I Didn’t Get a Raise. Now What?

no raiseIt’s that time of year again…annual reviews, raises, bonuses, etc. What happens when the increase you were expecting wasn’t as much as you thought it was going to be or maybe it didn’t come at all? You become responsible for giving yourself a raise! Say what?! Yep, you read it correctly. You’re now responsible for giving yourself a raise.

Here’s how: Spend less + Saving more = INCREASE!

No-brainer right? But seriously, that’s exactly how you’ll end up with more…by spending less. It may not be what you want to hear, but it’s what you’ll need to get you through this season. If you’re doing a budget regularly, which you should be, you will know where all of your money is going. If you’re not doing a budget, you need to start doing one, pronto! Now, take a good look at all of the businesses you’ve helped fund over the last year (you won’t be able to do this without completing your budget *hint, hint*). Whether you spent money on personal grooming, eating out, entertainment, electronics, etc…are funding those businesses more important than taking care of your “home” business? I guarantee you that if you call any one of their corporate offices and let them know that you’ve been a faithful customer, they will not write you a check to pay off your debt or to help pay any of your bills. They’ll simply say thank you, and find another way to get you back into their store. You have to think about your purchases differently. They aren’t just transactions, you’re helping someone worth millions increase their bank account while watching your own decline. The question I have for you is, is it worth it? That restaurant doesn’t need your money, you do. That new pair of shoes isn’t going to increase your savings account, it’s robbing it. What are you going to do about it? For the basic necessities that you have to fulfill like going the grocery store, gas station, buying basic clothing,etc., monitor sales, use coupons, and shop around.Whatever you have to do to reduce your spending.

It’s a new year, and it’s time for a new you. I don’t buy into the whole new year’s resolution thing, I’m merely suggesting a lifestyle change. You can only control that which is under your control, and that’s you. Whether you get a raise or not, you’re responsible for maximizing the dollars that you do have. Spend them wisely. Invest them wisely. Most importantly, take care of home first. So, who will be first on your “I’m sorry, but I’m temporarily out of cash list?” Tell them you’ll be back once you get out of debt, but in the meantime you have your own household business to take care of. Let’s start the new year off right. Taking care of you should be your first priority!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

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Making Dollars out of Sense

dollars and senseSome of you may not have grown up in a household where you saw your mom or dad doing a budget, saving may not have been a priority, tithing and investing may have been unheard of, and that’s OK. You don’t know, what you don’t know; but that doesn’t mean that you have to stay in the dark. Growing up, I was always familiar with saving, I started investing in 401(k) not long after I graduated, I didn’t really use credit cards, and I thought I had a pretty good sense about money. However, I was overwhelmed with student loans, car payments and repairs, medical bills, and trying to meet basic needs. I wasn’t doing a budget, barely had any money in savings, and I was struggling. Once I  finally got tired of being in the position I was in, I started praying for a way out. My relief came through reading and research.

I started studying the lives of millionaires. After all, they were much better off than I was financially, so there had to be something that I was missing. The books that I read are as follows:

  • The Millionaire Next Door
  • The Five Lessons a Millionaire Taught Me for Women
  • The Top 10 Distinctions Between Millionaires and the Middle Class
  • Rich Toward God
  • Secrets of the Millionaire Mind
  • The Total Money Makeover

I recognized that I needed additional knowledge and wisdom to move me beyond where I was, so I committed myself to doing so. The thing is, they all had some of the same basic principles outlined:

  • Spend less than you make
  • Save
  • Give
  • Invest
  • Manage your money regularly/budget

It’s not that it was rocket science, but I was lacking knowledge in those areas. Once I gained the knowledge that I needed, and actually started putting the principles into action, I saw results. My point is, don’t let a lack of knowledge keep you from succeeding financially. There are so many resources available that will help move you beyond where you are. I always recommend doing cross-references to check for inconsistencies. All advice isn’t good advice, so be cautious about using “free” resources that could cost you in the long run. Do your homework and find a method that will work best for you and your particular situation. In order to change your actions, you must first change your mind. In order to change your mind, you must gain knowledge in the area where you want to see change. So get to it! Freedom awaits!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

I Surrender All

Let’s face it, we were made in God’s image, and are supposed to have the mind of Christ. Let me just say, I’ve never known Jesus to have a shoe fetish! At some point we have to stop playing, and start being honest with God and with ourselves. Yes, God does want you to have the desires of your heart (Ps. 37:4). However, your heart should look like his. God doesn’t desire to be in debt, and neither should you. Stop letting the devil deceive you into thinking that God designed you to be a consumer, because he didn’t. God designed you to be a producer and to have dominion over the earth. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to desire nice things, because it isn’t. But what is wrong, is letting those things have control over you, especially while you’re still in debt.

If God asked you right now to get rid of all your shoes, handbags, designer clothes, latest technologies, bottles of alcohol (whatever it is that’s controlling your income), would you be able to do it? And please don’t be prideful and say, “God would never ask me to do that because he loves me.” We know that God is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14), and he will wreck up whatever is in his way to get to you. Take a moment to stop, think about it, and check your heart. You won’t even have to say it, your actions will display what you’ve decided in your heart. Why is is that we can tell God, I can’t tithe or give because I have bills to pay, but we can’t tell our impulsive flesh the same thing? You’ll be a lot better off if you dismount yourself off of your high horse, rather than have God knock you down. Trust me, it’ll be a softer landing when you do it on your own terms.

God’s desire is that you would get your financial house in order so that you can live life financially free and dependent on Him. Get out of debt so that you can pursue the life that He predestined for you. As much as you don’t want to spend your life in a dead end job, God doesn’t want you to either. But as long as you’re dependent on the world for a paycheck, you won’t be dependent on God. When God needs you to move, you have to be ready. A lot of us aren’t ready because we all of a sudden don’t have the resources to fund God’s work. Seriously, let’s stop playing with God and get our financial houses in order.

There is only one opportunity for every dollar that comes through your hand. If you choose to save it, you can’t spend it or invest it. If you choose to spend it, that’s one less dollar that you could have applied towards a debt repayment or being a blessing to someone else. You choose whether or not to invest in the world, yourself or God. Let me remind you, that people typically invest in something with the expectation of getting a return. What kind of return are you getting for your investments in alcohol, fast food or fine dining, cable, latest technology, personal grooming, overly priced clothing, shoes, and handbags? I surely never met a compliment that I could cash in at the bank! If everything that you buy depreciates in value you are not walking in the things of God. Take a careful look at the opportuinties that are flowing through your hands on a daily basis. Surrender your old ways to God and ask Him to guide you going forward. He will pour out blessings on you, but you still have the free will to obey Him or not.

Surrender yourselves today: “Lord, I am nothing without you. None of these earthly “things” (idols) matter. They do not make me who I am, YOU do. Free me from the spirit of materialism and consumption. The only debt I desire is the debt of love. Lord I thank you for your conviction so that I may stand corrected in Christ. Be with me and strenghten me as I make this transition. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

The Personality of Money

We have all heard sayings like, “Money can’t buy happiness,” “Money is the root of all evil (which is a misquote),” and “Money isn’t everything,” as if money is something negative to have. Money is neither good nor evil, it’s an inanimate object. However, money can be used by people to bring about positive or negative outcomes. Figuratively speaking, money simply takes on the personality of it’s holder. If the person is a giver, they’ll use their money to fund different types of charities, random acts of kindness, and other charitable acts. If the person is greedy, the love of money will ultimately destroy their lives and their relationships. A consumer is more likely to use their money to fund a materialistic lifestyle rather than a savings account. At the end of the day, money doesn’t change; it is a tool that is used by whomever has it their possession.

1 Timothy 6:10 says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”  We can only serve either God or money, hate one and love the other, but not both (Matthew 6:24). Again, money isn’t evil; but the PERSON that loves money has the potential of being drawn away from God. On the other hand, poor stewardship of money also draws us away from the work that God has called us to do. God didn’t intend for us to live as slaves to debt, but rather to live free to fulfill the work of his ministry. Whether it’s feeding the poor, providing clothing or shelter to the homeless, funding mission trips, etc., all of that takes money. According to Business Insider, Americans spend $49 billion on credit card interest each year. Imagine what the Kingdom of God could do with $49 billion a year! Whether it’s used to fund credit card companies or the work of the Kingdom, money doesn’t care either way; but we have the power to control that.

Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”What personality have you given your money? Does it display the personality of God, a consumer, philanthropist, hoarder, socialite, shoe, purse, gadget or video game addict? To those of you that are single, while you should not marry FOR money, it would be wise to determine if your potential mate uses money in a way that is pleasing to God. They should be a tither, hate debt, concerned about financial freedom, free to give, and free to live. Studies show that money fights are the #1 cause of divorce. Couples who fight about money once a week are 30% more likely to divorce than those who fight a few times a month. So while the actual amount of money each of you has may not matter, the mindset behind the tool should be similar.

Money may not be everything, but money placed into the right or wrong hands can quickly become a work of good or a work of evil. You give your money a personality simply by how you use it. So let’s change the negative identity money has been given by being better stewards of the resource God has bestowed upon each of us. Instead of more money, more problems, let’s make it more money, more problems solved in Jesus’ name.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

How to Control the Urge to Spend

1 Corinthians 9:24 [ The Need for Self-Discipline ] Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

BOGO’s, Coupons, and Sales, Oh My! Retail marketing sure has a way of enticing us to spend money that we don’t really have on things that we don’t really need. You know how it is. You’ve gone to the mall or some store thinking that you were just going window shopping, keeping a friend company, or picking up only a few items but came home with more than you intended. Have you ever bought something, gotten it home and said, “Now I know I didn’t really need this,” but ended up keeping it anyway? This is an example of the on-going battle between temporary pleasure and long-term gains. At some point, the long-term gains have to speak louder than temporary pleasures and impulses. It can happen if you modify your shopping habits.

You have got to be so committed and dedicated to getting out of debt that something as little as a sale sign won’t completely derail your plan. If it’s on sale and you weren’t planning on buying it, it’s simply not a good deal! It’s only a good deal for the store that now has your money instead of you being a payment closer to debt freedom. I know, I know, it would be a sin to let that 40% off coupon go to waste. After all it’s like throwing away free money right? Wrong! The retailer wins and you lose. Now, I will say this…if you already had money allocated in your monthly budget to purchase a particular item and you just happen to get a coupon for it, then by all means take the deal. However, impulse buys are not good buys and can quickly diminish your progress towards debt freedom. It’s just not worth it.

How can you control the urge to spend?

  1. Learn to say no. You will be OK if you don’t buy that thing right this second or participate in every social outing.
  2. Keep your financial goals in mind. Before you spend the money, ask yourself if it’s worth it. How will the purchase impact your progress?
  3. Allocate “play” money in your budget. You can still treat yourself while you’re getting out of debt, just do it in moderation. Once the money is gone, it’s gone.
  4. Use cash. It’s very easy to overspend by swiping a debit card. Using cash will give you the reality check that you need when making buying decisions.
  5. Ignore marketing tactics. If you don’t need it, no coupon or sale can change that. Your favorite store wants your money, but when’s the last time they sent you a check?

Remember, the goal each month is to have as much money as possible left over to apply towards debts. Even if it’s only $5 or $10, the impact on interest could be significant. Be intentional and smart about your purchases. Talk it over with yourself first. I may have eliminated my consumer debt, but I have a long way to go in the wealth building area. Every dollar matters as much today as it did when I was paying off my last student loan, and it will continue to matter until I have no need for money. As marketers chase after consumers’ dollars every day, you be the one that gets away. Debt freedom awaits!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

Monkey in the Middle

As this year’s election quickly approaches, I can’t help but to wonder what will eventually happen to the middle class if they don’t take matters into their own hands. For as long as I can remember, it’s really not fun being in the middle. You either made too much money to qualify for assistance, or not enough money to qualify for a tax break. Being in the middle always seemed like receiving the short end of the stick. It’s almost like an ongoing game of Keep Away. Even in our day-to-day lives, the middle position seems to have the least amount of freedom compared to those on either end of the spectrum. Think about what it’s like to sit in the middle seat on an airplane or in the back seat of a car. It’s never really as comfortable as when you’re sitting on either end. Why is that? What if God never intended for his children to live their lives in the middle? What if the middle is supposed to make us so uncomfortable that eventually we’ll do whatever it takes to pass through to where God wants us to be?

I recently read a book by Keith Cameron Smith titled “The Top 10 Distinctions between Millionaires and the Middle Class.” What I concluded was that it’s not the money that separates the two, but rather a mindset. The author’s points are as follows:

  1. Millionaires ask themselves empowering questions: Middle-class people ask themselves dis-empowering questions.
  2. Millionaires focus on increasing their net worth: The middle-class focuses on increasing its paychecks.
  3. Millionaires have multiple sources of income: The middle-class has only one or two.
  4. Millionaires believe they must be generous: The middle class believes it can’t afford to give.
  5. Millionaires work for profits: The middle-class works for wages.
  6. Millionaires continually learn and grow: The middle class thinks learning ended with school.
  7. Millionaires take calculated risks: The middle-class is afraid to take risks.
  8. Millionaires embrace change: The middle-class is threatened by change.
  9. Millionaires talk about ideas: The middle-class talks about things and other people.
  10. Millionaires think long term: The middle class thinks short-term.

We’ve got to find a way to break away from the middle and separate ourselves from mediocrity. The top 1% should be, and can be, filled with children of God. Not because we’re greedy, but because God has promised us an abundant life. As we can see, when abundance gets into the wrong hands, everyone suffers. What are we to do? We can exercise the power that we have, right where we are by getting and staying out of debt, by boycotting the use of credit cards, by committing to give and save, by starting our own businesses, etc.

It’s time to make a shift. Quite frankly, I’m tired of playing Monkey in the Middle with the world. We’re the monkeys, and the world is playing keep away with our finances. The good thing is, we get to choose how long we’re going to continue to play simply by changing our behaviors. God has plans to prosper us, not the world. I pray that no matter who wins the election, that we see a much bigger picture and continue to strive towards debt freedom and dominion over our lives. Sooner or later it will be the ultimate mode of survival.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne