Sunday, January 24, 2010

Evaluating and saving: critical elements to healthy use of finanaces!

I read an interesting article in the Raleigh News and Observer two Sundays ago (1/24). Unfortunately, I can't find it online, or I'd link to it for you. Basically, it's an editorial written by a dad whose son really wanted a cell phone for his 15th birthday. Dad said "Sure," but there were conditions attached...

The thing I liked about this is how the dad forced his teenager to do two things concerning money: think (evaluate) and save. When we step back and truly evaluate an item before purchasing it, we make better decisions. A couple of lessons I've learned...the hard way:

1. Cowboy boots. I got it in my head that I wanted cowboy boots. Don't know why. Finally got them after three months of thinking about them. Do I wear them? Rarely. They weren't a good buy, and I had no idea why I wanted them or what I'd wear them with. I'm going to hang on to them until my feet return to non-pregnant size. If they're not on my feet over six times between May and August, they're getting sent to the local Goodwill!

2. A Smart Phone. Gosh, I've been wanting one of these for ages. However, I haven't needed one. My phone does one thing, and it does it well: it allows me to make phone calls. That's about it. I can receive texts, but I rarely accept them because it charges more to my account. Things are going to change, though. I'm going through real estate training right now. Once I become a full-fledged agent, I'm going to NEED one of these phones (according to everyone I've asked-and I've asked at least 30 of my classmates already listing and selling). My endless research on CNET and Consumer Reports will be brought to fruition! :) I'm sure I'll enjoy my new phone (won't get it until April) greatly and that it'll be very useful in my new (part-time only!) job.

So, evaluation is one of the greater parts of valor in shopping. If you decide you can't live without the newest widget, fine. But be sure you deconflict your purchase with what you already have or what your money is already allotted for (i.e., credit card bills, insurance, utilities, loan payments, etc.)! There's nothing wrong with wanting something new. Just make it work with what you have.

Which brings me to my second point: SAVE your money for the things you want. Why buy on credit and make interest payments on top of the face-value price (unless you can pay off your card at the end of the cycle-if so, bravo!)? Start a "Got to Have My Smart Phone" fund within your bank accounts and funnel yourself money every paycheck. The money will add up fairly quickly, and you'll appreciate your purchase that much more.

If you have kids begging you for a huge purchase (i.e., their own cell phone and new plan for themselves), tell them sure, as long as they pay for half of the phone purchase and half of the monthly bill. This gives them input and more important, responsibility, in the matter. Think of how many ways you can damage your phone. Now think of how many ways your teenager can damage a phone. Isn't his/her responsibility in the matter just a bonus for the both of you?

Saving and exercising personal discipline over your finances takes a lot of mental strength, but I know you can do it! Instant gratification is just that: here now, gone tomorrow. Think about how much more you'll enjoy your stuff if you've determined you actually want it and how you can use it and if you've saved your money to acquire it. Happy evaluating and saving!

-Domestic Goddess out.

Monday, January 18, 2010

"Green"liness is next to godliness?

First of all, let me give you my definition of "being green": living a healthy, sustainable lifestyle that does the least amount of damage to the planet as possible. I am by no means very good at this lifestyle! There are a lot of things I should/could do like compost, pile on more blankets instead of using space heaters, and buy everything local and fresh. However, I am a great believer in changing my lifestyle by incorporating small changes slowly enough so they become habits instead of merely phases I go through.

Thinking about it, though, I do think we (especially those who profess to be Christians) are called to be green. Again and again, I realize we are merely stewards, not owners, of everything we think is ours. To be a steward is to be a caretaker. Think of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Denethor, the dude who goes crazy in the midst of battle, and his family were charged with maintaining the kingdom of Gondor in the king's absence...even though Gondor had been without a king for hundreds of years. That's our job with Earth. Check it out: Gen 2:15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. (NKJV, emphasis added)

Additionally, it's just as important to take care of our bodies as it is to take care of Earth: 1 Cor 3:16-17 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are (NKJV).

Ever heard of the old "trash in, trash out" theory? Well, that's not completely true. Sure, some of our trash ends up in the toilet, but our bodies actually absorb a lot of the junk we put into it. We very happily poison our bodies on a regular basis! What could be worse for the environment? Sick people need to use a lot of artifice to get them better. To quote my doctor friend, "Our bodies were designed to be healthy." Shoving nasty stuff (like margarine, pills, anything processed, etc.) will take its toll on us eventually.

I'm actually going through a purification (which is a combined cleanse and detoxification program) right now. It's a 21 day program in which I primarily eat vegetables and fruit. My grocery bill is much higher right now than it's been in a long very long time. However, I feel fantastic! I get fuller on much less food, have much less food angst (if you're a former/struggling fattie, you know exactly what I'm talking about), and am reveling in the tastes that are exploding from the foods I'm eating. It's great. I can only imagine what my health would be like if I continued with this. To me, it's much better to invest in my health now and enjoy the benefits instead of steadily eating myself into a person who's been fighting with sickness her entire life. Plus, it's good incentive to get rid of the old black thumb and get a garden going! :)

All in all, being green is good for everyone and everything around us. It's very fashionable right now, but more importantly, it's godly. Keeping the Earth and our bodies in good repair definitely makes "green"liness closer to godliness than cleanliness does!

-Domestic Goddess out.

Are we even meant to be rich???

This question came to me over several before-bedtime discussions my husband and I have had over the past week.

Right now, my husband and I are studying the book of Hosea. Two verses (NKJV) really jumped out at me:

Hos. 12:8
And Ephraim said, 'Surely I have become rich, I have found wealth for myself;
all my labors they shall find in me no iniquity that is sin.'

Hos. 13:6
When they had pasture, they were filled;
They were filled and their heart was exalted;
Therefore, they forgot Me.

That made me question how much I really want to be "wealthy" when I finally "grow up"! Look at what devastating results Israel experienced when they became wealthy. Is that really what I want for me, my husband, and our kids?

In addition, my husband is reading The Gospel According to Judas, which referred to the following pair of verses (NKJV):

Lu. 6:20, 24
"Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God...but woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation."

Again, where is the true reward in wealth? Is it something we should strive toward? So many people work so very hard to pay off their bills so they can finally save money. To what end? Most of them want to be rich when they retire.

Is that bad? I won't say. All I can say is that it seems many people meet bad endings when they do finally become rich. These verses show us just how devastating wealth can be: it blinds us to the outpouring of love and blessings God has given us that allow us to be rich. If there's something worse than knowing God and turning your back on Him, I can't think of it right now!

Again, I come to this truth "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (1 Tim. 6:10).

What's my point? I urge you, strive for more than being rich! We are so much more than what we wear, drive, own, or use. Wealth, is, when the end comes, just something we leave behind. Strive to be the man or woman God calls you to be. Work diligently to fulfill His purpose for all of us: to enjoy Him in all His goodness and love for us and to go make disciples of all peoples.

If God decides we're to end up wealthy, so be it. But let it be a by-product of His grace, not the fulfillment of your life's work. Use the principles He gives us in the Bible to use the money He gives us in the wisest way possible. For financial help, check out a Bible-based assistance program like

-Domestic Goddess out.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Joseph and Costa Rica: Why Saving is Important!

My husband and I had a wonderful senior year Spring Break in Costa Rica years ago. We loved it so much, we've been talking about doing missions work there. We even started a "Going to Costa Rica on a Missions Trip" fund.

Imagine our thankfulness for God's provision and foresight when we felt called to go on a mini-trip this December! Our pastor preached a moving sermon one Sunday morning that made our spirits stir so much, we immediately began making preparations to go somewhere, anywhere when we got home.

God provided us a way to go to Costa Rica to fulfill our hearts' desires for doing work for Him. We stayed with a missionary couple and helped do some work on their church. We even had the opportunity to go out and about and have a great time exploring.

We are so thankful to God for allowing us to plan and save for this wonderful trip. We had a wonderful time getting to know people and doing some "work" (that was more fun than actual hard work).

My husband reminded me of part of Joseph's story. Pharaoh had a dream that revealed Egypt would go through seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. In the times of plenty, Joseph set up a "savings plan" for the country that allowed them to store up enough food for the years of famine. Not only did Egypt have enough for its own people, she had enough to sell to her hungry neighbors. Despite the famine, Egypt managed to prosper.

This story sort of reflects on our family and how we were able to go on this trip. We saved money while I was still working. When we got the call to go now that I'm unemployed, we were able to because we trusted God and saved our money instead of buying things we wanted but didn't need. We prospered because we were blessed by the wonderful people we met and the natural beauty of the country we visited.

So many times, we (especially Americans) are called to serve God, but we feel like we can't because we can't afford His calling. What are you doing today to prepare for serving God? Are you giving to God faithfully? Are you saving money in a "God's Calling" fund? Are you disciplining yourself and refusing to give into the blatant consumerism that is so rampant in our country-that is, are you buying things that you want, not need before giving to God? Putting yourself before God is bad business!

God calls us to be faithful and trust Him in all our decisions, especially the hard personal and financial ones. He promises to provide everything we need. This doesn't necessarily mean we'll have easy, prosperous, wealthy, or even healthy lives. This simply means He will fulfill our every need. He uses use as He sees fit, and sometimes, what He has in store is greater than we can imagine. I urge you to trust God and put your life (and money) in His hands. I promise, He will surprise you with how He decides to bless you!

If you are interested in learning about how to manage your money in a Bible-based manner, check out It is a non-profit Christian financial ministry that has oodles of information and resources available on its website.