Friday, April 27, 2012

The beauty of simplicity (for couples)

Today's economy is a perfect opportunity for couple's to discover ways to live more by spending less. Many of us have directly or indirectly been affected by downsizing, cut backs or layoffs. But that's OK, there are strategies to help with this.

As couple's seek to get more bang for their buck, there are still ways we can connect on the cheap. Here are ten examples of things couple's can still do on a tight, shoe string budget.

*Borrow free movies from the library
*Take walks together outside
*Share one entre' at your favorite restaurant
*Go out for dessert only
*Cuddle up and read a book together
*Discuss your dreams for the future
*Re-arrange your furniture and fixtures together for a new look
*Check your local paper and activity guide for free community events
*Sit down together and write out 5 goals and discuss how to implement them
*Attend church together

Theses are just a few suggestions to get you started. While we continue to make the necessary adjustments in life, it is important to maintain a heart of thankfulness and a spirit of generosity. Spend quality time reflecting on the good things and blessings in life. We all have something to be thankful for. Once you start counting your blessings, you may not be able to stop! I find it to be true that the best things in life really are free.

Last but not least, as we seek to simplify our lives, let's remember to give. There are unlimited creative ways to give time to your community. I'm sure there are many places that can use your talents and skills to help someone in need. There are numerous ways to give of yourself that don't include money. Maybe you can give your spouse a break from the children or from cleaning the house for a day. Why not give up those old clothes you don't wear anymore? They can become someones treasure and free up space in a closet or drawer. De-cluttering is a great way to give and simplify at the same time. Giving is very liberating and when you give, you receive so much more in return.

If we seize the moment and allow our creativity to blossom by cutting cost, maintaining a thankful attitude, and being generous, we will find ourselves living richer and fuller lives. Then we can truly understand living in the beauty of simplicity.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Remember. "True empowerment comes through stewardship"

My Space

Hi everyone, thanks again for joining me. The last time we talked about organizing bills now let's take a peep into office space or whatever area used to pay the bills.  I take the ritual of paying my bills very seriously, here is a picture of my desk. This is what I call "my space" this is where it all happens!   Wherever your bill paying space is, it should be a place that makes bill paying time more efficient and should help keep you organized for the most part. This is all a part of stewardship.    When I pay my bills I always have the following ready to go: the checkbooks, monthly bill folder, my computer, stamps, address labels, calculator, pen/pencil, envelopes and a stapler.   I have two checkbooks because different bills are paid from different accounts. My bill folder keeps my bills organized as well as lets me know our monthly budget. Ninety five percent of my bills are paid online, so a computer is a must for me. I love my address labels, a small thing but very efficient. I don't have to waste time writing my name and address over and over, just peel and presto. The calculator allows me to keep a record of how much is being spent monthly. Always have pencils/pens handy, to mark bills paid or make any other notes when calling creditors. 
One more thing to note about the bill paying space. As much as I enjoy a good cup of coffee or tea, I don't drink near my laptop. I have known friends to do damage to their laptop and ruin paperwork by spilling drinks, not efficient. I hope this post has been insightful and motivating.  Can a person love to pay bills? Maybe.

*Remember, "True empowerment comes through stewardship"   

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fun with organizing bills

I love organizing things, I love order period. Order makes life easier for me. I am going to share with you how I organize my bills every month. Part of stewardship is keeping track of what you  owe in order to pay it and pay on time. The picture shows my bill filing system. 
I have a set of hanging files for all of my bills.
All of my monthly bills are put into a folder. The folder is marked with the month and year. For example all of my bills for May of this year are in a folder marked "May 2012". My folders are filed in chronological order with the most current in the front. For the most part as soon as my bills come in, I put them into the appropriate folder, especially with the little ones around. For the bills I pay online I throw away the envelope and put the bill into my folder, this prevents paper clutter. Any bill that's paid by check I put back into the envelope in order to keep them together. I then put the bill/envelope into my bill folder to be paid.
As I pay each bill whether online or by check I mark the bill "paid". I write the amount paid and date it, for future references.
My mortgage statements are separated from my other bills. For our primary residence I use online banking so my statements are filed electronically. If I need a copy I can print a statement out. I get monthly statements for our investment property and they are kept in a separate folder. As with the other bills, I mark the amount paid and the date. These are also filed in chronological order with current statements in the front.
Each bank that we bank with has it's own folder for monthly statements filed in chronological order.
To prevent clutter and keep one active filing system I use this simple technique. I pull all of the folders at the end of the year and put them into a plastic bin with a protective top. The year is marked and the bin is put away in the storage room or any place out of sight. (Sometimes under my bed.)  
I then get all new folders and mark them for the new year, put them in the hanging file and start the process all over. If I ever need to refer back a year or so, I know I can go get my bin and retrieve any information I need.
This past winter I was glad that I could go and pull out last years electric bills. My bills were running much higher than last year, I thought it was a mistake. I called the electric company with my last years winter bills in my hand in order to compare. Turns out the company had a 64% increase or something close to that. Even though my bills remained high I was glad that I was able to talk from a point of knowledge with facts in my hand. When I finished my conversation I quickly put my bills back into the folders and into the bin, safe and sound. Being organized can bring a sense of peace. Hope you enjoyed this post, I enjoyed sharing.
Stay tuned for the next post about the "bill paying station".

Remember: "True empowerment comes through stewardship"

Monday, April 23, 2012

My Story

The path to stewardship has been one of trial and many errors over the years. Whatever financial mistakes could be made, I made them. Through this experience I have, however, learned the importance of teaching financial literacy to children from the very beginning.  

While I don't claim to know it all, I am convinced that because of my many mistakes I have a story to share. I have filed bankruptcy, chapters seven and thirteen within two years of each other. I have lost a home to foreclosure and had my car repossessed. My credit score has plummeted to under 500. I have experienced what it feels like to live pay check to pay check as well as watched my checking account reach a whooping (negative $800). Not a pretty sight! I could go on and on about my previous financial disasters, but I'm sure you get the picture.

During this time I assumed the role of a victim.  I was a christian, a church leader and I even tithed most of the time but I could not stop this downward spiral into the financial black hole.

There were two reasons I continued down this destructive path. Number one, I was ignorant to the principles of stewardship. Hosea 4:6 "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge..." Number two, I had no vision beyond where I was at the time. I did not want anything bad enough. Proverbs 29:18 "Where there is no revelation the people cast off restraint. But happy is he who keeps the law."

Finally one day it was impressed upon me to start studying the book of Proverbs. This one act changed my life forever!

Today my life is finally in financial order. My husband and I have a home and investment real estate. We own our RV free and clear. My bills are paid on time. I carry a couple of very small balances on credit cards. We are practicing good stewardship and life is far better than before.

My story compels me to teach with passion as I see people in the same boat that I was in. I understand how powerless it feels when someone is taking away your car, right in front of you. I sat in the middle of the floor and shed tears as I packed boxes to leave the place I called home because of foreclosure.

Now I know it does not have to be this way. Not to say that we will never experience hardship, however, there is a better way and if we follow the principles already mapped out we can be victors not victims.

Through blogging, writing and seminars I hope to impart stewardship principles that will make life changing impact to all hearers and readers.

May God grant you wisdom, knowledge and understanding. Be empowered for the journey ahead!

*Suggested reading: Proverbs 22

Remember: "True empowerment comes through stewardship"

Saturday, April 21, 2012

What is Stewardship?

Before practicing good stewardship we must understand what a steward is. First, we are all called to be stewards. A steward is a manager or the one put in charge of something. We all have something to manage. It could be our bodies, time, a job, a ministry, talent or finances, the list goes on and whatever we have needs to be managed. If we don't manage it- it will manage us.

Stewardship, is therefore the responsibility the steward takes in managing or being in charge. In a nutshell, stewardship is handling what God has trusted us with. Knowing that everything we have belongs to God, we are reminded to be responsible and manage what He has given us well.

Stewardship does not mean waiting until we have more. Stewardship begins with what we have, right now, today! Stewardship is not about trying to get more but how to handle what's in our hands today.

So whatever you have, no matter how small or how great, God has called you to manage it and to manage it so that He will be pleased. We can only expect to be blessed with more when we are good stewards with the little we have now.

This is the foundational scripture for "Empowerment through Stewardship". Matthew 25:23 "His lord said to him, well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord."

When it's all said and done, this is our goal; to enter into the joy of our Lord.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Welcome to Empowerment through Stewardship

Welcome and a BIG thank you for visiting my new blog!

I am very excited and I hope you will continue to follow as we delve into stewardship principles God's way. Stewardship is an endless topic and one to be visited often during these challenging economic times.

As a christian most of what I write about stewardship principles will be from a Biblical standpoint and will include general and personal application.

One thing to be sure of is this:

While the country may be experiencing a recession, the Kingdom of God is not! Kingdom business is still in FULL force.

Stewardship has many facets. We are called to be good stewards of our time, finances, talents, family, ministry, business and the list goes on. However, for now, this blog will focus primarily on finances.

Again, I am truly grateful to have you visit this blog. Continue to follow along and tell a friend. The best is yet to come!

Remember. "True empowerment comes through stewardship!"

Join me for the next post. "What is stewardship?"