Tag Archives: financial

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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‘Deadbeat’ Dad Chronicles Part Three: Trouble Finding a Job- The Last Resort

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If you’ve been following this series you’ve become familiar with the various frugal options non-custodial parents can employ in order to keep up with child support payments during financially rocky times.

In this final installment of the series I’d like to discuss an option that can, honestly, be a bit painful but is very effective.

In 2009, I started applying for jobs out-of-state partly because finding local employment yielded only temporary jobs & I needed something long-term. I applied for anything that was legal and paid American greenbacks.

The hardest part was leaving my son for an extended period of time. He was about ten years old when an employer from Idaho Falls, ID called and asked if I could be in their office within a week for an interview. I said yes because I was determined to take care of my son even if it meant being away from him for a while. Plus, I needed to set a good example.

I bought a bus ticket and called the employer to let them know the date of my arrival. My next step was talking to my son. I explained to him that I had a job offer, finally, but it was out of the state. I asked how he felt about me going out of town. He understood the reason, asked a few questions and we spent the rest of the day hanging out and enjoying each other’s company. I would be on a bus to Idaho within a week and intended to enjoy all seven days I had left to spend with this blessing of a child.

Fast forward three months later. I’d been promoted from call center phone agent to “Floor Mentor” which meant I had a team of phone agents under me, I helped train new agents, scheduled team meetings, and evaluated agent’s customer service phone calls.

Most importantly my child support payments were on time and consistent. From a financial standpoint it meant avoiding interest, and keeping a negative entry from my credit report. Reducing or illuminating fees when possible helps support financial goals. Interest fees resulting from non-payment of child support was a fee I’d rather avoid.

Staying In Touch

My employment and my promotion meant setting a good example for my son. Did I miss him? Absolutely! He visited, we talked on the phone and texted each other often. I hated the distance between us but I felt very accomplished that I was fulfilling my obligation and helping take care of my precious boy.

Working far away from family isn’t easy. It’s not an option I’d readily run to. However, the possible positive outcomes cannot be ignored. Just as investing, saving and preparing for retirement are frugal steps toward financial freedom, so is accepting a job out of town if that’s what will help your financial situation.

I Timothy 5: 1-8 is a great passage to read right now.

1 Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers.
2 Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters.
3 Take care of any widow who has no one else to care for her.
4 But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God.
5 Now a true widow, a woman who is truly alone in this world, has placed her hope in God. She prays night and day, asking God for his help. 6 6 But the widow who lives only for pleasure is spiritually dead even while she lives.
7 Give these instructions to the church so that no one will be open to criticism.
8 But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.

Verse eight is the one many Christians focus on in this passage. That’s understandable since that verse is so important. But looking at everything in context the message is clear: We have been charged with predetermied responsibilities to take care of our families. From the way we speak to each other to who takes care of grandmom when grand-dad goes to Heaven ahead of her. God has laid it out for us. Family members take care of each other first. If there’s no next-of-kin then the extended family- The Church, steps in.

Personal note:

I remember, painfully, sitting a counselor’s office and having him explain 1 Timothy 5: 8 to me. He explained that I wasn’t taking care of my child support and the Bible says I was worse than an infidel. This was hurtful for two reasons.
One, I knew I was working hard to take care of all responsibilities, including child support. I was waking up early, going to bed late, hurting, driving while exhausted, etc. Yet, despite knowing this I felt guilty for failing my son and my God. After all this was coming from my pastor, my spiritual leader.

Two, it didn’t seem this verse fit my situation. I thought to myself, “So I’m worse than an infidel even though I’m honestly trying? Surely not! God sees my efforts and knows my heart. I felt like this counselor, who I respect to this day, wasn’t listening, didn’t understand or didn’t care. Very painful.

It wasn’t until I was researching information for this blog that I saw an important detail- the word WON’T.
Read verse 8 again: But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.

Seems to me this verse is speaking directly of anyone who refuses to care for their family, it says nothing about those who are unfortunately unable or struggling. I make this personal note because I know there are many, many fathers and mothers out there in the same position. You feel horrible because you can’t provide in the way you’d like. You feel you’re missing the mark. You feel your child doesn’t respect you because you don’t produce the income of the Jones’. And to make matters worse you feel betrayed by those closest to you who just do not understand.

It is the strong opinion of this blogger that this verse describes those who turn away from or don’t even consider helping thier earthly family members, not those of us who are trying our best to do so. I pray this is an encouragement!

So is moving away from your offspring easy? Obvioudly not. I would not recommend it unless you have no other option. However it’s better than getting further behind on payments. Be brave enough to do what needs to be done, set that good example for your child(ren). They’ll love you for it eventually.

Lastly, I’d like you to remember that scrutiny from outsiders doesn’t automatically mean you’re guilty of beaing a deadbeat. Keep your mind on Christ, keep working hard, search for those odd jobs, donate plasma and even look for work out of town; whatever it takes, do it!

Stay strong and stay frugal!

‘Deadbeat’ Dad Chronicles, Odd Jobs Part Two: The Costly, Though Well-Intentioned, Mistake

Today I’m not only continuing with the story of how I worked odd jobs in order to stay current on child support payments, I’m also going to share with you a certain non-frugal mistake, made in the past, that has brought me a lot of grief later.

There was a period in my life where I was conducting secret shops and also working at a labor hall at the same time. I’d get a check each day at the end of my shift. I’d cash the 60-80 dollar check, drive from my place in Pasadena, TX to Liberty, TX and put a bit of cash in my ex-wife’s hand. I did this because if I sent the money to the child support office it would take a lot longer for my ex to get the money and there were things my son needed right away. I’m sure non-custodial parents out there can relate. After giving my ex the in-person payment I’d fill my gas tank and eat off of what was left.

Did you catch the mistake? Here it is again: cash in my ex-wife’s hand. Ya see, at the time of my divorce my ex-wife and I were the happiest divorced couple I ever knew. We got along, talked, didn’t argue and even made each other laugh. I had heard of the horror stories but enjoyed not being one of them…yet.

Time went on and sure enough things changed. We became one of the horror stories you hear so much about and then I was hit with something I had heard of, but never imagined would happen to me. I started getting letters from the Attorney General’s office. They wanted to know when I’d be sending a payment. I explained the situation to the person on the other end of the phone line but they were less than sympathetic.

Cash Transactions

I had made a huge mistake by assuming cash payments directly to my ex-were okay. And now that she considered me less than a friend, I was always in danger of her choosing to go to the State and have them enforce payments. This is one of those times where I felt more than a little stupid.

Obviously, this was not a frugal decision. Just as with loans, back child support comes with a not-so-friendly attachment called interest!

Great...now I gotta play catch up

Great…now I gotta play catch up


Great, now I have to play catch up!

This is not a situation any of us want to be buried under. Just as purchasing a bigger home than one needs, using your credit card for a massive shopping spree or keeping up with the Jones’ can result in a dark, financial cloud hanging over one’s head, haunting you and suffocating your financial plans for the future, so can making poor decisions regarding child support payments.

My advice to anyone that is paying child support is to send every single penny through your state’s Child Support office.
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It’s the wiser, frugal decision because it will help avoid interest and your possible future arrest due to falling behind despite your best intentions.

In the next edition of the ‘Deadbeat’ Dad Chronicles I’ll share one of life’s unforeseen events that didn’t exactly help the situation at all.

‘Deadbeat’ Dad Chronicles, Odd Jobs- Part One

As a non-custodial father paying child support, I live life under the microscope of scrutiny from not only an ex-wife, but society in general. Not only do I wake up determined to succeed financially to provide for myself, but I have the added pressure of providing for a son who does not live with me.

I’m not saying this financial responsibility is more burdensome than a custodial parent’s job, nor am I saying that one should feel sorry for, or be lenient with, a parent who is paying child support.

However, I have recently become very familiar with society’s misconceptions concerning the toil of supposedly deadbeat dads. So I think it’s time we explore what a father goes through financially in order to provide for his child, keep up with court-ordered payments, avoid jail and be a good example to his child.

The Odd Jobs.

Jail is not exactly my idea of a good time. I can’t even stand to be in my own house for more than two hours. I get anxious, like a caged dragon I feel the deep need to escape and spread my wings.

With this mindset I have always been motivated to seek odd jobs if I was ever laid off. So, what jobs did I take in order to keep up with child support?

First, there was Secret Shops. Many folks have a misunderstanding of how this industry really works. There are horror stories but I can tell you personally that there are legitimate secret shop companies that will literally pay you to shop.

Side note: If you Google “secret shops” you’ll be flooded with choices. Avoid any company that states you have to pay to become a secret shopper. Most of these are not legitimate.

One company paid me to go to Burger King, order a meal and fill out a report. The report included details about the taste and temperature of the food, the cleanliness of the store and if proper signage was displayed in the location.

For a recently laid-off individual this was a great way to keep my head above water because I’d be reimbursed for the meal and be paid an extra $5 – $10.  Therefore, the groceries I had already bought would stretch a bit further while I ate these “free meals.”

Another secret shop company sent me to Mattress Firm to pose as a customer interested in a new bed. This is by-far my favorite kind of secret shop. During the visit I’d take mental notes about the employee’s performance, level of professionalism, the cleanliness of the store and which model features the employee demonstrated along with several other key aspects of the employee’s job. I’d do this while the employee demonstrated the many positions of the adjustable bed. Yeah, it was tough but somebody had to do it.

Secret shops are easy and convenient. I’d have lunch at Burger King while out looking for a job and enjoyed knowing I’d be reimbursed for the meal. Then as I go about the rest of my errands I’d stop into Mattress Firm, lie on some really comfortable beds and get paid for it!

There are some folks who are professional level secret shoppers. I never rose to that point myself but shoppers who are dedicated and reliable are eventually given higher-paying shops. There are even some secret shoppers who earn above $30,000/year.

Obviously this would help a struggling mom or dad avoid jail time which can sometimes result from falling behind on court-appointed payments.

Generally speaking, secret shop companies pay their shoppers once a month. So, my advice is to be very detailed in your record keeping as an independent shopper. Keep your receipts, keep track of the shop location, expected payments, etc. At first, look for shops that don’t require you to buy anything. One example is the Mattress Firm shop I mentioned. A shop at James Avery requires you to ask questions about jewelry but not make a purchase.

The profits from one month of these shops may then be used in your second month for shops like Burger King for which you’d be reimbursed.

With discipline you can earn a good part-time income which can help you stay current on child support payments. If you are a non-custodial parent, it pays to be prepared to take on work where you can find it and practice frugality…and avoid those annoying silver bracelets.

A good verse to keep in mind is Proverbs 27:12
The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.

The “dangers” we face as non-custodial parents are varied.
A. Failing to set a good example for our childrem
B.  Additional interest due to falling behind on payments
C. Jail time

But, spending time in prayer,

asking God for guidance and seeking wise counsel  from others in similar situations (Provrrb 15:22) can help us avoid these financial pot holes.

Another favorite verse is Poverbs 6:6-9
6 Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise!
7 Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work,
8 they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.
9 But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up?

Ants, animals not as smart as humans, are smart enough to plan ahead, work, store up for a rainy days, etc. Non-custodial parents need to plan ahead. Save for those unexpected lay offs, injuries and economic storms so that you don’t miss any payments, ever!

Have you had to take on the odd job – or two – to keep up with child support payments, lest you be called a deadbeat dad (mom) and potentially face dealing with the judicial system? I’d love to hear your stories!

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.

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!!