Tag Archives: career

BBM Interviews Mary Johnson: A College Student’s Money Perspective

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Mary Johnson is the daughter of Lisa and Darren Johnson, a Godly couple my wife and I befriended while attending Calvary CHapel of Idaho Falls, ID. Both parents are hard-working, dedicated to God and very friendly to those around them. It is no surprise that their work ethic and perspective on money has been passed down to their daughter who exhibits discipline, kindness and a great head on her shoulders. I am very glad to have interviewed this young lady. Keep reading and you’ll see why.

BBM: Is the Bible one of your Financial Education sources? Why or why not?

Mary: Yes. If I use the Bible to guide other aspects of my life like avoiding sin or loving others, I can apply it to my finances. Dave Ramsey helped me see how much the Bible actually talks about money.

BBM: Do you believe that small business contributes positively to the economy? If yes, how so?

Mary: I’m not too educated on this topic, but yes I do. I think it allows average people to have a say regarding governments laws on business and have- even though it may be small- a piece of the market “pie”.

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BBM: How do you manage your finances? (Examples: Financial adviser, spreadsheets, envelope system, checkbook register, a combination of tools, or something else)

Mary: I currently use a form of the envelope system. At the beginning of the month, I estimate how much I’ll make and list all of my expenses, including “fun money”. The most important things are at the top: tithe, gas, and other bills. Every dollar gets accounted for, before I even spend a dollar. I then get out some categories in cash, like tithe and my fun” money. Some of the other expenses are only on my card, like my phone payment and gas. If I have any left over at the end of the month, it either goes towards savings or towards next months expenses. I’ve been told that it takes time to really perfect this system, but so far I’ve enjoyed it. It takes away a lot of my spending guilt when I know what I have in my wallet is what I can spend:)

BBM: At what age did you begin to form a “Financial Freedom mindset”?

Mary: I began this mindset literally 7 weeks ago, so age 18.

BBM: Why do you believe financial wisdom is important?

Mary: Debt has the power to steal away so much peace. It can ruin marriages, keep people stuck doing something they didn’t want to do in life, and above all, it can keep one from pursuing the Lords calling. If i know I have the power to avoid all that, I’m going to take advantage of it. Wouldn’t you?

BBM: How do you feel about credit cards as a young lady getting ready to enter college?

Mary: I know I could go my entire life without ever needing one. I know that sounds crazy, but if I plan on never needing loans for anything, I don’t need to “build my credit”. They can be OK if you have good self discipline and are maybe at a later stage in life than I’m currently positioned, but for college students, I recommend they stay far away from them.

BBM: Is “giving back” part of your future financial strategy? If yes, how so? If no, do you think it should be added to your plan?

Mary: Yes. Tithing has always been something I have done since I got my first paycheck. Besides tithing, I believe it is important to be open financially to give if an opportunity comes along. My dream is to be able to give back by going on a mission (or multiple) and though you’re going to serve others, you have to pay your way out there.

BBM: Have you read the book “Do Hard Things”? If yes, did you enjoy it? If no, would you read it if it was bought for you?

Mary: Yes! I love it.

BBM: Do you think society expects too little of adolescents & teens?

Mary: Definitely. Still being in the teens myself, I feel the drag of society pulling on me saying you don’t need to be responsible, you’re young. You can’t really do much anyway”. As a result, our young people feel that they can’t accomplish anything until later, so they usually don’t even try. What would our world be like if young people took a stand and started really doing the hard stuff while they were young?.

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That is a perfect question to pose at the ending of this interview. It is a question that both parents and their adolescent/teen children should ask themselves. Let’s stop acting as if our young ones cannot achieve extraordinary things. In fact, let’s start requiring it of them!!

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Teen Business Owners-Part Four: The Stigma of Network Marketing

“Word of mouth is still the best advertizing”.

“Most people look for work, successful people form networks”.

Both these quotes were part of a conversation I took part in with two other business owners the other day. And these comments are not uncommon.

It is a well-accepted fact among Entreprenuers that people spreading their positive opinions about your business is the best form of advertizing. It’s highly effective, mainly because people trust recommendations from their friends a great deal more than commercials, newspaper ads or celebrety endorsements. Also, one of the main advantages to the business owner is that this highly effective form of advertizing is completely free!

Think of the most successful business owners in your community and the world. Do they stay to themselves, work alone or avoid associating with people? No, they don’t. Instead, they create teams and groups aka, Networks.

Yes, there have been network marketing companies who’ve sullied the industry with unethical behavior. And, folks have run with this fact saying that all network marketing is a scam, a pyramid scheme or some other illegal form of money making.

But, do we make this generality when we experience a horrible meal at just one restaurant? Or, does one car wreck mean all cars are not to be trusted? Obviously the answer is no!

The benefits of network marketing are proven and varied. Donald Trump and Robert Kiyosaki both defend network marketing in their book, “Why We Want You To Be Rich”. Robert Kiyosaki’s book, “The Business of the 21st Century” is cover to cover about why network marketing is the business of the future. Personally I think the track record of these business men is cause to, in the very least, investigate the Network Marketing industry.

Picture yourself and your children standing at a fork in the road. On the left you see a sign that says “Employment in an industry that brings a bit over average pay”. On the right the sign says “Extraordinarily high income, travel, debt-free living- as long as you work hard”. I cannot imagine a single parent reading those signs telling their children to choose the left side of the fork. Do you? Of course they wouldn’t. All parents want their children to achieve extraordinary success. Well, according to the congressman I mentioned, this type of success is available through Network Marketing for those willing to step outside the norm, be coachable and work hard.

I remember a while back a well-meaning friend heard that I am a network marketer. His advice to me was to not do it because “the number of people who really succeed” is really low. First, this was a friend who had ever researched the industry. Like many folks he based his conclusion on hearsay, news reports and the fact that he knew a hand-full of people who had failed in their network marketing business. Let’s consider a few folks who tried and tried again despite the low odds of success: Abraham Lincoln, the Wright Broghters, Nelson Mandella, Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kiyosaki, Donald Trump, Roger Bannister, Jackie Robinson, Lee Iacocca, Neal Armstrong, Spud Webb and Harriet Tubman. The list could go on for pages and pages.

How dare we look our friends and also our youth and tell them not to aim for something extraordinary and unconventional because the odd of success are low. I can tell you first-hand that the reaons most people fail at network marketing is because they do not put forth the same amount of energy and time they would put forth in a traditional job. That’s not a flaw in the industry, it’s laziness and fear on the part of the participant.

Have you ever visited http://www.bbb.org and investigated the ratings of network marketing businesses. Legal Shield is a network marketing company I’m a part of and they have the highest Better Business Bureau rating of A+. Mary Kay Inc. shares this same rating. A while back Legal Shield enjoyed the honor of receiving a letter from a congressman who explained that Legal Shield and companies like it were at the forefront of creating financial independance for more individuals and families than any other industry in human history!

What does this mean for our teens? It means that there is a viable business avenue we should teach them about. It means that we, as adults, should push passed the knee-jerk reflex of avoiding Network Marketing we should educate ourselves on how it can teach our teens to:
1. Leverage their time
2. Create a network
3. Lead a team &
4. Help others succeed

Isn’t that what we should want for the next generation?

For more information visit
http://www.ebright.legalshield.com

Rethinking Higher Education, Part Two: Internship vs University

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In part one of this series I spoke of the high price tag of higher education and proposed the idea that traditional college degrees were not neccessary for financial success. With that belief in mind I will spend the next few blogs explaining the proven alternatives to traditional colleges and universities.

The first alternative is an old idea, the internship.

Many years ago if a young man wanted to learn to work with metal he would approach the local blacksmith and ask to learn from the more experienced man. If the instructor agreed the young man would work for free in exchange for real life, hands on experience and education. The young student would learn how to run the blacksmith business including what to charge customers, how to accept payment, how to deal with inevitable customer conflict, working the forge, and personal responsibility, among other things.

An obvious advantage of internships is there is zero cost to the student and the student’s family. Picture a small village in colonial America with familes of meager means. Keeping food on the table is already a challenge. Asking these families to find money for the educatiin of their children would be like expecting to slap a rock with a stick and get water from it. It’s just not going to happen. But these families were not without hope. If their young son was determined, hard-working and future minded, he’d receive a valuable, FREE internship, aka apprenticeship, which would eventually help him become an entrepruener!

Nobody spends a dime, no debt is created, a skill is learned and the Blacksmith/teacher has help in his shop for a certain amount of time. That’s a win, win, win situation.

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“But Taz, aren’t internships a thing of the past?” Great question.

I searched online for “Internships in Houston, TX” and found there are a lot of both paid and unpaid internships out there of varying types. One company is in search of a “Marketing Intern to work 10-15 hours a week” offering “reimbursment for gas used at a per mile basis, free lunch during any events, experience meeting professionals at networking events…” along with several other perks. Another company offered full-time employment with great benefits after only three months as an unpaid intern. These internships offer something traditional colleges lack- practical, usable experience in the field.

Internships are alive and well and they can help you gain valuable knowledge without taking on the burden of debt. I love the concept of internships because they offer an alternative to spending a large amount of money in exchange for an education. This concept gives hope to those who are less fortunate in the area of finances. Recently I learned of a doctor who is still paying off his student loans THIRTY YEARS after earning his degree.

When I look at both the American and global economy I see there is a need to question the status quo. The American dream is harder to acheive, upper middle class citizens have lost their houses due to the dishonest practices of the banking industry, the middle class is shrinking, etc. etc.

Higher education is no different. We have to question the status quo. What do we want for our futures, financial freedom or a life of servitude to creditors like the doctor I mentioned? Obviously we want financial freedom. Then, it’s time for us to question tradition, look for alternatives like internships, place them on a scale and make an honest evaluation of what is best for our financial futures.

So, what’s your opinion on including an internship in your Higher Education plan?

Rethinking Higher Education-Part 1: Is A College Degree Really Worth $100,000?

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I’d like to start this series by first setting the record straight concerning two particular points.

First, I honestly believe that education is very important. From infancy we start soaking in our environment, processing information, filtering out what we don’t need and using what is valuable. This allows babies to learn to walk and mimic to vocal patterns they hear which leads to their ability to communicate. We should never deny that learning is very important.

Second, I have zero animosity towards higher education institutions and those employed by them. These institutions serve an important role, passing along knowledge to the younger generation who will then add to and improve upon said knowledge.

That being said, I find it very difficult to recommend traditional colleges and universities to teens beginning their post high school education. Why? The main reason is the extreme cost which leads to years and years of bondage in the form of debt. Proverbs 27:7 says, “Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender”. Years of servitude to creditors is not what I want for my children nor any other youth. I’m sure you feel the same way!

But over and over again we see freshly graduated teens signing on the dotted line, agreeing to years of bondage.

Debt is like a vampire, it feeds on your finances, drains your bank account and cripples your economic well being. As alluded to in the verse above, a life burdened with debt yields a future without financial freedom. This is simple fact.

So, why do we choose to tell our youth to begin their financial journeys tied down by the millstone of educational debt? Why do we advise them in such a way that sets them up for monetary failure and financial misery? Because we don’t know any better.

The fact is, very few folks are speaking out concerning the ineffectiveness of a college degree. Despite the hundreds who tell their personal horror stories of worthless degrees, many haven’t heard and most who have heard consider them isolated incidents. To be honest, I can’t really fault them. After all, we’ve been raised to believe college degrees are neccessities that lead to a higher earnings. From elementary on we are molded into eager college attendies. We hear the success stories of degree earners who make massive amounts of money and live the American dream all because they earned a coveted piece of paper.

What we hear much less of are the stories that tell how having a degree made no difference at all. I read a blog earlier today in which a woman explained that her neice was very disappointed in her Bachelor’s Degree because she could not find a job in her choosen career field, instead, she now works as a waitress. I’m not knocking the food service industry. I speak from personal experience when I say it’s noble, honest, hard work. But her degree hangs in a frame in her home doing her absolutely no good!

Here’s a question for you: Would you ever purchase a vehicle for $50,000- half the cost of this young waitress’s education- if you knew it would never run, never take you anywhere and never be of any use except sitting in your driveway looking good? Of course not! When we spend such a large amount of money we expect the purchased product to not only perform its function but to do so very well. Yet, this is exactly what’s happenning daily in America. We are purchasing a much larger ticket item and agreeing to pay it off slowly over multiple years, based on the idea that it’s “worth the investment”. The truth is, it’s not. Just like the useless vehicle taking up space in the driveway, there are many degrees hanging on walls, also of zero use.

Investors are familiar with the term Return On Investment or ROI. It refers to the ratio between the amount of money invested verses the amount earned. If I invest $100 dollars in stocks and then later sell them for $120 that’s a good return on my investment. I’ve made a profit of $20. Obviously, investing the same $100 in stocks and finding their value decreases to $25 is not favorable. Thats a negative Return On my Investment to the tune of $75. The same can be said for investing in a start-up company, a new invention or mutual funds. We always aim for the highest ROI possible.

Just as we would avoid a business deal or stock purchase which is not likely to produce a positive ROI, so should we do the same when deciding on an educational path. You may say, “But Taz, a college education is vital enough that it’s worth it at any price! How are we to get ahead without a degree?” Or maybe you’re wondering, “If not college, then how are we to attain the education that will help us earn a good living?” Both are legitimate questions and there are many others like them. Bright Balance Ministries will be addressing them in the “Rethinking Higher Education” series. It is our hope that this series of blogs will help steer youth towards financially successful lives free from the bondage of debt.

Stay tuned, leave comments, tell your friends about this site, and feel free to leave questions for us. We look forward to great discussions with you in the near future.