Hope for your financial life and beyond

Sam’s Club Does It Again with Scan-and-Go App for Gas

A while ago, I wrote about how Sam’s Club had introduced a Scan-and-Go app that allows you to scan the barcodes of your items as you shop. It records each scan in a digital shopping cart. When you are finished shopping, you simply check out in the app and leave the store.

sam's club scan and go gasThe huge advantage of this is of course saving time. There is no need to unload and then re-load your shopping cart at the checkout line. You can skip that entirely! And that is a huge advantage when you are shopping at Sam’s, especially during peak hours. Sometimes those checkout line waits can take forever.

Too this day, I am amazed at how many people still do not use this feature on their phone at my local Sam’s.

As you know, Sam’s Club also sells gas to its members. And recently I was greeted with a pleasant surprise when I rolled up to the pump one day to get gas. The interface screen had been changed and a QR code was now staring me in the face.

That’s right…I could now use my Sam’s Club Scan-and-Go app to purchase gas. Let me tell you how it works and then discuss a few reasons why it’s a big deal.

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Consider the Ant in Your Definition of Work Ethic (Proverbs 6:6)

“Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise.” That verse from Proverbs 6:6 contains an odd word we rarely use today – sluggard. The first thing I think of when hearing that word are creeping, slimy slugs. So sticky and definitely no fun to hold.

consider the antYou may not identify with that word. But you could easily understand what a sluggard is if I gave you some synonyms. How do these words grab you – lazy, sluggish, loafer, slacker and couch potato. Get the picture now?

God has a lot to say about the lazy in the pages of the Bible. This particular passage in Proverbs may be the best known of them all. I think mostly because it tells us to “consider the ant” – an animal we hardly ever pay attention to.

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Buyer Beware: Renting a Car With a Debit Card

For a significant portion of our adult life, my wife and I chose to live without the use of a credit card. 99% of the time we had no issues when it came to making purchases. We would simply use our debit card or pay with cash when making a transaction. The one major instance where we had difficulty was when renting a car with a debit card.

renting a car with a debit cardWe ran into trouble twice with this type of transaction and in both cases it nearly had us stuck. The worst of those moments was on our vacation to Yellowstone. It nearly cost us our trip.

My wife is an incredible trip planner. She can research and organize a trip with such precision I hardly have to pay attention. The most I end up doing in the trip-planning phase is giving minor advice and approval to her vacation to-do requests.

So when researching for our trip, she had the chance to save $700 on our rental car for the week. That was a no-brainer. “Heck, yeah” I said. “Book that!”

My wife is member of the AICPA (the American Institute of CPAs). As a member she is entitled to discounts with companies with whom the AICPA has an affiliation. One such company is Hertz.

She did all the fine-print reading ahead of time and found out Hertz does accept debit cards for rental car purchases. The one caveat is they require a credit check before releasing the car. That should have raised a red flag for us. However, it just didn’t click in our brains. We just missed it.

So we booked a minivan with Hertz two months prior to leaving and didn’t give it another thought. Until we got to the Cody, Wyoming airport.

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Living is Worth the Risk – So Choose to Live!

Ugh…Wow! That’s the basic starting point for describing 2020 to most people. A year that FDR might say will live in infamy. If you would have told me in December of 2019 that for most of the next year we’d debate whether leaving our homes or not was worth the risk, I would not have believed you.

worth the riskYet here we are at the close of 2020 and there are some who have not left their homes since February to protect themselves from contracting COVID19.

There are so many angles people have pursued and will continue to pursue to try and make sense of what happened this year. There will be facts, there will be opinions, there will be misdirection and there will be suspicion. And all of it fueled with emotions we know so well – fear, anger, frustration, anxiety, confusion, sadness and helplessness. Who hasn’t felt at least one of those at some level in 2020?

And yet, despite all the downside this year has brought, I had a thought several months ago while driving with my family that I have not been able to escape. It gave me perspective on how to handle my life in a world consumed with risk. It showed me there is a better path than the one governed by fear.

The thought was a basic one. Put simply, my mind told me this – “Living is worth the risk.” Here is what that means to me.

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Online Business Ideas That Make You Money

In 1991, the Internet as we know it went live to the general public. At the time, there was little fanfare. And it would take most of the rest of the decade before it became mainstream.

Now the Internet is everywhere. And have people sure learned how to use it…especially to start an online business and make money.

As the Internet has evolved, people continue to spend more and more time on it. More eyeballs looking at content means more opportunity for people to monetize that content. So, for many, starting an online business sounds like a good idea.

There are a multitude of ways to make money on the Internet. And if you have never worked on the Internet before, that should not be something to stop you. Those who are willing to learn can be a success and make enough money to either earn a living or provide a little extra on the side in their monthly budget.  The work itself does not have to be full-time. Plenty of people are adjusting their schedules and juggling both their regular work as well as an online side hustle. 

So, if this is something you are interested in, you will need an idea for a business plan first. 

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All Work and No Play: Combating the Dangers of Workaholism

All work and no playDo not fear. I’m not writing from a snowed in mountain resort lodge. I have to admit for years I assumed the proverb “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” came from that Stephen King horror novel turned Jack Nicholson movie thriller The Shining, which mistakenly came in front of my eyes as a youth (thank you older cousins). I say mistakenly because no one under the age of 21 should put that imagery into their head. (And maybe if you are over 21, you shouldn’t either.)

As it turns out the phrase “all work and no play” was originally published in Proverbs in English, Italian, French and Spanish (1659) and is attributed to a writer by the name of James Howell.

The warning of the all work and no play proverb seems clear enough to me. If we don’t release ourselves from the pressures of work from time to time we will become dull and uninteresting. We become like the automated robot on the assembly line who only finds fulfillment in one thing – doing its job. When life becomes our work, we neglect time for hobbies, family, friends, exercise, watching sports, reading, or just plain vegging, all of which could add significant value to life if we let them.

That type of existence doesn’t spark a fire in me at all. Work definitely has value and should be something we take seriously. But life is so much more than working all the time.

So what should people battling with workaholism do? Fortunately, there is a path forward to a better work/life balance.

A Guideline For Work

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How to Enjoy a Life of Guilt Free Spending

guilt freeI would love to enjoy a guilt free life, especially when it comes to spending money. Have you ever heard the same voice rattling around in your head that I’ve heard in mine? It usually says something like, “Why did you spend that money? That was stupid! You know you shouldn’t have done that.”

If you’ve had that thought, then you know you spend the rest of the day kicking yourself and feeling like you’ve done something wrong. Additionally, some time during that same day might be spent seeking forgiveness from your spouse, which can always be a tense situation. And to top it all off, you will spend the rest of the month struggling to figure out how to make the budget cover your spending decision.

Guilt is powerful. But have you ever stopped to consider why?

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6 Shocking Things Your Broke Friends Need to Hear You Say

If you’ve ever gotten into conversations with broke friends about money, you know how hard it is to determine if they actually want your help. There are several ways to figure that out and perhaps lead your discussion to a deeper level. If that happens, you’ll learn more about your friend’s financial struggles and perhaps be able to offer some counsel.

However, the counsel part is when it gets really tough. If you’ve had success with money, the answers seem obvious. You know what must be done.

broke friendsChange your habits.

Spend less and save more by following a budget.

Get out of debt.

Invest, invest, and invest some more.

The sad thing is your broke friends might not want to hear any of that. They are in financial trouble for a whole host of diverse reasons. And those reasons have a grip on their life that will make it hard to break free.

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The Bribe That Fueled the All-Time Greatest Easter Myth

easter mythMoney is at the heart of many cover-ups. Flash enough cash and some people could be encouraged to keep quiet. Make that sum of money big enough and they could even be persuaded to promote lie, even manufacture the greatest Easter myth ever created.

We would call this type of gift a bribe. It’s money given so that you act in someone’s favor – usually in a dishonest or illegal fashion.

Bribes have been given in different circumstances throughout history to conceal an action or advance an agenda. In one instance, a bribe was used to push an Easter myth that continues to be believed by many to this day.

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Money Flow: 8 Tips for Getting Paid Faster as a Freelancer

Have you ever thought about becoming a freelancer? I was for a time, writing blog posts and articles for various websites. I really enjoyed it and and it was quite beneficial. 

freelancerWhen you’re just starting out as a freelancer or you’re in business by yourself, how quickly you get paid for your work is crucial. Your company’s overhead and your personal livelihood all depend on you. You can’t be sitting around for weeks once the work is done wondering what is going on and waiting for the money to roll in.

Staying busy is one thing, but if your invoices aren’t getting paid timely, it doesn’t matter how much work you have. You’ll end up being frustrated and not enjoying the freelancing lifestyle. 

So, to increase your money flow and ensure prompt payment, follow these 8 tips.

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Interview with a Centenarian: At 100, My Grandfather Reflects on Life, Faith and Finding Purpose

Oh, to be a centenarian – 100 years of living. It’s simply amazing! Most of us would settle for 80% of that. It’s hard to fathom the changes and life events someone born in 1914 has experienced.

centenarian

Byron Miller – Preaching at 100 years of age

What will you be up to at 100 years of age? My grandfather, as shown in the picture, preached a sermon the day after he turned 100. His challenge to those who listened:

1. Practice Gratitude (be thankful)

2. Express Certitude (in the things of your faith)

3. Develop Fortitude (build the power to endure)

And he played his guitar and sang a short chorus at the end. The song’s message – “Just a little bit longer Lord…just a little bit longer.”

Not a dry eye in the house.

In the weeks leading up to his 100th birthday, my grandfather was kind enough to answer some questions about his life. I’d encourage you to take five minutes to enjoy this thought provoking read about a man who has experienced the Depression, the loss of siblings, financial challenges, joys and regrets and 60+ years of ministry.

Q & A With a Centenarian

1. What is the most amazing thing you have seen in your lifetime? Why did that stand out?

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