Hope for your financial life and beyond

Is the Debt Snowball Method the Best Way to Pay Off Debt?

debt snowball methodSnowballs are fun, except when it comes to debt levels snowballing out of control. Credit card after credit card, loan after loan, missed payment after missed payment and the debt skyrockets upward, seemingly with no end in sight.

Until one day, a light bulb flashes and you wake up to realize that debt is creating a stranglehold on your life. It’s decreasing your chances of retiring wealthy and living a stress free financial life. So you decide to focus with intensity and develop a plan that will get you out of debt.

But which debt do you pay off first? You’ve accumulated so many.

Two Methods: Opposite Sides of the Track

There are two basic methods to paying off debt, the Interest Rate Method and the Debt Snowball Method.

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An Open Hand: The Most Powerful Money Visual Ever

Hidden Nuggets Series #20 – “…you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need…” – Deuteronomy 15:7-8

money in open handGiving is especially on my mind as we enter the holiday season.  I recently talked about why people give for the wrong reasons and how dangerous that can be. I followed that up on Wednesday by describing the five step giving plan my wife and I use to decide where our money goes.

What I’ve realized is that personal finance is all about making intentional and wise decisions with your money. Giving is no different.

Through it all, there has been one common theme related to giving – our attitude.

Several years ago I heard someone speak about our mental attitude in relation to how we view money. This person used a powerful visual that has stuck with me ever since. I’d like to share it with you today because it has revolutionized how I think about money and the opportunities I have to give.

The Open Hand Symbolism

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5 Purchases I Refuse to Skimp On

skimp on Today we are all about spending money here at Luke1428. I know that’s quite a departure from what you might expect from a website devoted to guiding people towards financial freedom. Practicing frugality with our budget will help us pay off debt and create wealth over the long-term. However, are there times when it’s OK to splurge, to spend more money on an item than we otherwise could?

From my own experience I know there are times when expenses need to be slashed in order to make the budget work. Doing so means great sacrifice, usually at the cost of us missing out on certain things we would enjoy. Although I’m conscientious about our spending plan, I’ve come to realize over the years, through trial and error, that there are certain purchases I absolutely won’t skimp on.

“Skimp on.” That’s a funny phrase. When used as a financial term, it basically means to cut back, to economize on or to be stingy with. In other words, spend less than we could in a given circumstance. I’m a “skimper” in many situations, just not on these five items.

I Will Not Skimp On These…

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When Conviction Trumps Value

Music CDSeveral times in my life, I’ve felt strongly convicted about addressing a personal issue. I’m no different than anyone else in that sometimes a barrier of some kind keeps me from moving forward. The choices we make in those moments can have a lasting impact for the rest of our life.

One such occasion occurred my junior year of college. I attended Cedarville University in Ohio, a Christian liberal-arts college of about 2,000 students at the time of my enrollment. As part of our program, each student was required to attend chapel services each day along with the occasional special event, such as a lectureship series or revival meeting. During one of these special events, I became convicted of something that many would call irrelevant and only a minor issue.

To me it was big deal though…made bigger when I realized what it would cost me.

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Be Fearless

“The Lord is on my side. I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Psalm 118:6

I’m honored today to be a guest contributor at a new blog dedicated to the courage it requires to face personal financial struggles. Todd and John from FearlessMen.com have branched out with a new site called FearlessDollar. I’m there today with several other bloggers providing some insights and helping them jump start their new project.

When we choose to get radical with our personal finances fear becomes our greatest challenger. It binds us up and locks us down. We become completely immobilized as the multitude of fears line up at our front door.

dark tunnel

Are you ready to confront your fears?

Fear of the unknown.

Fear of change.

Fear of a new money management process.

Fear of ridicule from others who think we are crazy.

Fear of the future.

Fear our past will repeat itself.

Fear of our ability to complete the mission.

Because fear represents the greatest challenge, it needs to become our greatest opportunity. Confronting and overcoming our fears moves us emotionally and spiritually forward in ways we could not possibly dream about.

Please click here to head on over the FearlessDollar.com to give Todd and John a shout out on their new venture.

And be fearless today. It’s time to confront what’s in the dark tunnel.

What was the greatest fear you faced upon decided to tackle your personal finance issues?

Image at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Next Post: The Boy vs. the Blog: Exercises in Giving

Prior Post: How to Get Out of Debt

A 15-Yr. Old Life Should Never End This Tragically

Question MarkIn my tenure as educator in a private Christian school, I’ve had some tough weeks before where nothing went right. In those times, I still tried to find the positive amongst the negative and tell myself the pain was only temporary. Invariably, my assumptions were confirmed, as the “bad weeks” never seemed to be prolonged into weeks, months or years. Positive energy was always the next day away, ready to brighten my perspective and turn my attention back to the joys that come from seeing students flourish.

The positive energy of this new school year was unexpectedly and violently ripped out of the atmosphere last weekend when we were informed on Sunday of the tragic news that one of our beloved 10th grade girls chose to take her life on the Friday night of the first week of school. Needless to say, last week was the toughest I’ve ever experienced with students. And I suspect these tough days are going to turn into tough weeks and months ahead for our school family and tough years for her closest friends and family who loved her most.

Where does one start to piece together something this devastating? Your world literally stops. You don’t know what to think, what to believe or what’s appropriate to feel. And it’s not just a few that are affected. When you have a middle and high school only totaling 90 students, it touches everyone.

So much pain.

So much emotion.

So many questions.

No good answers.

This post is my meager attempt to honor the life of this child and help our students cope with their pain. Her grandparents, who acted as her legal guardians for the last several years, have graciously consented to this writing in the hopes that others may understand the effects of suicide. It is their wish that our students would always cherish their fond memories and live a better life themselves for having known their granddaughter – who, at the request of the family, I will give the pseudonym Jane Doe for the remainder of this post.

Knowing Jane

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Bang On the Drum All Day: Find Your Passion

I’m not a drummer but this song makes me want to be:

Todd Rundgren wrote “Bang the Drum All Day” in 1983 and since then it has become the quintessential anti-work anthem played every Friday night as the factory whistle blows. Or Wednesday night. Or when the Green Bay Packers score a touchdown. Or whenever you feel like not going to work. Just cue this song in your iTunes library and dream how it would feel to have the reality of the lyrics become true in your own life.

I can see how this song gets a bad rap in some circles (especially the boss circles – note verse three). It seems to raise negative perceptions about a task (work) that is fundamental to our ability to make a profit and survive. I believe God endowed humans with a work ethic. It’s embedded deep in our nature to labor and exert ourselves to cultivate a reward. Why should we hate doing something that creates value in our lives and provides so many benefits – both personal and financial – as going to work? Isn’t work beneficial?

Absolutely it is. No doubt.

So is the pursuit of a passion.

The Power of Passion

I find these lyrics from the song teach me some pretty cool things about passion, about finding something you really enjoy doing:

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Should My Daughter Separate Her Toes? (Syndactyly)

syndactylyThis past week Miss LukeTeen28 (my eldest daughter) popped the question my wife and I have been anticipating for the past 12 years since the day of her birth. No, she doesn’t want to have a boyfriend. (We’ve told her she can’t date until she’s 30!) Her interest is in a cosmetic surgery to correct a condition known as Syndactyly – the fusion of one or more toes.

Syndactyly 101

“Syndactyly” is the medical term for this condition. Hers is a simple fusing of soft tissue between the second and third toes on both feet (the left is more pronounced than the right). The issue appears to be genetic in nature, as I know of one other person in my extended family who has this condition.

She is in no pain or discomfort from her syndactyly and the risks are miniscule. The surgery would be completely for cosmetic purposes. (So when she wears her sandals the doofus middle school boys at school aren’t tempted to call her “four toes.”) Maybe the fact that she is almost a teen is figuring into her asking about the procedure now.

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The Beach vs Pool Debate

Summer vacation trip #2 is headed our way soon as the Luke1428 family heads to the beaches of North Carolina. We had great fun on our June camping trip and are looking forward to a week with some extended family members as we share a house at Holden Beach. Being here though once again brings up the beach vs pool debate in our family.

beach vs poolTonya who blogs at Budget and the Beach often shares about her love of all things beach related. A lot of people hate the beach (my wife) and would prefer to soak in the sun’s rays lounging by the pool.  I grew up around pools and even was a lifeguard at one for several years. So if I had a choice I would lean the pool direction. However, I always look forward to going to the beach and usually enjoy myself while there.

The Beach vs Pool Debate

Here are some of the pros and cons that might help you figure out which side you lean on in the beach vs pool debate:

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I’m Turning 40 – Now What?

turning 40Is it taboo to discuss your age on your blog? If so, I’m engaging in a major faux pas today as I announce that it’s my birthday and I’m turning 40. Woo-hoo! Let’s here it for all the middle age guys out there!

I’ve always heard life starts going down hill after turning 40. I’m not sure why people say that. Is it because the average life span in America is 78, so in the mind of most people, your half way home? Is it because people believe the “fun” times of young adulthood – like partying on spring break or at Mardi Gras – are over?

Or is it perhaps that your body starts to catch up with you as more aches and pains come each morning as you roll out of bed?

Now that I’m here, I’m feeling like I don’t want to buy into the pessimism of what I’ve heard.

Thoughts on Turning 40

In the past year, I’ve done three new and remarkable things:

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I’m at the Top of the Hill…Should I Go On?

Hilly RoadI’ve been running consistently now for almost two years. In that time, I have learned that runners face many mental and physical challenges. From the everyday muscle aches and pains, to the mental exhaustion of a four-hour marathon, to getting yourself out of bed for that 30-degree winter morning run, there is much to overcome.

The obstacles we runners may despise the most are hills. I don’t mean gradual inclines in the road or the gentle rolling hills you can fairly manage. I’m talking about the long, steep, crush-your-pace kind of hills that make your heart feel like it’s going to pound out of your chest as you climb to the peak. These are brutal especially when multiple ones are strung together in a short distance. Up and down, up and down, peak then valley, peak then valley…ugh!

I’ve had a lot of experience running hills because they surround me where I live. I’m actually thankful because by running them, I have been better prepared on race day. During all my training though, I have found this to be true – it’s both exciting and intimidating at the top of a hill.

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