Tag Archives: economy

The Clothing Exchange: Bartering, Giving, Saving & Making A Difference

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You know what I love most about the above photo? Its location.

These folks aren’t camped out waiting to purchase tickets to the newest Batman movie. They’re not waiting to get into the V.I.P. line at a night club nor are they waiting in line to get to their Houston Rockets seats.

This was the scene outside the doors of Eagle Heights Fellowship in Mont Belvieu, TX. This is the Church home of Penny Glass & her three well-rounded, funny, adorable daughters.

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Mrs. Glass created an ingenious bartering system called The Clothing Exchange and it has grown exponentially over the last few years. As a result of her need to provide for her own children she wondered, “What if there was a place where I could give up what we don’t need in exchange for what we do need?” She approached her Pastor and pitched her idea. He fully supported her and gave his permission to use the Church as headquarters for this economically sound solution to clothing needs.

Viola, the Clothing Exchange was born!

How it Works
Many families are having trouble dealing with the current economic climate. They’re struggling to bring home the bacon (in my house it’s veggies). As a result clothing is an area that may be sacrificed in order to keep the family car running, keep electricity on, and stock up on groceries.
The Clothing Exchange allows families and individuals to bring in used but reusable clothes in exchange for a voucher equal to the number of items donated.
So, for example, Molly donates three jeans and five blouses which she’s outgrown-eight items. On exchange day she bring in her voucher and picks out eight items of her choice. She can choose 8 pair of jeans or seven jeans and one blouse or maybe she wants six pair of jeans, one pair of shoes and a scarf. Any combination is allowed as long as she doesn’t exceed eight, the number on her voucher. All participants are made aware that there is no guarantee they’ll find somethung in thier size or something they’ll like. But all are still willing to take part because it means they’ll be donating to others in need even if they get nothng in return. However, according to Penny, there’s never been a situation where a participant couldn’t find clothing they could use.

Simple, smart, effective and very much in need. In fact the need is so great that hundreds of people from miles around came to donate their used clothing in hopes of helping others while providing for their own families. Talk about a win-win situation.

Economic Ripple
So is there a positive economic effect? Most definitely! Most families shop at big department stores. Others, like myself, love thrift stores. When we shop at these locations the money doesn’t always stay within the local economy. Big companies need to spread their profits all over the globe in order to thrive. They have to pay for advertizing, put money into payroll and employee benefits and maintain thier facilities.
The Clothing Exchange allows local money to stay local—in the bank accounts of members of the community. So Mr. J donates his sons old clothes yet comes home with more clothes for his son without spending a single cent. With the savings Mr. J can put more money into an emergency fund or save for his son’s trade school education. Now imagine hundreds of families within a certain area doing the same thing. This creates more economical stability within the region. It makes sense, too, that if a family is more stable they’re able to donate to charities, give to missions and shop at local farmer’s markets. These all help give strength to the local economy.

An important aspect to the Clothing Exchange that builds a strong economy is what Penny does with the clothes that cannot be used in the exchange. See, if donated clothes have rips, tears, stains, etc they’re either given back to the donor, given to other churches or given directly to the homeless. This ensures only clothing of the highest quality are available on Exchange day. Providing the homeless with clothibg has several amazing results. It helps build confidence, gives a sense of added security and it offers an opportunity to excell. Imagine being homeless, sleeping on the streets, unable to shave and shower. Across the street from the box you live in is a NOW HIRING sign in the window of a locally-owned diner. You know you qualify for any open position. You’d work hard and put in extra hours if someone would just give you a chance.
Problem: You don’t feel presentable. And the fact is, most employers won’t hire someone who smells bad and is dressed like….well….a homeless person.

But, if the clothing exchange provided you with a fresh pair of socks, a pair of shoes, nice slacks and a long sleeved shirt and maybe even a tie; well your future could look very different. You can wash up in the restroom of a convemience store, change into your new duds, then walk confidently into that diner and tell them “You sould definitely hire me”.

This is one way a homeless person can become a productive member of society. All because of the generous hearts of Clothing Exchange participants.

Want to Join In?
The next Clothing Exchange event will be in Feb or March of 2016. In the mean time
1. Set aside those items you no longer want or need: shoes, shirts, pants, jackets, sweaters, hats, etc.
2. Tell others about this blog so they’re informed on how they may participate.
3. Follow this link to the Clothing Exchange facebook page so you can stay up-to-date on future events-
https://www.facebook.com/groups/237924579719778/?fref=ts

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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?”

I’m STILL Not Using #Algebra

I graduated from high school in 1992 @ age 17.

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During my school years I remember thinking, as many students before and after me, “When am I ever going to use Algebra?” Math wasn’t the only subject of which I asked this question. History and Astronomy were scrutinized as well.

I’ll be 39 on January 24th, 2014 and have I used Algebra, …at all….ever?! Absolutely not!

I have no animosity towards my former teachers and I do realize some of my fellow students have entered professions where my least enjoyed subjects have benefited them greatly. Some have reason to use Algebra every day.

(I’ll weep and pray for them later)

However, I’ve noticed that most of us don’t have the slightest need to use so much of the knowledge we’ve accumulated from Jr. High forward, yet vital education we now need in our adult lives was overlooked.

Ask the average teenager if they know how to balance a checkbook and they’ll propably ask, “What’s a checkbook?” If the average adult was asked, “Are you happy with your last month’s Balance Sheet?” they’d probably respond by telling you they don’t own a business. They don’t understand how important a balance sheet is for the financial success of the average person, couple and family.

In our great America we have been taught-falsely- that school is where all of life’s important skills and knowledge are attained.

Really?

If this is true why are so many families buried under debt, close to losing their houses and still living paycheck to paycheck? The answer is: They were not properly educated in Money Management.

I learned recently that Jewish parents start teaching thier children about money when the child starts asking, “Daddy could you buy me a…..?” Jewish children as young as eight years old learn to use their allowance wisely. They give the first ten percent to Church, save the next ten percent and even learn to invest another ten percent. Yes, at such a young age they undersand and practice investing. Have you ever notices how financially secure Jewish folks are in America?

It was interesting to learn that jewish grade-schoolers who are asked by non-Jewish children to let them borrow a few dollars respond with, “I’ll let you borrow two dollars for the weekend but you have to give me three dollars on monday.” To the American-bred child this makes sense because he’s seen his parents borrow money all the time. It’s a way of life, totally normal.

Proverbs 22:6 & 7 comes to mind:
Train up a child in the way he should go;even when he is old he will not depart from it. The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.

The proof of these verses is all around us. Remember the American kid who borrowed two dollars and repaid three? He grew up to be the average American worker; in debt and struggling to get by. The Jewish kid who loaned two and collected three grew up to be the average Jew with no debt owning three businesses and passing on that legacy to his children.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Proverbs 213:22
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.

The time has come for us to educate our children about how money works, what money really is and how to use it to attain real Financial Freedom!

Is Algerba useful? Yes, IF your profession requires its use. Is Money Management useful? Yes, BECAUSE your Financial Success demands it!

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.

#Biblical Money Smarts- Part Six: Setting Goals

Writing this 6-part Biblical Money Smarts series has been challenging, not because of a lack of content-it’s abundant- but deciding the order in which the topics should be placed. Goal Setting would seem to be the first thing we’d need to discuss but I decided to leave it for last so that I could emphasize exactly how important it is.

Young newlyweds especially, need to begin their unified journey with set, definite, agreed-upon goals. It’s important to discuss what you both want to save for; things like having babies, retirement, a new home and its maintainance, travel, vehicle repair, etc. The goals of both man & wife must be discussed and worked into the family budget from the very beginning.

These goals may include remaining debt free or getting out of debt, paying off family vehicles by a certain date, buying a vehicle without financing or building your dream home.

Once these goals have been clearly defined there MUST be a date attached to each one. A dream is something you “wish to have” at some arbitrary point in the future. A goal is something you “plan to achieve” by a certain date. Plan is the operative word here. Attending a birthday party or a graduation requires that you plan ahead. You set the day and time aside in you calender. You may set an alarm on your smart phone to remind you of the event a few weeks in advance. A “graduate debt-free” goal for your children, for example, obviously requires very in-depth planning. This is why such goals should be discussed asap! There is no time to waste!

Goals are the foundation of your financial success!! Everything else rests on them.

Consider the goal of Christ. He desired to reconcile us to Himself. His plan included a virgin birth, living a perfect life for 33 years, teaching others to live a Godly life and then taking the burden of the Father’s wrath on the cross. If God Himself had a goal and also a plan to acheive it, then it seems a good idea to follow His lead.

1 Corinthians 14:33 states God is “…not a God of disorder”. Looking at the world around us confirms this.  Trees pull water from the ground, up thier trunks, into thier leaves in an orderly way. Days pass by as we circle the globe without colliding with other planets. There is order to the universe because that is His nature.

We must be just as orderly in our financial planning if we are to achieve financial success and this orderly harmony must begin with goals in mind.

Goals serve as a jumping off point. The second you identify a goal, you have also pin-pointed two things: where you are and where you desire to be. As of that point your brain can start construct a road map of sorts. Think of where your job or favorite hang-out is located. Picture it in your mind. How do I get there from where you are right now? See what happened? Your brain immediately went to work constructing a path from your present location to that location.
This is precisely why setting a goal is important. You need to develope that road map towards financial success. If this isn’t accomplished you’ll remain stationary, inactive, unproductive and therefore unsuccessful.

Pray about what your five most important goals should be. Once God has made them clear, write them down, pray about them, asking God’s guidance. Ask Him when these goals should be accomplished.

With His guidence youll be able to Reduce your spending, create Assets and Stay Out of Debt while Educating yourself on finances and Ignoring the Hype created by materialistic advertizing.

Your goals, and God’s loving guidance, will serve as guard rails, keeping you on the straight and narrow path of Biblical Money Smarts!

The “Tiny House” Option

Here at B.B.M. we believe strongly in exploring all avenues of income, investing, saving and creating assets. Through this exploration we insist on seeking God’s direction concerning the information we find.

 For the past couple years I have been very impressed with a relatively new movement sweeping across our country- Tiny and Small houses. The phrase Tiny House may cause you to think of a doll house, a cramped space that’s hard to move around in, or a shack in the woods only fit for housing an old hermit. However, the truth is far from such images.

While researching the Tiny House phenomenon I found that these fully-functioning, scaled-down houses are really spacious, equipped with amenities, and really well-designed. Honestly, there were many times I asked, “How’d they fit the outside around the inside?” The designers were able to take a small space and create a very roomy interior.

Another great thing about them is they are so much more affordable than the traditional houses we are used to in America. From a financial perspective Small and Tiny houses are a really great investment and a great money-saving tool for those seeking to buy their first home.

My wife and I know a couple who have recently purchased a large three bedroom house complete with formal dining room, large living room, game room and several extra rooms which are not necessary for a young couple who has yet to have their first child. They are only a few months into their home-ownership and the financial obligation is already causing significant strain on their wallets which then is causing strain on their marriage.

Now, imagine this same couple but with a shift in their mindset. Instead of the big, fancy house they invest in a Tiny House. The square footage is much less but so is the monthly mortgage payment. In fact, instead of stressing over money, they are able to put an extra 1,200 dollars a month into their savings. Also, the term of their mortgage is only fifteen years, not thirty.

Let’s do some math: Let’s say the mortgage on our friends’ traditional house is only $1,500 for thirty years. That’s a total of $540,000. The payments on the Tiny House are $300 per month for fifteen years. That’s a total of $54,000. This couple would have saved $486,000 by purchasing a Tiny or Small House instead of the traditional house that is now causing major problems in their life together. Can you imagine what they could have done with an additional $486,000?

Imagine that they got pregnant the same day they purchased the smaller house. Let’s say they took $600 (of the extra 1200) a month and placed it in a savings account for the child’s higher education. In eighteen years they’d have $129,600 dollars BEFORE INTEREST IS ADDED!!

Isn’t that a much better situation than being stressed over a mortgage, trying to find a second job, refinancing and maybe still losing their home after all their hard work?

If God gave me the choice in my son’s future I’d definitely choose the Tiny House option for him. In fact, my 14 year old son, my wife and I did have that conversation and I’m proud to say he is completely ok with the idea of us building a Tiny House for him to use during his college years so that he can save for his own financial future. Of course he’ll be getting a job to pay for a portion of it. I do believe in teaching our children they must work for what they desire. My wife and I also have no problem with eventually turning over the deed to this Tiny House to our son so that he can rent it for income if he chooses.

Are Tiny Houses for everyone? No, absolutely not. Neither is the stock market, business ownership or mutual funds. However, it is an option worth exploring. I strongly advise you take a couple minutes here and there to look into the cost of building or buying a Tiny or Small house. You may be in a position where downsizing is a smart financial decision. Maybe you’re able to invest in a few of these smaller dwellings as a means of creating Real estate asset. Either way, seek God’s direction in all financial matters!!