Hope for your financial life and beyond

If You Do Anything This Year, Please Consider Receiving This Gift

Hidden Nuggets Series #23…the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

How are those Christmas gifts working out for you? What level of satisfaction are you receiving from them?

Gifts are awesome! My wife and I just purchased a 100+ yr. old oak pedestal table for our kitchen eating area. We’ve been looking for a larger kitchen table for the family because the six of us were sitting so close we were knocking knees under the old one. Some nights it was just easier for me to eat standing up, plate in hand.

We are already receiving satisfaction from that table. We have physical space so we can breathe now. Our dinners are more relaxed. After only several meals, I can’t imagine eating dinner in the kitchen without it.

While it’s a great gift we’ve given ourselves and does provide a convenience, it’s just a thing.

A possession that won’t last.

An asset that does not fulfill any deep emotional need inside our soul.

People are always looking for assets – something to fill that void in their life.

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ATTN Men: A Woman Values Security. Get It For Her!

What’s the final hurdle for couples to overcome the money fights in their relationship? Find out now in this final installment of my series.

Part I: How Couples Can End the Money Fights (a look at the importance of communication)

Part II: Relationships Blossom When Couples Budget

Road with guardrailMy wife and I were making such progress.

Goals and values being shared in open and honest communication – Check.

Emotional barriers torn apart and strong connections being rebuilt through the sharing of feelings – Check.

Budget in solid working order after months of trial and error – Check.

Frivolous spending habits being altered through discipline and focus – Check.

Still, it wasn’t enough to end the tension over money. Something still lingered subtly beneath the surface that was keeping us from moving forward. With our momentum stalled, we decided one day to take a step backwards…backwards to Step One that is. That’s right, more communication.

This time around as I listened deeper to my wife talk about her needs, here is what I heard her say…

“I need to feel secure.”

Some Thoughts on Security from Mrs. Luke1428

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Ending the Money Fights (Part II): Relationships Blossom When Couples Budget

This is part two of three on how couples can resolve the constant fighting over money.

Men's Shoes

My breakthrough occurred while shopping for these.

Last week I outlined how communication is the first step to ending the money fights in a relationship. Unless couples share their values, goals and feelings with one another, they will continue to bump heads over how their money is spent. It’s inevitable. When couples don’t share the same vision the relationship falters.

When my wife and I began to seriously and openly talk with one another about money, our financial life began to change. However, the unity didn’t result from us just talking about it. We knew there had to be an action step, something that would cement the ideological bonds that were forming through our discussions. That step came in the form of a joint commitment to prepare and live on a budget.

Ugh…budgets…I know the feeling. Unfortunately many people have had terrible experiences with them. This leads them to create excuse upon excuse as to why they don’t need to prepare one. They are essential though, if couples are going to have a breakthrough. I know in our lives, the budget did more to move us forward than anything else.

Step #2: Work on a Budget…Together

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How Couples Can Stop Fighting Over Money

This is part one of three on how couples can resolve the constant fighting over money in their daily lives.

fighting over moneyTired of fighting over money with your significant other? You are not alone. Money related problems consistently rank as a top reason so many marriages end in divorce.

This should not come as a shock. When approaching anything major in life, the conversation must inevitably turn to the financial ramifications. Big-ticket items such as shelter, food, career, education, retirement, healthcare, and transportation all have money serving as the underlying theme in the discussion. And when all the minor day-to-day decisions are factored in, it becomes clear money is at the core of almost everything we do.

Many couples do not adequately prepare for the challenges money decisions will create. With each person bringing into the relationship a different background, personality and opinion, money can easily ignite a firestorm of controversy as these differences clash with one another. Before you know it, the continuing conflict can lead couples into thinking they were not meant for one another.

It doesn’t have to be this way though. Couples can implement a plan that will keep them from fighting over money. You can live in harmony together. Getting on the same financial page with your significant other should be a top priority if you desire to have financial success and create deep bonds of intimacy in your relationship.

Steps to Stop Fighting Over Money

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Trayvon, Zimmerman and Our Road to Healing

On Sunday and Monday my Facebook news feed blew up.

Black White HandshakeOf course, everyone had an opinion about the much publicized and politicized court case from Florida that had finally ended late Saturday night in a not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman. Few of the opinions were intelligent enough to warrant reflection on my part. Most just expressed pent up frustration and anger, pointed in blame or cried out for justice.  It would not surprise you in the least to know the opinions from my group of friends were basically split along political and racial lines.

I was not alive in 1960s America when the years of racial tension finally exploded and produced the civil rights legislation that changed the face of America and gave an entire subset of American citizens a new reason to dream. I can’t relate to the level of violence that was present in that era. I only know what I see now in 2013 and from my vantage point, it doesn’t appear as though this country is progressing in a more unifying direction. And that’s a shame after 237 years of freedom.

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Hey Parents…It’s OK to Create Cheap Memories

Honor Guard PTC ParadeI’m a parent…four times over. Like anyone else, I love seeing my kids enjoy themselves. And I’ve spent a lot of money the past 12 years in an effort to create plenty of fun and lasting memories for each one of them.

We’ve done Disney and Sea World – several times. We’ve rented the condo at the beach. We’ve booked the Royal Caribbean cruise. We’ve done the day trips to the Georgia Aquarium, the Atlanta Zoo, and the Coca-Cola museum.

All were awesome experiences with great memories. However, they all required major budget planning sessions. The vacations forced us to save for months.

Recently my oldest son reminded me in an interesting way, memories don’t have to bust the bank. They can be created with very little money leaving our wallets.

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Two Shall Become One: A Case for Financial Togetherness

two shall become oneI’ve been planning this post to come out today for a couple of weeks. Then, lo and behold, Grayson at Debt Roundup wrote a post on Monday entitled “Love and Money – An Internal Debate.” So I used his post as a springboard for what I was going to talk about anyway – how two shall become one in marriage.

Thanks Grayson!

In it, he propositioned that he would NOT pay for his wife’s debt under most normal circumstances wherein people incur debt (car loans, student loans, credit card loans, etc.). His main reasoning for this stance was so that a lesson could be learned and responsibility taught to the spouse who had been reckless in running up debt. After all, marriage is about making each other better people.

Grayson and his wife sound like they are completely on the same page in regards to how they live out their financial life. They have set themselves up for success by communicating their values and beliefs to one another and then agreeing to move forward together based on what they believe. By all accounts, that’s a winning formula!

The great thing though about personal finance is that it’s personal.

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Valentine’s Day Shopping For Your Free Spirit – Balancing the Nerd Equation

Spirit Horse

On Tuesday, Mrs. Luke 1428 did an awesome job in her first ever post on how to shop for the nerd in your family this Valentine’s Day. Today I would like to tackle the other side of the equation, which is shopping for the free spirit. That’s me!

Just to recap, the nerd is the person in the relationship who loves to stick by the numbers. Most typically, they are the ones planning the monthly budget and exacting control over when, where and how much money is spent each month. They get really frustrated when the budget is not followed and often get accused of being “too controlling” and not wanting to “have any fun”.

The free spirit is a spender looking for a place to happen. They don’t mind a budget but don’t see it as etched in stone. They will often spend money in the spur of the moment without consulting the nerd. They get really frustrated when they aren’t allowed to have any fun and are often accused of “not understanding” and “being too selfish.”

So, if you’re the nerd in the relationship, how do you shop this Valentine’s Day (or really any holiday, birthday, special occasion, etc.) for free spirits like me? Here are some tips:

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How to Shop for Your Nerd This Valentine’s Day

Valentine EquationThe following is a guest post from Mrs. Luke1428…her very first post! Welcome her on board as she gives us some thoughts about nerds, free spirits and Valentine’s Day.

Hello out there, Luke1428 readers, this is Mrs. Luke1428.  Brian asked me to write a guest post for Valentine’s Day – I suspect he doesn’t know what to get me and is doing this for me to feed him ideas.  Stinker.

Are you familiar with the nerd and free spirit concept?  Basically, most couples have one nerd and one free spirit in the relationship. The free spirit loves to enjoy life to its fullest. The free spirit makes life worth living no matter the cost. The nerd is the one that makes sure there is enough money to make life worth living. The nerd is the budgeter. The nerd loves Excel. I freely admit — I am the nerd.  For the love of Pete, I enjoy reconciling bank statements and preparing tax returns. I. Am. A. Nerd.

So, you’re the free spirit and it is Valentine’s Day.  How do you show your nerd that you love them?  Well, here’s what NOT to do  –

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A Secret to Success (For Men Only)

We men are an interesting bunch. We love our fast cars, big guns, and BBQ on the tailgate. We play Black Ops II until our thumbs cramp, go shirtless with body paint (or armor and skulls) to our favorite sporting event and engage in all types of extreme activity to push our adrenaline to the edge.

And we love to be successful. Way deep down, inherent in our nature, is an extreme ambition to excel.

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Snickers Isn’t the Only Thing That Satisfies

Around 3:00 pm this Thursday afternoon, I expect to be settling down into the leather reclining love seat in my living room for my annual post Thanksgiving Day meal ritual. Kids will be running around the house, there will be the noise of dishes getting cleaned in the kitchen and the CBS football analysts will probably be dissecting a helmet-to-helmet personal foul call.

Yes, there will be a lot of noise, but it won’t matter. I’ll have a really satisfied feeling. My body will need to allocate more energy towards food digestion which means less blood flowing to other parts of the body, including the central nervous system. With blood flow to the CNS decreased, I can foresee only one possible outcome…nap time.

We love food that satisfies. In fact, Mars, Incorporated in the 1980s developed an entire add campaign for one of their candy bars around this theme. C’mon…you know the tune. Sing it with me. “Snickers satisfies you!”

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