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Ways to Save Money on Back to School

by Bob Brooks

July 22, 2014

I always am amazed at the amount of money it takes to go back to school.  From clothes to uniforms to school supplies, it can get expensive.  Kiplingers Magazine just published their 10 ways to save on back- to-school shopping and I thought I would share it with you. 

  • Shop your home first—take inventory of your drawers, cabinets and closets so you know what you already have before shopping. You’ll likely find that you already have several items such as notebooks and pencils that you purchased but your kids never used.
  • Email a teacher—if your child’s school doesn’t provide a shopping list, ask your child’s teacher what supplies are absolutely needed when classes start. This will help you avoid wasting money on supplies your child doesn’t need.
  • Set a budget—once you know what you already have, make a list of what you need to buy. If you set a cap before you shop, it will keep you from buying impulsively and overspending.
  • Know when to shop—for the supplies you need that are a specific brand or model, shop as early as possible to avoid the risk of stores running out. For more generic items, prices will drop closer to the start of school. Summer clothing is already deeply discounted and select retailers will have sales on jeans in mid-July to mid-August. August is also one of the best months of the year to find deals on laptops. And 15 states have sales-tax holidays during the month.
  • Know where to shop—it may seem convenient to get all your shopping done in one place, but hitting different sales will save money in the long run. For example, the best deals on folders and notebooks are at office supply stores. You’ll also find good sales at big-box retailers such as Target and Walmart.


To view the full article and see the other 5, visit:

How Bad is it in Detroit? Really Bad

by Bob Brooks

July 21, 2014


The bankrupt city of Detroit is in worse shape than anyone can imagine.  Once the fourth largest city in the country, it is now 18th smaller than Austin Texas.  According to this source, 60% of the children in Detroit live in poverty.

It takes money to run a city of that size and Detroit lies in financial ruin.  When you are bankrupt, you lose critical services such as police, schools, water/trash, etc.   The median cost of a home in Detroit is $9,000.  It is estimated that there are 33,500 vacant homes and 91,000 vacant residential lots.  There is good reason why; the crime is the worst in the country.


The murder rate is 11 times higher than New York City.  There are about 2,500 police officers in the city.  Police Stations are only open 8 hours a day because of budget cutbacks. 


The sad facts about Detroit are a mile long.  Just recently, I received an email from a progressive movement (and no I don’t support the progressive movement) talking about the water situation in Detroit.  Apparently, so many residents have become behind on their water bills that thousands have had their water shut-off.  Water costs have also increased and people can't afford to keep their water services.  Thus, ”thousands of low-income families have no water for drinking, bathing, cooking, or flushing the toilet.” 


United Nations experts have called the water shut-offs to low-income residents a violation of human rights.  You wouldn’t think that something like this could be occurring in America.  Just last week, the bankruptcy Judge insisted that the city do something about this problem.  However, there really is no money to extend services to those who cannot afford it.  How did this occur?  Debt and irresponsible spending.  The more concerning fact is that so many other cities are heading down this same path.  These are the stories that get lost in the media. 


Are these types of situations fixable?  Only if the government were to get involved.  The problem is that helping out bankrupt cities is so far down the list on the agenda of most politicians.   Plus, if you help out one city, you have to help them all out

Can Our Country Get Out of Financial Trouble? 9 Important Steps to Take

by Bob Brooks

July 18, 2014


Dear Bob,

I have been thinking about the direction of our country financially.  It just seems that there is no way out of the debt and irresponsible spending by politicians.  What do you think the future holds?  I would like your opinion.


A:I have had the opportunity to interview many authors who have devoted books to this question.  I have heard many opinions.  I have come to a simple conclusion. 

The economy is fixable. It would be a painful process.  However, it is fixable.  Second, in order to fix the economy politicians would have to put the country ahead of politics and make decisions that would be politically distasteful.  For politicians to put the country ahead of politics, they would have to be less concerned about their own agendas and getting re-elected.  In order for that to happen, they would have to take the politics out of Washington.  What is the likelihood of that happening? 

We have escalating wars in the Ukraine and in the Gaza strip.  These are significant.  What are the elected leaders doing?  They are holding their fundraisers for re-election. 

Our national debt is continuing to increase and not in any way decrease.  Without taking action, it will get to a point of no return.  There is not a care in the world in Washington and the spending continues. 

You have to look at it from the standpoint of the politician.  As long as the politician stays elected, the politician and their families stay shielded from any of the mess that is created.  For example, they don’t even have to participate in Obamacare.  As long as they are elected, they are royalty.  To stay elected, they have to take care of people and play politics.  It is a dangerous cycle.  This is not a democrat or republican thing. It is a political thing.

So at our expense, we are safeguarding the lifestyle and power ranking of every politician in Washington.  I am sure that is an unfair statement to say they all are that way.  It is safe to say that a high enough percentage of them are that way and enough to eventually bankrupt the system.

Given the high probability that within some point we will see the consequences of debt and irresponsible spending, what should your response be?

  1. ELIMINATE debt and get your own spending under control
  2. PRIORITIZE your financial planning for the future (most leave it to chance)
  3. DEVELOP a plan B for your investments because Plan A might be a tough one to follow
  4. PRACTICE Biblical teachings when it comes to money
  5. TEACH your children Biblical teachings when it comes to money
  6. PREPARE your children for an uncertain future
  7. FOCUS on your relationship with God and His Will for your life– after all, 17 trillion of debt doesn’t change that important discipline
  8. TRUST and have confidence on the promises of God and that God will walk you through anything
  9. REFUSE to worry about something you can’t control – you can only control steps 1 through 8
5 Steps to Managing High Interest Credit Card Rates

by Bob Brooks

July 15, 2014


Interest rates are on the rise. Guess who gets the biggest benefit? The credit card companies stand to make big profits as their rates go up as well. Remember credit card rates in the vast majority of cases are not fixed. They can increase. in their recent credit card survey states that interest rates have increased an average of 1.18% since this time last year. Unfortunately, that is a trend that is likely to continue. So what is the average consumer who is carrying credit card debt supposed to do?

1.    Take inventory of your debt

Most consumers don’t know how much they are paying in interest much less the other important aspects of their debt. You don’t know that you have a problem until you find out. If your credit card rates are in the teens, you might want to take some action to get them lowered.

2.    Take advantage of the balance transfer –

Credit card companies are offering attractive offers where you can transfer your debt to lower interest rate cards that include 0% as an introductory period. They key is to wait and watch for the deals during the 4th and 1st quarters. According to, that is when the deals are the best. These deals tend to be seasonal and not offered year round. Only warning – no the terms and conditions of the deal and all fees associated with the card.

3.    Make sure that your credit score is as good as you can get it

Improving your credit score is not rocket science. Make sure everything is correct on your reports. Have anything that is negative and over 7 ½ years old removed. Those are the two main items. For an extensive list, read my book Deceptive Money. Better credit scores means better rates.

4.    If you have good credit, don’t settle for higher rates

If you credit score is good, don’t accept interest rates given to those with lower scores. I have come across many offers that award people with great credit double digit interest rates. Shop around and understand the best deals. For some of the best credit card deals, visit

5.    Watch out for credit cards with big reward programs

In most cases, higher interest rates go along with bigger reward programs. American Airline Advantage has an interest rates of around 17%. However, you get better rewards. Incidentally, also reports that “points and miles-based rewards bonuses are at an all-time high in terms of values.

Remember, that interest represents the cost of holding debt. Always make sure that you are paying the lowest costs.  

For more information about everything you need to know to get out of debt, read Bob’s book Deceptive Money.

Things You Should Buy Used

by Bob Brooks

Kiplinger’s is running a piece in their latest edition and I thought it was worth sharing.

You can save a lot by buying used rather than new. Many pre-owned items cost 50% to 75% less than comparable new items. Think “used” for products that will have a short lifespan in your possession, likely saw limited use by their previous owners, have been refurbished by trusted manufacturers, or will get dinged and dirty in your possession (who cares about an existing scratch or two on something that you’ll beat up on your own?). Kiplinger’s rounds up 12 things to buy used.

To view the full list of the 12 things to buy used, visit:

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