Monday, March 24, 2014

Money Monday: Stick to the plan

Good morning!


It's Money Monday! As mentioned before, a financial wellness is part of your overall spiritual wellness: being a good steward over the resources that God has given to you.


Today, I want to encourage you to stick to the plan. What plan? Your plan! Your plan is the financial plan, budget or goals that you began the year with. You know, that thing that you said you would do with your money: save it, pay off debt, save for a down payment on a home, start a college fund or better manage it. Whatever it is that you said you would do with it, make sure you stick to it.


In just a few short days, the 2nd quarter of the year will start. Around this time (or maybe even a little before), the tenacity we had when we started the year, usually starts to die down because life has happened. I know that we will face challenges that often interrupt our plans but I'm not talking about those things that tend to get us off track. I'm talking about that other thing: self.  We often get in the way of our own goals because of the secret desires of our heart. Remember that temptation starts within. Sure, those pretty goals we set early on look good on paper but what do you do when you begin receiving coupons in the mail (or e-mail) to your favorite store or your favorite store is having a sale? Do you blow your budget and think, "oh, I'll get back on track next month?" Oftentimes, "next month" never comes because we do not take control over our finances.


Remember that the same habits that got you into your present financial situation will keep you in your current situation if you do not change your mindset. It's great to have a budget or any kind of financial plan but you have to stick to it. If you do not, your finances will look the same whether you make $30,000/yr or $100,000/yr. You must learn to manage what you have: Don't allow your desire for temporary satisfaction to get in the way of your financial freedom! You really can do this!


(James 1:14 NLT But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.)


***I'm pretty excited to see many of my friends and family take charge of their finances. When you get to a place where you are in control of your finances, you begin to have peace and order in other areas of your life as well. Don't get discouraged about things beyond your control but instead make sure you are taking care of that which you can control. It is difficult to break bad financial habits but the reward far outweighs the discomfort you will experience in the beginning by choosing to change your lifestyle. As you continue this journey of wellness, I invite you to order my new book, "Not Without You: 365 Days in the Lord's Presence." Check it out here: www.encouraging-works.com. ***


Peace and blessings to you throughout the week!

Monday, December 16, 2013

*Let Your Light Shine


From my upcoming book, "Not Without You"
1 Timothy 4:12 NLT Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.

Age does not always determine one’s level of spiritual maturity or faith & responsibility bestowed upon them. Young adults can be examples to anyone: older, younger or peers. When one has been chosen by God to declare His word to His people, the life of that person should be encouragement to those whom they teach and to those outside the body of Christ.

Sometimes younger Christians can be so modest and humble in that we can miss a moment to glorify God in our words or deeds because we are in the company of someone older and of whom we perceive to be more spiritually mature. However, we should always allow our light to shine because we never know who needs to see it to be encouraged by it.

Don’t let your company change your character. Remain firm in your faith and in your calling. The Lord can use you at any time so don’t flick your light on and off, hiding behind your age; always be a willing vessel by making yourself available to Him.

Prayer for Today: Heavenly Father, please give me courage and boldness to let your light shine through me at all times, regardless of who I’m with. I want to be a vessel for you to speak encouragement and life to your people. Let me not be intimidated or fearful because you have given me the spirit of power, love and a sound mind. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Additional scripture reading: 1 Timothy 4:11-16

Monday, November 18, 2013

Money Monday - Consider the cost

Luke 14:28 NLT But don't begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculation the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?

In this passage of scripture, Jesus was talking to the crowd about considering the cost of being his disciple. Everything comes with a cost and we must consider this at all times but since we're focusing on money, let's talk about that.

The holiday season is quickly approaching and if you haven't noticed, the stores are already bombarding customers with their "biggest sale ever" ads! Before you begin shopping this holiday season (or if you're like my mom, you started several months ago), be sure to plan your holiday spending. With all of the both online and in stores, it is quite easy to go over your budget and buy far too many gifts that you'll end up paying for throughout the next year.

Here are a few tips:
-Create a budget specifically for holiday spending.
-Make a list of who you're going to buy gifts for - friends, family, coworkers, white elephant gifts, etc.
-Think about what you want to buy for each person and/or determine a spending limit for each person
-Search for sales and coupons online. Comparison shopping is your best friend plus it saves time AND money.
-Consider pulling names.
-Stick to your budget.
-Do not use credit cards unless you plan to pay them off completely the following month. That $20 sweater will no longer be $20 after interest accrues over the next few months.

The holiday season is one of the times of the year that budgets are completely blown out! Shop smart so that you can continue on your path to financial freedom! Be blessed!

***Thank you to each of you who voted for me to receive the Reader's Choice Award at the Christian Literary Awards. We did it!!! I won!!! I had such an amazing time and it was truly a humbling experience. Thank you for reading and sharing with others! As a special thank you, you may purchase my book for $10 via my website this week: http://www.encouraging-works.com/special-thank-you.html The e-book may be downloaded from https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/310431 for $5.00 during this week! Use promo code AT32M. ***

Monday, October 21, 2013

Prosperity and Famine

Genesis 41:35-36 NLT Have them gather all the food produced in the good years that are just ahead and bring it to Pharaoh’s storehouses. Store it away, and guard it so there will be food in the cities. That way there will be enough to eat when the seven years of famine come to the land of Egypt. Otherwise this famine will destroy the land.” (Additional reading: read the entire chapter)

In the above referenced scripture, God spoke to Pharaoh through two dreams serving him notice of what was about to happen to his land.  There was going to be seven years of prosperity and seven years of famine. Joseph interpreted the dreams and advised him to put an intelligent and wise men in charge so that they may save food for the period of famine.

The great thing here is that Pharaoh was warned about the period of famine that was about to come upon the land. Oftentimes, we are not warned when we will experience a period of lack, such as a loss of a job, underpaid job or a period of recession. Joseph's advice was great advice to Pharaoh and great advice to us today. Save a portion of your income.

In many instances, this can be difficult especially if you haven't been saving.  You will need to make lifestyle adjustments so that you will be able to live if and when these things do happen.  I've been to many financial seminars and workshops and each one suggests a different thing. Some say to save 6 months, 9 months or even 12 months of expenses in the event your family experiences a period of famine.

Take some time to look at your finances to see where you can cut back and begin saving. If you have debt, saving may be difficult.

Things to consider: Invest in your company's 401k. If your company matches a certain percentage, at least invest that amount (it's free money).You also reduce the amount of income tax you pay because your investment is pre-tax.  When you receive a raise, put aside the increase. You were living off the pre-raise salary before, you can do it now. Direct the increase to go into your savings account, preferably one that you do not touch. If you do this in the beginning, you won't miss it.

***My book, The Life Your Spirit Craves, has been nominated for the Henry Award in the devotionals category. In addition, readers may vote for their choice to receive the reader's choice award. Please take a few seconds to vote for my book here: http://christianliteraryawards.com/2013/09/30/readers-choice-voting/ ***

Monday, October 14, 2013

Do Not Despise Small Beginnings

Zechariah 4:10 NLT Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”

Managing finances and becoming a good steward over the finances that God has given you can oftentimes be intimidating and in some cases, discouraging.

Let's talk about saving.  This is left up to your own discretion based upon what you have and what you want to do. We all want to be comfortable and enjoy the fruits of our labor but we must do it wisely. Saving requires commitment and discipline.  Once you set money to the side as a reserve, you practically have to ignore that its there, especially if you lack discipline.

So how much do you put aside? Depends on your goals and what you can afford to put aside.  You may have to start with $1, $5, $20, $50. The point is that you need to have some kind of savings system in place and not get discouraged by the amount that you put aside when measured against your ultimate goal.

Most banks now have clever ways to help you save money. Two ways that immediately come to mind are: 1) Every time you swipe your debit card, the bank automatically puts $1 in your savings account and 2) The bank will round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and put the change in your savings. For example, if your purchase is $28.30, the bank will put .70 in your savings account. 
You can also set up balance alerts to keep you from draining every penny out of your bank account.

Another smart way to find extra dollars to throw into your savings account is to trim your grocery bill. This is one of my favorite things which I think deserves its own post. Until then, if you don't already have one, come up with a savings plan. If you have to start small, that is perfectly okay. Small things often become great things. (Think about seeds that are planted)  The first step is simply starting and the second is sticking with it.

***My book, The Life Your Spirit Craves has been nominated for the Henry Award. The award will be presented at the Christian Literary Awards next month in Plano, TX. In addition, readers can vote for their favorite book in the Reader's Choice category. Please vote and share the link with others. It takes less than 10 seconds. Thank you!!! Voting ends on 10/31/2013. http://christianliteraryawards.com/2013/09/30/readers-choice-voting/ *****



Monday, October 7, 2013

Write it down

Habakkuk 2:2-3 NKJV Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it.  For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry. (you knew this was coming, didn't you?) :-)

What is your vision for your finances? What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to save more money? Pay off debt? Make a large purchase? 

Answer these questions before you begin with establishing a budget. It is very important to know why you're setting a budget because the "why" will help you stick to it.

Now that you've sorted through your finances to determine what your monthly income and expenses are and you have your vision in place, begin creating your budget (WRITE it down). Note: You do not have a budget if it's in your head and not on paper.

Begin by first writing down your fixed monthly expenses. These are things like tithes, mortgage, rent, daycare, car notes, insurance, and savings.  These items are the same amount each month. Then write down your variable expenses which is everything else that you allocate funds to each month.  Variable expenses such as food, gas, utilities and miscellaneous expenses can be budgeted based on how you've spent money in these areas in the past.

Spend some time and play with the numbers to get them to look how you want them to look if possible. Add another line item for the extra amount of money you want to save or the additional payments you want to make towards debt. Remember that your budget is yours and it needs to reflect your vision for your finances. Keep in mind that it takes time to reach financial goals so don't give up or become anxious if things do not look the way you want them to look at the time.

One thing that I do to manage the family's finances is to set the budget based on when the income comes in (by paycheck).  Things look a lot different based on when bills are due. I think this is a more realistic approach because it allows you to see exactly how your money is being spent every time money comes in. It will also help eliminate "thinking" you had x amount of dollars left in the bank (or in your budget) when you really don't. I'm a huge fan of writing things down so you really need to keep a check register and write down every purchase as soon as possible. Do not keep track of purchases in your head (no matter how good you are at this). 

Does your financial picture look anything like what you thought it looked like? 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Know Your Status

Proverbs 27:23 NIV Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds.

Being a good steward over the resources that the Lord has blessed you with is part of being spiritually healthy.  As you go about assessing your spiritual fitness, spend time reviewing your financial status. 

The bible instructs us to know the condition of our flocks. In biblical times, their wealth consisted of herds and flocks and not money, stocks, and investments as wealth is measured today.  How do you determine your financial status?

A great way to start is take a pencil and paper (or use your computer) and write down your monthly expenses. Also take note of your monthly income. Include all sources of income: salary, wages, child support, alimony, self-employment income, illegal funds, etc.  

Compare what you're spending to what you're earning/receiving? Are you overspending? Are you being wasteful?

You should assess your financial situation every month or at least every other month to have a solid grasp of your financial status. Once you know your status, set financial goals. 

*I'm going to dedicate Mondays as "Money Mondays" to discuss money management.  Next week, I will continue by discussing setting financial goals and developing a budget. If you have an area in money management that you'd like to see posted, let me know. I will work to get a guest blogger if needed.*

Be blessed and manage that dough! :-)