Month: October 2012

Day 31: Financial Freedom Series Recap!

Today is the last day of the 31 day series on Financial Freedom. We made it my friends! Huzzah!

This month we talked about how to plan and make goals, create a budget, get out of debt, save for the future — which brings you to a position where you can give money away. We also talked about how to decorate for fall on a budget, maximize your clothing budget and stretch your grocery dollars. We heard from four personal finance super stars. And we learned what the Bible says about planning, budgeting, debt, and giving.

Did you enjoy it? Did you learn anything? Did it spur up anything in your life that you may want to change or take a closer look at? If one person answered yes to any of those questions, then I’ll consider it a success. :)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pass out because writing 31 days in a row is exhauuusting! ;)

This is the last and final post of the 31 Days of Financial Freedom series. Thanks so much for reading! 

Day 30: Fitting Giving Into Your Budget

We have been blessed to live in a country where it’s normal to have a $150 phone and cars that are worth $20,000. Compared to the rest of the world, we have been showered with riches and blessings.

I think everyone should a portion of their budget to give away each month.

I like to call it Character Insurance. Giving your money away keeps you from turning into a greedy, selfish hoarder. Instead it allows you to look at the world and see a need, and then fill it with your money or your time. There’s something so rewarding about knowing you are able to create change and give hope to people who otherwise may not have it.

The amount of money you should give from your budget is up to you. Some people start with 10%, but if that’s too high for you, try 5% for a month and see how it goes. I don’t think it’s the amount that’s important, but getting into the habit of thinking of setting aside a portion each month is good.

As for where to give, find an organization or cause that you are passionate about. Or just give it to a friend or family member that needs it! When you start to look around for who needs money, I guarantee you it won’t take long to find someone who would be blessed by your generosity. Personally I give the majority of my monthly giving to my local church because I think that is God’s instrument for building up my faith and bringing others to Himself. And I also trust it. I know that when I give, they are going to manage it properly and use it for God’s kingdom. But there are a few other organizations and missionaries I support because likewise I believe in their mission and want to help.

Here are a few categories you can start with:

  • Animals
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Education
  • Environemnt
  • Health
  • Human Services
  • International
  • Public Benefit
  • Religion

For most of us, our excuse is that we can’t afford to give. There’s always something that we need to pay for. I would ask that you test that. Try to give next month, in faith, and see if you’re able to make ends meet. For some of us, we could definitely make ends meet, but it would be cramping into our luxurious lifestyle. Ooooh. That’s where it gets uncomfortable, for myself included. But maybe that is a good thing? To give up, not necessarily our money, but also our wants and desires for someone else’s gain? That is love. And if we give sacrificially, I think we’ll end up gaining back more blessings that we may realize.

This is day 30 of a 31-day series on Financial Freedom. Click here to see the page with all of the posts listed. Thanks for reading!

(photo credit)

Day 29: The Greatest Gift

I named this 31-day series Financial Freedom for a reason, because there is a way that you can be financial free. And it doesn’t come from gaining wealth.

Many people think that if you plan, create budgets, get out of debt, save for the future, and continue to gain wealth that you will become financially free… but it won’t. There’s no freedom in getting rich. You’ll just want more. As soon as you reach your financial goal, there’s another one to reach. I have seen this in my life — as soon as I reached a financial goal, I want more. The $1,000 that took me months to save up for suddenly didn’t seem enough.

Freedom comes from giving it away.

Now, I know some of you aren’t religious and tune out with Jesus jargon. But can you pay attention for just a little longer? Because this is the gospel. This is the Good News. And I can’t talk about freedom without sharing with you how to become truly free.

We all deserve death. All of us. Even you, the one who thinks you are good — you aren’t. None of us does what is right, myself included. And God is perfect. Holy. Separate, Righteous. Good. He is so holy that anyone with sin would perish in His presence. But He loved us sinful, awful people so much that He sent his son Jesus into this world to live a perfect death and die a terrible death and rise back from the grave so that if we merely accept this gift, God will pardon us and give us the undeserving abundant and eternal life He promises us. Jesus took the death that we deserved, and that is the greatest gift ever given.

And when you realize all that God went through to save you? After you realize He gave Himself as the ultimate sacrifice for your sinful self? The natural response is to worship. Thank him. Give back in a spirit of worship and thanksgiving. Praise Him for His love, compassion, and gift. And tell others about this amazing grace.

I give back because I have been given much.

Ironically, my pastor just preached on money and giving this past weekend at my church. I highly recommend listening to the sermon, if you have a chance. Think about a time when you may be able to listen — at work as you’re doing data-entry, on your commute, while you are cleaning at home, or before you go to bed. It’s very good.

This is post 29 of a 31-day series on Financial Freedom. Click here for all of the posts in the series. Thanks for reading!

Day 28: What the Bible Says About Giving

Happy Sunday! This week I wanted to share what the Bible says about giving, which we will be talking more about tomorrow. The Bible is very clear on its instructions to believers — give. Give away your money, your belongs, your time. Have a wonderful, restful Sunday!

Deuteronomy 15:10
Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.

Deuteronomy 16:17
Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.

1 Chronicles 29:9
Then the people rejoiced because they had offered so willingly, for they made their offering to the Lord with a whole heart, and King David also rejoiced greatly.

Proverbs 3:9-10
Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.

Proverbs 3:27

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.

Proverbs 11:24-25
There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.

Proverbs 21:26
…the righteous gives and does not hold back.

Proverbs 22:9
He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.

Proverbs 28:27

He who gives to the poor will never want, but he who shuts his eyes will have many curses.

Malachi 3:10
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

Matthew 6:3-4
But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Mark 12:41-44
And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent.Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”

Luke 3:11
And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.”

Luke 6:30
Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.

Luke 6:38
Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.

Acts 20:35
In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Romans 12:8
…Or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.

2 Corinthians 9:10
Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness;

Galatians 6:7
Do not be deceived,God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.

Philippians 4:15-17
And you yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; for even in Thessalonica you send a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account.

James 2:15-16
If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?

This is day 28 of a 31 day series on Financial Freedom. Check this page for a list of all posts. Thanks for reading! xo

Day 27: A Story on the Fear that Money Can Create

Once there was a people who surveyed the resources of the world and said to each other: “How can we be sure that we will have enough in hard times? We want to survive whatever happens. Let us start collecting food, materials, and knowledge so that we are safe and secure when a crisis occurs.”

So they started hoarding, so much and so eagerly that the other peoples protested and said: “You have so much more than you need, while we don’t have enough to survive. Give us part of your wealth!” But the fearful hoarders said: “No, no, we need to keep this in case of an emergency, in case things go bad for us too, in case our lives are threatened.” But the others said: “We are dying now, please give us food and materials and knowledge to survive. We can’t wait… we need it now!”

Then the fearful hoarders became even more fearful, since they became afraid that the poor and hungry would attack them. So they said to one another: “Let us build walls around our wealth so that no stranger can take it from us.” They started erecting walls so high that they could not even see anymore whether their enemies were outside the walls or not!

As their fear increased, they told each other: “Our enemies have become so numerous that they may be able to tear down our walls. Our walls are not strong enough to keep them away. We need to put bombs at the top of the walls so that nobody will dare to even come close to us.” But instead of feeling safe and secure behind their armed walls they found themselves trapped in the prison they had built with their own fear. they even became afraid of their own bombs, wondering if they might harm themselves more than their enemy. And gradually they realized their fear of death had brought them closer to it.

Story by Henri J. M. Nouwen, taken from Kisses from Katie

What good is it to have wealth, unless you share it with those who need it?

This is post #28 of a 31 Day series on Financial Freedom. Click here to read the other posts.

Day 26: Financial Success Story: Q&A with Debt Ninja

Happy Friday everyone! I cannot tell you how happy I am that the weekend is almost here. For our last Friday post in the series, I have the privilege to interview Debt Ninja, a fellow personal finance blogger (who below says his biggest challenge is saving too much — poor fellow:). So here’s a little Q&A with the hilarious Debt Ninja:

Where do you live?
I live just outside of Seattle, WA. Moved here last summer after spending 8 years in San Diego, CA. Sometimes I wonder why I made the move, but then I’m reminded by my cheap rent and no state income tax :)

When did you first get interested in your finances?
Shortly after I graduated college I chatted with a good friend about Roth IRAs. He told me how awesome they were, and why I needed one. I looked up some information on them online. Started reading personal finance blogs. And have been hooked ever since.

What is the biggest spending temptation for you?
Saving too much. We save like 60% of our pay between retirement and savings accounts. That’s pretty excessive. I love saving, but at some point we need to remember to enjoy our money. Who wants $10,000,000 in the bank when you are 65, if it means you have to eat Top Ramen for the next 40 years?

If I gave you $100 to spend, what would you buy? 

What would you say is your biggest success / accomplishment in your finances?
I have two:
1) Paying off my student loan. I had $28,000 of debt. It took me four years to accumulate it, but only two years to pay it off. Pretty proud I paid off my student loan in two, and not the twenty years, Sallie Mae allowed.
2) Doing well for ourselves. Girl Ninja and I are fortunate to have a six-figure income at 25 and 27 years old, respectively. We are a few months away from having $100,000 in our savings account. We contribute over 15% to retirement each month. We live simply (rent is 16% of take home pay) and have paid for cars. Even though our income is generous, we try and keep perspective knowing it can be taken away at any moment if the big man upstairs so chooses.

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Vanilla. Yes, I am that lame.

What’s your blog?
Punch Debt In The Face. I also created, a pinterest type site for men. It’s only six months old, but already waaaaaay more popular than PDITF.

Thanks again for sharing! Hope everyone has a great weekend.

This is the 26th post of a 31-day series on Financial Freedom. Click here to see all of the posts.

Day 25: Saving for Retirement

Saving for retirement is hard. If we have a hard time saving for Christmas (two months from today!), then how much harder it is to save for a date that is years, maybe decades away? But it’s really important to start saving now. Remember compound interest? The earlier you start, the more time it has to grow.

There are two main types of retirement accounts — pre-tax and post-tax accounts. I found this very handy infographic on the difference between the 401(k) and a Roth IRA. It pretty much sums up what I was going to write today. :)

This is post 25 of a 31-day series on Financial Freedom. Click here to see all of the posts.