Hope for your financial life and beyond

The Passenger Effect: Their Valuable Role in a Car and on a Team

For the longest time I was nothing more than a passenger. For the first 16 years of my life I sat dutifully in the front or back passenger’s seat of my parent’s car, being toted around to church, to practices, to public auctions and to well, everything. No one would have given me the clearance to drive at age 8, 10 or 12. I wasn’t ready.

Then in a span of a year everything changed. Permit…driver’s ed class…written test…road test…license. Boom! All of a sudden I could drive. And not even with an adult in the car. I could drive all by myself!

passengerMy role in the vehicle certainly changed at that point. No longer was I a mindless robot staring out the window at the endless farms that dotted the landscape where I grew up. Instead I was an active participant in moving a multi-thousand pound vehicle from point A to point B, with the hope of not incurring or inflicting any damage along the way.

What I soon realized when I first became a driver is how valuable passengers are. It didn’t seem like I had been doing anything important all those years I served as a passenger, sitting in the back seat of my parent’s car. I mostly felt like an innocent tag-along who didn’t impact the process of driving. But passengers can impact the driver in many ways, both for good and for harm.

The Passenger Effect

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The Best Definition of Teamwork You’ll Ever Read

Like all other basketball enthusiasts, I love the month of March. It is both exciting and maddening as you watch the NCAA basketball tournament unfold. Watching the teams play reminds me of what it means to work as a team. It also points me back to perhaps the best definition of teamwork I’ve ever heard.

definition of teamworkIt’s not from someone related to sports. Rather he was a successful businessman turned philanthropist. He generated an incredible fortune in the steel industry. He believed that great wealth was a sacred trust and that the possessor of such wealth was bound to use it for the good of the community.

If you’ve guessed Andrew Carnegie, you’d be correct.

Being a successful businessman, Carnegie must have known something about leading teams. So it’s no surprise he came up with this definition of teamwork:

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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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Why I’m Thankful for First and Second Chances

We’ve all had moments in life when we were granted first and second chances even though we probably didn’t deserve it. Remember how that first big break felt – that first chance to show the world what you were made of? Perhaps it took years to break through and secure it. If you are like me though that first chance to prove yourself happened fairly early in life, sometime in your 20s.

second chancesThere is no logical reason why anyone would give a person in their 20s a chance. Generally speaking, 20-somethings have no money, no experience, and no patience. They are idealistic to a fault, thinking they alone hold the key to changing the world. They disdain the older generation(s), thinking they are pessimistic, set in their ways and out of touch with contemporary culture.

Of course I’m exaggerating with this characterization. Many 20-somethings are not like this. I sure was though even though it may not have appeared so to those around me.

Yet someone still gave me a first chance.

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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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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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How to Determine If People Really Want Help With Money

I’m totally into personal finance and love to help with money. I could teach the subject and shell out advice for hours. That’s why I love leading Financial Peace University classes so much. It satisfies my appetite.

But in everyday life I rarely get into conversations about money.

Why?

Because people rarely ask.

And even more rare are those times when I bring up the subject to someone else, even though I see bad personal finance decisions around me all the time.

help with moneyI’ve learned that when I initiate conversations about money it doesn’t go so well. People feel violated, like it’s an intrusion on their personal space. It’s like offering unsolicited advice on how to parent or what political party could best solve our problems. All three of those topics are an invasion into personal privacy and opinion, so it seems.

It’s a challenge to know when to jump on a person’s comments about their personal financial situation. If I’m in FPU class it’s no problem. The people there are motivated to change and I know they want my advice.

In normal everyday life it’s hard to tell if people are just whining or truly want help with money. Are they complaining and have no desire to change? Or are they throwing out innocuous comments to see if I’ll bite?

To help me in these situations, I’m working on a go-to list of statements and questions to determine a person’s intent. Each one can’t be used in every situation as they are tailored to certain types of statements. However, the responses from the individual tell me if they are willing to move the conversation along and if they really want help with money issues.

Do You Want Help With Money?

When people insinuate, complain about or make general statements about their financial life, interject these statements to find out how far they want to go:

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How to Make a Good Decision Every Time

Hidden Nuggets Series #79 – “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise.” – Ephesians 5:15

(This bonus Hidden Nuggets article is dedicated to my kids. May you always make good decisions.)

how to make a good decisionHave you ever been in a difficult situation and wondered how to make a good decision? Silly question I know. Who hasn’t been in a tough spot like that?

We face decisions every day – small and large. Some are routine and have little to no impact on our lives. Others weigh heavy on our minds, causing us to lose sleep at night. Decisions can chart the course of our present and define our path for the next 10 years.

Whether they are in the moment decisions or ones that take time to think through, it is difficult to know how to make a good decision. How do you enter the decision making process – blindly or with your eyes wide open? What do you draw on to help you make a good decision, one that will be profitable for your future?

I’ve often thought my decisions were pretty good, even though there have been some I regret. My big issue is getting to the best decision quickly enough. I usually take a long time to come to a conclusion on weighty matters. Sometimes that frustrates me. At times I’ve missed the opportunity entirely because of my procrastination.

What if there was template that could teach you how to make a good decision? What if you could get instant clarity in some cases on whether to move in a direction? Would that be worth it?

I’ve found such a template [that I can’t take credit for] and it all rests in one broad question and three deeper questions you have to ask.

Our Problem in Making Good Decisions

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The Government Won’t Solve Your Money Problems

In case you didn’t know, tomorrow is a mid-term election day in the U.S. If you live here I really don’t understand how you could not know it’s a voting day given the emphasis placed on it by the news media and advertising groups for months now. It should be interesting given the frustration many people in both parties are having with functioning of the current government.

Capitol Hill Everyone has their reasoning for why they chose to vote or choose not to vote. That reasoning can easily turn elections to one side or the other. In the past presidential election, we now know that 4 million conservatives stayed home, choosing not to vote. That groundswell of opposition and apathy towards their candidate followed by their subsequent inaction when it came to voting turned the election for the incumbent.

Whatever your political persuasion, I hope your beliefs are deep enough that money isn’t the only consideration when it comes to choosing an elected official. Too often voters only vote with their wallet, casting a ballot for the candidate they think will improve the economy, thus making their financial life better off than it currently is. I’m not saying the issue of improving the economy should be ignored. We just can’t base our entire decision on that one factor.

Money isn’t everything.

The Government and Your Money Problems

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Give Up to Go Up: Spending Money For Personal Growth

Hidden Nuggets Series #56 – “…Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God…” (Hebrews 11:24-25)

give up to go upToday and tomorrow I’ll be immersed in all things personal finance as I’m attending a conference in New Orleans known as FinCon. Finance professionals, bloggers and financial news media from around the country will be engaging one another on the current trends in the industry. I probably won’t see the craziness that might happen at an event like Comic Con or Dragon Con but I’m looking forward to it nonetheless.

I’ve read over the past few weeks that some of my colleagues were able to afford the conference trip through travel rewards received from their credit card. I think that’s awesome for them, as they will be getting a nearly free stay in The Big Easy. I’m completely off credit cards though so that option is not available to me.

Once I factor in all the expenses – conference fees for my wife and I, our hotel stay, food and travel expenses from Atlanta – we will spend over $1,000 for this trip. That seems like a lot of money and maybe it actually is for a three-day conference for two.

The more difficult part is that I’ll be missing one of my daughter’s volleyball games and two of my youngest son’s T-ball games. It’s his first season playing so I’m really looking forward to being there for him. Yes, there will be other games but I’m sad at having to miss two of them.

In the end though, shelling out the money and missing family time are all sacrifices I’m willing to make for the trip because this one thing I know…

You have to give up to go up.

Give Up to Go Up

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The Most Basic Thing I Never Understood About Leadership

leadership

Leadership can be learned.

Winston Churchill. Ghandi. John Wooden. Mother Teresa. Martin Luther King Jr. Julius Caesar. Moses. These are just of few of ancient and current history’s greatest leaders in their respective discipline. We would all be better people having studied their leadership qualities.

When we dissect the lives of people such as these, we probably grant them more credit than is due for their innate abilities. The statement “He’s a naturally born leader” comes from our mouth as the gospel truth and does them a disservice, as though their leadership capacity and thus future destiny was handed to them on a silver platter. They did not rise to their elite level of standing merely because of something that was gifted to them at birth. While perhaps gifted in some way, each had to learn to lead.

Leadership Can Be Learned

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