what new data breach is in the news.

Protecting our personal information and identity is getting harder. You have scammers, and identity thieves getting smarter going beyond phishing emails.

They could be using skimming devices when you shop. Then there are hackers breaching company's databases or  an employee illegally accessing and dumping data like with what happened with Capital One

It's a lot to worry about. 

While nothing is foolproof and guaranteed, there are relatively simple steps you can take to make it harder for them to steal your information.

In this episode we'll get into:

  • how you can secure your information offline
  • protecting yourself online
  • resources to help you if you're a victim of identity theft

Alright, let's get started! 

Resources to Protect Your Personal Information and Finances

If you're looking to stay on top of your money and protect your personal information, here are some helpful resources to check out!

For freezing your accounts or putting an alert you need to contact the credit bureaus.

  • Equifax: 1-888-766-0008
  • Experian: 1-888-397-3742
  • TransUnion: 1-833-395-6938

If you want to chat more about creating better money habits, questions, or share your own tips, please join us at Thriving Families on Facebook.

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! Come check out Coastal today if you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better.

As a credit union, Coastal serves its members first and foremost including an annual loyalty bonus.

We've been members for years and love their service and competitive rates on checking and savings accounts!

Rollover Your 401(k) Easily with Capitalize

We’re grateful for wonderful partners like Capitalize. Not only do they support the podcast, but they help make managing your money so much easier. 

Did you know that it’s estimated that there are currently over 24 million “forgotten” 401(k) accounts? In fact, the average American changes jobs every 4 years

And because of the Great Resignation, you or someone you know might be changing jobs even more 

It’s an extreme case of out of sight and out of mind. Is your old 401(k) in there somewhere, left behind at a job you're no longer with?

One huge benefit of an IRA is choosing how your money is invested, not your old employer. 

If you want to consolidate your old 401(k) and have more options with how you invest, it may be time to roll them over into an IRA.  

With Capitalize, they handle the process from start to finish – for FREE and yes that includes calling the 401(k) provider on your behalf. 

Find out how and get started today

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Photo Credits: Markus Spiske and Mikhail Nilov

Essential Travel Tips for Parents with Young Kids

Traveling as a family can be a fantastic way to connect and experience new things together. We're sharing travel tips and hacks that parents can use to make things less stressful and still snag a great deal on your next family trip!

Taking a Trip with Children

Are you guys planning to travel this season? We are. 

These past few years, we’ve developed a rhythm where we travel to catch the changing of the leaves. 

With the girls now 11 and 7, trips are much more fun. We get to have some great conversations in the car. We explore new places to eat or hike together. My kids have gotten good at recording pictures and videos of our trips. 

Now rewind a few years, and things felt different. We still enjoyed traveling when they were babies and toddlers – I got the pics to prove it – but it was a little challenging.

Vacations were a bit of work at that stage, and maybe you feel the same. The good news is that different tricks can make family vacations more enjoyable. 

We’re about to enter a busy travel season, so today, I want to help you save money and have fun together as a family. 

In this episode, we’ll get into:

  • Travel tips if you have young kids to make it less stressful
  • Snagging last-minute deals
  • Some ideas on affordable and fun family trips this season

Alright, let’s get started! 

Resources for Affordable Family Vacations

Looking for ways to save on your next family getaway? Here are some fantastic resources to check out:

If you want to chat more about creating better money habits, questions, or share your own tips, please join us at Thriving Families on Facebook.

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! Come check out Coastal today if you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better.

As a credit union, Coastal serves its members first and foremost including an annual loyalty bonus.

We've been members for years and love their service and competitive rates on checking and savings accounts!

Rollover Your 401(k) Easily with Capitalize

We’re grateful for wonderful partners like Capitalize. Not only do they support the podcast, but they help make managing your money so much easier. 

Did you know that it’s estimated that there are currently over 24 million “forgotten” 401(k) accounts? In fact, the average American changes jobs every 4 years

And because of the Great Resignation, you or someone you know might be changing jobs even more 

It’s an extreme case of out of sight and out of mind. Is your old 401(k) in there somewhere, left behind at a job you're no longer with?

One huge benefit of an IRA is choosing how your money is invested, not your old employer. 

If you want to consolidate your old 401(k) and have more options with how you invest, it may be time to roll them over into an IRA.  

With Capitalize, they handle the process from start to finish – for FREE and yes that includes calling the 401(k) provider on your behalf. 

Find out how and get started today

Travel Hacks for Parents

Traveling with young kids can be rewarding, fulfilling, and at the same time, tiring. You want to enjoy the trip, but for some kids, it’s a tough experience. 

If you’re visiting friends and family you may also have to deal with so many people wanting to hang with you and it may not be realistic; at least at this stage. 

However, there are ways you can relieve a bit of the stress and make the trip easier on all of you.  

  • Time your trips. 
  • Build travel into the routine. Day trips and weekend outings can be a way to unwind and start getting your kids into the habit of travel. 
  • Snack wisely. Go for snacks high in protein instead of sugary ones. Water is also a go-to drink of ours. If you’re flying, give them something for when the plane takes off. 
  • Pack the essentials for travel. Besides snacks, make sure you have sanitizer, wipes, pull-ups, and diapers.
  • Bring a book. Whether it’s coloring, activity, sketching, or one to read, books are an easy way to occupy their minds and make the trip seem shorter. 
  • Games are fantastic for car rides. 
  • Take a break by a playground. Depending on the length of the trip, you may find that grabbing lunch at a local playground or park can help your kids to get some energy out while you rest up a bit. 
  • Grab an app. GeoTouch can help kids keep tabs on the trip and learn about the area. 
  • Bring one (small) comfort item. Kids like to have some consistency, so a stuffed animal or blanket can help them adjust and be a handy pillow. 
  • Consider an AirBnb.
  • Have them come to you. A small but important help when traveling to see family and friends is not driving everywhere in town to see everyone. It’s exhausting for you and a recipe for disaster with the kids. Instead, create a simple plan for when people can meet up with you. 

Snag a Deal on Your Last Minute Trips

Last-minute travel doesn’t have to mean breaking your budget. Depending on where you going and the time of year, you may be able to find a deal still. You can improve your chances by trying out some of these tips! 

Shop around with your travel

Just like your regular bills, comparing prices can help you save a significant amount of money.

Use Flight Trackers to Watch Fares Drop

If you’re planning on flying for your trip, go ahead now and start tracking prices. 

  • Google Flights: You get alerts sent to your inbox so you quickly see how the prices are moving. 
  • Hopper: If you like to double-check the deals on flights, Hopper is great. The app analyzes tons of flight prices and can suggest when it's an excellent time to purchase a ticket.
  • AirefareWatchdog
  • LastMinute.com: Yep, there’s actually a site named that. 

Time Your Trips to Leave Mid-Week

Most of us schedule our trips on weekends or Mondays, but if you’re willing to go against the grain, you may be able to get a great deal on flights. 

Live and Eat Like a Local

Skip the touristy parts of town and find those hole-in-the-wall spots that are local favorites. 

Travel Hacking to Save

If you are a family who loves to travel far and wide, something you may want to look into is traveling hacking. 

I have a few shows on the ins and outs of how it works, which I’ll include in the show notes. 

You can use tools and resources like Travel Freely, which pulls in the best deals and bonuses cards are offering. 

Better with a Bundle

Surprisingly you may find that you can get a great deal last minute with a travel bundle.

Easy, Fun, (and Affordable) Family Trips for the Fall

I mentioned earlier in the episode, one thing that you can do is make your future family trips more enjoyable is getting your kids into the habit with travel and you can do a lot of easy, fun and affordable family trips near you.

  • National and State Park Getaways
  • Zoo and Animal Parks
  • Camping

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

How to Teach Your Teens About Money

 Not sure how to start talking to your kids about money? One mom shares how she's teaching her teens about budgets, investing, giving, and more!

Guiding Your Teens with Finances

One of parenthood's joys (and responsibilities) is guiding your kids and teens into adulthood. We all want them to live happy and meaningful lives. 

That’s a huge goal to work towards, and it takes all 18 years (and then some!) to build them up. 

One essential skill set they need to get a handle on is their finances. We know money isn’t the goal, but it is a handy tool to help them take care of their bills, save up for big goals, and yes, have a bit of fun. 

The huge question, however, is where do we start? How do we teach our kids, especially teens, about finances? How do we show them the ropes of budgeting, investing, and giving? How can we help them feel comfortable with handling finances and make wise choices? 

This is why I’m glad Aja, creator of Principles of Increase and author of How to Talk Money With Our Daughters. She’s also a mom of two teens. 

In this episode, we get into:

  • When to begin those conversations and ways you can make them meaningful and interesting
  • Introducing teens to investing whether it’s funds or real estate
  • Involving them with the finances so they’ll be prepared and confident with their skills

Let's get started! 

Resources to Teach Your Kids about Money

If you're looking for ideas and resources to prepare your kids to be money-savvy, here are some to check out!

If you want to chat more about creating better money habits, questions, or share your own tips, please join us at Thriving Families on Facebook.

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! Come check out Coastal today if you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better.

As a credit union, Coastal serves its members first and foremost including an annual loyalty bonus.

We've been members for years and love their service and competitive rates on checking and savings accounts!

Rollover Your 401(k) Easily with Capitalize

We’re grateful for wonderful partners like Capitalize. Not only do they support the podcast, but they help make managing your money so much easier. 

Did you know that it’s estimated that there are currently over 24 million “forgotten” 401(k) accounts? In fact, the average American changes jobs every 4 years

And because of the Great Resignation, you or someone you know might be changing jobs even more 

It’s an extreme case of out of sight and out of mind. Is your old 401(k) in there somewhere, left behind at a job you're no longer with?

One huge benefit of an IRA is choosing how your money is invested, not your old employer. 

If you want to consolidate your old 401(k) and have more options with how you invest, it may be time to roll them over into an IRA.  

With Capitalize, they handle the process from start to finish – for FREE and yes that includes calling the 401(k) provider on your behalf. 

Find out how and get started today

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Become a Member.

Photo Credits: Karolina Grabowska and Vanessa Loring

Travel Hacking Your Family Vacations: Discovering Epic Deals

How does a summer vacation in multiple countries sound? Road-trip around the US? Month in the Bahamas? 

Learn how one family of five plans and travel hack these epic trips so they’re getting an incredible deal!

Ready to Travel Hack an Epic Family Vacation?

Last week we discovered the risk and rewards of travel hacking with credit cards. This week we’re diving into planning the actual trip. 

This is why I’m thrilled Justin from Root of Good is on the show today. I interviewed him years ago on Couple Money and he shared how he and his wife were able to retire in their early 30s with three kids. 

As you heard at the top of the show, he and his family have gone on some incredible family vacations. 

Here’s the thing, though – they’re more affordable than you realize. Part of their strategy does include using credit card rewards, but it’s so much more than that. 

Justin uses different sites to optimize those details like travel and eating, which adds up quickly. 

In this episode, we get into:

  • how to plan for family vacations with kids
  • finding deals on flights, hotels, and transportation
  • getting the most value out of the experience while still relaxing

Are you ready?

Let’s get started! 

Resources to Optimize Your Travel Rewards and More

Looking for ways to save on your next family getaway? Here are some fantastic resources to check out:

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today.

As a credit union, Coastal serves its members first including an annual loyalty bonus. We've been members for years and love their service and competitive rates on checking and savings accounts!

Rollover Your 401(k) Easily with Capitalize

We’re grateful for wonderful partners like Capitalize. Not only do they support the podcast, but they help make managing your money so much easier. 

Did you know that it’s estimated that there are currently over 24 million “forgotten” 401(k) accounts? In fact, the average American changes jobs every 4 years

And because of the Great Resignation, you or someone you know might be changing jobs even more 

It’s an extreme case of out of sight and out of mind. Is your old 401(k) in there somewhere, left behind at a job you're no longer with?

One huge benefit with an IRA is you get to choose how your money is invested, not your old employer. 

If you want to consolidate your old 401(k) and have more options with how you invest, it may be time to roll them over into an IRA.  

With Capitalize, they handle the process from start-to-finish – for FREE. They handle the process from start-to-finish, and yes that includes calling the 401(k) provider on your behalf. 

Find out how and get started today

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and becoming financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on AppleSpotify, or Audible.
  • Buy me a cup of coffee!

Travel Hacking Your Family Vacations: Credit Card Rewards

Learn how you can find the best credit card rewards and travel hack so you can save significant money while enjoying a fantastic and memorable vacation!

Travel Hacks to Enjoy Your Family Vacation for Less

We typically talk about ‘responsible’ financial goals, like paying off debts, saving for emergencies, vacations and buying a house, investing for retirement, and so forth. 

Those are wonderful things to take care of, but money can also be used for fun things as well, including travel. 

Look, these past two years have been stressful for so many families and I understand that many of us would like to literally get away from it all.

TripAdvisor did a survey earlier this year to see how people plan to travel this year. They found:

  • More people are looking to travel in 2022 than pre-pandemic reported travel levels
  • Here’s the interesting takeaway: roughly 3 in 10 Americans (29%) who traveled for leisure in 2019 said it's more important now than before the pandemic to splurge on a big trip
  • 41% of Americans said that traveling to a destination they've never been to before would be more important to them now
  • The top three most important considerations, across the markets surveyed, in future travel plans to visit a destination was to get immersive by seeing new places, having new experiences and learning about history and culture.

Planning a family vacation can be a way to not just relax, but mentally recharge and reset ourselves a bit. 

We’ve changed our destinations and stayed in state for most of our trips. Yeah it was a great money saver, but we also got to rediscover and enjoy some awesome spots here in North Carolina. 

We’d love to expand our horizons this year while still keeping safe and staying on budget. 

If you’re in the same boat, I think you’ll enjoy these next two episodes. We’re going to look at how to travel hack your family vacations so you can enjoy more for less. 

Next week we’ll discuss the logistics of planning an epic vacation on the cheap. This week we’re going to dig in and see if you can really snag a deal with travel hacking and credit card rewards.

That’s why I’m happy to have Daniel Rathfelder on the show. He’s the VP of Card Services over at Coastal Credit Union. He’s going to get into how those regards card programs work and how to get the most out of them. 

In this episode we get into:

  • Finding the right reward card
  • How your credit score is affected 
  • Optimizing your credit cards to reap the rewards and not get into debt

We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started! 

Resources to Optimize Your Travel Rewards and More

Looking for ways to save on your next family getaway? Here are some fantastic resources to check out:

Don't forget to join our Thriving Families Facebook group!

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today.

As a credit union, Coastal serves its members first including an annual loyalty bonus. We've been members for years and love their service and competitive rates on checking and savings accounts!

Rollover Your 401(k) Easily with Capitalize

We’re grateful for wonderful partners like Capitalize. Not only do they support the podcast, but they help make managing your money so much easier. 

Did you know that it’s estimated that there are currently over 24 million “forgotten” 401(k) accounts? In fact, the average American changes jobs every 4 years

And because of the Great Resignation, you or someone you know might be changing jobs even more 

It’s an extreme case of out of sight and out of mind. Is your old 401(k) in there somewhere, left behind at a job you're no longer with?

One huge benefit with an IRA is you get to choose how your money is invested, not your old employer. 

If you want to consolidate your old 401(k) and have more options with how you invest, it may be time to roll them over into an IRA.  

With Capitalize, they handle the process from start-to-finish – for FREE. They handle the process from start-to-finish, and yes that includes calling the 401(k) provider on your behalf. 

Find out how and get started today

Travel Hacking Using Credit Card Rewards

Elle Martinez: Many people have different ideas about travel hacking with credit cards. To double check we're on the same page, here's how I describe it.

Travel hacking is where you can get a discounted vacation- in some cases practically free one- by strategically using credit card rewards. Those rewards can be points, miles, and cashback.

Now you accumulate those rewards by using your credit cards for purchases. Many hackers gained the most by signing up for new cards because typically that's where the big bonuses and rewards are.

Now you could, and others have benefited from this, but how exactly does this work? How do the credit cards stay in business?

Daniel Rathfelder: Utilizing points to redeem for travel is not a new concept. I mean one of the most popular travel cards out there is the Delta sky miles, American express card, for example. That's been around for ages. I think we've all probably gotten an offer in the mail for it or something.

It's definitely one of those, those products that allows people to utilize sometimes their daily spending and redeem that for travel.

From an industry side, Travel cards are built around two key components. One is high interchange on travel merchant categories. So if you're using your card at say a Delta airlines or a Southwest or spirit or whatever, those particular vendors pay a higher interchange percentage on that transaction.

I'm just going to make a round number two and a half percent and so that credit card provider gets two and a half percent of your transaction for that as income. That's why you see usually the travel cards have slightly more appetizing rates or rewards rates than what you would see on a normal like cashback card, where they have to kind of blend the whole thing where like a grocery store, obviously doesn't pay two and a half percent of your transaction. They're more like 0.8 or 0.9% so very different in some of those strategies.

But utilizing a card to make the purchases that are specific to optimizing that reward offer and possibly the introduction of getting a new product definitely allow somebody to redeem for free flights and whatnot.

How Travel Reward Cards Work

Elle Martinez: Yep. There's always costs. I found this fascinating because of how we use credit cards. We have a cash back credit card that we typically use for a big purchase or vacations. We put it on the card and immediately pay it off. That way, if there's any problems, it doesn't mess with our regular checking and savings.

And they can deal with the credit card company. There's always going to be some, trade-offs not just with travel rewards, but with credit cards themselves. Before you sign up for one. There are a few things to consider so that you maximize the reward while not getting burned.

Daniel Rathfelder: The things to think about are what are you actually using in your daily life? You can relate this to that; you're not going to get yourself in trouble, which is the second piece of those rewards cards. Which is those typical high interest rates that you'll see.

You'll start to see the best rates for some of those travel cards in like the 16% number. That's pretty high as an industry. Whereas like lower cash back card or a non rewards card, you can get as low as like eight, 9% on a lot of those. It's very different in the approach and what you want to accomplish with.

How to Find the Right Credit Card Rewards for You

Elle Martinez: If you've been online, looking at anything financial or travel related, you've probably seen those ads about signup bonuses on some of those cards. Typically you have to spend so much within the first three months to get those really great bonuses, but how do you know which rewards are good for you and your family?

Daniel Rathfelder: Yeah, I'll start with annual fee. That's a big one. A lot of the times they'll waive the annual fee for the first year. But then you're from a credit side, you don't usually want to open and close credit cards very quickly. So you're going to be charged at annual fee for multiple years before that, even if you only use it once, put it in a file cabinet or a safe and put, tuck it away for a number of years. So that in mind, it's not just a, one-time kind of hit there's re continuation of that fee.

The bonus stuff is great but a lot of the time and, and what we study in the card industry is how to activate a consumer into a product because none of it pays for us from an activation side, if they're going to use it once and never use it again.

That's why the annual fee sometimes exists. That's why there's three months of incentive, because they're trying to build a behavior for you to use that card.

That's why that happens. So those incentives say, a 60,000 mile bonus or something like that. It was there with a annual fee of say, $95 in waves for the first year.

Then there's probably sometimes like a $20,000 bonus. If you spend say $1,500 in your first three months. A pretty attractive offer, right, right out of the gate. again, Think about what you're doing making sure you can pay that vacation off, or you get a 16, 17, whatever the APR is associated with the card.

Then you're going to be paying that $95 fee the second year, the third year, and probably the fourth year. If you don't use your card ever again, and that's always built into that and you never get those introductory points typically again. The rewards, rates can be anywhere from two to 5%.

Are Those Credit Card Travel Portals A Good Deal?

Elle Martinez: This is serious business for sure. If you decide to go with reward cards, you got to know the ins and outs of it to maximize those bonuses. For some cards, they incentivize you to use their travel sites.

Daniel Rathfelder: The other thing to look for is there's some companies that will be specific to using their travel site. So you can only get that like say on the 5%, which is on a couple of different providers, you have to go through their specific travel.

Spirit airlines, for example, would just typically known or jet blue, low rates on airline fees. You're not going to fly jet blue. You're not going to fly spirit. They have not even options typically at some of those sites.

Be prepared for slightly more expensive flights like American airlines or United or Delta or something like that. You'll pay similar prices or the same price as you would if you book directly through Orbitz, but it's Hey, we're going to use that site.

The reason that they do that is they avoid that interchange a loop because they don't pay; like a orbits, for example, they'd have to pay a percentage for that interchange fee. If you go direct to a site that's owned by the institution, they don't pay that. They just debit the card. They create a backend electronic process and say, okay, I'm just fine and they avoid that. That's why those points systems are a little bit higher through those, those sites.

Is the Annual Fee Worth It?

Elle Martinez: It's probably the personal finance nerd in me, but I was fascinated by how these programs work, especially with the psychology of getting cardholders to develop new habits. There were also a couple other points that caught my attention, like annual fees. I was not aware until digging into it recently.

How varied in how much it could be between cards. I was speaking with someone who's pretty much a professional travel hacker. Don't worry. You'll hear from him in the next episode. He recommended the card and the annual fee was just under $400 but it had a ton of bonuses on top of the one we eventually got.

Considering how much he and his family traveled compared to how we do it, I can understand why he went for it and it just didn't work for us on the number side.

That's why it's so important for you to sit down and look at the numbers to make sure you understand how you're spending and that if you're going with a credit card, it aligns with that.

Which Reward Cards Are Best? Cash Back Cards, Points, or Miles?

Daniel Rathfelder: Yeah. That's a really good conversation to have and to think about when you're going into, what card should I get? How often are you going to use it? If it's kind of a one-time thing a year, like that's how my family offers. We take one nice family vacation a year. That's what we do.

We might go and disappear like to beach or something a couple of times a year, but that's about it. It's not this grandiose, Hey, let's travel and have everybody do that.

A lot of the times, if you're not a frequent traveler or using it for booking frequent travel, the benefits for travel are sometimes less than if you were to look at just using your everyday cashback card.

Even putting all of your general purchases on it, including your travel, a lot of companies will allow you to bank that cash back piece and let it sit off to the side. Then when you're ready to do that vacation, go ahead and dump that over.

It's just an easier way to maybe maintain a lifestyle and not have to change behaviors and not have to watch, make sure. Hey, did I make sure I made the payment on this other card before the due date and don't have credit reporting history or late fees or anything like that. Definitely a couple of different avenues, but it depends on how much you travel.

Elle Martinez: Speaking of paying off for your family, there's another thing to consider when you're trying to find the best rewards card for you. Which is the right option- points, miles, or cashback?

Daniel Rathfelder: Yeah, so miles, a little bit harder to do because as seasonality changes and so forth, it's not something as tangible as cash, right? Like we all know what a dollar represents. We don't really understand 10,000 miles represents, like it's a little bit of a question and that 10,000 mile piece can change.

It's actually interesting, like the cost of gas, for example, for everyone has gone out including airline industry. You know, what you could get for 10,000 miles a year ago is very different than what you can get for 10,000 miles today. And it sometimes like, Why doesn't that compute?

Why do I need 25,000 miles for the trip that I only need 10,000 last year? But yet the way that the mile odometer kind of runs on the rewards points is always the same. It doesn't change the card. Now I know that some people would say, well, that's a pretty direct relationship to the cost and cash.

Yeah. But if you're getting a cashback card, you at least know, maybe I can choose a cheaper flight or maybe I can choose a flight live another carrier or whatever. That would be a little bit less. So it again, depends on how often you travel.

A lot of times, like you were saying your friend's recommended a card that he uses all the time. It sounds like he's a frequent traveler. He probably enjoys going to the airport lounges. But in that same token he, he probably enjoys flying the same carrier or the same airline pretty regularly. There's no bonuses because he's flying an airline with maybe using their card and, you know, free checked bags or free upgrade or something like that.

Again, it's all built into that financial model for them, but yeah, that, it's very different.

The other thing I'll say a lot of people do is they'll actually sign up with a business and use their credit card with a points model or something like that to accrue. Then sometimes use that for personal personal gain if they're traveling a lot for business.

That's a fairly good avenue because at least, it's possibly under the business for the credit reporting side. At the same time from a financer accounts payable piece, that's an easier ask to make sure that those are paid on time.

How Your Credit Score is Affect When Opening New Reward Cards

Elle Martinez: Since we're talking about opening up new accounts, one concern I heard from families was how doing that affects your credit score.

Daniel Rathfelder: I think the one common misconception people have when they talk around credit score is they think, well, if I do this, how many points do I lose off my credit score? That's not necessarily the case.

It kind of depends on your full picture, but what I will say is every inquiry that put on your credit report, which this would be an inquiry. If you apply for a card and get a card or even just apply, it does add to the risk of what the model sees so that typically lowers your score.

If you had a great credit score and then did 20 credit card inquiries to apply and see which ones you got approved for, maybe you've got to proof for all. That would cause a lot of detriment to your credit because you did 20 inquiries and then possibly you open 20 accounts up. Even though if you never put a balance on any of them or paid them on time or whatever, it, it is more risky to a lender to give you a loan later.

That's really what a credit score is: a representative of is the associated risk or it's really a probability of bankruptcy.

If you have more inquiries or open more cards to get more bonuses we, as a financial institution are going to go, Hmm, they're a little bit more of a risk because if something were to go wrong in their life, a life event happens, which those happen all the time.

They now have say $60,000 available for credit card debt, almost at the drop of a hat. Right. they could go all of that credit card debt, and then we might be on at the same time if we extend to them alone.

So it's not necessarily a direct relation, but yes, it does affect your credit. Then closing the credit cards after you're done using the points that actually has a more negative effect than just opening the card.

Now, some people even us as a financial institution might recommend that for certain cases, but in a lot of the cases, if you have a good credit score and start closing credit card accounts that will lower your score, at least temporarily until that back.

Being Wise with Travel Hacking Using Reward Cards

Elle Martinez: I hope you enjoyed seeing how those credit card rewards programs work. Before we finished up, Daniel had some great advice to keep in mind.

Daniel Rathfelder: Honestly, it's kind of pick and do the planning, right? Any part of your financial life should be somewhat, at least the majority planned. What does that monthly budget look like? What savings? What's retirement? Generic things; right?

Even the credit card component, like you were sharing traveling with your family, possibly in the fall, how often are you going to do that?

Is that like once, every couple of years? Try to maybe take ourselves out of the pandemic for a couple of minutes, but pre pandemic or post pandemic. What does that look like for your family? Is that going to be an every year thing and then start to figure out, okay. If I do that every year, what it's going to cost?

This is my fee. I can calculate what my rewards are going to be now on what they're going to be next year. Start doing just some really, really simple math. I mean, this is back of napkin, use your iPhone calculator, math. It's not super hard.

Then is that something that you feel is that there's risk and your other pieces of your financial life that would, if you opened up a credit card, You'd have to put something else on it. Would you ever pay interest on it or could you pay it off?

Those are really important. And then I'm going to go back to my earlier point. Could you just live with a cashback card? I mean, again, all of these providers, they typically have it cashback card without a travel rewards component to it that a lot of those don't have annual fees.

As a benefit you would compile and get the cash and use the cash when you're ready for that vacation. Then do you need a manage it? Is there a credit score issue? Is it easier for you to control?

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How to Find the Best Personal Finance Books for Your Family

Learn how to find the best personal finance book for you and your family!

Best Personal Finance Books for Your Journey

One of the things I love and appreciate about books is how accessible they are and affordable for a lot of people. When you're starting the beginning of your financial journey, chances are your finances aren't in a good spot.

It’s not always clear what your first steps should be or even what type of budget would work for you. Naturally you’re going to want to see what’s out there. 

If you’re grabbing a ton of them, like when you’re trying to do a deep dive especially with money, your local library can be a treasure trove.

But then there’s this other challenge, how do you find the right book for you? That can be a struggle because there's always a new book coming out.

Today we’re all about finding that personal finance book that lights a fire and gets that spark going for improving your finances.

Which is why I’m thrilled Kate Moody is joining in today’s episode. She’s a personal financial educator and coach and former librarian.

In this episode, we’ll discuss:

  • A way to scan and hone in on helpful personal finance books
  • The three different types of experts to consider when choosing your books
  • Tips on vetting personal finance podcast and videos

I hope you enjoy! 

Resources to Manage Your Money Easier

If you want to chat some more about creating better money habits, questions, or share your own tips please join us over at Thriving Families on Facebook.

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And because of the Great Resignation, you or someone you know might be changing jobs even more 

It’s an extreme case of out of sight and out of mind. Is your old 401(k) in there somewhere, left behind at a job you're no longer with?

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Note: Interview is edited for clarity and length.

Finding the Best Personal Finance Books for Families

Elle Martinez: One of the things I like about books and we were talking about this just a little bit ago was how accessible they are and affordable. I remember when I had that wake up call that was tens of thousands of dollars of debt and I needed some kind of plan.

I felt like books were so helpful at that stage but how do you find the right book? I think that can be a struggle because there's always a new book coming out.

I wanted to talk to you first off. I saw a video on your channel. I think that really spoke to me and I loved was how you first made that connection with personal finance and books and an interesting book. Could you get into how that all has happened and what motivated you to get into personal finance?

Kate Moody: Yes. Yes. So I graduated from college Phi Beta Kappa. If I can see right there, that's the Phi Beta Kappa at fancy pants honor society. The fanciest of honor societies, as a matter of fact.

I got home from graduation. My mom is a public school teacher and she often buys a lot of materials for her classes and then she brings them home over the summer and I'm looking through her books.

Elle Martinez: Same. I remember that.

Kate Moody: [Ok], wasn't just my household then. I'm looking through her books and I found this book that looked like it could unlock the secrets of the universe kind of in a way. I was like, ‘Ooh' and I pull it out of the box, go sneak in my room and go to read it.

And let me, I have it for you here. Cause when she retired, I made her send me the book. It's called growing money, a complete investing guide.

Elle Martinez: It's a complete investing guide and you can hold it in your hands. What more can you ask for?

Kate Moody: Yeah, I mean, it's written for eight year olds and mind you again, this is like a week after earning a pretty good honors award from my undergraduate degree.

I like to point that out because I always want to tell people that the right book for you is the book that will meet you where you are right now.

Because if I were to jump into a regular personal finance book for adults, it probably would have been really scary for me at the time. But this, because it was written for kids, it was super approachable.

Yeah. I think if an eight year old. I can get it too. And it really did it finally like, oh, that's what a stock is. Oh, that's what a bond is. Oh, that's what trading is. Okay. Interest rate, like all that stuff where if you don't have that basic foundational knowledge, you really can't go any further. Yeah, understanding how money works.

This gave me that foundational knowledge, which gave me enough confidence to then go on and to like upgrade to personal finance for dummies, you know, like and then up and up and up and up. Yeah.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. You got to start somewhere, but I think you bring up a couple of good points.

The first one is just because you're an expert in one area doesn't mean you automatically know about finances because that had been my experience. It was a great student, love learning, but when it came to personal finance, that just wasn't automatic.

Also too, I would say on the personal finance side, there were a lot of books. It was just very intimidating. I don't know who they were trying to serve with with the financial terms, especially if they claim that they were going to be for people just starting out with finances. I feel like there were two kinds of problems butting up against each other.

So how do you cut through that? Like say. I don't know what I don't know. I know the basics of a budget, but I'm not keeping up with it. How do you sort through all the personal finance books that are out there and find one that kind of clicks? Any tips?

Kate Moody: Any tips,please…any tips, former librarian. I've got notes in my multi-colored notebook here, color coded and everything.

Okay. So my professional librarian tips and all of these, I'm going to give with a grain of salt because although I'm going to give you a bunch of good things to look for in books, it is 100% possible that a perfectly good book might have these what I'll call sort of a red flag sort of sniff tests.

Like not sure, 100% possible that really good books would fail. Some of these and terrible books would pass. That's just sort of the nature of the beast of anything.

And honestly, these suggestions are anytime you're looking for a source of authority on any subject, these are actually really useful. I did not come up with these myself. These are librarian rules of thumb.

Some of them are actually created by the association of college and research libraries and they're what I used to teach in libraries about how to figure out who is in authority and who to listen to, and when not to.

First off just the things to look for is when I pick up a book, I don't even have to open it up. Like I can basically just look at the front and the back cover and maybe the copyright page and then that's kind of it and I'll know whether or not I should read it or not.

The first thing I look for is who is the publisher? There are five major publishing houses in the United States like Random House, Hachette, Harper Collins like big names that people would probably recognize.

So if it's a big name publishing company that produced this book, that means. That one, a lot of eyes have been on the book. A lot of eyes have been through the material. They've checked it. They've made sure that the information is accurate.

As of the time of publication, they made sure that everything that is in there is true and useful and probably somewhat entertaining or interesting, or well-written because they've got copy editors going through it. So there's that kind of publishing company. Generally a good sign.

Other publishing companies, you would see our university presses. Those are for academic works. Although the information would be the highest quality, actually, it is not meant for a standard audience. So. But you don't want to read a university

Elle Martinez: press, not your first book,

Kate Moody: new, new and then there's let me get into self publishing and vanity presses, which are used when people want to just publish really fast very often.

Cause it is a big process getting published by a major publishing house is going to take possibly two years. And so a lot of people are like, I'm not going to deal with that. I'm just going to go and have it done in three months at this other thing. But the problem with that is that you don't have all those eyes the material.

So when I see that it was a vanity press or self-publishing, those two terms are interchangeable. Like that's just like, okay, and red flag, a little one, like I said, everything here is with a grain of salt, but that's the first thing I look for who is the publishing company?

The second thing I look for is the author. So usually they'll have their credentials. Somewhere on the publication, usually on the back cover, maybe on the inside back cover.

There are three different types of credentials that convey authority on somebody.

One is if they've done research or they have an academic background in this material. These are like PhDs, there's a lot of Nobel laureates have written books, probably all of them actually. Or if they have certifications like a certified financial planner or an accredited financial counselor, CFP and AFC, those are the two biggest ones that I look for. So there's those credentials.

The second one that conveys authority their work or their station in life. What kind of authority does that bring them? So there's journalists like financial journalists out there are often write great books.

There's people like Michelle Singletary, Beth Kobliner oh, and for academic people or people with good certifications.

I wanted to mention Jill Schlesinger. She's a CFP. And she's, and she spent like 20 or 30 years as a trader and helping people with their portfolios. She has both types of that authority, one, her job, and also the certification.

Lastly is personal experience. Those are the ones that are really inspiring to hear how other people got through the same thing that you're getting through right now.

With them I think the best thing about those is the inspirational, because it makes you feel like you can do this too. When somebody comes at it from the outsider's perspective, sometimes it doesn't make it feel possible.

People like Tiffany Aliche, Tanja Hester, and I'm just naming a few names that were the first ones to come to mind. I'm sure that you could name a bunch of people.

Elle Martinez: I think you bring up some really good tips and advice and something I would add listening to you is whenever I'm trying to purchase something new, whether it's finance or anything is if it's a subject, I want to understand, I try to get two to three books.

I don't rely on one book and I like how you have kind of the three different expertise and that can get you covered where you get that inspiration. Then if you want a little more financial technical knowledge, you have that in there too.

Some people are really good at piecing everything together.I do love those tips. I know you've got more.

Kate Moody: I managed to limit myself to this three and only one of them has three subgroups. So you already went through the three subgroups, so, all right. Just like in social media. Like whenever you're buying something from Amazon, you look for social proof.

You probably read the reviews before you buy something from Amazon. Same thing with personal finance books.

They'll have, if there, if there are good reviews, they will blurb them on the back of the book on the inside cover, maybe on the first page or something. So one of the books that I love is millionaire next door and not even so much, the quality of the blurb is what I'm looking for.

I mean, of course you want it to say something good, but who did it? So on the back they have Forbes and the Washington post. And then if you look on the inside, they've got USA today, Boston globe, San Francisco business times like dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, all these major publications, read this book and liked it.

So that's important. The awards, like I mentioned, if somebody won a Nobel prize in economics, I bet you, their book is pretty good. It might be hard to get through, but I bet you it's pretty speaking as an irrational exuberance back behind me was written by [Robert J.] Shiller. I believe he did win Nobel prize. I have not read it. I need to get to that.

Elle Martinez: But you said yet.

Kate Moody: Yes, yes. I have not gotten to it yet. And I did want to note that just because a book is a bestseller does not mean it is good.

Elle Martinez: I agree. I agree. Or it's helpful for you, you and your situation. I've been there too. I've had some books recommended to me and I started. And I did not finish it.

I should put that there. You don't have to finish the book if it's not working for you.

Kate Moody: Yes. Yes. 100% librarian stamped approved. If you don't like the books, stop reading it. Move on. Yeah.

Elle Martinez: I know being a daughter of a teacher, like part of me is like, I got to finish. I got a completed. No, you don't.

Kate Moody: Yeah. So those were my sort of big things just to look for immediately. That's what I look for before I grab a book. And then, I read about, well, what is the book cover? Is it something I'm interested in?

If it is great, I'll read the first chapter, so, and see if I like it. And I love that you mentioned about picking up a few books.

Because there's a lot of great information out there. Don't limit yourself to just one and you don't have to read the whole book.

You can skip through books. I mean, ideally you would read the whole book, but if there's only three chapters that you want to read, read those three chapters. Great. Give yourself a gold star. Move on.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. I think also when we talk about books, a lot of it's going to be the same. Like if you're doing a personal finance book many of them are going to have overlapping advice.

When you're reading several of them, you're going to see where overlaps and hopefully, they're all giving you good, solid financial advice.

The key is also to find that perspective speaks to you. I think we got into this a little bit before she hit record was, they're coming from personal experience, their journey.

For example, when I wrote my book, that was the perspective of I wanted to help newlyweds or couples that had been married.

They're in this marriage, they're ready to go, but they have no idea how to work together on finances. And so that advice, 80% of it is going to be very similar to what you hear for, a single person.

I mean, you need to have some kind of goal. You need to have a spending plan, but you're going to have that unique situation perspective. So I'm going to say, well, these are discussions you need to have, and this wouldn't apply to someone else outside here in this situation.

It takes practice. But when you read, understanding, okay, they're writing from their perspective, then it's easier to kind of grab the nuggets that you need and then, oh, okay. Well, that's nice to know, maybe in the future, I might need to know that, but today I'll just skip that chapter because that's not what I'm working on at this point in my season of life or this point in my financial life.

Kate Moody: Yeah and there are a lot of people out there who have written those kinds of books.

I like to tell people, if you find somebody that you drive with you, like the way they write, you find them entertaining and engaging, read that person's book.

Just because they're all saying the quote unquote like same thing or very similar things. That's not bad. That means that it's time tested advice.

It's like trying to get healthy. If you're trying to get physically healthy eat right and exercise. That's what you should do that we all know eat right.

Elle Martinez: That's bestseller advice right there.

Kate Moody: But unfortunately the bestseller advice is eat grapefruits all day long.

I feel like just find whoever, if you engaged in the material. And there are so many really great personal finance, authors and speakers right now, who you can find online and you can just find anywhere they probably have a book.

Elle Martinez: Before we wrap up, I do want to talk about, you know, we love books, I enjoy books. They were so incredibly helpful. I still read them to learn something new, get a different perspective, but that's not the only way you can learn about finances.

I was curious, do you have any recommendations about other things like YouTube channels or podcasts?

Kate Moody: I don't know if you want specific recommendations, but everybody learns differently by the way to like, so if you're visual, probably something more like YouTube, but if you're need the audio input yeah. Always listened to, as I mentioned, Jill Schlesinger.

Again, because I like her because she's very engaging. She's interesting to listen to. Plus she has decades of experience and the certified financial planner credential.

There's another person on her shows who is also a certified financial planner. So like they talk it out between them and sometimes they disagree and that's fine.

It's important to understand that when it comes to money, there is no one size fits all.

Elle Martinez: Yeah I know there's some guard rails, but there's a lot of leeway and it also depends where you're going, what your financial goals are too. Maybe you don't want a traditional retirement. Maybe you want something different.

Kate Moody: Oh yeah. And like I know a few people who really don't have much in the stock market, but they own a lot of property. Yeah. And they're like, that's my retirement. Okay. Great. If it works for you. Perfect.

As far as YouTube goes, that one, anything online, because it's so unregulated and same with like that book publisher, but there's no other eyes on it. Massive grain of salt and You use your noggin.

There's a lot of people who are fantastic at media and marketing and getting their face out there, whether or not there are any good at financial stuff is kind of something else entirely.

When it comes to YouTube, there are great people like you. I also like the financial diet on YouTube is probably my favorite financial channel. I think they've got a lot of really, really high quality videos, always solid advice on YouTube.

If you're online, the same rules apply that I mentioned with books. What are the qualifications of whoever is writing it? Academic, work, or personal experience?

A giant red flag and most of my red flags, I say grain of salt, this one, no grain of salt. Just go run is if somebody specifically says go buy this stock or bond right now,

Elle Martinez: I think that's also something that we should mention whether it's a book, YouTube channel, if you're doing a podcast. They don't know your personal situation and your financial circumstances, because if you're like most people it's complex, it is full of layers so it's not a one size fits all advice. You really have to do your homework with that.

Kate Moody: Oh yeah. Yeah. Like if you have a multi-million dollar portfolio and most of it is in like index funds and bonds and some real estate, it's very well diversified.

And then you say put in a hundred thousand dollars on crypto. Well, for you that wouldn't be much. If you've got a multi-million dollar portfolio that is a small, small portion of your portfolio. Sure. You can lose it.

But if you then go out and say, well, I just bought a hundred thousand dollars in crypto. You should too. But somebody who maybe is making 30 grand a year and who doesn't have that kind of wealth. I mean, I don't think that there's any certified financial planner out there who would think that that's a good idea to get into something so risky.

Elle Martinez: I think it all comes back to when you're educating yourself, you want to go with trusted sources.

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Music and Photo Credits

Music in this episode was provided by artists from Audiio.