Archives For Finances

I want a bigger house! I want a nicer car! I want to travel the world! I also want to do all of this now with little effort. Is that too much to ask? The truth is, I struggle with lust. These wants are not bad, but they can become horrible in a hurry.

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Photo by: KCNewman Photography

It is simple for me to talk about cultural problems, which is what I was tempted to do, but the problem lies within my heart. Our current culture didn’t create this desire for gain with no sacrifice; we were born with it. It is too easy to take the elevator instead of the stairs. We know the stairs are better for us, but an elevator gets us there with no effort. My friend, Rory Vaden has a great blog on self-discipline. Current inventions like debt have made it simple to indulge my lust to take what feels easy. To put the cart before the horse and just finance it.

When we live an undisciplined life that spins out of control, we make financial choices that don’t match what we really want. That is where I found myself six years ago. Dejected and frustrated I sat in the driveway sitting there with the car running wondering how I got to this point. I had gotten off of work, but couldn’t go inside. For me when I stop, all of the bad decisions and failures I have made come rushing into the front of my mind. Maybe if I sit here it will all go away like waking from a bad dream, I thought. My wife and I had overpaid on a house, put zero down and accumulated consumer debt. When we had begun our lives together we had said that we would just live on my income while she worked. If you are like me sometimes what we say and what we do is completely different. Slowly one bad decision after another had gotten me to this place of sitting in the car.

We were expecting our first child and I was sitting there wondering how we were going to make it month to month on just my income. Our plan was for her to stay at home when we had kids, however, it was more of a wish than a plan. Have you been there? Wondering how you made financial decisions opposite to what you truly wanted?

We don’t wake up one day in a disaster, though it feels that way. We don’t wander into a mess and we certainly won’t magically pop out on the other side. It is a result of a mindset and behaviors that overtime causes us to prosper or sit in a car feeling like an idiot. Often things happen so gradually we don’t even realize what is going on.

We are like a frog. If you boil water and try to put a frog in, it will jump out. When it feels the steam and heat it resists going into the pot. It is fully aware of the danger. We are the same way when there is a huge danger we know to avoid it, well most of the time. Sometimes we are not as smart as a frog. However, if you put a frog into cold water and turn the heat on high and warm the water slowly, the frog will not jump. He will sit there while being boiled. Gradual temperature change is not even noticed by the frog. This is true for most of us as well the deaths of a thousand cuts are not even noticed. I have been this frog more times than I can count.

Are you tired of being a frog? Ready to change your life and live with more than enough instead of barely getting by? Great! That is a good place to start. To get to a point of being tired of your current situation is the first step to change. Change will not come easy, but there can be enjoyment and fulfillment today. Not when you are done changing your finances, rather the here and now.

I looked at financial discipline all wrong in the beginning, therefore I didn’t stick to any budget or other financial management. Here it is simply. A budget when given thought and time instructs your money to go towards your true wants and desires, not your frivolous wants in the moment.

Sticking to a budget and investing money overtime will get you and I the wants financially that we truly desire. That is why disciplining ourselves with a budget is so important instead of pitifully sitting in a car. My wife is able to stay home with our children. We have everything we need and a sense of peace about the direction we are going.

Say no to lust and yes to what matters. Create a budget monthly with your spouse. Learn from me and live a life of purpose financially before you wake up down a road you weren’t intending to head down. In most cases the stairs are actually easier than the elevator. Be blessed on your journey.

This is part of the new book I am working on called, “A Life That Prospers.” What money questions, problems, or solutions do you have?

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God Won’t Bless This

Zechariah Newman —  February 25, 2014 — 18 Comments

Money is going to be important to achieving the dreams of your heart. I have talked about open-handed stewardship and also where money should be allocated. We must remove a major roadblock from a financially fit life. This roadblock is the Spirit of Mammon and it is invasive in our culture.

Mathew 6:24 says, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon.”

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Mammon is an Aramaic word that means riches.

This does not mean that money is evil. In fact, money can be used as a tool to have everlasting impact to win souls for the kingdom. Matthew 6:24 is referring to which master we serve. This is where the Spirit of Mammon takes over. Mammon promises what only God can give. Identity, power, security etc. These things do not come from money, but from God. God says sow and reap. Mammon says buy and sell. We think things like, If I have enough money then I will feel secure.

Money that is submitted to God and not Mammon can be blessed by God. This is a lay down your life challenge. Being blessed is like swimming with the current. Things are easy and smooth. Being cursed is like swimming against the current; everything takes a lot of effort and you get nowhere. I want my life to be blessed. How about you?

Mammon runs around with two thugs, poverty and pride. The problem with these two is they are things focused instead of God focused. Poverty down plays everything and is afraid to acknowledge the blessings of God. Poverty is confused and thinking being broke is somehow spiritual. Judging others for having nice things is often what comes out. Pride shows its ugly head by thinking that we deserve more by comparing ourselves to others.

The proper stance toward money is a heart of gratitude toward our Heavenly Father. If you have internet, which if you are reading this you do, you have more than a lot of people. We get sidetracked by stuff because we are humans and we have limitless desires. Regain a proper perspective by lifting your heart to your Father which has given you so much. Be blessed on your journey.

What are you grateful for?

 

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Open Handed Stewardship

Zechariah Newman —  September 3, 2013 — 1 Comment

I have been thinking about stewardship a lot lately and about what is the proper way to steward. I believe that this must be done with an open hand. Let me explain. If we are grasping on to what is “ours,” it is impossible to manage all that we are responsible for. Money is the easiest object to see if we are open or closed handed, but really it is true of everything whether people or objects we must steward with an open hand. These 3 things help me to steward with an open hand.

“Stewardship is the position and duties of a steward, a person who acts as the surrogate of another or others, especially by managing property, financial affairs, an estate, etc.”

1. God owns it. The recognition that it is not mine is the first step to proper stewardship. This is the biggest step and often the one we forget the easiest. In the church we love to throw around words that we don’t know what they mean. I believed that stewardship meant being good with money. What it actually means is that what we own we are really caring for on behalf of God. When you are tempted to close your hand remember this very important piece of stewardship.

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2. Steward what you have. Steward what you are responsible for. Our time, money, God given gifts and abilities, our influence, and our bodies all comes from God. In Luke 16:10 it says, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Even if it is something that seems little take care of it and it will flourish. You and you alone have been entrusted to take care of everything that you have.

3. Steward now. What you take care of today determines what you will be taking care of in ten years. I have heard many people say they will give money when they have more of it. This is not really how it works. If you are not giving money when you have a little of it, you will not give when you have a lot of it. We as humans have limitless desires. Learn how to give and be generous in the small days and you and I will be generous in the days we dream about.

If you have struggled with stewarding I am with you. It is not perfection we should be after but a soft and open heart. Closed hands indicate a place in our hearts that has become hardened. Pray for a new perspective. God is faithful and will give you wisdom. Zechariah 4:10 says, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” Be blessed and enjoy the journey as we learn to steward with an open hand!

 

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Money is not a complicated thing, however, our actions with money can be very complicated. Many times we over complicate it and add drama. The truth is if we did three simple things we would have enough money and would not let dollars and cents be a stronghold in our lives. This post is not about investing and borrowing. To find out more on those decisions click hereThese 3 things should be lived out daily with finances.

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1. Give 10%. We must be giving. We should not be closed fisted, but instead have an open hand. This is impossible to do unless you are giving part of your money away. Giving frees up the heart, kills envy, and renews the mind to remember that life is so much more than money. Like anything in life this is a muscle that needs to be built. If you have not been giving it will be a stretch for you, but it’s worth the effort to lower your lifestyle to have money to give.

2. Invest 15%. Are you planning for your future? How are you going to eat when you can’t work any longer? How are you going to pay for unexpected bills? I know these are not things that are fun to think about so we usually don’t until it’s too late. We need to be putting away at least 15% of our income and build savings and retirement. If a couple hundred-dollar bills ruins your life there is a problem. There is a level of peace when there is more than a few dollars in the bank. You will make different decisions and get better sleep.

3. Live within your means 75%. It is your choice whether this includes debt payments or not. My wife and I have decided to stop borrowing money on anything other than our home. It may take us longer to become wealthy because of a lack of leverage, but I believe the freedom and peace is worth the sacrifice. If this is not the choice you make that’s okay, but at least make sure that you don’t pass the point of bills being more than income. That is not a fun place to be.

I know that these three things are not earth shattering, but most things in life that are simple are where the real change happens. If you have gotten yourself upside down with bills it will take a lot of effort to dig out of them, but in the end it will be worth it. Give, save, and live within the rest. This is the key to a life of freedom and peace with finances.

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People often say that money doesn’t make you happy. I believe that this is true, but I also believe that a mountain of debt is a sure-fire way to be unhappy. Debt is one of the deep dark secrets that no one talks about. I’m not here to convince you not to borrow, though I think you should think about it. Debt is a current of water pushing against you. Everything you do requires an amazing amount of effort and energy; nothing is easy. Investments are different. They are like you are going with the current making everything easier similar as it is paddling down stream. Debt robs you of these three things!

1. Hope. I remember when my wife became pregnant. It was our “plan” for her to stay at home. I say “plan” loosely as it was more what we wanted. We couldn’t make it on my income alone because of debt payments. Even though we knew the whole time we wanted her to stay home when we had kids, our choices didn’t all align with that. We had no hope until we stumbled upon Dave Ramsey! Mountains of debt robs you of the hope to have what you desire. It is like a thief in the night, causing our minds to see all the negatives with money and none of the positives. Restore your hope. It is possible to pay off debt. We made a plan and she went back to teaching for nine months when our oldest was one and everything she made went toward paying off debt. It was the longest nine months of her life! My wife is now at home with our three kids. We did it because of Hope!

“Never spend your money before you have it.”~Thomas Jefferson

2. Peace. Do you remember what it was like to have no debt payments? Ever lose sleep because of debt? I have too. It is such a nasty destroyer of peace. It creeps into your mind and worry sets in. Worry is the opposite of peace. Sometimes when we have had debt around for so long we have grown accustomed to the feeling of worry. This is not the way it should be. There is a better way. It requires sacrifice and hard work.  What is your peace worth?

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”~Warren Buffett

3. Freedom. Do you remember the scene from Brave Heart? The one in which William Wallace yells, “Freedom!” Financial freedom allows for so much. To give like no one else can give. It allows you to be spontaneous to go when you want to go. When you  have the pounds of pressure that debt brings, you lose a lot of your freedom. My wife had to go back to work when she didn’t want to. We couldn’t give as much as we wanted to give. Our money was all chained up to bills with other people’s names on them. What freedom would you have with no debt?

I believe debt can steal these three things from you. Debt stole these things from us. James 1:5 states, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” I believe that this is true. Ask God and He will show you the way. Remove the chains of bondage. Be free!

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When we hear of rip off financial systems or bad investments they all have one thing in common; the promise of quick money. Most of us have very little patience and this is the hook in our mouth. We never hear the term, “get rich slow schemes” as this would allow time to think. In the children’s fable, The Tortoise and The Hare, we learn that the tortoise always wins. My brother once said, “I just wish my tortoise was faster.” Isn’t that the truth? We want to grab our turtle and strap a rocket to its back. This is the point at which I have made my worse financial decisions. These 5 steps help me to avoid my share of stupid tax.

Picture by http://www.flickr.com/photos/epsos/

1. Breath. There are many studies that show deep breathing allows for better decision making. Give your brain full oxygen and lower your blood pressure. Breath down through your belly button then slowly exhale. Yes, using your brain helps to avoid bad decisions. It moves us from emotion back to logic.

2. Can you teach it? We must be able to explain the investment idea to others. If you can’t do this don’t put money into it. Only invest in things you fully understand. Know how it could make money as well as how it could lose money. Everything has an opportunity cost; know what it is. Fund managers and investment help is great, but don’t let that be an excuse for not paying attention and understanding what they are doing. As Dave Ramsey says, “They must have the heart of a teacher.”

3. Prayer. Pray about it. I have not invested in certain things because I didn’t feel comfortable about them after praying. The burden of proof is on the side of investing in something new. One instance of this was a company that got all of its assets frozen. I wanted to invest, but after praying I didn’t feel right so I didn’t do it. Glad I didn’t now, although at the time that was a tough decision. A lot of people I knew were making good money with little effort. I love the people who lost money in the company and my heart aches for them.

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”~ James 1:5

4. Counsel. Always get counsel from those that do well financially. Get counsel from the ones that will challenge you, not the ones that will be “yes” men and women. Another chance to teach that person about your investment or purchase idea. They will open your eyes to things that you have not considered. You have to be open to being wrong. Don’t get argumentative and stay open to critique.

“Through presumption comes nothing but strife, But with those who receive counsel is wisdom.” Proverbs 13:10  

5. Long term vision. Some won’t like this but I don’t prescribe to market timing short-term single stock investments. It feels too much like the hare in the race. I’m going to hold for the long-term. This helps to avoid microwave thinking and sets my life up to be like a crock pot. No adrenaline rush but highly effective. Investment strategy should be boring.

So if you have made your share of oops financially, join the club. Knowing what to do and doing it are two separate things. Don’t look back except to learn. Look forward, learn your lesson and take your time making decisions. When all else fails ask more questions. With most things we come to decisions too quickly and don’t have enough information. So breath, ask, pray, and ask some more.

What are some things you do to make better financial decisions?

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Are you lusting after your dream? I do sometimes. Lust is an overwhelming desire or craving. I believe pursuing our dreams turns to lust when we can’t be happy with our life until we achieve what great grandeur is in our minds. I’m trying to put the dream in its proper place but to be honest it is hard to do. I have found certain things to be successful in increasing patience which leads to me putting my dream in its proper place instead of lusting after it. These 3 things help me to chase my dream and not lust after it. 

“And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.” Hebrews 6:15

1. Trust God’s timing. Do you believe God’s plan for your life is perfect? Do you believe He knows you better than you know yourself? Don’t give some religious answer. My first reaction is, “Yes I trust God with my life. Well with this part of my life at least. If I give Him access to all of my life I will have to sell everything, have no friends, and do things I hate. No, no, no, I can only put Him in the church box.” Then I wonder why it’s hard to wait. If we truly are allowing God into all areas of our life He will give us the desires of our heart or He will change your heart. Trust God with your whole life, including the timing.

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”   ~Epicurus

2. Gratitude. If I am lusting after my dream, I am ungrateful for everything in my life. All I can focus on is everything God is not giving me. How could He be so unfair and give other people my dream? Oh the humanity! This is no way to live. When I focus on my three beautiful kids who are healthy, the finances I do have, the influence I currently have, I am excited for the day, energized and ready to go out to the world with a smile on my face. Attitudes of gratitude are attractant. Your dream will happen sooner when you are grateful. (tweet it)

3. God of abundance. God’s blessings are not a finite resource. Other people receiving things earlier than you does not negatively affect your dream. If you don’t understand this, it is too easy to covet and lust. Your friend will buy a big house, expensive car, have kids that listen, a spouse that adores them, and you won’t be happy because you’re too busy wishing it was you. Be happy for them! They are your friend so rejoice in their happiness and triumph. God has more than enough for you to get yours.

“Instead, I have an abundance mentality: When people are genuinely happy at the  successes of others, the pie gets larger.” ~Stephen Covey

These 3 things help me and I pray they helped you. Don’t waste valuable time lusting and start taking footsteps toward your dream. Live life the way God designed it. God’s promises are true; hold on to that. Restore your hope and faith. Trust the one that created you!

 

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Waves Of Life

zechariahnewman —  May 20, 2013 — 3 Comments

I’m sitting at the beach right now watching the waves come in. Wave after wave. Big and small, listening to the rhythm of the waves. Have you ever fallen down and had the waves pound on you while you try to get your breath? It can be scary and panic can come in. This reminds me of the waves of life. Sometimes the waves crash against us harmlessly and other times the waves come with such a force that it feels like we will die. The way to get through those waves is what surfers call a duck dive. You push the front of your board down, go into and under the wave. It allows you to go under the force of the top of the wave. It is the same way we should face the waves of life. Here are 4 ways to duck dive the waves of life.

Photo By: K RouzaudPhotography

“God never gives strength for tomorrow, or for the next hour, but only for the strain of the minute.”  ~ Oswald Chambers

1. Push into God. When the going gets tough the tough get on their knees. A personal growing relationship with Jesus Christ makes some waves that use to seem huge, small and harmless. He gives us the strength to push through the wave. So press into God and He will sustain you through the pounding wave.
 
2. Push into Family. When a big wave hits you gather around the ones you love and that love you. Draw close to them. Pray with them, cry with them and laugh with them. A lot of times your family will give you insight. You need people you trust in vulnerable times. You need to feel safe to be open and honest as this will help you get under the wave.
 
“Accountability breeds response-ability.” ~Stephen R. Covey
 
3. Push into an Accountability Partner. We all need someone outside of our family. Build a relationship with someone and get to know them. Meet at least weekly. When the wave of strife and trouble arise you may be tempted to hide. That is the last thing you should do. Have someone close enough that you can bear your soul to. That you can admit heartache, failure, or disappointment. Someone that will ask you the hard questions and give difficult answers. Not always fun, but accountability is worth the sacrifice.
 
“Haters never bother people who are ordinary, but the extraordinary are magnets for rocks. Keep going.” ~ Jon Acuff
 
4. Push away naysayers. In good times and bad it is important to push away naysayers outside of your iner-circle. We don’t need people pulling us down like an under current; making the pounding waves more ferocious, whispering in your ear that you have failed and are unworthy. I don’t have time to listen to the haters and neither do you.
 
So let’s take advice from surfers and press our boards down to go under waves, thus reducing the brunt force pressure on us making the waves roll over instead of crash against us. The key to most succesful things is time. Build these into your life now. The more time you put in to these four things, the smaller the waves become. 
 
What are ways in which you survive and thrive the waves of life?

I love road trips. It is not just the destination but the whole process. Seeing new things such as mountain peeks, rivers and strange places that I would never visit if I were not just passing through. Stopping to take pictures, what fun to take it all in. The hours go by quickly while I’m still so excited for the destination. These 4 things help me to enjoy the trip.

1. Focus on today. Life should be this way. The ride should be fun, thus enjoying the moment while you continue your personal journey toward your destination. When my wife and I were dating we thought, “Can’t wait until we can be married and start our life together.” Then it was, “Can’t wait until we have a house, a child, another child and then for them to be a little older.” Now we are wanting a bigger house. You see the wants never stop if we don’t relax and enjoy the things that today brings we will never really live.

2. List what you enjoy today; that may not be that way forever. With our house it is small so it’s easy to clean, you can see the kids everywhere they go, we are always together, and there is less to heat and cool. Lastly, a lot of people don’t own a house. How fortunate are we? These are just a few things I remember when I start to gripe.

3. Good road trip music. Put on some uplifting music. Music is part of the enjoyment in a road trip. Nothing depressing, rather songs that will lift your spirit. Play something that tells you the sun will rise in the morning.

4. Bring along friends or family. We all need relationships. Don’t be a loner when you are feeling low. Get around positive and encouraging people. Talk and enjoy fellowship with one another.

Return peace to the journey. The bumps, wrong turns, and side streets are part of the journey. We never arrive.  The destination is always changing. So we will be miserable or we can put on the shades, turn up the music, roll down the windows, and feel the sun. Road trip anyone?

Loosing weight, paying off debt, better marriage, proper parenting; all of these things are not as much information as revelation. There are books every where on any subject we can literally study anything that we want to. It is not what we know but more will we sacrifice are immediate gratification for long-term payoff? We as humans over compensate what we can do in the short-run and discount the long-term act of compounding! In Darren Hardy’s book, The Compounding Effect he says, “We’re a “rational” species at least that’s what we tell ourselves. So why are we so irrationally enslaved by so many bad habits? It’s because of our need for immediate gratification can turn us into the most reactive, non-thinking animals around.”  I’m 100% convinced that we, in the moment, don’t fully count the cost of our actions. These 5 things will help us to remember the cost.

Pause and think: I posted on this in The Art of TIVO. It’s extremely important to pause at certain points in the day. Don’t fall into the trap of rushing into a decision; life can wait. Jesus did not rush anywhere. We should take a good look at that and pause and think. Especially as Americans we tend to rush everything instead of analyzing decisions and counting the full cost. Everything costs something or it is worthless.

Pray: God will open any door that needs to be open. He will also shut any door that needs to be shut. Ask God for an eternal mindset. The creator will be faithful to do so.

Ask the right question: We often get stuck on surface questions instead of asking the correct question. The book, QBQ! by John G. Miller is a great book that discusses this in further detail. Spend the time to come up with the right question.

Get good counsel: Get good counsel from people who achieve in the area you are about to make a decision in. Don’t take advice from your broke friends about money. Find someone with good character achieving in that area and ask them. Have questions written out, ask, listen and avoid the mistake of talking too much.

Journal daily: Again I blogged on this in Life In Color. Journal the Bible. The Bible has answers to all of life’s questions. It reveals what we need when we need it. God is faithful every morning to meet me in the still and quiet and give me what I need. Transforming me from glory to glory.

These 5 things will help us to count the cost and live a life that reaches our full potential. Remember how life compounds! Few things happen quickly, but everything happens in God’s perfect timing.

What helps you to count the actual cost?