Saturday, June 30, 2012

Two week countdown!

It's so good to be back online again. Friday night we had a storm that knocked our power out until 6pm Saturday evening..thankfully everything has been restored.

I am very excited because in two weeks I will be hosting a FREE "Empowerment through Stewardship" seminar. Here are the details:

Saturday, July 14, 2012
Dahlgren United Methodist Church
Rev. Edward Johnson, Pastor
17080 14th Street
Dahlgren, Va 22448

Lunch and childcare will be provided!!

Sample Topics:

Understanding Kingdom Principles
Debt Elimination
Gratitude; the heart of giving

While the country may be experiencing a recession, the Kingdom of God is not, it is in full force! What an exciting time to begin appropriating the Biblical principles of stewardship with practical application. Come out to this power packed seminar to learn how and your life will never be the same!

To register contact the church office: 540-663-2230 or email

*Registration deadline is July 11, 2012

Remember: "True empowerment comes through stewardship!"

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cutting cooling cost

The summer is here and the heat is on! Other than going to the beach, how can you save on your cooling bill? I remember as a kid growing up with my grandfather being a little warm in the house during the summer. Now that I think about it I was a little chilly in the house during the winter. My grandfather was qiute thrifty, to say the least.

I remember hearing him say that if we were hot we needed to take off some clothes because he had no intentions on giving all of his money to the electric company. He always said he was saving to travel and was going take a trip around the world. Well he never turned the air up high and he did take many trips to other countries.

Now that I'm an adult with bills I totally understand my grandfathers logic. Why give so much money to the electric company? Who says it has to be cold in the house because it's hot outside? It should be comfortable and just a little cooler than outside but it does not have to be freezing cold.

Here are a couple of ways to be a good steward and save money on your cooling costs.

Tip #1  At night only cool the rooms being used. No matter what the air is on during the day I always turn the therostat way up at night. I only use a ceiling fan and a floor fan to cool two rooms while sleeping. If it's hot in the morning I'll ajust the air a few degrees.

Tip #2 Try turning up your thermostat 4-6 degrees. You might be surprised to see your cooling cost lowered as your thermostat goes higher.

Tip #3 Like my grandfather said, you might try wearing less clothes if at all possible at home. Try light colored cottons and flowing fabrics to keep you cool.

Tip #4 Drink plenty of cool or cold water not only is this healthy but it also keeps you hydrated. You won't be so hot if you're drinking lots of water!

If you try these tips and you see a difference, please share with others and let me know how it works for you!

Remember: "True empowerment comes through stewardship!"

Friday, June 22, 2012

Find your niche' - make your pitch!

I spent the last three days away in the park with NO internet access whatsoever! I am so glad to be back home with modern technology.

Recently I have been speaking with people about becoming debt free. It seems lots of us were victims of the "name it-claim" era or the "blab it-grab it" phenomenon.

Now it's time to turn this debt into opportunity. You see people have been in debt since the beginning of time, so that's nothing new. But what do we do now? TAKE ACTION! Find your niche and make your pitch!

Now is the perfect time to find creative ways to make extra money and pay off some debt. What is your niche"? Do you love children? Perhaps you can open up a home daycare. Does cleaning relax you? You can start a cleaning business. Do most of your friends say that you would make a good organizer? Become an organizer.

There is something special that we all are equipped to do. Why not capitalize on your natural gifts and talents. You can start part-time on the weekends and make enough money to get yourself out of debt. Sometimes when you can't get an extra job to make ends meet, you have to create one!

I had a friend years ago who moved from her hometown, after she moved she lost her job. This was not good news considering she was the mother of a few minor children. There were no jobs and no unemployment and she began to get a little discouraged. I told her that if she could not find a job, she had to create one. She loved children so I suggested she start a nanny service or open her own daycare. She started a home daycare and to my knowledge she still operates it today.

It's really not so hard to use our God given talents to create some extra cash flow. What special talents do you have that are in demand? Using these talents can get you debt free and when you get out of debt it can free you to do more and more of what you are really created to do.

So if you want to get out of debt: "Find your niche" meaning take time to discover who you are and what you love to do, or what you are good at and then "make your pitch" let everyone you know what you are doing and how your service can improve their lives.

I read a good book recently by a friend and business coach called "Mom Entrepreneur Extraordinaire" I would suggest both male and female read it, I took away very good nuggets. Here's a link to check out her books.

Remember: "True empowerment comes through stewardship!"

Friday, June 15, 2012

Save money with reverse menu planning!

A few days ago I decided to peruse my kitchen closet and pantry. To my surprise I had so much stuff I could not believe it. I counted 16 bottles of bar-b-q sauce, which I did not purchase, but that's another post...

I have wanted to menu plan for a while so I decided to try something new. I did inventory on what I already had in my kitchen and I planned my menus accordingly. What does this have to do with stewardship? Plenty. I run to the grocery store many times per week and it all adds up, while food is stocked in my house and some foods on the way to freezer burn...tisk tisk.

My husband and I agreed that we would not purchase any more food until we have used some of the food we already have. I can at any given time look in my fridge and say " I don't want that today" and off to the store I go spending another $20. 

Well not this time, I planned my menus from everything I already had on hand. For 3 days straight I have not been to the grocery store, that's a miracle considering I go almost daily and sometimes more than once a day. I should own stock in food lion and walmart.

It was a great feeling as I pulled items off of my shelf and out of my fridge and prepared to cook them. I even went into the freezer and pulled out already prepared dinners that just needed heating up. We have had variations in our meals, such as eating breakfast foods for dinner, and it's been fun!

This experiment has proven to be a time and money saver, not to mention I am cleaning out some space in my closet and pantry.

So, if you're looking for a small way to save money and be a good steward over what you already have, try reverse menu planning.

You might be amazed at what you can cook up!

Remember: "True empowerment comes through stewardship!"

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Stewardship Spotlight!

In today's Stewardship Spotlight, we will be spotlighting "Hosea 8:7"

 "They sow the wind and reap a whirlwind..."

This summer we have been working in our garden and planting flowers indoors. We have planted sunflowers, african daisys, impatiens, sweet peas, tomatos, cucumbers, a host of other veggies, and herbs. The children are so amazed when they see the sprouts come from the tiny seeds that we plant. Some of our sunflowers are over 6 inches now. I must admit, this is pretty amazing to me also.

A few summers ago we had so many tomatos we could not give them away fast enough. My husband planted them once and they continued to yield tomatos for what seemed like a lifetime, they just kept coming up and coming up.

The garden has helped me gain a new perspective about debt. While the garden is a good thing, debt is not, however, the same principle's of sowing and reaping are at work in both.

When the tomatos were planted I had no idea that they would yield so much for so long. Much like debt, especially credit card debt, you plant a seed and reap for years. As stewards we should be mindful that credit card debt yields a harvest that continues to grow and grow if we feed it and eventually we will eat of it's fruit.

You see, once you swipe that card unless you pay it off as soon as it comes in the mail, you will experience tremendous growth. This could be 19% interest or 26.99% interest. As you continue to swipe the card the debt incurred will continue to grow at rapid speed.

Just like the sunflower seed, one day we planted it, in a few days there was a sprout. A few days later, the plant was over 6 inches and still growing. All of this came from one little sunflower seed. I have been told this flower can grow over 4 feet tall. Does this sound like debt to you?

Debt always starts out small for the most part. You get a new credit card, how exciting! "Oops, I just remembered it's auntie's birthday, I'll just charge a fruit basket for her." Next week, "those shoe's are calling my name and here I am." In a matter of months, if that long you could have your charge up to the limit. At this point and I quote B.B King "the thrill is gone, baby."  Gone is the thrill but here comes the bill. Pay the minimum balance and you'll be paying for years to come. "Sow the wind and reap a whirlwind."

As good stewards, we must be wise with our credit card purchases. Credit cards are not all bad, if kept in perspective and paid off as soon as they arrive. I have used them for good, in my later years. I have been in department stores and seen sales of 50%-75% off of items for the children, especially in off seasons. It was to my advantage to get these quality items, especially for the rough boys I have. I paid with the charge card to get an additional 15% - 20% off and then stood there afterwards and used a check to pay off what I had just charged. So I got the sale price, the additional 20% off and then I paid the balance off right there at the register. Sale caught, no debt incurred!

Stewardship is about investing and using the finances we have been entrusted with wisely. Keep in mind "you reap what you sow, what you plant you'll grow." Plant your finances in debt and needless spending, you'll reap more debt, high interest and years of re-payment. Plant your finances in savings, investments, and wise spending and you'll reap more finances, peace and financial freedom.

Hosea 8:7 "They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind."

Remember: "True empowerment comes through stewardship!"

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Stewardship and order

Today's post is about order and replacing bad habits with good habits to see desired results. Order is necessary in stewardship and good for life in general. However, it is not easily obtained, it takes work and a concentrated effort.

I remember learning about the 2nd law of thermodynamics in science. Basically, things disintegrate over time if left alone, this is sort of a basic principle. Things naturally move towards chaos or disorder. This reminds me of my dresser.

I found myself constantly cleaning off my dresser because I appreciate order and I like to see a clean surface. I would sit and throw papers away, organize the papers to stay etc. No matter how many times I cleaned this dresser off papers and other clutter would re-appear almost the very next day. My dresser would not look as though I sat for over an hour cleaning it off the previous day. In order to clean off my dresser, I would take precious time during the children's nap to do it. To my dismay, it seemed to be time wasted the next day, when the dresser was cluttered again, like a magnet clutter was drawn to it. The 2nd law of thermodynamics was in full force on my dresser.

So one day I decided that cleaning the dresser was very counterproductive. Did I leave the dresser disorderly? I thought about doing that, but that would not be good stewardship. It was obvious that a flat clean surface would draw clutter at this point and so I decided to replace the surface with a very large fern. Wallah! My plan worked. Not only do I not have to clean off my dresser anymore, it looks very nice with the new plant and improves the overall look of my room.

So why the dresser analogy? Well, you see the same principle's apply when practicing good stewardship. First, order is needed to be successful in stewardship. Where ever there is disorder, order must be put in place.

When we find that bad habits have crept in, we must do something to stop them. What's the best way to lose bad habits? Replace them with good ones. It can be a gradual change as long as you're doing something to move towards order.

Let's say everyday on your way to work you walk past a donut shop and you go in and purchase a donut and a cup of coffee for $4. You have decided to pay off a credit card and realize that you spend $20 a week on coffee and donuts, which equals to $80 per month. This is definitely counterproductive to your stewardship goals. That $80 can be utilized wisely to pay off the debt and save you money on interest.  So what can you do?

Take a different route to work. Since the smell of the coffee will draw you in, don't walk past the shop. Walk on the other side of the street or take a different route altogether and bring a bottle of water from home. You may discover the enjoyment of something new. If you walk a little extra the increased blood flow may be what you need to get some new thoughts going again. Small changes can yield big impact.  

Stewardship and order go hand in hand and the benefits far outweigh the cost. No matter how small a positive change is, it is a change for the best. Right where you are start making order a priority, if it is not already. Stewardship and order lead to peace of mind.  

Remember: "True empowerment comes through stewardship".

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Children and giving...

On May 18th I did a post about children and financial literacy. For the most part I usually post about something I have done or something I will start doing in the near future.

I started a couple of months ago, teaching my 4 yr old the value of change and coin recognition. She loves it and is very interested. We have used real money and play money, she prefers the real thing.

As a good steward it's my job to teach my children how to spend, save and give away money. The more they do this as children, the better off they will be as responsible adults. So here is the conversation my 4 year old daughter and I had.

I was talking to her about how she was to distribute her $7 which she acquired over a weekend. I explained that she should spend some, save some and give some away. So I began to show her with her money how to divide it up. She was fine with the spending part, she was excited about putting some in her pink princess piggy bank, however, it was different with the "give some away" part.

I said to her "now these $2 you can give away". She gave me a look that said "what did you just say?" then she said " I'm so sorry I can't give this away, this is real money." This was not going to be easy. I explained to her that we should always help others and that God wants us to give some money away but we get to keep most of it. She told me "I don't want to give my money away". I tried this tactic "God always blesses us when we give and He gives back to us" to which she said "God is not coming to my house".  Oh well, back to the drawing board!

Is this the same little girl that always tells her brothers "God likes it when you share"?  Of course that's when she wants something that they have...too funny.

This confirmed my point, children have to practice giving and sharing. Their motto "mine, mine, mine"! Pretty typical of a child. I say this is typical because I began asking around and found out this is the attitude of most kids at this age...they are not interested in giving any money away. At least I'm not alone in the struggle!

So how did it end? I figured I would not force the issue of giving right now, so I took a different approach, one to soften the blow for her. I encouraged her to purchase something to share with her brothers or the entire family, a big bag of chips, some ice pops, whatever $2 could buy. To this she said "OK"...voila'. I think we have hit upon something!

It's not quite "giving" her money away, yet. But at least I have her moving in the right direction of sharing something she purchased with her money. Who would have thought a 4 year old could hold on to a buck so tight? Sounds like some of us adults, maybe?   

Oh well, here's to small beginnings! 

Remember. "True empowerment comes through stewardship".

Friday, June 1, 2012

May 30, 2012 spending journal

Today I am posting my spending journal for Wednesday, May 30. I ran errands with my three children, quite an adventure, I must say. But a good day all in all because they took a long nap when we got home!  As you can see we went to the ever popular walmart, target and dollar tree. We also stopped to have lunch at burger king, however, that receipt was lost to a spilled drink. I spent close to $7 for lunch. For the most part I stayed within my budget. The piggy banks were not planned purchases, however, the one we had for the boys got broken and so I replaced the one piggy bank for two. Now the boys have their own.  
On my spending journal I have recorded the following information in case you can't read it clearly. I wrote down the name of the store, items purchased and the amount I spent. So, in a nut shell on a day out with the children I spent $142.30 which included lunch. Keep in mind the cost of gas for traveling, I spent close to an hour and a half in commute time.  So I can include about $8 more dollars for fuel. That's a grand total of $150.30. Wow! I'll be on a spending fast soon.  
Keeping a spending journal really allows you to see where your money is going. So remember save your receipts and get that journal going. You can find my previous post on keeping a spending journal. You might be surprised to see where your money is going. If you have questions, feel free to contact me by email.       


Remember. "True empowerment comes through stewardship!"