Hope for your financial life and beyond

The Ultimate Risk in Wasting a Play

Everyone knew Marshawn would get the football. He’d just run four yards on the previous play to push his team to the one-yard line. With less than a minute to go and the Super Bowl on the line the monster running back would surely bring a championship to his team with one more beastly plunge.

super bowl interceptionExcept his coach called for a pass play on 2nd down.


The resulting interception thrown by Russell Wilson caused the dozens at my Super Bowl party to jump off the couch, screaming in disbelief (or triumph depending on their rooting interest).

After the game the Seattle coach was faced with questions from the media about the play call. To his credit he took full responsibility for the misfortune that befell his team. But his logic for making the call was curious to say the least.

In essence he said they didn’t have the right personnel on the field to match up with New England’s defense. So he chose to give away (#waste) that 2nd down play with a passing call and then get set up to call better plays on 3rd and potentially 4th down.

Give away a play…with the championship on the line.


The Risk in Giving Away Plays

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This Is What Makes Dumping Girlfriends and Credit Cards Hard

Do you remember your first love? I don’t mean that boy or girl you kissed in kindergarten. I mean that first true love…the person with whom you were destined to spend the rest of your life.

breaking up with credit cardsI do and when I was with her she seemed perfect in every way. A match made in heaven.

However, it didn’t last. We broke up after a few years, the reasons for which won’t be mentioned here.

But then we got back together a few months later and it was just like old times. It was like we hadn’t missed a beat. And this time things would be different. We were committed to make our relationship last.

Except it didn’t. Again we split after less than a year.


…you know what’s coming next.

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Launching This Year May Lead to Your Greatest Catch

Hidden Nuggets Series #72 – “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” – Luke 5:4

fisherman casting a netThe shallow, clear blue waters of the Caribbean are so inviting. In them you can wade a great distance from shore and never feel uncomfortable. Every step is sure because you are only in up to your knees and all obstacles can be avoided because you can clearly see the ocean floor.

Were you to wade out into deep waters however, the feeling of security would clearly change.

Deep waters are scary.

They are expansive and wide.

There are unseen objects in the deep.

There is little light to manage the obstacles.

Yet there can be great reward in launching into something big…something challenging…something overwhelming…something fraught with uncertainty.

Simon Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples learned this on one occasion. After a night of fishing without catching a thing, Jesus asked him to launch his boat one more time and let down his net. After some mild complaining, Peter reluctantly obeyed.

The Result of Peter’s Launch

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There Can Always Be Redemption

Hidden Nuggets Series #64 – “For with the Lord there is mercy; and with Him is abundant redemption.” – Psalm 130:7

Andy Dufresne Recently I’ve been talking about some topics that are all interconnected: dealing with failure, making mistakes and asking for help. I’ve been in a reflective mood as 2014 comes to a close. Some great things happened this past year but like the rest of you there are some things that I wish had happened differently.

In my younger days I used to think that every mistake was the end of the world – that there could be no recovery from big time failures. I’m realizing more and more the folly of that line of thinking. There is always room for redemption no matter how hard we might fall.

Not that redemption would come easy mind you. It could be the toughest of challenges to redeem yourself in the eyes of others who have seen you fail. Trust, confidence in and respect for would all have to be earned again.

The possibility of redemption remains a possibility though. Those who understand that can move on. Those who don’t, sink only deeper into an emotional despair. This can be clearly seen in the lives of two of Jesus’ followers who both made mistakes and took completely different routes in dealing with them.

A Story of Redemption

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Moments Like This Make Blogging Worth It

What drives a blogger to write?

map of the PhilippinesIn my 2+ years of blogging myself and after reading countless other blogs during that time, I’ve concluded there are three reasons why someone would start a blog:

  1. To make money
  1. To make a difference
  1. To share details about their life

In broad terms that pretty much covers it. However, it’s not an either or proposition. A blogger could narrow their focus to one of these tasks or accomplish all three at once. It simply depends upon that person’s goals and objectives.

I’m going out on a limb to say in the field in which I write (personal finance), the overwhelming majority of bloggers would concede reason #2 has to be a part of what drives them. How can I say that? Because I’ve read their blogs and personally talked with them and this issue always comes up.

We are – somewhere deep down in our nature – desiring to see the things we talk about help other people with their finances.

So we do what we can to reach as many people as possible. And the other day I got a message from an unexpected source that made me realize – really for the first time – that what I’m doing is worth it.

You’re Writing From Where?

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The Government Won’t Solve Your Money Problems

In case you didn’t know, tomorrow is a mid-term election day in the U.S. If you live here I really don’t understand how you could not know it’s a voting day given the emphasis placed on it by the news media and advertising groups for months now. It should be interesting given the frustration many people in both parties are having with functioning of the current government.

Capitol Hill Everyone has their reasoning for why they chose to vote or choose not to vote. That reasoning can easily turn elections to one side or the other. In the past presidential election, we now know that 4 million conservatives stayed home, choosing not to vote. That groundswell of opposition and apathy towards their candidate followed by their subsequent inaction when it came to voting turned the election for the incumbent.

Whatever your political persuasion, I hope your beliefs are deep enough that money isn’t the only consideration when it comes to choosing an elected official. Too often voters only vote with their wallet, casting a ballot for the candidate they think will improve the economy, thus making their financial life better off than it currently is. I’m not saying the issue of improving the economy should be ignored. We just can’t base our entire decision on that one factor.

Money isn’t everything.

The Government and Your Money Problems

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On How to Keep Moving On After Failure

Hidden Nuggets Series #62 – “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed…That I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart…” – Psalm 27:13-14

Like some of you I’ve been watching the World Series for the last two weeks. My team is not in it so I’m not 100% engaged. But Kansas City is a fun, Cinderella story and my uncle likes San Francisco so I have a passing interest in what is going on.

moving onWhat’s always intrigued me about baseball is how these men deal with failure. Imagine if you failed 75% of the time you tried to accomplish something. Hard to fathom isn’t it? You’d probably give up and at the least have a negative perception of yourself.

Yet that’s what happens to the average baseball player. A .275 batting average is considered respectable in the Major Leagues. Those who hit over .300 for 20 years likely have a chance at the Hall of Fame. It’s remarkable that those enshrined as the game’s best were beaten by the pitcher 7 out of 10 times.

In order to deal with that much failure I’ll bet they have several things going for them:

a short memory…


stubbornness (to continue)…

and belief.

Where Does Your Strength to Believe Come From?

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Pushing Through An Identity Crisis: 31 Straight Days of Writing

Have you ever dealt with an identity crisis, not sure of who you really are?

identity crisisDo you wear multiple hats and thus stumble for the right words when people ask, “So, what do you do?”

Did this ever lead to an impasse where you weren’t quite sure how to present yourself?

I’ve been there in every form and fashion since I started writing on this blog over two years ago. At the beginning I still was teaching high school and always felt the blog writing was an add-on to any conversation. When people would ask me “What do you do?” I’d respond by saying I was a teacher and then somewhat sheepishly add how I was writing a personal finance blog on the side.

The first part about teaching people could relate to and was met with the typical follow up questions one might expect when inquiring about someone’s career. The add-on about blogging produced nothing. The statement crash landed.

The experience continued earlier this summer when I began to lead with “I’m now a stay at home dad.” Same results.

It’s hard to convince yourself you are something when nobody sees you that way. All people could see in me was teacher or stay at home dad. They didn’t see personal finance writer.

I’ve come to realize that wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own. You are who you say you are. People will follow your lead and respond accordingly.

Identity Crisis: Turn Pro In Your Mind

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Rethinking the Definition of Success

Hidden Nuggets Series #48 – “Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.” – John 3:29

definition of successWhat is the definition of success?

Such a loaded question and a difficult thing to determine. I would say most measure whether a person has been a success based on a position attained, an amount of wealth accumulated or the level of power they possess. Other views may define success as simply reaching a goal or leaving an impact on others – a legacy that lasts after the person is gone.

Either way, there seems to be a fine dividing line between success and failure in the world’s eyes. To borrow a famous movie line from Trading Places, “One minute you are up half a million in soybeans and the next, boom, your kids don’t go to college and they’ve repossessed your Bentley.” One misstep it would seem can have that big an impact.

Complicating the definition of success even further is that we struggle evaluating ourselves. More often than not it’s the world and other people’s opinions telling us whether we are a success or not. Instead of gauging ourselves and being good with that, we let strangers define our level of success – people who may not have all the facts, who misread our motivation and fail to understand our endgame.

I don’t believe in a magic formula that defines success. There is too much subjectivity involved. For example, as I describe the life of this particular person, would you classify him as a success?

A Success Profile?

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Tools of Motivation: Getting What You Need to Succeed

tools of motivationWhat do you need to stay motivated and succeed?

For my money, nothing beats a good tool. Those who have ever worked on a construction site or have completed a DIY home project know this to be true. The more specific the tool is to the need the better it is able to properly complete the task.

For example, you wouldn’t use a hammer to insert a screw. Well, maybe you could. However, that method is probably going to cause some damage and a ton of frustration. The right tool is needed for the right circumstances to help you achieve maximum results in the most efficient amount of time.

Interesting thing about tools is how they motivate me to succeed. There have been times when I was having difficulty with a particular challenge and a tool pushed me through a mental or physical barrier. In most cases, the tool cost me money to obtain but in the end it proved vital to my success.

So for that I’d say the right tools are worth purchasing to help you win.

My Tools of Motivation

Tools of motivation come in all shapes and sizes for all aspects of life. Here are a few areas where I’ve seen tools be effective in my life.


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The Real Secret to Developing a Work Ethic in Kids

Hidden Nuggets Series #41 – “Therefore, I urge you to imitate me.” I Corinthians 4:16

developing a positive work ethic

Like father, like son

The messages this week at Luke1428 have all centered around the benefits, both financial and emotional, that children can receive from doing work. My wife and I have been teaching our children that labor leads to profit and that if they don’t work they won’t get paid. Those are big messages and the sooner they learn them the better.

Have you ever wondered how a solid work ethic gets ingrained in a child? Is it something they are born with? Does it come through the hearing of verbal instructions given by adults? Or maybe it results as a reaction to punishment received for laziness or disobedience.

Those ideas have merit. However, I don’t believe any of them in and of themselves will ultimately produce a child with a strong work ethic. What will ultimately do it? The answer is simpler than you think:

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