Welcome to my dfree® blog. I hope these thoughts will help someone think new thoughts and take new actions toward their financial freedom. The proverb says that "the borrower is slave to the lender." (Proverbs 22:7) I have dedicated the rest of my life to helping people obtain spiritual and economic freedom.

100 Years in Black Wealth

Spring 1921, one century ago, the economic foundation known as Black Wall Street was ripped from our people as a race massacre ravaged the Greenwood area of Tulsa, OK. Millionaires by today’s standards, Greenwood creators O.W. Gurley and J.B. Stradford lost everything financially – yet they didn’t lose faith, they didn’t lose hope and they didn’t lose their legacy, passed on through their bloodlines.

Spring 2021, some exciting things are happening for Black Americans, even though we worry that we may have another century to go before we realize true equity. George Floyd’s killer, a white authority figure, was held accountable for his heinous acts – raising hopes that we’re one step nearer to where we should have been all along. Closer to home, the dfree® Global Foundation’s Billion Dollar Challenge exceeded a record $30 million in debt reduction for our people. That’s historic. It’s never been done before, and you’ve been part of making it happen.

Now let’s zoom into an even more localized yet amazingly inspiring event, the recent graduation of 125 students from the dfree® Academy on April 17, 2021. In just 12 weeks, these graduates have changed their lives and, potentially, the lives of the many generations of their descendants who will inherit the liberating spirit of financial freedom. From Fellowship Mondays to Wealth on Wednesdays and all the days surrounding, these determined people took the time to create a community and support each other in their commitment to live debt free.

They have put the lessons they’ve learned into immediate practice. Take, for example, one of our class valedictorians, Wynona Caldwell, who won a $1,000 scholarship from the dfree® Academy. She wanted everyone to know during the ceremony that the first 10% was being donated, the next 10% was going to savings and the remainder was going to pay down her credit card debt. Wynona is following the curriculum!

I’ve always told you that the path to financial freedom is difficult yet worth it. It starts with your mindset. That’s why dfree® uses a variety of tools to educate, motivate and support people and is the only faith-based, wealth-building system specifically designed with the Black community in mind. We purposefully address the cultural, psychological and spiritual influences on financial wellness and offer practical strategies for achieving financial success.

It may not always seem like it, but Black people like to do things together. One of the beauties of the dfree® Academy is that it brings people together in a supportive network. As dfree® Executive Director Tamika Stembridge said during the graduation ceremony, “The dfree® sauce is really in the community. You all have encouraged each other, cheered each other on and discussed things that most people don’t even discuss in private.” Now isn’t it ironic that we don’t like to talk about our money but by talking about it, we can figure out how to follow the simple steps, and dfree® offers 12, to a new, empowered financially-free life?

Economic freedom is important. It’s always been important. It’s one of the most important keys to have in any society. It’s about time we reclaim that knowledge and help each other, step by step, so we can

create meaningful legacies all over the globe. If you haven’t joined the dfree® movement yet, I encourage you to start by joining the next class of the dfree® Academy.

After the Tulsa massacre, Gurley wrote to Oklahoma’s governor and said, “The cost in blood and treasure here has been staggering, and yet we feel that if this great cost shall serve to arouse the moral consciences of the American people and serve to bring together the best of the races in the working out of a common destiny, the cost and the sacrifice shall not have been made in vain.”

My friends, today we know we pay too steep a price when we accept frivolity and continue to focus on the material instead of the communal. Let’s continue this battle to win financial freedom so we can build our communities and leave powerful legacies. Let’s create our new Greenwoods, and protect them.

20 Best Financial Management Podcasts of 2021

This article originally appeared on WelpMagazine.com.

Are you wanting to learn more about financial management? Well you’ve come to the right place. This is a curated list of the best financial management podcasts of 2021.

We have selected these podcasts for a variety of reasons, but they are all well worth a listen. We tried to select a variety of podcasts across the spectrum from hosts with a wide breadth of experience.

We are always keen to hear your feedback, if we have missed a podcast, tweet us @MagazineWelp and we will check it out!

With thanks to ListenNotes, Crunchbase, SemRush and Ahrefs for providing the data to create and rank these podcasts.

Four Minute Finance
o Publisher: John Tounger
o Total Episodes: 119

Four Minute Finance takes large financial and money management topics and boils them down to digestible four-minute lessons.

In Her Financial Shoes Podcast
o Publisher: Catherine Morgan
o Total Episodes: 144

This personal finance podcast is for women, including female entrepreneurs to learn personal finance, money mindset & practical money management tips to be financially confident and build wealth. To get in control of money, to budget, gain financial confidence, learn how to invest, save money & manage money mindset and behaviours. Hosted by a multi- award winning qualified financial planner and financial coach.

Financial Decoder
o Publisher: Charles Schwab
o Total Episodes: 47

Cognitive and emotional biases can have a big impact on your financial life. Each episode of Financial Decoder looks closely at one financial decision–and the biases that might cloud your judgment and cost you money. Host Mark Riepe, head of the Schwab Center for Financial Research, decodes the behavioral and psychological factors at play and shares strategies designed to improve the way you approach financial crossroads. Other experts join Mark to provide their unique perspective on behavioral economics, portfolio management, retirement planning, personal finance and more. Podcasts are for informational purposes only. This channel is not monitored by Charles Schwab. Please visit schwab.com/contactus for contact options.

The Dentist Money™ Show | Financial Planning & Wealth Management
o Publisher: Dentist Advisors – Financial Planning and Investment Management
o Total Episodes: 287

Join thousands of dentists who are learning how to make smart financial decisions. You’ll be entertained while getting straightforward advice about investing, retirement planning, tax reduction, insurance, debt management, and personal finance.

Advisor Talk with Frank LaRosa
o Publisher: Elite Consulting Partners
o Total Episodes: 76

Advisor Talk with Frank LaRosa offers unfiltered guidance and advice for financial advisors, wealth management professionals, and entrepreneurs alike who are interested in maximizing both their business and personal potential. Informed by Frank’s unique insights and his personal conversations with industry leaders, the dynamic discussion topics of Advisor Talk include business ownership, leadership, practice management, transition and recruiting, marketing and branding, as well as a host of financial services related topics related to wirehouse, regional, and RIA advisors, firms, and teams. Frank’s goal, and the goal of his team at Elite Consulting Partners, is now as ever to be the go-to resource for actionable information and trusted guidance to elevate you and your career at whatever stage you may be.

Mind of a Millionaire
o Publisher: Denver Wealth Management
o Total Episodes: 103

Zachary Bouck and Blair Braden, co-founders of Denver Wealth Management, aim to help understand the habits, routines, and choices of millionaires, so you may better address your financial goals. Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Denver Wealth Management, Inc., a registered investment advisor. Denver Wealth Management, Inc. is a separate entity from LPL Financial.

dfree® Podcast: In the Black
o Publisher: dfree®
o Total Episodes: 185
dfree® is a transformational, lifestyle movement that promotes financial freedom through values-based principles and practical approaches to financial management. The dfree® Podcast: In The Black highlights the pulse of mental, spiritual and financial health.

o ListenNotes
o Listen on iTunes
o RSS feed

Read more here.

dfree® celebrates Juneteenth by liberating thousands from debt

dfree® Global Foundation launches free economic justice academy, dfree® Academy, and serves as partner in Juneteenth UnityFest


Removing the shackles of debt might be the best tribute to African American ancestors who were enslaved and didn’t learn of their freedom until nearly 3 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, on Juneteenth. The dfree® financial freedom movement encourages those in need to join the dfree® Academy, starting June 19, for free, interactive online guidance on eliminating debt and jumpstarting a new life by Labor Day.


“Juneteenth is the perfect time to make this commitment, to change mindsets and to create healthy financial habits. We’re making it as easy and informative as possible, and people’s lives will be changed in the dfree® Academy this summer,” said dfree® Global Foundation, Inc., Founder DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. “The racial wealth gap in America is insurmountable unless Black people take difficult yet manageable steps to conquer debt and change the trajectory.”


According to the Federal Reserve, at the end of 2020, whites, who make up about 60% of the population, owned 84% of household wealth in America while Blacks, who make up about 13% of the population, owned only 4%. Recent studies also have shown that the COVID-19 pandemic has had disproportionately, devastating effects on Blacks and other people of color.


dfree® Executive Director Tamika Stembridge, Esq., said, “We plan to make June 19, 2021 the beginning of an economic resurgence in Black America where savings, investing and ownership are all realized. We are starting new traditions of generational wealth and renewed give-back spirits whereby entire communities benefit.”


Juneteenth enrollment in the dfree® Academy includes a free workbook and facetime with the financial freedom movement founder and his team. The Academy is a supportive community whereby participants share life lessons and tips. In addition to being free, the program is unique in that it looks beyond bank accounts to addressing the cultural, psychological and spiritual influences on financial wellness. dfree® is also a partner in the Juneteenth Unity Fest, a national livestream event conceived by Grammy-nominated Artist Robert Randolph.


About dfree®:

Founded in 2005 and run by the dfree® Global Foundation, Inc., dfree® is a financial freedom movement that addresses the cultural, psychological and spiritual influences on financial wellness and offers practical strategies for achieving financial success. dfree® was featured by CNN in a 90­-minute documentary, “Almighty Debt,” an installment of the “Black in America” series. The dfree® strategy is being used by hundreds of churches and organizations worldwide. In Spring 2021, 125 dfree® Academy graduates started their freedom journeys to debt-free living. For more information about dfree® visit www.mydfree.org and follow #mydfree #financialfreedom #intheblack on social platforms.


About Soaries:

Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries Jr. is known as an active agent for change and is a widely requested speaker. He is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey and former New Jersey Secretary of State. His pastoral ministry focuses on spiritual growth, educational excellence, economic empowerment and faith-based community development. Soaries, author of Say Yes to No Debt: 12 Steps to Financial Freedom, has issued a Billion Dollar Challenge as a national initiative and free resource to help individuals and families collectively pay down millions in consumer debt.

“Watch the finances”, With Douglas Brown and Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. of dfree®

This article originally appeared on ThriveGlobal.com.


As a part of my series called “Five Strategies I Used To Grow My Business To Reach Seven Figures In Revenue”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr., President, Corporate Community Connections, Inc.


Dr. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr., is currently working with Governor Phil Murphy and the State of New Jersey in the capacity of a community-based vaccination partnership for underserved communities. Dr. Soaries knows that it will take ongoing efforts to get everyone vaccinated if people want to rebuild the economy and push forward past this pandemic. Soaries also served as New Jersey’s Secretary of State, making him the first African-American male. In 2005, Dr. Soaries launched the dfree® Financial Freedom Movement. The dfree® strategy teaches people how to break free from debt as the first step toward financial freedom. dfree® was featured in a 90-minute CNN documentary “Almighty Debt.” He is the author of the books “Say Yes to No Debt: 12 Steps to Financial Freedom” and “Meditations for Financial Freedom — Volumes 1&2.”


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

Prudential called me and told me that they wanted to work with me. A trillion dollar, global financial corporation does not make a habit of calling a small black business to start a relationship. That was ten years ago and we are still working together.


None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am grateful to Rev. Jesse Jackson who hired me when I was 23 years old. I met him in Washington, D.C. at a protest rally and told him that he needed me on his staff. He sent for me a few weeks later and I traveled to Chicago from my home in New Jersey. He hired me less than a year later and he appointed me to a national position in Operation PUSH. I learned more working for him than I could have learned in any book or classroom. He introduced me to the Ebony magazine founder one day and told Mr. Johnson that I was to him as he was to Martin Luther King, Jr. That day changed my life.


Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“The only thing worse than not having what you need is not using what you have.” This has guided and inspired me all of my adult life. We all have the power to do something with the resources that we have. The opposite is to lament over the things we lack and do nothing. And it helped me remember that one can be great without being famous.


Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. We’d love to learn a bit about your company. What is the pain point that your company is helping to address?

There are so many local leaders and organizations that really do great work. And there are large companies and organizations that really want to help communities. My mission is to connect the two for efforts that benefit both the community and the company. That is why I named the company Corporate Community Connections, Inc.


What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We are a solutions company. We create and execute solutions for black people and others in need. For instance, the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority has a goal of empowering its members financially. We created a turnkey solution for financial empowerment and trained DST leaders to use our solution. All without charging the Deltas any fees for our work. We do this for many organizations and churches.


When you first started the business, what drove you, what was your primary motivation?

My motivation was to be able to help black people, businesses and organizations without having to charge them exorbitant fees that they could not afford. We have been able to do that with the help of companies like Prudential, MoneyLion and others.


What drives you now? Is it the same? Did it change? Can you explain what you mean?

What drives me now is my desire to train other people with strategies that have worked for me. I am teaching black executives how to become corporate directors and training Millennial and Gen Z staffers and leaders how to take over my work.


Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I am working with a Fintech company on new financial products for black people. 54% of Black America is unbanked and underbanked. We plan to be among those that change that statistic. My most exciting project is a documentary film series on royal families in Africa. I want the world to know that there is a vibrant and influential presence of royalty in Africa right now and the future of Africa will be influenced by these cultural leaders.


The topic of this series is ‘Five Strategies I Used To Grow My Business To Reach Seven Figures In Revenue’. Congratulations! Seven figures is really a huge milestone. In your experience what was the most difficult part of being able to hit your first million-dollars in sales revenue?

The biggest challenge was a lack of focus. I was treating my business more like a hobby than a business. Once I became focused and revenue became a priority, I began structuring deals correctly, pricing my services appropriately and using my time more strategically.


Could you share the number one sales strategy that you found helpful to help you reach this milestone?

The main sales strategy is knowing what business to accept and what business to reject. Every opportunity is not a good opportunity. The key is to know the business goal and only do what contributes to achieving the specific goal. Just because you are busy does not mean you are productive.


Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you or your team made during a sales process? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest business mistake I made was assuming that an offer for an hourly rate was actually the amount of an annual fee. I almost accepted an annual fee of $175,000 for a project that paid $175 per hour. That was almost a $189,000 error! What I learned was to determine proper pricing before I open my mouth when selling services.


Does your company have a sales team? If yes, do you have any advice about how companies can create very high performing sales teams?

Everyone in the company is a salesperson and eligible for bonuses for any business they develop.


Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Strategies I Used To Grow My Business To Reach Seven Figures In Revenue”. Please share a story or an example for each.

My 5 strategies:

  1. Develop and reward a great team. I hire people who are more creative than I and more often than not, they are under 35 years old. Last year two of my staff were shocked by their Christmas bonus and said they had never received checks that large in their lives.
  2. Only do what you do well. We had an opportunity to secure a contract with the federal government that I passed on to a colleague and his team. They do government work well. We do not.
  3. It is better to do a few big projects for a handful of clients than to be busy doing multiple, small projects. We have turned down many opportunities in order to focus on Prudential and our FinTech partner.
  4. Keep overhead low. When I first started in business, I invested in the company image and wasted lots of money.
  5. Watch the finances. I approve every check and review profit and loss report every week. Expenses can get away from you quickly.


What would you advise to another business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth or sales and “restart their engines”?

There are a number of options. First, try to get more juice out of existing business — more business from existing clients, more sales from existing buyers, higher fees for existing work. Second, consider adding a new line of business. The strengths that fueled growth may position you for a different business. Third, sell the company while the numbers are strong. If we are in business to make money, selling the company for the right price should always be an option.


In your specific industry what methods have you found to be most effective in order to find and attract the right customers? Can you share any stories or examples?

I’m not sure I have an “industry,” but word of mouth from a satisfied customer is always the best way to attract new customers. I have found that teaching customers or clients what to say about our relationship and to whom to say it is priceless. The people served by a business are the best sales force for that business if they are pleased with the service.


Based on your experience, can you share a few strategies to give your customers the best possible user experience and customer service?

The best way to perfect customer service and customer experience is to monitor and study customer complaints. Too often companies become defensive and explanatory in response to complaints. When complaints are taken very seriously, companies can develop a culture of excellence. Also incentivizing good behavior and solutions among employees creates a culture of operational excellence.


As you likely know, this HBR article demonstrates that studies have shown that retaining customers can be far more lucrative than finding new ones. Do you use any specific initiatives to limit customer attrition or customer churn? Can you share some of your advice from your experience about how to limit customer churn?

I maintain personal contact with customers and address any concerns they may have immediately. Companies like direct contact with the principal of a vendor firm or consultant. I also offer unsolicited business advice about their companies that are not within the scope of our relationship. Often, we are exposed to processes or policies that are visible from outside the company but unnoticeable from the inside. Such sharing, when done tastefully, becomes a value added for our relationship. For instance, one company had a staffing shortage and did not realize that their internal hiring process was broken and undermining their ability to fill positions. In that case, the company actually gave us a bonus for unearthing and sharing our perspective on the issue.


Wonderful. We are nearly done. Here are the final “meaty” questions of our discussion. You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would do exactly what I am attempting to do — and that is to inspire black and low income people to take advantage of every ounce of information and every opportunity to grow their financial capacity. The data describing the status of black America is dismal. The number of people living in poverty is too high in a country as wealthy as ours. And the government alone cannot close these economic gaps. Notwithstanding the historic social injustices and current racial challenges, there is still much people can and must do to address the disparities and seize the opportunities. My writing and my volunteer work focuses on that very issue and I hope I am contributing to such a movement.


We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would love to have a private breakfast with Reed Hastings and listen to him describe the building and future of Netflix.


Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!

You Have the Power

This article originally appeared on LasVegasBlackImage.com.


Ask yourself this: is there a day that goes by without a thought or conversation connected to money? Earning, winning, borrowing, losing, sharing, loaning, praying over it, worrying, spending and more. If you don’t interact with the almighty dollar on a daily basis, God bless you — and please share with the rest of us how you accomplish that!


Money as a commodity dominates our lives in some way or another, from the womb to the tomb. Is that not at least an indicator that money has power? The question is, who really controls our money? We know for sure that politics enters into the equation.

In conversations with friends, family, colleagues, the church and myself, money (which is supposed to be the root of all … ) is a continuous topic that controls lives. In my opinion, that legitimizes it as a significant source of power.


Four years ago in Fairfield, Calif., I attended my first dfree Conference — and for the first time, I saw a plan for how the power of money must shift from those trying to take it from the people to the people controlling its power for our benefit. Here, I met the man behind this massive effort: Dr. DeForest Soaries, a preacher out of New Jersey who realized the financial pain and struggle of the people in his church. My mission since has been working with the dfree team and Las Vegas Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. to empower people toward financial freedom.


Dr. Soaries has spent the past 15 years building a “freeway” out of the debt-ridden lives of people whose histories include struggles over the loss of power over their own hard-earned dollars. He and Executive Director Tamika Stembridge have created a Team to focus on debt as the villain. In his book “Say Yes to No Debt,” Dr. Soaries and his team teach the “Billion Dollar Paydown” through a free program aimed at the Black community. “Say Yes to No Debt” has evolved to include programs specifically targeted to young people — complete with online videos and messages from key role models with high profiles.


DFree Academy is a free 12-step virtual program to financial freedom based on biblical principles of preparedness — such as Matthew 25:1-13 and the power verse, Proverbs 22:7 — that relate to our lives today, where debt is presented as our friend.

Take back your economic power in 2021. Go now to www.mydfree.org and free your economic power!


Dr. Ellen Brown is an affiliate faculty member at Regis University, Denver. Contact Dr. Brown at ebrown.nci@gmail.com


Headline: dfree® helps reduce more than $30 million in debt, primarily in Black communities; reaches other major milestones

Author: dfree® Admin

Back Date: April 29, 2021

Photo: For news – 30 mil milestone


More than $30 million in debt has been erased from primarily African American communities in the United States thanks to the Billion Dollar Challenge, a critical component of the dfree® financial freedom movement that advocates for financial justice to uplift Black people and their communities. No other movement has been able to reduce this amount of debt in the Black community.


“Debt equates to modern day slavery for Black families,” said dfree® Global Foundation, Inc., Founder DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. “Eliminating more than $30 million in debt breaks the chains for thousands, and keeps us on the path to closing America’s unjust wealth gap.”


The movement crossed over the $30 million mark on April 19, which is a significant date in Black history for many occasions including: free Black Patriots skirmish with Minutemen at Lexington and Concord, during initial battles of Revolutionary War, in 1775; Cheyney University founded, in 1837; birthday of Pierre Caliste Landry, the first African American elected mayor of a U.S. town (Donaldsonville, LA in 1868); National Urban League formed, 1910; Jackie Robinson became the first African American major league baseball player, in 1947; Maj. Gen. Federic E. Davidson assumed command of the Eighth Infantry Division in Germany and became the first African American to lean an army division, in 1960; Congresswomen Shirley Chisholm and Cardiss Collins became founding member of the Congresswomen’s Caucus, 1977; Max Robinson became the first African American to anchor network news, in 1978.


dfree® Executive Director Tamika Stembridge, Esq., said a new national partnership between dfree® and the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority helped tip the scales over the $30 million debt reduction mark.

“This financial freedom movement has been a phenomenal success because of the partnerships we have, particularly with traditionally Black organizations like sororities and the Black church,” Stembridge said. “There is tremendous value in tackling financial (and life) challenges in community with others. We encourage anyone who is ready to transform their life and their money to consider dfree®!”


Zeta International President Valerie Hollingsworth Baker lauded dfree® as a “wealth-building system specifically designed with the black community in mind. dfree® uses a variety of tools to educate, motivate and support people who make the choice to achieve and sustain financial freedom.”


Also this year, dfree® witnessed the first graduates from its dfree® Academy, 125 individuals.


About dfree®:

Founded in 2005 and run by the dfree® Global Foundation, Inc., dfree® is a financial freedom movement that addresses the cultural, psychological and spiritual influences on financial wellness and offers practical strategies for achieving financial success. dfree® was featured by CNN in a 90­-minute documentary, “Almighty Debt,” an installment of the “Black in America” series, hosted by Soledad O’Brien. The dfree® strategy is being used by hundreds of churches and organizations worldwide. For more information about dfree® visit www.mydfree.org and follow the hashtag, #dFreeNextLevel, on social media.


About Soaries:

Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries Jr. is known as an active agent for change and is a widely requested speaker. He is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey and former New Jersey Secretary of State. His pastoral ministry focuses on spiritual growth, educational excellence, economic empowerment and faith-based community development. Soaries, author of Say Yes to No Debt: 12 Steps to Financial Freedom, has issued a Billion Dollar Challenge as a national initiative and free resource to help individuals and families collectively pay down millions in consumer debt.

How To Buy A Home When You Don’t Make A Lot of Money

This article originally appeared on Essence.com.


Home ownership may seem like something that’s only afforded to the wealthy or those that have a lot in savings; however, it may be more accessible than you think. In addition to the security of shelter, there are many reasons one would want to own a home including equity, tax advantages, and building credit.


However, when you make the decision that you want to buy a home, where exactly do you start? To get the best tips and mistakes to avoid, we spoke with former New Jersey Secretary of State DeForest Soaries, Jr., who is the author of several financial freedom books as well as the founder of the dfree Financial Movement which teaches individuals how to become debt-free as a first step toward financial freedom. Soaries, who is also a Reverend, has over 3,000 churches and organizations utilizing his method.


When it comes to buying a home, there are three things you should keep in mind: the price of the property, government assistance that can help you access said property, and your overall expenses. Soaries, who authored “Say Yes to No Debt: 12 Steps to Financial Freedom” shares this rule—“One should always purchase a home that is affordable.” It’s important to set a budget in advance and have a realtor who will show you property within this price range. Don’t even bother looking at things above what you can afford—this is not the time to dream. You want something you can afford to live in vs. becoming a slave to your home.


Soaries states, “Housing expenses should not exceed 33% of income,” and adds, “I prefer 25%. Anything above that is unaffordable.” If you are grossing about $48,000/year, which is about $4,000/month, your mortgage all in should be no more than $1,320.00. If you’re not sure how much house or apartment you can afford, use a mortgage calculator to help. This is great research to do even before you go to the bank or credit union for a loan.


The mortgage calculator will ask you for information including your interest rate and your down payment, plus how long you want to take to pay off the loan. Your down payment is how much you are placing in advance toward your property. While many of these sites recommend 20%, not everyone has that amount of cash in savings and that’s okay. Soaries recommends, “People with low incomes who desire to become homeowners should enroll in a HUD certified First Time Homebuyers program that offers counseling and down payment assistance.” Through these programs, first time homeowners can put down as little as 3%. If you are buying a $100,000.00 property, $3,000.00 is a lot more affordable than $20,000.00. You’ll also feel more confident knowing the inner workings of the home buying process. Soaries explains, “These programs will assist with understanding how much one can afford to spend on housing and identify the best financing option available.”


In an addition to attempting to purchase too expensive of a property, Soaries reveals that homebuyers also make the rookie mistake of  “having insufficient funds in savings for emergencies.” Even before you consider purchasing property, you should have six months of expenses saved—in case something happens, like losing your job, you want to be able to financially float yourself until you find a new source of income. Lastly, Soaries recommends looking at your debt. He explains that you want to “minimize your debt to income ratio.” This means figuring out how much of your monthly gross income goes toward paying off things like your student loans, credit cards, car payments, etc. Lenders want to see less than 36% of your income going toward paying debt. Think big and purchasing a home can actually help you live mortgage-free and lower your debt.


Soaries advises, “Lower and median income home buyers should consider buying two, three, or four family homes. The money that tenants will pay the owner can contribute significantly to the cost of living of the owner.” If the multi-family home is not exactly your “dream home,” it can be an investment for future property. You can use the equity to help you property access money for the home or apartment you actually desire.


Education is key when it comes to home buying. It can feel like a daunting task but know it’s doable. Ensure that you are well aware of your finances so you are empowered in what you can purchase. There’s ton of free help that can assist you in making this financial purchase (so use it!) and lastly, remember to look at your debt. Don’t be afraid of it. With these tips, you’re now on your way to buying your first home!