Money

12Aug

3 Steps to Make $1,000 Before Your Next Paycheck

Who wouldn’t want $1,000?

Isn’t it funny how often unexpected expenses pop up that could be taken care of if you had $1,000 lying around? Funny’s the wrong word for that feeling but you get the point.

  • Plumbing issues
  • Plumbing issues caused by you trying to fix the previous plumbing issues
  • New brakes and tires for your car
  • A minor medical procedure
  • A dog runs through your bedroom window…twice.
  • The A/C unit needs repair

Every single unexpected event listed above happened to us within the last year.

Every time something happened we had a starter emergency fund of $1,000 set aside from our normal checking account so we never had to put it on a credit card. We dipped into the emergency fund, paid to fix the problem, and replenished it with our next paycheck.

In Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, Baby Step #1 is to save $1,000, a starter emergency fund.

You’re encouraged to do this as quickly as possible, even before your next paycheck. Dave says, “sell so much stuff the kids think they might be next.” His point was well taken in our lives…what’s the point of owning stuff if it actually owns you? Having debt meant we didn’t actually own this stuff anyway. We just OWED a lot of money to other folks. Plus, we can always just buy it again later in cash once we’re debt free.

But if you’re like 76% of Americans currently living paycheck-to-paycheck with little to no emergency savings you don’t even have that extra $1,000 laying around. So how do you get it?

 

3 Ways to Make $1,000 Before Your Next Paycheck

 

1. Create a budget…and stick to it!

This might seem ineffective but it’s exactly the opposite. Your first reaction when trying to save $1,000 as quickly as possible shouldn’t be to donate plasma or sell your neighbor’s TV when they’re at the grocery store.

If you’ll create a budget that cuts back on excessive spending and simply stick to it, you’ll be so surprised with the money you have left over. Additional side effects may include fits of white hot rage as you add up how much money you could have if you had started living on a budget a year ago.

  • Stop eating out (psst…that’s where all your money’s going! Think of how many PB & J’s you can make for the $12 you spent on fast food last night!)
  • Use cash – you’ll feel the pain of spending it more than the magical fake money of debit-credit cards.

2. Sell Your Stuff

This is where people have the most trouble, for a lot of reasons. There’s a reason your stuff is your stuff. You obviously like it! And maybe somebody else isn’t as attached to it as you are and won’t be willing to pay what you feel it’s worth. Who cares?!? You stopped being able to have that opinion when you had to put a $300 car repair bill on a credit card because you don’t have a starter emergency fund. Sell it! Remember, you can always just buy it again (the right way, with cash) once you’re out of debt.

  • Have a garage sale. Hundreds of $1 transactions means hundreds of DOLLARS.
  • Sell your clothes at a thrift shop or consignment store.
  • Sell DVDs (a personal favorite). There’s plenty of options on Netflix.
  • Cancel cable. Waste of time and money.
  • Sell equipment (bikes, kayaks, exercise machines, etc). You can always rent as you want to use them afterward.
  • Sell any kitchen appliances/glassware you haven’t used in the last year.

3. Work an Extra Job

  • If your job allows it, work as much overtime as possible. Remember this is all about making $1000 ASAP.
  • Clean someone’s house.
  • Mow yards (personal favorite).
  • If you work during the day, wait tables at night.
  • If you work at night, unload trucks or deliver the paper in the morning.
  • Walk someone’s dogs, preferably with their permission.
  • Find something you like doing already anyway. If you’re always hanging out in coffee shops, why not hang out on the other side of the counter as an employee?

What other ways could you make $1,000 FAST?

29Jan

Every Christian Needs a Budget

15 months ago we owed a mountain of it. Now we owe half a mountain of it.

It used to be the only thing we ever fought about.

Now it’s possibly what we’re in the most agreement about.

Money

 

The turning point for us was not adding up the total carnage our student loans (a necessary evil) had caused. It was also not the months and months of not really knowing where our money was going because we always seemed to have what we needed.

The turning point for us came when we realized that managing our money was not primarily a financial issue but a discipleship issue.

In our journey through Dave Ramsey‘s Financial Peace University (which my wife now teaches at our church, like a boss) we realize that we were doing an okay job of honoring God in every part of our lives…except our finances. (Click here to find out where FPU is offered in your area).

We were being selfish, ungrateful, poor stewards of what God has entrusted to us.

The Bible has a lot to say about money, but this one passage has been burned in my memory since the day God started convicting us about the way we were failing in this area. We were sitting at our kitchen table and it hit me like a ton of bricks:

Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, for riches do not last forever; and does a crown endure to all generations? – Proverbs 27:23-24

My mom has sheep in her backyard. Like…actual sheep. Every couple of months she has some new lambs born and she bottle feeds them until they can take milk from their mom.

I, unlike my mother, am not a shepherd. I do not have flocks and herds but I do have debt and income that at times feels like it’s burning a hole in my pocket.

As we looked at the numbers that were looking rather menacingly back at us, I realized I did not “know well the condition of our flocks.”

We didn’t have a budget. I wasn’t “giving attention to our herds.” When we wanted something, we just bought it. We didn’t have extravagant tastes and we didn’t shop a ton, but a bit too much is still…too much.

So we got on a budget. A strict one.

But we didn’t get on a budget because it was the wise thing to do. We didn’t get on a budget because we needed structure. We didn’t even get on a budget because Dave Ramsey told us too.

We got on a budget because we are Christians.

We got a budget because we started living what we said we believed, and what the Bible says is true:

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” – Psalm 24:1

We both make more money now than we did the day we first discovered we needed a budget. We both plan to continue to make more money as we gain more experience and skill in our respective careers.

However, we will never make enough money to not need a budget because we will never stop being borrowers of that which God is eternal owner.

Even if you make truckloads of money, you will one day be held accountable for how you managed it. You and I don’t really own anything as long as God owns everything. We’re managers at best.

It’s been said before, but can you imagine what the world would be like if the Church was debt-free and lived on a budget?

Think of the problems that could be eliminated as a direct result of the way Christians lived in the world, refusing to stockpile treasures in this world.

Nobody in the world would be hungry. No orphan would go neglected and unloved. Churches would not need to have capital campaigns to pay off buildings they can’t afford because they would be filled with people who were more concerned with loving people and furthering the kingdom of God than building bigger barns and fancier buildings.

We all (especially me!) need budgets so we can best manage that which God has entrusted to us.

budgetquote

You can click here for the zero-based monthly cash flow budget template we use every month.

Question: Do you use a budget? If so, how has your experience been? If not, are you pleased with the current state of your finances?

17Nov

5 Reasons Your 20’s Matter

It can’t go on like this.

Adolescence cannot last from 11 years old to 29 years old.

The headlines are everywhere:

Most sociologists view adolescence as beginning at puberty (for some at 11-12 years old) but that’s not the problem. The problem is there is no longer any conceivable end to the age of adolescence.

Adulthood used to be measured by 5 major milestones (completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying, and having a child). Yet these depict a cookie cutter path to adulthood that not everyone takes. (See: You May Never Get Married)

And that’s okay. Some of the most mature people I know have never had children or been married and some of the most irresponsible crazies I know have the most children. But I would argue the first three of those traditional milestones are still really important.

So are 20-somethings just up the creek without a paddle? It’s getting harder and harder to obtain financial freedom. Student loans are a necessary evil for many and that debt can shackle you for decades. Not to mention the degrees you took the loans out to obtain mean less and less all the while more and more education and experience is being required for entry level jobs. Where do you go to work to get the 3-5 years experience that everyone seems to want for you to get a job?

I know the deck can seem stacked against 20-somethings in many ways. But that’s not my concern. I see it almost everyday. Some of my friends have looked at the landscape of their 20’s and simply concluded, “This period of my life doesn’t matter.” And that’s a narrative they have bought into: hook line and sinker.

All this talk about millennials yet so few conversations with them. With that in mind…

5 Reasons Your 20’s Matter

1.) You’re not a teenager anymore. You’re not an “emerging” adult. You’re an adult.

While there is no denying adolescence, it needs to have a definitive ending point. Your 20’s are not simply a continuation of your teenage years. They are not a time to grow up; they are a time to be grown up. I know it can feel like you’re stuck sometimes but real life is happening all around you today. (See: The In-Between Places)

The apostle Paul wrote the following about maturing into adulthood:

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. – 1 Corinthians 13:11

2.) The relationships you make and cultivate in this defining decade will shape the rest of your life..

Many people meet their spouse in their 20’s. Who you date matters because who you marry matters.Your 20’s are not a time to waste time dating losers you know you could never marry. Keep the bar high because if you lower it a whole bunch of jokers will start jumping over and then you’ll have deal with the fall out.

The friends you have in your 20’s are also different than any friends you’ve had before, even if they’re the same people. In high school and college it can be hard to tell who your real friends are because they’re picked largely based on proximity. You go to class together. You live near each other, etc. But once you graduate college and/or start working, you really start to learn who your real friends are. Friendships can be harder to maintain but ultimately more worthwhile.

3.) You’ll gain financial freedom or financial captivity.

Student loans stink. Learn to HATE your debt. Think about all you could do without that amount weighing you down every month. Work hard. Get promotions. Move up the ladder as you’re able and feel comfortable in doing so. Learn how to manage a budget. (See: Chop Wood, Carry Water)

It’s not just a financial issue; it’s a discipleship issue. Everything is God’s. We’re managers at best. Manage well. Your success or failure in this area during this decade will largely determine your financial health for the next three decades. (See: The 1 Thing We Fight About)

4.) You’ll find your sweet spot at work, eventually.

A lot of your 20’s is spent discovering what it is you’re truly passionate about. You’re young enough to switch careers and depending on your personal life situation (married/unmarried, with/without kids, etc.) you can really pursue a wide path. But don’t be afraid to settle in when you find something you love. No situation/job/boss is perfect. (See: Why I Love and Hate Kids Ministry)

In the immortal words of Monica to Rachel, “Welcome to the real world. It sucks. You’re gonna love it.”

5.) Your 20’s are not your own.

You don’t own any part of your life. It’s all a gift of grace. Life with Christ isn’t just for your 30’s and beyond. You’re not even guaranteed to make it to 30.

Your 20’s are a wonderful gift, given to you and me from God. Honor him with these years. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I have had more to be truly grateful for in my 20’s than ever before.

You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (and your 20’s). – 1 Corinthians 6:19b-20  (italicized mine)

Question: What would you add to the list? Why else do the 20’s matter?

19Sep

The NFL Needs a True Leader. So Does the World.

I’m sick of hearing about all the domestic abuse issues swirling around the NFL, and maybe that’s part of the problem. 

Today NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stood up and gave somewhat of an apology for the league’s inept handling of the Ray Rice situation.

However, it failed miserably as an apology.

It seemed forced, disingenuous, and scripted. Goodell’s purposeful misdirection and failed transparency has put himself and the NFL in a terrible light.

New details emerged tonight from an ESPN Outside the Line’s report that were conveniently absent from the commissioner’s address earlier today:

  • Ravens executives were made aware of the Ray Rice assault HOURS after it happened instead of what they originally claimed, that they simply had the testimony of Ray and Janay Rice.
  • A police lieutenant gave Ravens security director a detailed account of the assault while watching the first video, which was later released by TMZ.
  • The Ravens’ owner, president, and GM all petitioned Roger Goodell and the judicial system to have leniency on Ray Rice, which they did, initially.

The only decent man in this whole fiasco, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, requested the immediate release of his STAR running back and the FACE of his FRANCHISE (not an easy guy to cut) upon seeing the video footage. His request was denied by the Ravens owner and GM, a report the Ravens are currently denying – what a surprise. And it was that man, Coach Harbaugh, who the day after the incident was made public was shoved out there to deal with the press when that same owner, president, and GM refused to speak for their actions, or unbelievably lack thereof.

There aren’t enough words in the world to describe the failures of the NFL in general and Roger Goodell in particular over the last several months. But I’m not sure they would be all that helpful even if they could be found.

What the NFL needs is exactly what they don’t have. A leader who is motivated to do the right thing simply because it’s the right thing.

Yet the need is not exclusive to the NFL. Around every corner the world is crying out for true leaders.

When Roger Goodell has chosen to act, it has only been at the prompting of public outcry, or letters written by sponsors threatening to leave a league they will never actually leave since it’s a cash cow.

True leaders lead when it’s necessary, not just when it appears to be beneficial.

True leaders refuse to cover up mistakes in their own leadership or the leadership of others in their organization.

True leaders make the right decisions even when it exposes their own wrong behavior.

The NFL needs real leaders. But so does the world.

How can you be the type of leader the NFL, and more importantly the world, needs?

28Apr

The 1 Thing We Fight About

Does your marriage ever feel more like a UFC fight than a love story?

My wife and I have never really fought that much but when we do it’s always about one thing: money.

We also have one rule when we fight that we’ve both come close to breaking: Nobody can leave. No storming out of the house. No going for a walk. No friend’s house. Everybody stays. We don’t have to be in the same room and we don’t even have to finish the fight right then but nobody leaves.

We’ll celebrate 4 years of marriage together in less than a month. Even though I can count on one hand the times we’ve had fights where we’ve had to remember our one rule, they were all about the same thing, money. All the medium-level fights we’ve ever had have been about the same thing, money. In fact, basically every time we’ve argued about something other than money, we quickly realized that we were really arguing about money.

But that all changed about 6 months ago. Hayley and I went through Dave Ramsey‘s Financial Peace University at our church. We haven’t had a fight about money since. Long story short, we know where every single dollar of our money goes because we have a plan and we work the plan, together. As followers of Jesus, we realized that proper money management was more than just wise marriage advice; it was a discipleship issueClick here to find out where FPU is offered in your area.

I don’t know where you’re at in your marriage or what your financial situation is. But I do know there are tremendous benefits from being on the same page financially. It’s an absolute must.

4 Thoughts on Being Financially Unified in Marriage:

  • You build trust and intimacy when you work toward a financial goal togethedavestip_marathonr. This is true regardless of what age and stage you are in your marriage. Right now, we’re in the debt payoff stage. We’re gazelle intense, as Dave would say. You might be in a different spot. Maybe you’re saving for a house. Maybe you’re looking to give more than you ever have or trying to retire early. Whatever it is, working hard at it together will make anything in your marriage seem possible. Unfortunately,the opposite is also true. Doing it apart makes everything in your marriage seem impossible.

 

  • davestip_budgetDisagreeing isn’t always fighting. After several half-hearted attempts that fell apart over categories like shopping, eating out, and…baseball tickets, we finally sat down and made a full budget. We told every single dollar that comes in the front door where it goes. (You can download the same budget template we use every month here). As we wrestled through the budget-making process we were tempted to quit because we mistook disagreements for arguing. It’s not a fight when one spouse wants to spend less per month on clothing or more on entertainment than the other. It’s just something you need to work through…together.

 

 

davestip_marriage

 

  • When you fight with your spouse about money you’re really losing a fight against your own selfishness. Don’t be mistaken: it takes 2 people to fight. Even if you feel you’re only 3% wrong, you’re still 3% wrong. Focus on serving and loving your spouse and let them focus on serving and loving you.

 

 

davestip

  • Being on the same page about money helps you dream together. Clearly communicating about money means you’re clearly communicating about your dreams. Before you know it, your love for each other is growing in the trenches of life, fighting and scratching toward your dreams…together.

 

 

How do you and your spouse make sure you’re on the same page about money?

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