You may have heard lately there is some concern about the state of the economy. In fact the crashing waves of fear have spread globally thanks in part  to a hyperactive media which seeks to turn everything into a potential armageddon when, in fact, it could have been little more than a case of the hiccups. No matter what the financial guru’s predict, no matter what the outcome, you can choose not to participate!

There can be a silver lining to this rainstorm if it serves to wake us up to our need for better handling of our personal finances.  For far too long, out of control borrowing, and spending beyond our means has left many of us living not just paycheck to paycheck, but in deficit spending. By this I mean running out of cash before the next pay check and using credit cards or pay day loans to get by.

You can get back on better financial footing and even prosper. As a four person family living on one very average income in one of the more expensive areas of the country we’ve managed to get completely out of debt, put money aside for emergencies and have cash on hand for Christmas.

Less than an hour after typing the above paragraph my teenage daughter called and said “uh, mom? I’m afraid there’s been a little accident.” She was driving my car, swerved to get around a dump truck stopped in the middle of the road and side-swiped a mail box. Not a big accident, but it will cost us a couple of hundred dollars to repair our side view mirror. In the past it would have caused a minor uproar in our budget, especially coming just before the holiday season. Because we’ve been working for a couple of years now to get our money in order, our response was “okay love, as long as no one was hurt, everything will be fine.” We can just write a check for the repairs and get on with our life.

You can do this, too! It is possible. There was a time in our life when the ringing of the phone invariably meant a collector was calling. It is a horrid way to live and one we were determined to change. It is hard. It takes a willingness to live differently. It may subject you to ridicule by friends and family. But, it is worth it. We’ve gained peace of mind, better relationships, reduced stress and financial security.

There are whole websites and books full of money saving tips. You’ve probably seen more than a few. While most all of them can help, there is one thing that you must have to succeed: a change of attitude. Anyone who is willing to give up some things they thought were necessities and is willing to make changes in how money is handled can get debt free and enjoy all the other benefits that come with financial security.

Changing our Attitudes

There are a lot of tips and tricks to handling money, as I said. But the number one secret to successful finances is this: We can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing and expect different results! Attitude change is necessary.  Some of the changes that will help are: getting on a budget, cutting up the credit cards, and resolving to get out and stay out, of debt. But the most important change of all is to make money our tool, not our master. If we don’t plan exactly how each dollar will be spent, the unrelenting ads will make up our minds for us. It is so easy to be lulled into thinking: I need that…. bit of jewelry, new shoes, electronic gizmo just because it has been promoted from everywhere.

One of the steps I found very helpful was a very simple one – toss out all sales catalogs before they even get into the house. We are fed a steady diet of marketing. “Buy me! buy me” shout the slick glossy mailings. We’ve all heard how sneaky advertising is, working on our subconscious to make us think if we buy this or that product we’ll be healthier, sexier, more popular or prosperous. We know we’re being manipulated but we underestimate the impact.

I was in a bead store yesterday when a customer, wearing one of those bracelets of collectible beads from the jewelry store, came up to the counter.  She commented that the beads in the store display were identical to the ones on her bracelet but were 1/4th the price. She paid $25 at the jewelry store for a bead the bead store sold for $6. Her comment? “I only buy the real thing”. Beads are beads, no matter where you buy them, but the designer brand from the jewelry store has been marketed as classy, elegant, sophisticated. The customer was not buying a beautiful bracelet, she was buying self esteem.  Unfortunately self esteem goes down the toilet when the bill collectors are calling because the payments on the credit card are overdue. Fancy label bracelets won’t help much then.

Attitude change is a lot easier if we insulate ourselves from things that don’t support our new life.  Throwing away the mail order catalogs is a good start. Staying out of the mall is an excellent step. Reading books by Crown Financial, Ron Blue or Dave Ramsey is positive, helpful input. Sticking around the people who encourage frivolous purchases or who value a materialist lifestyle will undermine any efforts to control the cash flow. Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, the great motivational speaker, was right when he said “who you are five years from now will be determined by the books you read and the people you associate with” Change the input and you can change your life!

If we make a choice to change our future, stop acting like a victim of circumstance, and take charge of how we spend our money by making deliberate, mature decisions on how to use this tool, we can climb out of the debt hole.

linedpgflwrbkgrndmenu_grocery-completeThis is the newest form, the menu planner/grocery list. If you’re part of Donna Partow’s 90 day Jumpstart group you can get a copy . Scroll down a bit to see the matching daily planner pages.

To request a free copy, go back to the facebook  group and post a message on the forum thread “daily planner pages”

Here are samples of the bible study page to match the daily pages:

my new favorite website is Animoto.com I took the pictures this afternoon, edited them in Photoshop, uploaded the whole file to animoto.com clicked a few buttons and viola! cool slide show!

jasmineplannercomplete1Original Jasmine Planner

For Donna Partow’s 90 Day Jumpstart Bible study, here are four versions of her daily planner page. If you came here from the Facebook link, go back there to send me an email and I’ll send you the file of your choice. If you leave a comment here, I may not get back to you in any big hurry ’cause I don’t check in here very often :) these are 8×11 in size, meant to be printed in landscape orientation.

snowplannercomplete1 snow planner

roseplannercomplete1rose planner

heartnnotesplannercomplete1Heart Note planner

In California, proposition 8, defining marriage as only between one man and one women, passed on Tuesday for a second time. The majority of the people have spoken. This is democracy in action, yet for the proponents of gay marriage, this is not enough. They took to the streets Wednesday night Nov. 5 to protest the vote. They will bend the laws and find liberal judges to advance their cause and that’s okay, but when due process is allowed to follow its course and the people on the street have their say, suddenly the legal process isn’t good enough. They want special consideration. They want to be above the laws that bind the rest of us.

The hypocrisy of the liberals is amazing. Can you imagine if John McCain supporters went out and marched in protest of his loss? The media would be all over that, gleefully pointing out what sore losers Republicans are, pontificating on the “will of the people.” Well, the people of California expressed their will. There, just as almost every state where it has come to a ballot, the people do not want same sex marriage. When will the gay activists get the message? I’m guessing, never. They will continue to seek to get their own way using liberal judges who are willing to re-write the constitution in their own image.

If democracy is allowed to be subverted to the will of a vocal minority, freedom and liberty are at serious risk in this country.

This is a great message of hope. I wish everyone could truly believe that they are loved by the Creator of the universe Himself.  Since embeding the video no longer works, you’ll have to follow this link: http://vodpod.com/watch/247768-josh-groban-you-are-loved

This is a short and simple personality test meant to give you a general idea of your style. One of the pitfalls to personality tests is the tendency to want an absolutely clear, complete picture of ourselves. This is not possible nor necessarily desirable. Who we are at work and how we respond to situations may be very different from how we act at home. We need and want this ability to be flexible. We are gifted with the ability to adapt and change as the circumstances warrant. Locking ourself in to one rigidly defined type can work against us if we begin to believe we are stuck with our weaknesses. It can be an excuse for our failings when we say “I can’t do any better, it’s just how I was made.”

This test is designed to give you a general idea of where you fall on the personality grid. See this article for a brief description of the four personalities and how they are arranged on a grid. Use the information as a starting point to appreciate your strengths and recognize your weaknesses. Read the rest of this entry »

There are many different tests online to help you pinpoint your personality type. Some have as many as sixteen different types. This kind of depth and complexity can be useful for understanding a lot about ourselves. It also infers there are only 16 types of people. It is also somewhat limiting as it doesn’t allow for change or growth within our basic personality.

I’ve used a basic 4 type personality model for years because it gives us general understanding of who we are, but allows for infinite variation within our type and the possibility for movement, or growth. Read the rest of this entry »

There is a new terror that has seemingly risen from a dark boggy swamp somewhere. If you’ve ever sat before the teacher or doctor’s desk and heard “your child has ADHD”, you know the monster I’m talking about. Suddenly you are thrust into a world of testing, IEP’s, lifestyle changes and worst of all guilt: Where did I fail my child?

What if this simple collection of the letters a,d,& h were really nothing more than a harsh mis-label for what is in fact, a legitimate, God – given personality and learning style? What if the problem lies not with the child, but with the system they are inhabiting? For the sake of the children, can we at least be open to the possibility? Read the rest of this entry »

Raising godly children can be compared to buying clothes for them. The tv and magazines they see and the stores they browse will determine which styles they gravitate toward. In similar fashion, the people they hang around with, the ideas and worldviews they are exposed to, and the experiences they have will shape the people they become.

After observing some young adults in action and listening to a friend recount their experience with Jr. High age kids, my husband pointed out that much of their rude behavior is a result of simply not being taught any better. They’ve been left to browse the world of ideas and images on their own. Adolescence is a time of discovering who you are as an individual, separate from your family. It is a time of awakening awareness of the world around you and the differences in thought, styles, behaviors, attitudes, and lifestyles. If parents are absent, busy with their own lives, kids are exploring these new areas by themselves, without adult discernment or wisdom. It’s like letting them loose in Victoria’s Secret and expecting them to pick out appropriate outfits for school or church.

I’m not advocating smothering children or so controlling their lives they can’t think for themselves, but they can be provided with an assortment of appropriate clothes to choose from. What is appropriate? That’s where parental worldview comes into play. As a Christian, I use the Bible as my guide. I firmly believe God places children in families because those particular parents have the means to provide what those particular children need to become the people He intended them to become. It is incumbent upon the parent to seek God’s direction for each child and provide the “clothes” best fitting that child.

We were blessed with a child who has a very giving heart. She looks for ways to serve others. In school, that was a problem because she was so busy “helping” the other kids she didn’t focus on her own work so well. As homeschoolers, we were able to channel that gift into volunteering at a nursing home. Not something everyone would like, but this daughter loved going into the activities department and helping the residents. We provided a variety of opportunities over the years for her to explore her gifts and interests in groups like 4H, Civil Air Patrol, horseback riding, music lessons and such. Not all of them worked out, but they are all areas she expressed interest in . She’s learning about herself and how her particular gifts fit in the world. She’s trying on different styles without leaving the protection and guidance of her parents.

Dressing a child is a very individualized process. One size does not fit all. Our son would not be interested at all in helping at the nursing home. He’s much more of a climbing, building, exploring kind of kid. He’s also very sensitive, although he tries manfully to hide it. For him we’ve gotten involved in cub scouting as a family. This gives him plenty of social interaction combined with lots of boy activities, like building pinewood derby cars and doing chemistry experiments. He’s competitive and the opportunity to earn badges appeals tremendously.

It takes work, studying your children and getting to know them, as well as lots of time in prayer to seek God’s leading; but by providing a customized selection of “clothing” for them to choose from, we can help our children develop a solid foundation on which to grow.

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Maggie May

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