Temporary Sacrifices, Long-Term Gains

Anytime I hear the word "sacrifice" I immediately start to wonder if what I'm giving up is going to be worth it. After all, most people choose to make a sacrifice based on the fact that the outcome will somehow be in their favor. I can't even imagine making the choice to sacrifice an only child. But God did it, because he knew that the outcome would be far greater than the son he was going to lose. Not only was he going to gain the entire world, but he was also going to get his son back. I'm so glad that God thought that we were worth it. Thank you Lord for the ULTIMATE sacrifice! If you want to win with your finances, there are some sacrifices that you're going to have to make along the way. Keep in mind, they may just be temporary. For instance, if you do your budget (and you should be doing your budget) and you see that 20% of your income is going towards eating out, you may need to sacrifice eating out for a while so that you can apply that 20% towards paying down your debts. I know, I know, but you really like hanging out with your friends, hate to cook etc, but you can get over it if your financial freedom is really worth it to you. You're going to have to make some tough decisions to get out of debt, but it will all be worth it. Once you're free, you can start adding those things back into your life that once impeded your progress of getting out of debt. What can you change now, that will put you in a better position later?

My challenge to you is to take your last month's bank statement, and really go through and categorize your expenses by percentage. What percent of your income are you spending on entertainment, shopping, gas, housing, food, cable, etc, and see where you can make some adjustments. The child in you is going to start screaming things at you like, "I don't want to do that," "It doesn't take all of that," or "I can't live without it." Tell your selfish emotions to shut up! You've got some growing up to do financially, and you're going to do whatever it takes. Trust me, you'll be fine, and so will your emotions. Remember, the quicker you get out the debt, the quicker you can start living a debt free life with little worry, more peace, and more fun! So, go ahead and decide which sacrifice you're going to make starting today. It won't hurt for long, especially once you see your net worth increasing and your debt decreasing. Like Dave Ramsey says, "if you live like no one else, later you can live like no one else! YOU'RE WORTH IT!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

Imagine Me...

"Imagine me, being free, trusting you totally; finally, I can...Imagine me." Kirk Franklin

Close your eyes for a minute and imagine a debt free life. What do you see? What's the weather like? What emotions are being displayed? Who is around you? I saw blue skies, the bright sun, perfect breeze, and nothing but smiles and laughter with my friends and family. The weight of debt was off my shoulders, and I was free. That's the way that life should be. In fact, that's the way that God intended for our lives to be. The thing this, if you can't see it in your mind first, you won't see it in your reality. You have to have an image of what your life will look like when you're debt free and keep that image in your mind until it becomes your reality.

Some of us have been bound by debt for so long that we've accepted it as the norm and can't see ourselves any other way. As long as you see yourself in debt, you will remain in debt. Your actions will continue to reflect what has been ingrained in your heart and mind. The war against debt starts in your mind first. You must retrain your thoughts so that your actions will follow. Vow to never use another credit card again. Make a promise to pay for your next car in cash. Commit to paying extra on loans each month even if it's just $5. Pray that God would position you to rely fully on Him as it pertains to your finances.Take time out of each day, close your eyes, and envision your life debt free. If you continue to do that on a consistent basis, your circumstances will start to change.

Are you willing to see yourself debt free? A lifestyle that some will only hope for can be yours if you would just use your imagination and work your faith. I not only imagine myself debt free, but I also imagine my friends and family being debt free as well. Free to focus on God, and free to enjoy life. Dare to be different by living free. You're only a thought away...

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

Take the Limits Off!

The song by Israel and new Breed says, "No limits, no boundaries, I see increase, all around me. Stretch forth, break forth, release me, enlarge my territory." Translation? Get out of debt! That's what it means in my mind anyway... No limits, no boundaries =  Lord, you have designed me to live free. I want to be able to answer all of your financial calls no matter how big or small. I can have all of the desires of my heart debt free.

I see increase all around me = Lord, as I get out of debt I'll see my savings and giving continue to grow. I believe that I'll have more money at the end of my month, instead of more month at the end of my money.

Stretch forth, break forth = Lord, I can't do this without you. You are my source! I recognize and call on your supernatural power to get me through this process.

Release me = Lord, I no longer have the desire to live in financial slavery. Free me from the hands of my lenders. Allow me to be a better steward than I was before.

Enlarge my territory = Lord, as I continue to manage the money that I have and sow seeds, multiply my harvest so that I may be ruler over much more. Allow me to touch more lives than ever before!

Let's take off our financial limits by living debt free. Let's show the world just how blessed the children of God are. We will stand out by living limitless, debt free lives. Today I choose to take the limits off!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

When It Rains: Car Edition

We often hear the term "save for a rainy day, " indicating that at some point there may be a financial emergency and we need to be prepared. Well, there is a difference between saving for emergencies and budgeting for maintenance. An emergency is an unexpected occurrence that requires immediate attention. Things like injuries, accidents, sudden death, etc. of which we have no control. However, routine car maintenance does not qualify as an emergency. Why? Because we knew when we bought the car that it would need regular maintenance such as getting the oil changed, replacing tires, belts and hoses, 100,000 mile service, etc. Let's not forget the dreaded "check engine" light! We can only hope that it's just a sensor, but then again it might not be. Nonetheless, while some maintenance is minor, others require major services and repairs that have the potential of sending us further into debt if we aren't prepared. When we don't have the cash available for major repairs, we either put it on a credit card or put off the service for as long as we can. Both decisions could end up costing us a lot more in the end.

While you're working out your monthly budget, make sure that you are setting aside at least $20 to $50 per month for car maintenance. That extra $240 - $600 per year creates a safety net between living free and living in bondage. If you drive a car with more expensive repairs, perhaps you'll need to set aside more. We know that we have to have our cars inspected the same month every year. The slightest malfunction in wiper blades, any type of lighting, signals, tires, breaks, etc., could be the difference between receiving a pass or fail. Are you prepared to pay cash for new tires or breaks? If your car is close to reaching 75,000 or 100,000 miles, how are you going to fund the major services and parts replacements?

Car maintenance isn't an emergency, it comes with the purchase. Unfortunately, for so many of us, it has become an emergency expense because we haven't been prepared to cover the costs in cash. Preparation is key when it comes to getting out and staying out of debt. It's about expecting the expected by planning ahead. Bottom line, your car will need to be serviced come rain or shine. Will you be ready? Your freedom depends on it!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

All Sales Final!

All sales final! That is the mentality that we need to have when making every purchase, even big ticket items. That means the transaction ends at the register. Any purchase that comes with an interest rate is a bad purchase, period. When you can't afford to make a purchase with cash, you're penalized with interest and wind up paying even more than the sale price. We sell our souls to financial devils when we make purchases on credit.

Think about the last car, house, or other item that you bought on loan or credit. If you're like me, you focused on the monthly payments instead of the total cost of the item at the end of the repayment period. I remember the first car that I bought. My magic number was $200. Whatever car I decided to buy, I didn't want the payments to be more than $200 a month. Instead, I should have calculated how long it would take me to save up and pay cash for the car. Going that route, I probably would have gotten the car that I wanted, and paid less for it. When it comes to getting the most bang for your buck, cash is king!

While I can't go back and change it now, I do know that I don't want to go that route again.Thankfully, I haven't had a car payment in the last 4 years, and I don't plan on having any more. For one thing, I'm going to drive the car that I have until the wheels literally fall off, and I'm OK with that. You should be as well. At the end of the day, whoever we're trying to impress or whatever temporary voids we're trying to fill, the burden isn't worth it. Make the single transaction promise to yourself, and from now on declare "All Sales Final!"

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

You're Worth the Cost of Freedom!

Freedom isn't free, and neither is debt. In fact, even though debt costs us more, we're reluctant to invest in our freedom which cost less. If you polled a room of 100 people and asked them if they wanted to get out of debt, 90-100 of those people would probably raise their hands. But, if you offered that same group of people a solution that would last a lifetime for a small fee, only 5-10 of those people would actually invest in the solution. Why is that?

Desire. When you really want something you'll make it happen. The small group that takes action has made up in their mind to live free. Their actions are a reflection of what they've already decided in their mind. The Bible says your heart and treasure lie in the same place. So I can tell who really wants to get out of debt by their choice to invest in their debt freedom.

Value. The 5-10 people see a greater value in their freedom than the others. Freedom has always cost something. Whether it's time, money, pride, or something else, freedom has always come with a cost. I'm glad Jesus didn't think that our freedom was too costly. He gave is life for the freedom of millions, but yet we can't sacrifice a few dollars to free ourselves...wow.

Faith. The people that are willing to invest believe that their investment is going to bring the return that they desire. We're quick to by a new outfit, car, etc., because we believe those things will make us look and feel good. The cost doesn't matter because we allow our feelings and desires to take over. We have to be willing to put more faith in good investments than we do in frivolous spending.

God wants you to live free. If that's what you really want, you'll pay attention to and act on the opportunities that He presents to you. Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. Decide today to live free. Ask God to make a way for your financial freedom, and He will provide you the resources. You just have to carry out the plans. Do you really want to live free?

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

The Uncertified Accountant

Newsflash! You don't need an accounting degree in order to be an accountant. In fact, you should have a clear understanding of your own cash flow before hiring someone to handle your accounts for you. You should know off the top of your head how much money you have coming in each month, where it's coming from, how much you have going out, and where it's going. To me, those are pretty basic functions of accounting. One of the things that separates the rich from everyone else is that they make it a point to spend time managing their money. Your money is your business!

Here are a few tips on how to become your own accountant:

  • Check your bank account everyday - With the number of identity thefts that occur each day, it is imperative that you verify your account activity.
  • Set aside at least an hour a week to review cash flow - The rich spend hours reviewing their accounts and budgeting each week. You can develop that habit right where you are.
  • Balance your checkbook - If you still write checks as I do, balance your checkbook to avoid overspending in the event that your checks don't clear within a day or two.
  • Total all of your receipts each week - Keep track of how much you're spending outside of regular bills. It will help you plan and develop realistic budgets.
  • Sign up with a free money management account - This will simply take a lot of the manual work off your hands. Just log on and the calculations will automatically update for you.
  • Set a budget - Every business operates with a budget. You need to set a budget in order to measure your progress, as well as keep you on track.
  • Compare monthly bills to catch potential errors - Mistakes happen. Make sure your bills are accurate each month to avoid overcharges, misapplied payments, etc.
  • Review your credit reports each year - Again, mistakes happen and identities are stolen every day. Don't wait until you actually need to provide a credit report to check for inaccuracies, as it may take a couple of weeks before corrections are updated.
  • Review your pay stubs each pay period - Check to make sure your deductions, hours worked, salary amount, etc. are accurate, especially if you've made changes recently.

Those are just a few ideas. The bottom line: handle your business! If you don't know or care about what your money is doing, then who will? Be proactive and take initiative. The sooner you detect any issues, the sooner you can resolve them. Don't rely solely on someone else to manage your money. Anyone other than yourself should be your assistant or an adviser. You don't know what you don't know, and you should definitely know your money!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

Money = Power, Period.

Simply put, "The rich rule over the poor..." (Proverbs 22:7). The average person reading this will probably say, "but I'm not poor." My challenge to you then is this...what do you have to show for it? Just because you have things, like a house, a car, college degrees, or a closet full of name brand clothes, that doesn't mean that you're not poor. You can be categorized as middle or upper middle class by the amount of money that you make, and still be poor. I know this may be a harsh reality to accept, but in order to move forward, we have to face the facts. The definition of poor means having little to no wealth. So technically speaking, if you're in debt, you have little to no wealth, which means you're poor. I'm sure that if the other 99% were wealthy they probably wouldn't still be occupying Wall Street after all of these months.

Just think about all of the things that you would do if you had unlimited access to money.  You might buy a few things, take a few trips, help some people, and the list goes on. But, building wealth isn't just about having the freedom to buy what we want, but it's about having the freedom to make an impact and to change lives and communities. Foundations, scholarships, missions, and ministries require money. The reason why we haven't done many of those things yet is because we haven't had the power to do them. People can't quit their jobs because they need a paycheck. Others don't start businesses because they lack the necessary resources. Students can't afford higher education without borrowing. At the end of the day, having money gives you the power to live freely.

If we really want to advance the Kingdom, we have to change our hearts and minds. Every day that we stay in debt is another day that we remain powerless. How much longer will we choose to live like this? It's time for us to become rich; not only because we can, but because it's necessary. Commit to change today. The clock is ticking...

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

The Credit Trap

From early on, we've been sold the lie that you need good credit in order to get the best loan rates, higher credit card limits, etc. But honestly, you only need good credit if you plan on borrowing from someone. The whole "buy now, pay later" scheme is the reason why most of us have gotten into the financial trouble that we're in. So what's the antidote?

Save now, buy later. Why plan on borrowing from someone? Consumer debt has become such a part of everyday living that we don't even realize that it's not supposed to be that way. Our minds have been conditioned to accept the buy now, pay later credit philosophy because it seems as if everyone else does it. You're right. Everyone else that's in debt uses credit. We're supposed to have what we want, when we want it, whether we can afford it or not, hence the overuse of credit cards and loans. But God reminds us that we are not to owe anything except the debt of love (Romans 13:8), and that borrowers are slaves to lenders (Proverbs 22:7). If we are going to live free, we have to retrain ourselves with a Kingdom mindset (Romans 12:2), and get rid of the worldly, impulsive, credit driven mindset.

If you have credit card balances now, pay them off and build your savings for the things that you want. If you can't pay in cash or use your debit card, you should hold off. As we've discussed before, emergencies will happen, which is why you need an emergency fund. You don't need a credit card for emergencies, you need cash. Focus on building your cash fund, not your credit scores. It may seem odd, but we're talking about living free here. Think about the last thing that you charged and the burden that came along with having to make payments every month with added interest. Now, think about the last time you paid for something in full and the relief that went along with it? It's like a load was just taken off your shoulders right? That's exactly what happened to me the last time I paid off a credit card. Aaahhhh, what a relief.

If you're currently caught in the credit trap, commit to freeing yourself and never go back. You don't need credit in order to live free. Remember: Credit = Slavery, Cash = Free. I hope that you choose to live free.

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

The Weekender

It's finally here! It's the weekend and you're ready to unwind, relax, get in some "me time" right? Have some fun, just don't lose sight of your goals! Hopefully you've been making a conscious effort all week to change your spending habits. Each day before you've left the house, you've said "Today, I choose to be wealthy!" Maybe you've thought about how you're going to S.I.N.G your way to debt freedom or started using your money razor. Whichever methods you've chosen, keep the momentum going. Hopefully you've already started to lose debt weight, so don't let your hard work go to waste.

Now, just because you're getting out of debt that doesn't mean that you have to become a caveman/woman. In fact, I think that's a bit extreme and unrealistic. Instead, find out if some of the activities or places that you frequent offer reduced prices/rates during off peak hours like the movies or bowling.You can still have fun, you just have to find more budget friendly ways to do it. Once you're out of debt, then you'll be free to expand your activities list. For now, free events, matinees, 2 for 1 meal deals, Redbox, and day trips will be your best friends.

If you already had plans for this weekend, enjoy them, and then start planning and budgeting for next weekend. You'll be more likely to spend less if you already have a plan in place than if you just try to wing it. So enjoy your weekends, just don't lose your focus!

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne

 

The Naked Truth

If you were to lose all of the material possessions that you own right now, including the shirt off your back, would you be able to replace them all? Or, would you have to beg, borrow, or steal in order to get it all back? Chances are, you'd have to pick one of the three options in the latter statement. If that's the case, the naked truth is: you can't afford your lifestyle. I have to tell you, I used to get caught up in things. Coach, Dooney & Burke, Bebe, Tiffany & Co.,and Nordstrom were a few of my favorites. I was like every other consumer, enticed by the media and society, thinking that the display of luxurious things meant that you had made it. I was on my way to living the American dream right? Wrong! But I was living the American reality...a consumer, debt accumulating reality. I might have looked the part, but my bank account and credit scores said something completely different. So I stopped. I decided that I didn't want to live like every other middle class American, and I gave up that lifestyle for a life of freedom. It turns out that I didn't lose anything except the weight of debt, and I want to keep it going. You can do it to if you choose to. In fact, if you really want to be free you'll have to, at least temporarily.

As I continue on this journey towards debt freedom, I'm learning that real riches cannot be seen. To be healthy, wealthy, wise, and free is to be truly rich. Unfortunately, none of these will be going on sale at your local retailer any time soon. Are you prepared to go naked?

Change requires action!

Live free!

Arianne