FREE Copy of “Financial Peace of Mind” Book


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Blessed are the Poor in Spirit


“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  –Matthew 5:3

Photo Credit: RobinChung

Is money the key to happiness?

In our society of ‘more is better,’ it seems that many of us are stuck in a constant cycle of trying to gain more, make more, and have more in hopes of achieving some better status in life. But I have been realizing that having more does not necessarily make you happier, nor does it make you a better person– in fact, it is often the opposite. Some of the happiest people are those that are comfortable and content with what they have in life, and likewise, those that seem to have more are often some of the most discontent individuals. How many fabulously rich people have committed suicide or have experienced declines of others sorts?

Not only does money not buy happiness, but it can also make you less likely to be in touch with others and reality in general. How can you really empathize with the struggles of those less fortunate if you have never personally experienced their fear, their uncertainty, or their difficulties? If life has generally been easy for you, how can you relate to those who have experienced life at its hardest? False optimism is lost on those who have no reason to believe that things will ever get better, because things characteristically have gotten worse in the past. It is very difficult to empathize with others, and often impossible to those who do not care enough to even attempt to increase their understanding.

On a personal level, I have been noticing this lack of empathy and compassion in our society, and often it does not just come from the extremely wealthy. Rather, anyone can consider themselves better than someone else due to income level, education, race, political stance, employment position, or simply due to their own thinking that they are better, even if not based on any verifiable reason. That’s why I was interested to read this article from LearnVest about studies performed that indicate that those higher in income level, education, or social status are actually lacking in crucial social skills, primarily in the compassion department:

LearnVest– When It Comes to Social Skills, the Rich Are Poor

Without any formal studies, I have realized this trend over the last few years as I grew increasingly more tired of the corporate competition, the judgement, the struggle to keep up appearances, and the prejudice. I have gotten to the point that I do not want to be around people like that both in societal and employment settings. All the things that they consider important are not important to me, and therefore I do not fit in with their criteria. Their mindset only leads to categorizing people and tearing them down.

I try to teach my kids not to look down on anyone because of the job that they work or because they only have a certain amount of education. In our local community, the schools are suffering from decreased numbers due to community members that feel that their kids are “too good” to go to school with the increasingly culturally diverse student body. The kids have no choice but to be aware of this racism, and develop a protective counter-prejudice against the original perpetrators.

A few months ago, I wrote an article about local resources for the poor. It was by far one of the most enjoyable and meaningful pieces that I have ever written. Spending that time researching options to help those in need forced me to focus on normal people like me who are just experiencing struggles. Though it was a very minor step, even in writing that story, I felt like I was bringing hope to those who needed it by letting them know that there are people out there that care enough to help.

Around the same time, I put up a post about holiday movies worth watching, and I suggested that everyone should watch Where God Left His Shoes, a sad movie exploring how easy it can be to lose everything, despite your good efforts. There are many small ways that you can seek to increase your own understanding and level of compassion– often it just involves opening your eyes a little more.

Even if we are blessed (whether financially or in other ways), we should focus on increasing our understanding about the needs and struggles of those who are not. We need not be poor in reality in order to be poor in spirit– it’s all about our outlook. Choose to be poor in spirit rather than rich in attitude.

With everything, there is a balance to be achieved. Last year, I heard the term “noble poverty,” and it intrigued me. My husband describes it as a poor mindset, and sometimes accuses me of it. Basically, it involves the concept that you are better off depriving yourself of financial wealth in order to be a “good” person or to be better than others who value wealth. You can read more about it in this DailyWorth article:

DailyWorth– Are You Stuck in Noble Poverty?

This article cautions against an alternate snobbery that can occur in those that have had to live without, and, who, in turn, choose to look down on those who do have more. They may also choose not to have better, even if is available, due to their “pride.” Personally, after experiencing the disadvantages of wanting too much too soon or keeping up with what others have, I am more likely to resort to this tactic.

If you want to be poor in spirit and help others, you will be in a better place to do it if you have established a pattern of empathy and compassion, in combination with some financial resources to allow you the possibility of assisting others in their journey. If you are not on stable ground yourself, how can you save someone else? It’s not so different from the in-flight recommendation that in the case of an emergency, you put your own oxygen mask on first. so that you can, in turn, help others. Likewise, you should strive to put yourself in a good position so that you can lift others up.

When I get confused about this concept, I try to remember that this is not about monetary wealth, but rather about your attitude.  There is a difference between frugality and purposeful deprivation. Choose to be poor in spirit, regardless of your financial status, educational level, or social standing, and you will be blessed with rewards that extend beyond monetary dollar amounts.

Photo Credit: Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida

Maybe we are best positioned at the intersection of wealth and poverty, rather than choosing to go in one direction or the another.

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Fabulous Instagram Freebie from Paper Coterie


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Lead Me Not into Temptation, But Deliver Me from Pinterest…


Um, does anyone else see a problem here? Stand up and BACK away from the computer screen!

I have spoken in the past about my take on the trendsetting website Pinterest. Popularity continues to spike, but after being probably one of the first (if not the first) to express some concern, I am starting to hear online chatter from others who are taking another closer look at the site.

Below please find an article that I contributed to the Debt.com website about why the Pinterest fad may be hazardous to your financial well-being:

Debt.com– Protect Your Pocketbook from Pinterest

My next post may be why Pinterest can be dangerous to your marriage and romantic relationships, as I have seen way too many grown women using the website as the equivalent of my bedroom walls back in the day that were littered with teen heart-throbs. Ladies, please don’t sin when you pin.  I’ll leave that subject there for another time… 😉

Don't ya kinda get that feeling?

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Is Google Blog Search New or am I Just Really not Observant?


I was just doing some research work for a couple of articles that are due next week, and I always use Google to search specifically for images. I love that they allow you to search for all results (Everything), or just images, or just news, for example.

As I was doing this, I noticed that it looks like they have a ton more filtering options to search by on the far left hand side of the Google search screen. In particular, I noticed the option to search for ‘Blogs’, which I found so cool and useful. Is this a new feature, or I am just really lacking in the observation department?

I did a little search, and I could not find too much about this feature. However, I did find a specific Google Blog Search page. I had to test it out to determine its integrity, so I searched for keywords “Live Simply.” Indeed a whole bunch of blogs pulled up on the first page of results, including this blog. 😉 Sadly, when doing a generic search for all results, this blog is not listed on the first page of results (yet!).

Well, it appears that this Google Blog Search service has been around since 2005, so apparently I am just late to the party. I think that I may not have noticed it before, because the extra search categories/filters are grouped under ‘More,’ which I must not normally look under (though I do not recall doing that in this situation, either). But regardless, it is a cool little tool if you are specifically looking for targeted search results that focus on blogs.

Enjoy it while it lasts, as according to Wikipedia, it is scheduled to be phased out in May 2014. I hate when you arrive at the party right before it is finishing up.

Truly, you learn something new every day. And today, I actually learned two important things. While doing this blog post, I learned how to take higher quality screen captures. Instead of just clicking the PrtSc button, press the Alt button at the same time. Make sure to save as a PNG or BMP rather than a JPG for a higher quality image. Now if only I can remember those tricks, I will be all set.

Posted in Technology, Websites | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How to Make Family Budgeting Work for Your Individual Family


Just can't seem to find a budget that works for you and your family? Maybe that is because you need to set one up that is individualized to your needs.

I spent years in a professional setting working as an office manager, bookkeeper, and accounting assistant. So why is it that I have no problem managing other people’s finances, but find it so difficult to manage our own?

I think the reason is that a lot of how we spend our money directly relates to how we feel about and value our money. Therefore money, finances, and budgets can be a very personal matter. When I managed up to millions of dollars of a business’s money, I had no emotional attachment– it was not mine. I became the gatekeeper that kept track of it, protected it from being spent as much as possible, and tried to add to it. If I did the same with our own personal funds, we might be a lot better off.

If many of us were able to take a more objective approach to our financial situation, having and keeping a budget would be much easier to accomplish. That is why people pay to consult with a financial adviser, portfolio manager, or investment banker. Though the situation is individual, we almost need someone outside of the situation to make effective decisions on our behalf.

Because each family is so unique, they may each require a different budget. Although it is difficult to provide definitives about how a budget should be set up in each household, there are some basic foundational principles that can help your budget to be functional and useful in meeting your financial goals.

I was lucky enough to be able to guest post again on The Thrifty Social Worker, and she asked me to provide a post on this topic of family budgeting. Please click on the link below to be taken to the post:

Guest Post: Avoiding Budget Busters as a Family

You will note that the guest post does not tell you to do this, and not do this. I purposely did not cover specifics as a guide to the only way to do things. Rather, I think that different tactics may work for different families.

The most important method to follow when trying to establish a budget for your own family is making sure that it fits and meets the needs of your particular family, and not someone else’s. By avoiding a one-size-fits-all strategy, you are more likely to achieve success in accomplishing the financial objectives that your family has established.

Have you discovered a tactic or method that makes it easier for your family to stick to a budget? Please share with us by commenting below so that we can learn from you.

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My Particular Disinterest in Pinterest


Is there something wrong with me that I don't pine to pin?

For awhile now, everyone has been ranting and raving about the glories of Pinterest and their ensuing addiction to it. I normally do not jump on the popularity bandwagon until much later throughout the course of a trend– often even after it is no longer trendy. Even when I signed up for Facebook, it was after repeated requests, and simply to see photos of one of my closest friends and her family. I have Twitter accounts that are used very minimally, and as much as I have tried to understand, I still do not get the appeal of Twitter. I have yet to fall in love (or even like) with Google Plus, as much as I normally dig Google technology. I have a Skype account that was made just to be a part of an online beta website test a few months back and never used again.

So recently I made a Pinterest account in order to participate in a promotion from one of my favorite companies. I had to create my ideal office, an exercise that was right up my alley. Though it was fun and pretty easy to do what was required, I cannot say that I had any real desire to stay on the website longer than was necessary or to return again. In fact, I did not return for over a month, and even then it was only to do some research on how other companies and blogs are using the online bulletin board. (For those that care, you can click here to view My Ideal Vintage Office board on Pinterest)

I spent a little bit of time looking at other people’s pages and other companies’ pages, and although Pinterest is “pretty” to look at, I still do not get it.  I did some online searching about the service, and I guess I realized why I am not really drawn to it– the primary demographic is females 25-54. I have no facts to back this up, but I have to imagine that these are many of the same people who frequent Etsy, another website that has not piqued my interest. Though I technically fit into that demographic as far as gender and age, often my interests do not line up as clearly as one would expect, and this is a perfect example. (Thanks to Allie at Ramblings of a WAHM for drawing my attention to this funny post about the Pinterest demographic: Pinterest User Pie Chart)

I used to think that I was extremely visual. However, my particular disinterest in Pinterest is making me question that theory. I guess I should have had a clue about that previously when I discovered that blogs with numerous large photos or articles that consist primarily of graphic slide shows held no mystique over me.

The whole reason that I started looking into Pinterest was to see if I should make a page for this blog. From what I can tell thus far, I realized that the social networking site really does not offer any advantage to a blog like this– a blog that focuses more on content than cuteness.

Is Pinterest your love interest?

I also realized that I call into question the premise of Pinterest. I have written on previous occasions about not trying to keep up with the Joneses. More than an online bulletin board, Pinterest seems to have become more of an ongoing visual wish list– the modern-day version of window shopping, though possibly more destructive. It also provides an excellent platform to look at what other people have and to wish for their lifestyle, something that has already been a byproduct of social media formats like Facebook.

I love looking at the vintage office that I designed, but I immediately come to the realization that I will probably never have many of those costly items. Why lust over luxury then? Do I not have better and more productive ways to spend my time?

I think that companies are looking to capitalize on this wistfulness that Pinterest may inspire by getting consumers to look and ultimately buy. In my mind, there is enough temptation to bust your budget without spending hours everyday making a pictorial list of them to refer back to later. I heard about one woman who devoted a board to her favorite male celebrity. Why does that remind me of putting photos or posters up in your bedroom or locker as a girl, pining away over something (someone) that you can never have? I outgrew that punishing practice long ago.

Now don’t get me wrong– Pinterest has its merits and usefulness as an organizational or planning tool, and not everyone is on there drooling over expensive items (or men, for that matter).  I know that some people use it to keep track of recipes they like, crafts they want to make, or decorating techniques to try, but since pictures are involved, it just seems so ripe to become the ultimate in excessive product placement and web-based window shopping. And what is particularly funny is that we are actually providing the product placement and advertising for companies for free by pinning and re-pinning.

I hope that, in the future, Pinterest will become a friendlier and more productive place for blogs like this one. But in the meantime, I think I will just keep a watch on the trend, as I do not have the time or patience to spend inordinate blocks of my day dreaming over photos on a computer screen. Or, for that matter, preparing boards for others to drool over.

I would love to hear what all of you money-savvy minds have to say on this ever-growing passion for Pinterest, so please comment below, and let your thoughts be known.

Wow, thanks to Design Indulgences for summing it up about perfectly!

Posted in Social Networking, Blogging, and Microblogging | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Be your Own Best Solution


Too often, I find myself working around problems that I should be working out. Today I got tired of it, and decided to actually solve a problem.

It's nice to have clean socks. So why can't I bring myself to keep them clean then?! (Photo credit: 2rinrin.com)

I hate cold weather, and I hate having to wear socks because of it. Although I buy socks that I actually like in hopes that it will encourage me to wear them, often those socks fail to be washed on a regular basis. Eventually laundry collects, I am without clean socks, and instead of doing what is the logical action– clean some clothes– I end up just improvising by wearing the same socks over again. Embarrassing, but true.

I think a lot of us may choose to just put up with problems rather than fix them. We may even complain about it, yet still do nothing to remedy the issue. In order to solve this conundrum, we need to figure out why we are so prone to ignoring and avoiding the implementation of obvious solutions.

I think that there are three reasons that we choose to allow problems to exist that could easily be fixed:

  1. Laziness— I hate laundry, and in particular, I hate cleaning and folding smaller clothing items, like socks. I dislike matching them up. Therefore, instead of bothering with it, I choose to avoid the task out of laziness. Even when I am in need of clean clothes, my own laziness often prevents me from fixing what is a very simple problem.
  2. Fear— Sometimes we deal with a sub-par situation, because we fear change and the uncertainty that may come with it. I may choose to deal with a job that I hate because at least I know what it involves. I may decide to continue living at a place that is too small or is run-down, because I cannot imagine making the move, and the uncertainty makes me give into inaction. I may want to lose weight, but I put it off, because I fear what is involved with the process. Fear can cause us to deal with a less-than-ideal situation, even though it may be illogical to continue doing so.
  3. Perfectionism— In my most popular blog post entitled The Psychology Behind Procrastination and Clutter, I spoke at depth about how my tendency towards perfectionism actually drives me to procrastination. The concept sounds contradictory, but there is a method behind the madness. Because I want to do everything so perfectly, I often put tasks aside until a “better time”– when I have more energy, when I have more time available, when I have more focus, when I have a better house, etc. Basically, the excuses never end. Well, what eventually happens is that you never find the “perfect time,” and instead everything gets out of control, because you have managed to do a whole bunch of procrastinating while you have been waiting for that “perfect time.” Sometimes things have to be done, and you cannot wait, but rather, you just have to get it accomplished to the best of your ability. I recently posted the following quote on the blog Facebook page that sums up this concept: “Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.” ― Harriet Braiker

Sometimes things don’t get resolved because of one of these listed factors, or sometimes it is a combination of all of these factors. The sooner that you diagnose the cause, the sooner that you can combat it.  

I have always been of the mindset that “God helps those who help themselves.” Some may disagree, but if you are displeased with some aspect of your life, I think that God would expect you to do something positive and proactive about it. Nobody is going to go to your house and offer you a job, or clean your house, or make difficult life choices for you– you must do it. And recognizing that you can do it is empowering, encouraging, and motivating.

For me, as silly as it is, realizing that the hampers full of laundry do not hold me hostage, but rather that I have the power and ability to clean them all, and be done with looking at them is an empowering feeling. We have the power and capability to clear our house of clutter, to look for a new job, or to stop being a victim to others. Now, we may have to fight laziness, fear, or our own skewed sense of perfectionism in order to accomplish it, but just recognizing that it is indeed possible is a major step in the right direction.

So that is where I am at– in the process of cleaning my long overdue laundry, and guess what, I have some clean socks on my feet. My husband also asked where I got the shirt that I am wearing from, and I had to sheepishly tell him that I had it, but I had just cleaned it after it was stuck in the laundry pile for a while.

Instead of working around problems that we have the power in our hands to resolve, we need to work them out once and for all. Though there are many things in life that we cannot change, it is foolish to avoid changing things that we have the power over. We need to stop being a victim of our circumstances, especially those of which are easily modified.

If you would be embarrassed to have to explain to someone else as to why you have not fixed something that is easily resolved, you know that it is time to take action. Stop being a victim, and start claiming victory, because you are your own best solution.

And, with that, I am going to get off of my soapbox and get back to my laundry. 😉

I guess there is a reason that the "Serenity Prayer" is one of the most popular...

Posted in Motivation | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

How to Earn a Little Extra from the Comfort of Your Couch


Recently I was doing some online reading, and I discovered a new blog that I like called The Thrifty Social Worker. The blog is about Emily, a young woman who is working hard to pay down her debt incurred during her social work studies, and is sharing her inspiring story with the online world.

She was looking for guest bloggers, so I decided to do something that I have never done before, and volunteer. Surprisingly, she was interested, so we agreed to have me submit a couple of different posts on topics that she would find to be helpful.

It seems like everyone is looking for ways to make extra money these days. So I decided to focus on some of the methods that I use to bring in some additional cash, all the while working from home to do it.  These techniques can be used whether you work outside the home or not.

If you would like to pick up some pointers, click on the link below to be taken to my guest post on The Thrifty Social Worker site:

Thinking Outside of the Box to Bring in Some Income

I covered a lot of different information and resources in a small amount of time, so feel free to bookmark the post and refer back to it in the future. Also, make sure to leave some love for The Thrifty Social Worker when you stop by her blog. 😉

If you would like to find out more about The Thrifty Social Worker, you can check out her website, Facebook, and Twitter page.

Posted in Earning Money, Work from Home | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment