Hope for your financial life and beyond

How to Save One Thousand Dollars in a Month

If you are serious about getting out of debt and building any kind of financial future, then you must save money on a regular basis. The best part is you don’t have to begin with much. All you need to do for starters is to save one thousand dollars. That will give yourself some cushion.

When I worked construction I learned that every building requires a solid foundation. For your financial life, that foundation is savings. Without adequate savings you will struggle to get out of debt and will always be susceptible to emergency situations.

save one thousand dollarsNow I know the process of saving money isn’t sexy. We’d rather go spend our money on gadgets and entertainment that would give us an emotional high. Saving money and leaving it in the bank is an emotional blah.

To save one thousand dollars in a month may or may not sound like a daunting task depending on your situation. Some of you may be struggling to pay your basic bills.

But you can save one thousand dollars quickly. In fact, you could do it in only one month. Here’s how.

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How Much We Pay Our Kids For Chores

“How much to pay kids for chores?” is a question my wife and I have wrestled with again and again. I’ve mentioned before why we don’t give our kids allowances. I’m not giving them money just for existing. It seems like that is what an allowance implies. Kids need to feel the burden of work so they can experience the joy of its rewards.

how much to pay kids for choresIn addition to earning some money, doing chores around the house is teaching them responsibility. The home is where they should begin to learn basic life skills. When I was in school, I knew some college freshman who couldn’t do their own laundry. My oldest two children have been doing that since they were nine.

Over the years my wife and I have adjusted how much we pay our kids for chores. The amounts started out small and increased as they got older. Now that our oldest has turned 16, we are looking at another radical change. Before I get to that, here is some background information that helped us decide on how much to pay kids for chores.

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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

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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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7 Popular Work at Home Schemes and How to Spot Them

You open your email one morning and there it is ­– the most enticing, perfect job offer you’ve ever seen.“Be part of one of America’s fastest growing industries. Earn thousands of dollars a month…and you can work at home!” the ad reads.

The best part is the job will require very little work.

Work at home scamsIt sounds too good to be true.

Well, you might actually want to slow down for just a minute. How do you really know that job offer is legit? There are many work-at-home schemes that entice people with huge promises. In fact, some work-at-home offers are illegal and could land you in potential trouble should you participate.

Since that is the case, it would be wise for you to know the most popular work-at-home schemes and how to identify if that job offer really is a scam.

Popular Work At Home Schemes

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), these job offers have been identified as the most common work-at-home schemes:

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How to Manage Your Side Hustle and Family Life So You Don’t Go Insane

There may come a time in your life where you want to or need to create a side hustle to earn extra income. A side hustle can be many things depending on your skills and the depth of your need. Regardless what you choose it will be something you do on the side (apart from your day job) to bring in additional money to the family budget.

Side hustles can be a financial blessing. They can help you build up your savings account or pay off debt or meet any a number of financial goals you might have. A few bloggers I know have turned their writing side hustles into full-time jobs and now run their own personal finance websites. Others, like my friend Cat Alford at Budget Blonde have figured out how to make a full-time income from writing for popular blogs. Now she is teaching others to do the same in a brand new course she has developed – Get Paid to Write for Blogs.

side hustle IIIWhile the additional income of a side hustle is welcome there is a dark side that many are unprepared for. Side hustles done improperly can be a curse on family life.

It’s one thing to have a side hustle if you are single. I remember talking with a blogging friend last year who told me how he’d work his 9 to 5, take a 30-minute dinner (maybe) and then work till past midnight writing and networking. I’m not saying that’s necessarily an easy schedule but it’s not like you have anyone else to account for. It’s just you.

When a spouse and/or kids are in the picture side hustles take on a whole different dimension.

The first thing you’ll notice is the tension that surfaces the minute one member begins a side hustle. What was a normal life is no longer normal.

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The 10 Best Summer Jobs for Teens and College Students

Memorial Day marks the official beginning of summer. For teens and college students that means one of three things. Either you are:

a) continuing school by choice (to get ahead) or out of necessity (because you failed)…

b) looking for a summer job to earn money or…

c) in for a really boring summer sleeping in and playing video games.

(I know…some of you think “C” is the best option of the three.)

summer jobs for teensBut I also know teens and college students need money. You have lots of expenses, many of which your parents can’t or don’t want to fully fund. So it’s about time you begin to support yourself my working a summer job.

What job would fit your time frame though? You really only have three months to work as the typical school ends in May/June and returns to classes in August/September. Won’t employers be hesitant to hire you if they know it will only be for three short months?

Some might be. Others however, rely on the seasonal influx of workers because summer is their busiest time of the year. So the fact that you are only available for three months matches up with the increased seasonal activity of that position. The employer will be fine when you leave the job to return to school in the fall because he or she won’t need your help anymore.

Jobs You Could Easily Find During the Summer

To that end, here are 10 great summer jobs for teens and college students. In all these areas, employers will be looking for workers during the summer:

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I Have No One to Blame But Myself

Hidden Nuggets Series #87 – “Also to you, O Lord, belongs mercy; for you render to each one according to his work.” – Psalm 62:12

Hard workIn my teaching days I’d often hear moans and groans coming from students when they learned of their failure on a test. What usually followed their whimpers of dissatisfaction was a litany of excuses as to why they did so poorly.

“I had a ballgame last night.”

“My little brother wouldn’t leave me alone.”

“I forgot.”

My favorite complaint was this one, “But I did study!” to which I’d respond by saying, “How long?”

“30 minutes while I was watching TV” (or something like that was the typical response).

Ugh.

I worked in a Christian school so it was typical for us to pray during the day. I always prayed before tests just to calm the atmosphere and help kids get their mind focused.

As I began to put two and two together – lack of study time translating into poor grades (and then subsequent griping about said grade) – I decided to set the tone in my prayer for what the students could reasonable expect to happen based on their study patterns. So at the end of my prayer, I’d be sure to say something like this…

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Consider the Ant in Your Definition of Work Ethic (Proverbs 6:6)

Hidden Nuggets Series #78 – “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise…” – Proverbs 6:6

consider the antDo you know any sluggards? That’s a term rarely used in our world today. The first thing I think of when hearing that word are creeping, slimy slugs.

You could easily identify what a sluggard is though if I gave you some synonyms. How do these words grab you – lazy, sluggish, loafer, slacker, and couch potato. Get the picture now?

The Bible has a lot to say about the lazy. This passage in Proverbs 6 may be the best known of them all. I think mostly because it tells us to consider the ant – an animal we hardly ever pay attention to.

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The Best Solution For Those Buried in a Snowdrift of Debt

In the winter of 2004, we had the fortune/misfortune of visiting my parent’s house in Ohio just before a severe winter storm hit. We had arrived just as the snowfall began and it…just…never…stopped…falling. Snow, snow, snow for two straight days.

van buried in a snow driftBy the time the skies cleared their tiny little town had received over two feet of snow – a kid’s dream but an adult’s nightmare. It had blanketed and buried everything in sight, including our van as you can see by the picture to the right.

Walking through that knee-deep snow I kept thinking to myself, “How will we ever get out of this mess?” It’s not like it’s going to magically melt away. No one in town is going to come rescue us – they have their own snow problems.

In fact, some exacerbated our problem. Thank you snow-plow man for clearing the road and pushing another two feet of snow to our curb.

Even worse, as I started to look at the mountain of snow from different angles the situation seemed even more desperate. At least in the first picture I can still see the van. From this viewpoint hardly anything is visible…

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Not So Obvious Steps If You Want a New Job

Tired of where you work? Looking for a new job? If so, you are not alone. We have all “been there” at some point in our lives.

new jobIn fact, in 2102 the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a study that tracked the number of jobs people born in the years 1957 to 1964 held from ages 18-46. They found men held an average of 11.4 jobs and women held 10.7 jobs. I can only imagine those numbers will be considerably higher for those born more recently, to whom a mobile and transient culture has become the standard of life.

If you want a different job though, don’t jump the gun. That could be disastrous on many levels, including landing in a spot that’s not a good fit. Instead take your time and go through an evaluation process that covers these six big areas.

Initial Steps to Finding a New Job

The next job is out there waiting for you. But before you land it, slow down and follow these steps:

Determine Your “Why?”

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