Monthly Archives: January 2015

The #Frugal Life: Mute The #Commercials

I clearly remember Super Bowl Sunday 2013, not because of the game, the highlights, the commercials, or the advertised specials. I remember it well because all the commercials were muted!

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I know that many of you are pretty shocked right now.

You see, a couple from church opened their home to anyone who wanted to watch the game and just hang out. In order to make it more interesting, the couple created an environment where – during commercials – the TV was muted and someone would talk about something they were thankful for, how God blessed their life, or something they just wanted to share with their friends. What does this have to do with Living Frugally? Everything!

I love John 16:13
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. (NLTse)
If we say we are Christians then we are to be guided by the third member of the Triune God- the Holy Spirit. Often The Spirit speaks to us like a small voice reminding us of our priorities, goals, mission, etc. Advertizing for the newest gadgets, upgrades, new features etc. become competitors for our attention. The Spirit will not force Himself on us so many times the big sales and allure of shiny new toys wins out- tragic!

There is a reason retailers pay millions per second to advertise during the Super Bowl. It is the same reason that Super Bowl commercials are so much more creative than any other time of year. The marketers realize that it is the most watched sporting event in the world and therefore, it serves as their best opportunity to get into your pockets. You’re glued to the tube and they know it!

At the party I attended there was zero opportunity for these retailers to influence our buying decisions. I was free to remain in a thankful mindset, enjoying time spent with other Christians and therefore open to The Spirit’s voive. I was not tempted to spend based on an emotional response to advertizing creativity. However, the neighbors next door, whose TVs were not muted, were subjected to creative attempts at infiltrating their wallets, bank accounts, and credit cards.

Resist the Temptation

The power in having the ability to ‘just say no’ cannot be overstated. Imagine the temptations you would avoid if you decided, before hand, that you are going to say no to all advertising during Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, New Year’s, and Super Bowl Sunday!

It brings to mind the fact that many folks who have a desire to save, live frugally, invest, etc. are sometimes thrown off track by a commercial designed to do just that…throw them off track!

How many dreams have been wrecked because of one unplanned purchase which leads to regular unplanned spending? I imagine the answer is in the millions.

A well planned budget doesn’t include reaction or emotion-based spending. It is the result of a disciplined mindset that recognizes the importance of saying no to creative marketing ploys. My advice to those determined to live the frugal life? Mute the Commercials!

What about you , BBM reader:

*Are you able to tune out the commercials or do you occasionally fallen victim to those wily advertisers?
*What’s your plan for resisting New Year’s and Super Bowl advertizing tactics?
*Got helpful tips for your fellow BBM audience?

I’d love to hear your ideas!

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The Frugal Life: Put Away Your Money, Your #Doctor May Be Wrong!

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I have two slipped and torn disks in my lower back. For those with medical knowledge, they are between my L4, L5 & S1. For those that are not, they are just above my tail bone. I also have scoliosis in between my shoulder blades. Needless to say this is a painful situation, especially on days when both conditions hurt at the same time. January 24, 2015 will be my 40th birthday and I find it difficult to do certain things I really enjoy like teaching hip hop dance/choreography, 110 meter hurdles, martial arts tournaments, and even stuff I don’t enjoy like long distance running. (Any race longer than 110 meters is just insane!)

I had very reluctantly accepted the idea that I’d never again win another martial arts trophy or compete in #CrossFit® games in the future. For someone who’s been athletic ever since birth this is depressing and annoying. The mental frustration is sometimes more painful than the injuries themselves.

Several months ago a friend showed me a #YouTube video of a man who was told by multiple doctors that he’d “never walk without a crutch again.” This man has a wife and children. He felt helpless to provide for his family as any good husband does. The mental strain of being so limited would bring him to tears at times. I can relate to his psychological battle.

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Ready for the good news? He heard there were exercises that could fix his knee injuries! That’s not a typo and before you say it’s impossible, keep reading. As I watched this video I witnessed this determined father doing the exercises he’d heard about. He strained to get his body into the Yoga-like positions. He fell over again and again. However, by the end of the video he was not just walking unaided by the crutches, but RUNNING!

My point is that your doctor may be totally wrong in his/her prognosis. It happens all the time. Doctors are flawed human beings who make mistakes in their offices and on the operating table. They are not perfect, yet, we act as if they are. They say take the pills and we do it, they say “it’s incurable” and we believe it. They say “you’ll never teach martial arts again” and I say “I’ve had enough.” Enough paying for follow-up visits to their offices, enough of paying to see specialists, enough of paying to remain injured, missing out on the many activities that help keep me healthy. And especially enough of paying for medication that only helps me deal with pain by putting me to sleep. I’ll keep my money in the bank and fund my retirement accounts, save for my child’s education, save for vacations, and fund my gym membership, thank you very much. I will focus on maintaining my fiscal and physical health!

As a Christian I believe in following God’s lead in everything, health included. And who knows the inner workings of your body better than God? Nobody!

Psalm 139:13 & 14
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!

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Persistence
It is not mere coincidence that there are hundreds of YouTube videos of folks defying the conventional medical wisdom. Is the hopelessness offered by the medical community something to be held onto? Are we supposed to accept a life less livable, less active, and less fun based on the opinion of a flawed human just because they have more training and a piece of paper hanging on their office wall?

I certainly refuse to do so. I am done being one of the medical field’s statistics. I want to join those folks who never gave up, beat the odds, and proved the doctors wrong. Just as there are those that say you can never be wealthy – the naysayers – there are those that say you have to accept what a doctor tells you. Not so. Therefore, my new routine towards dealing with these injuries – and consequently saving wads of money – begins today, March 15th, 2014.

I’ll update you on my progress and the money I save along the way. CrossFit® games, here comes Taz Bright!

The Frugal Life: #Frugalite Shopping

Save Reuse Recycle

Luke 14: 28-33 But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you.They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it! ’ “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.

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If you are determined to live a frugal lifestyle it is essential that you learn the art of purchasing items at the lowest possible prices.

Doing so allows you to keep a higher percentage of your #paycheck; therefore, allowing more for paying off debt, saving, and investing. This is what allows you to build a strong financial situation. So how do you accomplish frugal spending?

First, pawn shops. These stores are very underrated. I frequently shop at a pawn shop in my neighborhood. Since I love buying movies I am thrilled that my favorite pawn shop sells DVDs & blu-rays for less than $5. I can buy three movies for the price of one brand new movie at popular store chains.

The movies haven’t been shortened, altered, or otherwise made any less entertaining just because they are priced lower than their brand-new counterparts. Also, I love knowing I am getting the most bang for my hard-earned bucks.

Second, #thrift stores. Along with pawn shops, these stores are a great resource for clothing, furniture, electronics, and power tools. There is a thrift store in my neighborhood where I can buy a jacket, tie, slacks, and dress shirt for less than $5. Yes, all those items for less than $5!

You may be thinking these items may be off brand, unimpressive rags that I would not wear in public. You would be wrong. I’m talking about brands like Perry Ellis, Liz Claiborne, and many others. Of course, off brands are also available. However, if you are dedicated to living frugally, the brand’s name should not matter at all.

Thrift: prudent use of money and goods: the sensible and cautious management of money and goods in order to waste as little as possible and obtain maximum value.

Thrifty Shopping

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Imagine that you have $50 set aside for clothes. You can go to a famous chain store and purchase one, maybe two outfits. Conversely, you can go to a thrift store and spend $10 for similar items. That is the art of Frugal Shopping! And of course you cannot get any more frugal than free. I like to browse the free section of Craigslist every now and then. Over the years I have acquired things like glass shelves, vases, a mattress, indoor plants, clothes, shoes, couches, a TV, and loads of other items at zero cost. It would be difficult to add up the monetary savings I have achieved over the years. Also, the barter section of craigslist is very helpful. Why not exchange something you are willing to get rid of for something you want or need? Bartering allows you to acquire items without taking away from your bank account to do so.

If you want to keep more of your paycheck and become a frugal shopper, the first step is to search for thrift stores and pawn shops in your area; and pay them a visit.

Happy, Frugalite shopping!

The Frugal Life: Give #Plasma, Save #Lives And Get Out Of #Debt

When someone asks how they are supposed to get  out of debt I give them several helpful tips including one that I think is underrated and often forgotten…Give Blood/Plasma.

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I live about eight miles from a facility that pays around $25 every time I donate blood. Following the rules and regulations I can give blood twice a week without posing any danger to myself. (Side Note: It is very important not to give blood too often because you can do serious damage to your body and even die from it so please follow the guidelines of your blood donation center.)

Giving plasma twice a week would yield $50 to put toward getting out of debt or increasing assets. A maxed-out credit card with a $500 limit (+ interest) would be paid off in just over 9 weeks. A $50 weekly payment towards the principal of a car note would help pay off the vehicle sooner and help reduce total #interest payments. Paying off such debts frees you from #slavery to creditors. Proverbs 22:7 is worth reading concerning this concept.

Thinking of investing in stocks? Deposit that $50 into a brokerage account, like Scottrade.com each week until you’ve accumulated the total amount you wish to invest. You’ve just created an #asset without going into debt to do so.

Not only does giving plasma or blood help you support a frugal lifestyle but you literally give the gift of life.

We are all familiar with the economic impact of a bread-winner dying. What if you gave blood, saved a bread-winner and therefore kept a family out of debt and above the poverty line?

Proverbs 19:17 states If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord —and he will repay you! (NLT)

God Himself has told us we’ll be repaid for helping those who need assistance. Does this mean you’ll be rich as a result of being generous? No, but it does mean God’s paying attention to your every action and will reward you with friendships, great health, His guidance and protection and maybe money as well. His repayment comes in many shapes and sizes, it’s not limited to monetary wealth.

Imagine a child dying from loss of blood. Not only is this emotionally traumatic, it affects work performance which then affects one’s wallet.

Giving blood or plasma not only saves physical lives but boosts the global economy as well. I challenge you to search for the blood donation centers near you. Ask if they offer payment for donations. Give blood/plasma, save lives & get out of debt!

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What about you, BBM reader? Have you ever given blood/plasma as a way to help others and/or increase your income? If not, would you consider it now that you’ve read this post? I’d love to hear your stories.