How Do Student Loans Work?


How Do Student Loans Work?

How Do Student Loans Work


“Student loans—my favorite!” (Said no one ever.)

Here’s the thing about student loans: Not enough students understand how they really work or the effect they can have on future goals and plans. When you’re about to graduate from high school, it can feel like everyone wants you to continue your education, but nobody can tell you the best way to pay for it. It’s just kind of expected that if you want to go to college, you’re going to have to take out a massive loan (or two) in order to afford that diploma.

And that’s why we have a $1.6 trillion student loan crisis in our country right now.1  Listen: I get it. When I was in high school, no one warned me about the dangers of loans or told me how to prep for college the right way, and I made a lot of dumb decisions as a result. But I’m here to make sure that won’t happen to you!

In fact, I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll tell you everything you need to know about student loans if you promise not to take them out. Deal? Deal. (I’m so serious.)

What Is a Student Loan?

A student loan is money borrowed from the government or a private lender in order to pay for college.


Going to college debt-free is possible! Find out how.

The loan has to be paid back later, along with interest that builds up over time. The money can usually be used for tuition, room and board, books, or other fees. But some students use their loan money for other stuff—like trips to Jamaica for spring break.

Let’s be clear: Student loans are different from scholarships and grants. Loans always have to be paid back (unless you’re one of the lucky few who gets part of your loan forgiven, but that’s pretty rare). Scholarships and grants, on the other hand, don’t need to be paid back (everyone loves free money, right?). Student loans are also different from work-study programs, where students get paid to work on campus.

How Do Student Loans Work?

People get federal student loans by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students and their parents share their financial information on the form, which is then sent to the student’s schools of choice. The financial aid office at each school crunches some numbers to figure out how much (if any) aid the student qualifies for, and then sends them an “award letter” with all the details about their financial aid offer.

Note: This aid could come in the form of student loans, or it could come in the form of scholarships and grants. So that’s why I still recommend filling out the FAFSA—just make sure you only accept the free money. This is a no-loan zone, people.

Students apply for private student loans straight from the lender. But no matter if the loan is federal or private, the student has to sign a promissory note (sounds scary, right?). That’s a legal document where the student agrees to repay the loan plus interest, and includes all the terms and conditions of the loan.2 It’s kind of like signing away your freedom. Kidding, but not really.

Types of Student Loans

There are two main types of student loans: federal and private. They’re both poisonous for your future, but the main difference is that federal loans are issued by the government, while private loans can be issued through a bunch of different sources, like banks, schools, credit unions or state agencies.

Federal Student Loans

• Direct Subsidized Loan: These are undergraduate loans for students who show financial need based on their FAFSA. The government pays the interest until the time comes to start paying the loans back. Once the student leaves school or drops below a certain number of hours, there’s a six-month grace period before repayment starts and interest begins to build up.

• Direct Unsubsidized Loan: These are undergraduate or graduate loans where students do not have to demonstrate financial need. With unsubsidized loans, the government doesn’t cover the interest—interest starts building up from the minute the school gets the loan money.

• Direct PLUS Loans: These are loans that parents can take out for their dependent students or that graduate students can take out for themselves. These require a separate application from the FAFSA and a credit check.

Private Student Loans

Basically, all you need to know about private student loans is that they’re usually more expensive and have higher interest rates than federal loans, and the student has to start making monthly payments while they’re still in school. It’s up to the lender to decide all of the terms and conditions of the loan. Plus, the student is responsible for all interest payments—there’s no counting on the government for help.

How Does Student Loan Interest Work?

Man, I love interest. The good kind of interest that makes your investments grow from a couple of hundred dollar bills to a mountain of cash, that is. But what about when it’s loan interest? That’s a totally different story. The way interest works on a loan means you end up paying way more money than you originally borrowed. It’s the worst.

To figure out your loan interest, you have to understand a few terms. Boring, I know. But stay with me!

Loan Repayment Term: That’s how long you have to pay the loan back. For most federal loans, that’ll be 10 years (but it can take up to 30 years).3 For private loans, the term can vary based on the terms of your loan agreement.

Interest Rate: This is how much interest you’ll be paying on the loan. Federal loan rate percentages can vary per loan, but they’re usually fixed (meaning the interest stays the same every year). Private loans are typically based on your credit rating, so they can vary a lot—and they can be fixed or variable.

Principal: This is the base amount you owe for the loan, not including interest. So if you took out $35,000 in loans, your principal would be $35,000. (That’s the average amount of debt each student loan borrower will graduate with, by the way!4)

So, here’s the math (everyone’s favorite part): Let’s take that $35,000 principal and say you have a 10-year loan repayment term with a fixed interest rate of 5%. (Typical interest rates can range from 4.53–7.08%, depending on the loan type.5) With those numbers, your monthly student loan payment would be just over $370, and the total amount of interest you’d pay during the loan term would be almost $9,550. So, you might’ve started out by borrowing $35,000, but in the end you’d really pay about $44,550.

Are y’all feeling sick yet? I am.

Student Loan Repayment Options

If you decide to take out student loans (which I already know you won’t do, because you promised), you also make a decision for your future self—the decision to spend the next 10 or more years of your life making monthly payments. Don’t be a jerk to your future self.

Here’s a quick look at what you could be dealing with.

Repaying Federal Loans

• Standard Repayment Plans: The government or your lender provides a schedule with a set monthly payment amount. For federal loans, the plan is for 10 years. Private loans will vary.

• Graduated Repayment Plans: The payments start off lower, but they increase every couple of years or so. The plan is still to have everything paid off in 10 years.

• Extended Repayment Plans: These plans extend the payments beyond the normal 10-year window for borrowers who have more than $30,000 in outstanding loans. The payments could be fixed or graduated (meaning the payments increase little by little) and are designed to pay off the loan in 25 years.

• Income-Based Repayment Plans: These plans base your payments on a percentage of your income. Usually, you’ll pay between 10–15% of your income after taxes and personal expenses are covered. The payments are recalculated every year and adjusted for things like the size of your family and your current earnings.

• Income-Contingent Repayment Plans: This is similar to the income-based plan, but is based on 20% of your discretionary income (that’s the amount of income you have left after your set expenses are taken care of). The rates are adjusted every year and the balance can be forgiven—and taxed—over time (usually 25 years).

• Income-Sensitive Repayment Plans: These are similar to the other income-related plans, but the payment is based on your total income before taxes and other expenses, instead of your discretionary income. The loan payment is calculated to be paid off in 15 years.

Repaying Private Loans

Since private loans are agreements between you and the lending institution, the lender makes the rules for payment. You’ll pay a set amount each month that’s a combo of a principal payment and interest, and the payments are usually set for a specific amount of time. Any changes in that plan—like a graduated payment schedule—would need to be negotiated with the lender (you could always try bribing them with cookies or something).

What happens if you can’t afford your monthly payment?

Now listen, you guys: When you take out student loans, you commit to paying back the money. You might’ve heard about some of these options before as being an “easy way out.” But honestly, these options are only temporary, short-term fixes to long-term problems—and sometimes, they can end up costing you more in the long run.

  • Forbearance: Your payment is put on hold, but the loan continues to accumulate interest. There are two types of forbearance: general (where the lender decides your level of need) and mandatory (where the lender has to grant forbearance based on your situation).
  • Deferment: With deferment, you temporarily don’t have to make payments, and you may not be responsible for paying interest on your loan. Not everyone is eligible for deferment or forbearance, but you might qualify if you’re unemployed, serving in the military during wartime, or serving in the Peace Corps.
  • Student Loan Forgiveness: Again, not everyone qualifies for this—there are a whole bunch of different requirements, like working full time in a qualifying public service job while making payments for 10 years, teaching in a low-income school for at least 5 years, etc. The scary thing is, as of June 2019, only 1.09% of applications for student loan forgiveness through public service were actually approved.6 You can’t rely on this stuff, y’all.
  • Default: This is what happens if you keep missing payments. Your loan is referred to as delinquent the day after you miss one payment, and if you continue to miss payments, you go into default. This means you failed to pay back the loan based on what you agreed to when you signed the paperwork, and it can have super serious consequences. You could be taken to court, lose the chance to get other financial aid, or be required to pay the entire balance of your loan right away. Not fun.

How to Avoid Student Loans

Still not convinced that student loans are the worst way to fund your education? What if I told you that roughly one in five students owes more than $100,000 in student loans (which seriously slows down all financial progress after graduation)?7 According to our own Ramsey Research, 63% of student loan borrowers worry consistently about paying back the money, and 44% of them say they can’t even buy a house because of their student loan debt.

You might be thinking: Okay, Anthony, I get it. Student loans are bad. What’s the alternative?

I like the way you think. And even though the rest of the world makes it seem impossible, you can cash flow your whole college experience with some smart strategies and hard work.

Here are just a few examples of how you go to school without loans:

  1. Find scholarships and grants. You can find free money by filling out the FAFSA form,  researching organizations in your field of interest that offer scholarships, and using an online search tool like this Debt-Free Degree Scholarship Search.
  1. Choose a school you can afford. That might mean starting out at community college or going to a public, in-state school instead of a private university (there really is a huge difference in tuition costs). It might mean going to a trade school or directional school—and that’s totally okay. If you find yourself asking if college is really worth it, remember: The only real “dream school” is the one you can afford to go to debt-free.
  1. Work. Yep, even when you’re in high school. A part-time job or side hustle won’t hurt your grades if you keep it to 20 hours per week or less, and you’ll make bank for your college fund. Once you’re in college, try looking for an on-campus job or work-study program, or apply to be a teaching assistant.
  1. Be smart about your lifestyle. Going to college doesn’t mean you have to live in a designer dorm room with a $10,000 meal plan. Live at home if you can. Stop eating out with your friends every weekend. Split groceries, rent, and utilities with a roommate (or three). Use public transportation or walk whenever possible. Get creative and find other ways to cut down on costs. And listen up, y’all: Stick. To. A. Budget. That will make all the difference in helping you take control of your money.

You guys, that’s only a small part of the plan you can use to help you go to college debt-free. If you want more practical, real-life tips for cash flowing your education, check out my new book, Debt-Free Degree!

I say it all the time: The caliber of your future will be determined by the choices you make today. When you take these steps now, you set yourself up for a lifetime of success (and freedom from those monthly payments). Now let’s make it happen!



Since 2003, Anthony has helped hundreds of thousands of students make smart decisions with their money, relationships and education. He’s a national bestselling author and travels the country spreading his encouraging message to help teens and young adults start their lives off right. His latest book, Debt-Free Degree, helps parents get their kids through college without student loans. Connect with Anthony on YouTubeInstagramFacebook and Twitter.

If a leader doesn’t convey passion and intensity then there will be no passion and intensity within the organization and they’ll start to fall down and get depressed. Get Your Free Position Now

Do Stay-at-Home Parents Need Life Insurance?


Do Stay-at-Home Parents Need Life Insurance?

Do Stay-at-Home Parents Need Life Insurance?


Parent. Its official definition ought to be, “Caretaker of child. Synonyms: nanny, tutor, launderer, chauffer, coach, nurse, therapist, chef . . . ” And the list goes on.

This definition especially applies to a stay-at-home parent (SAHP). While SAHPs may not pull down a six-figure income from a corner office, they provide a lot of valuable services for the family.

Let’s talk about why stay-at-home parents need life insurance, how big that policy needs to be, and what families should do with the payout if the unimaginable happened.

What a Stay-at-Home Parent Covers

The whole point of life insurance is to replace your income so your family can function if something were to happen to you. That makes sense for the spouse who goes to the office every day, but what does that mean for the stay-at-home parent? Why do SAHPs even need term life insurance if they don’t technically make an income? Because of the services they provide.

Here are some of the jobs a stay-at-home parent covers:

  • Teacher
  • Childcare provider
  • Chef
  • Chauffeur
  • Housekeeper
  • Laundry services
  • Tutor
  • Coach
  • Project manager

Running a household is a lot like trying to herd a litter of kittens! If something horrible were to happen to the SAHP, who would take care of these needs? The surviving spouse can’t quit work—they still need to bring home an income. That’s where term life insurance kicks in.


Protect your family with term life insurance. Get a quote now!

Do Stay-at-Home Parents Need Life Insurance?

life insurance policy for a stay-at-home parent doesn’t replace their income—it provides the money necessary to cover all the jobs the SAHP did before they passed away.

We know there’s no way to ever replace a parent. Nothing will ever fill that hole. But with the money from a life insurance payout, the surviving spouse can hire someone to cover many of the responsibilities the SAHP used to cover.

It’s a matter of keeping your family going in the worst of situations. Life will never go back to normal, but by hiring people to help fill in the gaps (at least temporarily), you can make sure nobody’s needs fall through the cracks. And that’s what matters, right?

So, when should you get life insurance as a stay-at-home parent?

If you’re fresh out of college and without debt, you don’t need it quite yet. But if you’re married and kids are on the horizon, it’s good to go ahead and purchase a policy now.

Then you’ll be covered no matter how long it takes for that little one to come along. After all, they tend to arrive on their own schedule—and often earlier than you’d planned!

How Much Life Insurance Do Stay-at-Home Parents Need?

The big question is how much term life insurance you should purchase for the stay-at-home parent. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this because every family is different, but a 15- to 20-year policy between $250,000–400,000 is a general rule. After that time, the kids are grown and out of the house, so there’s no need for coverage.

You need to think through what you’ll do in three major areas: childcare, education and household duties. Those decisions might mean you get a bigger policy to cover the extra costs.

Childcare. If something were to happen to the SAHP, how much money would you need to cover childcare expenses? According to, childcare for an infant costs about $200 a week for a day care center and $600 a week for a nanny.1 

So 50 weeks of care (you do get a vacation, right?) could run between $10,000 and $30,000. And that’s just for one child. Of course, those costs differ depending on where you live, but you get the idea.

Education. A lot of families choose to homeschool their children. If that’s the case in your family, you and your spouse need to decide where the kids will go to school if something were to happen to the SAHP.

If you want to go the private school route, then you’ll need to factor in those costs. The national average for private school tuition is about $10,700.2 Again, that’s just for one child. And that doesn’t include all the extra costs like supplies, fees and extracurriculars.

Household duties. Who will be responsible for cleaning the house if something happens to the stay-at-home parent? If you paid someone to clean and do laundry, that will cost you about $26 an hour.3 That’s an average, so if you live in California or New York, you may have to offer up the occasional arm and leg to pay for these costs.

Remember, how much life insurance you get for the SAHP will depend on your family’s needs.

Let’s think about Shauna, a mom who stays home to take care of her young children. If something happened to her, it would cost between $25,000–40,000 a year to pay for the different jobs she does on a weekly basis, like childcare, laundry and meal preparation.

Shauna and her husband would need to take out a 15- to 20-year term life policy on Shauna and make the policy worth between $250,000–400,000. That’s 10 times the amount of work she does in a year.

If tragedy struck and Shauna passed away, her husband could work with a financial advisor to put the life insurance benefit in a good mutual fund.

Each year, he could use the growth from that mutual fund (which could be around 10% a year) to pay for the costs of childcare, meal preparation, house cleaning and the other jobs his wife used to handle. So that life insurance policy of $250,000–400,000 could give Shauna’s family between $25,000–40,000 a year to take care of the services she provided.

Stay-at-home parents often devalue the financial role they play in their family. Don’t make that mistake, especially when it comes to life insurance! Nobody could ever take the place of the stay-at-home parent, but replacing their income is important. Make sure your family’s needs are met by getting the right life insurance coverage for both parents.

If a leader doesn’t convey passion and intensity then there will be no passion and intensity within the organization and they’ll start to fall down and get depressed. Get Your Free Position Now

The Truth About Unemployment


The Truth About Unemployment


Do you still feel as though the media has nothing else to report on except the economy, bickering politicians and unemployment? That if they couldn’t inject fear and negativity into your life with their gloom and doom reporting, they wouldn’t have a job at all? I don’t think you’re too far off base.

The fact is, our economy is no longer in a recession and hasn’t been for a long time. It’s true, the recovery has been slow, and lots of folks are still out of a job. Many have lost their homes. But that kind of thing goes on even in a booming economy. Over 90% of people are still employed. That is pretty good! I’m not making light of the fact that some people are struggling; I’m just putting the situation in the proper perspective.

The cruelty of unemployment is that it steals part of your dignity. When you want to earn money but can’t find a job, 9.1% unemployment means nothing to you. You are either 100% employed or 100% unemployed. Either way, you can’t let “the economy” become your destiny. People win in every “economy” because of the choices they make. If this is your first “bad economy,” you may not know that many great companies and great careers have been born in the necessity of tough times. If you or a loved one is unemployed, it could become a blessing in disguise if the result is a small business or a new career choice you might have avoided in “good times.” I have met people all over the nation who are having the best years of their lives because they chose not to participate in the “bad economy.”


Ready to find your dream job? We’ll show you how.

These are men in their garages starting their own mechanic shops. It’s the next Mary Kay Ash writing up a business plan for new products she’s just created. College students who are developing “the next best thing” in their dorm rooms as you are reading this. This is reality!

So think about your skills and interests. How can you leverage those passions into something you enjoy doing every day while earning money for it? If you haven’t lost your job but dread going to work, maybe it’s time to fire your employer and go in a new direction. When you have a game plan for your money and career, you will have a sense of empowerment because you aren’t a slave to the lender (or employer).

Employers start hiring when they believe their businesses will grow again. Many of them are still paralyzed by fear. They’ve lost hope. People who continue going about their lives in normal ways (without being irresponsible and buying stuff they can’t afford) believe in the future. It’s called hope.

You can have fear or hope. It’s your choice.

I choose hope.

Lost your job? Here are seven things you must do.

Dave’s new book EntreLeadership recently debuted at #1 on the New York Times Best Sellers List. It’s about how his brand and business has grown through the last 20 years despite the state of the economy. Discover how his company has won “Best Place to Work in Nashville” five times in a row. These leadership principles work. They’re proven, and they’ll work for you. Get your copy now!

If a leader doesn’t convey passion and intensity then there will be no passion and intensity within the organization and they’ll start to fall down and get depressed. Get Your Free Position Now

5 Interviewing Mistakes That Will Keep You Unemployed


5 Interviewing Mistakes That Will Keep You Unemployed


We want you to make this the year in which you find your dream job. To get things started off right, we’ve created a four-part series that will help you leave your day job behind and land the job of your dreams this year. Look for more on the Dave Ramsey website in the coming days! Read Part 1 now.

So you applied for that job you’ve always wanted and managed to land an interview. Congratulations!

You’ve at least been noticed. But now’s not the time to pull back and take it easy. Interviewing is possibly the most difficult part of the hiring process. And since we want you to land that dream job, we thought we’d help you out a little.

So how do you hit a home run during your interview and make sure you get called back for another one?

Here are five things not to do while interviewing for a job.


In an interview, your goal should be to answer the question directly. Here’s how not to do that:

Q: So tell me why you think you are the right fit for this job and company.
A: Well I love what you guys do. I love my wife too. She’s so awesome, and she makes great biscuits. Like Paula Deen. But she didn’t get sued like Paula Deen, except for that one time she put a pitchfork through our neighbor’s window. But we all make mistakes, right? I’m sorry . . . what was the question?


Ready to find your dream job? We’ll show you how.

If you have a natural tendency to ramble, stay self-aware during the interview. Do your best to stay on point and only answer the question asked.


You might say that the person in the last example overshared, which would be true, but you can overshare without rambling. For example:

Q: Tell me about your biggest failure.
A: Wow. Tough question. I cheated on my fiancé one time with this guy I met at the food court. Then we had a fight on an airplane, and he broke up with me in front of 100 people at 30,000 feet. That was a tough day.

Um, you’re being interviewed about your professional life. Keep it professional, not personal.


On the flip side, don’t clam up in your interview. Show your personality and why you are the person for the job. If you’re withdrawn in the interview, it might look something like this:

Q: What is one of your strengths?
A: I’m a good communicator.
Q: Okay. In what way?
A: I like to talk to people.
Q: Right. And you enjoy talking to people?
A: Yes.
Q: Do you feel like you’re a good fit for this position?
A: Yes.
Q: Why?
A: I’m a good communicator.

When you clam up, you might seem disinterested and detached, and that’s not going to land you a job anywhere.

Be yourself. Don’t overshare, but don’t sit there with your arms crossed staring off into the distance.

Wing it

Don’t go and research the company on their website. Don’t talk to people that currently work there. Just show up at your interview and see what happens!

Great plan, right? Yeah, not so much.

If you go in without knowing who you’re talking to and what the company is about, then you don’t have a chance. Remember, you’re telling them why they need you, not the other way around.

Rip your former employer

If you have a bad taste in your mouth from your last job, your interview is not the place to vent your frustrations.

If they ask you why you left your last job, you should answer honestly. But spending any time at all ripping into your old boss or company will do you no favors. You’ll look bitter and petty—not attractive qualities to an employer.

These five things are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to having a successful interview, but we think they are pretty important.

As you seek out a new job this year, make sure you’re prepared for every interview that comes your way.

Read Part 1 now: How to Land Your Dream Job

If a leader doesn’t convey passion and intensity then there will be no passion and intensity within the organization and they’ll start to fall down and get depressed. Get Your Free Position Now

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT Top 5 Common Interview Questions and Answers


Top 5 Common Interview Questions and Answers

Top 5 Common Interview Questions and Answers


As excited as you might be for that big job interview coming up, you’re probably also nervous—and we all know it’s hard to look and sound impressive when your heart is pounding and your brain is going into fight-or-flight mode. But have no fear, because some simple preparation makes a world of difference.

When you go in feeling more confident, you might even find yourself enjoying the conversation.

These are some of the most common interview questions you will need to be prepared for. They’re also some of the trickiest ones to answer.

Interview Question 1: “Tell me about yourself.”

Interviewers usually lead with this one, and even though it should be the easiest answer of all, sometimes it’s the hardest. Your mind starts flipping through endless files of information, trying to pick out a few relevant facts. Is the interviewer looking for a straightforward, no-nonsense reply? Are they looking for something that will “wow” them?

Do they actually want to know about your passion for artisanal cheeses, or should you save that for the second interview?

How NOT to answer:

  • Well, my Enneagram number/Myers-Briggs type/star sign is . . .
  • I’m the seventh of nine kids . . .
  • I grew up in Tulsa and go back there occasionally for holidays . . .
  • I’m a bit of a night owl . . .

It sounds like I’m stating the obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people draw a blank in the interview and start reciting their autobiography. There’s nothing wrong with giving personal details, but at this stage in the game they should connect to the job in some way. (Of course, if the interviewer asks about your family or hobbies, that’s different).


Ready to find your dream job? We’ll show you how.

How to answer:

Here’s the deal—the hiring manager is trying to get a sense not only of who you are as a person, but how genuinely passionate you are about this role. Keep it relevant and let your passion for your field come through.

Prepare for this question by thinking about how you got to where you are today—what drove you to pursue this career field and this job? Why does this work matter to you?

Consider structuring your answer somewhat like this:

“I’ve loved ___ for as long as I can remember. I really wanted to keep developing my skills in that area, which I did by______. That eventually led to opportunities to do ___, ___ and ___. Now I want to bring those experiences and knowledge to this company, so I can help as many people as possible.” 

Obviously, that will change to fit your story. But as a general rule, try to include details about your past experience in the field and connect it to why you do what you do now and where you want to go from here.

Interview Question 2: Why did you leave your last job/Why do you want to leave your current job?

This is another one of the most common interview questions (and one of the most likely to trip up candidates).

The best practice here is to be honest, but don’t go into all the gruesome details (unless asked for more information). If you left for an easily-explained reason like your job was a seasonal position or your family needed to relocate, great!

If it was a more complicated situation, there are some do’s and don’ts.

How NOT to answer:

  • You wouldn’t believe how TERRIBLE my last boss was.
  • My coworkers were petty and talked about me behind my back.
  • I always had to work late and on weekends, and I got sick of it.
  • My manager yelled at me if I was even just five minutes late to work.
  • They really didn’t know what they were doing as a company.
  • I never got the chance to lead a meeting. Or a project. Or anything.

All of those could be very true reasons why you left your job (or were asked to leave).

I do want you to be honest, but you also have to be careful with the tone and wording of your response. You should never sound like you’re complaining, whining, or bad-mouthing your former boss or peers, even if they made your life miserable. Even if you were fired, there’s a better way to approach the topic.

How to answer:

The most important thing for the interviewer to know is that no matter what happened, you learned and grew from it and are actively working to improve moving forward. Try to frame the real reason for leaving within positive statements, explaining what you learned and how you plan to use that information in the future.

For example, if you left because of a bad work environment, you could say something like:

“I work best in a company culture where everyone is supportive and honest, and unfortunately I realized that there were some larger problems within the company that didn’t line up with my values. But I’m grateful for the experience and learned that a healthy company culture is a crucial part of the job search for me.”

If you were let go, you could say something like:

“I was excited to try a new line of work and thought I would be a good fit for it because of my skills in ____ and my past experience of ___. But once I started the job, I found that I’d misunderstood the job requirements and there should have been more communication on the front end about the level of skill needed for this particular job. My manager and I agreed I was not a good fit, but in the meantime, I’ve been working on my own communication skills and honing my craft in other areas by doing ____.”

Regardless of the situation, remember to go in with an attitude of humility and positivity. And never lie about your experiences—for the hiring manager, the truth is just one phone call away.

Interview Question 3: What’s your biggest weakness/strength?

Now comes the awkward part where you might feel like you’re either throwing yourself under the bus or shouting your own praises from the rooftops. With the right approach and wording, you don’t have to do either of those things.

Just like the “why did you leave your job” question, it’s best to be honest and show how you’re working on overcoming the weakness (but no need to unpack any emotional baggage). For strengths, be modest but know the value of your skills.

How NOT to answer:

  • I don’t really have any weaknesses.
  • I was better at research than anyone else at my last company.
  • I get angry when people don’t get things right the first time.
  • I have time management problems and always seem to get behind.
  • I’m a perfectionist. 

How to answer:

When talking about strengths, try not to give generic answers. Everyone will say they’re a hard worker and like to do a good job. Instead, find the personal traits and skills earned from experience that set you apart and make you a valuable asset to the company. Keep the job description in mind for this answer, and try to highlight the strengths you truly have that match what they’re looking for.

Rather than simply naming the strength, consider giving an example of a time when you’ve used it in action or a person who has pointed out that strength in you.

For example, you could say something like:

“My former leader told me that he didn’t know what the team would do without my communication skills and ability to problem-solve in tough situations. In fact, even though I wasn’t in a leadership role, he asked me to lead several projects for him.” 

That way you come across as humble and confident!

When talking about weaknesses, show that you’re self-aware enough to know where your problem areas are. Then explain how you deal with that weakness and how you’re working to improve.

For example:

“I’m not great with details. I’m a big-picture thinker and I’m all about action, which is why I sometimes gloss over the small-but-important stuff. I’ve been challenging myself to ask more specific questions and make sure I have all the information before charging into a project that I’m excited about.”

Interview Question 4: What salary do you expect to make?

Talking about salary is never really comfortable. Nobody wants to sell themselves short, but sometimes people are also afraid of naming a number that seems ridiculously high to the interviewer.

Some companies might require you to give an exact number or at least a salary range expectation, so be prepared with some numbers just in case. If they don’t, however, you don’t have to name a number. Doing so can automatically limit you to the number you quoted, when the company may be prepared to pay more.

Do your research on job search sites like Indeed or Glassdoor to find out what the market value is for that position. Then, when asked the question, say something like “My expectation is that I’d be paid the market value.”

Interview Question 5: Out of all the applicants, why do you think you should get the job?

When it comes to this common interview question, you have to be ready to justify why you are a great fit for the company rather than just listing strengths.

It can be intimidating to think about all the other people who are applying for this position and how you may or may not measure up to them. Instead of focusing on comparison, focus on what you bring to the table and what kind of value that would create for the company.

How NOT to answer:

  • Umm . . .
  • I have a lot of experience.
  • I’m punctual.
  • I’m a quick learner.
  • I know I would do a better job than anyone else.

You don’t want to repeat the list of strengths you told the interviewer earlier, and you also don’t want to say something that all the other candidates will say—even if it’s true. There could be over a thousand people applying for this job who are just as punctual as you are. What makes you different?

How to answer:

Your strengths can definitely be part of your answer, but they shouldn’t be your whole answer. Think about all the checkpoints you would look for if you were the hiring manager.

“Is this person a good fit with the company culture? Do they have a competitive level of experience? Do they care about our mission? Do they go above and beyond in their work?”

Then find a way to briefly touch on all those points. Your answer should sum up your passion for the company, how your unique combination of skills and strengths would bring value, how your past jobs have equipped you for this one, and any major accomplishments you’ve had in your field that would set you apart from other candidates. Include any other meaningful details that show you’re personally invested in this role.

This is your time to be bold!

Remember, it’s important to include specific examples to back up what you say. The interviewer doesn’t just want to hear information about you; they want to know why that information makes you the best person for the job.

Questions You Should Never Ask in Your Interview

The interviewer won’t be the only one asking questions in your interview! Any good hiring manager will ask you if you have any questions, and you should be prepared to ask some.

There are some questions, though, that send the wrong message to your interviewer and could seriously hurt your chances of moving forward in the hiring process.

Here are a few examples:

  • How much sick time/vacation time would I get?
  • If I get all my hours in, can my schedule be flexible?
  • Do you guys check up on your employees’ social media accounts?
  • What’s the policy if I come in late?
  • So, what does this company do, exactly?
  • How soon could I get promoted from this position?
  • How often do you give raises to your employees?
  • Do you drug test all your employees?
  • How many warnings do you give before you fire someone?

Hopefully I don’t need to explain why these aren’t great questions. Just use common sense and don’t ask questions about salary, benefits or anything that makes you sound like an escaped convict, and you’ll be just fine!

Appropriate questions to ask the interviewer:

  • What types of people succeed here?
  • How will my performance be measured, and how often can I expect to receive feedback on my work?
  • Do any team members work remotely? (Depending on the position, you may want to wait until the second or third interview to ask this one.)
  • What is the company culture like and can you give me some examples of how that plays out in a typical work week?
  • Does this company offer employees any chances to do additional training or professional development?

Questions like these show you’re eager to learn and excited about the opportunity.

Looking for more advice on how to nail your next job interview? My Get Hired Guides will give you all the practical tips you need to write the perfect resume and interview like a pro!

How to Prepare for an Interview



About Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman is the bestselling author of The Proximity Principle and national radio host of The Ken Coleman Show.

Pulling from his own personal struggles, missed opportunities and career successes, Coleman helps people discover what they were born to do and provides practical steps to make their dream job a reality.

If a leader doesn’t convey passion and intensity then there will be no passion and intensity within the organization and they’ll start to fall down and get depressed. Get Your Free Position Now

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT How to Negotiate a Salary


How to Negotiate a Salary

Two women in a meeting, one works on a computer and the other holds a piece of paper.


Few things can stir up anxiety and make you sweat through your shirt like having to negotiate a salary—especially if it’s your dream job and you’re worried about losing the offer quicker than it came.

That’s probably why only 39% of people tried to negotiate the pay of their last job offer.1 Imagine how much money they missed out on simply because they were too afraid to ask!

That doesn’t have to be you. Just because someone offers you a salary doesn’t mean you can’t ask for something different—in fact, you should.

But here’s the thing: If you’re negotiating a salary offer, you have to be prepared. This isn’t something you can or should do off the cuff—this is serious business!

So, whether you’re preparing for an offer you see coming on the horizon, or you’ve already received one and want to go back to the hiring manager to ask for more, there’s an order for how you should do this.

I want your conversation to go off without a hitch, so let’s break down each step:

1. Research what you’re worth.

If you’ve listened to my show for any amount of time, you know I’m a huge fan of knowledge. If you’re asking for a higher salary, then you’ve gotta know your stuff!


Ready to find your dream job? We’ll show you how.

You can’t just walk into a room with guns blazing and ask for some random salary because you “work really hard.” That’s not going to convince anyone they should pay you more—you need cold, hard facts.

Start by doing some research on websites like Monster, CareerBuilder and Glassdoor. You’re looking for the salary range in today’s job market for:

  • Your position in your specific city and state
  • Someone with your level of experience

If possible, try to find out how much revenue your position typically brings in for an organization. There’s nothing like putting numbers behind your value to really juice up your case.

Another great research method is simply to ask people. Do you have any friends or friends of friends who do similar work and have similar experience? Are there any recruiters or other HR professionals at your church or in your sports league who would be willing to share salary ranges for your position and industry?

I know it might feel awkward to ask for this information, but it’s worth it! No one will be able to give you a clearer understanding of a reasonable salary range than someone who is in the industry today. And I’m willing to bet that people will be more open with this information than you think.

Whatever method you choose, gather up as much research as you can. The only way to sound like you know what you’re talking about is to take the time to do your homework. Remember, companies usually have a good idea of what they want to pay for a position. So if you’re going to tell them differently, for heaven’s sake, have the research to back it up.

2. Land on a number.

Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to land on a number. Notice I didn’t say land on a range. That’s because you’re not going to ask for a salary range, you’re going to ask for a specific number.

I’m just riffing here, but let’s say you discover in your research that your position can range in salary from $60,000–75,000. Based on your experience, you need to decide what number within that range you’re going to shoot for. (Once you pick that number, aim a little higher when you go in for the ask to leave some wiggle room if the hiring manager wants to go lower.)

Before you speak with the hiring manager, be prepared with these three numbers in mind:

a. Your Ideal Salary

This is the specific number you just came up with that is within the salary range you found in your research. From our example above, let’s say we want to negotiate a salary offer of $67,000 (Yes, you should be that specific!).

If the hiring manager is able to offer you this number (or higher), you know you can immediately accept the offer without regrets.

b. The Lowest Ideal Salary

This number is the lowest salary you can accept based on your budget and your family’s needs. Let’s call it $60,000 in this case.

This number might mean you need to adjust your budget and make some sacrifices, but you’re willing to do that because you really want this job.

Here’s what I want you to keep in mind with this particular number: If you and the hiring manager get to your lowest ideal salary, before you accept the offer, I highly recommend you ask them for a financial growth plan. That sounds like some fancy contract, but it’s not!

It’s a simple conversation where you can say something like, “I’m really excited to work with your team and I’m eager to accept your offer of $60,000 if we can come up with a plan for financial growth in this position. I’d love to know what I can do to be in a higher salary in 12 or 18 months.”

c. Your Deal-Breaker Number

The name of this number says it all—make sure you know what number will cause you to walk away from the job offer. This number could simply be anything under your lowest ideal salary, or it could be a little less.

If they offered you $59,000 with an opportunity for a $2,000 raise after your first year, you’d probably think twice before you walked away, right?

Think of the deal-breaker number as the salary you’re simply not able to live off, no matter how great the opportunity might be.

To continue our example, let’s say your deal-breaker number is $57,000 because maybe, if push comes to shove, you’re willing to consider $58,000 or $59,000 if there are other benefits and perks involved.

Once you’ve landed on these three numbers, you’re ready to step out and boldly make the ask!

3. Make the ask.

I know negotiating a salary offer is intimidating, but it might feel less scary if you think about negotiation as simply asking questions and presenting information.

Most importantly, always approach a negotiation with respect and humility, because no one wants to bargain with an arrogant jerk.

Here’s a sample script of how you can start the conversation: I’m really excited about the potential to join your team. After doing some research, I found that based on my level of experience, the market rate for this position is about $70,000 (Remember, we’re going a little bit higher than our $67,000 goal!). I feel that number reflects well on the value I’ll bring to your organization. What can we do to bring my compensation closer to $70,000?

If the number the hiring manager gives you is way lower than what you found in your research, respectfully ask how they came to that number while showing them what you found in your research.

The conversation can take many twists and turns from here. The important thing to remember is to remain respectful and humble. And even if you have to walk away, be careful not to burn any bridges.

Like I said earlier, negotiating a salary is all about having an informed discussion. It doesn’t have to be awkward or embarrassing, and it shouldn’t put you in jeopardy of losing the opportunity if you take the time to prepare.

Don’t be that buddy from college who loved to pull numbers out of his ear. Get the facts, land on specific numbers, and clearly communicate what you believe your value to be.

All right, folks, I know you can do this. You have what it takes.

And if you need more help figuring out your sweet spot, tune in to The Ken Coleman Show and contact me with your career questions at 844.747.2577 or


About Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman is the bestselling author of The Proximity Principle and national radio host of The Ken Coleman Show.

Pulling from his own personal struggles, missed opportunities, and career successes, Coleman helps people discover what they were born to do and provides practical steps to make their dream job a reality.

If a leader doesn’t convey passion and intensity then there will be no passion and intensity within the organization and they’ll start to fall down and get depressed. Get Your Free Position Now

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT 12 Interview Tips to Impress Any Hiring Manager


12 Interview Tips to Impress Any Hiring Manager

Two business men shake hands


So, you’ve got a job interview coming up and you need some tips on how to nail it. The good news is, just by landing on this page today, you’re already a step ahead of the competition.

While other candidates will do downright ridiculous things, like ask where the nearest bar is or step away from the interview to ask their spouse if the salary is high enough, you’ll blow hiring managers away with your class and sophistication.

Ready to get started? Bring your A game with these 12 interview tips:

1. If you’re on time, you’re late.

Nothing shows incompetence like the inability to show up to your job interview on time.

“My alarm didn’t go off” and “traffic was crazy” are not explanations—they’re excuses.

The last thing you want to do is start your job interview with a lame excuse. Instead, double the amount of estimated traffic you might encounter and set multiple alarms so you don’t accidentally hit snooze and fall back asleep.

2. Stalk your interviewer.

Okay, stalk is a strong word.

What I really mean is you should research the person you’ll be interviewing with to find things in common that can spark conversation and connection. Things like where they went to college, their favorite football team, or a vacation spot they’ve been to are great topics to casually bring up that will build some common ground.


Ready to find your dream job? We’ll show you how.

What I don’t mean is to find out how many kids they have, what school their kids go to, or where their spouse works—that’s weird. Don’t bring up that information even if you do find it easily on social media.

If you come across like you’re a candidate for the CIA, or like you’re going to show up on their doorstep if you don’t get the job, you’ve gone too far.

3. Ask grandma to review your social media accounts.

Okay, let’s get real for a second. I can’t believe I have to say this, but I feel like some of you may need to hear this: If you’ve posted dumb stuff on your social media accounts—you know, stuff your grandmother might have a mild heart attack over—first, go erase any and all of it.

Second, stop doing and posting dumb stuff! It doesn’t matter how well you’re able to clean up your accounts—if you get this job and continue doing and posting dumb stuff, it’ll only be a matter of time before you get the boot.

4. Watch what you eat.

There are two parts to this tip:

  • First, make sure you eat a good meal before your interview. You don’t want your stomach growling from hunger pain while you’re trying to convince your future manager that you deserve a higher salary. No thank you.
  • Second, choose what you eat wisely. For example, it’s probably not a good idea to chow down on a large burrito with extra black beans. The last thing you want is a humiliating digestive distraction in the middle of the interview.

5. Bring a copy of your resumé or portfolio.

If the interviewer forgot to print your resumé or doesn’t remember the type of work in your portfolio, having an extra copy on hand will show them that you’re always prepared.

Besides, you created the perfect resumé, so of course you want to show it off as much as possible!

6. Don’t lie or overshare.

Whether they ask about your salary, job responsibilities, or experience, always tell the truth. The majority of hiring or human resource managers (66%) say catching a candidate lying about something is an instant deal breaker.1  Why risk that?

Along with not lying, don’t overshare.

Let’s say your interviewer asks you about your last place of employment. Our tendency is to give them every single detail. Instead of giving them a brief answer about your responsibilities at your last job, you tell them about the difficult people on your team and the long hours you were expected to work. When you do that, you create questions that don’t need to be created.

Instead, answer the question specifically and let the interviewer ask follow-up questions if they’re needed.

7. Be yourself.

Bad acting happens all the time in interviews. Don’t try to be an actor. Be authentic.

Your nerves are already off the charts, so this is not the time to try something outside your default mode.

If you try to be funny when you’re not really that funny, it’s going to be awkward and uncomfortable—so, in this case, stay in your lane. If you end up getting the job, they’ll figure you out pretty quickly, so just be yourself from the get-go.

8. Check your nonverbal cues.

If you don’t think your body language matters in a job interview, you’re wrong.

Nonverbal cues send powerful messages. They can portray confidence and display interest and engagement. Here are the most important cues to be mindful of during your job interview:

  • Make eye contact. Looking someone in the eye makes you look confident—regardless of how you feel on the inside. Even if it feels uncomfortable, keep the eye contact consistent. I promise you, it’ll be far more uncomfortable for the interviewer if you stare at the ground while they’re speaking to you.
  • Smile. Who doesn’t want to hire someone who is friendly and approachable? That’s how you come across when you smile a lot. On top of that, smiling lowers your stress levels.2 Just make sure there’s nothing in your teeth before you walk in!
  • Sit up, lean in, and nod your head. This posture and these nonverbal cues communicate that you’re engaged, interested and listening closely to what the interviewer is saying. That’s the type of person most organizations could only wish to hire!
  • Take notes. Bring a pen and notebook to your interview so you can write down important things the interviewer says. This will communicate that you’re teachable and interested in what they have to say.

Pro tip: If you have a notebook, you can also use it to write down your prepared questions so you don’t forget what they are when it’s time to ask. If you’re not sure what to ask the interviewer, check out my interview guide. It has a list of the top questions that will impress any hiring manager.

9. Dress to impress.

This tip is really important to me.

Before the interview, take the time to find out what the dress code is at the organization you’re applying to. The goal is to not be underdressed or overdressed, but to fit in with the culture. You don’t want to show up in a three-piece suit if everyone at the office wears shorts and t-shirts every day! When in doubt, smart casual is the way to go.

Finally, whatever type of clothes you end up wearing, make sure they’re ironed, clean and fit well.

10. Don’t ask them to show you the money.

You know that scene in You, Me and Dupree when Owen Wilson asks the hiring manager if they take off work on Columbus Day? Yeah, don’t be that guy.

When you ask about money, paid time off, or holidays too soon, it’s a huge turnoff. That communicates to the interviewer what’s really important to you—not working.

These topics should only come up once the job offer has been made.

11. Leave your helicopter parents at home.

I can’t believe I’m even talking about this right now—but please, for heaven’s sake, leave your mom and dad out of anything to do with your job interview.

They shouldn’t be submitting applications for you, showing up at the office to get an update on your interview, calling employers who turn you down, and—for the love of all that is good—they should never, ever, under any circumstances, show up to a job interview with you. Never. Ever.


Did I make myself clear?

12. Leave the pickup lines at the bar (or better yet, to yourself).

Our executive director of human resources once received a rock in the mail with a note that said, “I’m a rock-solid candidate.”


Yes, it’s crucial to stand out from all the other applicants, but that doesn’t call for cheesy or over-the-top gestures.

If The BachelorAmerican Idol and Shark Tank have taught us anything, it’s that America doesn’t like people who try too hard. It makes us cringe. So, leave the tears, cheesy pickup lines, and over-the-top gestures somewhere else.

Take these 12 tips to your next job interview and you’ll be one step closer to living the dream!

For more tips and strategies on winning the interview, download my interview guide for a step-by-step handbook on how to stand out in the hiring process.

Remember, the more you prepare, the more confident you’ll be. You’ve got this!

About Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman is the bestselling author of The Proximity Principle and national radio host of The Ken Coleman Show.

Pulling from his own personal struggles, missed opportunities and career successes, Coleman helps people discover what they were born to do and provides practical steps to make their dream job a reality.

If a leader doesn’t convey passion and intensity then there will be no passion and intensity within the organization and they’ll start to fall down and get depressed. Get Your Free Position Now

A Financial Plan That Works


A Financial Plan That Works

The book The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey on top of a planner working with notes on the Debt Snowball.


Before The Dave Ramsey Show joined the talk radio airwaves, Dave was counseling people one on one with his tried-and-true money principles. Seeing the need for a relatable and proven financial plan to get your money in shape, he wrote The Total Money Makeover, a follow-up to his first book, Financial Peace.

The Total Money Makeover is Dave’s how-to approach for living out the Baby Steps in everyday life, complete with shots of inspiration from people who have worked the plan and made it to the other side to scream, “We’re debt-free!”

What Is a Financial Plan?

A financial plan is your map to get from where you are to where you want to be with your money. It’s the process of setting goals and thinking through the steps it will take you to reach them. Remember: Each person’s financial plan looks different, depending on their short-term and long-term financial goals.

But no matter what your goals look like, it’s important to think about where you want to be and then figure out how you can get there. That’s why you need to create a solid financial plan that’s easy to understand.

A Financial Plan That Works

With so many self-help books and thousands of new ways to do a budget on the market today, it can be . . . overwhelming, to say the least. But you can trust that we’re here to cut through all the self-help clutter out there and help you make a financial plan that will work for you and your family.


Start budgeting like a boss with our FREE budgeting tool!

Say hello to The Total Money Makeover. In a no-nonsense kind of way, this book walks you through the steps you need to reach financial peace.

The 7 Baby Steps

Dave breaks down the 7 Baby Steps and walks you through each stage of the journey. Dave wouldn’t tell you to do anything he hasn’t already done himself—he fought his way out of debt and bankruptcy using this exact plan! Whether you’re trying to save money for retirement, invest, or pay off debt with a plan that actually works, you’ll find out how to do it with the Baby Steps.

Baby Step 1: Save $1,000 in a Beginner Emergency Fund
Baby Step 2: Get Out of Debt Using the Debt Snowball
Baby Step 3: Save 3 to 6 Months of Expenses in a Fully Funded Emergency Fund
Baby Step 4: Invest 15% of Your Income for Retirement
Baby Step 5: Save for Your Children’s College
Baby Step 6: Pay Off Your Home
Baby Step 7: Build Wealth and Give

Saving for Emergencies

Otherwise known as Baby Step 1, this step is crucial for when life happens. And we all know life has a way of showing up unannounced and unwelcome—and it’s usually not free.

When the A/C unit goes out during the hottest week of the summer or your pipes burst while you’re on vacation . . . there’s nothing to do but fork over the cash to fix it. But instead of letting your Mastercard cover it with interest (and making payments for the next two years), what if you could pay for it with cash on the spot? That’s why you need an emergency fund.

How to Pay Off Debt

If you’ve spent even five minutes listening to The Dave Ramsey Show, you’ve probably heard that we’re pretty serious about helping people get out of debt. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Debt sucks and we don’t want you to waste even one more dollar on your past when you could be planning for your future.

That’s where the debt snowball method comes in. It’s the best way to get out of debt—and we aren’t just saying that. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: List your debts smallest to largest, regardless of interest rate. Pay minimum payments on everything but the little one.

Step 2: Attack the smallest debt with a vengeance. Once that debt is gone, take that payment (and any extra money you can squeeze out of the budget) and apply it to the second-smallest debt while continuing to make minimum payments on the rest.

Step 3: Once that debt is gone, take its payment and apply it to the next-smallest debt. The more you pay off, the more your freed-up money grows and gets thrown onto the next debt—like a snowball rolling downhill.

Step 4: Repeat until you’re completely debt-free!

Investing for Your Future

What if your financial plan actually led you to the retirement of your dreams? What if your plan included a way for you to live and give like no one else? Guess what—it can.

The Proven Plan to Reach Your Financial Goals

When The Total Money Makeover hit the shelves, it skyrocketed to #1 on The New York Times best sellers list in its first week—and has continued to spend more than 200 weeks there. Today, over 6 million copies of the book have been sold worldwide, giving people the hope and strategy they need to create a financial plan and take on their own money makeover.

The Total Money Makeover gives you a simple, straightforward plan for breaking bad money habits and beating debt—and it works! Here’s a sneak peek into what you can expect to find in Dave’s best seller.

Commonsense Financial Advice Your Grandma Would Give You

The Total Money Makeover doesn’t list sophisticated or hypothetical tips that are hard to understand, and you don’t need a corner office (or a three-piece suit) to understand them either! These are simply the same nuggets of advice your grandparents followed. Live within your means. Don’t mess with credit. Save for a rainy day. Quit trying to keep up with the Joneses. These tips may seem obvious, but they stand the test of time.

Busting the Money Myths

Sadly, most of us have accepted money myths as gospel and use them as a standard for making financial decisions. Some we just grew up with, and others are societal norms we’ve bought into—hook, line and sinker.

Here are a couple myths Dave calls out in The Total Money Makeover:

Myth: A credit score is the only way to show how great I am with managing money.
Truth: “Bankers, car dealers, and unknowledgeable mortgage lenders have told America for years to ‘build your credit,’” Dave said. “[The FICO score] is not a score that says you are winning with money or that you have a million dollars; it mathematically says you LOVE DEBT.”

Myth: Having a credit card will help me build wealth.
Truth: “When you play with snakes, you get bitten. I’ve heard all the bait out there to lure the unsuspecting into the pit,” Dave said. “Broke people use credit cards; rich people don’t.”

Success Stories From Real People Who Have Been There

As you flip through the pages, you’ll follow the journeys of everyday people who have been in debt, worked their way through the Baby Steps with dedication, and completed their own total money makeover.

David and Tayelor used credit cards as their income and lived paycheck to paycheck until they started on their own financial plan. After cutting up their credit cards and becoming debt-free, they now live their lives without fear of the future.

Autumn is a single parent. She was living off of $400 a month and drowning in $100,000 of credit card debt. After following the plan, she paid off her car loan, continues to pay off her debt, and even owns her own company!

There are thousands of stories from incredible people just like you who decided to make their financial plan, chipped away at mountains of debt, paid off their homes in record time, and are on the path to becoming everyday millionaires.

Are you ready to join the millions of people who chose to turn their finances around? Grab a copy of The Total Money Makeover and get started on your financial planning journey today!

If a leader doesn’t convey passion and intensity then there will be no passion and intensity within the organization and they’ll start to fall down and get depressed. Get Your Free Position Now

BUDGETING Lifestyle Inflation: More Money, Same Problems


Lifestyle Inflation: More Money, Same Problems


There’s a new villain in town, and it’s attacking the lower, middle and upper classes.

It’s called lifestyle inflation, and it doesn’t care how much money you make—it can still find you.

What Is Lifestyle Inflation?

Simply put, lifestyle inflation happens when you increase your household spending as your income grows. A little raise here, a bonus there and pretty soon your lifestyle begins to expand to match those zeros on your paycheck.

It’s easy to get caught up in lifestyle inflation. After all, you’ve earned that car upgrade, designer handbag and luxury vacation—right? Not so fast . . .

If you’re spending all the extra money you’re making, it’s nearly impossible to get ahead—no matter how much income you bring in.

Lifestyle Inflation Can Affect Anyone

A 2017 GoBankingRates study found that 57% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings.(1) Shockingly, even families earning upwards of $500,000 a year can still end up with little to no savings.(2) Lifestyle inflation could be to blame for this lack of savings. With many people choosing to keep up appearances rather than stash money away for a rainy day, it’s easy to see how.

So, where is their money going instead? The common culprits are likely hefty mortgages and childcare costs, not to mention extras like vacations, fine dining, and a new wardrobe to match every season. But when your lifestyle is inflated, it can cause you to live paycheck to paycheck, to stay in debt, and to have little (if any) money left over to save for the future.


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Millennials fresh out of college can fall into the trap of lifestyle inflation too. Thanks to their newfound jobs, they’re enjoying a regular income and the opportunity to eat something other than frozen pizza every day. But the next thing you know, they’ve given into the pressure to live 25 years ahead of their earnings by taking on a brand-new $20,000 car loan to match their $30,000 starting salary.

How to Avoid Lifestyle Inflation

Don’t take on new debt because you can “afford” it.

How many times have you heard someone say, “I just got a raise at work . . . now I can afford that new car (or furniture set or latest tech gadget etc.)”?

Newsflash: Just because you can “afford” the monthly payment on something does not mean you can truly afford to buy it. The interest alone could make you pay far more than the original sticker price.

Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses.

Just because your son’s friend is taking karate, art and horseback riding classes doesn’t mean your son needs to do it too. You’re still a good parent if your child’s only extracurricular activity is swim lessons at the community pool. Really!

Your neighbors might have gone on a 12-night European cruise, but that shouldn’t make your road trip or staycation any less enjoyable. It’s like Rachel Cruze says in her best-selling book Love Your Life, Not Theirs, “Too many people allow cultural expectations and other people to dictate their own values and family priorities.”

As if it isn’t hard enough to hear about these stories from neighbors, coworkers and friends, we now have a front-row seat to see it all too—thanks to social media. Scrolling through a news feed makes it easy to take a peek into someone else’s life and compare yourself to their highlight reel.

Don’t fall into the trap of letting the way others spend their money dictate the way you spend yours. The truth about the Joneses is that they’re probably broke and busy trying to keep up with someone else.

Do make a budget.

The key to winning with money is simple: Budget!

It’s important that you do a zero-based budget every month, before the month begins. Having a zero-based budget (where your income minus your expenses equals zero) can keep you from living beyond your means. With your budget in place, you’ll know exactly how much you can spend and keep lifestyle inflation at bay!

You might think a budget is restrictive, but it actually gives you permission to spend money . . . on those things you’ve already budgeted for, that is. And what happens when you want to make a purchase that isn’t in the budget?

Instead of relying on a credit card or loan to “afford” a splurge, stash away small amounts of cash over time. That way you can truly afford those lifestyle items you want. And you’ll be able to pay for them in cash!

Are you stumped on how much money to allocate for each budget category? We recommend you follow these percentages:

Category Percentage of Overall Spending
Giving 10–15%
Saving 10–15%
Housing 25–30%
Transportation 10–15%
Food 10–15%
Utilities 5–10%
Insurance 10–25%
Health 5–10%
Personal 10–15%
Recreation 5–10%

Leave Lifestyle Inflation Behind and Go After Your Goals!

Instead of increasing your lifestyle when your income grows, increase your contributions to your financial goals!

Throw that extra money at the smallest debt on your list (Baby Step 2), use it to build up your emergency savings (Baby Step 3), or put it toward paying off your home early (Baby Step 6).

Using that bump in pay toward your next Baby Step can set you up to win now and in the future. Getting out of debt means you’ll have even more money in your pocket (bye-bye monthly payments!). Then you can focus on saving, investing, and becoming a millionaire who isn’t even the slightest bit tempted by lifestyle inflation.

And yes, even successful millionaires need to live on a budget too.

If you’re ready to kick lifestyle inflation to the curb, start your first budget with our free app EveryDollar. You can create your first budget in as little as 10 minutes!

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How to Budget an Irregular Income in 3 Easy Steps


How to Budget an Irregular Income in 3 Easy Steps


There are more than 15 million Americans who are self-employed, and many others who work on straight commission.[1] That means these people deal with an irregular income—income that comes in at different amounts or at different times, or both—on a regular basis.

Whether you’re in sales, a freelance writer, an interior designer, or any other self-employed worker, you know the challenge of budgeting for an unpredictable income. Sometimes it can feel like you’re aiming at a moving target!

The good news is that it’s just as simple to plan for an irregular income as it is for a regular one. We’ll show you how with these three easy steps:

1. Create a budget.

When you make your budget, base your income on your lowest-paid month from the previous year. (We’ll cover how to handle more or less income in step three.) Then list all your expenses—everything from the electric bill to retirement savings to groceries. If you’re a pen-and-paper budgeter, our free Monthly Cash Flow Plan form can help you here. Or, if you prefer a digital budget, check out our free budget app EveryDollar. After your expenses are listed, put the amount you’ll spend next to each item, such as $100 for the cable bill or $200 for eating out. Once it’s all in front of you, the next step is to list your expenses according to importance.


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2. Account for irregular income.

Now that you’ve got a basic, bare-bones budget, it’s time to plan for any income you bring in over that worst-case scenario you sketched out. Use our free Irregular Income Planning form or EveryDollar and list all other possible expenses you couldn’t cover in your budget, in order of priority. Ask yourself, If I had enough money for one more thing, what would it be? Mark that down. From there, continue to list expenses from the most essential to the least. Do this according to your needs. Don’t let some credit card collector scare you into thinking that paying them is a bigger deal than buying your child’s school supplies. Now that the plan is set, it’s time to spend.

3. Go down the list.

When you receive a paycheck, take the amount and spread it out among the items in your budget, prioritizing food, shelter, clothing and transportation. After that, cover the rest of your bills. If your check doesn’t cover everything listed, that’s okay. Use it to pay as much as you can. If you get an additional check during the month, pick up where the last check left off. If you end up with extra money after all expenses have been paid, then you can save more, spend more, or pay more on your debts. (If you have debts, definitely start paying them first!)

Your paychecks may be for different amounts, but with a plan, you can use them all to get one solid result—financial peace. It’s only three steps away!

For an easy way to budget your irregular income, check out EveryDollar—Dave Ramsey’s free budget app.

If a leader doesn’t convey passion and intensity then there will be no passion and intensity within the organization and they’ll start to fall down and get depressed. Get Your Free Position Now