Wednesday, June 30, 2010


These 2 people live in Bulgeta, Ethiopia. i don't know their names. They are getting water to drink. Every single person in the town drinks the water from this pond.

I showed this picture to my wife and she had no idea it was even water. She said she thought the people were playing in a sand box. that made me want to cry.

There is no reason anyone in our world should still be dying from unclean water... but several died from unclean water since you've been reading this. that's messed up.

Thankfully some other people thought it was messed up too. They gave to Charity:Water (an awesome org. that i love) and they built a clean water well in Bulgeta! These 2 people never have to visit this pond again. People from this town won't die from unclean water anymore.
*Because some people were generous. They thought the future for this town should be different so they did something about it.

you can read more about this town and water project HERE and there are even links that will take you to the google earth coordinates to see these villages who have been helped in Ethiopia!

Would you be willing to be generous so that an entire town would have clean water instead of drinking from that "sand box"?

Monday, June 28, 2010

iPhone fever

do you know anyone with iPhone fever? i know some people who have come down with a severe case of it. the iPhone 4 is pretty awesome and i understand the "fever". there was the same craze for the 3GS & the iPhone before that, etc...

There is a "fever" that breaks out for all the latest and greatest new stuff in our culture. The "fever" is this overwhelming desire and perceived "need" to HAVE THAT THING. that thing that is so awesome and that thing that everyone else has.

i was thinking about this tonight. is this "fever" that comes on us something we were created with? did God make us that way? i know God made us with strong desires and He put in us an insatiable desire for satisfaction.

but where did this all out "fever" come from to have the latest and greatest thing?... whatever that thing may be this week. (because next week it will be something else new.)

i don't think we were created this way. i think it's from our culture. i think our culture tricks us and dupes us into this fever.

tonight i was asking myself if other cultures... non Western cultures experience the "fever" in their context? i don't think so. (i may very well be wrong though.) it doesn't seem like a cross-cultural fever to me. i think we have created "the fever" with our consumeristic, materialistic, gotta have it now, society here in Western culture.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

thoughts from Josh

i am going to share some reflections and thoughts on the awesomeness that was Summer Camp X that Ridge linked up with Next Level to do this past week. Some thoughts probably coming this week.

But for now i wanted to direct you all to some thoughts of our worship leader for the week. Josh Via has an awesome website HERE. He is pretty much my favorite worship leader and has the most amazing heart for God. i love that guy. he did such a stellar job.

He posted some great reflections on an awesome moment from Tuesday night HERE. you can also read his words below.

Summer Camp X with Next Level Church and Ridge Church is well underway.  The room is electric every session and kids are showing up expecting to hear from the Lord.  Last night, Jon Rouleau, the student pastor at Ridge, brought the Word strong from Genesis 1 and 3 about how we lost our identity and how it’s found in Christ. I know of at least three students last night who committed their lives to Christ, two of whom were brothers and were sitting across the room from each other, completely unaware that the other was simultaneously making the same decision. They met in the middle of the room to tell each other and embraced for each other in tears for at least a minute. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what it’s all about. Thank You, Jesus.  And thank you guys for your prayers for us this week.

Friday, June 25, 2010

world cup + student camp = less blogging

i have blogged less this month than any other month here on renown.
The World Cup began on June 11th and that has been the major cause of my lack of blogging as i've been trying to watch every single World Cup match.
Now it's the round of 16. 48 games down and only 16 to go. so, i'll be back to writing like normal.

**And how about the heart stopping USA! oh man... ulcer city. but jubilation in the end. I say we beat Ghana tomorrow in the Round of 16 and then go on to beat Uruguay in the Quarterfinals (or South Korea) to move on to the semifinals! That would be unbelievable!

We just returned from our very own Student camp at Myrtle Beach for our middle school and high school students. 1st time of trying to pull off our own camp.
It really wasn't on our own though at all. Huge thanks to Robbie & Jared at Next Level for pulling it off for real and letting us partner with them. Rusty from Ridge killed it when it came to the production for the sessions... and Josh Via led our kids in a week full of awesome times of worship of our amazing God. Kudos all around.
"Great is Your Name and greatly to be praised forever, God of our hope and our strength..."

Sunday, June 20, 2010

off to camp

We're leaving 1st thing in the morning for MYRTLE BEACH!
We're going for student camp with our Middle School & High School students from Ridge Church.

We hooked up with Next Level Church (wrote about them HERE) and running our own camp this year. We still love Big Stuf (where we've been the past 3 summers) but just trying to keep cost down so more kids can go and experience a life changing week.

it's gonna be awesome and we're really excited about what God is going to do in lives this week! A few of us from Ridge are speaking throughout the week and our awesome friend Josh Via is leading worship for camp.
i'm speaking Wednesday morning and bringing a little Bobby Mcferrin in my talk (hint hint).

looking forward to what God is going to do. very expectant.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

worst call ever?

what an intense game to watch. i was going crazy.
to play so crappy and go down 2-0 in a game we were supposed to own.

*Then it was so awesome to see us wake up in the 2nd half! i couldn't believe Donovan took that shot... and then i couldn't believe he actually put it in the top shelf. we owned that 2nd half.
the whole buildup to Bradley's goal was brilliant! = Donavan's cross, Altidore's header down, Hercules' run to bring the defender forward, and then Michael Bradley's finish. awesome.

then came the game winner! so i thought for a few seconds as i celebrated... a 3-2 win after being down 2-0 is pretty much as good as it gets. but inexplicably, the goal didn't count. we still don't know what the ref called.
(i do know i see 3 of our guys getting fouled in the box! especially Bradley getting bear hugged and Bocanegra basically getting body slammed.)

if you haven't seen what i'm talking about yet (where have you been?) check it out below.

wow. that was a brilliant game winner and it was taken away from us. Now, i'm not going to blame the whole game on the ref. we played like crap in the 1st half. it's our fault we lost... he's also a human and i don't hate him or anything. he just made a mistake. he's probably a great guy. but c'mon ref... you took away a win & 3 points & probably winning the group.

*i'm also encouraged to hear our U.S. players not dwelling on it and looking forward to beating Algeria.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

the dilemma

(this dilemma has really been created by what i've written in several of the latest posts. you can read sort of a summary of our financial plan HERE and then my last post on what i think money is for HERE. you should really read that to catch up.) Thanks in advance for taking time to read this dilemma below...

so here's my dilemma.
(first, a preface) - I DON'T NEED ANY MONEY. seriously. there is not an ounce of desire in me to be "rich" and have a lot of money to spend on myself. comforts, pleasures, etc...

i am completely content to sleep on the ground somewhere eating rice with nothing. just me, my wife, and God. no transportation, no furniture... whatever. i'm content.

on the flip side - I AM ON TRACK TO HAVE A TON OF MONEY. and really i'm already rich just because i'm an American. then even by American standards i'm probably rich just from following Dave's plan. (You can read about our journey through that plan HERE and HERE.) this is hard to believe because our income isn't as high as most, but Dave says we're in the top 3% of Americans as far as our net worth right now. crazy. (again, no credit to me, i'm just thankful God led us into this plan.)

but the reason we're on track to have so much money is because we are putting most of it somewhere! getting out of debt, then building the emergency fund, & now we're putting a ton into retirement & eventually we'll be investing a lot more!
So, as I wrote in the last post, just in retirement we're on track to have $13 million at 65, and then with investments who knows how much more it will be?

Bottom Line = i want to give most of my money away (like i wrote HERE). now and/or later.

***i have learned (from Dave & now experience) that money is most powerful when it is focused. that pushes me into the dilemma:
-  i feel like i could give away most of my money now and focus it all toward the Kingdom - the poor, missions, etc... and do a lot of good! it would be powerful!
-  Or i feel like i could focus a majority of my money toward retirement accounts, and investments and maybe end up with $30 million + investments...

Some days i want to ABANDON THE PLAN! (don't tell Dave.) not abandon it so i can buy stuff, but so i can give away all my money. maybe 70% or 80%? + everything in the emergency fund, etc...

but then other days i think it almost might be better to stop giving now, put 70% - 80% into these long term investments and then be able to give $100 million at 65!

*i have a real ongoing dilemma between these scenarios:
1 - i did some really rough estimating and let's say i could give $1.6 million over the next 40 years of my life. that would be very "sacrificial" giving. i would be happy. i would have no retirement... but i'd be ok with that & content. i think it would do a lot of good.

2 - OR if i gave very little now... like 10% or something... i could maybe have $30 million in 40 years to give away. that's a lot more for sure. that seems like it would be way better for the Kingdom, but that's not as much where my heart's at.

Sometimes it feels like i need to pick one of those 2 lanes and run with it.

3 - OR... i could keep up what i'm doing now. which is focused on giving AND the plan (which makes money less powerful because of less focus). maybe i could give away as much as i can along the way but we'd still have $13 million + investments in 40 years. then i could give all of that away. 

pretty awesome chunk to give away. way more than the $1.6 million i could give away in #1, but a lot less than in #2.
*AM I BEING TO RIDICULOUS AND RADICAL ABOUT THIS? maybe i should just live comfortably, have some fun, give some, save some like in #3 and be done with this whole dilemma?

So, i am saying openly that i don't know what to think about all this. my head and heart spin round and round.
the business side of me knows $30 million would be the "best" and i could do a lot of awesome stuff for God's Kingdom with that.
the raw and passionate side of me knows what giving thousands right now could do! the lives it could help save TODAY (physically and spiritually). i have a big problem with this many days. knowing i have the money that could SAVE LIVES, but i'm putting it into a ROTH IRA... ooohhh... that feels revolutionary.

Ultimately i know all the money is going to the same place. it's just a matter of when and how much.

And then my head and heart spin round and round more and more because i know that God doesn't NEED my money. He's gonna do what He wants to do know matter what. What He really wants is my heart. well, He has that... and that makes me want to give away all my money now!
& then the business side of me says...

and round and round i go much like this post has been. i probably haven't made much sense and i've given myself a headache like i do every day as i wrestle with this.

i'll be honest with all of you. i can't think of anything else i wrestle with more than this. this keeps me awake at night and bothers me deep in my soul. i really don't know what God would want me to do. i ask Him for wisdom & i'm just not sure.

**i think there are some principles in Scripture and a lot of wisdom in godly people out there that could help me. i've been searching for the principles in Scripture (big time). [although that's when i want to empty my emergency fund and give away every penny when i read what God has to say...]

i know i probably just sound crazy to all of you and you think i'm a few bricks short...
but i would really really love to hear from YOU! what am i missing? is my thinking all jacked up? what Biblical principle could you share with me to help? did this post even make sense? what would you do in my situation.
help. before my brain and heart explode from this ongoing wrestling match!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

what is money for anyway?

i'm going to try to let my heart leak out a little bit in this post. just some raw thoughts.

i've written a lot about money the past few posts. i think the ultimate and greatest purpose of money is the Glory of God and to Bless others. i think those are 1 and the same... not 2 different purposes.

i think God has blessed me with money so that i can be a blessing to others... so that i use HIS money (ultimately it's His) for His name's sake... not for my own sake.
i think God has blessed all of us with money for that same purpose. i think He makes it deafeningly clear in the Bible that He wants us to GIVE to the poor/to His Kingdom!

i think most of us Americans are ridiculous. it's freaking apalling that most of us are living paycheck to paycheck barely paying our car payments and for our fancy dinners and for our fancy bottled water when a lot of the world doesn't even have an option of having any of these things.

i really can't comprehend how we spend our money. my pulse and blood pressure are all jacked up right now and i have a headache thinking about how stupidly we use our money. i can't fathom how we spend $19 billion every year playing golf and $16 billion each year on ice cream in America and it would only take $10 billion to give everyone in the world clean water for the rest of their lives.
unclean water is the biggest killer in the world. and that's what around 1 billion people are drinking every day.
Around 10 children died from a lack of clean water since you have been reading this post! 
that should bother you. & that's just 1 example. it should bother us and make us think when we go to buy a new pair of shoes. if we ever even flirt with buying a new car we should think about that first. all the crap we buy should make us think - "is this really the way i should be spending this money?"

i think we're all insane to justify how we spend our money. lots of purchases i have made bother me... and i don't really spend money. i certainly don't spend money on expensive stuff very often! Our 2nd day after Thanksgiving together we bought a big fancy TV for like a fourth of what it usually costs... but it was probably still enough to help lift 8 families out of poverty. did i really need an iPhone? do i need 3 pairs of shoes? do i need more than 7 shirts (1 for each day of the week)? 

we're so freaking rich and we give so freaking little.

1 of our goals is to be able to give away half of everything we make to God's Kingdom - missions, the poor, etc... we're definitely not there yet, but everything in me wants to be there soon... and then move beyond it.

but that sounds radical doesn't it? that sounds weird doesn't it? downsizing. doing without "necessities". 10% is all we need to give right?
but if i'm being honest from my heart... giving away half of what we make is pretty sad. why can't we live on a lot less than half?

we are blinded and ruined by our crazy consumeristic culture. we have to "keep up". everyone has 2 cars and a house payment and cable and an iPhone right?
Everyone drops $200 or $400 or $600 a month on a car payment right?

this makes me so angry and i know God is FURIOUS. not that we have nice things but that we spend all our money on ourselves! that's ludicrous and... i'm going to go ahead and say it... sinful.
& i'm guilty. i spend way too much money on me. i get sucked into my own culture and i'm selfish.
i want God to use the money He has blessed me with for His glory... to radically change lives among the millions of unreached people who have never even heard His name... to save lives of people who would otherwise be dead because of the poverty they were born into.

(thinking through this "dilemma" i have created in my next post.)

Monday, June 14, 2010

$13 million and our new money experiment

i have been writing about our financial "plan" from Dave Ramsey & then i wrote a couple posts on our story walking through that plan so far HERE and HERE if you care to read about it.

i'm really thankful that God guided us to jump onto this plan and for the patience and discipline we've had to stick with it!

*Crystal was on Dave's website about 1 year ago and there was a retirement portion that would figure what you will retire with. She plugged in all our numbers (income, bills, home mortgage, etc...) Basically, if we NEVER make more income and everything stays exactly the same and we just stay on pace... when we hit 65 we will have a fully funded (6 month) emergency fund, a home mortgage that is paid for (by the time we're 31 or so), college paid for for 2 kids (which we don't have yet, and $13 MILLION DOLLARS!!!

yeah. that's what i said. $13 million. insane... and that's just in our retirement accounts. and that is an extremely conservative estimate. i'm pretty sure there's a lot i could do with $13 million.

*That's what Dave is talking about when he says "live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else." Maybe we don't go out to eat as much as other peeps and we have a tight budget and all, but $13 million... that's pretty cool.

& i also mentioned our latest little money experiment. Back in April Crystal and i talked and felt like this experiment was something we should do. i felt like it was a "God thing."
We decided that ALL the "unexpected" money we get - which fyi, we don't really get much of that. Unexpected money is like stuff that just shows up out of nowhere. stuff we didn't budget, stuff we didn't work for, gifts, money that turns up.
For example = the $20 bill i literally FOUND on the sidewalk, the $100 i made selling an old foosball table, the $400 that showed up in my account from my real estate company... just extra.

Anyway, we're GIVING HALF of all that unexpected money we get to missions and to the poor (social justice projects). not for everyone, just what we felt like we should do. we're always trying to give MORE and figure out how to budget it... but we're like why don't we just give away 1/2 of unelxpected money we get.

so, we started that in April. we've been doing it for about 2 months now and we have gotten OVER $1,000 that was completely unexpected. that's pretty crazy! $500 per month average so far. i don't remember ever getting that much unexpected money!

i wonder if there's a connection? could be a coincidence? beats me really. we are just really excited to be giving away a ton of extra money + getting the extra money isn't bad either.

(We're excited to be funding some entrepreneurs living in poverty through Hope International and helping some peeps go on mission trips. looking forward to what we can do with any more unexpected money God blesses us with.)

Saturday, June 12, 2010


That was an awesome game. i still can't believe we tied England. the only thing that could have made it better is if Jozy's shot would have bounced in off the post.

When Green let in the worst goal of all time off Dempsey's foot the place i was at went crazy. we were like transported to an alternate universe. within a split second i had like 8 grown men jumping up and down with me and on top of me. we were on the edge of a balcony over the bar and i seriously thought we were all going to go over. it was pandemonium.

great start to the tourney boys. finish off the group with 2 more wins and we're golden.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

our journey with the plan (part 2)

This is the rest of the story on how we became debt free and in a ridiculously good financial spot without making much money. (You can read part 1 HERE.)

Continuing from yesterday... we had paid off a lot of debt in 08, but Dave says that if your 2nd mortgage is under a certain percentage of your household income then you should include it in your debt snowball. Ours was basically right on the border and probably could have gone either way.

It was tempting to just shout “We’re debt free!” after paying off Crystal’s car, but I was like “Ya know what, let’s just knock this mortgage out, be done with it & REALLY have something to celebrate.”

By the time we had paid all the other debts off we really had a CHUNK of change every month that used to be dedicated to payments that was now a massive SNOWMAN size snowball! It all went straight to principal to pay off this $20K mortgage. Every month we were throwing well over a grand at that thing. (we got out of paying over $2K in interest that half of the year!)

A couple days before Christmas of 2008 Crystal and I sat down together and PAID the final payoff online to BB&T for our mortgage. We were debt free! I shouted and had a little party right there on the couch. (That Christmas just felt different too by the way.)

That's the final piece of paper on our mortgage showing it was PAID IN FULL. that was awesome!
We started in December 07 and were debt free in December 08. It took us about 13 months to pay off around $31,000! That’s what I’m talkin’ about.
And trust me… we weren’t making very much coin either. It was just focused intensity.
All glory to God. Definitely not our power… just His favor. I believe He hates debt, so we just got after it.

Next step = January 09 we began Baby Step #3 -> Finish the Emergency Fund (and kick Murphy all the way out!) Dave says to put 3-6 months of expenses away into a readily accessible account. The more “unstable” your income is, the closer to 6 months you should save. We went with the 6 months & it’s an amount that wouldn’t force us to change our lives much in those 6 months. it would probably last us more like 9 months.

We finished that off in November of 09. Then in December my wife got a little "reward" for being such a great sport with a phat shopping spree because of all the freed up money.

*Then the realization hit = We could both lose our jobs and not change a thing or have a worry for 6 months! That is what i call security! That's 6 months to hit the job trail hard, getting PT work & not having to go back into debt! Plus it's enough money to cover us if a major disaster hit.

So, January 2010 we started the next phase. Baby Steps #4, 5, & 6 all come at the same time! 
#4 = 15% of our total income now goes straight into retirement. Crystal has a matching 401k which we max out & that is so awesome (it's straight up free money!)
Then we hooked up with a Dave Ramsey ELP here in Charlotte who is gonna help us up & hook us up with Roth IRAs to max out & then a little more in the 401k to finish off the 15%
*It feels so good to get started on this! My whole life i've heard about how important it is to get started investing early! just because of this monthly 15% we will literally retire with many many millions. dang. crazy.

#5 = saving for our kids' college tuitions. Dave's got a sweet way to figure out what it will cost when our kids are off to college. we have none yet so we technically can't open ESAs for them, but we went ahead and started putting away a lot per month. they can go to Harvard or Princeton if they want (& if they're smart like their mom.)

#6 = PAYING OFF OUR MORTGAGE! this one will take a bit longer, but worst case scenario we should have it paid off by the time we're 31 or so. not too much longer. just trying to pay as much extra as we can toward the principal! (In this economy i'm actually trying to cheat the system & sell our house & just rent something or buy a foreclosure at half price and be totally out of debt including the house! if the right opportunity rolls along i am all over it!)

that's our story & where we're at now. it's been a blessing. the crazy part is we still don't make much money, but we've been able to GIVE way more than we ever have in our lives - to our Church, to God's Mission globally, to the poor, etc... crazy how that works.
& God has been the only reason this has all gone down this way. amazing.

BOTTOM LINE = i am an idiot and this worked out for us... therefore ANYBODY can work this plan, get out of debt & be financially secure.
we get none of the credit. we only tried to screw it up.

*i'll share some more thoughts on our journey this weekend.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

our journey with the plan (part 1)

(You can read about "the plan" HERE and HERE. Today i'm just telling our story of how we've walked through this plan together & how it's changed our lives.)

In 2007 Crystal and I saw Dave Ramsey for the 1st time at Catalyst. We heard him talk about how dumb debt is and how easy it really is to control your money. It sounded like it was even easier if you start when you're 1st beginning life (i guess we were still "newlyweds" = married for just over 2 years).
We kind of looked at each other and nonchalantly said "you wanna try it?" & we were both like "sure" with a shoulder shrug, "why not?"... little did we know how dramatically our lives would change.

within a couple weeks i went out and got Dave's book The Total Money Makeover (TMM) and read it in 2 days. i was absolutely blown away! This was the greatest plan i had ever seen. even a financial dummy like me could follow it. i couldn't even screw it up!
So, December 2007 was our 1st month to give our TMM a shot. Crystal and i set up a budget before the month began. We told every penny where to go. And that month we put our 1st $1K emergency fund in place. (Baby Step #1)

The next month (January 2008) we hit the debt snowball trail hard! (Baby Step #2) We went hard core paying off our debts 1 at a time. i still remember the 1st one we paid off. $592 on the Lowe's credit card for our whole gas fireplace setup. What a dumb thing to buy on credit! the "no payments, no interest" sucked us in. never again. it felt great to pay that off in the store because i knew where this plan was taking us!

We started having more and more money to throw at debt the more debt we paid off! It really was like a snowball! (We stopped using our other credit cards, btw)
We mowed down our debts - Home Depot credit card, a big one (like $3,500) to Wells Fargo for our whole King Sized bed & bedroom furniture we bought at Mattress Firm, etc...

I was pretty hard core about this whole plan because i could see the end game (the plan i wrote about on Monday.) i knew that we could be debt free pretty soon and that we could even be done with all 7 steps in around 7 years!!! 
Crystal, on the other, hand started started having her doubts. i was so hard core that i cut out all spending from the budget. we were literally spending no money for about the first 3-4 months.

that's when i got my 1st big lesson... my hard core approach had caused Crystal to jump ship! Around month 3 or 4 she was ready to go on a shopping spree and put it all on a credit card. i made it so bad for her that within a couple weeks i heard comments like "I don't really care if we have the money, i just want to buy something." and  
"Dave Ramsey ruined my life" 
and the most famous quote of all =  
"If I ever see Dave Ramsey I am going to kick him in the balls!" 
wow. i had created a monster!
so, i wised up and loosened up for the sake of a lot of things (you can thank me later Dave! In fact, another time we saw Dave speak Crystal leaned over and said "now is my chance." haha, totally joking of course. i think.)

When she worked one Friday after that i went to the mall and bought her a ridiculously expensive outfit i knew that she wanted from White House/ Black Market. it was a total surprise. i had them gift wrap it. (She hadn't bought clothes in months.)
She also hadn't even bought Starbucks in months, so i timed it perfectly and bought her a Venti of her fav drink + a Starbucks gift card and laid it all out on the table. i also grabbed a card and wrote her a note just thanking her for being an awesome wife and for sticking with this plan with me.
That was a good night.

*And i learned a very important lesson. You can get out of debt wtih gazelle intensity but still have fun along the way. In fact you have to or else you will give up. we started a new budget item of "spending money" that she could spend on whatever she wanted to.

Some time in 08 is when i started grabbing extra jobs and ended up with 5 for a little while. that obviously helped get out of debt faster!
i also went for over 1 year without buying a thing. literally. i didn't spend a dime. like i may have bought groceries so we could eat or a light bulb so we could see, but i bought nothing "for me" for over 12 months. my choice. i honestly kind of just wanted to try it. a 1 year boycott of spending money and materialism. you can call me weird. that's fine with me. i just call it focused.

Later we paid off Crystal's car. Her beloved 2003 Ford Focus that she bought brand new with her dad as a junior in college. that was a good day when we paid that off. it definitely drives different when you own it.

*believe me when i say this = when you go after something like this with "gazelle intensity" (as Dave calls it) it seems like you get crazy momentum and the wind is at your back. it feels like God is behind you helping push and money comes from everywhere. 
We got a crazy huge tax return that summer and because we were so disciplined by that point, we didn't touch a dime of it and dumped the whole thing into paying off our debt!
Several other things happened like that! chunks of money from unexpected places... all straight to debt because we were focused and had a plan.

the only debt left (besides our mortgage) was actually our 20% mortgage from our 80/20 loan when we bought our house. it was the last and biggest on our debt snowball list of victims. a little over $20,000!

tomorrow i'll write about that and the rest of our journey so far.

Monday, June 7, 2010

the plan

HERE i talked about how Crystal and i are following a plan and following it to a "T". Then i wrote a little prequel to this plan HERE.
I promised to drop this plan on you guys. It's from a guy named Dave Ramsey. I think he's a genius and his plan (below) has changed our lives. i pretty much think everyone should follow it. You can read it from Dave in The Total Money Makeover.
Here's my attempt to lay it on you as simply & SHORT as possible...

1  Save $1,000 FAST. like this month. seriously.
sell something if you have to, but save $1K in cash as an emergency fund NOW. see, the 1st step was easy right?

2  GET OUT OF DEBT! via the "debt snowball". basically start with your smallest debt or credit card & pay that bad boy off ASAP. then take the money you were paying on it and roll it over to the next smallest debt... repeat over and over & by the time you get to your biggest debt you will be putting a BIG chunk of money toward paying it off every month. pretty soon you'll be DEBT FREE!

3  Finish your EMERGENCY FUND. Obviously $1K is not enough for major emergencies (& YOU WILL have one). You need 3-6 months of expenses in the bank readily available. Imagine the freedom when you know you could live for 3-6 months if everyone in your house lost their jobs! pretty reassuring in this economy.

4  RETIREMENT! As soon as you have your emergency fund in place you have a TON of money freed up each month, so immediately start putting away 15% of your income into retirement accounts! Start with fully funding a Roth IRA (up to $6K for a couple) and matching 401Ks... START YOUNG! you'll end up with millions!

5  Save up for your kids' college tuition. Pretty much all college students go into crazy debt when they go to school! not cool. you can do something about that though! change your family tree. At this step start investing NOW for your kids into an ESA (Educational Savings Account). $200 a month will pretty much send your kids to any college they wanna go to.

6  PAY OFF YOUR HOME! Oh yeah. As Dave says "The paid off home mortgage has replaced the BMW as the status symbol of choice." seriously. OWN your home. straight up. totally possible.

7  Build Wealth like CRAZY! invest all this crazy ton of money you've got now because you don't owe anything! All your income is yours. Growth Stock Mutual Funds all the way... maybe even buying some real estate. you'll be a millionaire in no time.

*For me personally, this was brilliant because it was EASY. 1 step at a time. a dummy like me can follow this thing and be a millionaire. i think i'll tell our story with this plan tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

the prequel to the plan

I mentioned in my post on Sunday that my wife and i might live a little "different" when it comes to finances, but it's all because we're sticking with a plan. I'm going to write a little more about that in the next week or so.

it's simply a "Total Money Makeover" and we learned about it from Dave Ramsey. We had never heard of the guy until we heard him speak back in '07... now peeps call me a "Ramseyite".

I was not a genius and I am not very organized at all and I didn't know jack about money (other than that i didn't have any!)... I had tried a couple different money systems, but i wasn't smart enough i guess.

But, Dave's plan feels to me like "money for dummies". it's the simplest thing ever. We just have to follow the plan and we're golden. & the plan only has 7 steps. you just take 1 step at a time. that's my kind of $ plan. perfect for a dummy like me!

I'll write about those 7 steps tomorrow, but for now here's all you really need to know and do before starting the 7 steps.
1) no credit cards - ever! cut them up. NEVER be in debt or use debt again.
2) budget every dollar! we started doing a budget where we spent every single penny on paper before the month began. we're still doing that.

Like Dave says, if you want to be normal (spelled BROKE) just live like everyone else. But this plan is about "living like no one else so later you can live like no one else."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"yes He does"

I was driving home from my soccer game last night and near my neighborhood i got behind a car with a bumper sticker on the back that said = "God doesn't believe in atheists."
it looked something like this:
it's supposed to be a "cute" phrase that makes Christians chuckle, but i just said to myself "yes He does."

God absolutely believes in atheists. He made them. HE LOVES THEM. HE DIED FOR THEM. no different people who aren't atheists. He loves us all the same.
Maybe we should remember that next time we put a bumper sticker on our car.

*i had an urge to ask the person in the car what their purpose was in having that bumper sticker? Like, when an atheist rolls up behind you are you thinking that it helps them feel loved and like  you are their friend?
Honestly, in my opinion, it would probably be best if "Christians" didn't even put bumper stickers on their cars. seriously. Most of them are ridiculous like this one

Or maybe if we all just remembered the spirit behind the bumper sticker on my caddy:

seems like a much better bumper sticker to me. i'm just sayin'.