Oct 20, 2010

10 Ways to Save Money, Part 1

Before we can explore these ways to save some money on a day to day basis, we have to make sure we have the right foundation to start from. If you do not these key things in place, you are toast anyway. It would be like teaching you different type of swimming strokes while you have a cement block strapped to you ankles.

Key #1: Have a job. This may seem obvious, but I've met people who can't understand why they are broke when they do not have a job. You need an income. And if one job isn't enough, you might need two.

Key #2: Have a written budget. This is just a written game plan of what is coming in and what is going out, with every dollar accounted for. Imagine an NFL team hitting the field on game day without any plays planned. Imagine building a home without blueprints. Imagine getting on a jet piloted by a pilot who had no clue where he was going.

Key #3: Avoid new debt at all cost. Stop buying stuff on credit. Stop living on credit. Burn the credit cards. If you don't have the money, don't buy it. If you are not sure how that works, perhaps this video will help:
Key #4: Pay off your existing debt as fast as you can. Get aggressive about. You are losing so much money each month on interest.

Key #5: Save money. You need to save money for three things:
  1. Purchases (remember, no new debt...)
  2. Emergencies (stuff happens... sometimes bad stuff)
  3. Retirement (don't count on Social Security to take care of you...)

In the next post I'll throw out 10 simple, practical things I do to save money. But they are useless if you don't have this other stuff in place.

If you want to learn more about this stuff, you need to be a part of my next Financial Peace University class. It'll start January 18th and be on Tuesday nights for 13 weeks and the cost is $100.

Oh, and if you've bother to read this far, I must mention that Pastor Scott is pretty cool...

Oct 15, 2010

Feeding the Five Thousand

Mark chapter six has the account of Jesus feeding the five thousand.
Every time I've heard this preached, the preacher always emphasizes that it was five thousand men PLUS the women and children. It is always pointed that with the women and children the crowd could have been fifteen, twenty or twenty five thousand.
I don't get why we always take time to point that out...
Jesus was only working with a few fish and some bread. It was probably only enough to feed a dozen or so people anyway. So when the first twenty people got served it was unusual. After about thirty people it was amazing. Anything past forty or fifty was a miracle.
So is feeding five thousand men not a big enough miracle for us? Do we have to dress it up anymore than that? Are we thinking five thousand isn't flashy enough?
Now, full disclosure: I've done this before and I'll probably do it again in the future. I'm not saying it's wrong to do it. This just more of a random pondering.

Oct 11, 2010

Scott Phillips...

It was recently brought to my attention that I have never mentioned Pastor Scott in any of my blog posts. This is an unforgivable oversight.

Scott is the most sincere, honest, and genuine person I know. He deeply cares for others. And his concern drives him to action. If someone needs a hug, he is there to hug. Need some prayer? P. Scott keeps his hands folded and ready to go at all times. He'll weep with you, he'll laugh with you.

He is a lover of God first and foremost. He strives to be the best husband he can be. He is an excellent father and has raised some pretty incredible kids.

These last few years he has laid his life down to serve an army of world changers as the director of Master's Commission Wasilla Alaska. He doesn't use his position of authority to lord over the students and his heart's desire is to see them experience their full destiny as a beloved child of God.

Pastor Scott has been a true friend for almost 15 years. I've been privileged to walk along side him in many different adventures. He has maintained his integrity and determination through all kinds of troubles and trials.

Scott, I love you man... And now I've done a blog post about you. So get off my back...

Oct 1, 2010

30 Minutes of Television That Will Make You Hate Your Life

That's what famed blogger Jon Acuff calls the TV show "International House Hunters."

If you are not familiar with Jon, he's the author... nay, GENIUS who writes the "Stuff Christians Like" blog. He recently became a part of financial guru Dave Ramsey's team. And if you are not familiar with Dave Ramsey then you need to be. Now. (I was pretty thrilled about this... It's like the Easter Bunny & Santa Claus teamed up...)

Jon recently wrote an article on Dave's site talking about something you commonly see on the show. (I've seen the same thing on their sister show "House Hunters.") If you've not seen the it, the basic premise is a house hunting couple is shown three homes base on their shopping criteria (budget, size, neighborhood, etc). Typically, one of the three houses is price beyond the budget and the couple struggle to say no to the stunning home with the big price tag. I mean, who wouldn't bigger, better, nicer; regardless of the price.

Christy and I went through this in our 10 year long house hunt. We looked at some incredible homes, but they were out of our price range. Some were way out of our price range. Those were easy to say no to. But some were *just* out of our range. Just a bit. Just a teeny little bit. Those were the hard ones to say no to... We'd start looking at the budget to see if we could make it work. Three square meals a day? We could shift that to three square meals a week. If fig leaf clothing was good enough for Adam & Eve, shouldn't it be good enough for us? Fred Flinstone came up with a 100% fuel efficient car that would cut our gasoline budget.

But, the truth was they were out of the budget. We had run the numbers. We knew what we could and couldn't afford for monthly payments. The hard part was the bank had approved us for more than what we could've realistically afforded. But we had to ignore that and stick to the plan.

And this concept applies to more than just buying a home. It really applies to all areas of spending. Studies have soon you spend less when you hit the grocery store with a shopping list and a specific amount of cash to spend.

Have you ever had a weekend with nothing planned? A friend calls and you head out to the movies. Despite the jumbo popcorn and bladder-buster soda, you're still hungry so you grab some Applebee's afterward. Then on Sunday, after church you grab some Chili's. Before you know it, you've spent $100 of unplanned money. In my world, that's a big chunk of change.

Is going to the movies and eating out wrong? Of course not. But it can be the death blow to your budget if you don't plan for it. Put it in the budget. If it doesn't fit in the budget, then you'll have to give up something somewhere to make it fit.

The biggest push back I get from people is "no one is going to tell ME what to do with MY money." And that is exactly right... It's your money. You can spend it however you want. That's the beauty of a budget. You write it. (You and your spouse if you are married...) You make the choices. You choose what you are going to spend on what. You are in COMPLETE control.

But, if you are wanting to spend more than you make, then you've got to make some hard choices. Either make more money or starting cutting stuff based on what is important to you. Your values are reflected in the budget you have set up.

A budget is the game plan where you tell your money where it'll go. It'll keep you from wondering where it went... Money is like a new puppy. You either train it where it'll go, or it's just going to go where ever it feels like and you've got little puddles all over the house. Yuck.

Have a plan. Stick to it. It's as simple as that.

Really, you should read Jon's article here... It's way better than what I write.