Let’s Talk: Fiscal Responsibility

Money is a tool, not a toy. How are you using it?

I want to start this post off with a definition today:

House Poor – Being able to pay rent, mortgage, bill payments, etc., but unable to purchase basic necessities such as groceries, fuel, clothing, etc. and/or live a happy life due to financial strife.


As we begin making preparations to head into the new, grand year of 2020 (a whole new decade!), I wanted to take some time to impart the knowledge that I acquired this year regarding Fiscal Responsibility. I’m doing this because I want those around me that I have the ability to impact, to financially start their year off right. If I can help it, I would like to prevent anyone from dealing with what I dealt with this year.

Many of you already know that I struggled a lot with my finances this year.

A lot.

However, in the midst of a struggle, you learn, you change and most importantly you (hopefully) grow.

If you’re still reading, there’s a few steps I want you to take as soon as you can. No, actually, do it now. Enough fooling around.

Step One – Control Yourself: Open up an INTEREST BEARING SAVINGS ACCOUNT at ANOTHER BANK (preferably a credit union). Do NOT by any means, order a debit card for this account. If you get one by default, hide it from yourself, cut it up, give it to someone you trust, but you better not use it unless it’s for emergencies.

Step Two – Automate EVERYTHING: This part is really important. Take 7% of your paycheck (or whatever you can afford to do), and set up AUTOMATIC TRANSFERS TO THIS SAVINGS ACCOUNT AT THE OTHER BANK. Set it up for every time that you get paid, whether it be weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.

Why? When you are moving money automatically from one bank to another, it’s in process for 3-4 days. It’s up in the ether, and you can’t touch it. Therefore you can’t spend it. Once it arrives at the other bank, it’ll take the same amount of time to transfer it back, once again inhibiting you from unnecessarily spending that money you’re supposed to be saving.

Also, the way my bank is set up, there’s a $3 transfer fee to an external account for the 3-4 day transfer. I never notice those missing $3 dollars. If I’m feeling spicy, I can immediately transfer the funds the same or next day for $25, but ain’t nobody got time for all that.

I would also suggest that if you can, set up auto pay on bills that are easily manageable. Sometimes you get a discount for doing so!

Step Three – Tame your Money: Download these Monthly Budgeting and Bill Tracking Excel Spreadsheets from my Google Drive.

Budgeting has a bad rap. Budgeting is not something that’s supposed to give you restrictions, it’s something that’s supposed to liberate you and make you aware of how you’re utilizing your income. We use budgeting sheets to see where our money is going and to tell our money where to go. It helps us identify if we’re spending money on things that we don’t need and can do without. When you’re filling out the sheet, make sure that you…LIST EVERYTHING YOU SPEND MONEY ON. Including all your lil’ subscriptions to Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, Discord, Apple Music, alladat.

If you want tips on budgeting per paycheck, check out The Honest Plan on YouTube.

Once you’ve completed your monthly budget sheet, the Bill Tracking sheet will be your best friend. You’ll use this to list everything you pay a monthly bill for, see if you’re staying on top of your bill payments, observe to see if there are any fluctuations in bill amounts and overall be absolutely sure that you’re paying things on time (especially when the collectors attempt to call you and tell you that you’re behind).

Not only do these two tools give you peace of mind, but you’ll also feel like you’re doing a lil’ sumn sumn as a money managing guru.

numbers money calculating calculation

Step Four – Side Hustlin’ (Optional): Find a side hustle you wouldn’t mind doing. If you’re good at something, you might as well get paid for it. There’s nothing wrong with a little extra income! While you’re at it…check out Blankets of Blessings 🌚

Step Five – Trading & Investing: It would be worthwhile to hop onto YouTube and watch some videos on Trading vs. Investing. It’s never too late to start, and besides, if it goes well, it’s something you can set aside and “forget about” while your money grows. I’ve recently started using the Robinhood and Stash apps. If you’re interested in Robinhood, use my link here to get a free stock! Disclaimer: You should already know this is not a quick way to increase your income (unless you get the blessing of a lifetime and have an incredibly successful day trade).

Step Six – The Snowball Effect: I’m sure many of you have heard of this. …No? Okay, my bad for the assumption. Allow me to enlighten you: The Snowball Effect is something that one of my mentors shared with me, and it involves paying off looming bills. Essentially, all you are doing is paying off the small bills first so that you can launch a full, head on attack on the larger bills and aggressively pay those down. It’s effective, it works, do it.

Step Seven – “It is Finished.”: God rested on the seventh day, so we shall rest on the seventh step. Put this cycle in motion and you’ll be taking your first steps on your path to Fiscal Responsibility.

Matthew 25:14-28 

These things I mentioned above will take time to get going, and this blog post is not the end all to education about Fiscal Responsibility. This is just what I’ve learned from my experiences and those around me. You have to ask questions, you have to be attentive to what’s going on with your wallet. It’s up to you to take control, and use money as the tool it was intended to be used as. I do care to mention that, be careful you don’t become obsessed with money. Money isn’t everything, but how we use it determines how we live our lives.

Here are a few things to take away from today:

  • Wherever you put your value, that’s where your money is going.
  • Don’t go after things that have no eternal value.
  • You cannot serve both God and money. – Matthew 6:24
  • Figure out what your definition of money is – this will help you determine if you’re using money as a tool or a toy.
  • Don’t forget to pay your tithes.

 

Happy Holidays! 🎄💖

 

The Diamond: A Short Story

Don’t let anyone determine your worth, or misuse you as a result of what you’ve survived and experienced in your lifetime.

Once upon a time, there was this man, who went for a walk at the same exact time every day. You could call this walk his daily walk of life. Walking through highs and lows, and sometimes difficult spots that weren’t so easy to get a foothold on. As it seemed that his walks were getting tougher and tougher some days, he prayed and asked God to bless him with something that would keep him company and make the walks worth the trouble.

One day, as the man was walking along one of the more difficult parts of his walk, a glimmer caught his eye. As he approached the spot where he saw the faint glimmer from a distance, crouching down and beginning to dig once he arrived at that spot, he happened upon something rare and tough to find. To his amazement and gratitude to God, he realized that he had found a diamond! Now, what would a diamond like this, be doing here? No one knows how the diamond got there, but it didn’t matter. This diamond wasn’t like any other diamond, however. It was the most beautiful, shimmery, warm, glowing and enchanting diamond anyone ever did see! Usually, rocks are cold and off-putting, but not this one. This diamond shone like none other before it. There was something incredibly special about this diamond, and the man realized this from the moment he picked it up. Upon closer observation, the man noticed the diamond had a few scratches and some seemingly irremovable dirt on it (no matter how hard he tried to wipe it off with this shirt). Like before, none of it mattered because the man was so joyous, happy, and excited, he thanked God and hurried home to clean and properly take care of that diamond.

Once home, the man carefully took the diamond out of his pocket and quickly prepared a nice wash for it to cleanse it of the dirt it had incurred from being in the ground for so long. He treated it with the utmost care, careful not to rush the process. Once he finished washing the diamond, aside from the scratches that it possessed, he was able to finally see its true beauty. This diamond was near perfect!

Words could not express how happy this man was, and he could not thank God enough for blessing him with this very unique gift. The man would just sit and stare in awe of the diamond after he finished his daily walks, captivated by its own unique glow. A glow that nothing else could possess.

The man would take that diamond everywhere, happy to know that it would always be right there ready to shine light onto his life in the difficult times that he went through, making the experiences more bearable…

For a while, the diamond stayed spotless, constantly gleaming its beautiful rays of light that seemed to blot out the minor scratches it had on it. Then one day, to his surprise, the man noticed that the diamond got dirty again. “How could this be?” he asked himself, for the man knew that he took extra care to wash and protect the diamond. This didn’t matter though once again, for he simply shrugged and took it home to wash it and get it cleaned again. Not even two days later, however, the diamond began to get dirty again. The man, befuddled, asked himself again how this kept happening. Especially this time, he noticed the diamond was dirtier than usual, and more scratches began to appear on it. After this, it seemed that no matter how much he cleaned the diamond when it got dirty, it just would not stay clean for long, regardless of everything he tried. He even started using harsher cleaners just to make sure the diamond had no possible way of getting dirty, though much to his dismay, it only made the diamond look worse.

During this time, the meticulous care and attention the man paid to this lovely diamond began to fade as the days went on. He no longer stared at it in awe whenever he held it in the palm of his hand. He even started to pick up other rocks from time to time when he went for his walks (though, he never kept those). Looks of disgust and annoyance began to take over whenever he would look at the diamond. He even stopped taking it on his walks with him everyday and just left it laying at his house. He figured, why clean it if it’s just going to get dirty again? He figured it was a waste of his time and energy. Eventually, the man grew tired of this constant routine of having to constantly clean this diamond. He couldn’t understand why it just wouldn’t stay clean. Then one day, the man had finally had enough, he couldn’t take it anymore. As he went on his walk that day, with the diamond in his pocket, he reached in, grabbed it and looked at it one more time. For a moment, he saw that glimmer, that brilliant shine the diamond gave off when he had first came upon it. He paused for a moment, unsure of what to do next, but then too soon did all the struggle he went through to keep it clean start running through his mind. His next action was none other than letting the diamond fall out of the palm of his hand, and watching it roll down the hill, becoming obscured by the dirt and plants around it. He could no longer see the glimmer that once captivated him. The diamond seemed to have fallen in slow motion as he let it slip from his hand. Time seemed to almost stop…

Staring at the sunset as he breathed out and turned to walk away, he thought he heard a faint voice crying and saying “I can’t stay clean. Sometimes life just gets to you and you have to be dusty and dirty for a while. We won’t always be clean, but we will get clean again. It makes the dirtier time not seem so bad. What matters is that we should never give up, but I understand. Sometimes you just can’t take it.” It was enough to make him stop, and turn back to look at where the diamond fell, but he just shook his head and said, “there’s no way…”. He turned around and continued on his walk.

Two years he had that diamond. One of God’s precious blessings. Though, in the end, he forgot the value of it, he forgot that he prayed so fervently for it, and he simply discarded it and went about his business. The diamond had grown fond of the man during that time and tried its best to shine bright through the muck contained on its surface, just to brighten his day no matter what it looked like. It still wasn’t enough.

The diamond laid there for a long while, watching the sun rise and sun set day after day. It’s still laying there, even now, patiently waiting for someone else to come and receive it as a blessing as the man once did. If the diamond had a heart, there would be no hate in it for the man, as it understands that sometimes life is unbearable and people give up. It hoped the man was doing well.

Every now and then, the diamond would catch a glimpse of the man as he walked by on his daily walk, not even glancing at where he let the diamond fall long ago.

Be Sure to Spend Time With God

He’s the best friend you could ever imagine having, so why wouldn’t you spend time with Him?

I know that as we go throughout our busy days, we many times forget to sit down and give thanks to God for the many blessings He bestows upon us as we go throughout our busy days.

Why is it that we can devote so much time to all these various things that stress us out, disappoint us, anger us, etc., but we struggle with spending time with God who relieves all of that stress, anger and disappointment? It’s very backwards. It does not make sense. It frustrates me, especially because there’s really no excuse for why I don’t spend time with Him. The extended amounts of time that I can sleep or play video games for…I could be spending time with God. The extended amounts of time that I spend worrying about things beyond my control…I could be spending time with God.

I used to pray every morning before I left for work. I fell off. However, that alone just isn’t enough. God deserves so much more than that from me! Especially the way I’ve been getting blessed recently? I should be running through the hallways at work, at home, where ever I go. I should be praise breaking all OVER the place.

Yet…I don’t.

Why?

There’s numerous distractions, numerous illegitimate reasons that I could come up with as to why I don’t spend time with God. It’s ridiculous really. It’s ridiculous because, do you think God sits back and says “Oh, I didn’t have time to bless you or forgive you because I was too busy and distracted with something else, but I’ll get around to it.” No! He absolutely, DOES NOT do that. Do you know how bad things would be if that happened? We would be S.O.L., on steroids. No, but instead I imagine God shakes His head at us daily, probably saying “my children, my children, what will I ever do with you”, but still continues to love us and bless us REGARDLESS of our actions. Oh yes, and let’s not forget, He’s teaching us lessons in the process. God will not hesitate to break us down first in order to teach us a valuable lesson about not being humble, not spending enough time with Him, etc. God gets jealous, just like our boyfriends or girlfriends or husbands or wives, or even our FRIENDS do when we don’t make a point of spending time with them.

I get it though, I get it. We can’t see God. We can’t see Jesus. Out of sight, out of mind right? If we aren’t interacting with something physically every day, it’s easy to forget about whatever that something may be. We’re human. That’s bound to happen. However, it. is. not. an. excuse! I have to do better. WE have to do better. God has done way too much for us, for us not to sit down, thank Him, spend time with Him, tell Him about our day, give Him praise for simply being who He is and taking care of us, EVERY DAY.

How you spend time with God is how you spend time with God. There’s no special technique or method you’re supposed to do. What matters is the strength of your relationship with Him. Imagine, all the time you spend being angry or worrying about something beyond your control, all that time could be time you’re spending with the One who created you. It’s one of the best times too because you can cry and let things out and not be judged, you can laugh with God (yes, contrary to popular belief, God has a sense of humor), you can even vent your frustrations! He will listen to every single word you have to say. You just have to patient, quiet and listen to what He has to say about everything.

Also keep in mind, just because you’re improving your relationship with God, doesn’t mean your life will be without hardship. If life was easy, we wouldn’t grow. We wouldn’t need God. God is there for us. God is our strength when we become weak and can’t fathom how we will continue living life. Let God fight the toughest parts of your battles for you. Don’t try to do everything on your own. It won’t feel good and everything will spin out of control, and we don’t want that.