Hope for your financial life and beyond

What Should I Do For My Birthday Today?

Birthdays come but once a year. Today just so happens to be mine. And with it comes the obligatory question, What should I do for my birthday?

Some birthdays seem bigger than others. When I was a child, my birthday ranked right behind Christmas as the most important day of the year. I’d look forward to March 7th each and every year because it meant parties and cake and presents. I mean, what child doesn’t like to have those things on Christmas or their birthday or on any given day of the year?

what should i do for my birthdayNow, at 43, there is not so much gifting. There are fewer parties. Sometimes there is cake or perhaps a night out – if a babysitter can be found. More than likely though, the kids just come along on said night out.

The decade birthdays draw a bit more attention like when I turned 40. But for the most part I’m finding birthdays in middle age pass quietly without much fanfare.

And I’m OK with that.

A few months ago I spent some time with my grandfather, just a few weeks before his 102nd birthday. As we sat down to dinner one night, the conversation turned to a discussion about things that had occurred during the last year that we were thankful for. I’ll never forget his response when it came time for him to answer.

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The Winning Hope and Joy Campaign of Stephen Curry

In a year when Presidential politics is a fixture in the daily news cycle, another campaign is brewing on the west coast. The Golden State Warriors are a stone’s throw away from having the best regular season record in the history of the NBA. We’ll have to wait a few more games to see if they reach this lofty achievement but this one thing I know – I’ll be glued to the television every time my local cable stations carry their broadcast.

stephen curryThat is because of one player on their team – Stephen Curry. Don’t get me wrong – they have a great team. Having been a high school player and coach myself I love team basketball. But I also love individual greatness. And right now Stephen Curry is doing things that we have never seen before on a basketball court.

I don’t think that’s overstating it. In my youth I grew up watching Bird and Magic. Those who marveled at their no-look passes and competitive spirit know how they revolutionized (and saved) the NBA in the 1980s.

By the time I hit high school and college, Michael Jordan had taken up their banner and again was doing things unseen before. His incredible athleticism and dynamic offensive skills – not to mention being a ferocious defender and competitor – took the NBA to new heights. In my life, he’s the best I’ve ever seen.

Those three did some unique and special things with a ball in their hands. Now almost a decade and half after Jordan, it’s Stephen Curry’s turn. I mean really, have we ever seen someone with such ball handling and jump shooting skills that you have to guard him the moment he crosses half court?

My two oldest kids and I literally jumped out of our chairs screaming Saturday night when he hit the game winner from just inside half court to beat Oklahoma City in overtime. Oh, by the way, that was his 12th three pointer of the game, tying an NBA record. In that game he also broke the record for most three pointers in a season – with 24 games to go. He did this while playing on a weak ankle he had injured in the 3rd quarter. What did I read he had…something like 31 of his 46 total points in the final 18 minutes of play? Unreal.

I’m not here to debate who’s the greatest player ever. To me it doesn’t matter. But what has me diverging today from my normal blog topics is what I see in Stephen Curry. Ironically, it’s the same two things that drew me as a youth to Magic, Michael and Larry.

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Is a Liberal or Conservative President Better for Your Money?

It’s President’s Day, 2016 and it’s also an election year. America will again be choosing a liberal or conservative candidate to be the next President. We won’t know our choices until the primaries are finished but it will once again be a knock-down, drag-out fight all the way to the November elections. And well it should be – a lot is at stake.

liberal or conservativeThere are many issues on either side of the political spectrum that attract people to the liberal or conservative cause. I’m sure you have a worldview or pet issue that draws you in one direction or the other. Our differences are both a strength and a weakness, propelling us forward at times and hindering us at others.

One area though where the American electorate can find common ground is this: we need money to manage our lives. I don’t see how you can argue with that statement given the nature of our society. Money functions as a tool for living. The more of it we have, the better off we are when it comes to running our day to day lives.

So during an election year is a good time to ask, “Which philosophical viewpoint – liberal or conservative – gives me the best chance to succeed with money?” Whoever becomes the next President will surely promote his or her agenda to the American people. Their views about money, economics, businesses, taxes and foreign affairs will have a dramatic impact on our pocketbooks. Not that you should only vote based on your wallet but it is a major factor to consider.

To answer the question, I’ll start the only place I know – with the actual viewpoints.

Liberal or Conservative Worldview on Money?

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10 Last Minute Gift Ideas For Him This Christmas

Do you have trouble shopping for that special guy in your life? Let’s face it, men are tough to shop for. It’s not easy to crack our code and find out what we’d really like to receive as a gift.

last minute gift ideas for himWaiting until the last minute to shop of course adds even more pressure. You’ll probably panic and end up buying him some socks. Not that we wouldn’t appreciate it – we’ll love any gift we get (or at least pretend to love it). In the interests of helping my men-fellows though, here are some last minute gift ideas for him that we’d appreciate even more.

Last Minute Gift Ideas For Him

Of course you know your man best. Some of these last minute gift ideas for him may not work. Additionally, you may have financial limitations that prevent these purchases. But I’m pretty sure, if you can afford it, he’ll absolutely love these items:

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A Time For Choosing Freedom

Eerily, this man’s words, penned in 1964, are coming true on many levels:

American flag“Every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement…[and] policies of accommodation…”

“If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand, the ultimatum…and what then?”

“…And someday when the time comes to deliver the final ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary because by that time we will have been weakened from within spiritually, morally and economically…”

 But there is hope found through courage and sacrifice:

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I’m Losing Sleep Tonight For a Worthy Cause But Never Will Over Money

Tonight I’m going to do something I haven’t done in a long time – losing sleep by voluntarily pulling an all-nighter. The last two legit occurrences happened over 20 years ago in college while I was studying for finals. Then all it took was the fear of failing, a couple sleeves of Pringles and a two-liter of Mountain Dew to pull me through the wee morning hours.

losing sleepNow, at 42, I’m not sure all the Jolt Cola in the world will do the trick. The old body ain’t what it used to be. But I’m gonna give it the old college try.

Why would I put myself through this? Well, it’s for a worthy cause.

It’s a lock-in…at our church…for the youth group.

Some of you are wincing (or laughing) right about now knowing what I’m about to go through.

They need events like these every once in awhile though with crazy, sometimes chaotic fun. It will be memorable, which is what you want out of your teen years.

As the youth leader, I don’t mind losing sleep for this cause or any other worthy cause for that matter. But what I’m really thankful for that I’ll never lose sleep over money related problems. Because…

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A Soldier’s Pledge – If This Doesn’t Inspire You, Nothing Will

“America is depressing…mixed up…adrift…an afterthought.”

Have you sensed these themes rippling through our cultural narrative in the past few years?

A lack of pride in who we are seems to have blossomed. There is little passion for greatness. Few believe America’s best days lie ahead.

Everyday the news points out our flaws…can’t get our economy right…can’t get our race issues right…can’t get our foreign relations right…can’t even get our rights right.

Everything rises and falls with leadership – including America. So perhaps our malaise can be contributed to the uninspiring and ineffectual leadership we see in our government…in our communities…in our churches…in our homes.

We don’t have to settle for this though. We can choose a different path. We don’t have to feel blasé about America.

How do I know this?

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40 Money Saving Tips That Also Help Preserve the Environment

I’m not a “SAVE THE PLANET!” type of guy. I fail to see how the earth is in any danger of being destroyed or irreparably harmed by the progress of mankind. I don’t worship the earth, view it as our Sacred Mother, or think it has a higher priority than the people who live on it.

money saving tipsBut I’m also not a “slash-and-burn” guy. I don’t believe progress should come at the blind expense of what it does to the earth. Nor do I hold to the theory – often expressed in religious circles – that since the whole world is going to burn in the end we can do with it now as we please.

I see extremes when thinking about either of those positions. To me a more balanced approach is called for that recognizes and supports the need for human progress and at the same time develops constraints for the purposes of conservation.

It’s more about wise stewardship than saving or using/abusing.

To that end I believe there are certain issues on which SAVE-THE-PLANET-guy and slash-and-burn-guy could even agree.

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The Ultimate Risk in Wasting a Play

Everyone knew Marshawn would get the football. He’d just run four yards on the previous play to push his team to the one-yard line. With less than a minute to go and the Super Bowl on the line the monster running back would surely bring a championship to his team with one more beastly plunge.

super bowl interceptionExcept his coach called for a pass play on 2nd down.

What?

The resulting interception thrown by Russell Wilson caused the dozens at my Super Bowl party to jump off the couch, screaming in disbelief (or triumph depending on their rooting interest).

After the game the Seattle coach was faced with questions from the media about the play call. To his credit he took full responsibility for the misfortune that befell his team. But his logic for making the call was curious to say the least.

In essence he said they didn’t have the right personnel on the field to match up with New England’s defense. So he chose to give away (#waste) that 2nd down play with a passing call and then get set up to call better plays on 3rd and potentially 4th down.

Give away a play…with the championship on the line.

Unthinkable.

The Risk in Giving Away Plays

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32 Billion In Est. Profits: The Amount Generated by Human Trafficking

Hidden Nuggets Series #71 – “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.” – Proverbs 31:8-9

boys carrying logs on train trackEach year I download a free calendar template from Microsoft to schedule my blog posts. I’ve found it really helps me plan ahead and keeps me focused on finishing my content. Nothing says “Get er done!” like an open publish date on a calendar for which you have not yet written a post.

The template comes coded with special dates highlighted each month. There are the obvious ones like all your major holidays. But they also include “awareness days” like International Woman’s Day (Mar. 8th), International Picnic Day (Jun. 18th), International Left-Handers Day (Aug. 13th) and World Vegetarian Day (Oct. 1st). Curious how nobody cares about men like me who like to eat steak with our right hand at the dining room table.

Those are fun awareness days to be sure but one day stood out to me as taking on a more serious tone. January 11th is Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

Human Trafficking: A Global Problem

I don’t want to come off in this post as someone who routinely has championed for the victims of human trafficking. I’ve never taken up the cause even though I’ve been generally aware that it’s an issue that impacts certain parts of the world more than others. But that little tickler posted on Jan. 11th in my calendar template got me looking into the issue a bit. I can’t help but tell you I was surprised at the depth of the problem.

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Pushing Against Evil: I Have My Basketball Goal Back!

Hidden Nuggets Series #68: “Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?” – Psalm 94:16

Superman fighting Lex LuthorSeveral weeks ago I wrote about being robbed and how we were dealing with the theft of a portable basketball goal at our house. After some investigation on my own, I discovered that the neighborhood kids in the subdivision behind ours took the goal and had placed it in their subdivision’s park area. The big complication to the whole situation was that the subdivision directly behind ours is in another county.

Because I didn’t have proof like a model number for the goal or any personal identifying marks inscribed on it, our local police would not cross jurisdictions to retrieve the stolen property. So we were left frustrated about what to do.

In the end we felt resigned to let the issue rest. It seemed dangerous to retrieve the goal ourselves in that it might incite the teens to take some further action against us. The wise course of action was to just chalk this up as one of those unfortunate life situations that you are forced to stomach.

Before we closed the book on the case though, we had one last route to consider (which some commenters here suggested). Now I’m glad we decided to push back just a little bit more.

How We Got Our Goal Back

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