Borrow Smart, Repay Smart: How much money should I keep in a savings account for emergencies?

Question: Hi Trevor! How much money should I keep in a savings account for emergencies?

Answer:  Many financial professionals suggest that you put away three to six months’ worth of living expenses for emergencies. We actually call these funds “Cash Reserves,” because the reality is, most things that might happen are not really emergencies. Once established, we also refer to this as your “sleep well at night” account!

If you lose your job, or become disabled and don’t have adequate disability insurance, you’ll need that money to pay your regular monthly expenses, such as mortgage payments, insurance premiums, groceries, and car payments, until you can find another job. Without such an emergency fund, a period of unemployment could put your assets at risk. Similarly, if your car breaks down or your spouse has a medical emergency, you’ll want to have the necessary cash to pay the bills. You don’t want to be faced with an immediate need for cash, only to discover that you don’t have any.

You may have already set up an emergency fund. Did you put the cash in a five-year certificate of deposit (CD) or other long-term investment? In an emergency, you will need to get at those funds immediately. You can certainly pull your money out of the CD early, but you’ll pay a penalty. It’s better to keep some funds more liquid, in a traditional savings account, a money market deposit account, or a six-month CD, for example. That way, the cash will be readily available when you need it.

Finally, keep your emergency fund separate from your everyday accounts. You might even want to use a different bank. Unless you are extremely disciplined, you’ll be tempted to spend those extra funds if you keep them in your checking account. Remember, if you can put off an expense until next week, it is probably not an emergency.

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Borrow Smart, Repay Smart: The Story of the Magic Penny

Dear Borrow Smart Family,

If you had the choice between taking $3,000,000 in cold hard cash right now or a single penny that doubles in value every single day for 31 days, which would you choose?

If you’ve heard this story before, you already know that choosing the penny option is the better choice and will lead to greater wealth. But why is it so hard to believe that choosing the penny will result in more wealth over time? The answer is simply because it takes so much longer to see the payoff. Most of us can’t stand delaying our gratification. This is why in general, the savings rate in the United States is very low compared to other countries, and credit card debt keeps millions of families from achieving financial freedom.

Let’s look at the math behind the story a little closer: Assume YOU choose the $3 million in cash in hand right now, and your best friend chooses the penny gamble.

On day #5, your friend has just 16 cents. You, of course, have $3 million!
On day #10, your friend has $5.12 cents, while you are enjoying your riches.
After 20 days your friend has $5,243, while you are treating your friends and family to dinner.
At this point, how is your friend feeling? He or she has delayed his or her gratification in hopes of making a smart, long-term decision as they are watching you live large with your mounds of cash. But…the invisible magic of “compounding” is about to take effect.

By day #31, your friend’s single penny has multiplied (or compounded) into $10,737,418.24! This is more than 3x your original $3 million!

This simple, yet compelling, story shows why consistency over time is more important. On day #29, your friend has about $2.7 million, still a bit behind your $3 million, but by day #30 your friend pulls ahead with roughly $5.4 million, beginning to leave you behind.

The magic of compounding, along with small steps taken constantly over time, is what can lead to massive success. Just imagine exercising 15 minutes every day versus “waiting” until you suddenly have 1 hour freed up to go exercise all at once on the weekend.

Darren Hardy, the publisher of Success Magazine and the author of The Compound Effect, describes success as a series of small, seemingly insignificant steps, done consistently over time.

What areas of your life could this principle be applied, so you could enjoy the results a month, a year, or 10 years from now?

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Pole Pole! A Lesson from Climbing Kilimanjaro

*Repost from November, 2016

Having just gotten back from climbing the highest mountain in all of Africa, I can say that the journey on Mt. Kilimanjaro taught me many lessons. What was the most important one? Set crazy, big goals that scare you and excite you at the same time…then focus on taking one step at a time in the direction of the goal.

As we began our ascent toward 19,341 feet, the guides would constantly repeat, “Pole Pole” (pronounced poh-lay poh-lay). This means “slow, slow” in Swahili. Honestly, I trained hard before our trip, but there’s just no way to train for how slow they encourage you to walk. Naturally I, and everyone else, just wanted to get to the summit as fast as possible. But going 42 miles, uphill, across every type of landscape you can imagine, with less and less oxygen available as you climb in altitude, requires you to slow down. The advice of “pole pole” forced me to concentrate on the task at hand, one step at a time, and not get too overwhelmed with how far I still had to go to reach the summit.

Every once in a while I would pick my head up, look to the peak of the mountain for inspiration, and then back to my feet. Minutes would go by, and eventually hours. But as long as I knew my steps were in the direction of the primary goal, I was happy.

In business, and in life, we must have goals. Big goals. They push us to grow and get outside of our normal comfort zones.

The secret is to not focus on how far from achieving your goal you are, but rather turn around, and focus on the progress you’ve made. As long as your daily actions are in alignment with your vision of where you want to go, you can be happy and confident.

Pole pole! Sometimes we just need to slow down. It’s not a race. If you know where you want to go, you WILL get there, step by step, if you stay focused and confident.

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Borrow Smart, Repay Smart: Manage Your Energy FIRST

Dear Borrow Smart Family,

I’ve been doing some studying on emotional energy.  Your thinking.  Your feeling. Your vibe, so to speak.  (Which comes from ‘energy vibrations’.)  And how all this impacts our ability to lead our families, build at work, and have the freedom that we believe money and time affords us.

We broadcast energy all around us, every day, to anyone around us.  We also receive energy from everyone around us.  But what KIND of energy?  Happiness?  Excitement?  Gratitude?  Fear?  Anger?  Scarcity?

We control our vibe with our thoughts and feelings.  Others pick up on this and respond to your energy…good or bad.  We are either giving others energy, or taking energy away from them, based on our thoughts and feelings…our vibe.

Like attracts like:  people radiating positive energy will naturally move away from you if you are radiating negative energy.  Even worse, people with a negative ‘vibe’ will seek out others with a negative vibe, bringing their fear, anger, grief, and negativity into your life.   Misery loves company, right?

In business or life, your mindset and vibe tells others whether you are a ‘player’ or a ‘victim’.  Nobody wants to be around a ‘victim’. Colleagues, friends, family, clients and partners…want to be around players.

A negative vibe, a ‘victim’ vibe, can start an awful feedback loop, affecting our relationships around us, and leaving us feeling like we’re in a downward spiral sometimes.  Tough to escape.  Especially since what we focus on…expands in our mind.  (Thanks to our Reticular Activating System).

Whereas top performers, or ‘players’ spend the majority of their life in a positive mental state, giving off positive energy that attracts others.

Knowing this, how do you start your day?  What are your morning rituals that will put you into a ‘player’ mindset, giving on positive vibes? 

When stuff doesn’t go your way, and you feel yourself heading to the “dark side”, how do you control your thoughts/feelings/energy to stay positive…part of the solution…get back to the ‘player’ mindset and vibe…continuing to attract others rather than repel them?

Some hints:

  • Gratitude
  • Exercise
  • Reading positive stuff (i.e. not news)
  • Learning something new
  • Music
  • Talking to other positive people
  • Affirmations/Visualizations
  • Sending a note or personal video – focusing on OTHERS and giving

If we don’t invest the time to better control our emotional energy, daily, we will continue to make everything else more difficult in our lives and in our business.

Every day is a GIFT! I wish you all the best.

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Borrow Smart, Repay Smart: Four Reasons You Might Want to Consider Refinancing

Dear Borrow Smart Family,

Owning a home and building equity opens up many opportunities. As a homeowner, there will be times you wonder if refinancing your mortgage makes sense. Rightly so, as there are quite a few reasons getting a new mortgage can improve your financial future if done right. Here are some of the most common (and less common) reasons you might want to consider refinancing your mortgage at some point.

Always remember, there are costs involved when refinancing, and it is a big financial decision. So don’t rush into it, and be sure you work with an expert who can educate you and talk you through the pros and cons of refinancing. Exercise caution before making short-term decisions that can potentially impact your long-term goals.

1. Take advantage of lower interest rates:

This is the most obvious, and the most common, reason homeowners look to refinance their existing mortgage. If interest rates have dropped since you first bought your house, you may be able to take advantage and lower your monthly payment by refinancing and getting a new mortgage. This can provide a quick boost to the ability to save or pay off other debts faster.

2. Get cash out:

If you are considering to consolidate some higher interest debt, or need cash for an opportunity that has come along, you may consider looking into a cash-out refinance. There are limitations, but simply put, you may be able to access some of the equity in your home to achieve the above goals. Often borrowing against your home is less expensive than other options. Your house is not an ATM machine, but done strategically, safely, and within an overall plan, your house can be a valuable financial tool.

3. Get rid of mortgage insurance:

If you bought your house with less than 20% down payment, it’s likely you have monthly mortgage insurance included in your payment. As you pay your mortgage balance down, and your house appreciates in value to the point you have 20% or more equity, you may have the opportunity to refinance and get a new mortgage without mortgage insurance.

4. Change your mortgage terms:

Perhaps you were overly aggressive or just had a fear of debt, leading you to finance your house using a 15-year mortgage. If you find that these higher than normal monthly payments are impeding your ability to save elsewhere, avoid using credit cards for vacations, or even worse, not allowing you to maximize your retirement contributions, you may want to consider refinancing to a longer-term mortgage. Even if a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage comes with a slightly higher interest rate, the lower required payments can free up cash flow to achieve other important financial goals. On the other hand, maybe you hope to retire in ten years, yet you have 22 years left on your current mortgage. If cash flow is good, and your other debts are all paid off, refinancing to a shorter-term mortgage might make sense. Again, this assumes all of your other financial “ducks” are in a row.

If you’re feeling overburdened by debt, please reach out to for a complimentary review of your home equity and current cash flow status. 

I wish you all the best!


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Borrow Smart, Repay Smart: Why Budgets Fail

Dear Borrow Smart Family,

The idea of regimenting your money spending can seem tedious, but it is well worth the effort. If you’re looking to get your money in order, there are 3 main blind spots to consider:


Why is a budget important, and what is the bigger goal? What might budgeting mean to your family’s well-being?

People often ask me money questions around buying a first home, that’s why I’ve created a book called Mortgages, Money & Life. It is chock-full-of lessons on looking at owning a home, creating wealth, and making smarter decisions with money. If you’re interested to check it out, it’s available on Amazon HERE.

I wish you all the best!

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Borrow Smart, Repay Smart: Your Choices with Money

Dear Borrow Smart Family,

How do we discipline ourselves to spend money wisely? As an everyday mortgage professional, I help people acquire the largest asset they have – a home. To help borrow the most amount of money they’ve ever borrowed – a mortgage. For the largest line item in their budget… You guessed it, a mortgage payment.

As students, and ultimately, masters of helping clients manage money better, we can identify 3 choices that we all have relating to our money.

The 3 choices are as follows:
1. We can spend it
2. We can save it
3. We can use the money to prepay debt

Every money conversation leads back to those three choices. Debt prepayment, relates to car loans or student loans, that you have a choice to prepay, if needed, every month. I go into a bit more detail below:


I desire for you a full life, of no regrets or holding back. Life should be fun! But if you’re feeling overburdened by debt, please reach out to for a complimentary review of your home equity and current cash flow status. I’m here to help. I wish you all the best!

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Borrow Smart, Repay Smart: Baseball and Financial Independence

“There are three types of baseball players: Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen and those who wonder what happens.” – Tommy Lasorda

At first glance, baseball may seem to have little to do with financial independence. But peel back the layers, and much of investing and baseball boils down to patience and consistency. Getting to first base, or learning how to effectively manage your cash flow, is foundational to making it to homeplate.

As I talk through each base, or step below, consider how you may swing for the fences, and identify the parallels between America’s pastime and securing your own financial independence.

I wish you all the best!


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Borrow Smart, Repay Smart: Signs of a Messy Business

Dear Borrow Smart Family,

Happy Monday! As some of you may know, I’m a certified performance coach via Todd Duncan’s High Trust coaching group – where I coach some of the top-producing mortgage professionals around the country. I recently shared the below with my clients, and I thought it could be poignant for any of you that are also business owners. This is a follow-up to my initial share with you guys, on the Law of the Broom. I wish you all the best!


I spoke to you guys about Todd Duncan’s Law of the Broom – that to build your business up, you must CLEAN it up. Ultimately, the ability to take time off (when you want!) and to build your business up, allows you to operate with less stress and achieve more growth.

The first step to cleaning up a business, is to be able to identify the signs of a mess. Think of the following implications:

1. If you can’t find time to do things right, when will you find the time to do things over?
2. If you don’t have an assistant, you are your assistant
3. If you don’t tell people when to call you, they will call you whenever they want
4. If you don’t show clients how you do business, they will assume you do business any way they want

I delve in a little deeper in my video below:


What are your takeaways? Please share them in the comments below!


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Borrow Smart, Repay Smart: Spend Less, So You Can Save More

Dear Borrow Smart Family,

Is it me, or does the word “budgeting” sound like something Jabba the Hut burped out?

I know, I know; budgeting can seem tedious, and it can take some time to figure out. However, there are a few resources and tips that can make it a lot bearable, if not easy to digest.

My lesson #28 shares this: Spend less, so that you can save more.

Seems like a simple idea, right? Most of us, are typically on a fixed income – with maybe an annual or quarterly bonus that comes along – so it’s essential to identify small ways to be able to put more money away for long-term goals.

Those tiny wins can stack up significantly over time (40K+ even) as I delve into it in my video below:

Big expenses are easy to track; it’s usually a lot of those little things like a book subscription or daily coffees, that add up over time. I challenge you this week, to grab your journal and your last month or so of statements to comb through your expenses to see: Where are you able to make a small (Or large) edit in your spending?

Let me know in the comments what you think!


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