Hope for your financial life and beyond

I Have No One to Blame But Myself

Hidden Nuggets Series #87 – “Also to you, O Lord, belongs mercy; for you render to each one according to his work.” – Psalm 62:12

Hard workIn my teaching days I’d often hear moans and groans coming from students when they learned of their failure on a test. What usually followed their whimpers of dissatisfaction was a litany of excuses as to why they did so poorly.

“I had a ballgame last night.”

“My little brother wouldn’t leave me alone.”

“I forgot.”

My favorite complaint was this one, “But I did study!” to which I’d respond by saying, “How long?”

“30 minutes while I was watching TV” (or something like that was the typical response).

Ugh.

I worked in a Christian school so it was typical for us to pray during the day. I always prayed before tests just to calm the atmosphere and help kids get their mind focused.

As I began to put two and two together – lack of study time translating into poor grades (and then subsequent griping about said grade) – I decided to set the tone in my prayer for what the students could reasonable expect to happen based on their study patterns. So at the end of my prayer, I’d be sure to say something like this…

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Why You Should Never Discount Success When Others Praise You

Have you ever received praise from someone because of a great personal success and then downplayed why that success came? In other words, do you discount or make excuses for personal achievements when people applaud you? I find myself continually tempted to do this even though I know it’s damaging.

woman receiving an award Last month I had my most successful day and month ever on this blog…more page views and revenue than I realistically thought possible considering what I’m doing. When my wife complimented me on a job well done I assumed my best Floyd Mayweather stance and went into defensive mode.

“Well, if it hadn’t been for this and this and this then…”

“It really wasn’t anything I did, it was because…”

“It was just one month…I don’t think it will carry over.”

I sucked her praise right out of the air.

I didn’t accept it.

I didn’t acknowledge it.

Instead I downplayed it and swatted away her alley-oop praise pass.

Why Do We Act This Way?

You’d think we would relish the chance to be recognized for worthy achievements. I love awards and a pat on the back as much as the next guy. But why do we become a downer in the moments immediately after receiving praise for a success?

Perhaps it’s because…

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DIY Home Security vs. Professional Installation

Enjoy this post today from Parker Hansen on the differences between professional and DIY home security installation.

New homeowners are often overwhelmed with the initial costs of setting up their home – homeowner’s insurance, utilities, furniture, security…the to-do list goes on and on.

So is it worth the time and effort to install your own security system, or should you hire a professional? Here are the pros and cons of each choice.

Professional Installation

Hiring a professional gives you a break from all of the home responsibilities on your plate.

It also gives you the peace of mind that your security system works properly and won’t crash on you at the moment when you need it. However, the price tag might not be so nice.

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Technology Is Revealing One Big Flaw That Crushes Our Finances

The world is changing rapidly. It’s moving so fast sometimes it feels like your head is spinning faster than the earth on its axis. You wake up one day and say, “Whoa…what happened? How did we get here?”

technologyThe tough part is when we get the sense we are falling behind the times. It’s as though we are hamsters in a wheel – continually running but never catching up.

This rapid change and our pursuit to keep up is nowhere more evident than with technology. And while it has helped create a great standard of living for us I’m afraid it’s revealing one big flaw we’ve yet to conquer.

A Technological Revolution

I think technology is awesome! It has literally shaped the world, perhaps no more so than in the past 150 years. Just think about the inventions since 1850 that have altered life:

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5 Important Life Lessons From My Freelance Writing

Yes, you could take that headline as an announcement. I’ve officially entered the world of personal finance freelance writing. Is anyone out there looking to hire?

writing in a notepad My blogging journey to this point has been an interesting one. As long time readers here know, last summer I quit my job in education to become a stay at home dad. It was a big step but one that I don’t regret. The added time has allowed me to better manage our family activities and devote myself more to blogging.

The results in our family life have been tremendous.

Less stress. More downtime. More kid time. More moments for enriching activities.

Additionally, the extra time devoted to blogging is causing Luke1428 to take off. I already have more page views than I did all of last year. It really is amazing what some additional time, effort and connection building can do.

As great as that is, I’ve felt I could still do more with my time. So I was intrigued when contacted several months ago about writing for a new website. I’d never done that for money before and thought it would be a good experience if only for me to understand the world of freelance writing.

It’s been quite the experience.

Life Lessons Realized From Freelancing

To date I’ve written seven articles for SafeBee.com, a website devoted to making the world a safer place. I’ve really enjoyed it but writing for someone else is not like writing for your own blog. However, it’s reminding me of some valuable lessons that can be applied to any life situation. Here are my initial thoughts about what I’m dealing with:

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Arbor Day Special: The Only Type of Tree I Ever Want to Be

Hidden Nuggets Series #85 – “…he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water…” – Psalm 1:3

tree by waterI can’t imagine a world without trees. Years ago we planted two (#ArborDay) in our front yard so our kids could eventually climb them. Mostly I love the spring when trees come budding back to life. It’s a beautiful scene when your winter world goes from browns to greens in the span of a couple weeks.

Of course trees have been around forever and figured prominently in some Bible passages. They served as places of refuge and places of worship. They marked territory or direction and provided fruits of all kinds.

Absalom’s long hair got him caught in one, Solomon used them to build his magnificent temple and the vertically challenged Zacchaeus climbed one in order to see Jesus.

There are all kinds of trees listed in the Bible from terebinth to tamarisk trees, to poplar, almond, chestnut, palm, cedar, olive, fig, pomegranate, mulberry, cypress, sycamore, fir, apple, and oak.

And of course the two most famous trees planted in the Garden of Eden – the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Of them all though, I want to be the tree mentioned in Psalm 1:3. This one is fascinating because it describes the life I, and I think most people want to lead.

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40 Money Saving Tips That Also Help Preserve the Environment

I’m not a “SAVE THE PLANET!” type of guy. I fail to see how the earth is in any danger of being destroyed or irreparably harmed by the progress of mankind. I don’t worship the earth, view it as our Sacred Mother, or think it has a higher priority than the people who live on it.

money saving tipsBut I’m also not a “slash-and-burn” guy. I don’t believe progress should come at the blind expense of what it does to the earth. Nor do I hold to the theory – often expressed in religious circles – that since the whole world is going to burn in the end we can do with it now as we please.

I see extremes when thinking about either of those positions. To me a more balanced approach is called for that recognizes and supports the need for human progress and at the same time develops constraints for the purposes of conservation.

It’s more about wise stewardship than saving or using/abusing.

To that end I believe there are certain issues on which SAVE-THE-PLANET-guy and slash-and-burn-guy could even agree.

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How We Save Money on Healthcare

Enjoy this post today on healthcare by my good friend Laurie from The Frugal Farmer.

Brian talked recently about the 5 lessons he learned from his recent surgery. Brian is an active guy, and I can only image how much fun he had being sidelined a bit by his torn meniscus and the subsequent surgery. Not to mention the money it costs these days for anything from a simple doctor appointment, a necessary prescription drug or, as in Brian’s case, a surgery.

Not all medical expenses are avoidable: there are many diseases and conditions for which medical treatment (so far, anyway) is the only known help. However, there are many health conditions that are in our control, and many ways for people to cut down on their share of the 3+ trillion dollars that Americans spend on healthcare each year.

4 Ways to Cut Down on Healthcare Costs

Here are some of the things our family does to cut down on annual healthcare costs.

#1: Eat Well

I know most people don’t like to hear it, but a diet that consists of a large amount of fresh vegetables and fruits, healthy fats and minimally processed foods can do wonders for a person’s health.

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The Bribe That Fueled the All-Time Greatest Easter Myth

Hidden Nuggets Series #82 – “…they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while you slept.’” – Matthew 28:12-13

Money 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 a lie.

We’d 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 one was used to push an Easter myth that continues to be believed by many to this day.

The Event That Fueled the Bribe

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Finding Inspiration and Overcoming Mental Obstacles

You can find me today guest posting about my blogging journey and finding inspiration at ThePlutusAwards.com.

ideaEveryone has a different journey that led them to start blogging. I’ve found many personal finance blogs were born because the owner had come through or was still wading neck deep through a financial hardship. The blog became their outlet to share their story and/or maintain accountability as they worked through the financial struggles.

I think that’s admirable and greatly needed. We want to hear compelling stories about people who have paid off $100,000 in debt and are now killing it financially. It’s inspiring and offers hope to the millions of readers who haven’t quite reached that level of success but desire to do so.

But what if you don’t have a story like that? Where does one find the inspiration to not only start a blog but also…

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5 Lessons I Learned From My Recent Surgery

Last week I had surgery on my right knee to repair a slightly torn meniscus and to clean up some arthritis issues. I suffered the meniscus tear while I was biking with the kids last fall. Evidently the arthritis developed from the excessive running I did over two years preparing for two separate marathons.

Knee-2

MRI of my right knee. The meniscus can be seen in the black triangle spots between the bones.

Both issues were frustrating in that 97% of the time I wasn’t affected by them. I could walk normally, climb stairs and do almost anything else considered part of a daily routine. But I couldn’t bend deeply and put pressure on the knee without feeling a little pain.

And I couldn’t exercise to any considerable degree.

In the grand scheme of things the surgery was minor. It was an outpatient procedure that only involved three hours of my day and took the doctor less than 30 total minutes to perform. I don’t remember any of the actual surgery though having drifted off to sleep from the anesthesia.

But the whole ordeal – from tear to surgery – taught and reminded me of a couple big things.

Pay Attention to That Problem Area

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