Hope for your financial life and beyond

5 Personal Finance Items to Evaluate at Least Once a Year

When was the last time you took inventory of your personal finances? It’s easy to get things set in place and then just ignore them. Who really wants to continually review all the facets of personal finance anyway? It takes so much time.

personal finance checklistWell, here is the thing – the pace of life is fast. Because of that, it’s easy to let things slip by. When it comes to our money, we may be missing out on opportunities to improve on the things we have in place and save money in the process.

And in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t take as much time as you think to do a thorough review. It will be worth it compared to the consequences that might come should you miss something important.

The idea of taking inventory of your financial life is not new. King Solomon in the Bible was the wisest man who ever lived.  In the book of Proverbs he wrote this:

“Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and attend to your herds; for riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations.” (Prov. 27:23-24)

We cannot assume just because something was once a good deal, investment or financial goal that it will continue to be so. Our life circumstances change so we should be on the cutting edge of awareness about these matters.

Your Yearly Personal Finance Review

Here are five key areas of our personal finances that my wife and I review at least once a year:

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3 Steps We Took to Develop Financial Success in Our Marriage

financial success in marriageMy wife and I have had success in marriage despite the fact we exhibit many different personality traits. I am more reserved, take my time with decisions and love to spend money. She on the other hand, is an outgoing, get things done driver, who coincidentally loves to save.

Despite our different personality types, we seldom disagree on financial related things. We learned early on that disagreements over financial issues were detrimental to our personal marriage, not to mention one of the leading causes of divorce in America. So we established some guidelines and parameters for our finances that helped us develop oneness in our marriage.

Steps to Develop Financial Success in Marriage

Our financial decisions have not always been the best. In fact, many of our money guidelines have evolved and been enhanced over the years. Within the last five years especially, we’ve realized more and more what it means to be on the same page with one another. It’s in this most recent period of our lives that I’ve noticed success in marriage growing. In regards to our finances, it all boils down to three big issues.

Listening to each other

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Life Have You Spinning in a Hamster Wheel? You Can Still Benefit

hamster in wheelMy kids live for PetSmart shopping trips. Even though our trips take us there for dog food, bones and squeaky toys, we always end up detouring over to the caged animals. My boys love searching for the snakes, camouflaged in their pen, hiding among the sticks. Meanwhile, the girls ooh and ah over the cute, furry bunnies. “Look at the floppy ears Daddy,” they happily squeal, as only little girls can.

I find those things interesting. However, only one thing at the pet store causes me to pause and put down my 30lb. bag of Purina One chicken and rice blend dog food. The actions of these critters mesmerize me each and every time.

Hamsters.

Furry little bodies. Noses always sniffing. Tiny feet. Little bitty ears. And what’s with the constant running in the exercise wheel? They just make me laugh.

On one shopping trip, my crew watched this hamster get in and out of its wheel for five minutes straight. Run, get out. Get back in, run, get out. Get back in, run, get out. Over and over again it did this. We were rolling in the aisle with laughter.

As I watched the hamster gymnastics, I thought, “What a metaphor for life. So many people stuck in a rut, running but going nowhere. They accomplish nothing, as they do the same things over and over again.” I congratulated myself, as I swiped my debit card at the checkout line, for being such a clever thinker. Leaving the store, I jotted down a mental note to write a blog post about that someday.

A funny thing happened on the ride home among the “Stop thats” and the “Hey daddy” questions coming from the five year old in the back seat. I began to think my brilliant analogy might be incorrect.

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How Do You Create Time to Blog?

Disclaimer: This post is part very calm rant (over my predicament), part probe (asking advice from you the reader), and part self-help (just getting this out of my mind and thinking it through so I can move on).

HourglassHello. My name is Brian. I’m a part-time blogger.

(I’ve actually never seen standards for what classifies someone as full or part-time. I just assume that because I’m not posting every day of the week that makes me part-time.)

This July 3rd, I’ll celebrate my one-year blogging anniversary. I’ve consistently posted twice a week for the past year. (Which actually was my personal goal.) On a great week I can sneak in an additional post or maybe compile a weekly roundup of awesome posts I’ve read.

I haven’t done many additional posts and no roundups recently because I have lacked the time. That’s frustrating. I LOVE reading what other people write and sharing comments in their blog world. And I love passing on what I think is good content to my readers.

I’ve seen an even more disturbing trend happen in the past month. I’m really having trouble keeping up with my writing schedule. I learned from John at Frugal Rules the importance of putting a blog calendar together. That’s been a ton of help. I’ve got a slew of stuff planned out to write on for months to come.

But keeping up with that calendar with all my other personal responsibilities is the challenge. As a part-timer this is what I’m up against:

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I Love to Clean the Bathroom

clean the bathroomI have a confession to make…I love to clean the bathroom. This is part genetic predisposition (received from my mom I think, who I always remember keeping a clean house) and part learned (from my days as manager of our community’s swimming pool concession stand. ALWAYS had to be ready for the health department!) Give me a rag, a mop and some liquid Lysol and I’m a happy camper!

We remodeled ours several years ago and it’s become a sanctuary in the morning as I’m getting ready for work. Sometimes I pretend I’m on vacation and walking into a fancy bathroom at a five star hotel. (OK…it may not be that awesome but this is my pretend fantasy here.)

No matter how nice it may be I regularly need to clean the bathroom. Mold still grows in the shower. The sink and tubs get scummy. Personal hygiene items litter the countertops and pack the vanity drawers. And the toilet…well, we won’t even go there.

And I love to clean the bathroom because…

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Forget Me Not

“For the needy shall not always be forgotten; the expectation of the poor shall not perish forever.” – Psalm 9:18

It has been a horrific week in the northeast. In case you missed it, Hurricane Sandy ripped through New Jersey and New York, devastating the region. Many lives have not returned to normal as they are still lacking some basic necessities of life like food and shelter. Other lives will never return to normal as they have lost loved ones to this epic storm.

With power still not restored in some places and gas in short supply, the coming days will still present a high degree of challenge for those who are assisting in the relief efforts. But this week might prove to be even tougher for the affected residents of the east coast for an entirely different set of reasons.

America is moving on to a different news cycle.

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God Places Us For A Purpose

Are you sick and tired of your job? Wish you could win the Mega-Millions Jackpot and escape to paradise, never to work again? If so, maybe some reflection and a new perspective is in order. Humans were endowed with the nature to work from the very beginning and they could not escape it, not even in paradise.

In Genesis chapters 1-2, we are told of God’s spectacular creation of the universe and all that it contains – the heavens, planets, stars, plants, animals and human beings. God was very pleased with his creation and when he was finished he commanded mankind saying, “…have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28). And then God did something awesome. He created a garden of paradise – in a place called Eden.

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