Hope for your financial life and beyond

The Best Advice From God About Playing Video Games

I have a confession to make – I LOVE playing video games. In fact, even today at age 43 – I have to keep myself from playing them because it’s so easy for me to get sucked into their grasp. I can still play all day if I let myself go.

Technology propels society forward perhaps like nothing else. I came of age in a decade where the video game industry saw leaps and bounds like never before. I was seven in 1980 when perhaps the greatest video game of all time was released. Want to take a guess which game that was?

That’s right – Pac-Man.

But the 1980s saw even greater innovations that propelled the numbers of kids and adults playing video games to new heights.

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32 Billion In Est. Profits: The Amount Generated by Human Trafficking

Hidden Nuggets Series #71 – “Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.” – Proverbs 31:8-9

boys carrying logs on train trackEach year I download a free calendar template from Microsoft to schedule my blog posts. I’ve found it really helps me plan ahead and keeps me focused on finishing my content. Nothing says “Get er done!” like an open publish date on a calendar for which you have not yet written a post.

The template comes coded with special dates highlighted each month. There are the obvious ones like all your major holidays. But they also include “awareness days” like International Woman’s Day (Mar. 8th), International Picnic Day (Jun. 18th), International Left-Handers Day (Aug. 13th) and World Vegetarian Day (Oct. 1st). Curious how nobody cares about men like me who like to eat steak with our right hand at the dining room table.

Those are fun awareness days to be sure but one day stood out to me as taking on a more serious tone. January 11th is Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

Human Trafficking: A Global Problem

I don’t want to come off in this post as someone who routinely has championed for the victims of human trafficking. I’ve never taken up the cause even though I’ve been generally aware that it’s an issue that impacts certain parts of the world more than others. But that little tickler posted on Jan. 11th in my calendar template got me looking into the issue a bit. I can’t help but tell you I was surprised at the depth of the problem.

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Spring Break: Glorious Rite of Passage or Undisciplined Waste of Money?

spring break

Having a blast on spring break?

This week and next, thousands of high school and college students will embark on the annual ritual known as spring break. They will fill hotels, crowd beaches and party in clubs long into the night. With the sheer number of young people present in these locations – the majority of which will be slightly to heavily inebriated – anything can happen.

That anticipation of the unpredictable defines the allure of spring break. And the alcohol…and the chance to “hook up.”

I’ve participated in three spring break trips in my life. The first was my senior trip in high school to a resort in the Bahamas. The next two were in college. One was with a group of guys (and my dad) to go caving in central Kentucky. On the other trip, I went with a co-ed group of friends and the future Mrs. Luke1428 to visit her father in south Florida.

None of those trips were to what I would call party central locations.

Each trip cost me hard earned money that could have been used for other purposes. I considered them worth it though for the memories they created. After all, isn’t the creation of memories a fundamental aspect of taking a vacation?

I can remember my spring break trips with perfect clarity…a hilarious photo of my high school friend sunbathing next to a gorgeous woman in the Bahamas…the onset of panic when one of my stout college buddies became stuck in a tight crawl of a cave…Kim and I enduring the ear shattering buzz of an air boat ride as we dodged alligators in the Everglades.

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Price Limits, Blow Money and the 24 Hour Rule

24 hour ruleDo you have a 24 hour rule on big purchases? This strategy, plus two other strategies helped my family spend less and produce massive amounts of savings each month.

I’ve mentioned before how I’m a recovering spend-a-holic. In another life, I spent to my heart’s content, undeterred by any financial damage it would cause. I wrecked our ability to save and follow any semblance of a budget.

My wife and I would have frequent “discussions” about our my spending patterns. The discussions were mostly one sided, with me downplaying the extent of our my struggles. I got so good at deflecting any negativity about our my poor spending habits that I usually ended up getting what I wanted at the end of those conversations. Kudos to my wife for putting up with me…I was a mess.

Clearly I had convinced myself there was no problem.

It’s very easy for spending to spiral out of control. Much of the time, we do damage simply by not developing a system of checks and balances to monitor what’s going on. We end up waking up one day with a mess on our hands, wondering how we got there.

The biggest step that had to take place for my spending habits to change was a shift in my attitude. Thankfully for me, that did take place through a series of well-timed events that occurred at a point when my mind was open to improvement. Only after I willfully chose to get my act together and develop some discipline could my wife and I move forward with some strategic practices to curb spending.

Two such practices we implemented proved valuable for us. Those were setting price limits on spending and following the 24 hour rule.

Price Limits

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Stealing From Your Employer

Hidden Nuggets #17 – “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.” – Ephesians 4:28

stealing from your employer

You gonna pay for that?

Your employer needs your hard work to benefit the company.

That’s why they hired you. The company was looking to fill a void so it could make a profit. Something about you stood out.  Match made in heaven.

They believed in you…trained you…even facilitated your success by assigning tasks that would maximize your skills.

So why are you repaying that generosity by stealing from your employer?

Stealing From Your Employer Actions

“What? Me? I would never think about stealing from my employer.”

Most wouldn’t. But before you dismiss the question, have you ever done these things at work:

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I’ll Take Money Over Love. Would You Ever?

Hidden Nuggets Series #14 – “…and every one of us will give you 1,100 pieces of silver.” – Judges 16:5

money over loveWhat values would you betray for money? Would you take money over love? Would you lie or steal if you had a 100% chance of striking it rich?

Would you abandon your morals for one million dollars? Would it make a difference for $10 million? $100 million?

Even thinking about that question makes us feel dirty. We try to convince ourselves it would be impossible to forsake our core principles and beliefs for money. Deep inside, however, we know there would be serious temptation, especially if our financial situation was dire.

Such is the nature of our humanity.

Of course the scenario I set forth Hollywood has already made into a movie – the 1993 not-so-critically-acclaimed drama Indecent Proposal. (Kids need not apply to watch!) It’s not an original story line however, because the theme of someone taking money over love dates back much further than that.

She Took Money Over Love

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