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It’s Over

26 Mar

I’ve decided to cancel this blog, effective on 1 April. This is not an April Fool’s joke. I simply don’t handle my personal situations well on my blog. I thank you all for stopping by! It’s been fun!

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Get real – stop buying stuff you can’t afford

22 Feb

Great stuff. So true!

The Debt Breakup

So here’s a cold hard little debt busting fact:

When you are up to your eyeballs in debt, you can’t afford expensive hobbies. You can’t afford go out to eat at 5 star restaurants every week. You can’t afford to shout rounds of cocktails to your friends at Friday night drinks. You can’t afford that expensive faceceam – even if it on special.

Before I got serious about debt repayment, I played a little (and financially dangerous) game of spending tug of war when it came to the things I really couldn’t afford.

I told myself these things:

  • I deserve it.
  • I’ve had a tough week.
  • It’s on special.
  • The world might end if I don’t get it.
  • It’s not a lot of money.
  • Whats the point in going out for just one drink?
  • It will make me happy.

The last reason is possibly the worst of them all. I…

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Eight Ways to Clean Up a Hot Mess (Like Me)

18 Dec

ImageI have to admit, I have really been slacking on handling my money properly.  I’m also struggling in other areas of my life, too.  As Tony Stark says, I’m a piping hot mess. 

Several months ago (it feels like ages), I told a friend that my life felt too neat.  That’s certainly not the case now.  My schedule has been different; my workout schedule has been out of order; I’ve gained weight; I have lost a friend; I’ve tripped over my own self at work; my apartment just can’t seem to get clean; my thought life feels messy; and yes, my finances are a mess.  So, what might be going on to cause all this messiness?  I think there are a few things in my life that are out of order, and if I can put everything back in its rightful place, maybe I will find some neatness again.

1. Prayer

The first thing I need to do to get my life back in order is to spend time with my Papa.  I talk to the Lord. I turn to Him when I need something and when I don’t.  Yet, sometimes I still try to do things on my own.  I just spent nine months completing a Celebrate Recovery step study, where we learn that we can’t do it on our own and that we should turn to Him to help us in all of our steps.  I still try to take the wheel on my own.  God wants to be involved in our lives. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in His way” (Psalm 37:23). He not only wants to be involved in my steps – He wants to celebrate them with me.  It makes Him smile when I turn my steps over to Him.

2. Record Activities

I need to start recording my spending again.  I really have not done well lately.  I started out strong, but by May or June I started slipping back into my old spending habits.  And they’ve reared their ugly, ugly heads.  I spent (no pun intended) a long time forming these bad habits, and I should give myself some grace on changing my habits.  But I also must be deliberate about my actions. I have to set my mind on the things above and not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2). If I remind myself that it’s His money for me to spend how He asks me to, my desire to spend may change.  “Lord, help me to continue to improve my spending habits. I can’t do it without you!”

3. Make to Do Lists

I can’t even believe I have to put this on my list! I used to be a list person.  I would write everything down.  Sometimes, if I did something that was not on my list, I would write it on my list just so I could scratch it out.  I’m a J on Myers-Briggs.  Somehow I’ve slipped away from that.  I can feel it, too!  I need to start making lists again for sure! In Proverbs 31, the Message version says “She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day.”  I’m going to start organizing my day.  A simple list in the morning will keep me on track!

4. Turn off the TV

This is hard for me right now because it’s football season.  I have watched waaaayyyy too much TV lately.  It doesn’t have to be sports, but it usually is.  I find myself watching episode after episode of whatever TV show I have DVR’d.  What a pity and a waste of time.  Tonight, I decided that nothing on TV really appealed to me, so I turned the TV off.  It feels great.  I must do this more often.

I also need to shut off my phone or my computer at night.  I did that earlier this year, and it was REFRESHING! It’s not that difficult to do, but I really feel awkward when I don’t look at my phone.  I might, just might, be addicted!

5. READ

I need to read more. Turning off the TV will help me to do that. I decided earlier this year that I would put down the self-help books. Well, I think I’m ready to start reading them again.  I want to find a book series that will challenge me and keep me busy.  Any suggestions?

6. Eat better

I really, really, really need to improve my eating habits. I mentioned my weight gain at the beginning of this post. I’m so disappointed in the way I’ve handled my diet and my exercise. I have some legitimate excuses for my exercise (maybe?), but the food – no way. I need to eat better.  I need to find a balanced diet again. I don’t really cut any specific food out. Instead I try to eat proper portions.  I’ve not done a great job of that lately, and I’m paying for it now!

7. Think positively

I am my own worst enemy when it comes to my thought life.  I guess most of us are.  I want to be better though. I want to take every thought captive (2 Cor 10:5).  I don’t want to be ruled by my thoughts anymore. I want to rule my thoughts. I lost a friendship earlier this year, and I honestly believe we would still be friends if I would have just realized the truth about myself.  I am my worst critic, and it’s a struggle for me to think positively.  I need to try, and I bet that the more I do it, the easier it will be.  Lord, help me to take every thought captive. I turn my thought life over to you and ask you to change the way I think about myself and others.

8. BREATHE

Sometimes I just need to slow down and breathe! Breathe before I respond. Breathe before I spend. Breathe before I start each day. Breathe and give the Lord time to speak to me.  Every breath should be dedicated to you. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6).

I’m breathing now as I look at the length of this post. This may be one of my longer posts.  I do believe that if I can apply these tips to my life, order may be restored.  How do you restore order in your life?

Mid-Year Review

11 Jul

It’s the middle of the year, and I thought it might be fun for me and my readers (all six of you) to do a review of my 13 goals for this year. Drum roll, please…
1. I want to run a 10k before the year is up. I plan on running three 5k races and then moving up to a 10k. I will keep you all posted!

I have run two 5k races this year. I also participated in another run but did not run the entire thing. I am currently training for my 10k. It’s going well so far, and I have registered for the Monte Sano 10k for August 31. Eek! Continue reading

It will Get Messy

23 May

messy-deskLife will get messy, and I’m sure I’m preaching  to the choir here. It can be perfectly neat for a while, but rest assured, something will change. You may find a new job, or you might get a new boss.  A family member may get sick, or you may lose someone close to you. Perhaps a move is required, or maybe you’ll go to a new church.  A marriage might begin or end, or a child might graduate. A variety of things can come along that will inevitably cause a mess.

But there’s a way to handle the mess. Sometimes, you just have to clean up one mess at a time. It’s certainly easier but not always feasible. When it’s possible, I always prefer to clean up my messes at home one at a time. Dave Ramsey recommends that with his debt snowball. Pay on all your debts, but focus all your extra money on one debt, and then move on to the next. When I clean my house, I tend to start in one room at a time and work my way out. When it’s possible, this is the best method of cleanup.

It doesn’t always work this way, though. Sometimes several messes occur at once. If you have children, you know exactly what I mean. How do you clean up a mess that just never seems to go away? Well, the first option is to remove the source of the mess so that it can’t continue to pile on the mess. That’s why Dave recommends cutting up the credit cards. You can’t clean up a mess until you quit contributing to the mess.

I’m notorious for adding onto a mess. I can take a problem and magnify it in my head until I make it larger than life. I’m aware that I do it. I just don’t know how to quit adding to the mess right now.  However, I am in the process of going through Celebrate Recovery right now. I believe it’s one of the best ways to stop piling up the garbage. I will continue to update you as I work through this program. It won’t be easy, but it will be fruitful.

Another way to clean up multiple messes is to ask for help. Wives, if you’re struggling with getting your housework done, ask the kids or your husband to help you. If your finances are a mess, find an accountability partner to help you or work with your spouse to tackle the problem. If your life feels messy right now, get your friends and family to help you. Join a Bible study or find a close group of friends you can trust to help you. In Celebrate Recovery, you have a group of people that are walking the same journey you are. They are all there to clean up something, and it makes the cleaning a little easier if you know someone is on their way to help, even if you get started a little earlier.

Another way to clean up multiple messes is to find someone with more experience in the area of your struggles. If you’re struggling to change the way you handle your money, find someone who has succeeded financially. They may not have the same exact journey, but they are in the place you want to be. If you want to have a successful marriage, find someone who has been married for more than 30 years and pick their brain!!!! In Celebrate Recovery, you’re required to find a sponsor – someone who has walked the same walk you’ve walked and is on the other side. It’s an important part of the Celebrate Recovery process, and it works.

And the most important person to turn to to clean up a mess of any kind is God. He doesn’t care what it is; He just knows that you need the help.  No problem is too big or small for Him because He knows that no problem is small to us. “For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.” (Psalms 66:17-20 NLT)

How do you clean up your messes? How do you ask others for help?

Hidden Costs of Fun

28 Apr

I made a decision a few weeks ago to attend a Jesus Culture One Nights concert. The band was going to be just a couple of hours away, and I felt like it would be a wonderful getaway. I invited a girlfriend to go with me and purchased my ticket. I thought, “It’s only $25. I can work that into my budget.” Well, I was mistaken.

I didn’t really take into account all the other expenses that would go along with this day trip. I knew I couldn’t afford to stay the night in Birmingham. And I was okay with the sacrifice of being a little tired on the way home. What I forgot to account for – shame on me – was the cost of gas, and the dinner, and the CD I just couldn’t avoid purchasing (and probably overpaid), and the snacks on the way home that would help me feel like I might “stay awake.”

Really, the hidden costs of a purchase have often been my downfall. If I buy this item for this price, I can totally afford it. Then, I need this accessory, and oh, wait, I need to buy this item that will make the item I originally purchased that much cooler. I can’t just purchase this one item. I need all the other gadgets that go with it.

So, how do I avoid the hidden costs of a purchase? I think the first thing I can do is to write down all the possible purchases that need to be made to go along with my original purchase. This process may be as simple as an ironing board to go along with the iron I need. Or, it may be an extra controller and video games to go along with the PS3 I purchased two years ago. Anyway, you get the idea!

Next, I need to do some research on the product I’m buying. If I had done a little more research on the purchase of the concert ticket, I would have thought about paying for parking, and the cost of the meal I might purchase. I also would have thought about the CD I might want or concessions. I usually go into an event with the plans not to purchase anything from the concession stand. And I usually forget that plan as soon as I smell the hot dog in the bun. What is it with hot dogs??? I don’t like to eat them at home, but put me in a ball park, and I jump in line as soon as I’m able!

Then, I need to ask myself how much I really need the item I plan on purchasing. At this point in my baby steps (Step 2), I don’t need to do ANYTHING extravagant, and extravagant right now is anything that exceeds my spending envelope. This reality is especially difficult for me because I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE going to sporting events. For the next few years, I have to pretty much kiss those goodbye. But, this will not be my reality forever. It’s only temporary!

The good thing about going through this process is I may very well talk myself out of the purchase by the time I’m finished. It’s a lot of work to do this much research around a purchase!

Sheepishly, I admit that not only did I forget to take into account the hidden costs of the concert. I also blew my budget by about $40. I would like to be able to say it was worth it, but is staying in debt longer really worth it? I think the resounding answer is NO.

With that being said, please see the pictures from the concert taken from my phone. I really did have a wonderful time. It was so refreshing to see so many people going after the Lord. If you’re not familiar with Jesus Culture, I highly recommend that you check them out. I assure you that you will not be disappointed!

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Dust off My Finances

14 Apr

The road is long and dusty. I’ve traveled it many times. I should know where the potholes and bumps in the road are by now, but no, I continue to slam into the same spots.  I have flats at the same time and in the same place.   The windows are down on my car and my hand dangles out the window, as I try to capture some of the emotions and freedom of my youth – before I had car loans and student loans.  Now, I’m traveling on this road, hoping I can put both hands on the wheel and can navigate through this treacherous course.  The dust is climbing up, until I can’t see what’s ahead of me.  I know where I’m going, and I know about how long it’s going to take me to get there.  I just don’t seem to totally understand HOW I should approach the road.  I could drive slowly and carefully, that way I can somewhat predict what lies ahead.  Or, I could drive at breakneck speed with little regard to the comfortable life I’ve created.  I may hit more bumps in the road; I may end up on the side of the road with a busted radiator. But if everything goes just right, I could get to the end of the road much more quickly than I originally thought. 

I am considering how I can quickly get out of debt. I could get a second job, but I feel that I have some work to do internally before I can take on a second job.  Or, I could ignore the work that is required of me and suck it up for a couple of years. 

Which approach is best?

What You See is what You Get

7 Apr

bella-reading-glasses-pink-25-p

We’ve all heard this phrase many times.  Most of the time, we hear this in regards to a person who is transparent.  What you see with that person is what you get.  I won’t go into a diatribe about how that’s probably not true ever because people are deeper than we ever give them credit for.  I will, however, take a look at this statement from a different angle.

Have you ever noticed that your perception of yourself, another person, or a situation can determine how you react to the situation?  Sometimes an innocent or harmful statement made by someone can actually be interpreted differently by the person who hears it.  It’s the age old battle of sender/receiver.  Men joke that women often take a compliment offered by their mate and turn it into an insult.  “You look nice today, dear” can quickly turn into “Are you saying I don’t look nice every day?”  How much fun are those conversations, guys?  

The philosopher John Locke said that words have no power until we assign them the power.  I believe that firmly.  And I believe that the power of the words spend and save have to change if I am ever going to have Financial Peace.  When I am out ready to make a purchase, what power controls me? Is it my desire to be debt free? Or is it my desire to have what I want without waiting?  The answer is most likely, “YES!!!”  Sometimes I choose to answer the debt free question, and sometimes I choose to want without waiting.  Last year, I would have simply “wanted” without worrying about my debt.  I’m growing every day in the way I spend and save.  I still feel like a newborn horse stumbling around and trying to get my feet underneath me.  But I will be galloping before I know it, readers!  I look forward to sharing those gallops with each of you.

I am enrolled in Financial Peace University right now, and Dave Ramsey talked about the power of the emergency fund.  He says that when the emergency fund is in place, emergencies just don’t seem to happen.  Perhaps that is true, or maybe emergencies just have a different appearance when an emergency fund is in place.  I can’t really speak on this because I don’t have the 3-6 month emergency fund Dave recommends – yet.  I think there’s a chance that what you see in an emergency is indeed what you get.  As an example, before I had my small emergency fund set aside, a major car repair would have been a major setback.  Now, I have some peace knowing that if a minor emergency came up I would be okay. 

I’m walking this journey to be debt free, and I’m changing the lexicon of my life.  I will continue to redefine spending and saving for myself until they actually match up to the definition of someone who has financial success.  So…how do you define spending? Saving?

The Goal Method

30 Mar

financial-goals

I’ve been on a slide the last few weeks.  I discussed with my readers my concern on spending some of my income tax refund.  I was afraid that I might lose the momentum I had gained in not spending.  Well, I think it’s fair to say that I have lost some momentum.  I have overspent for the last few paychecks, and I’m not pleased with how I’ve handled things.

Now, I haven’t spent a ton of money.  Maybe just $10-$15 more than my spending envelope.  But, I have spent more than I was allotted, and the whole point to using an envelope system is to learn how to spend within my budget.  I haven’t done very well lately, and that is what is so disappointing.

I could try to find a reason why I keep slipping up.  And I have a few ideas. But, I don’t have to share those reasons to deal with these slip ups effectively.  I do think it’s important to reflect on what “ensnares” us.  I’ve done some soul searching about this, and I’ve done some praying.  It’s obvious that the years of bad spending habits are not going to change overnight.  I still have quite a bit of work to do to control my finances, and it’s going to take a lot of work to remain disciplined.  I have to continue to focus on the end goal.  I asked my FAP to talk me out of spending my money earlier this week.  She asked me where I would like to be in five years.  That’s a great question.  Where would I like to be financially in five years?

I would like to be debt free, living in an apartment closer to work, have my 3-6 months of living expenses saved up in an emergency fund, and be working towards my down payment on my home.  Of course, a number of things could happen between now and then to change my five year goals.  But for now, this is what I see for myself. 

It’s so important to have well-defined goals.  A well-defined goal has a timeframe.  If it is well-defined, the goal is more likely to be accomplished.  I have lived a large majority of my life walking around without a goal.  I had a narrow point of view on what my life might look like.  I didn’t really see a future for myself.  I only saw the present and the past.  Now, I believe in the future the Lord has for me.  And I can’t wait to see what’s next.  The only thing I can do to control my future is to remain obedient to the Lord.  If I do that, He will guide my steps.  “My steps are ordered by the Lord (Psalm 37:23).”

So, where do you see yourself in five years?  What methods do you use to remind yourself what you should/should not do?

Deuteronomy Promise

23 Feb

I really love this scripture from Deuteronomy. What a wonderful promise from God.

The Lord will command the blessing upon you in your barns and in all that you put your hand to, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God gives you. The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, as He swore to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways. So all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will be afraid of you. The Lord will make you abound in prosperity, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your beast and in the produce of your ground, in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. (Deuteronomy 28:8-12 NASB)

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