Archive for the 'Money' Category

Some Financial Advice Experts Won’t Tell You

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 26th, 2015Friendship, Marriage, Money, work6 Comments

COINING 20

 

One of my friends, who shall remain nameless in this post, gave me this wonderful financial advice years ago:

We take all the bills each payday, toss them down the staircase, and whatever lands right-side-up, we pay. Everything else has to wait.

I  think she was joking. Maybe. But it does feel like a good option some days, doesn’t it? If your family budget is like ours, it occasionally runs out of money before month. I know Dave Ramsey would be disappointed in my lack of financial planning when that happens. But seriously, life doesn’t always follow the flow-chart.

I know if we had adopted the plan and set aside six-months of living expenses years ago, then six-weeks of no-income-after-surgery this year would not have led to the Staircase Method of Budgeting. But, alas.

This week, we were shopping for a desk for my husband’s new office. He has been waiting thirteen years for an actual office in his medical practice. He deserves a desk. We not only found one we liked, but the sales person turned out to be the grown-up child of friends we haven’t seen in ages. Hugs ensued.

Since the office budget is in worse shape than the family budget, we didn’t actually buy that day. Instead we walked away saying to each other, “We should probably shop around to see if we can save a few dollars.”

At supper I suddenly said, “No way. I’m not shopping around. You love that desk, and we love that girl. I want to buy from her and give her the commission. Maybe we could save a few dollars down the road, but people are more important than money.”

My husband grinned at me and said, “That philosophy is probably one of our financial problems.”

He is right. I could suddenly see that pattern through our whole lives. Sometimes those decisions were foolish, like putting Christmas on a credit card. And sometimes they were compassionate, like writing off the bad debt of a struggling family with sick children. I waited for him to explain to me how we needed to change our attitude. Instead, he said. “Go buy the desk.”

It may not be the smartest decision according to the spreadsheet. But it is the best decision concerning relationships. And those we take to Heaven.

So that is my financial advice, Dear Reader: Whenever possible, people before money. (And stay away from the staircase.)

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A Few Things You Should Ignore

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 10th, 2015Friendship, Marriage, mercy, Money6 Comments

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My husband, Wendell, and I are celebrating our 42nd Valentine’s Day together this week. I still remember the first card he gave me (and I hope his feet still haven’t touched the ground). But I’ve forgotten lots of other things. And frankly, you should, too.

If you hope to have a long and healthy relationship with your spouse, your parents, your friends, your boss, or even the neighbor across the street, here are a few things you should simply ignore:

1. Socks that miss the hamper.

Easy for me to say, because Wendell’s never do. But dirty-socks-on-the-floor represent those irritating habits of a person who shares your space. Especially the habits that force you to carry more of the load. The coworker who never cleans up her coffee mess in the break room. The neighbor who leaves his trash can on your side of the driveway. You can waste a lot of time being irritated, or you can just pick up the socks. Move the can. Wipe the counter. And thank God for the people in your life who are still alive to make messes!

2. Budgets that get busted.

Or, budgets that burst. My friend, Judy, might remind me to correct myself. (Inside joke from first grade.) I spent years steaming over a few dollars that I considered misspent every month. Today, I couldn’t tell you where any of them went. Well, maybe a few. But, the point is, I worried so much about what I considered my husband’s over-spending, that I couldn’t even enjoy flowers on Valentine’s Day for fear of how much they cost. (I’m way over that, Baby. Way over.) That is all earth stuff. Our relationships are eternal. So what if your roommate isn’t coughing up her half of the grocery money and is still eating all the Little Debbie’s you stashed in a back drawer? You can talk about that when you feel calm and collected someday. But don’t fret. And certainly don’t let it change your friendship. It. Is. Just. Money. It isn’t even paper anymore. It’s mostly virtual. So, get over it.

3. Unpleasant Words

We are frail, human beings with wiggly tongues, and we say unkind or unwise things way too often in this life. Or, is that just me? It isn’t easy to ignore those verbal sticks and stones, but life is better when we do. I take a key from the Apostle Paul’s counsel these days and simply try to “always believe the best.” Maybe your boss had indigestion and that’s why he grouched at you in front of the entire staff. Maybe it really wasn’t personal. Or, maybe it was. Forgive him either way. And take this advice from one of my good friends: “Never get stuck in the moment.” If you replay the words all day long, their power will grow. If you shut them down and move on, the power dies.

I have not perfected these three things in my life and relationships yet, but I’m working on all of them. And that is part of the secret, of course. Never giving up. Always working it out. Forever loving and enjoying one another. Even with socks on the floor.

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One Tip That Could Change Your Year

By Kathy NickersonJanuary 5th, 2015Marriage, MoneyNo Comments

This one actually changed my life, but I didn’t want to sound too grandiose in the title.

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Last week, I signed up for two, short, make-over courses. They were both free. (Although they led up to an advertisement for the paid version, of course.) One was from Jon Acuff and one was from Michael Hyatt. I just had a yearning to jump start 2015 with some clear goals, some better strategy, some “you-can-be-a-better-you” cheerleading. And, it worked.

But, while I was redefining my life, I thought about the one thing we changed a few years ago that really was revolutionary. It clarified goals. It eased stress. It opened up communication. It brought peace. It renewed intimacy.

And here it is, just for you, Dear Reader: Drum roll…

Use cash.

That’s it. We gave up writing checks or using debit cards for daily purchases. We still use our checking account for things like car insurance, but everything else comes out of our stash of the green stuff.

We started out using the envelope system made famous by Dave Ramsey. Eventually, though, we pretty much knew what we were spending. These days, we just divide up a set amount of cash from every pay check and each cover the things we are responsible for. (I buy groceries. He covers dog food.)

When the cash is gone. Guess what we do? Stop spending!

I’m telling you, this system has revolutionized our lives. We have completely different spending habits. One of us is a miser. The other one, not so much. I didn’t know how much stress that caused between us until it was gone. Now, the budget actually works. We are both secure in our little financial worlds. And there aren’t any bank statements lying between us in bed. (figuratively speaking).

You should try it this year. It might change your life, too.

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