Hope for your financial life and beyond

Do You Really Need Life Insurance for Your Family?

Our own mortality is a topic we don’t like to discuss. I was reminded again of this recently when a friend of mine had open heart surgery. He is doing great and expected to make a full recovery. But as I sat in the waiting room with his wife and family during the surgery, I kept thinking how her life would change if things took a turn for the worse.

do you need life insuranceThere are so many questions after the death of a spouse. Some of those questions relate to money. It may seem insensitive to link death and finances together but it’s a reality we can’t ignore.

What would happen if your spouse died today? Would your financial life come crashing down also? Would your family suffer because you weren’t prepared for this event?

Fortunately, those questions can be answered. The best part is you can settle it and have peace of mind before anything happens by purchasing a quality life insurance policy.

What is Life Insurance?

[Read more…]

5 Personal Finance Items to Evaluate at Least Once a Year

When was the last time you took inventory of your personal finances? It’s easy to get things set in place and then just ignore them. Who really wants to continually review all the facets of personal finance anyway? It takes so much time.

personal finance checklistWell, here is the thing – the pace of life is fast. Because of that, it’s easy to let things slip by. When it comes to our money, we may be missing out on opportunities to improve on the things we have in place and save money in the process.

And in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t take as much time as you think to do a thorough review. It will be worth it compared to the consequences that might come should you miss something important.

The idea of taking inventory of your financial life is not new. King Solomon in the Bible was the wisest man who ever lived.  In the book of Proverbs he wrote this:

“Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds; for riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations.” (Prov. 27:23-24)

We cannot assume just because something was once a good deal, investment or financial goal that it will continue to be so. Our life circumstances change so we should be on the cutting edge of awareness about these matters.

Your Yearly Personal Finance Review

Here are five key areas of our personal finances that my wife and I review at least once a year:

[Read more…]

7 Positive Lessons from Job’s Friends on Helping Hurting People

Ever felt like you had no clue how to help someone who was hurting? It doesn’t matter if the pain is physical, emotional or spiritual. Too often we simply freeze, not really knowing how to best help our friends in need.

Should I give them advice? Try to cheer them up? Give them a hug? Offer to help them in some way? Who really knows, right? It’s simply hard to know the appropriate way to respond so as not to hurt or offend them further.

job's friendsThe Bible records a story for us about a man named Job (pronounced “jobe”) who felt some of the deepest emotional pain one could experience. In his time of pain, three of his friends came to be with him. The initial steps they took serve as an example to us all on how to respond when one of our friends is hurting.

[Read more…]

How to Make Sure You Never Need a Car Loan

My wife and I have recently bought a new car. It was used but new to us. The best part about the whole deal was that we didn’t have to take out a car loan.

We paid cash.

car loanNow, we are both in our forties and well established financially. So you might think this purchase was a piece of cake. On the contrary, it wasn’t. It took us two years of preparation to be able to buy this vehicle. But it was worth the effort to avoid needing a car loan.

How did we do it? I’ll share that in a minute and show you the steps to take to never need a car loan again. But first, let’s look at the reasons why people feel the need to take out a car loan in the first place.

[Read more…]

My Varidesk Review: The Standing Desk Alternative for Your Office Space

Are you looking for a standing desk alternative for your desk space at home or office? Tired of sitting all day? That was me several months ago.

When I was a high school teacher I used to stand all day long. When I quit teaching, I found myself sitting a whole lot more – sitting to write blog posts, sitting to prepare messages for my church youth group and sitting during staff meetings. I began to notice that I was becoming fatigued and my back was hurting. Evidently all the standing I had done as a teacher had kept me fitter than I thought.

Varidesk standing deskSo I started looking into a standing desk for my office. Most of what I ran across in my initial search was pieces of furniture – an actual desk that was higher than normal. I thought that would be OK but didn’t really find anything I liked.

Then I stumbled across Varidesk, a company that makes an adjustable standing desk (really best described as an adjustable platform) that sits on top of traditional desk furniture. It’s unique design allows you to work sitting at your desk. When you are tired of sitting, you can adjust the platform upwards to stand and work. You can see videos at the company website on how that adjustment happens.

I was impressed after reading many positive reviews. The vast majority of people loved the product and raved how it had changed their work habits. More energy, less back pain and an increased level of alertness were all things I heard reported.

My Standing Desk Experiment

[Read more…]

Some Say There Is No God. What If They Are Wrong?

I recently published an article highlighting some short Bible verses that hold tremendous meaning. For a couple of weeks, I promoted that post on Facebook. The article was well received, generating over 1.3k likes. But of course, as Facebook goes there are always dissenters. I had some fairly interesting comments posted on my page from people asserting that there is no God.

there is no godI don’t mind. I’m used to that kind of stuff.

I’ve always been fascinated by people who claim there is no God. Questioning whether there is a God is one thing. At least that person is thinking it through. But to deny the possibility altogether seems unimaginative.

I had a professor in grad school who fit this description. He thought we Christians in the class were shallow and narrow-minded. He scoffed at our belief that there is one God who oversees the entire universe. To him, we needed to open our minds and embrace other philosophical and scientific realities.

I always found that ironic. He chastised our singular vision and wanted us to be more open. Yet he himself was never open to the possibility that we might be right.

Which brings me to ask this question to anyone reading this right now:

[Read more…]

Is Reliability, Price or Features Most Important When Buying a Car?

What do you look for when buying a car? The reason I ask is that we are on the verge of doing just that. Our two-year lease experiment with an electric car is coming to an end. We will not be renewing the lease and are looking at buying a car sometime in the next month.

buying a carWe have been tossing several models back and forth and have made a trip to our local Carmax to check them out. All we know at this point is that we won’t be buying a brand new car, won’t be buying a black car (have one already) and won’t be buying another Suburban (that’s the one we have already).

But we are open to most anything else, provided it fits our family needs. And that is where the big question lies when it comes to buying a car? What is our biggest need?

Do we need to worry about price? Do we need to focus on the new car features? What about reliability? Can we handle a car that might need a few repairs along the way?

Best case scenario is that we find a vehicle where we are satisfied in all those categories. To me though, one of these stands out above the rest. It’s the first thing I’ll look at as we work through buying a car.

[Read more…]

3 Reasons Kids Should Watch Every Moment of Olympic Coverage

Today my kids will drag themselves out of bed and head back to school. Unfortunately, our back to school season is clashing with another major world event happening right now – the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. So there will be no more 10-hour, lying on the couch veg-out sessions, flipping back and forth to the many channels of Olympic coverage.

I have to admit I love the summer Olympics. I can do without the opening and closing ceremonies, which I know many people love. But I’ll take anything and everything else that happens. The Olympics are a sports enthusiasts dream.

My love affair with the Olympics started in 1984 when they were hosted by Los Angeles. I was 11 years old and still remember being in awe of the athletic performances. If you are under the age of 25 and have never heard of Carl Lewis, Edwin Moses, Mary Lou Retton, Greg Louganis or the Zola Budd collision you need to spend some time on YouTube. Great athletes with great performances in a great atmosphere.

Now I’m raising four kids who are growing up in an age where there is a greater variety of Olympic events and they have greater access to them. There weren’t 7 stations broadcasting the competitions in those days. And we certainly didn’t have streaming options via computer or mobile phone app.

So far my kids are eating this up. There have only been a few days of Olympic coverage but they are fixed in the TV room, cheering the USA on at every turn. I’m usually one to limit TV and computer viewing because I don’t think it’s healthy for kids to be looking at a screen all day.

But here is why until the Olympics are over I’ll be stretching the viewing limits and bedtimes a little farther even with school being in session.

[Read more…]

The Consequences of Riding Your Motorcycle Unprotected

There have been some rumblings in and around my house of late. Two of the young men who are in a Bible study group my wife and I host have recently bought a motorcycle. My kids love to hear them roar out of our driveway.

motorcycleThey are responsible young men so I don’t worry about them so much. I don’t think they would do anything crazy on a bike. What I worry about are other drivers. I’m hoping they take as many precautions as necessary when they ride.

Any experienced and smart motorcyclist knows that you need to wear the right protective gear any time you get on a bike. It’s not just about staying on the right side of the law, but it’s also about your own personal safety.

The statistics bear that out. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2014 report, there were over 4,586 deaths resulting from motorcycle crashes. Although this was a decrease from the 4,692 deaths in 2013, the figures are still quite high.

[Read more…]

Back to School Tips to Manage Your Crazy Mornings

Next week my kids head back to school. YES and DOUBLE YES! They will hate that I’m saying that but after two long summer months it’s time to get back to the school thing. And to celebrate that, I’m going to remind my kids (and all of you who are reading) of some back to school tips that help us manage our crazy mornings.

back to school tipsMornings during the school year can be hectic…am I right? After all the days of sleeping in during the summer, suddenly you are forced back into an early wake up call. And in the span of an hour it seems like you do 100 things to get inside the school building just in time.

It doesn’t have to be so hectic. In fact, I could count on one hand the number of times last year where we were truly rushed and almost didn’t make it to school.

Those who know me will say, “But you only live seven minutes from school!” To which I say, it doesn’t matter. When I worked in education I knew of people who lived that close and seemed to be late every day. So with that in mind, here are some back to school tips that we’ve learned over our 11 years of seeing our kids off to school.

[Read more…]

A Wedding To Do List For After You Say “I Do” (Infographic)

If you are inside of one year until you tie the knot with your significant other, you probably have a million things to accomplish on your wedding to do list. OK, maybe not one million but there are a lot of things to take care of. I’m sure it seems like it’s happening so fast. Just when you check one item off another one pops up.

I’m being reminded of how fun yet frantic wedding planning can be by my cousin. She moved to Georgia a few years ago and wouldn’t you know it met the man of her dreams. They are getting married in May of 2017. And it seems like every time we get together with them she’s telling us of another item she checked off her wedding to do list.

The latest item was the biggie – her wedding dress. Her mom came down last week and the two of them picked out the perfect one. I say it’s perfect because no one has seen it yet. And no one will until wedding day which is fine.

It’s drawing me back in time to so many things that happened for my own wedding 20-plus years ago. I’m remembering some of the things we did right, some of the things we did wrong and some of the things we forgot to do altogether. It’s easy to let things slip by – especially after the wedding.

[Read more…]