Should You Buy a House?  5 Things to Consider.

June 8, 2017

As June is National Homeownership Month, we are doing a series of blog posts relating to home ownership.  Each will have a different perspective, so stay tuned for more.

First, full disclosure.  I teach our homebuyer education course.  I have my real estate license.  Even though my license is inactive, I am still involved in our local real estate association.  I even teach the classes required to get your real estate license.  Am I invested in that world?  Yes.

I’ve been both a renter and home-owner.  I currently own my own home and would have it no other way.

I am a big fan of home ownership.  It is no secret.

I’ll also be the first one to tell you that home ownership is NOT for everyone. Read the rest of this entry »


On the Consumerism of Christmas and How We Can Use It Well (part 2)

November 10, 2015

It happened again today. I was out and about and heard Christmas songs coming over the store speakers. Somewhere a turkey shed a tear about it. Poor, poor Thanksgiving turkeys. But, to make the most of the situation, I posted the first half of this blog last week. As much as we need to give Thanksgiving its due before it is run over by Christmas, we can use the early onset of the holiday to get us ready for all of the spending that is Christmas. Click here if you haven’t read Part 1 of this blog, and then continue on for more.

What To Do About the Christmas Spending?

Make a List – Write down every last person and their dog paper & pencilthat you may need to buy a present for. If the number isn’t shocking enough, write an expected gift price next to each recipient and add that up. Then make a list of all of your other expenses as listed above, remembering ‘Gifts’ was only one of five areas I listed. Total it all up and if the amount is overwhelming to you, adjust the individual amounts accordingly to make it manageable for you. Then, when shopping, stick to the list and only the list.

Update the Budget – I’m not talking about your specifically-Christmas budget here. This is your general living budget. How much do you have coming in? How much is going out in all of the normal living expenses like housing, utilities, groceries, etc.? Subtract those expenses from your income and see how much you actually have left over to spend. If your Christmas budget is over your excess money, you now need to decide where the extra money is coming from (please do not forgo rent or mortgage payment to fund Christmas, because it really has happened). You are either going to have to lower your Christmas budget, raid the savings account you have been so good about building up, or put it all on plastic (which means you just pay more later).

Manage Your Credit – Speaking of plastic, do you have a plan for that loan you just took out when you swiped the credit card? I’m not necessarily against using credit cards. I just want people to use them with full awareness and a plan. How long is it going to take you to pay it off? How much extra will it cost you in interest? We’ve done the math on minimum payments on $2,000 of credit card debt and how long it takes to pay it off making minimum payments. I won’t scare you here with the numbers, but think ‘longer than a house’. Better to have a plan than be hog-tied to your credit card bills for the next several years.

Think Creative – Sure, everyone talks about the ‘creative’ gift giving of homemade gifts. Some of them really are good gifts, like a quilt from Grandma. But I won’t belabor that knife-edge subject any further. Instead, be creative in your other Christmas budget items. Do you really need to provide all of the food for 50 people? I’m a Lutheran from the Midwest and let me tell you, there is nothing like a good potluck meal. Why not give your family members the privilege of sharing their best culinary masterpieces? Going to the same place? Pack a little lighter and carpool. If you can shrink a caravan of three vehicles to two, you could well end up in the vehicle without the sugar-overdosed munchkins. Decorating? You would be surprised how many decorations are deemed ‘Christmas’ only by their packaging. The colors and styles may be used year-round by decorations from another season. Reuse them and I won’t tell if you won’t.

nativityPrioritize – What is Christmas really about for you? This blog is actually part two of what was originally a standalone blog post. Yep – that wordy. But at this point I am going to stop talking (figuratively, of course) and use my best creative writing skills to encourage you to take a moment to ruminate and truly consider your priorities for observing Christmas. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Funny how we get so distracted by all of the other ‘shtuff’, isn’t it? Much like prioritizing where our money goes, prioritizing everything else can help keep the budget in check as well. Recently I drove my son out of town after dark just to look at the stars. We found a field approach to park in and spent time just looking at the stars, the Milky Way, airplanes, and constellations. It was a single gallon of gas to get there and back. There was no admission, no souvenirs, no super-size snack value packs, or anything else to spend money on. Yet it was a big enough deal that, as he crawled into bed that night, he thanked me for TAKING THE TIME to take him out to look at the stars. Sometimes kids are really good at speaking the truth.

I recently saw a Facebook post that one of my friends was nearly done Christmas shopping already. OK. I can deal with that. But if your own shopping is overwhelming you, or even the thought of any extra holiday expense, come in to see a counselor at the Center for Financial Resources. We don’t judge. We aren’t humbugs. We just want to help you get your finances in a condition that they won’t ruin the holidays for you. You can schedule on our website, or call us at 605-330-2700.

Be ready for Christmas, but for the sake of the turkeys (and a lot of other reasons), don’t forget Thanksgiving.

written by Breck Miller
images courtesy freedigitalphotos.net


On Golf Balls and the Burning of Hair

July 7, 2015

A while back I wrote an article about our potential plans for a cheap week of vacation.  Well, last week was the week.  It was an adventure.  We hiked, took pictures, canoed, picnicked, caught fish (keepers even), my wife’s ankle got bruised by a golf ball, I singed the hair on my head in a grilling incident….. In short, we had a great time!  I really wouldn’t change any of it. Read the rest of this entry »


I Made A Client Cry….. And It Was Good

January 27, 2015

I recently had another first. For the first time since I’ve been here at Center for Financial Resources, I had a client crying in my office. I suppose if you were to ask my kids on the right day, they would tell you that I like to make people cry and am a big meanie-head like that. But really, I’m not….. at least not here at work. Read the rest of this entry »


“Fuhgeddaboudit”

December 22, 2014

Despite all that we preach and teach here at the Center for Financial resources, as we travel the final approach to Christmas I have one thing to say. In my best (and not that great) Brooklyn-Italian accent, I’ll leave this year off with a big “Fuhgeddaboudit!” (For those needing a Mid-West translation, that’s a slurred together ‘forget about it’.) Read the rest of this entry »


Make Up Your Mind Already – A Look at Priorities

September 24, 2014

Priorities. We all have them whether we want to admit it or not. Sometimes our priorities are more than admirable and other times there are reasons we don’t want to admit that something is a priority for us. We regularly have to make choices and those choices usually follow a pattern – our priorities.

I’ll admit that I really don’t like driving around town. Road trips I usuallypolice stop really enjoy, but if it is around town I probably have somewhere else to be and other things I could be doing and the other drivers are just holding me up. Argh! And with all of that comes my penchant for going a little over the speed limit. Yes, I’ll admit it – I speed. Not usually more than 5 miles per hour over the limit, but none-the-less over the posted speed limit. Read the rest of this entry »


You Want WHAT? Help Prioritizing Your Home Needs and Wants.

June 6, 2014

If you didn’t know, I was an active Realtor for about 5 years prior to joining the team here at the Center for Financial Resources. In that time, one of the earliest and hardest lessons I had to learn was that what I would want in a home and what my clients wanted could be entirely different – and that’s ok.

My first clients that I closed with were moving into Sioux Falls. I knew some information about them and thought I had some good homes picked out to show them. You see, they have 8 kids. I found homes in their price range with the most bedrooms possible. Even I was amazed at how many bedrooms I could find for them.castle Read the rest of this entry »


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