Tag Archives: balance sheet

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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Teen Business Owners- Part One: While Growing Up

When I was younger I remember teachers asking me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It was a legitimate question. They were trying to get me to think ahead, get into the practice of thinking about my #Financial Future. This is an important aspect of growing into a well-rounded, contributing adult.

What bothered me is they never phrased the question in a way that impressed upon me that I didn’t have to “grow up” in order to be something. They could have asked, “What do you want to be right now?”, and used my answer to show me how I can create a career for myself right away.
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Many of us are familiar with Proverbs 22:6 which says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it”. Obviously we see this verse as telling us we need to train our child in the Way of the Bible, and that is 100% accurate. Reading the five verses before it shows that this passage is mainly concerned with being sure the child is trained in the ways of strong #spiritual character.

But, why didn’t my teachers and other adults in my life think to themselves to use lessons in business ownership as a way to mold me in both future career concerns as well as spiritual matters? If they had asked me, “What business would you start right now if you could?” I would have told them “a dance squad” or “running errands for people in the neighborhood”. This would have been their opportunity to explain to me:
1. How I’d go about finding other teens to join my business
2. How to attain clients
3. The importance of being honest in my business dealings
4. How to manage an income, etc.

Let’s say a young lady of ten years old wants to start a lemonade stand. Her parents can sit with her to decide a work schedule, price, location of the stand and also what to do with the money earned.
The average American ten year old is well-practiced at asking, “Mom can you buy me that toy?” In this parent’s mind, children of this age should also know intimately how long it takes to earn the money for said toy. If she owned a lemonade stand she’d look back at her many hours sitting on the sideaalk waiting for customers, the energy it took to make pitcher after pitcher of lemonade after mom and dad’s friends bought it all. She’d remember the thankful mailman who bought two cups, the draining effect of the weather on her energy and of course the thrill of counting her money at the end of the day. And, of course, she would appreciate her earnings more because she sacrificed her Saturday cartoons in order to work her business. Of course, let’s not forget, this young lady would learn how much of her profits should be put back into the business in order to cover the expenses for the next two weeks, next month, etc.

Our children should be educated in these things when they’re young so that “when they are old they will not depart from” them. Imagine how much better off the American #economy would be today if our citizens were better trained in #entrepreneurship (and all it entails) during their elementary, junior high and high school years.

If a fifth grader started a business and continued his entrepreneurship through his high school graduation he would have seven years of business experience which his peers lack. He would already have a resume whereas his college-bound peers would only be starting their real-life education at the local burger joint.

Imagine where you would be right now if you’d had seven years of business ownership experience right out the gate after your high school graduation! That is a BIG step up ahead of the competition.

Do you not want that for your children?

Adults, I think it is time to stop asking our precious young ones what they want to be WHEN they grow up.

Let’s ask them, “What do you want to be WHILE growing up?”

What’s Your “#Business Calling”?

I was browsing a Google+ community called “Christians in Business” earlier today. I came across a new post where one member, Carey Green, ask a question directly to another member. Here is Carey’s question and the resulting open, honest reply.

 Q: What’s the mission the LORD has given you as it pertains to business?

 A: I love the question and it’s one that, as Christians in Business, we should all be asking ourselves.  First, all of us have the same mission. We should all be spending as much time spreading God’s word and encouraging others, as we spend promoting our profiles and our businesses.

Am I doing this in my own life?  The honest answer is, No.”  Like many Christians In Business, I am a good person, I don’t steal or commit crimes and I genuinely want everyone to be successful.  Where I struggle is how to use my business and my talents to increase God’s Kingdom.  It is something that I pray about often. I sometimes ask myself, “Is my life, being led by God, or by my own ego?”  I do know that I want to help other Christians in Business to succeed.  My guess is that God also wants more from me.  I am praying and hoping that 2014 will bring more opportunities for me to open the eyes of others who need it. I greatly appreciate being asked this question today… thank you Carey Green 

 Wow! There’s today’s heaping dose of brutal honesty.

 Both the question and its answer are important, especially in today’s world. Christian business owners have a responsibility to spread the Word, period. Too often we consider our business to be separate from the Great Commission, it’s not. Here’s why I say this without apology.

 First, the Great Commission itself says so in Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Did you notice there’s no clause allowing business owners to opt out? We’ve been given a command, not an option, by the Creator wrapped in human flesh- MAKE DISCIPLES, period.

Having a business doesn’t allow you to pass on this command. In fact your business should be seen as a tool for spreading His Word, not a hindrance to doing so.

Think about this: Do you think God would put you in business if that business prevents you from spreading His Word?

How can you spread the Word while going about the busy day of a business owner? Here’s an easy suggestion- play Christian music in your place of business. Your customers will notice, and may ask questions. When they ask you have the opportunity to answer, share your testimony or share something amazing God’s done in your life.

(insert referee with both hands raised straight up here)

Some may threaten to “do business elsewhere if you keep playing that Jesus music”. Of course this is a legitimate concern for any Christian business owner. However, we are supposed to be trusting in Him, not our potential customers and the dollars they bring with them. A creative way to handle this threat is to reply with something like, “Tell ya what. My Jesus music isn’t going to stop, but, I’ll give you 5% off any time you choose to do business with me. And you can feel free to question me about my faith any time you want. Deal?”

If they accept, you will have accomplished two things. First, you’ve kept a customer which is good for business. Second, and more important, you’ve left the door open for discussions about your relationship with Christ. Hello!! What could be better?!

I’m not saying the only mission of business owners is to tell the message of Christ. We all need to make money, pay bills and take care of our families. These are also Christian responsibilities. But, we stray when we fail to remain focused on His mission for us and, instead, think of our own selfish, money-motivated, status-motivated vision.

In the honest answer to the original question, our business owner admitted he struggles with “how to use my business and my talents to increase God’s Kingdom”. What really strikes me as important is that he also said, “It is something I pray about often”.

 

(may we all develope the same habit)

James 5:16

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

1 Thessalonians 5:17- Never stop praying.

These are two of my favorite verses. They remind me that as a Godly business owner my prayers are powerful and will cause Godly, positive things to happen.

Q: Confused about how to use your business?

A: You, business owner, need go remain focused on your relationship with Christ. This will result in a righteous life which yields prayers that cause powerful things to happen in your life and through your business. 

If I were to answer Carey’s question, I’d have to say that my Business Calling is to:

1. Help God’s People Use God’s Money at God’s Direction

&

2. Help business owners Grow and Protect their businesses.

While…

3. Spreading the Word of God.

Many thanks to Carey Green for posting this question. Feel free to check out his podcasts at http://www.podcastfasttrack.com

How To Shop Frugally

Proverbs 22:3 A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.In today’s world it seems that danger is always close. Financial woes are only one accident away. It makes sense to put aside money for those unexpected and inevitable events. Let’s dive into ways that will allow you to put aside as much as God’s money as possible.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.

How do you accomplish frugal spending?

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First, pawn shops.  These stores are very underrated.  My wife and I frequently shop at a pawn shop next to our apartment. Since we both love buying movies we were thrilled that this shop sells DVDs & Blue-rays for less than $5. We 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 great just because they are priced lower than their brand-new counterparts. Also, we love knowing we are getting the most bang for our 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 are 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: noun \’thrift\ prudent use of money and goods: the sensible and cautious management of money and good in order to waste as little as possible and obtain maximum value.

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 many more. 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.

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, frugal shopping!

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Living Frugally Through The Struggle- Part Two

After selling a lot of my possessions and reducing my expenses, I suddenly felt stuck. What else could I do in order to keep increasing my meager savings and get ahead financially? Then it hit me; I could use my talents. I had always been told I should be a teacher, so I decided to teach what I knew – martial arts and hip hop dance. I put a low-cost ad in the paper and before long, my phone was ringing, with future students on the other end on the line. While this didn’t bring home a ton of money, it was enough that I started paying off some of the debt caused by the identity thief. I got a secured Visa in order to start rebuilding my credit and I started a savings account with around $300…and at that point, $300 was a lot of money in my world! I finally felt like things were looking up.

One very important event helped me tremendously.  A friend told me about a monthly plan that would allow me access to attorneys who could advise me on my situation.  Only five minutes into the DVD presentation I hit pause, got online, and signed up.  As mentioned in part one of this blog, I was arrested multiple times for crimes I never committed, each time paying bail to be released.  The law firm was able to refund my bail on four of the six occasions.  I then repaid family and friends from whom the bail money had come. The attorneys also spoke to the IRS on my behalf and proved that I didn’t owe the taxes they were seeking. I was very impressed with everything the attorneys did for me. That fact led to my next frugal decision…network marketing. I asked my friend how to make money with the company. She explained, I signed up, and within three months I earned three promotions and three raises. Enter massive sigh of relief and a sense of accomplishment.

I continued shopping at thrift stores and clearance racks while marketing the legal plan. I still bought the lowest-priced fuel and went to free – or almost free – events with my son.  I only used my secured Visa after sending a payment in the amount I planned to spend and I saved as much as possible.  I still ran into setbacks but I pushed forward.  Eventually I reached an income level that allowed me to get an apartment and purchase a used vehicle, 100% cash. I’d like to say that was the end of the story but it was not. However, I had reached a point where I could relax and felt zero financial anxiety. There would be many more years of suffering the consequences of the thief’s actions. But through it all, Living Frugally played an important role in helping me bounce back and rise above!

Thinking back to this traumatic event, throughout which I spent less than I made, reminds me of Proverbs 21: 20— The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.

PS: When I started this ministry I intended to never mention where a person could get the legal plan I mentioned in this blog. I made this decision because it seemed very self-serving because I am now an associate of the company, selling the legal plan products. However, i know it helped me out of a serious financial bind. And, isn’t what this blog site and my ministry are a ll about? So, here is a link to my site. Look around, check out the videos and write to me if you have questions. let God- not me- be your guide when it comes to deciding if the membership is right for you and your loved ones.

http://www.ebright.legalshield.com