Hope for your financial life and beyond

Of Marathons and Money: Post Race Edition

Success! I completed the Atlanta Marathon Sunday morning in 4:07:54. That time ended up being a 9:23 pace per mile which I was really satisfied with. A 9:30 pace had been my goal. The weather was in the mid-50s and cloudy. We ended up running through several patches of drizzle but nothing to make one uncomfortable.

Overall I ended up 321st out of 982 finishers, placing 38th out of 113 in the 35-39 age group.

The biggest challenge of the race was the physical wall you hit about mile 20. I knew this was coming because I had read so much about it and had experienced it a little bit in training.

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Of Marathons and Money: Pre-Race Edition

When was your last life-changing day? We have these randomly littered at various points throughout the course of our life. Most life-changing days we never see coming…they just spontaneously happen. The day of that spiritual awakening…the day you get a proposal and a diamond…the day of a personal tragedy…the day we get fed up with __________ (fill in your blank) and decide to do something about it. It is the day we realize, “Huh…things are going to be different.” My most recent one occurred on October 15, 2011, the day I finished my first 5K race.

Something about finishing that race drove me to continue running. Now – almost 800 miles, 7,000+ minutes of running, and 3 half-marathons later – I am set to tackle my first full marathon this coming Sunday. 26.2 miles. Crazy…I know.

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Scary College Debt Statistics

In case you missed it, the cost of a college education is increasing dramatically. Public and private colleges alike are increasing tuition significantly, many because of state budget cuts. This has left many high school seniors in a bind. For years they have heard the media, their parents, their teachers and counselors say the best way to get a decent job with good pay is to earn a college degree. But now they wonder how they can afford it.

The Institute for College Access and Success’ Project on Student Debt conducted a recent survey that gives us insight into how students are paying for a college education. The results are astonishing and scary.

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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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God is Not a Cosmic Killjoy

cosmic killjoyAmong the many false opinions that have developed concerning the nature of God, lies one that speaks about God’s goodness. Many people envision God as a cosmic killjoy, like a cop standing in the middle of all the world’s traffic. He’s ready to blow His whistle when one car veers slightly to the left or right.

People who have this view of God would basically see Him as the spoiler of all their fun.

“Stop that!” “You can’t go there!” “You don’t need those nice things!” “One more time doing that and I am going to zap you!” “Don’t you dare cross that line!”

At the heart of this belief people are really asking the question, “Does God really want to bless me and meet my needs?”  In other words, “Can I truly believe that God wants to provide for me?” Well, the answer from the Bible is that He does in more ways than we can imagine.

Cosmic Killjoy or Not?

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“Chew On This For Awhile”

How are you getting by? Are you making an above-board living? Are you putting in an honest days’ work for an honest days’ wage? Is the money you earn done so legitimately?

Or are the increases in your personal wealth due to dishonest practices? Are you cheating or stealing? Intentionally deceiving others in a business deal? Twisting and manipulating tax laws? Hiding money you earn from your spouse? If so, the Bible has a warning for you. And your mouth is not going to like it.

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Should I Borrow Money to Get What I Want?

borrow moneyWe live in a “Have It Now” culture that screams, “Borrow money now to get what you want!”

We want our fast food within 5 minutes or less in the drive-thru.  We want to make quick money for as little work as possible. We drive fast cars so we can get to our destination sooner. We are first in line for the newest technology gadget the day it is released. Can’t wait…gotta have it.

This “Have It Now” culture has also skewed our reasoning ability, in that it has masterfully helped us change our “wants” into “needs.”

We no longer want the new bass boat – it is a need.

We no longer want the week-long cruise to Bermuda – it is a need.

We no longer want the $5,000 Hall of Fame rookie card – it is a need.

We no longer want…(fill in yours here)…it is a need.

Borrow Money to Get What We Want

Think through all of your major purchases in the past year. How many of them would truly be classified as “needs?”

Put these two things together – getting what we want quickly and “wants vs. needs” – and a real problem begins to arise for most everyone in society. We don’t have the money to pay for these items!

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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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How Do You Define Success?

What is the definition of success? How do we measure it? Is there a dividing line between success and failure? Is it based on a position you attain, how much money possess, or the power you wield? Or is it based on something more altruistic like how you impacted others or the legacy you leave behind? And who defines your success? Is it based on your own self-assessment or other people’s opinions?  What is the magic formula for being successful?

That’s a lot of questions to ask and no doubt you are beginning to form your own opinions about what makes a person successful. I have a pretty good idea though that as I describe this next character, successful will be the last word that comes to your mind.

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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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