Tag Archives: financial freedom

God and Money

When Jesus said “You cannot serve both God and money” in the book of Matthew, what he actually said was “You cannot serve both God and mammon.”

According to the Textus Receptus (Wikipedia, duh) the Greek spelling of mammon refers to “a Syrian deity, god of riches.”

Before you get all “Oh yea, Jesus was talking about one of his buddies!”

“Can man make for himself gods?  Such are not gods!” – Jeremiah

The people knew mammon.  It wasn’t a strange word to them.  It is a strange word to us.

Right?  It is strange isn’t it?  You don’t use it often do you?  If so, you’re a weirdo.

It’s fine if you’re a weirdo.  I’m the weirdest person I know.  I’m just saying that if you use mammon often in your day to day speech…. it’s weird.

Anyway.  What is it?  If it obviously isn’t the god of riches.

“It is the Lord who makes rich, and our toil adds nothing to it.” – a Proverbist

Mammon is the spirit that rests on money.  And it is not a good one.  If it was a good one, Jesus would have said “Serve God and He will give to you Mammon.”

Before you stop reading due to another wacko Christian lesson, just hear out my practical teaching.

I want to explain the specific instances where I feel the pull of mammon on me and my personal life.  I have been convicted of it in the past and ignored it completely, telling myself that this is the last time or I’m not hurting anyone.

I’m going to chance some transparency and confess some personal shortcomings.  Prepare yourself for my imperfections.

Ever been to a casino?  (Oh boy).  I have.  It’s so much fun.  No clocks.  No windows.  Lots of flashy lights.  And GAMES!

Granted, the games were created to take all your money, but who cares?  Let’s play ’em!

***Quick disclaimer, my stance is not against others gambling, my stance is against ME giving in to the pull of mammon ever again.***

But I’ve been to Vegas.  I’ve gambled.  I’ve been up in money, I’ve been down in money.  And here’s a common thought that I think all conservative gamblers use (that I certainly used myself):

I have not spent more than I intended to spend.  I will not spend more than I brought to gamble.  This is my absolute maximum.

We who think this way DO stick to our budget.  We really won’t go over our set aside amount.  We really do show self-control, and we think that in doing so, we are defeating the pull of the spirit that rests on money.

I don’t think we’re putting up much of a fight.

I’ve walked through casinos thinking I see how people can give their lives over to this.

Not convinced?  I have a question:  if casino games were played without money, without betting the money and without the chance of receiving money, would you still play?

I wouldn’t.  Hence, mammon.

I’ve played fantasy football in the past.  There is an entry fee, winner gets a lot.

I hate fantasy football.

If there is anything that can take me back to my years of temper tantrums and inexplicable cursing, it’s fantasy football.

The funny thing about it is that if we didn’t put money on it, I would quit halfway through the season, or earlier depending how bad I’m doing.

I know lots of people can play fantasy football without money included.  That’s cool.  Good for you.  I can’t.

I don’t know how you do.  That sounds so boring.

I hate it.

I play it because I have a chance to win a buncha money.

Hence, mammon.

Then, there’s poker.

Yea, Texas Hold’em…  Sigh…

I used to be good at it.  We would play regularly.  It was a long time ago.

But it still comes around fairly often.  And when it does, I play.  And when I lose, I’m sooooooooooooo angry.

And when I win, I’m thrilled because I just won money.

Let’s step back a bit.  Have you ever played poker?

Have you ever played without money?

Poker is the MOST boring game alive if played without money.  The only thing that makes it fun is money.

I’m not sharing my opinion here.  I’m certain that no one would have fun playing real Texas Hold’em if there were no money involved.  It’s awful.

I have said and thought exactly what you may be thinking now:  Poker requires skill, though.  It’s not a gambling game.  You can be good at it and increase your chances of winning on most occasions.

The fact is, I don’t disagree.  But again, do you want to play without the chance to win money?

I don’t.

Boring.

And time consuming.

I’d rather watch tv at home with Smokin’ Hot Wife after the babies are asleep, eating Twizzlers and drinking Coca-Cola.

Sometimes I’ll add some chocolate in there.

Anyway, hence, mammon.

Lastly, and certainly not least… ly…

I look at my bank account often.  I normally do it to keep watch over my flocks, but many times I’m checking to make sure we are stable.

I find security in the money that we have.  Honestly, it’s detrimental to my faith.

This is perhaps the greatest (and most disguised) form of mammon known to me.

That’s enough of that one.  You don’t need anymore.

However, if you have found, or will in the future find, yourself in the same position as me, with similar convictions, how will you resist or avoid the pull of mammon?

Don’t know.  Peace.

Ha ha ha ha…

Really, though.

Remember I’m in the midst of this, I don’t have a plan yet, but I know how I am.  I hang around fire and I get burned.

Our head coach in college (when he was sober enough to attend meetings) always told the same story.

He had one particular guy who had played for him and eventually succeeded in the NFL, can’t remember his name.  Please don’t ask.

Coach asked his former player what the secret was that allowed him success when so many others failed.

The answer?

Dogs with fleas.

“Dogs with fleas?” you ask?

He went on to explain that when clean dogs hang out with dogs with fleas, the clean dog gets fleas.

Now I’m not saying my company is poor.  I’m saying that I can’t allow myself the flashiness of a casino floor without the overwhelming urge to play the games.

I can’t allow myself around a poker table and expect to sit back and watch.

I can’t allow myself the “luxury” or I’ll get fleas.

Don’t want fleas.  We had ’em once.  You may have read about it.  Impossible to get rid of.

In the next few months, I hope to share a real gambling story.  Until then, mine will have to do.

Do not conform.  Screw debt.

Be Is For Brooke

On separate occasions have I been asked about meal planning/how to buy groceries/etc.

I did not want to write about it.  Still don’t wanna write about it.  Probably not ever gonna write about it.

Good news!  I don’t have to.  Because a gal I know from college has done so much better than I could have.

Brooke Elias has laid out incredible shopping and meal planning methods in her blog.  Click on her name (the one I just typed) and you will see her website.

Seriously, I have never planned the way she does with groceries.  Her way is better than mine.  Trust me.

Do not conform.

Food, Finance, and… Fones

If there is food in front of me, I eat it.  There is no but I’ve had enough or well it’s not healthy food so….  or I had fried chicken last night.

No.  If there is food in front of me, I eat it.  Period.

Also, I don’t work out so much anymore.  And when I do go to the gym, I get bored easily.  I walk around looking for things to do because Smokin’ Hot Wife is in a class, and if someone is at a station, I move on to something else.

You wouldn’t believe how often “someone is at a station.”

I end up walking… slowly… for like an hour.

I’m also addicted to my phone.  It’s not something I even want to do.  It’s just there beside me so I’ll pick it up to check my messages and put it down.  After I put it down, I’ll pick it up to check my messages.  It happens time and time again.

I don’t know for sure, but I think these are the same habits that addicts fight.  These three areas are the most recent in my life that have surfaced unapologetically.  They have all made me realize the lack of self-control that I possess.

Now, I have to wage war on my eating patterns, my workout habits, and my cell phone.  But how do I do that?  I’ve obviously had thoughts before to rid myself of all that which hinders me from my better self.  Even more obvious is the fact that nothing has changed.  Why is that?

Well, there is another story about a habit (that is none of your business at this time) that I was trying to break in college.

One day, upon deciding that this particular habit had controlled me for long enough, I wrote out a schedule for every single day.  My wake up and eat times were planned down to the minute.  Homework, walking to and from class, naps, watching Shrek, you name it, it was on my schedule.

What’s more, I stuck to my schedule every day.  And I controlled my terrible habit for 3 months.  Fascinating, right?

But then I regressed.

Or relapsed.  Whatever you wanna call it.  And why?  Because I lacked another tool:  accountability.

Has anyone ever said anything along the lines of You are the only one who can truly hold you accountable… ?

If so, they’re wrong.

What has this to do with money?  You may find yourself asking.  Hang on, dang it.

I wrote a short book about how to budget, and it’s a great tool.  A budget is a plan.  It is the underlying factor of ALL wealth and stability.  The book I wrote can help you build a budget, but unless you have some even more basic behavioral issues handled, creating a chart in a spreadsheet won’t amount to much.  Rarely is the issue one of incompetence.  Everyone is smart enough to write numbers on a piece of paper.

A brilliant man once said that budgeting is telling your money where to go, not asking where it went.

If it isn’t already clear, the first step is planning.  Budgeting is just that, a plan.  Plans can change.  Life happens.  “Emergencies” present themselves.  So don’t treat your plan as God’s Holy Word.  Give yourself some grace, and practice step 2:  self control.

Setting a budget is easy.  Writing down a plan is easy.  Sticking to a plan is not.

I have set up specific plans for all three of my current struggles.  I’m not going to share them with you because I don’t know what any of that has to do with why you’re broke.

Challenging myself to stay on track with these plans is the method I’ve chosen in order to strengthen self-control.  I don’t know if it works.  I only know that God’s actual Holy Word puts significant emphasis on the subject.

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

–  Proverbs chapter something verse something…

I don’t know exactly what that means… I just want my walls standing at all times.

Practice self-control.  You are stronger than you think.

However, you’re also weaker than you think.  The habit I fought in college has gone away, but it wouldn’t stay away if not for accountability in the form of my wife (accountability is beautiful in my case).

When it comes to your budget, who are you nervous to lie to?  Who would be disappointed in your spending?  Who are you certain would not buy in to your justification for making your last purchase?  Whoever it is needs to be your money buddy.  I don’t call them accountability partners anymore.  I got tired of using the term years ago.

Money is just like any other area.  You are smart enough to plan a budget on your own.  You are strong enough to stick to that budget for months…. And you are NOT strong enough to finish the race alone.

Do not conform, and screw debt.

Reginald

I wasn’t going to write about this for today, but something strange happened the other night when I was hanging out with Reginald.

We call him Reggie for short, but I’m considering calling him Reg (not like reg in regular but with a j sound) at times when I don’t feel like talking so much.

Maybe I just wont’ call him any of those because it isn’t his real name.

Anyway, Reggie and I found this website:

http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/home-equity/additional-mortgage-payment-calculator.aspx

And if you have a mortgage right now, I want you to use it!!!

Ever heard of amortization?  Well it’s dumb.  All it means is the loan officer takes as much interest as possible first.  They just named it something fancy so we wouldn’t bother with understanding it.

I wasn’t and still am not sure if amortization schedules are uniform throughout the banking/credit union world, but this website seems to think that they are.

So go to this website if you have a mortgage, and figure out how to pay that bad boy off early.

I’m not going to give you my information, but I’ll tell you a little bit of that won’t give anything away.

If I paid the minimum on my mortgage for the entire 30 years, I would pay over $140,000 in INTEREST ALONE.

I don’t want anyone to ever do that.  If you need to get a 30 year mortgage that’s fine.  It’s more attainable than a 15 year unless you want a tiny house with minimal payments.

But if you get the 30 year, go into it with the expectations of paying it off early.  This website will help you formulate a plan.

We recently started paying 15-year type payments on our 30-year loan.  According to this website, that will reduce our mortgage payments by almost 13 years!

As I played around with the calculator, Reggie says, “I know what you’re next blog post is gonna be about.”

Oh Reggie….

You don’t even know me.

Everyone else should be excited.

In my case, if we paid just $20/month extra towards our mortgage, we would pay our mortgage off a year early and save nearly $6000!!!

In the grand scheme of things, that isn’t a ton, but it’s still 6 thousand less than what the bank wants.

Seriously, if you have a mortgage, use the link.  Get excited about it.  Formulate a plan, and implement it.  I want you to pay your house off early.  As early as possible without living in misery.

Short and sweet this time.  Just use the website.  Stop giving the bank money.  When you’ve finished your house payments, I want the bank to say

Well dang… we didn’t make any money off of them.

Do not conform.  And screw debt.

 

Cash is King?

My friends in 1776 (we talk on the phone all the time) would have some words for those of you who say cash is king.

King’s didn’t fly so well with these guys.  They made it clear.  And red.  And white.  And blue.

You know who rules the finance world?  The rich man.

You know who doesn’t know what it’s like to be poor?  The rich man.

You know who says cash is king?  The rich man. And the middle class who use the rich man’s context in their empty pocket lifestyles.

I’ve been spending a lot of time reading about and hearing from people who have the perfect plan for building wealth and paying off massive amounts of debt and so on and so forth…

You know who they are?  Rich people.

Now, I’m not saying cash is a bad thing.  I just want to rearrange the way we think about it.

In most cases across the country, the common folk will be taking out a loan at some point or another.  I hope it isn’t for anything silly, like a hamster or a trailer hitch, but I can’t tell you what to do.

Just don’t do that.

When you decide to take out this loan, though, I need you to listen to me and not your financial guidance person, whether it’s your real estate agent, your loan officer, or your dear sweet mama.

First, and foremost, I hope you have money to pay down on the loan.  That means that I hope you have cash.

But wait, you say, all smugly and uppity-like, I thought you said forget about cash!?!

Hold your horses.  I don’t know where that phrase came from…

Just hold ’em!

Secondly, I hope you have enough cash to pay a significant amount on that down payment.

What?  Is that not profound?

Third, pay more money every month than your minimum payment, another recommendation that requires cash.

So what’s the difference in my cash and banks’ cash?

1.  Down Payments

You will need a down payment on a significant loan (mortgage).  Once upon a time, you needed a significant one to avoid stupid wastes of money.  Now, however, banks will gladly let you borrow $300,000.  If you don’t have money for a down payment?  They’ll let you borrow a second amount for whatever you need for the down payment!

The banks’ cash is money they want you to keep in order to pay them more in the long run.  My cash is the money I want you to spend in order to not have to pay more than you have to.

2.  Significant Down Payments

Your bank will tell you that you want to have some cash left over.  And I agree that you do not want to deplete your savings.

But the more you put down up front means the less you will pay in interest.

But sir, you say again, a $200,000 mortgage vs a $210,000 mortgage only affects your monthly payment by like…. a little bit.

Dude… I have the mortgage formula saved on my phone.  I know exactly how much a mortgage costs every month in any given situation.

The banks don’t even know the formula.  They just plug numbers in and POOF! out comes this magical piece of paper that says you owe them crap loads of interest.

Forget about cash, and forget about monthly payments.  When it comes to applying for a mortgage, look at the interest.  Fight the interest.  It is not your friend.

The banks’ cash is money they want you to keep in order to pay them more in the long run.  My cash is the money I want you to spend in order to not have to pay more than you have to.

3.  Monthly Payments

Interest that you pay is NEVER your friend.  I don’t care who says otherwise, if they are billionaires, if they have multiple finance degrees, if they are world renowned philanthropists…  I don’t care.   They’re wrong.

There is not one single thing that will benefit you from paying interest that will overshadow the fact that you are paying interest.  Not one.  Nope.  Not even that.  Whatever it is you’re thinking.  Nuh-uh.

You know what happens to interest the next month after you’ve overpaid on your loan?

It goes down.

It’ll take some time and effort to alter the pattern of your mortgage interest, but it is possible, and if you intend to pay all the interest they’re asking of you on a 30 year mortgage, you’re being robbed.

If you can afford it, make the sacrifice, and pay off your home early.  I’m telling you, the minimum payment is making somebody rich, and it ain’t you.

The banks’ cash is money they want you to keep in order to pay them more in the long run.  My cash is the money I want you to spend in order to not have to pay more than you have to.


Again, not profound?

I just told you to spend more of your money upfront and every month… when the world tells you that cash is king.

Am I leading you astray?

I wonder why the bank is telling you that cash is king…

Because they profit on your interest!

It blows my mind that the same people telling you that cash is your best friend are also people telling you that you need one of their credit cards.

Spare me.

Paying more now saves you later.

I’m seriously not saying to not have cash.  You need available money at all times that you can grab when you need it.

If I’m ever rich, I will max out at least 2 bank accounts with money that I never intend to invest, that I can take at any time.  (I said if I’m ever rich… which means other money would certainly be tied up in investments).

The rich people don’t tell me to do that even now.

I really don’t understand that.  If I need a car, I’m buying it and leaving with the title.

If I want to invest in some real estate, I’m closing as an owner, not a borrower.

It’s impossible to do these things when financial advisors are constantly telling us to write them a check so our wealth will grow (which, again, I’m all for building wealth, but their ideas are contradictory).

So I want cash.

But while I’m entering a mortgage or I’m already in one, interest is overwhelmingly more evil than cash is good.

I know you’ve all heard it said, The borrower is a slave to the lender.

SLAVE!!

There’s no need to look for hidden connotations behind the word.  It is spelled out clearly for us.

An example:  We need a car loan.  We get one.  The loan officer DEMANDS full coverage insurance.

Nothing wrong with full coverage insurance.  Nice peace of mind.  Not un-affordable.  Cool.

BUT they demanded it.  We cannot have the loan with them without full coverage insurance.

Slavery.

Another example:  We need a house.  We got one.  Needed a loan because we don’t have 200 grand lying around.  The loan officer DEMANDS a termite bond.

Nothing wrong with a termite bond.  Nice peace of mind.  Not un-affordable.  Cool.

BUT they demanded it.  We cannot have the mortgage with them without a termite bond.

Slavery.

The loan officer controls the entire situation.  You have no word in the matter once the papers are signed.  You don’t own the car.  You don’t own the house.

Did you know that the bank can, at any time throughout the life of your loan, demand that the balance be paid in full?

It’s true.

And… freakin’ scary.

Slavery.

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying.  You need cash, I’m only challenging the way the world worships it as all sovereign.

Again, I hate interest way more than I like cash.

And, as my friends in 1776 would say, We recognize no sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus!

Do not conform.

Yes, I Would Like a Receipt

A pet peeve of mine is when anyone refers to something that irritates them as a pet peeve.

Another pet peeve of mine is when I’ve finished pumping gas into a vehicle, I’ve pushed the button next to “yes” after being asked if I would like a receipt, and the screen beeps and tells me to see cashier inside for receipt….

Why did you ask me?  The convenience is no longer available if I have to walk inside.

So I leave all grumpy and Smokin’ Hot Wife is like “What’s wrong?  What happened?”

Ya know because based on the way I’m acting, someone just hit me with a milkshake.

So I tell her and she’s like “Oh my gosh, is this really something to be upset about?”

And I’m like “Well… Yes.  Why haven’t they replaced the roll of receipt paper?”

And she’s all like reasonable discussion blah blah blah.

And I’m like “I don’t have time for reasonable discussion.  I want my receipt.”

“Well go inside and get it!” says she.

“Absolutely not,” says I.  “I will not be led to the slaughter by some gas company who thinks they can tell me what to do.”

…..

So anyway… receipts.

I mention Pops a lot it seems.  But it was Pops who always told us to keep our receipts.

It’s for record keeping purposes.

These days, you can keep track of all transactions on your computer because internet.

I still like to get receipts most of the time, though.  I don’t like that, in some cases, it takes a few days before the transaction shows up on my bank account (or credit card account).

When we were poor, this really was dangerous.  If I didn’t record a particular transaction in the budget, we were at risk of spending money (that the bank account showed we had) that was already accounted for.

It’s a terrible idea to ever look at your bank account available balance and spend based on that number.  At least it is for us.  Most of the time, that number is not indicative of how much money we have to spend.  It is often tied up in different things:

  • Jesus money set aside for giving
  • credit card accounts pending payment on Friday morning
  • $30 in gas that hasn’t showed up in 3 days

You get the idea.  Save the receipts.  Throw them away once you’ve recorded your transactions in your budget that I hope you have.  If not, Budget Like Me: Screw Debt.

Also, it is still wise to maintain receipts from major purchases, those that require spending hundreds (or thousands) of dollars.

I sincerely hope you can find all the paperwork for your house and automobile transactions quickly and without thought.

Keep up with the big stuff.  Never throw it out.

You can even find an old beat up filing cabinet, spray paint it navy blue, and keep all your important stuff in it.

I don’t know who would do that, though. Probably weirdos.

Do not conform.  And screw debt!