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

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There’s Hope, So Let’s Get to Work!

Somehow, some way, you’ve managed to get yourself buried underneath mounds and mounds of debt, and it may seem like there is no end in sight…I’m here to tell you that there is hope! There is hope; however, it will require some work on your part. First, you must understand that remaining in debt is a choice, your choice. Without that acknowledgement you deny yourself the power to change. Like any other sin, you have to admit to your wrongdoing, ask for forgiveness, repent, and start again. Getting out of debt is no different. Sure, you’re the on that made the bad decisions to put items on credit cards, take out loans, put spending as a priority over saving, etc. But guess what? That same person, you, can also make the decision to turn away from your consumer ways and walk in the things of God.

God doesn’t want you to suffer in debt any more than he wants you to suffer in your sin. That is why he gave us the gifts of forgiveness and grace. Is he disappointed that we aren’t better stewards of the resources that he’s given us? Sure, he is. However, the moment that we decide to turn back to Him, he is there, waiting with open arms to help redeem us. Your debt isn’t going to disappear just because you ignore it. In fact, the bible says that the wicked borrow and do not repay (Psalm 37:21). You chose to borrow the money, so now you must repay it. The sooner that you do, the sooner you can move on. It’s definitely going to take some time and sacrifice to get it done, but it will be worth it in the end.

Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Let God help you through this process. He loves you and wants you to be debt free so that he can use you. On the other hand, you have to put in the necessary work to get it done. Show him that you’re serious about changing your ways by doing a budget, giving on a regular basis, controlling urges to spend unnecessarily, etc. God will get you through it, but you have to put in the work. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. First you have to see it, then you have to move towards it. You are in control of your financial destiny. The question is, will you go after it? Redemption awaits!

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

Money, Power, Glory!

As I thought about the topic for this blog, the song, “Money, Power, Respect” came into my head. First you get the money, then you get the power, after you get the power, then you get the respect. This theory is a direct reflection of the worldly mindset towards money. The media teaches us that money gives us the power to do whatever we want, in hopes of becoming idols for those that are less fortunate, and gaining respect from those that have already made it. While Lil’ Kim may have been on to something, I find her theory flawed.They key ingredient that’s missing is God. Let’s take a closer look…

We can agree that we all need money in order to fulfill the basic necessities of life, such as water food, clothing, and shelter. The first course of action is to find a way to get money and to keep it flowing. Once we get the money, then we have the power to purchase basic necessities. Now, here’s where we find the fork in the road. While I agree that money gives us power, it’s what we do with that power that will determine whether or not God will be glorified or that person will be idolized. God is glorified when we use that power to serve him and others through our giving and debt free living. On the other hand, the person seeking respect/status for themselves becomes defined and idolized by the things that they have on display. One will serve God, and the other will chase things, as will their followers.

While the world may be about money, power, and respect, God’s children ought to seek money, power, and glory. We know that God provides for his children, and that money should never be an issue because He is rich beyond measure. However, we have a choice when it comes to using the power that God has given us. The path to respect leads to debt and mindless spending, while the road to glory provides limitless abundance and freedom. Which road will you take? If you’re on the wrong one, it’s not too late to get off. If God is truly our source, He will provide us with the money and power. It’s up to us to provide Him with the glory that He deserves.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

In God We Trust?

It’s interesting the the phrase “In God We Trust” is printed on our money, but yet God is often the last to receive any of it, if at all. The never-ending debate in church about whether or not we should or shouldn’t tithe…Why is it so difficult to trust God with our money?

In Malachi 3:10, God tells us to test Him regarding tithing. I have to admit that I didn’t know or hear much about tithing growing up in an Episcopal church. But the first time that I heard word on it, which was about 6 years ago, I started from that moment and haven’t looked back. I’ve seen nothing but increase year after year. It hasn’t always been easy either, but as long as I’ve stayed faithful, so has God. Do we really think that the world has our best interest at heart when it comes to our finances when the entire nation is in a state of debt? While they’re after our dollars, God is after our hearts. He does have our best interest in mind, and promises to rewards us beyond measure! That’s much more than any credit card company could ever offer.

Take the test, and challenge God. Fully trust Him with your finances and you will always end up with more than enough. God rewards good stewards by giving us more and more of his resources to manage. If you’re faithful over what you have, God will allow you to rule over so much more. But you will never know until you try. The world’s method of “buy now, pay later” has failed us all. Now will you trust God?

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

When It Rains: Car Edition

We often hear the term “save for a rainy day, ” indicating that at some point there may be a financial emergency and we need to be prepared. Well, there is a difference between saving for emergencies and budgeting for maintenance. An emergency is an unexpected occurrence that requires immediate attention. Things like injuries, accidents, sudden death, etc. of which we have no control. However, routine car maintenance does not qualify as an emergency. Why? Because we knew when we bought the car that it would need regular maintenance such as getting the oil changed, replacing tires, belts and hoses, 100,000 mile service, etc. Let’s not forget the dreaded “check engine” light! We can only hope that it’s just a sensor, but then again it might not be. Nonetheless, while some maintenance is minor, others require major services and repairs that have the potential of sending us further into debt if we aren’t prepared. When we don’t have the cash available for major repairs, we either put it on a credit card or put off the service for as long as we can. Both decisions could end up costing us a lot more in the end.

While you’re working out your monthly budget, make sure that you are setting aside at least $20 to $50 per month for car maintenance. That extra $240 – $600 per year creates a safety net between living free and living in bondage. If you drive a car with more expensive repairs, perhaps you’ll need to set aside more. We know that we have to have our cars inspected the same month every year. The slightest malfunction in wiper blades, any type of lighting, signals, tires, breaks, etc., could be the difference between receiving a pass or fail. Are you prepared to pay cash for new tires or breaks? If your car is close to reaching 75,000 or 100,000 miles, how are you going to fund the major services and parts replacements?

Car maintenance isn’t an emergency, it comes with the purchase. Unfortunately, for so many of us, it has become an emergency expense because we haven’t been prepared to cover the costs in cash. Preparation is key when it comes to getting out and staying out of debt. It’s about expecting the expected by planning ahead. Bottom line, your car will need to be serviced come rain or shine. Will you be ready? Your freedom depends on it!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

A Debt Freedom Prayer

Lord, today I choose to live debt free. I will no longer manage money the world’s way. Free me from the hands of my lenders. Although I have borrowed in the past, I will borrow no more. Lord, I believe that you are my source; not credit cards or loans. From this day forward, I will be a pipeline for Kingdom wealth. I will give, save, and invest like never before. Today, I receive the prosperous, debt free life that you have prepared for me. Renew my heart and my mind so that I may live the life of the rich and glorious. It’s in Jesus’ name that I pray, Amen.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne