Hope for your financial life and beyond

My A – Z List of Blog Related Things I’m Thankful For

Yes, I know. What a strange thing to write about during the week of Thanksgiving. There are so many more important things to be thankful for. Certainly family, friends, freedom and prosperity, health and faith all rank near the top of thankfulness for me.

thankfulBut over the past ten years of writing, I have managed to carve out this tiny space of the web for myself. My intent was never to become THE place for finance advice and make a living from this site. Others are doing that much better than I ever could.

Rather, I’ve used this site as a dumping place for my journey with finances and my faith. It’s helped me more than probably anyone else to clarify my worldview about finances and how that worldview works itself out in my life. I owe who I am today to the writing and research I’ve done over the past decade.

But along the way, I know I’ve also helped others. There is great encouragement in that. It’s one of the things that gives me purpose to keep the site active and updated as much as my busy life allows.

So, I’m taking a different route today with this Thanksgiving week post. I’m sharing my A-Z list of blogging related things I’ve come to be most thankful for over the past 10 years. Some have relevance in the past as things that got me through the early years. Others continue to drive me to this day to bring the best content I can to this platform.

Wherever you are today, you have so much to be thankful for. Here’s what I’m thankful for as I continue to bring hope for people’s financial life and beyond.

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Dodging Sex and Money Conversations With a 6-Yr. Old

Ever wondered when to have sex and money conversations with your kids? My suggestion…take it slow and only share when they are ready. You have to be alert and on guard for these moments or you could make a mistake, like I almost did the other day when this happened to me…

The chore of walking our dog is a daily ritual. As I lasso him up for another stroll my six-year old son asks to join us. Sensing this would be a great bonding experience I say, “Sure buddy, come on” and we head off into the subdivision.

spidermanThe first few minutes are filled with the usual blathering that can only come from a six year old. I’m not even really paying attention given his topics have no connection to reality. I mean really…what’s the point of responding in depth to questions like “Can Spiderman shoot his webs underwater?” or “What if animals controlled people?”

Oh boy (cue eye roll). This is going to be long walk. Think I’ll keep the responses simple. “I don’t know, bud.” “Oh yeah…that would be crazy.”

Then, in the midst of the mundane, comes THAT topic every parent knows they will have to address but is never quite ready for. And it started like this…

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Barriers to Entry: The Ongoing Battle With Exercise

“Barriers to entry” is an economic term that describes the challenges a company or individual might face when entering any competitive marketplace. Starting a blog has few roadblocks. In 30 minutes max you could have your own site up and running.

barricades by a fenceStarting your own oil refinery…well, that has a few more.

So many areas of my life have no barriers to entry. Nothing stops me from eating three meals a day (plus snacks). If I need to spend money on something I easily can. Watching a movie with the kids doesn’t require checking in with the IRS.

But when it comes to exercise it seems the path is always blocked. That activity which benefits my life so much I can hardly get to.

And it’s ALWAYS something.

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Would You Use Cheap Toilet Paper For a Penny?

Would you save money by buying ultra cheap toilet paper? I had an encounter recently at the grocery store that led me to consider it.

Several weeks ago I’m in the checkout line waiting to pay for my groceries. As I’m loading the items onto the conveyer belt a sweet, older lady steps in line behind me. She had only a few items in her hand to purchase so I immediately felt bad that she would have to wait for me – because I had a fully loaded shopping cart.

cheap toilet paperShe began to comment on the size of my haul to which I’ve come to have a standard reply – “Yeah, it takes a lot when you are shopping to feed six.” But then she began to analyze my purchases. Evidently I’d done really well that week, as she was excited to see fresh fruits and vegetables in my cart and the assortment of buy-one-get-one products I snagged.

Then she asked me if I’d got “the penny item” on sale that day. I had a vague recollection of seeing somewhere along the way that my store promoted a penny item but I’d never paid attention to it. I don’t usually coupon so stuff like that is never on my radar.

So I told her, “No, I missed that” to which she proceeded to tell me that it was a four-pack of toilet paper. Not only that but she would go get me one if I wanted it.

Oh boy…what to do?

Should I Let Her Get the Cheap Toilet Paper?

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The Top 10 Television Theme Songs From My Childhood

I can’t sing worth a lick. But I love music. And when the right lyrics come together with the right tune…well, I can recognize when it’s something special. Especially when it comes to television theme songs.

top 10 television theme songsMy TV viewing habits have certainly changed over the years. I’m more select now in what watch, mostly focusing on news, sports and a select few programs I consider must-see TV (any Dr. Who fans out there?) However, back in the day like most youth, I tuned into any and every TV show my parents would allow me to watch.

Some of my favorite shows had incredible theme songs. So just for fun today, I decided to put together a list of my top 10 television theme songs from my childhood. For reference sake, the bulk of my childhood was lived during the 1970s and 80s, which will become obvious based on the selections I’ve chosen.

My Criteria for Television Theme Songs

I do have some criteria though for the television theme songs to meet in order to make this top ten list. The theme song:

  1. Must have words in some portion of the opening song (either spoken or sung). This excludes some of my all time favorite shows like Andy Griffith, M.A.S.H. and The Cosby Show.
  1. Had to have been a show that I watched. Sorry diehard Fresh Prince fans.
  1. Needed “sing-ability” – a catchy tune you might sing or hum in private when your friends weren’t looking (…or that gets stuck in your head ALL DAY LONG!)
  1. Had to open for a show I absolutely LOVED. In other words, there is a greater than average chance that if I passed this show today while channel surfing I’d stop and watch.

I’ll rank the television themes songs from 10 to 1 to build suspense. And just to wet your appetite and get your mind humming something, here are a few TV shows I watched whose theme song didn’t crack the list but have to be listed as honorable mention candidates:

Honorable Mention Television Theme Songs: The Addams Family, Transformers, Welcome Back Kotter, The Jeffersons, The Brady Bunch, The Beverly Hillbillies, Mr. Rogers, The Flintstones and Scooby-Doo.

My Top Ten Television Theme Songs With Words

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Taking Selfies In Our Narcissistic World

Hidden Nuggets Series #57 – “Who would form a god or mold an image that profits him nothing?” – Isaiah 44:10

taking selfiesEarlier this year I stumbled across this news report that blew my mind. A student broke the leg off a valuable early 19th century replica sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera in Milan, Italy. He didn’t accidentally bump into the Drunken Satyr sculpture (like my kids might do), which depicts a follower of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, passed out in a drunken state. It wasn’t quite that simple.

The reason the leg broke off was because the student was sitting on it…to taking selfies.

What is the world coming to?

We Live in a Selfie World

There is no denying it. We live in a taking selfies world. The preponderance of people flipping the image-capturing system of their camera 180 degrees to take a picture of themselves by themselves is growing with epic proportions.

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Happy Anniversary! Luke1428 Enters the Terrible Twos

Two year old boy cryingIt’s a happy anniversary announcement today at Luke1428. As of July 3rd, I have now completed two years of writing on this blog. In parenting terms, it’s now time to enter the most challenging of all toddler development stages – the “Terrible Twos.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, the terrible twos are characterized by mood changes, temper tantrums and a child’s frequent use of the word “No.” During this time, the 2-year old undergoes some major emotional and intellectual changes that pushes them to become more independent. This obviously creates tension between child and parent as the misbehavior from the child and the frustration of the parent mount.

I have to tell you, the terrible twos don’t have to be a reality. They weren’t for us with any of our four children. So I’m rejecting the notion I’ll be dealing with a recalcitrant toddler as Luke1428 develops this year. Like I did for my biological children this parent has a plan to deal with his two year old blog.

Stay Disciplined to Combat the Mood Changes

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How to Play the “Take This Money – No Thanks – I Insist” Game

Hidden Nuggets Series #46 – “But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” – II Samuel 24:24

I insistNo doubt at one point or another, you’ve been caught up in the verbal posturing known as the “Take this money” game.

The conflict in this game centers around one person’s refusal to take a sum of money being offered. The format can be played in two directions. In one scenario, you are the person offering the money. In scenario two, you are the person receiving the money.

In either configuration, the person being offered the money refuses it, thus leading to some tricky verbal exchanges:

“Here, take this.”

“No thanks.”

“I insist.”

“No really, that’s not necessary.”

“No, I have too…you went through so much trouble” (said while thrusting the money at the other party).

“I don’t want it…really, it was no trouble” (said with hands held head high and palms outward in the “stick-em-up” position).

“Here, you must…” (said with a hyper voice while trying to physically put money in the person’s hand or jacket pocket).

“No, please…I’m not taking it…” (tone starting to get defensive).

And on the exchange can endlessly go.

As a child, I watched several of these exchanges devolve into heated arguments. I never understood why either side would be so stubborn. More than anything, it boggled my mind that someone would refuse money of any amount being offered them. Why? “It’s money for crying out loud. Take it already!” I remember thinking.

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Cheer Up: Your Worst Day Wasn’t As Bad As This Kid’s…


Some days are just simply brutal. You know the kind.

You wake up late because your alarm didn’t go off…and the car won’t start.

Hurried on the way to work, fighting crazy traffic…your mug leaks coffee onto your dress.

At work, you get chewed out by an angry client…even though you did nothing wrong. (They were just mad at the world and you were in the way.)

Because you were late to work, you have to stay late to make up the time…and are therefore late picking the kids up at daycare (thus paying an extra fee).

Tired and not wanting to cook dinner, you blow through the drive-thru…thus breaking your goal of not eating out (because you have really been working on that monthly food budget).

Finally, after all that and the kids are in bed the networks preempt your favorite TV show for the State of the Union address.

You go to bed praying that tomorrow will be better.

As bad and stressful and frustrating as that day may see, it pales in comparison to what happened with this kid…

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My Fight Against Bandwagon Consumer Syndrome

medical injectionDo you suffer from constant cravings or restlessness? Easily excitable…prone to follow the crowd…worried about being left out? Can you become quickly dissatisfied with your possessions?

Do you have an uncontrollable desire to buy what everyone else is buying? Is your time being spent in the activities of the masses just to feel connected and valued?

If any of the above descriptions sound familiar, you may have contracted BCS – Bandwagon Consumer Syndrome. Seek help immediately.

BCS is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide (note: statistic estimated, not actually calculated). It’s the tendency to spend excessive amounts of money or overly engage in activities that have become fashionable within culture. If not treated, it can sabotage budgets, wreck financial futures, waste time and ruin relationships.

Total immunity to this syndrome is rare, as anyone can develop a moment of weakness. However, with the proper medication you can ward off occurrences and resist the onset of BCS 90% of the time (non-calculated statistic #2).

My Personal Fight Against BCS

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What Ritz Crackers ‘n Cheese Dip Taught Me About Breaking Routines

Hidden Nuggets Series #26 – “And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw.” – II Kings 6:17

Ritz 1I have a guilty snack pleasure confession to make. I love Kraft Handi-Snacks Ritz Crackers ‘n Cheese Dip.  Four crackers…compartment of processed cheese…sealed together in perfect harmony. Simply pull the plastic tab off the top and enjoy the yummy cheese ‘n cracker goodness. And only 100 calories to boot.

I’ve loved these all my life despite one annoying feature about the product…the little red stick. The 2” red stick has never worked for me. My irritation revolves around two things: cheese distribution and cracker stability.

First off, if you want the same amount of cheese on all the crackers you have to control how much cheese is spread onto each cracker. The stick makes this difficult. I usually end up putting too much cheese on the first cracker and then having none left for the last one.

The stick is also renowned for breaking the cracker in half, unless you hold it daintily with your pinky up like you are sipping a cup of tea. The cracker must be laid out on a completely flat surface or there is a greater than average chance the cracker splits when the stick spreads on the cheese glob. Don’t try to hold the cracker in the palm of your hand or between your thumb and index finger either. Neither of those methods solves the soft cracker vs. hard stick problem.

Clearly I have issues.

I’ve put up with that red stick for 25+ years, resigned to the fact I have to use it. That all changed recently, when I had a Handi-Snacks revelation.

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