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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Budgeting on Vacation

I just spent a week on the beautiful shores of North Carolina. The people, scenery, culture, and cuisine all make this part of the United States a great place to visit. While I was there, I also got to thinking how many people treat money while on vacation.Many of us keep an eye on the money the saved up for a getaway. I got to thinking, why don't more people budget the money for the vacation?
While the vacation budget will not be as strict as a normal budget, we should give each vacation dollar a name prior to our excursions. In today's economic climate, we need to be careful how we spend, no matter where we are.
When on vacation, I would recommend having three categories. You need a gas category. Unless you are flying, you need to make sure you have enough to get back home.
You also need a food category. After all you are planning on eating, right? A good way to save in this category is to eat in. The beach house we stayed at at a full sized refrigerator, as well as a spacious pantry. We did eat out, but we also saved money by buying groceries locally.
The third category will be your fun category. Like I said , this is not a normal budget. You need to have some fun while on vacation.
By having a vacation budget, you are less likely to go into debt for your vacation. Additionally, when you come home from vacation, you are not haunted by what you spent for that short time away. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Giving Opportunity

This is something I have never done. Any reguilar reader of this blog knows I speak out about the need to be a good money manager. The church my family attends, Crossroads Community Church, in Mansfield, Ohio, has been given a unique opportunity. Through a non-profit ministry, we have been given the opportunity to build 2 -24 bed facilities in Cambodia to get kids off the streets, and away from the sexual and economic exploitation that targets them. This ministry will match, dollar-for-dollar up to $50,000. The last day to give for the match will be Easter Sunday. I'm asking for each of you to pray for this campaign. If you feel led to give, donations can be made at Thank you in advance

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tips for Tipping

How much should you tip when eating out? 10%? 15%? 20%? While there is no set percentage, I would like to show a different point of view. Instead of sitting there figuring out a percentage, why not make the criteria how much the service was worth to you. Was that cup of coffee at the diner just what you needed? How about leaving a 100%, or even a 150% tip? The next time you get a lite meal at Bob Evans or IHOP, why not double, or even triple the bill by giving a nice tip?
Some of you may be thinking that this is extreme thinking. I'm telling you what to do. I'm just trying to get you to think outside the box when it comes to those who bust their tails providing great service.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Stupidest of Stupid Tax

As I went out to my mailbox to retrieve some mail, I received a flyer from a new rent-to-own establishment in a nearby town. Normally I pitch these ads from people who take advantage of those who have little money and even less financial knowledge. I'm not sure why, but I started reading this particular ad. I had always heard that these businesses took advantage of people by promising things people "needed" for "easy weekly or monthly payments." I never realized how immoral these businesses were. For example, you could purchase a new iPad for "only" 19.99 a week for 104 weeks! I mean, what a deal! This makes sense if you really "need" an iPad right? That's right folks! For only $2079, you can buy a $500 iPad!
Or maybe you don't need the latest tech thing. You are looking for a washer and dryer. well, you're in luck! It just so happens another rent-to-own establishment will sell you a washer and dryer for only 69.99 a month over 18 months! In this case, you can buy an $800 washer and dryer combo for the price of $1259!
These ripoffs are keeping so many people from where they could be. These people prey on people's feelings of jealousy and entitlement. They neglect to tell people that if someone saves that $20 a week, they could buy an iPad for that $500, without payments, in less than 6 months. Or that by saving that $70 a month, they could purchase that $800 washer and dryer with cash in under a year.
In order to drive these shysters out of business, we need to have the discipline to wait. Hebrews 12:11 reminds us that though discipline seems unpleasant, it produces righteous fruit.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Budgeting is a Team Sport!

When preparing your budget, it is important to remember that at least one other pair of eyes needs to look over your budget. There are several reasons for this. First, another point of view may notice something that needs budgeted for. You may have missed the need to budget for car repairs, or for the furniture needing replaced. This should be your spouse if you are married, or somone you know is good with finances as a single person.
Another reason, if you are married, to have your spouse look over your budget is to enhance the unity in your marriage. If you develop a budget and tell your spouse that the budget is done, you make your spouse feelcontrolled, rather than part of a team. Once you complete the first draft of your budget, your spouse then looks it over and gets to make changes to it! This keeps the budget from being the budget "I made" to the one "we came up with."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Paradox of Giving

As we are in the time of year when we celebrate he birth of Christ, I would like to speak about giving. When Jesus came to earth, He was the greatest gift ever bestowed on mankind. Today, we give gifts as a tradition.
What does giving have to do with managing money? More than you may think. There is a tremendous link between generosity and prosperity. No, I am not talking about sending a hundred dollars to a TV preacher expecting back $10,000. What I am saying is that we need to treat our money as it is. It is not our money. It is truly God's money, and He has entrusted us with a certain amount. The reason I am so passionate about saving and managing money correctly is because it's is not mine to use as I please. It is my Lord's money, and I must manage it in a way that pleases Him.
In his Financial Peace University course, Dave Ramsey explains how rather than grasping the money in our possession, we need to carry it with an open hand. The rationale behind this change in attitude is that while no money can leave your hand while it is clinched tightly in your fist, neither can any more enter. In Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is introduced as " a squeezing, wrenching, grasping scraping, clutching covetous old sinner!" This is the attitude of someone who won't be generous with their resources.
When you hold money with an open hand, it's true some may leave, but it also the only way that money can come to you.
What are some practical ways to live generously? Here are just a few ideas. How about the next time you go out to a sit-down restaurant, like Cracker Barrel or Bob Evans, why not leave at least  a 100% tip? If you hear about a couple trying to adopt, either donate to help them, or organize a fundraiser to help with adoption costs. Just last week, someone dropped five checks wrapped up in a one-dollar bill. The five checks were written out for $20,000...each.
These are just a couple of ideas. If you can think of grander ideas than these, go for it! You just need to make generosity a way of life.

Friday, October 1, 2010

It's Gonna Rain!

This past Sunday night, I started leading Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University at our church. The lesson was the importance of saving. I know, I know, this is a familiar road, but it's also major highway that must be taken when getting to our financial destination.
I cannot stress the importance of saving up for when emergencies come across your life. How many of us had parents or grandparents who admonished us to save up for a rainy day?
I'm not some doom and gloom guy, but we all know that cars break down, medical bills can get high, appliances need replaced, kids need trips to the emergency room, and layoffs happen. Life has this habit of happening, and usually, in combination within a short time frame.
I'm not saying you need to save for the sake of beating you over the head. I'm saying you need to save now, so when life does happen, you can have at least some sense of peace that what you're going through can be dealt with and not lead to financial stress.