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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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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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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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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“HELP WANTED!” This Company Really Understands the Hiring Process

Help Wanted

Is your business hiring the right kind of people?

The hiring of new employees can be one of the most frustrating and stressful facets of running your own business. Every hire is an unknown and a potential risk as one can learn only so much about an applicant through the interview process. Companies routinely foul up the hiring of employees by failing to cast vision, by conducting shoddy interviews, and neglecting to check references or do background checks.

This lack of due diligence leaves them with employees who are mismatched to the company’s goals and objectives. Once these individuals are hired, the company will be forced to manage the poor behavior and deal with the inefficient production that comes from an employee who is not 100% sold out on the job.

I ran across this Help Wanted ad the other day on Facebook. It’s from C and C Fence Company located in McDonough, GA, a suburb of Atlanta. It’s clear they know who they are, what the job entails and what type of employee would be a fit. Based on it’s content, I can’t help but think their hiring process runs smoother than many other companies.

Check out their ad below, with special attention to Parts 2 and 3.

Part 1: The Job Details

This is where they express the urgency of the need, list the specific position and share the major particulars about the job:

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The Futility of Being a Well Rounded Person

a well rounded personI used to think the best way to achieve big-time personal success was to be a well rounded person, with knowledge and skill spanning many different areas. I’d become the Cliff Clavin know-it-all type, the person who could be plugged into any situation to give advice or help facilitate a positive outcome.

By being a well rounded person, jack-of-all-trades type, I would become indispensable and people would flock to me for advice and counsel.

Isn’t this philosophy what our school systems promote through the curriculum track? A student with exceptional talent and designs on a career in science must still take general education classes in English and social studies, perhaps even a foreign language. Those classes serve some but not much purpose in relation to the students desired outcome, which is to meet the requirements for graduation.

This post isn’t about the challenges in the educational system. I’ve been involved in education for 15+ years, so I understand the value of having students touch the various fields of study. We would be doing them a disservice if they didn’t have some basic math or grammar skills by the time they finish school. But how much math does the average graduate really need to be functional in society, especially when it comes to managing their financial life?

They basically need to know how to add and subtract so they can balance a checkbook.

What I’m suggesting here is the notion of being a well rounded person only serves to generate mediocrity. Being a jack-of-all-trades means I’m a master at none. Who wants that? I’d rather work to become awesome in a few things instead of average at many, wouldn’t you?

A Well Rounded Person or Awesome Person?

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Want to Influence Others? Lead by Example

lead by example I mentioned in a recent post “Health, Wealth and Moments of Clarity” how I was inspired to begin my running program after meeting someone my age on a cruise that was an aspiring triathlete. At the time I was overweight, out of shape and low on energy.

Talking with him throughout the week ignited my mental toughness and helped me see crazy dreams could still be achieved even at my age.

But it was someone much closer to me that truly provided the inspiration for me to get in shape. That person was Mrs. Luke1428. No, she wasn’t going all drill sergeant on me, screaming through a megaphone for me to roll out of bed each morning. Instead, without goading or guilting me into doing the same, she had been religiously going to a health club each week for months, getting herself in shape.

And boy, could I see the results! “Surely” I thought, “if my wife can change her physique post-four children, then so can I.”  I wanted her to be as proud of me as I was of her.

I don’t think her efforts were premeditated – like some devious reverse-psychology attempt to give me a wake-up call. She really wanted to exercise for herself. But the fallout did affect me.

Lead By Example

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Don’t Go It Alone – Effective Leaders Get Help

Have you ever tried to do it all? In my years of serving in various leadership capacities, I have found this to be one of my greatest challenges…the tendency to take on more responsibility than I can manage. It is a basic and constant battle every leader must face and overcome if they are to maximize their effectiveness.

There are many reasons why leaders try to do it all.

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