Hope for your financial life and beyond

How to Make a New Year Resolution That Works For You

Once again it’s the turn of the calendar to January which means you may be thinking about making a new year resolution. It’s quite normal to think about all you want to accomplish in the year ahead. Having targets to shoot for is important to move forward in life. Without direction our life will grow stagnant and directionless. It will have no spark.

new year resolutionBut just thinking about a new year resolution isn’t enough. You have to develop a definitive plan of action. These are the step-by-step plans that will help you accomplish what you want.

In order to get your plans on the right track, you have to decide on the right type of goal. Goals are hard enough to reach. I’m convinced though, we frustrate ourselves by not making the right type of goals in the first place. Consequently, we end up drifting aimlessly because we did not have the proper starting point.

So how do you set goals that will help your new year resolution become a reality? Above all they must contain a few basic elements.

New Year Resolution Goals Done Right

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What Contributes More to Financial Change – Knowledge or Behavior?

Several weeks ago I finished leading my most recent Financial Peace University class. I love leading Dave Ramsey’s FPU classes because the people there are eager for change. They know something is not right and are looking for a financial change.

financial changeTwo things are needed though for them to head in that new direction. One, they have to understand why financial change is needed. I call this gaining knowledge. Our mind has to become aware of something we didn’t know before. That awareness eventually leads to the change.

However, knowledge isn’t enough. We also must look at behavior. More often than not it’s our behavior that gets us into financial trouble. If we don’t alter our patterns of behavior financial change is not possible.

I think we can all agree that both are needed. My question today is, “Which one is most important? Which one contributes more to financial change?” You can make an easy case for either, but in the end I believe one is the clear winner.

The Case For Knowledge

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How I Got Financially Real in 5 Minutes

(A special “Thank You” to Shannon at The Heavy Purse for organizing this blog carnival for Financial Literacy Awareness Month. Check out her post and see how other personal finance bloggers got financially real.)

Financially Real

Up until seven years ago I lived with the delusion that I had no money problems. Everything seemed fine to me. We were paying bills on time, building our credit score and saving/investing money along the way.

What more do you need than that, right?

The truth however didn’t match reality. I was an over-spender…a chronic over-spender. Every month we were spending more than we made. (Well, it probably wasn’t every month but it sure seemed that way.)

Like so many others who live on credit and spend, spend, spend, I was content to keep walking that path. That was until I had an encounter I’ll never forget.

The five-minute encounter changed my life.

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How to Stop Making Bad Money Mistakes Again and Again

Have you made a lot of money mistakes in life? I sure have. Some of mine seemed to happen over and over again. After awhile, they end up becoming bad habits of thinking and acting that impact the course of my life.

money mistakesWhen habits become ingrained we have a difficult time changing our mind and consequently the actions that follow. It’s like we become Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, living the same day over and over, making the wrong decisions again and again.

If you find yourself in this situation, take hope. Turning the corner is possible. We do not have to be bound and determined to live a mistake-prone life.

How to Stop Making Money Mistakes

Whether it’s money mistakes other issues of life, the path can be altered. When I keep making the same mistakes over and over I work through these steps.

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Sharing the Results of a 4-Month Blog Commenting System Experiment

Today I’m guest posting over at the Yakezie network about my four-month blog commenting system experiment.

As long-time followers know, I started this blog using the third-party commenting system DISQUS to manage all reader comments. In response to an article written by Sam (of Yakezie and Financial Samurai) I discontinued using DISQUS in favor of the standard WordPress commenting system. I did so to conduct a four-month experiment to see how or if it would improve my reader engagement. My experiment is now over and my post at Yakezie today shares what I found.

Click the following link to read my post at Yakezie: “My 4-Month Experiment Not Using a Comment System – Was It Effective?”

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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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5 Practical Steps to Consider When Making a Career Change

Today I’m guest posting and commenting at the personal finance website Cash Cow Couple. Click the link below to read about all the steps my wife and I took when we were considering her career change.

career in crosshairsWe’d all like to make more money, right? Sometimes that can happen by taking on a basic part-time job or coming up with our own personal side hustle. More than likely though, over the long-term, we would want to make more money from our main career so those part-time jobs and side hustles could be eliminated from our daily schedule. Nobody wants to carry multiple jobs indefinitely. That would prove very stressful over time.

If there is little possibility of making more money from your current full-time job then a career change might be in order. It’s a scary proposition to launch out into a new career, unsure of how it’s going to work out. It’s that fear that keeps people from even considering it. We’d rather face being short on money than deal with change and battle the unknown…

Click here to continue reading at Cash Cow Couple…

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Bad Personal Finance Habits Only Change When the Pain Spikes

frustrated, pain

Are your bad money habits causing pain?

All of us are a mixture of logic and emotion. We think and we feel. The two interact continuously with one another – mind acting upon the emotions and emotions acting upon the mind.

One of the toughest emotions we deal with is pain. We know it’s going to come from various sources and in varying intensities throughout our life. So we prepare for it as best we can, hoping we don’t have to endure great amounts of it along the way.

The personal finance portion of our lives can’t escape the issue of pain. In fact, our habits often facilitate the onset of pain because we make poor decisions with money. We spend too much, fail to pay off debts and don’t plan for what the future holds.

The problem is that we seem to be OK with certain levels of pain. We may get frustrated about it, but most pain is not powerful enough to force us to drastically change our patterns of behavior. Instead, we endure all kinds of abusive relationships, deplorable job situations, poor physical fitness levels and sinful behaviors until the pain engulfs us.

I believe for real change to happen we need to experience pain levels so severe they lead us to scream “I’ve had it!” At that moment, our mind is ready to make changes that will alter behavior and subsequently move us forward.

The “I’ve Had It!” Moment Visualized

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We Are One Heartbeat Away From a Life Changing Moment

Hidden Nuggets Series #33 – “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” – Proverbs 27:1

life changing

Sports fans watching their Wednesday late night highlight reels witnessed some stunning footage of Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman being drilled in the head from a batted ball by Kansas City Royals player Salvador Perez. It’s a “Gasp…OMG!” moment, as Chapman lay sprawled on the ground, writhing in pain.

For those able to stomach grisly injury videos, the scene can be found here at ESPN.

Reports today are that Chapman suffered a few fractured bones and a mild concussion. He will have surgery to implant some steel plates in his head and miss about 6-8 weeks of the regular season. I’m amazed that’s the extent of his injuries and am thankful he is fine.

Let me rephrase that…I’m thankful he’s alive.

The speed and suddenness at which this incident happened, reminded me of a Monday night football game I watched in 1985. On that night, Giant’s linebacker Lawrence Taylor sacked Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann, snapping his leg in two. That fateful flea-flicker play that took only a few seconds ended Theismann’s career. Anyone who was there or watching on TV will say it’s the most gruesome sports injury ever.

Events like these remind me we are one heartbeat away from a life changing moment.

Reacting to Life Changing Fastballs

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Should I Spend 250 Dollars and Change My Blog Name?

Should I change my blog name? That’s the question that has been on my mind for the last six months. It’s not that I’ve grown tired of the name Luke1428. I’m simply wondering if the name itself is holding the growth of my site back.

Luke1428 Logo

Is this a good, bad or neutral blog name?

A site grows as much as the owner stays consistent with posting quality content and is knowledgeable with how to get that content recognized. Building connections with others, understanding SEO and advertising/marketing are all vital to a blog getting recognized. But what about the blog name? Doesn’t it all start with a title that attracts people’s attention?

Luke1428.com was chosen from a list of about 50 titles I had developed. It’s derived from the Biblical book of Luke, chapter 14, verse 28. In that passage, we learn that planning ahead for a task promotes success and reduces the risk of failure. That’s certainly an applicable theme when it comes to any life circumstance, especially personal finance.

However, it wasn’t my first choice.

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What Ritz Crackers ‘n Cheese Dip Taught Me About Breaking Routines

Hidden Nuggets Series #26 – “And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw.” – II Kings 6:17

Ritz 1I have a guilty snack pleasure confession to make. I love Kraft Handi-Snacks Ritz Crackers ‘n Cheese Dip.  Four crackers…compartment of processed cheese…sealed together in perfect harmony. Simply pull the plastic tab off the top and enjoy the yummy cheese ‘n cracker goodness. And only 100 calories to boot.

I’ve loved these all my life despite one annoying feature about the product…the little red stick. The 2” red stick has never worked for me. My irritation revolves around two things: cheese distribution and cracker stability.

First off, if you want the same amount of cheese on all the crackers you have to control how much cheese is spread onto each cracker. The stick makes this difficult. I usually end up putting too much cheese on the first cracker and then having none left for the last one.

The stick is also renowned for breaking the cracker in half, unless you hold it daintily with your pinky up like you are sipping a cup of tea. The cracker must be laid out on a completely flat surface or there is a greater than average chance the cracker splits when the stick spreads on the cheese glob. Don’t try to hold the cracker in the palm of your hand or between your thumb and index finger either. Neither of those methods solves the soft cracker vs. hard stick problem.

Clearly I have issues.

I’ve put up with that red stick for 25+ years, resigned to the fact I have to use it. That all changed recently, when I had a Handi-Snacks revelation.

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