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Archive for March, 2014

Strategies to Master Your Money

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Whether it is too much debt, damaged credit, lack of savings, or not having enough income, financial challenges can be very stressful and discouraging. It is critical to your success strategy to focus on building a firm financial foundation to support your goals. In fact, it is a strong foundation in every area of your life that empowers you to build the life you truly want more easily.
Ask yourself, “What are the three worst financial choices I have made in the past?” and “How could I avoid making similar choices in the future?” It is easy to beat yourself up for mistakes, but a better approach is to simply acknowledge poor choices and seek to make healthier choices starting today.

Here are 10 smart choices that will help you create a stronger financial foundation, less financial stress and the freedom to enjoy your life more fully.

1. Identify Past Choices that Have Led to Financial Frustration or Stress – and Stop Making Those Choices.

Starting Today. One of the most important choices you can make with your money is to learn from your past choices. Use failure and frustration as a learning tool for future success.

2. Pay Off Credit Cards Before Other Debt.
High balances on revolving debt, such as credit card debt, negatively impact your credit score more than loans that are scheduled to be paid off in a set number of months or years such as a car loan, student loan or mortgage. One of the fastest ways to improve your credit is to pay down or pay off your credit cards.

3. Stop Using Your Credit Cards Unless You Can Trust Yourself to Pay Them in Full Each Month.
Make a decision to live within your means, using the money you have rather than money you have to borrow.

4. Change Your Lifestyle if Necessary.
Sometimes building a strong financial foundation requires sacrifice. If you need to “downsize” your lifestyle so that you can become more financially strong, do it! When you have a purpose and vision, and understand the importance of a firm financial foundation, it is empowering to make tough choices such as keeping your old car for a while longer, waiting to buy a bigger house, or curbing the shopping sprees while you save to buy your own home.

5. Get Insurance (Health, Life, Home or Renters, Auto, and Disability) That You Feel Confident Will Meet Your Needs in the Event You Need to Use It.
No one ever expects a crisis, but it is comforting to know that in the event of one, your finances won’t be completely destroyed. An illness, fire, or accident is stressful enough. Make sure you are covered in the event of unfortunate circumstances.

6. Establish a Financial Cushion of Size to Twelve Months of Expenses.
Make this a priority goal and begin saving towards it, even if it takes you five years or more to reach your goal. Knowing that financial ruin is not a couple of paychecks away is a very empowering feeling. It will often keep you from making decisions out of fear and empower you to make decisions based on your purpose and vision.

7. Invest Time in Your Own Financial Education.
One of the main causes of financial problems is what I call “financial illiteracy.” Some companies make a great deal of money off of the financial ignorance of otherwise intelligent people. Spend two hours or more per month learning about wealth building, debt elimination, investing, and real estate. Read books or articles. Attend a seminar. Learn from those who handle their money well. The more financially literate you become, the better off you will be.

8. Refuse to be an Emotional Spender.
Have you ever spent money on your children out of guilt? Or in an effort to win the affection or admiration of others? Do you shop when you are feeling down? Do you buy things you can’t afford because they make you feel better about yourself? Have you co-signed on credit cards or loans even though your intuition told you not to? If so, you have engaged in “emotional spending,” an expensive habit. Recognize your propensity to spend emotionally and make a decision to change your behavior. Wait 72 hours before making a decision about an impulse purchase. Question your motives before spending money. And make sure you spend your money in a way that reflects your vision and purpose.

9. Have a Vision. Set Goals!
I challenge you to create a vision for the five key areas of your life. One of those areas should be your finances. One of the reasons it is important to have a vision is because it serves as a reference point for where you are headed. When you are building towards something specific, it is easier to tell when you get off track. If you have no vision or goals, you often don’t even realize you are on the wrong path until something goes terribly wrong!

10. Put Money Into Proper Perspective.
Having money can certainly make life easier, more convenient and less stressful. But always remember this: If your biggest problems are money-related, consider yourself VERY blessed. Money problems can be fixed. There are other more important things in your life – your relationship with God and the people you care about, your health and your integrity, to name a few. Don’t allow financial frustrations to ruin your relationships, cause you to be angry with God, do things that compromise your integrity, or stress you out to the point of causing high blood pressure, panic attacks or other health problems.

Count your blessings and remember that life’s richest rewards will never be found in material things.

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Words That Will Keep You Going When Motherhood Has You Down

ImageWhen motherhood has you down with tasks, schedules, discouragement, weariness, lack of sleep, teaching the same lesson over and over until you feel like a broken record – there are seven words that you have to purpose to remind yourself  – to keep you going.

 

Privilege

Picking up dirty clothes and hot cocoa dripped mugs, sibling wars, kids running around the house yelping out the joy of childhood  – this is a privilege?

Resentment seeps into our minds and our bones when we become overwhelmed and we forget that motherhood is a gift we are given from God.  Not an accident.

So, how do you pull out of the grumbling and the tasks always before you? Look beyond it.  Listen to the little voices in your home, and remember – this is a privilege.

 

Breathe

When we have no breath left in us, we have no life left to live.  We sometimes forget to breathe. 

You find yourself so tied up inside, with stress, and the routine of life that you created for yourself, that when something small triggers the last breath in you, you fall apart.  While you are barely hanging onto life during these moments, you are definitely not breathing life into your family.  You have to remember to breathe.  Breathe in God’s Word.  His promises.  Rest and beauty.  Full, lung-filling breaths.

 

Important

 There are days when you truly wonder if what you are doing is really going to matter.  Making healthy meals, reading the same story time after time, multiplication facts, singing and snuggling your children to bed at night, and cleaning up hot cocoa fun and wet puddles from little feet.

Is there really a purpose in this?  Motherhood is gifted to us by God. 

  I do not necessarily want to BE important.  I just need to be reminded that being a mom IS important.

 

Perfect

 There is no perfect here on earth.  You will never be the perfect mom, and this gives us so much freedom from the standards we might impose upon our days and the situations where we are completely clueless.  Our imperfection gives us more room and a bigger need for the Lord to have control of every weary and difficult moment.  Motherhood is the perfect fit for us, but God is the only source of hope for our inadequacies.

 

Stop

 In those wild and crazy moments when you stare at your kids with their beautiful noises creating a mess in the house that you took forever to clean, or the cat has torn the garbage paper over the entire backyard.  You are running like a crazy woman, loading kids into the car for school or church, armed with lunches and school books, and all of them have mismatched socks on?  You have to STOP.  Right there, right at that moment.  You need to stop.  You need to sit, and You need to  Pray.  You may be late.  But you become whole again.  And this is where the frenzy of all motherhood frustration comes to a screeching halt. Stop and take a deep breath.

 

Hope

  When you are drowning in laundry, tears, sickness,  housework, tending hearts , unmet targets at work and the list goes on.. You need an Anchor.  Cry out to the Lord.  His strength is made perfect in our weakness.  

 

Beauty 

There is something about Hope that allows us to begin to SEE the beauty.  We are able to look past the mess, and see the little smiles above the mess.  This is your family, your children, fearfully and wonderfully made.

This is the beauty of motherhood.  It is everywhere.

USE WHAT YOU’VE GOT!

ImageAs we set and reach for new goals, it can be easy to overlook the fact that we often have everything we need to get what we want — if only we will maximize our opportunities and resources. For example, in business, companies or entrepreneurs can become so consumed with attracting new customers that they fail to grow their business with the customers they already have. In the process, they can lose their existing clients in an effort to gain new ones. In personal relationships, you can become so focused on what a loved one is ‘missing’ that you forget to cherish all that they have to offer. In a job search, you can become so focused on internet searches and want ads, that you forget to do the one thing that leads to most jobs — talk about what you want to the people you already know.

Next time you find yourself busy looking for solutions, don’t forget the many resources that exist in your life right now. Whether you are looking for a job, growing a business, or strengthening a relationship, it is critical to maximize the potential of each opportunity and resource that you are blessed with. Consider these ideas:

1. Pick an opportunity. Any opportunity.

Make of list of opportunities that exist for you, but you have yet to take advantage of. Which ones fall in line with your purpose, desires and goals? Is it time to move forward on one of these opportunities? If so, make a plan, set a deadline, and go for it! Often, life feels stagnant not because you don’t have anything to do, but because you have not made a decision to do something new. Keep yourself constantly challenged by exploring the opportunities that will cause you to stretch beyond your comfort zone.

2. Expect fear, but don’t let it stop you.  Once you decide to move forward on a goal, it is normal to feel a sense of fear. Expect to feel the fear, but keep moving forward. When you do what you need to do in spite of fear, the feeling of fear subsides. You build your ‘courage muscles’ when you take advantage of opportunities despite a fear of failure, uncertainty or the unknown.

3. Stop dreaming and start doing.

The difference between those who spend their lives dreaming and those who spend their lives achieving their dreams, is that one has learned to stop dreaming and start doing. Focusing too much on what the future will bring can keep you from doing the things that will bring your desired future into existence. By maximizing your present moments on the journey rather than dreaming about the destination, your daily life becomes richer and more enjoyable. You also arrive at your destination much more quickly. What is it time to stop dreaming about? What step do you need to take today?

Take time to focus on what you have before you — the relationships, talents, opportunities, resources and life itself. Focus on using what you have, and you’ll be delighted to see how quickly you create the life you want.