A Letter To Myself

This idea was spawned from Ninja over at Punch Debt in the Face. I hope to write this and put it in an envelope and open it in 10 years.

Dear Future Self,

I hope you are doing well in 2020. It has been a short journey in my married life but the most important as far as I’m concerned. We have been debt free since November of 2007 (but of course you know this) and you had still better be debt free as you open this (threat included). Right now we are going through some financial adversity. I thank the Lord everyday that we learned the basics of personal finance from Dave Ramsey. If not we would have to resort to credit cards to cover many of our expenses during this time.

As you are reading this my hope is that you have not forgotten the most important thing in life. I hope that through your financial adversity you have learned to hug your beautiful wife 🙂 a little harder and loved on your kids a little longer. I can’t wait to see how our lives are going to look in 2020. The steps that we have taken now will be so important when you open this letter. I don’t really have the patience for adversity at the moment. My hope is that we will see the end result of our hard work and self discipline by the time you open this letter.

More importantly than finances remember that it has been your relationship with Christ that has brought you to the point where you are today. You have been blessed beyond your knowledge and more importantly your family will be blessed through many generations because of the steps you have taken. Never lose sight of who sustains you and blesses your path. If you do let this letter be a reminder. You are NO ONE without Christ! Remember that your time line is not God’s. Your life will be a whole lot less frustrating when you realize that.

In the end, remember that communication is key. You will not win in life if you can’t learn to communicate in relationships. Your old self is going to be really disappointed if you have abandoned any of your top 3 pillars (God, Wife, and Family in that order). I have 3 instructions for you that you must do in the next week.

1. Open your bible and connect with Christ.

2. Take your wife on a date and do mention the budget ;).

3. Spend a full day with each of your children individually (Greyson 15, Ava 11, and TBD 10)

Do these 3 things amidst whatever victories or struggles may be going on at this point in your life. Never lose faith and never lose sight. See you on the flip side.

Yourself 10 Years Ago

P.S. Thanks Ninja for the idea. This is a really great way to reflect on the most important things in life. I encourage you to do this on paper or on your blog. Shoot me an email or a tweet with the link. I’m interested to read your letters to your future self.

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Man in the Mirror (Part 2)

Previously I talked about the need to please and the need to feel accepted. Both of these needs, if not handled correctly, can be devastating to your personal and financial well being. There is hope though. Your hope is you. It’s that easy. Here are a few recommendations for recognizing your self worth.

1. Find Your Strengths
Do not pass go, do not collect $200 until you can pin point and understand your strengths. I personally used the Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath. This is a great resource to understand your uniqueness and how you can leverage your strengths to achieve and exceed your goals.

2. Leverage the Power of Positive Thinking
Once you have discovered your strengths begin to surround yourself with a community of positivity. I personally suggest a church community. Norman Vincent Peale suggested reciting Philippians 4:13 to yourself over and over in his book The Power of Positive Thinking. “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me, I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me”. This is a great starting point for you who may feel hopeless and need a quick fix.

3. Seek Counsel
My final suggestion is to seek outside counsel. I am a true believer in seeking a non-biased opinion of what you could be doing better. Your church pastor is always a great starting point. They have many resources to get you started and then launch you into a counsel that is more tailored towards your specific needs. Proverbs 15:22 says it best, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed”.

Are you ready and willing?

What is holding you back?

Resources:

Confessions of a People-Pleaser by Anna Light (annalightministries.com)
Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale (Overstock.com)
Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath (Amazon.com)
YouVersion.com

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Budgeting For Idiots

I hope the title left a little intrigued as to what the topic is for today. Truth be told budgeting is the basis for a strong personal finance plan but why don’t we do it. Here are a few reasons:

“I let the bank budget my money for me”

“My broke uncle said that until the checks are gone I have money in my account”

“My wife handles the money”

“My husband handles the money”

“We don’t make enough money to budget”

So before you catch yourself quoting the above statements get out a pen and paper and follow these easy steps to budgeting (because you aren’t an idiot).

1. List your take home income at the very top of the paper (this is the net not the gross).

2. Under your income list your most important needs i.e. food, shelter, clothing, transportation.

3. Then list all the monthly bills (divided by amount of pay periods per month).

4. Yes. Dog grooming is a considered a monthly bill.

5. After listing all the bills that have to be paid divide the rest into different areas that are considered wants i.e. vacation, eating out, etc.

6. At the very bottom (when all the bills and wants are subtracted out) the number must be $0. If it is not $0 then find a place for the amount leftover.

This is considered a zero based budget. You must be (insert tag word) Intentional about your money. Each dollar must have a name. Don’t ever let money fall into what most would call a “slush” fund. As you begin to count your slush fund you will find that not buying drinks at Sonic and 7 Eleven could send your kids to college. Most importantly remember that budgets are static. You will not get it right the first time. Follow these easy steps and by the end you will be a Budgeting Aficionado.

Intentional in 2010

This year the tag phrase for my family is Intentional. My wife and I attended a goal planning retreat over the weekend which will benefit our childrens children. Not only did we work on our overall communication but we planned how we would be intentional in all aspects of our lives. For example, we want to be intentional in our finances i.e. budget. We want to be intentional in our ministry. To sum up the weekend we want to “happen” to our lives instead of 40 years down the road realizing that our lives have happened to us. So my questions today are:

– How are you being Intentional? and,

-What will you do today to happen to your life?

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Starting Anew

I hope 2010 brings many new opportunities for the masses. I am excited to begin this blog with a fresh new perspective on the old boring topic of Personal Finance. If you are like me you know many families that are limping along living paycheck to paycheck wondering when their next break is coming. My aim with this blog is to proactively challenge the status quo and live differently than the world. I know your first thought is “that sounds great, BUT…”. You can insert whatever BUT you want at the end of that. Trust me, at my worst, I can fill in the blank endlessly. So what now???  Stop living a BUT life and start living a FREE life. Stay tuned…