Hope for your financial life and beyond

Drawing a Line in the Sand – A $37 Decision

drawing a line in the sandA couple of weeks ago, I had a not so great day at work. Nothing really dramatic happened, it was just one of those long days where everything seemed to be a little off and annoying. After work, things didn’t get much better.

I had to stop at the bank and then was supposed to meet a contractor at one of our rental properties to discuss some repair work. Something came up after school (which often does for teachers) that did not allow me to leave as soon as I had hoped. I’m a stickler for being late to appointments, so this didn’t set well with me.

At the bank we had to wait in line at the drive thru for 10 minutes to make our deposit. That’s unusual but they were shorthanded for some reason. Needless to say, I’m feeling the pressure to arrive at my appointment on time.

At this point, I encountered one of the strange oddities of life.

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“O Lord Jesus It’s a Fire!” – Saving For Emergencies

o lord jesus its a fireEver walk to the refrigerator, maybe to get you a cold pop, and when you opened the door the light did not come on and there was no cold air? Or maybe you’ve been BBQ-ing, the fire got too hot and you burnt the chicken. Guess we are going out for dinner.

Maybe you’ve had an unexpected bout with bronchitis that required expensive medicine. Or you suddenly remembered it’s back to school time and the kids had no shoes to wear for PE class. Perhaps something bigger has happened like a house fire where you were displaced from your home and possessions for a time.

Our reaction when crazy life events happen is basically to say, “O Lord Jesus, it’s a fire!” and then we do our best to put the fire out. Usually that requires the spending of money to make the situation right or normal again. The question for us then is “How can we be prepared when the fire comes?”

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Plan Like There’s No Tomorrow

Big Ben New Years5…4…3…2…1…Happy New Year!

And so, 2012 was put in the rear view mirror this morning as the clock struck midnight. Across the world, the coming of the New Year was greeted with cheering, confetti, fireworks and kisses. We celebrated making it through another year.

However, New Year’s Eve is more than a celebration of the past. Its focus is really looking ahead with hopeful anticipation for all that we plan to accomplish in the coming year.

Do you know what you want to accomplish in 2013? Do you already have plans drawn up? If not, you need to begin now for one simple reason. You don’t know what the future has in store.

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Waiting Until Next Year Will Cost You Big Time (Part II)

Many of us are born procrastinators. We love to put things off until the last possible minute. When that moment arrives, we go into manic mode in a desperate, final scramble as our backs are up against the deadline. This usually involves locking ourselves in a room away from the rest of humanity and a steady supply of coffee (or other caffeinated beverage) so we can forego our normal sleep patterns as we pound out the final details of our project.

If you are like me, you don’t like it when you procrastinate and you vow each time to NEVER let this happen again. Or you may try to fake yourself into believing that it doesn’t matter – like it is positive character trait – by saying “I work really well under pressure.” If I am honest with myself, I hate the tension and frustration that comes when I put myself in that predicament. It highlights my lack of discipline. It reminds me of all the time I wasted. It makes me realize the truth of the saying, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

There is no hard and fast deadline when it comes to our personal finances. This project is very open ended as it lasts your entire lifetime. So procrastinators rejoice – you can delay dealing with your financial problems for years. But if you do, it will cost you greatly.

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Six Clues You Are a “Wait Until Next Year”-er (Part I)

The 2012 Major League Baseball season has almost concluded. Several teams are still battling it out to see who will be crowned World Series Champion. Most of the MLB fan base has moved on to be entertained by the NFL or college football or whatever as their team has officially been eliminated. The two teams I follow both exited the playoffs early, one to a blown infield fly rule call and the other to a blown 2-0 playoff series lead. (Seriously Cincy…how can you lose three in a row at home!?)

Each season ends in disappointment for 97% of all the teams and their fan bases. And in locker rooms, office buildings, bars, message boards and anywhere else across America people discuss what went wrong with this season, one phrase will be heard that gives hope to all who utter it — “Wait until next year.”

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A High Wall…Build It or Not?

In ancient times, the city wall was a symbol of strength. A finely constructed wall could ward off one’s enemies, keeping the inhabitants of the city safe. The more advanced the construction and the higher you could build the city wall the more secure you were. And when the Israelites came to the city of Jericho on their conquest of the Promised Land, they faced something they had likely never seen before…a walled-system so grand in scheme that it would dishearten the most elite of would-be invaders.

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Wealth Is Like A Strong City

Some proverbs just pop with imagery and for me this one brought back memories of the many hours of sleep I lost playing SimCity. I loved building those cities, although I never quite took the time to really understood what the whole point of the game was. I mean, once your map was full and you were connected to all of the side cites, what was supposed to happen next? Were you just supposed to make it stronger, better and more futuristic? Was there ever an endpoint to the game? Oh well, I digress…but I want to play it again right now.

These proverbs also caught my attention because Solomon repeated the same phrase twice in different parts of his book. So if the wisest man who ever lived repeated something twice, it probably requires some extra special attention. [Read more…]

Why to Develop a Strategic Plan

It has been a tough summer in many parts of the Midwest as crops have suffered due to the lack of rain. Drought conditions reduce crop yields, lessen the food supply and can put a farmers entire livelihood in jeopardy. In some countries, a severe drought can lead to famine as crops completely disappear over an extended period of years.

These type of conditions are very difficult for a farmer to plan for because they never know when one might occur. One person from history, however, did get a heads-up about a drought/famine and, because of his foreknowledge of the event, he quite possibly enacted the greatest crisis management plan the world has ever known.

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Count the Cost: Stick to the Plan to Win (Part 3 – Luke 14:28)

All of us want to finish our lives with honor and dignity. We want to look back over the years that we have been privileged to live hear on earth with a sense of pride, accomplishment and satisfaction that our lives have been well spent. We want to have reached our goals and contributed in some small way to the lives of those around us. We want to have been winners at life.

Wasn’t that the goal of the builder in Luke 14:28?

He wanted to win by finishing his tower. And he knew that weighing the costs of the project ahead of time in some serious get-down-to-business strategic planning sessions was going to help him accomplish his objective.

The point of the verse is about planning but the goal was to finish. What does “finishing” look like in regards to finances?

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Count the Cost: Find a Plan to Win (Part 2 – Luke 14:28)

George Bailey is beside himself at the prospects of living here.

Recently, a few miles from where I live, a house was sold for a minor sum of money after sitting vacant for years. The buyer, instead of choosing to live in the property, had the house bulldozed to the ground. Now this doesn’t seem like that uncommon of a thing to have happen to a property. After all, you have to make way for new construction, right?

The irony of the situation, however, is that it was new construction the buyer had leveled…well, at least it was new 7 years ago when they started building this beautiful, upper six-figure mansion of a house on a perfect, 5-acre corner lot of country land. No one had ever lived in that house. The original owner/builder only managed to get it about 75% completed.

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Count the Cost: Follow a Plan to Win (Part 1- Luke 14:28)

In Luke 14:25-33, Jesus is encouraging his followers to count the great personal cost it will take for each of them to truly be his disciple. He is trying to explain that in the very near future he is going to be crucified and in order for them to follow him to his death, they must be willing to die themselves. They would have to forsake everything (including family) in order to make this type of commitment to Jesus.

In order to get his point across, He uses two incredible examples that show how planning ahead of time can lead to a successful outcome.

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