Tag Archives: spending

The Frugal Life: #Frugalite Shopping

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Luke 14: 28-33 But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you.They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it! ’ “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.

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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. This is what allows you to build a strong financial situation. So how do you accomplish frugal spending?

First, pawn shops. These stores are very underrated. I frequently shop at a pawn shop in my neighborhood. Since I love buying movies I am thrilled that my favorite pawn shop sells DVDs & blu-rays for less than $5. I 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 entertaining just because they are priced lower than their brand-new counterparts. Also, I love knowing I am getting the most bang for my 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 may be 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: prudent use of money and goods: the sensible and cautious management of money and goods in order to waste as little as possible and obtain maximum value.

Thrifty Shopping

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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 loads of other items at zero cost. 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 to do so.

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, Frugalite shopping!

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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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#Batman’s True “Superpower”

Batman’s True SuperpowerThe Bat

To say I am a big #Batman fan would be an understatement. I love the flawed, dark character partly because I can relate to him. He’s by no means perfect and I love that. He wrestles with inner conflict, flirts @ the borders of what’s considered legal and he’s wanted by the law enforcement agencies he saves on a regular basis. Batman is called into action when the Justice League (Superfriends for those who can remember) is in a bind. He’s known for doing what other superheroes cannot.

I remember an episode where Superman, Wonderwoman, Flash, Green Lantern and the Martian were taking turns interrogating a criminal. They tried for hours on end to get vital information from him and got nowhere. Batman arrived, spoke to the criminal for a few seconds and walked up to Superman with the needed information. Flash asked Superman, “How’d he do that?” Superman replied, “You don’t wanna know”.

Yeah, I love the Batman.

It’s easy to think of all this character’s toys, his money, mansion and his fancy vehicles as his greatest attributes. However, you’d be wrong. Batman, aka The Dark Knight, has another name unknown to most- World’s Greatest Detective.

True Batman fans will remember a conversation our hero had with Commissioner Gordon on the roof of the police department. In this conversation Gordon gave Batman a riddle from a villain called The Riddler. Gordon thought out loud as he tried to figure it out, Batman walked calmly to the edge of the roof and prepared to disappear over the edge, having figured the answer in just a few seconds. Gordon asked, “Wait, you already know what it means?” Batman replied, “Yes, don’t you?” then vanished in true Batman style.Off the Edge

The intelligence of this cartoon character is one that is often overlooked in movies and Saturday morning episodes. But, we Christians would do well to keep it in mind. Think about it. Have you ever watched an episode where Batman fought the bad guys without first doing research on the criminals themselves, their tactics, weapons, known affiliations, etc? He’s often seen in front of his huge Batcave computer, typing in information or looking through his microscope at some chemical compound or another.

Once the research is done he is then ready to face the bad guys- equipped with toys, vehicles, gadgets and the intelligence necessary to use his tools in the right way. If Batman didn’t posses this tremendous intellect he would be completely ineffective in crime-fighting.

The discipline of seeking knowledge and wisdom before facing a problem is very Biblical advice. While I’m sure Batman isn’t a follower of Christ, he does help remind us of the importance of doing our research before diving into a problem, business venture or solving our financial woes.

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 We should seek God’s Wisdom before tackling any problem, includeing money problems. The Bible is filled with examples of financial mistakes by God’s people along with the consequences of those mistakes. We need to learn from them.

Remember the story of Solomon? In 1King 3:5 God came to him saying, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”

Wwwwoooooowww! Can you imagine what you’d ask for?

(Honestly a Riddler green, 2014 Chevy Camero just flashed through my head.)

However…Solomon replied in verse nine, “Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”

#Solomon recognized two things of massive importance; his own ignorance and God’s infinite #wisdom.

This should serve as an example to us. Are we humble enough to admit we need His guidance or are we so arrogant that we tell Him, “It’s OK, I got this”?

 Judging from the sense of urgency on the faces of #Black Friday shoppers last month, I’d say most of us fit in the arrogant category. But, let’s get back to Solomon.

Verse eleven tells us, “So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have!”

I could not imagine being Solomon at that moment, being granted such Wisdom-directly from God-that it would be unmatched by anyone in human history from that point on!!

The great thing is we can do the same thing! Yeah, you heard me, we can go to God and ask Him for the wisdom to tackle enemies such as greed, materialism, idolatry and worldly ambition.

Proverbs 24:13-14

My child, eat honey, for it is good, and the honeycomb is sweet to the taste. In the same way, wisdom is sweet to your soul. If you find it, you will have a bright future, and your hopes will not be cut short.

It doesn’t get any plainer than that. God tells us, in no uncertain terms, that wisdom yields a bright future. That’s more than enough reason to seek wisdom, in my opinion. 

So what are your financial hurdles? What’s holding you back from the financial freedom you dream about? How can you be a better steward of your God-given assets?

To find the answer to these questions, and others, we need to be Biblical Detectives. Seek God’s Financial Wisdom. Ask Him what your goals should be and which path to take towards achieving those goals.

One last thought from Proverbs 4:5&6

Get wisdom; develop good judgment. Don’t forget my words or turn away from them. Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you.

Sounds like good advice; besides, it worked for both Solomon and Batman.

Biblical Money Smarts- Part One: #Overspending

I have worked and attended school/Church with many people who seem to never have extra cash. I have been one of those people a few times in my past and sometimes money is still a struggle now that I am re-married, in ministry, a business owner and full time college student. I hear those without money talk about how they cannot afford a vacation, health insurance or that new shiny car. However, most of these folks have made one very dangerous and basic mistake- they spend too much. I say that because I see the stuff they DO spend money on.

Doesn’t it seem logical that every dollar you spend is a dollar you no longer have? Yeah…I know, “Taz, that’s pretty much common sense.” Well…it makes sense but, unfortunately, it’s no longer that common.

For the purpose of this blog my definition of Overspending is a simple one- Spending more money than you need to.
Here’s what I mean.
Let’s say you leave home in the morning and you go through the McDonald’s drive thru, you spend $7 for breakfast, then on your lunch break you spend $10 for take-out at a local restaurant. On the way home you decide that the American-style Chinese food Timmy Chan’s is irresistible so you get an 8 dollar plate to go. That’s a total of $25 in just one day! I know most people don’t buy all three meals in a day so let’s just take the seven dollar breakfast for example. That’s still $35 a week- a total of $1820 a year! That’s a good start to a vacation in New Orleans (feel free to come get me and my wife when you’re headed that way).  For those who do buy all three meals per day, you’re spending about $6,500 a year. Wow! Imagine if you had that in your bank account instead of spread among all those local eateries. Imagine the bills you could pay off, vacations you could take or the band camps for which you could pay 100% cash so you could send your talented child to. (you know you want that loud saxophone of his gone for a week…admit it)

Movies can be another pitfall for the many who are struggling with saving cash. These days it’s about $9.25 for a movie and a bit more if it’s 3D. There are folks I know who go see a movie every week. (They insist on seeing it the day it hits theaters…..gotta love crazy people lol) I am not suggesting you stop seeing movies all together but once a week at $9.25 a pop is $481 a year. You could get a Netflix membership, pay $7.99 a month ($95.88/yr) and watch two to three movies a week instead. More bang for your buck seems to make the most sense to me. Compare going to the theater to a Netflix membership and that’s a difference of $385.12 each year. This does not including the cost of fuel it takes to get to the theater. (You have been paying attention to rising fuel prices, right?)

If you are the type of person described here who spends money on breakfast each day, goes to the movies once a week & you are tired of not having money, imagine the result if you decide to eat breakfast at home,  and replace the movie going with the suggested Netflix plan. (No, Netflix is not paying me) You’d have an extra (drum roll please) $1,945.12 every year! That’s money IN YOUR POCKET….ok, in the bank. If you’re setting aside this cash in a savings account for the next ten years, that’s $19,451.20 before interest is added!!
It’s amazing what some patience and Godly discipline can do, huh?

Here’s an important tip to help reduce over spending. It’s a simple, doable, workable one.  Shop at thrift stores! aka, Resale Shops!

“Whooooaaawww!?!? Taz, you want me to buy used clothing? Only poor people do that. I’m not a poor person!”

You may not be poor,… now,…. but in today’s economy we cannot afford to be picky or to think too highly of ourselves. Jesus lived as a “poor person” having no home and was buried in a borrowed tomb. If He could do without the “finer things in life”, you can too. And shopping at a thrift store doesn’t mean you can’t find designer clothing. It does mean you pay less for them (ssshhhhh…nobody has to know)

Shopping at a resale shop means you get the same clothes you’d buy at Macy’s for a far more affordable price. That’s more money in YOUR pocket. Using your money at a resale shop will yield nice clothing and you’ll leave there with five outfits for the same price- or less- than one outfit at Macy’s. Now if you feel the need to unnecessarily spread your hard-earned cash around, I have a Houston, TX address to give you. I assure you I….aaahhh I mean, someone….will put it to good use.

Here’s a Bible verse for ya: Proverbs 6:6–8 says “Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest.”

What does this verse have to do with spending money? God is telling us to be wise, work hard and prepare for the future. Can you do that if you are spending your money unwisely? If you put nothing aside for a rainy day- as the ant- will you be prepared for disaster or even small emergencies? If you buy that expensive shirt, expensive rims or spend a ton of cash on fast food, will you have any left over to repair a suddenly nonoperational transmission of your beloved BMW? For most of us the answer is, “No at all!”

Also, consider the story of Joseph in Genesis 41:14 thru 57

Joseph interpreted the king’s dream and advised the king to save grain in the plentiful years so that his kingdom would be ready for seven years of famine. When famine hit all the lands Egypt was still doing well because of what they stored up. They then sold their excess grain to surrounding lands which had no crop to speak of.

They profited during a depression, imagine that.

Are you ready for a major depression to hit? Considering the current economy it’s not a far stretch to imagine it happening in the near future.

One last scripture to chew on: Proverbs 21:5

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.”

Yes, you have to make a definite plan in order to enjoy a time of plenty. (I remind you of the aforementioned story of Joseph)

Obviously God cares a great deal that we are wise with the allocation of our funds. He wants to see us prosper. I’m not saying you are destined to great riches, not by any means. I am saying that we are responsible for acting wisely with the money our Father has blessed us with.

Interested in learning more about spending, saving, investing and getting out of debt? Here are some books I highly recommend.

1.     Digging Out of The Money Pit: 30 Biblical Solutions to Your Financial Headaches

2.     Money Came by the House the Other Day: A Guide to Christian Financial Planning And Stories of Stewardship

3.     The Millionaire Mind

4.     The Millionaire Next Door

5. Where Did My Money Go?: An Honest Look At Perpetual Debt and The Fiscal  Slavery Of The American Family from A Christian perspective

 &

5. Whatever Happened to The American Dream?

Recap: Rethink how, where and how often you spend money. Research your spending habits, decide what you can live without. Consider this verse: Proverbs 22:7

“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”

Which do you want to be, a victorious ruler or a slave to your creditors?

PS: You may be thinking “So, Taz what do I do with this money once I have decided to save more and spend less?” or you might be wondering, “I have some money set aside already. What is the Biblically correct thing to do with it?”

The options are almost endless for sure. Stay tuned for part 2 of this series- Creating Assets. It’s gonna be very interesting topic- to say the least.

God Bless and Happy Saving