Tag Archives: debt

BBM Interviews Melissa Dougherty: This Energetic Christian, Wife, Mother and Avid Minister to Jehovah’s Witnesses Gives Her Perspective on Money Matters

I met Mrs. Melissa Dougherty through a Facebook group dedicated to ministering to #Jehovah’s Witnesses and #LDS members. I always appreciated her attitude of tenderness and love for those we brought the Gospel to. I look up to her knowledge of the #Bible and what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe/preach. Her boldness was always a motivator and both her humbleness and passion for teaching are to be admired. Because of these, and other, attributes I decided I had to interview her on the topic of Personal #Finance.

Let’s dive right in!

BBM: Is the Bible One of your Financial #Education sources? Why or Why Not?

Melissa: Yes, but not like I want it to be. Mainly because I’m not really the breadwinner of our home, so though I have some control over finances, ultimately it’s in my hubby’s hands.

BBM: Do you believe that Small Business contributes positively to the Economy?

Melissa: Yes I do. They’re the ones that are going to help the country not become so monopolized, and give to the people. Not the corporations.

BBM: How do you manage your finances? Examples: Financial Adviser, checkbook register, a combination of tools or something else)

Melissa: A lot of math! We don’t ever really know what we’ll make every month, so we budget out our money by keeping a planner of bills and what’s spent

BBM: At What age did you begin to form a “financial freedom” mindset?

Melissa: I felt very good about saving and spending money around age 18.

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BBM: Why do you believe financial wisdom is important?

Melissa: Financial management is the cause of much stress! Knowing how to manage our money wisely can contribute to a much more fulfilling life.

Thanks very much to this amazing, Christian teacher for her time and honesty. I hope to feature her again in the future.

Tiny House Option- Part One: The Problem With The American Mindset

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One day recently I had the TV on as background noise while I got things done around the house and online. A certain real estate show featured a couple who were considering moving due to different issues with their #house. One of the issues was cramped space. Of course the space around us is an important consideration in a home. A kitchen in which you can manuver around each other easily is preferrable to a one-person-only space wherein if the oven is open there’s a danger of both parties getting burned. Issues like the commute to work, distance from schools, Church, friends and family are very important factors when considering a home purchase or selling one’s home in order to move to another house.

As I continued listening to the program I heard a phrase that bothered me. The husband of the couple stated that their bedroom was small by “today’s standard”. Immediately I thought, “Man I was with ya’ until that phrase”.

Here’s the Problem:
Buying a new home should not be influenced by “today’s standards”. That phrase tells me the house hunter is concerned with how his place will compare to his friends, family and neighbors. Exodus 20:17 warns us not to want what our neighbors have. In other words our desire should not be fueled by seeing something our neighbor owns. It should be fuled by a desire to have what God wants to provide then use #His generous gifts to His glory. When we compare what we have to what others are blessed with we essentially tell God two things…

•”What You’ve given me isn’t enough. I want what You gave them”.
•”I know what you’ve given me is part of your plan, but it’s obviously a flawed plan”.

Could you imagine flying into God’s throne room and making those statements directly to Him? Of course not! That would be rude and disrespectful. Yet, when it comes to money and material posessions we think to ourselves that God is supposed update our blessings according to the human standard of the day. Thankfully, that’s not how God operates. God is more concerned with supplying our needs than granting our petty materialistic desires.

When we hold onto the desire to have the shiny toys, big house, fancy cars and coolest electronics we do two things:

First we deprive ourselves of the ability to experience the joy of having less. Most Americans are convinced they “could never live in a Tiny House”. The idea of less space means having less stuff and God forbid they sell the PS4 and the Xbox1. Surely they can’t be expected to survive with only five pair of shoes instead of the twenty five they currently enjoy.

(Don’t get me started on the fact that they haven’t worn eighty percent of those shoes in over three years.)

Sadly we, the human race, have allowed money and stuff to be the source of our joy and happiness in our lives. We feel that if we have to down size we are somehow downgrading or moving backward financially. That mentality is so very off-base.

The second thing we do by holding onto the materialistic mentality is set ourselves up for unnecessary spending. We are daily witness to the fact that those in big houses feel the need to fill those houses with stuff like cars, paintings, clothes, game consoles and games, pool tables, big TVs, an upgraded kitchen, designer furniture, etc. Filling the space is just the beginning of the dominoe effect. Next is being sure all the stuff is maintained, that is followed by upgrading when a newer model is introduced. It’s not hard to see why even those earning tremendous salaries can still end up living paycheck-to-paycheck.

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The Tiny House phenomenon sweeping America has captured my attention partly because it helps us escape the materialistic mentality and therefore helps reduce spending and increase savings.

There are folks in this world with no clothes, food or house. If they had the opportunity to walk into my house right now they’d feel like they had entered a palace.
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A kitchen with a working stove, and fridge, next to a living room where most of us enjoy cable television would be unheard of to many poverty stricken families across the globe. Lying on my memory foam bed would be more than a dream come true. Air conditioning? That’s far beyond their most ambitious dreams! Who am I to tell God that what He’s allowed in my life isn’t enough? If anything we should be saying, “It’s too much for me to keep all to myself. Who can I bless?”

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So when you’re listening to your waterproof shower radio, using your scented body wash and drying off with a freshly washed, 100% cotton towel, you may want to ask yourself: What if I chose the Tiny House Option and lived with less so someone else could have more?

BBM Interviews Audrey Ostoyic

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Today’s interviewee is a wonderful lady I met through a Google+ group, Christians In Business. Mrs. Audrey Ostoyic is an upbeat, positive, social media strategist, mother, wife and Christian business owner. Through following Audrey’s posts, blog and YouTube videos, I’ve come to greatly respect and admire her. Due to this respect and admiration I asked to interview her concerning her perspective on personal finance.

I hope you find her answers as inspiring and encouraging as I did.

BBM: Is the Bible one of your financial education sources? Why or why not?

Audrey: The Bible is my ONLY financial education source. I have listened to Dave Ramsey before and he gives amazing tips on the ins and outs of debt and debt collection agencies that are relevant for today and that you don’t find in the Bible, however the Bible is it for me. If you think about it, if you read your Bible and follow it then you don’t need to worry about your credit score, debt or debt collection agencies calling you. I’ve never owned a credit card in my life and never will. My husband on the other hand has 2 but pays them off every month. The only debt my husband and I have together is our home and we are working on getting that debt erased. My motto has always been, “If I don’t have the cash to buy it then I don’t need it and if I need it then God will supply it according to His Word.”

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

Audrey: Absolutely! I believe that Small Businesses, for the most part, really care about, not only their customers, but also their employees. Every Small Business that I have had the pleasure of training in Social Media is more like a family than the larger corporations I’ve worked with. I’ve also noticed that small businesses take care of their employees by paying them more and giving more/better benefits. In this way small businesses are keeping employees longer, they (employees) are more loyal and they become invested in the business as much as the owners.

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

Audrey: Well, I’m very blessed (or some might say not very smart) to have my husband take care of the finances. I am not a spender at all and have always thought about each purchase as to whether it is a need or a want. If there is something I do want I simply ask my husband if there is enough money and if he says yes, I go buy it, if he says no then I just don’t get it. 😉

BBM: At what age did you begin to form a “financial freedom mindset”?

Audrey: About two years ago when I turned 39 yrs. old (I guess I just gave my age away lol) Took a long time but it’s not only the “financial freedom mindset” as much as it is the “God’s got this” mindset. No matter what financially may be going on if I abide in Him and He abides in me then there is nothing that can touch my finances.

BBM: Why do you believe financial wisdom is important?

Audrey: I believe Financial Wisdom is so important because it allows us to be in a position for The Lord to use us whenever he needs to. For me every single penny that comes into my home is The Lord’s. When the Holy Spirit speaks to me to give, no matter how much it is I will do it in obedience. My husband and I have gone through some of the worst financial storms since we got married in 2001 and through it all we HAD to rely 100% on the Lord and he never failed us.

Amen Audrey! Thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed and I really appreciate your openess and honesty.

I highly encourage BBM readers to follow Audrey Ostoyic on Google+ as well as her blog page, http://www.livinlyfemarketing.com

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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?

Zero Christmas Presents Next Year

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I’m guessing the title of this blog got your attention. How many of you can imagine a #Christmas without exchanging gifts? Does the idea bother you? Yes? Then you’re meant to read on.

Sadly, every year many people see the Christmas holiday approaching and their shoulders tighten. They remember last year’s task of figuring out what to buy everyone, long check out lines, the nervousness of hoping they chose the right gift, and so on and so on. Even before the biggest holiday of the year is actually here they’re already weighed down by unnecessary stress.
It’s really a shame.

I’ve heard on the news many times, “….burgular has stolen Christmas from another family”.

Stolen Christmas?

As a Christian, I have a problem with that phrase. Christmas is not something that can be stolen. It’s the celebration of Christ’s birth. Can you take that from anyone? Of course not. That’s the problem with the zombie-like, “must buy presents” mentality. We’re slaves to materialism!

How about we take the words of Christ to heart? Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need”.

Two things are important here.

First, seek His Kingdom above all else. We need to ask ourselves, “Am I focused on His Kingdom above all else or are presents, people, candy canes, celebrations and lights in the first-place position in my heart?”

Be honest!

Second, notice the verse ends with “…and he will give you everything you need”. Christ didn’t say He’d supply a PS4, a new sports car or a Hawaiian vacation as a result of our dedication to seeking His Kingdom. God is telling us here that our needs are a higher priority to Him than our wants. Obviously, we should mirror His perspective- God first, needs second and then wants….maybe.

Picture a world where this was reality. Instead of long lines at retail stores we’d see those lines at the soup kitchens, waiting to help the needy. People would camp out in front of their Church waiting for Christmas service, not in front of Macey’s eager to get their hands on the latest name-brand purses. Families would not continue sinking deeper into credit card debt. They’d pay cash to buy a homeless family an entire wardrobe instead.

Man, I’d love to see this kind of economic prosperity in our country. Wouldn’t you?

I would love to see a world where Christmas isn’t a source of stress but tranquility, unselfish acts, and the celebration of Christ’s birth.

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The decision to go without buying presents at Christmas can affect your bottom line grately. Think of what you spent this Christmas season on gadgets, gifts, toys, clothes, wrapping paper, ribbons, fuel, time, etc. Now add that number your current bank account balance. Wouldn’t you rather that total be in your account right now in case something major rears its ugly head? Or you could put it towards paying off a credit card, paying on a loan or paying extra on the monthly rent at you apartment. That would be a Frugal Lifestyle decision that helps reduce stress and would eventually lead to financial Freedom.

A No-Presents Christmas also sets an example to the following generation. They’d understnad that God being born as a human baby is the resaon for Christmas. They’d learn to focus on the Ultimate Gift they’ve already been given, not the material gifts they’re expecting.

A no-presents Christmas is also a great way to weed out those “what did you bring me?” people. You know, the ones that are only interested in what they can squeeze out of you? We all have them in our lives. But, telling everyone that there will be zero Christmas presents next year will also expose the cream of the crop. Those who actually care about you will say things like, “Spending time with you is present enough”. Those are the ones you hang onto!

As 2013 comes to a close let’s start imagining a stress free, laid-back, relaxing, Christ-centered Christmas for 2014. After all, we’re celebrating HIS biryhday, right?

Prayerfully consider a “no-presents Christmas”.

Black Friday- Humanity Lost

You’ve had a day’s fill of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, some unidentified…thing… your aunt brought over, wine, champagne and anything else that wasn’t moving. You’ve, hopefully, taken time to thank God for your blessings and thanked those around you for how they’ve blessed your life or been there for you in some way or another.

 

Thanksgiving is a time when we set aside materialism, lift our eyes to Heaven and just say, Thank You!

 

(insert calming breath of gratitude here)

 

The day following this yearly day of thanks has become a dark day in this bloggers opinion. Instead of relaxing with family, continuing to be thankful and enjoying time off to relax and rejuvinate, it’s been replaced with the tention that comes with freezing in long lines outside our favorite retail stores in an effort to be the first to grab the latest products. Folks are sacrificing over a day and a half away from family and friends, sitting in folding chairs, drinking hot chocolate & sleeping in shifts just to grab the newest phones, games, game console, designer clothing, flat TV or some other product that will be “outdated” by the time they gather next year to repeat this greed-based ritual.

 

Then comes the loss of human dignity and respect once the doors are opened allowing access to the so-called must-not-miss deals.

 

People are willing to trample over each other like animals if it means grabbing the last X-Box or PS3. Normally respectful individuals are so caught up in not “missing out” that thay miss out on the opportunity to show love to their fellow shoppers. The cut-throat focus is on getting, getting more and me, me, me!

 

(so much for that calming breath)

 

There are some Biblical principles that, if applied to these shopping frenzies, would result in a much more humane experience.

 

Matthew 6:19-21

 

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

 

Imagine a crowd of folks, mowing each other down over the latest gadget. Then suddenly they all remembering this verse. They’d realize that the stuff they’re so eager to posess is not only temporary but completely unnecessary.  The truly important things are those that last eternally, the things of Heaven.

 

This verse doesn’t say that we are to never posess anything on earth, it is reminding us that we are to keep things in propper perspective.

 

Instead of dad running frantic through Toys R Us, feeling pressured to get little Janine that new doll AND get that particular game for young Jason, he would be of the mindset that his children have more than enough and that they should be content with the many things they already have.

 

Mrs. Jones (trying to stay ahead of those trying to keep up with her) would realize how futile it is to spend so much energy and time on the limited edition, top-designer perfume while missing out on time with her grandchildren.

 

Matthew 6:33

 

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

 

Man, I love this verse! Can you imagine what this world would look like if we all sought after the things of God first and let everything else fall where they may? We’d all want to please Him by loving Him and keeping His commandments which includes the golden rule found in Matthew 7:12:

 

Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.

 

I’d love to see a black Friday where this is practiced- patient people, lovingly letting others go infront of them, letting the other person grab the last of the hottest item off the shelf, polite excuse me’s, smiles & harmony.

 

Imagine that!!

 

As I write this blog on Friday November 27th, 2013, there are folks out there commiting these acts of greed and selfishness. My honest prayer is that as they treat each other with such disrespect, enslaved by the advertizing of retailers, that these verses and the peace of Christ will overwhelm them and bring them back into the realization that Thanksgiving is not a day on the calendar, it’s a way of life!

As it stands Black Friday just reminds me of Humanity Lost. I pray the Black Fridays of the future are characterized by more humane, compassionate and thankful human hearts.

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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