Friday, December 28, 2007
While things change and some numbers change, we are still focused on getting out of debt on our target date. That date?
December 31, 2008.
We are happy to say that, since April of this year, our debts have continued to go down. We have not added a penny to them. While we do not know if we will "hit" that target date, we are going to do our very best.
Hopefully we can keep you up-to-date on this blog as to how we are doing.
In other news...
Where Your Treasure Is has been added to pfblogs.org. This site is a reader--much like an RSS feed--of scores of personal finance blogs. However, to be added, a site has to be reviewed and approved. I am proud to announce that we were approved yesterday and added late yesterday. Check out the site for literally hundreds of great articles from dozens of blogs and watch for articles from Where Your Treasure Is!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
But December 2007 will go down as a great one in the Faughn house!
We budgeted for Christmas throughout the year and are going to be right at the budget. We still have a couple more gifts to purchase, but we still have money left, too. So that came in right on schedule. Our family helped very much. We all set a limit (that was equal for everyone) on what we would spend on Christmas presents. We set a limit where we could get each person something he/she wanted, without feeling the pressure to buy anything huge. It took some savvy shopping, and some online work, but we met that goal.
Also, our electric bill (for November; paid in early December) was low for this time of year. We have been staying around 50 degrees and have actually been up in the 70s for a few days in late November, so our heater didn't have to run all that much. Also, when we went out of town for Thanksgiving, we turned the unit way down, so it would hardly run. While our water bill was a bit high, it was more than covered by the lower electric bill.
We have had two negatives this month, though. First, we have had to travel a bit more than expected, so we are going to barely make our gasoline budget (if we make it). Gas prices have come down just a bit, which is helping, but we are still paying quite a bit (about $2.85 on average). Also, our DirecTV bill had a mistake on it and the mistake was ours. We had been paying it, but we had been unintentionally late a couple of times. We just did not realize that our payment was due on the 1st of the month, and we had been waiting until the 2nd week of the month, because we pay all our bills out of that one paycheck. We had to pay the extra money, but we also had DirecTV move our "due" date back so we can continue paying without the late charge. We also went ahead and paid January's bill early.
Now, for the big "upside" factor. For the past 3 months, I have been teaching a class for Faulkner University, one night each week, on the Book of Acts. I finished last week and quickly graded all papers and sent in the necessary paperwork on the night of the final. I was hoping to get my paycheck before Christmas (kind of a "special" holiday treat). They were good to me, and we got the paycheck yesterday.
Add all these up, and December became a banner month for us:
1. First, we got cash to pay for our entire trip to the Freed-Hardeman University lectures in February. The trip is already taken care of, which will be a big help in January's budget.
2. Second, we are up to date on all bills (since we got our mistake taken care of with DirecTV). We have never been behind before--and still haven't intentionally--so this is a great relief.
3. Finally, and most exciting for us, is the fact that we paid off...are you ready for this?...over $1100 in debt this month! We did that while going Christmas shopping and taking another 2 trips out of town! By sticking to out budget and using the extra money from my class, we were able to attack our debt.
When you have good news, you just have to share it. And this was great news to us. We're not debt free, yet. But we are working on it, and this month really pumped us up to work even harder in 2008 to finish our journey out of debt!
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
However, in this last chapter, Bach addresses one more aspect of life that is a financial decision: giving back.
When I first saw the title for this chapter, I was a bit upset. It is "Make a Difference with Automatic Tithing." While this is another discussion, I don't believe in tithing. I believe in giving. I believe we are under New Testament obligation to give, but that we are not told to give a specific amount. Also, I had trouble with the idea of making my giving "automatic." Bach goes so far as to say that your tithe should be automatically deducted from your paycheck, just like the mortgage.
While I still don't agree with all the aspects of this chapter, after some consideration, I turned around a little. Why? Because Bach is writing a book "for the masses," and he still makes giving a priority.
Admittedly, he speaks of giving to a charitable organization or church (and he leans towards charities), but, still, Bach helps us understand that giving is an essential part of any financial plan. He ends the chapter by reminding the reader that some of the wealthiest people of all time gave, and did so before they could really afford to give!
My recommendation is to give, but don't "automate" the process. Take each week and think of how the Lord has prospered you. Give accordingly.
While I don't agree with the entire chapter, there is still quite a lot of worthy information if you are interested in giving money to a specific charity. Bach takes a brisk look at different ways to accomplish this worthwhile goal.
Monday, December 10, 2007
The other is that we still go out to eat sometimes. We don't go a lot, but we do like to "grab a burger" every couple of weeks. We also like to "dine" about once a month. We don't go to five-star restaurants, but we also don't go to Waffle House for our fine dining!
However, just because we set aside money for eating out does not mean we can just pile up a huge bill when we do so. Many people leave a restaurant and have no idea where all the money went. Here are some "little" things that really add up when you eat out:
1. Appetizers and desserts. At most national chains (think Applebee's, Olive Garden, etc.), these can be anywhere from $5-$10 each. Just adding one appetizer and/or dessert can make a bill get large quickly. Why do you think the wait staff asks you if you want them?
Two people: one gets an appetizer, the other dessert: add about $15 to your bill.
2. Not drinking water. I have to admit, I "add this" on my bill nearly every time I eat out. I drink a lot of water during the day, so, when I eat out, I want something else. This being a Christian blog, we're not even going to discuss the cost of alcohol. But just think of a soda, tea or lemonade. $1.50-$3.00 per person! And many restaurants are starting to offer "premium" drinks, like specialty sodas that are even more.
Two people: two "non-water" drinks: add about $4 to your bill.
3. Over-ordering. Some restaurants have smaller and larger versions of certain dishes. Many have half-portions if you will just ask, especially on large dishes. Often we are guilty of letting our eyes tell us we will eat a 12 ounce steak, when we only end up eating 6 or 8 ounces. If you constantly have food left over, ask about smaller portions, OR...
4. Not getting to-go boxes. When you have food left over and you can take it home, but fail to do so, you are leaving money on the table. If an entree costs $10 and you each 3/4 of it, but don't take the rest home, you, in essence, just left $2.50 on the table...and not as a tip. Sometimes you are travelling and cannot take food home, but you often can. Do so if possible.
Two people: don't eat (or take home) 1/4 of two $10 entrees: you just lost $5.
5. Tipping Too Much. I think tipping is a great thing. Many waiters are great and earn their money through kind service and quick response. Others, though, don't. They are just there and don't do well at all. There are some who think you should tip a certain percentage "no matter what, because it's just the right thing to do." I can't disagree more! While I always leave a tip, a waiter has to earn a larger tip.
Two people: overtip by $3.
Add all those things up. On a typical night at a typical restaurant, by just doing these five things, you have over-spent (or lost) $27. Now, do that once a month (which is way less than most people eat out), and you have just thrown away over $300 just in "extras" while eating out.
You can eat out and be frugal, but you have to think and plan ahead.
- Make a list of the current outstanding balances on each of your credit card accounts.
- Divide each balance by the minimum payments that particular card company wants from you. The result is that account's DOLP number. For example, say your outstanding Visa balance is $500 and the minimum payment is $50. Dividing the total debt ($500) by the minimum payment ($50) gives you a DOLP number of 10.
- Once you've figured out the DOLP number for each account, rank them in reverse order, putting the account with the lowest DOLP number first, the one with the second lowest number second, and so on. [Page 206 has a table that shows you small example; using three credit/charge cards.]
5. Now Make It Automatic! You knew this was coming, didn't you? Automatically pay your debts from your paycheck (or checking account) until the debt is gone. When it is gone, call that company and close the account completely, then automatically pay off the next debt, paying all you can each month to get it gone (including the money you were sending into the first debt).
Now, you are debt free, your house is being paid off quickly and you have money going into retirement. There is still one more step, though.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
According to one survey of consumer finance published by the Federal Reserve in January 2000, the average net worth of renters was $4,200 vs. $132,000 for homeowners. In other words, homeowners were more than 31 times richer than renters! (page 160)
Thursday, November 29, 2007
My monthly expenses currently total $_________.
I currently have $___________ saved in a money market or checking account.
This equals _______ [insert number] months' worth of expenses.
What's a real emergency? Be honest with yourself. You know what a real emergency is. A real emergency is something that threatens your survival, not just your desire to be comfortable. (140)
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
However, when people are in debt (or saving for another financial goal) how does that family not get side-tracked during the buying frenzy of Christmas? Here are some suggestions.
1. Have a limit and stick with it. The best way to do this, in my mind, is to discuss ahead-of-time with your family how much you can spend on each member of the family. We have done this in my family and it is already helping us stick to our Christmas budget.
2. Look for sales, but don't get duped by every "sale." Just because Store A has a shirt for 25% off does not mean that the shirt is quality. Make sure that the price is good for the item you are purchasing. Some retailers truly believe in volume instead of quality this time of year. I would rather pay a couple of dollars more for a quality item. Also, make sure the "sale" is really a SALE. Sometimes prices are marked up, then marked a certain percentage "off," and you are right back at the original price!
3. Shop online before shopping in person. You can find great deals online, but you can also find out what things are really selling for. Many times, when you shop online, you end up paying more for the item because you have to pay for shipping. Factor that in! If the item is going to be more with shipping, go to the store, but make sure you know what you could have paid online. Sometimes, for bigger-ticket items, stores will bargain a bit.
4. If you find a deal, don't spend more just to reach your limit. For example, if you have $50 set aside for your sibling and you find "THE BLOUSE" that she has been wanting for $30, don't feel obligated to spend the other $20 on another gift. Take that money and pay down a debt, or use it for gasoline on your Christmas gift-giving. The people you are buying for already know you love them, and they will never know that you got a good deal.
5. Remember your goals. I can't overstate this. If getting out of debt is a high priority--truly a high priority--you will not overspend on Christmas. This is a time of year that will really test your dedication to your financial goals.
Enjoy Christmas shopping. Be kind to those in the stores. Don't ruin their experience. But make sure you don't lose focus of your goals when it comes to your finances.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
10 Easy Ways to Save Money Without Much Effort (via Consumerism Commentary) Thanks to Adam for submitting this link last week...
What If You Make Maximum Retirement Contributions For 20, 30, 40 Years? (Roth IRA, Traditional IRA, 401k, 403b) (via No Credit Needed)
Organization 101: A Visual Guide to How I Manage the Information in My Life (via The Simple Dollar) Trent uses a system very closely akin to David Allen's "Getting Things Done" philosophy. Here he spells it out...and includes pictures.
Would Jesus Have an Emergency Fund? (via ChristianPF) This addresses an interesting thought we probably have all considered about the balance of saving for the future and using our blessings for God's good.
MP3 Players for Nine Year Olds? Whatever Happened to Simple, Inexpensive Fun? (via Money, Matter, and More Musings) In the holiday shopping spirit...
Friday, November 16, 2007
When you are planning to sign up for new service with a company that a friend or family member already has service with, check to see if the company offers referral bonuses. Some that definitely do:
- DirecTV as mentioned offers $50 to the referring customer and the new referred friend.
- Dish Network offers $50 for the referring customer, though I'm not sure if the new customer gets a credit.
- Charter Communications offers $25 for each person on new phone service.
- AT&T offers a variety of $25-50 referral bonuses to the referring friend on new phone service, or new features on phone service (ie. adding long distance or high speed internet).
- Earthlink offers one month of free service or $25 cards for the referring friend on new internet or cable packages.
- AT&T Wireless (formerly Cingular) offers $25 for the referring customer and the new referred friend on new wireless plans.
- Many Credit Cards (at least Citi cards) frequently offer referral bonuses to the new card member and the referring card member.
Oh, and by the way, if you need someone to refer you to DirecTV, AT&T residential, or AT&T Wireless let me know, I'd be glad to give you the referral info needed to get the credit!
Photo: Sufi Nawaz via stock.xchng.
Adam submitted the article, so they accidentally credited him with the writing.
Enjoy the entire carnival (James's article is 3rd) here.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
Along with adopting Buster we received hundreds of extra pets....fleas. We tried everything. Flea collars, flea shampoo baths, carpet treatments, the liquid stuff from Wal-Mart that goes on their backs, etc. Finally, on my most recent trip to the vet, we purchased some flea medication from him. I would have gone to him first, but I was trying to save some money by not buying the prescription medication. In all, we've probably spent nearly $50 at this point on flea medication things...the treatment from the vet was $9 per tube that treats them for one month. We gave it to them, and within days saw an immediate difference.
The frugality moral of this whole ramble is twofold. 1) Call around to different vets. Our normal vet charges much less for seeing animals than the vet we went to in an emergency, which is why we have spent so much on Buster. And we don't care for him as much even! All vets do NOT charge the same! and 2) If your pet has fleas or needs some kind of treatment...you can probably save money in the long run by taking them to the vet immediately.
That's life with pets in the Dalton home!
Thursday, November 8, 2007
- Trimming the Fat: Forty Ways to Reduce Your Monthly Required Spending (via The Simple Dollar) From back in June...some helpful suggestions here...
- We haven't just borrowed from "the bank." We've borrowed from future generations... (p11)
- And many of us are out there "making a dying" because we've bought the pervasive American myth that more is better. (p 12)
- Americans used to be "citizens." Now we are "consumers"--which means people who "use up, waste, destroy and squander." (p 15)
- Whoever dies with the most toys wins. Life, liberty and the pursuit of material possessions. (p 17)
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Most people believe that the secret to getting rich is all about finding new ways of increasing their income as quickly as possible. "If only I could make more money," they declare, "I'd be rich." (page 31)
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Click here to read the review of Getting Things Done.
After starting the system, you may want a simple way to do it. I don't own a PDA, so I am just using a notebook right now. However, 43 Folders provides a "Hipster PDA" plan that I may begin using.
Friday, November 2, 2007
When we stand on judgment, we will be held accountable for how we used the time we were given. There is only so much of it to go around. No one has any more or any less than anyone else. Therefore, how we use our time goes a long way determining our success in all areas of life.
Here are some "productivity" links for this week. Remember, I'm not necessarily the most productive guy out there, but I did read about it on the internet/play one on TV/stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night...
- David Seah. The subtitle for his blog is, "Better Living Through New Media." He has created many helpful applications for helping get things done more effectively and efficiently. Personally, I use the Compact Calendar for planning (right now, my 2008 version is covered in black, blue, and red ink) and the Desktop Flash version of the Emergent Task Timer (part of the Printable CEO Series).
- Skrbl. I haven't really used this site, but it looks like fun and sounds interesting if you work in a team setting. It's an internet-based whiteboard. All you do is share the URL to your specific board, and others can log in and edit the notes and information written there.
- Mozilla Firefox Cheat Sheet. If you're not using Mozilla's Firefox as your primary internet browser, you're missing out. Most importantly, it's more secure than IE. Additionally, it's far more customizable and efficient. Here's a comprehensive list of shortcuts and cheats for the browser.
- Classic Tie Knots (via Brooks Brothers). Here's a "how-to" guide for several different tie knots. Since many of us wear ties on a regular basis, this might be helpful.
- Building Strong and Memorable Passwords (via Corvus Consulting). You can't be too safe on the internet today. This is a helpful suggestion to creating unique--but memorable--passwords for each site you need login information. I've started using this technique for the various sites to which I login.
- How to Get Up Right Away When Your Alarm Goes Off (via Steve Pavlina). Helpful tip here. Boy do I need to implement it into my routine.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Today, let's begin looking at Chapter 1: The Money Trap the Old Road Map for Money.
- "Your money or your life." If someone thrust a gun in your ribs and said that sentence, what would you do? Most of us would turn over our wallets. The threat works because we value our lives more than we value our money. Or do we?
- Even the best of jobs have trade-offs. Midlife comes and we discover we've been living our parents' agenda. Or worse, we've been filling teeth for twenty years because some seventeen-year-old (was that really me?) decided that being a dentist would be the best of all possible worlds.
- And they call [the modern career path] making a living? Think about it. How many people have you seen who are more alive at the end of the work day that they were at the beginning? Do we come home from our "making a living" activity with more life? Do we bound through the door, refreshed and energized, ready for a great evening with the family? Where's all the life we supposedly made at work? For many of us, isn't the truth of it closer to "making a dying"? Aren't we killing ourselves--our health, our relationships, our sense of joy and wonder for our jobs? We are sacrificing our lives for money--but it's happening so slowly that we barely notice.
- Even if we aren't any happier, you'd think that we'd at least have the traditional symbol of success: money in the bank. Not so...The savings rate was 4.5 percent in 1990 [I have an older edition ;)]...The Japanese, by the way, save over 15 percent of their disposable income.
I'll post more quotables from chapter 1 later...
Check out the Prologue if you missed it last month...
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
At the outset, I will tell you my biases, both for and against this book. You will probably notice that they will come up several times in this brief series.
First, the negative. I don't fully agree with Bach's strategy. While some of what he has to say is wonderful, and I will praise a couple of his principles several times, I don't like his lack of focus. I follow Dave Ramsey on this one: do one thing with total focus until it's done. Bach likes to divide our focus into more than one thing at times, and I don't like that.
The positive--besides the principles I like--is that the book is extremely readable and brief. I have read it three times, and actually read over half of the book in one day (without even reading all day) last year. It is one of the few financial books I enjoy reading.
The book begins by promising to help in a practical way, and promises to do so in a short amount of time. Like many books, this volume does not give you "hot stock tips" or other such financial information. It, rather, changes our attitude about money.
After laying out some practical points ("You don't have to make a lot of money to be rich," for example--page 7), Bach gives is overriding theme, and the one for which the book is named:
If your financial plan is not automatic, you will fail! (7)
If you can remember that point, you will do well with this book. It comes up in every single chapter, and makes the book simple to understand.
The introduction is short, but it does grab the reader's attention. If you don't have a copy of The Automatic Millionaire, you may purchase it from the link below. While you may or may not agree with everything Bach says, the book is definitely worth the price of a used copy.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
After you are debt free, the third step is to "finish" the emergency fund; fully funding it to have 3- to 6-months worth of household expenses.
The reason a solid financial plan includes an emergency fund is because there are rainy days. While we don't like to think about it, we will have an emergency at some point. Having the money available is such a help.
I am now faced with the family dilemma of whether we are really in an "emergency" or not. We have our $1000 fund (it's actually nearly $1100), and we are now working the debt snowball. While we have quite a way to go (almost $20000), we are really making good progress.
The engine blows on our second car.
Here is what makes this a dilemma: we already have one car, and it is really good. While we think we need two vehicles, we might be able to make it on one for awhile. And, we really don't want to go deeper into debt just to have a second car! Add to that the fact that $1000 would not buy much of a car, and we don't want to completely deplete our emergency fund for this purpose.
Such are the times that make our heads spin!
What would you suggest?
Thursday, October 25, 2007
- How I Live Without Using Credit Cards - My Simple System for Living on a Budget (via No Credit Needed) Thanks to Adam for recommending this worthwhile write-up.
- Budgeting is Like Baking Cookies (via ChristianPF) I'm a big fan of analogy/comparison articles. These are some excellent points about budgeting.
- An Annoying Email I Got (via I Will Teach You to Be Rich) The end of this conversation is where this really gets interesting. Finances are no different from faith in this perspective: advice (even Biblical) is of no use unless we are willing to change.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
If you do much reading on financial planning, or any reading on budgeting, you will probably find a similar breakdown of how to allocate your funds. I find the comparison in the article to be quite interesting.
I also find it eye-opening. Did you notice that nowhere in the "guideline" was there a line item for "Church" or even "charitable giving"? Even if you looked at the miscellaneous category as that kind of spending, it would only be 8% of the budget (at most).
Recently, Wes wrote an article on this blog that I hope you will go back and read. Sometimes faithful Christians really have a struggle with their attitude towards money. The reason is quite simple: we either give like we should and stay deeply in debt (or just waaaay behind the "Joneses"), or we live like everyone else without giving anything but a token to the Lord.
Christians need to remember that, in our "budget meetings," the Lord doesn't just come first. What? Isn't that what we always say? Write down what you make and put "Church" or "Giving" as the first item on the list? Yes, we should do that. God shouldn't get the leftovers, He should get our first "fruits."
However, that's not the only place God should be in our budget meetings. The Lord shouldn't just come first on the piece of paper or on the spreadsheet. He should be in charge of the meeting! Every decision, from the debt reduction to eating out, should have our spiritual lives in focus.
When we do that, we will adjust our "percentages" accordingly.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
- How to Best Handle Old Credit Card Accounts (via Consumerism Commentary) Having "old" credit card accounts can be a good problem to have...here's some advice on what to do with them.
- 10 Ways to Build the Habit of Saving Money (via Get Rich Slowly) It's subtle, but I love how the title says "Build the Habit of Saving Money." Becoming a responsible steward is a process. Hopefully, children are reared in this direction from an early age. If not, adults need to have the patience to change bad habits into healthy ones over time.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
The first show, which Ramsey admitted was a little different from the way the format will regularly be, featured more of Dave giving his usual opening speech (middle-class roots, quickly became a millionaire, lost it all, learned more about how money really works, etc.). He also took one entire segment to outline the 7 Baby Steps that serve as the basis of his advice.
There were several phone calls and emails throughout the show, and these will form the major portion of the show on most nights. The only drawback, in my mind, is that the show is only one hour in length. The reason that is a drawback is because Ramsey seemed to hurry through the phone calls to cover more ground. Maybe that will change when the show is almost entirely phone calls and emails.
Overall, I enjoyed the show. If you like Ramsey's radio show, you will like the TV show. The graphics are well-done and easy to read, and the premise is simple: Dave behind a desk answering questions.
Catch the show each weekday at 8 Eastern/7 Central on Fox Business. If you are on DirecTV, the channel is 359.
Just another example that shows frugality often requires planning ahead to avoid unnecessary fees and costs.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Debt should be on the mind of Christians for many reasons. Notice just one as we think about living off of a certain percentage:
As Christians, we are expected to give regularly (1 Cor. 16:2) and proportionally (2 Cor. 8:3). Additionally, we should be willing to serve the Lord with our financial blessings (e.g., helping the needy, giving to reputable charities, etc.) (Mt. 25:31-46).
We must ask ourselves a tough question when we consider these financial responsibilities in light of debt (especially irresponsible debt like unpaid-off credit cards, payday loans, etc.): "Am I able to give sacrificially to the Lord if I'm living off more than 100% of my income?"
I don't think it's possible. Notice a little hypothetical math: If I make 10,000 dollars annually, and give $1,000 of it to the church (roughly $20 weekly), I technically give 10% of my income. If, over the course of the year, I put $1,000 on a high-interest credit card without paying it all off, I've just raised the ceiling of my living expenses without raising the level of income. Therefore, I've not really made any sacrifices in order to give that $20 a week to the local church. Theoretically, I could give $5,000 a year--and it would seem as though I was giving an amazing 50%--and turn to a credit card instead of adjusting my spending habits. I get almost anything I want and still give to the church. But that's not the point.
God knows we could use the percentage we give for additional things at our disposal, yet he wants us to trust him (and our elders) to use it in much better ways than we would personally. What if we read that the widow gave all she had--those two mites--but then went and borrowed two more from a Pharisee so that she could buy some more clothes or living amenities? It wouldn't be giving all she had if she kept going back for more beyond her affluence.
May we always consider our financial decisions in light of our relationship to the Lord.
"Be not one of those who give pledges, who put up security for debts." Proverbs 22:26
- Do We Spend More When We Swipe Plastic? (via Poorer Than You) I've heard this claim over the past several years (of course, it hasn't exactly kept me from using our debit card instead of cash). PTY doesn't set out to disprove the claim, only to verify or validate its source. Officially, there is no firm conclusion. However, I tend to agree with PTY's assessment that it depends on personality rather than monetary medium.
- Getting to Now: How to Beat the Procrastination Habit (via Get Rich Slowly) I've had this stored away in my unposted links folder for almost a month now...never could get around to posting it ;)
Friday, October 12, 2007
Here's some linkification:
- Widow Loses Credit History Along with Husband (via Consumerist) This highlights the importance of checking credit reports regularly. You can do it through annualcreditreport.com NOT
the one with the catchy advertising jingle (it's not really free).
- 14 Children's Cold Meds Withdrawn from the Market (via Consumerist) If you have young children, take note of what's in your medicine cabinet.
- Planning Your Collegiate Finances (via We're In Debt) I've posted several links to advice for HS grads or college students before; the more those generations are encouraged to view and handle money responsibly, the better.
- Going Steady with Your Boss - 20 Reasons Your Job Is Like a High School Relationship (via Money $mart Life) This is rather humorous; I'm sure it's much more applicable for people in professions other than public ministry...just a slight bit of Friday humor for you.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
For a long time, a local Nashville station has aired some of the Dave Ramsey radio show on its local market, but that failed to reach many people. So, in just five days, Dave will be on a new network, Fox Business Network, in a primetime slot.
It is worth checking with your local cable network to see if the network will be on in you area. GREAT NEWS: If you have DirecTV, you will be getting the network (channel 359). I enjoy hearing Ramsey's radio program, but don't get to hear it much (since I'm usually at work when he is on). A prime-time TV slot would let me see him (or record via DVR) the program and get a little "help" each day.
Click here for the link from Dave's website, which also features a short video about the move.
Here is the new network's website.
Monday, October 8, 2007
- What [most money] books have in common is that they assume that your financial life functions separately from the rest of your life. This book is about putting it all back together. It is about integration, a "whole systems" approach to life (xviii).
- Even though we "won" the Industrial Revolution, the spoils of war are looking more and more spoiled...the old road map for money has us trapped in the very vehicle that was supposed to liberate us from toil (xx).
- FI (financially independent) thinking is about cartography--making your own map, one that accurately depicts the terrain of your life as it actually is today (xxv).
- FI (financially independent) thinking will lead naturally to Financial Intelligence, Financial Integrity and Financial Independence (xxv).
I also appreciate how their approach is designed for individuality. Too many people (especially the most famous ones) in personal finance try to give virtually the same advice no matter the situation.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Some links for your Wednesday:
- The Simple Dollar Book Club: Your Money or Your Life (via The Simple Dollar) I'm two chapters away from finishing my current reading material (Visioneering by Andy Stanley). When I finish (hopefully today), I plan to start Your Money or Your Life and read Trent's detailed reviews. He's previously published a review of the entire book.
- Top 50 Christian Business & Finance Blogs (via Bootstrapper)
From ChristianPF.com (who might have commented on one of Wes's recent posts):
- What is an IRA account? I know we've mentioned IRA's before, but this is another helpful summary about them. If you're a preacher or paid minister, opening an IRA of some sort is a very helpful thing...chances are, you have no other retirement, like a 401k. Some congregations will even match (either 100% or 50%) your donations to an IRA...thereby giving you free money.
- How to Budget with ING Direct This highlights the usefulness of online accounts--specifically the ING Direct savings account, which allows for easy multiple accounts.
Monday, October 1, 2007
Giving is good for us. Giving to God is even better. By sacrificing, we put our trust in God and we show our appreciation to Him. This chapter simply deals with how that has been done over the centuries.
Section one deals with 3 tithes that Old Testament Jews were required to make. The first is called The Priestly Tithe by Brother Black because the purpose was to aid the priests in their work (75-76). The other two tithes are not given specific names, but are listed to impress upon us that Jews were required to give a significant amount of their wealth often (76-77).
With that reminder in place, brother Black turns the student's attention to the New Testament law. What are we to give? As we have noted, there is no "set" amount listed in the New Testament, but Christians are still commanded to give. We are to be good stewards of our blessings and we are to give liberally to the cause of the Lord. How do we do that? Section two deals with the mental side of giving. It takes a mental recognition of the need for stewardship (77-78).
Finally, to close the book (79), Black helps us see the fallacy in giving only what is left over. David, in Second Samuel 24:24 understood that he needed to sacrifice in order to please God, not just give Him "something." David said that he would not give to God something that did not cost him anything. I need that same attitude! I need to learn the meaning of sacrifice, and I need to trust God to protect me.
After having read through this book again, and having written these posts, it is cemented in my mind that Christians (me included!) need more teaching on money, stewardship and sacrificial giving. This book may be somewhat hard to find, but it will be worth finding. Adult classes (and even youth classes) would benefit greatly from a study of this book. It is not long (just 80 pages), but it covers so much. If you are looking for material for a Bible class, find this book and teach it. Then, live it!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones."
Obviously that's good stuff. Now notice the very next two verses (9-10):
"Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine" (emphasis added, JS).
The key to financial "peace" or "security" is realizing "peace" and "security" can never come from money or things we can buy with it. Only the Lord is capable of truly comforting us in this life and the next (Phil. 4:4-7). He will only bless financially those who will bless Him (and therefore others, Mt. 25) with those same blessings. Obviously, this goes a lot further than the collection plate.
- Top High-Yield Savings Accounts: Interest Rates & Some Thoughts (via Money, Matter, and More Musings)
- Simple Tips to Organizing Your Vital Information - Are You Prepared? (via My Estate Planning Career Blog)
- Is the Value Menu Really a Value? Comparing the Homemade Double Cheeseburger to The McDonald's $1 Version (via The Simple Dollar) This is a classic post. The post itself is intriguing. I think Trent conducted his "experiment" pretty fairly and thoroughly...and in my opinion, the health factor trumps price anyway. It's also amazing to read the comments and see how many people almost seem "offended" that even the cheapest thing on a fast food menu isn't that great of a financial deal. I guess we're still not ready to accept that something we've been told is a good deal is not really as good as it is presented. BTW, advertising is the only difference between Mickey D's and Trent's experiment. Equipment is a moot point (because homes already have cooking equipment and McDonald's billions served have more than paid for their burger presser). My guess is that they're still making dough off that $1 Double Cheeseburger (and an even greater % on those fries and drink). James, you have anything to add from behind the scenes we might not be aware of?
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
To emphasize the giving of the wise men, brother Black mentions these four points about their giving:
1. "They made ready for the offering" (page 69). To emphasize the modern-day lesson, brother Black reminds us of Matthew 6:33 and also the Old Testament story of the widow of Zarephath.
2. "They guarded their offering" (70). While not stated in the text, it is obvious that these men had to guard the gifts they brought, simply because of the distance they traveled and the value of each gift. We often "lose" our gifts by robbers. Brother Black enumerates some of these "robbers" as "need," "carelessness" and "automobile!" (70-71)
3. "They presented their offerings to Christ" (71). They went directly to Jesus to offer these gifts. This shows the desire of their heart as much as the gift itself.
4. "They provided for Christ's needs in their offering" (72). Do we give with needs in mind, or do we just give because we "have to"? That's a question that only I can answer for myself, but that will teach me much about my heart.
Friday, September 21, 2007
- The Simple Dollar Guide to Eating Out (via The Simple Dollar) Look past his advice regarding alcohol; I'm intrigued by his philosophy. Plan to eat out big and expensive (just not very often). We love a meal done right, but we often settle for eating out at cheaper--but lower quality--places too often. We may try to implement a similar approach ourselves.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Purchasing textbooks from a school bookstore, religious books from a local Christian bookstore, or good reading material from a supermarket or local bookstore may be convenient, but it is far from cost effective. Most of our books were purchased from Half.com or from Amazon Marketplace. My sister-in-law purchased a textbook off eBay for this semester and saved over $100 on that one Chemistry textbook! Oh, and by the way, all but a couple of the books we purchased were new. There isn't a very high percentage of difference between most used and new books in online marketplaces.
For frugality's sake, next time you need/want a book, don't just go to the local store and buy it. Be willing to wait a couple of weeks on shipment (plan ahead if needed!), and purchase it online. I recommend using GetTextbooks.com. GetTextbooks is a search engine through which you can search by ISBN#, title, or author. Once you have selected the book you want to purchase it compares online stores and marketplaces (including Half.com, Alibris, Amazon Marketplace, Bookbyte, eCampus), and displays a listing of the prices at each store. The displayed list is in order of price (lowest to highest), and displays the seller, new/used, price, shipping price, and the total you would pay. It's a great tool to quickly search a large number of online book sellers. If I had found this tool sooner, I probably would have saved even more!