Tag Archives: freedom

Living Frugaly, Part One: Don’t Let Your Wedding Cost You Your Marriage

Wedding Bells Blues

The wedding industry is booming.20151015_093646

Everything from the bride’s dress, the photographer, and of course – my personal pet peeve – the wedding planner. All are big money. Brides-to-be have been convinced, “It’s the most important day of your life, spare no expense.”

And many a groom, wanting to please their soon-to-be wife, have fallen for the ridiculous idea that the engagement ring must cost at least three month’s salary. The concept is, If he really loves you he’ll spend that much on you.

Seriously, who came up with this stuff?

The truth is if he loves you he’ll want to lead you into good stewardship as Christ commands.

I’m about to say something that will probably be very unpopular. Concerning the “spare no expense wedding” & the “three-month-salary wedding ring”. Both those pieces of advice are very unwise and financially unsound! We have become a society that will spend thousands and thousands of dollars on an occasion that lasts a few hours, tops, while not preparing financially for the many years that follow..

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a momentous occasion for bride and groom, their families and friends.
It is a day that should be treated with respect. However, so should the actual marriage. You know, all those days that come after the rice is thrown? Yep, they are important also.

I have a family member who spent over $10,000 on her wedding. She had food catered, a huge dress, and a dress covering I can’t even begin to describe. There were a few limos involved, a huge bride’s cake, a groom’s cake, a reception at a fancy eatery on the bay, a cruise on a boat and tons of other stuff that still boggle my mind.

Imagine that $10,000 invested wisely for the next thirty years. Compound interest and time are amazing allies. Use them!

My ex-wife and I spent less than $200 on our wedding. The cost of the location was zilch, zero, nada. It was held at her oldest sister’s house. The mayor of Shelly, Idaho performed the ceremony for free in exchange for us donating at least a whopping $5 to a certain charity. We donated $15. The cost of food was minimal. It was a pot luck! Invitations were ordered online and I doubt we spent $100.00.

The number one cause of tension between man and wife, and the eventual cause of many divorces, is money related problems and a couple’s differing perspectives on money. The fact that society encourages such a large expenditure of funds from the very beginning is, then, more than a little disturbing.

Imagine the positive economic impact if the soon-to-be-joined were encouraged to spend as little as possible so they would have more for their future together. Doesn’t it make more sense to begin the marriage voyage with a healthier money outlook, helping to avoid the one thing that’s proven to end marriages the world over?

Let’s not set up future couples for failure. Teach youth to ignore the advertising ploys of the wedding industry. Teach them to consider their financial futures. Let’s encourage them to treat their marriage with even more respect than the wedding by fueling the marriage with the gift of financial freedom.

To be clear, I’m not saying a big,  traditional wedding with all the bells and whistles is wrong. Having all the extras isn’t a bad thing IF you already have other things in place like an emergency fund, personal savings, college savings, retirement fund(s), your Will and Health Care Directive, etc.

Yes, I fully advocate having these things in place BEFORE that knot is tied. This adds financial security and a peace-of- mind to the marriage from the very beginning. It also shows and sustains good financial habits that will not be easily broken.

Keep your financial future in min & Stay Frugal!

BBM Interviews Audrey Ostoyic

tmp_images-2120687457

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

tmp_index(3)2132587181

The Christian Walk: Taz Bright interviewed by Hannah C. Mathiot

tmp_index(4)2069974996

This article is part of a series of interviews with ordinary Christians and their personal walks with God. Recently, I had the pleasure and privilege of talking to Eustace Bright, known to his friends as "Taz." Taz is the owner of Bright Balance Ministries, and was raised in Huston Texas.

"I'm nothing special," Says Taz Bright, "my story is not unique. I'm a flawed, messed up, vengeful, violent man without Christ. But, I serve One who IS special, unique, patient slow to anger, quick to forgive and Perfect. In a world where both political stances and personal beliefs shift with the change of public opinion, it's good to lean on something that hasn't budged since before the beginning of time-His Word."

Taz shares with us his story of finding Christ at a young age, his struggles as the victim of identity theft, and how God taught him through these struggles.

"I heard the gospel all my life, growing up in Church, listening to only Christian music in my Christian home, raised by Christian parents. I attended a private Christian school up until 7th grade. I first felt The Spirit tugging at me when I was 8 years old but I kept pushing Him away."

"I kept attending Church and Sunday school & learned a Bible verse for every letter in the alphabet. I even taught Bible study as I got into high school. But it wasn't until I was a junior in high school at 16 years old that I actually made the decision to give my entire life to Christ."

"Now I'm in financial ministry as the owner of Bright Balance Ministries. I've been blessed with a talent for managing money and the gift of teaching. I firmly believe that it's because of these blessings God has charged me with the responsibility to help Christians manage, spend, invest and spend widely."

1 Peter 4:10-11 confirms that Christians should use their gifts to encourage and teach other Christians. "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies-in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."(ESV)

Like all of us, Taz has his own personal battles with sin, but with the power of the Holy Spirit, he has learned to fight sin and live within God's will for his life in humility.

"I gave my life to Christ twenty-two years ago in the summer of 2011. While I haven't been perfect, by any means, I can say I've grown a lot. Attending Calvary Chapel in Idaho Falls (and now also in Baytown, TX) has exposed me to exegesis, deep Bible study & how important they both are. Growing closer to God has helped free me from a violent temper, helped me gain purpose and direction and also helped me appreciate His patience with me. He's used two back injuries to humble me and, despite the pain, I'm actually thankful for those injuries because of what I've learned because of them."

Taz Bright gives us a stunning testimony of how God has used various trials in his life to refine him and teach him patience and forgiveness.

"For six years, an identity thief (former employee) pretended to be me by getting two jobs in my name, selling my social security number to eight people among other things. As a result, I was evicted from my home, my business failed, my car was repossessed, I was arrested six times for crimes I never committed, I moved back into my parents' house (worst part by the way) & I had to start over financially. This all occurred while trying to be a good example to my son. Through this struggle I learned patience, forgiveness and saw a practical, daily example of God's provision- a valuable lesson for sure. Now, I'm a business owner and financial minister."

The bible does not promise that the Christian walk is going to be easy. In fact, it prepares us for exactly to opposite. The Christian life promises suffering (Hebrews 2:10, 1 Peter 1:6-7).

Taz Bright gives the following advice for new Christians. "Accept the fact that you're going to hit road blocks. Even Christ faced opposition, ridicule, and 'advice' from well-meaning friends & family. Follow The Spirit's lead -not theirs. There will be times when you have to go into a private room, lock the door & take a deep breath. Allow those moments to happen and remember those who have gone through it before: Martin Luther King Jr, Billy Graham, Christ! You're in good company."

Taz also encourages other Christians to get involved in their local churches and serve their brothers and sisters in Christ. "I serve as a greeter at my small Church in Baytown & considering joining the worship team also. Church involvement is very important. The Bible tells us to "…not forsake the assembling of yourselves together…"(Hebrews 10:25) We need encouragement, prayers, deep Bible study- a support system- in this troubled world."

The Bible indeed calls Christians to stay deeply rooted in the Church. Hebrews 10:24-25 says: "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near" (ESV).

"I'm currently reading through a Bible Reading plan using my olivetree.com study app. The reading plan is about Peace, which happens to be very important considering my present trials. I'm experiencing the deep, constant peace of God even while dealing with things that would have normally sent me into a Hulk-like rage (Actually Hulk may have beaten me in the self-control department)."

Taz has also found great encouragement in a book called Interpreting the New Testament Text: Introduction to the Art and Science of Exegesis. "It will introduce you to the skill of interpreting God's Word so that you get what HE meant you to understand, not some private interpretation. Knowing God's Word is essential to navigating life's rough seas."

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we can only live according to his will by the constant grace, mercy, and love that God our Father gives us through Jesus Christ his son. Please pray continually for Eustace Bright and his family, along with the other Christians in your life and in your local Church. We all need prayer and encouragement constantly.

tmp_index(3)-1094700098

Biblical Money Smarts- Part Three: Getting Out of Debt

I hope you have read the two previous articles in this series. In them I covered two financial disciplines I think are essential for financial success- Over-spending and Creating Assets. 
So if you have followed the advice contained in them- reduced your spending and created assets- Great job!!
tmp_20131228_095218855001201
Why are those two concepts important? Easy answer: It leads to part three of the series–Getting (and Staying) Out of Debt!

Teens, newly-engaged and newly married couples are in the forefront of my mind when I consider the topic of debt. Why? Because I greatly desire that they are fully educated on the dangers of debt and the many horrible experiences that being in debt can cause. The number one argument couples experience is on the topic of money. Debt makes home life tense- like trying to walk thru field of well-hidden land mines.

Therefore it is imperative that we avoid debt as much as possible and if we are in it we need to aggressively move towards freeing ourselves from its clutches. Proverbs 22:7 tells us that- The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.

Do you want to be a slave to credit card companies, lien holders, banks and other lending institutions, or would you rather be free and able to put your money to work for you?

 Of course you’d rather be debt free, so let’s look at how to do so. These tips will work for anyone willing to

*Sacrifice

*Remain disciplined

*Keep future goals in mind &

*Trust Biblical principles- they work!

My first piece of advice is cut up your credit cards.

(wait, wait, wait, don’t leave….stick with me for a bit)

Here’s food for thought from the book Where Did My Money Go? By Bob Hopkins:

” Most credit card companies do not want you to pay off your monthly bills. They want you maxed out. They can’t make obscene profits on interest alone…” Mr. Hopkins goes on to explain that those credit card holders who pay off their bill on a monthly basis are referred to as “deadbeat clients”.

(Yeah, I didn’t appreciate the term either)

I can attest to the truth of this. My wife and I used to work in a call center taking in-coming calls for a giant credit card company. Many times clients would ask for a credit limit increase and end up confused as to why they were denied. They’d say things like, “I’ve been with you guys for a really long time. I pay off my bill every month. Why can’t I get an increase?”

The question was legitimate and so was their confusion. They were managing their money well. It makes sense that this type of client would be allowed to borrow more money because they have shown they will pay it back in a timely manner. But, the credit card companies are not interested in you being responsible or Godly. They are interested in charging you late fees, interest, membership fees, etc. It’s all about THEM making money. 

Consider this: Why should you continue giving more and more of your hard earned cash to people who do not support your positive, wealth-building actions?

 Also, if you don’t cut up those credit cards you’ll keep using them. 

 I know, I know, some of you are saying, “I can just stop using it, no need to cut it up Taz, that’s a bit extreme.”

 If that were true you would not be in the debt situation that now has you shackled, worried, up at night, working overtime, arguing with your spouse, mad at the kids and unable to afford to send your kid to band camp much less college.

So keep your eyes on the prize. Keep your account open but cut up the cards and work on paying them off. Once you have a balance of zero dollars you can order new cards.

So now that you have cut them up, step two is pay more than the minimum balance. This is really important. While working at the call center I learned that even a medium sized credit card balance can take a while to pay off. 

 I called my credit card company the other day and asked, “How long would it take to pay off my current balance of $348.17 if I only paid the minimum due each month?” The agent asked for some personal information and came back with the answer of “One year and eight months”.

 I consider that a very long time considering the balance is not really all that big. Don’t you? Ya see, in this situation the credit card company (a.k.a. another big bank) charges me interest each month that I have a balance on my card. So my minimum payment reduces my debt but the interest is added in next month which brings the balance up a bit also. Each month this process is repeated there for dragging out the process of paying off the debt. In my case, instead of paying off a little over three hundred dollars I could end up paying over $500!! Yeah, that’s interest at work- cut up those cards and pay more than the minimum. 

 Call your credit card companies and ask them how much you’d have to pay each month in order to pay off your cards in six months. If the answer they give you is too much for your budget, don’t be ashamed, just ask, “How about if I  pay it off in a year?” Keep asking until you get a number that works with your income and budget.

You need to make sacrifices, period! One of the things I admire about my wife is her financial discipline. There was a time when she was out of work so- being the responsible person she is- she decided to cancel her satellite subscription and she signed up for Netflix instead. There were also other areas in her life where she cut back in order to survive while looking for employment.

Can you say the same about yourself? Are you willing to sacrifice in order to spread your money further and reduce your debt? 

 Consider your spending habits and add up the following monthly costs:

1. Eating out

2. Movies

3. Clothes

4. Video Games

5. Concerts

6. Cigarettes

7. Alcohol…….

…and all the other non-essentials.

 Now that you have that number in front of you, imagine sending those funds to your creditors each month. I am sure you see where I am going with this. That money, currently spent on non-essentials, could greatly reduce your debt. 

 You are literally spending away your financial freedom.

(let that sink in)

My next piece of advice is not something I hear in financial circles a lot and I think it’s a shame and that is; read books about how money really works.

John Adams said it really well when he uttered these words: “All the perplexities, confusion and distress in America arise not from deficits of the constitution or confederation, not from want of honor or virtue, so much as down-right ignorance of coin, credit and circulation.”

I love that statement. I cannot tell you how empowering, freeing and eye-opening it is to soak up the wisdom in books like…

*Where Did My Money Go?

*Money Came by The House The Other Day

*Financial Peace

*Digging Out The Money Pit

*What Ever Happened To The American Dream?

*The Coming Economic Earthquake

*Rich Dad, Poor Dad (entire series)

*Why We Want You To Be Rich

*The Millionaire Mind  &

*The Millionaire Next Door

*The Automatic Millionaire

The knowledge shared by the wise folks if the financial industry yielded me a greater understanding of how money works and what money really is.

That’s right, money is not really what we think it is. What do I mean by that? Get those books I listed above and you’ll see.

 Also, the concept of having my money work for me was driven home by these books and the authors who have lived that concept.

In part two of this series I spoke about the necessity of Creating Assets. That is how you have money work for you! Imagine that you have an ATM machine in your bedroom and every time you put in $200 it spit out $275 back at you. I can imagine you’d spend a lot of time putting $200 into that machine, correct? Now imagine if you put in the 200 and when you got the 275 back you took the excess 75 and sent it to a creditor, reducing your debt by 75 dollars. Can you see how you’d become debt free if you were patient and disciplined enough? This is what an asset does for you. Not only does it increase your income it allows you to reduce and eventually eliminate your debt.

You might now be saying, “Taz, you said you were going to show us how to get out and stay out of debt.”

My only reply would be, “All the things that helped you get out of debt are the same things that will keep you out of it. Stay disciplined, spend less than you make, save, invest, pay off credit cards each month and keep creating assets.

There are tons more pieces of advice I could list but honestly, you have to dive into the books, DVDs, audio disks and websites for yourself. Take personal responsibility, take charge and don’t let Satan beat you down with financial negligence.

Remember Proverbs 22:7- The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.

Let’s not be slaves– let’s be Financially Free!!