Hope for your financial life and beyond

So It’s Been Awhile but I’m Back from My Blogging Break

Yeah, so it’s been awhile since I wrote an article on this blog. Judging by the date of the last post it’s been three months. That’s a long time in the blogging world to let your site lie dormant with no action.

But the decision not to post was intentional. Why you may ask? Well there were several personal reasons that drew my attention away from writing. In the past few months my family has experienced a change in my career, the school my kids go to and the church we attend. And the most time consuming of all our family events is that we moved to a new home. And, if you’ve ever sold a home and bought a new one, you know the time required for that.

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How to Save One Thousand Dollars in a Month

If you are serious about getting out of debt and building any kind of financial future, then you must save money on a regular basis. The best part is you don’t have to begin with much. All you need to do for starters is to save one thousand dollars. That will give yourself some cushion.

When I worked construction I learned that every building requires a solid foundation. For your financial life, that foundation is savings. Without adequate savings you will struggle to get out of debt and will always be susceptible to emergency situations.

save one thousand dollarsNow I know the process of saving money isn’t sexy. We’d rather go spend our money on gadgets and entertainment that would give us an emotional high. Saving money and leaving it in the bank is an emotional blah.

To save one thousand dollars in a month may or may not sound like a daunting task depending on your situation. Some of you may be struggling to pay your basic bills.

But you can save one thousand dollars quickly. In fact, you could do it in only one month. Here’s how.

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How Much We Pay Our Kids For Chores

“How much to pay kids for chores?” is a question my wife and I have wrestled with again and again. I’ve mentioned before why we don’t give our kids allowances. I’m not giving them money just for existing. It seems like that is what an allowance implies. Kids need to feel the burden of work so they can experience the joy of its rewards.

how much to pay kids for choresIn addition to earning some money, doing chores around the house is teaching them responsibility. The home is where they should begin to learn basic life skills. When I was in school, I knew some college freshman who couldn’t do their own laundry. My oldest two children have been doing that since they were nine.

Over the years my wife and I have adjusted how much we pay our kids for chores. The amounts started out small and increased as they got older. Now that our oldest has turned 16, we are looking at another radical change. Before I get to that, here is some background information that helped us decide on how much to pay kids for chores.

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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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A Christmas Memory That Still Challenges Me to This Day

I love the Christmas season. Yes, it’s hectic. I know, it’s cold. Yes, travel is a nightmare. Each of those issues may bring back a Christmas memory you’d rather not recall.

a christmas memoryDespite all that, I look forward to Christmas. Always have. As a young child it meant a trip to my grandparent’s house in Indiana each year. We’d usually stay for a week with the rest of the extended family crammed into the house. My sister and I camped out on air mattresses in my grandfather’s study.

I don’t know how my grandparents did it, especially my grandmother. Cooking for 15 plus people for the week must have been exhausting. In fact, from our sleeping position in the study, my sister and I could see the light of her bedroom and the kitchen click on early – EARLY – each morning. She always pulled it off though with the perfect mixture of meats, fruit salads and desserts that we all liked.

It was crowded in that house but for a young child, it was as close to nirvana as one could come. So many things happened during the week that were out of the routine. There were later bedtimes, watching endless TV (sports) with my uncles, playing in the snow outside and having a steady stream of board games going on the inside.

But what I remember more than anything – and what ended up touching my life the most to this day – was our annual gift exchange.

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My Varidesk Review: The Standing Desk Alternative for Your Office Space

Are you looking for a standing desk alternative for your desk space at home or office? Tired of sitting all day? That was me several months ago.

When I was a high school teacher I used to stand all day long. When I quit teaching, I found myself sitting a whole lot more – sitting to write blog posts, sitting to prepare messages for my church youth group and sitting during staff meetings. I began to notice that I was becoming fatigued and my back was hurting. Evidently all the standing I had done as a teacher had kept me fitter than I thought.

Varidesk standing deskSo I started looking into a standing desk for my office. Most of what I ran across in my initial search was pieces of furniture – an actual desk that was higher than normal. I thought that would be OK but didn’t really find anything I liked.

Then I stumbled across Varidesk, a company that makes an adjustable standing desk (really best described as an adjustable platform) that sits on top of traditional desk furniture. It’s unique design allows you to work sitting at your desk. When you are tired of sitting, you can adjust the platform upwards to stand and work. You can see videos at the company website on how that adjustment happens.

I was impressed after reading many positive reviews. The vast majority of people loved the product and raved how it had changed their work habits. More energy, less back pain and an increased level of alertness were all things I heard reported.

My Standing Desk Experiment

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Back to School Tips to Manage Your Crazy Mornings

Next week my kids head back to school. YES and DOUBLE YES! They will hate that I’m saying that but after two long summer months it’s time to get back to the school thing. And to celebrate that, I’m going to remind my kids (and all of you who are reading) of some back to school tips that help us manage our crazy mornings.

back to school tipsMornings during the school year can be hectic…am I right? After all the days of sleeping in during the summer, suddenly you are forced back into an early wake up call. And in the span of an hour it seems like you do 100 things to get inside the school building just in time.

It doesn’t have to be so hectic. In fact, I could count on one hand the number of times last year where we were truly rushed and almost didn’t make it to school.

Those who know me will say, “But you only live seven minutes from school!” To which I say, it doesn’t matter. When I worked in education I knew of people who lived that close and seemed to be late every day. So with that in mind, here are some back to school tips that we’ve learned over our 11 years of seeing our kids off to school.

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This Smith and Wesson Stock Chart Reveals Our Biggest Fear

Smith and Wesson stock is reaching heights never seen before in the history of the company. The stock price closed at $29.07 on Friday, just 30 cents shy of it’s all time high. However, that alone doesn’t tell the whole story.

Smith and Wesson stock has been tracing higher for the last five years. As you can see from the stock chart below, on Sept. 26, 2011, it traded at $2.52. If you would have bought then, you’d be looking at a 1,053 percent increase. Not bad for a five-year investment.

smith and wesson stock

Chart courtesy of Morningstar.com

The bulk of the rise in the stock price has occurred since January of 2015. Since that time Smith and Wesson stock has risen from around $10 per share to what we see today. Again, not a bad return for a year and a half investment.

So what’s driving the stock price? Well, in the most basic of investment world terms, it’s company sales. Just a few weeks ago the company announced fourth quarter sales of $221.1 million. That figure was an increase of 22.2% over the fourth quarter of last year.

So the company is growing by selling more of its product. Those sales are leading to increased profits and a healthier company balance sheet. Investors are taking notice and more are purchasing the stock for their portfolios (hence the rise in Smith and Wesson stock price).

“But what’s driving sales?” you might be asking. Well, in case you don’t know Smith and Wesson manufactures and sells firearm products and accessories. That’s right…it’s a gun company.

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Your Mental To Do List Before Starting a Room Addition

So you’ve made all your plans and crunched the numbers and are finally ready for a room addition. That’s great news! But are you sure you know what to expect for the next couple months?

room additionMost homeowners think they know exactly what is coming. The truth is that most people have not done a room addition.  Consequently, they overlook some of the details that are involved. To that end, here is a list of daily activities and truths involved with any room addition you need to be aware of.

Prepare For Dust

You need to prepare for the worst if you or members of your family have OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) or are used to very clean environments. Things will most definitely get dirty. Walls will be removed, electricity re-routed, grading and excavation among other activities that cause a lot of dust and dirt.

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Managing a Home While on Vacation: Do’s, Don’ts, & Money Saving Tips

Going on vacation soon? Then you will enjoy this post today by Hank McKinsey, rental property owner and blogger at Homebyhank.com.

Taking a vacation can be a fantastic way to relax and regroup from your daily and weekly routine. While vacations are exciting to prepare for, one thing that often gets neglected is your home.

vacationPrepping your home for your time away will ensure that it stays safe and secure, and things like pets or plants aren’t left without care. Vacations can be expensive, so it’s also important to save money during these preparations. With a few quick tips your home, pets, and garden will be happy even in your absence.

The Basics of Going Away on Vacation

Do’s

As part of your vacation planning you should make sure there is a system in place to help you keep your house safe and secure:

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The Most Important Reason You Do Not Worry About Tomorrow

You’ve probably heard it said at some point, “Hey, do not worry about tomorrow. Focus on today and let the future take care of itself.” That’s not bad advice really. The older I get the more I’m realizing why.

do not worry about tomorrowWe all have things that affect our daily actions. Things we’ve done in the past affect us in the present. Things we are doing in the present affect us in the present. And believe it or not, things that we will do in the future affect us in the present even though they haven’t happened yet.

You may be thinking, “How could that possibly be if those events have yet to occur?” Well, it’s not the event per se that affects us. It’s how we think about those yet-to-happen events and how they lead us to worry about them.

Of those three time lines – past, present and future – I think the future one has the greatest potential to stop us in our tracks. Here’s how.

Why You Do Not Worry About Tomorrow

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