Hope for your financial life and beyond

Price Limits, Blow Money and the 24 Hour Rule

24 hour ruleDo you have a 24 hour rule on big purchases? This strategy, plus two other strategies helped my family spend less and produce massive amounts of savings each month.

I’ve mentioned before how I’m a recovering spend-a-holic. In another life, I spent to my heart’s content, undeterred by any financial damage it would cause. I wrecked our ability to save and follow any semblance of a budget.

My wife and I would have frequent “discussions” about our my spending patterns. The discussions were mostly one sided, with me downplaying the extent of our my struggles. I got so good at deflecting any negativity about our my poor spending habits that I usually ended up getting what I wanted at the end of those conversations. Kudos to my wife for putting up with me…I was a mess.

Clearly I had convinced myself there was no problem.

It’s very easy for spending to spiral out of control. Much of the time, we do damage simply by not developing a system of checks and balances to monitor what’s going on. We end up waking up one day with a mess on our hands, wondering how we got there.

The biggest step that had to take place for my spending habits to change was a shift in my attitude. Thankfully for me, that did take place through a series of well-timed events that occurred at a point when my mind was open to improvement. Only after I willfully chose to get my act together and develop some discipline could my wife and I move forward with some strategic practices to curb spending.

Two such practices we implemented proved valuable for us. Those were setting price limits on spending and following the 24 hour rule.

Price Limits

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Feed Your Pleasures and Break the Bank

Hidden Nuggets Series #24 – “He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; He who loves wine and oil will not be rich.” – Proverbs 21:17

ID-10035317I’ll bet they really knew how to throw a party in King Solomon’s day.

His reign ushered in the peak of ancient Israel’s wealth and prosperity. Buoyed by the successful reign of his father King David and endowed with special wisdom from God, Solomon’s kingdom produced so much wealth, the Bible has this to say about it in I Kings 10:27:

“The king made silver as common as stones in Jerusalem…”

How’s that for wealthy? And everyone, rich and poor, was able to benefit.

The rising tide lifted all boats.

So you can see why I think parties were commonplace, especially at the palace. At the minimum they lived in extreme opulence. We know Solomon’s throne was made of gold and overlaid with ivory. That’s pretty sweet.

With all this wealth at his fingertips Solomon could pleasure himself with anything he wanted.

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How to Love Paying Bills and Going Christmas Shopping

paying billsThree weeks ago I’m standing in Target crossing off the list Christmas gifts we had already purchased. My wife, who had been looking at some kid clothes, comes up to me and says, “I’m having so much fun Christmas shopping this year!”

Amazed at her enthusiasm I said, “Who are you and what have you done with my wife?”

After giving me the duck face, she replied to my quip, “It’s just so much more fun when you use cash when paying bills and purchasing the.”

That comment was in my top 5 moments from this past Christmas. Knowing our money management system was enhancing our relationship and making such an emotional impact on my wife was priceless.

If you are wondering how we had the cash to pay for all our gifts, it’s not because we allocated that much more in our December budget than normal. We started saving for Christmas in January, using a tried but true concept known as a sinking fund.

The Sinking Fund Theory to Paying Bills

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Defense Wins Championships (And Helps With Finances Too)

Lebron and DurantMy high school basketball team was not the most athletic in the world. My senior year, the tallest player was our 6′ 4″ freshman center. We didn’t have a deep bench and only slightly above average quickness. No one could come close to dunking a basketball.

We did have continuity though, with five seniors who had been together for four years. Having played together for so long, we had learned each others’ tendencies and developed some serious offensive talent. During my senior year we averaged over 80 points a game.

Our biggest advantage didn’t come from our skill. It came from our coach. He was a great motivator and we had learned to trust his instincts and understanding of the game. His wisdom about game situations proved valuable on many occasions, most importantly one winter afternoon as we competed for our state’s private school state championship.

Defense Wins Championships

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The Lustful Spending Desires I Routinely Battle

Hidden Nuggets Series #21 – “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” – James 1:14

Citizen Eco-DriveWhat consumer products seduce you?

We all have our weaknesses when it comes to spending. There are certain consumer items that routinely tempt us to purchase them. For the longest time I refused to believe that I had an issue giving in to these temptations.

However, I began to notice certain behavior patterns emerging that forced me to admit to the truth. Certain consumer products are very attractive to me and I have to continually fight my spirit’s desire for them.

What Are the Signs of Desire?

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Beauty and Function From a Beast

Dining Room Cabinet

A cabinet base and top, bought separately at auctions, molded together into one.

Have you ever experienced an embarrassing moment because you or someone in your family was trying to do something frugal?

Like…I don’t know…your father gets a swing set from the dump that is missing the A-frame support on one side. To support it, he bolts the end with the missing side to a tree in the backyard so you can use it. (That’s a true story…on my wife’s side.)

The base of this beautiful cabinet that sits in our dining room had real ugly beginnings. It was so ugly in fact, that my mother wanted nothing to do with it. You can see how bad it was by clicking “Continue Reading” below.

Then head on over to my guest post today at Frugal Rules to read about how I helped make an auction purchase of my dad into an embarrassing frugal moment.

Do you have an embarrassing frugal story?

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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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Dealing With My Daughter’s BIG Milestone

Growth AheadMy oldest daughter, Miss LukeTeen28 (MLT28), is quickly approaching a major milestone. To be honest I’m having difficulty believing my wife and I have reached this point. It seems like only yesterday we were meticulously buckling her into the car seat at the hospital (as only newbie parents can), readying her for the first car ride home.

Boy, did I take that trip carefully.

Now 12 ½ years later, we are about to cross that invisible yet unmistakable line that serves as a right of passage for kids as they grow towards young adulthood. Most parents dread this moment because it signals their child is becoming capable of deciding his or her own path. While I will admit to a certain level of anxiety, I’m really looking forward to it. I want to see how all these years of teaching, training and modeling will play out as she makes decisions.

The right of passage to which I refer has nothing to do with my daughter becoming a teenager though. It’s a much greater issue that will provide her with great lessons as she matures into adulthood. What could possibly be this big a deal for an almost 13 year old?

Making her first BIG purchase with her own money. Here is what she wants:

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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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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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Do I Get Gold Cuff Links With That Tent?

There is nothing that quite excites the heart of every child like summer vacation. At my school, we begin the countdown right after spring break. (FYI to administrators and parents – don’t expect teachers to accomplish much after spring break. The kids minds are completely blown after that.) Now usually, when school is out each day, kids mingle around, talking to one another near the lockers, shooting hoops in the gym or hanging out for a few minutes in the parking lot. On the last day of school? It’s like cockroaches scrambling in the basement when the light is flipped on. They move at light speed off the school grounds not to be seen anywhere near the premises for the next two months.

Yes…summer is finally here!

For my family that means some vacation time. This year we are taking our bold, first steps into the realm of camping with our kids.

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