Archives For Guest Bloggers

PrintThe following is a guest post by Jil Dasher from Rave Ministries. They have a cool movement called No Makeup November that is motivating women to realize where their true beauty lies. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter

“All beautiful you are, my darling, there is no flaw in you” Song of Solomon 4:7

True Beauty

At Rave Ministries we truly believe that this scripture speaks volumes into the depths of what exactly this campaign is meant to stand for. It is a “call to arms,” so to speak, to remember THE ONE who gave us life, THE ONE who gave us worth, and it is because of Him and through Him that we are able to see ourselves through the eyes of Christ.

Our hearts desire is that this campaign will speak to the hearts of women and men in every walk of life all over the world.That for one month kids, teens, mothers, and grandmothers will relish every opportunity possible to see the true beauty that God has breathed in them.

This beauty has no age barrier. This beauty is not limited by skin type. This beauty is not measured by ones ability to cover a “blemish” or the quality of makeup that their pocketbooks allow them to buy. It is our hope that women everywhere can see themselves as a true masterpiece intricately and purposefully woven together by the Creator of the universe.

No Makeup November

This campaign in no way is an anti-makeup campaign, because let it be known that it is not the makeup that we are battling. Instead, it is a culture that we are trying to fight. A culture that tells our young girls, mothers, and yes, even grandmothers that they are not close to being good enough. That in order to be of worth you must be physically beautiful, that unless you are a specific size you should be cast out, that the true amount of your worth is based upon one simple yet important factor, ones physical appearance.

So for the next 30 days we will go to war. Every morning when we awake and are tempted to head straight for our makeup bags that we have hidden away in our closets we will think of our Creator. We will hear Him telling us that we are made in His image. The whispers of His Spirit will remind us of our worth and once again we will press on.

When someone asks us if we are feeling okay, due to our possible lack of luster, we will think of Him once again and reply with certainty Absolutely. Day by day as we go through this journey we pray that our focus becomes less based on the fact that we aren’t wearing any makeup and instead focused intently on the lessons that we are learning from the greatest makeup artist of all times, God.

Money and Makeup

So if this doesn’t make you want to dive head first into committing to this campaign then lets talk MONEY. What does money have to do with it? Well, apparently a lot of $. I am talking worldwide somewhere between a $45 to $66 billion dollar industry.

Women in America alone spend an average of $12,000 $1,200 a year on beauty products, WOW! This statistic alone pretty much sums up the battle we are facing in our culture. The way I see it, in these uncertain times taking a month off of makeup is a pretty good idea and a little easier on the wallet

Join Rave Ministries for “No Makeup November” and allow God to paint your face each day with the joy that comes from being a daughter of the King!

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain. But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” Proverbs 31:30

To learn more about this movement and to stay encouraged during your month without makeup follow No Makeup November on Facebook and Twitter.

Marching navy This is a guest post from Trey Smith. He served in the U.S. Navy as a Damage Controlman where his responsibilities included: damage control, ship stability, firefighting, fire prevention, and chemical biological and radiological (CBR) warfare defense. He was also an instructor in the methods of damage control and CBR defense.

There are all kinds of movies that show what military boot camp or officer candidate school will be like. Then there is reality. For me, entering the military was exciting and a little nerve racking. Boot camp was not too bad, however managing my finances after boot camp was challenging, very challenging.

Once your initial basic military training has been completed, you are on your own. Wherever you are assigned, you now make your financial decisions. That should be the really nerve racking part since you are now among your peers and ready to make choices that are going to impact the rest of your life with little to no direction.

Looking back over the time I served in the US Navy, there are many things financially that I would have done differently. With that in mind, I asked my friends who have served or are serving in the military, in retrospect, what they would have done different, financially.

My friends range from those who are currently serving their first year in the military to those who have retired, both officer and enlisted. After speaking with a few friends about personal finances, three clear areas emerged that they would like to change.

Savings, Debt, & Budgets!

Nearly all of those I spoke with said they wanted to change the same things – save more, get less debt, and learn to budget! Each of the reasons given by my friends was a little different, but clearly each of my friends wanted to go back and change how they used their money.

Here are four of the responses by their branch of the military:

  1. Marine: Since the military was my friend’s first exposure to independence, his money was spent as soon as it was made. He said that it would have been nice to have a training program designed for proper investing and money management.
  1. Air Force: Start a savings plan when he first joined was what a friend currently serving said. He also said that he would have liked to have known how to create and stay on a budget. His reasoning is that if you can teach someone who is unfamiliar about money how to make a budget, they can take that a long way.
  1. Army: An Army veteran said that the biggest help would have been a class to save money because by the time he realized how important saving was, his pay was consumed paying off debt he received from companies all too eager to give him credit.
  1. Navy: Last, a fellow shipmate said he would save more spend less by using the discounts available on base. He, as well as other friends, said that there were a lot of things you could do through discounts given on base that were really fun without spending a lot of money.

Each of these areas apply to everyone’s finances and can be a great starting point when talking with those who have recently entered the workforce, those entering college, and especially those entering the military.

The great thing is that you can help! What can you do to help those who will be joining the military to protect and defend our rights? Share this article with them so they can learn from the financial mistakes of those who have served and those who are still serving in the military.

If you have served or are serving in the military, what financial knowledge do you wish you had known when you joined the military?

Trey has served in the U.S. Navy and is a Financial Coach at One Solution For Me. He can also be found on Twitter and Google+.

Credit CardsThis is a guest post by Jose Figueroa. Jose is a financial coach who focuses on the Spanish speaking community. 

Parece que los viejos hábitos tardan en morir. En un reciente artículo en la revista Money Magazine (Enero-Febrero 2012), se indica que a finales de 2008, las transacciones de tarjetas de débito crecieron a un ritmo más rápido que el uso de tarjetas de crédito. Sin embargo, desde el pasado mes de Abril, los consumidores han estado usando las tarjetas de crédito más y han regresado a los hábitos de compra previos a la recesión del 2008.

Los bancos están haciendo su parte también por el aumento gradual de solicitudes y están aumentando los incentivos. En el 2011, 8 de cada 10 ofertas de tarjetas de crédito eran para las tarjetas con algún tipo de opciones de recompensa. Parece que nada ha cambiado, porque no hemos aprendido las lecciones de la “Gran Recesión”.

Podrías pensar, que es una buena opción el tener una tarjeta de crédito para todos los premios y ofertas que te ayudarán en tiempos económicos difíciles. Sin embargo, me gustaría ofrecerte una perspectiva diferente. Mi esposa y yo recientemente celebramos nuestro cuarto aniversario de vivir libre de deudas. En Febrero de 2008, terminamos de pagar toda nuestra deuda de consumidor (tarjetas de crédito, préstamos estudiantiles, préstamos para automóviles, etc.) La vida es ahora diferente para nosotros y quisiera compartir las 7 recompensas de una vida libre de deudas:

7 Recompensas de Vivir Libre de Deudas

  1. No nos preocupamos por que los bancos aumenten las penalidades o las tasas de interés en tarjetas de crédito, porque no usamos las tarjetas de crédito.
  2. Nosotros no participamos en el juego “adivinar su puntuación FICO”. No me malinterpreten, nosotros si revisamos nuestro informe de crédito anualmente para asegurarnos de que esté correcto. Sin embargo, no nos basamos en la puntuación de FICO para saber que estamos ganando con nuestro dinero. Así que no nos preocupamos por las reglas de FICO para atinarle al numero mágico.
  3. Hemos construido una reserva de emergencia de 6 meses. Sin tener la muleta de las tarjetas de crédito, no teníamos otra alternativa. Ahora, si tenemos una emergencia tenemos el dinero para cubrir los gastos.
  4. Hemos aprendido la satisfacción y el contentamiento con lo que tenemos. Si queremos o necesitamos algo más, ahorramos el dinero en efectivo y lo compramos.
  5. Somos más selectivos y paciente con nuestras compras. Simplemente, no compramos algo sólo para obtener millas o puntos, o porque podamos evitar intereses por 90 días.
  6. Podemos ahorrar para nuestro retiro. Tenemos el dinero para ahorrar, ya que no se va a los pagos mensuales de las deudas.
  7. Somos capaces de dar más. Tenemos más ingresos disponibles ya que todo el dinero no va a los acreedores. ¡Esa es la recompensa más grande!

“Así como el rico gobierna al pobre, el que pide prestado es sirviente del que presta.”
Proverbios 22:7 (NTV)

Jose Figueroa is a bilingual financial coach in Texas. Find him at Figueroa Financial Counseling and on Twitter jfigueroa310

Photo Credit: Andres Rueda

With spring in the air many people start to think about spring cleaning in their homes and gardens. How about this year concentrating your efforts on a financial spring cleaning? So sit down with your thinking cap and let’s get started!

  1. Formulate a Plan and Set Reasonable Goals.

This is the why of financial spring cleaning. Are you in debt, unorganized or too busy to have a financial plan for your money? You need to dream about what you would do if you had money. Travel, give, save, and invest for your future? This is the place to figure out why you are willing to get your life in order.

  1. Build a Budget

In this step you will sit down and list your monthly take home income at the top of the page. Then you will list your expenses starting with savings, food, housing, utilities, transportation and reasonable clothing. Keep spending down the sheet until you have spent your income on paper for the month. You can go back and adjust categories as needed, but it must come out to a zero on the bottom. This is how you will spend your money this month.

  1. Involve Your Spouse and Children

This will be a family affair, so get input and ideas from your family on how you can cut expenses and save money or pay off debt. If you are out of debt, what would you do or where would you go? How would your stress levels be different if you had no debt and a financially clean home?

  1. Build a Small Emergency Fund

Having a $1,000 set aside for emergencies will help you to not go further into debt while you are paying off consumer debt.

  1. Take One Step at a Time

When trying to pay of many debts list them from smallest to largest and pay minimum payments on each. As you squeeze money out of your budget, pay extra on the smallest debt. Once that is paid off, you can apply that payment to your next debt and continue on up your list until you have eliminated all debt.

  1. Design a Weekly Budget Check-up with Your Spouse

This weekly check should take no more than 10 minutes. You are just checking your progress and adjusting the budget where needed. If you are spending more in one category, you will need to reduce your expenses in another category so that you stay balanced.

  1. Stop Investing in Retirement Temporarily

Even if your company is matching your investment, that money is better used to pay down your debt right now. You do not want to borrow from your 401K, so it is better to stop contributions temporarily and attack your debt.

  1. Use Cash

Studies have shown that using cash for purchases makes you spend less and save more. Spending cash registers as pain in your brain where credit and debit do not. Cut up your cards and use cash instead. It will help you to save more each month.

  1. Have a Garage Sale

As part of your spring house cleaning, set up a garage sale to bring in extra cash. This could go towards your $1,000 emergency fund or to pay down debt faster. If you don’t need it, use it or love it, sell it!

  1. Take a Class

Find a personal finance class in your area, such as Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. This will help you to learn more about eliminating debt and saving for your future, so that you can get pointed in the right direction for success!

Kathryn Gerken blogs at twice each week. She and her husband Tim are Financial Coaches in the Seattle area.

Photo Credit Nationaal Archief

Is your 'Spending Compass" on? (Photo credit psd)

How to Spend More and Increase Your Savings

When it comes to money we all want to save more and spend less. We want the security and peace of mind that comes with being financially prepared for an emergency. We want the stability and quality of life that comes with a healthy income. We want the freedom and relaxation that comes with retirement.

But what if I told you to focus more on spending and less on saving?

What if I told you you no longer have to penny pinch, clip coupons or dare I say, budget?! (ahem, don’t tell Brent I said that.) What if you could walk in a store, find what you’re looking for, and not have to worry about price? What if you no longer had to worry about account balances and net worth?

Here’s another big “what if”. What if I told you you can do all of this and still have security, peace of mind, stability, quality of life, freedom and relaxation?!

You’d probably declare me insane and have me committed to an institution.

How is it possible to focus more on spending, forget about saving, and still reap the rewards of responsible money management?

I’ll tell you how, and I think you’ll be surprised with the answer.

Spend according to your values

Wikipedia defines values as “an internal reference for what is good, beneficial, important, useful, beautiful, desirable, constructive, etc.” Take a moment to think about your values.

What do you consider to be good, beneficial, important, useful, beautiful, desirable, and constructive in your life?

I’m taking a shot in the dark here, but my guess is that your values have very little to do with material possessions, money, or status. I doubt the first thing that sprung to mind was your boss, your banker and a shiny new Mercedes-Benz. If so, please message either me or Brent directly for a virtual kick in the butt.

My guess is your values have more to do with your friends, family and the experiences that made you who you are today.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Use your values as sort of a “spending compass”, and you’ll never get lost in the vast sea of consumerism. You’ll know what you should buy and what you shouldn’t because you value nurturing relationships and meaningful life experiences – not material possessions and other superficial “soul candy” like money and social status.

When you spend your money on what matters most, you never have to feel like you’ve wasted a penny.

Here’s another secret; you’ll spend less on meaningless “stuff” as a result – and that means saving more money. (pretty slick, eh?)

Generally speaking, cultivating loving relationships and living a meaningful life doesn’t require much financial backing. Sure, you may buy a gift here and there, go to the theatre once in a while or even go out on the town once in a blue moon. But you’ll find that what matters most in life is usually free.

Last time I checked taking walks in the park, reading books and family camping trips were still relatively cheap compared to other activities (like weekend bar hopping, compulsive shopping and fancy dining.) You’ll find that life’s pretty sweet when you have your priorities straight.

So focus more on how you’re spending your money and not so much on how much you’re spending – or saving.

I’m not telling you to dart out the door with dollar signs in your eyes and blow your whole life savings. Certainly keep what you’ve worked hard to accumulate, unless what you’ve accumulated is a big fat zero – in which case you should seriously consider starting an emergency fund – today!

I’m simply asking you to go a day or a week or a month with your “spending compass” on. Use it to guide you when you feel lost and focus more on spending what’s most important:

Your life according to your values.

– Tony

PS. Want to learn more about values based spending? Check out Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Joe Dominguez. (not an affiliate link)

Tony Fuentes writes about the fine art of quitting beliefs that don’t work for you anymore on his blog Learn more here or follow him on Twitter.