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What Sarah Learned From Her Year-Long Spending Fast

It was amazing to read all of your feedback on THIS POST!  I asked Sarah to share the Top 10 Things She Learned from her year-long spending fast.

=== Sarah’s Thoughts ===

As of today, I have officially gone 365 days without buying anything new. Joe asked me to record the top 10 things I learned from this experience.

Today is March 21st 2012 and I have nothing new I need to buy today. I expect this day will come and go like every other day – I’m even going to the mall and won’t be buying anything but yogen fruz!

Here is how it changed me, and here is what I learned:

  1. Healthy spending is as much of a lifestyle for your heart as healthy eating is a lifestyle for your body. I’ve adapted to a new lifestyle.
  2. I still have more than enough. Although I wasn’t purchasing anything new for myself, it was embarrassing how much I already had in my possession. I could still shop at second hand stores. It became a treasure hunt when I needed something. When was the last time you did an inventory check?
  3. I value gifts so much more. When you aren’t buying for yourself, you really appreciate someone else’s thoughtfulness.
  4. I learned what was frivolous. When I received a gift card, I put thought into what to purchase and why. There was no thoughtless, frivolous spending.
  5. Time matters. It was amazing how many times I wanted something in the moment, and how less than 24 hours later I had forgotten about it completely.
  6. I found a new love for gift-giving!  The only time I could shop was to buy gifts for people – so I found a new love for gift-giving! The best part is I never walked out having ended up spending money on myself…
  7. I focus more on the people I’m with than the products to buy.  At the beginning of this challenge, the hardest part came in leisure shopping trips. Now I focus more on the people I’m with than the products to buy.
  8. I stopped spending so I could give, but giving has to be intentional. Although I wasn’t spending money on ‘new stuff’, it was easy for that money to end up in my savings or on eating out if I didn’t have a plan for it.
  9. I’m still greedy. It’s something that doesn’t get ‘cured,’ only surrendered. Living in North America, greed is like germs. You just get over a bad cold and go back into a school full of kids with runny noses.
  10. Generosity can be just as contagious.

=== End of Sarah’s Top 10 Learnings ===

Two Questions for the readers:

  1. Which learning impacted you the most as you read it?
  2. Could you take this challenge and see how it changes your spending habits?

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Why Sarah Went On A 365 Day Spending Fast

This post was guest-written by Sarah – I’ve written about her spending fast previously HERE.  Today marks the end of her 365 day spending fast – Congratulations!!!

=== Sarah’s post ===

I’m Greedy.  So what?

Once, a baby peed all over my lap because his mom didn’t have any diapers.  Once, I held the hand of a homeless man who was in agony, and he couldn’t tell me why.  Once, a woman said “God bless you!!” with a huge, toothless smile when I had only given her half a sandwich.

The poor exist because we have not learned to love our neighbor as ourselves. (credit to Shane Claiborne for opening my eyes to that in a whole new way…)

I claim to be a Christian; to follow Jesus Christ.  “Love your neighbor as yourself” is his commandment, second only to loving God with all we are.  It’s funny how those link hand-in-hand so closely.  If we claim to love God without loving our neighbor, can God’s love really be in us? (1 John 3:17)  Recently, I’ve begun to see how much I am failing at this.  I am greedy!  So what?

“If you have two coats, one of them belongs to the poor.” – Dorothy Day (…but the guy that baptized Jesus said it first!)

I have three coats.  Actually, four.

I buy myself things I don’t need all the time.  Those shoes that were on sale. That little dress I might wear… someday.  A wall hanging I just fell in love with.  More CD’s, books, movies – why not?!

I’m afraid to count how many t-shirts are in my drawer.

We all buy things we don’t need, and we all have neighbors that need. So what?

You already know this – we live in a community and nation that is obsessed with more, bigger, better. The more we get, the more we want. Our stuff “expires” fast and then we want to buy more stuff. When will we stop believing in stuff?  Meanwhile, your neighbor has an empty fridge.  My neighbor has no friends. Their neighbor has no home.  Still, so what?

We have an opportunity to change things; the only thing I can change is me.

Will you join me?

As a result of personal conviction on this issue, I realize I need to confess my greed and throw it away.  So I confess to you now – I am greedy, and I am sorry! On March 21st 2011, I resolved to buy nothing new for myself for 365 days.  I will shop at second hand stores only.  I will borrow and share.  I will give what I do not need to those who need it more.  I want to be free from always wanting, and I pray this resolution changes me from the inside out. Every time I see something new that I want to buy, instead I’ll turn to God and say thanks for all the ways He has already taken care of me. Filled and inspired by the love of Jesus, I’ll throw my old self away and put on a new way to live. (Ephesians 4:21-24)

Will you join me in buying nothing new for a day, a week, a month, a year, whatever you choose…?  Instead, give that money to someone you know that needs it, or take a bag of groceries to the food bank or a friend, or support your local church, or sponsor a child through Compassion, or send some flowers.

Will you let it change you?

=== End of Sarah’s post ===

One of the finest and most convicting posts I’ve read in some time.  Your thoughts?

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Think Systems. Not Silver Bullets.

My friend, Casey Graham, teaches a principle that could potentially change your life.

Think Systems. Not Silver Bullets.

Whether you realize it or not, you have probably fell into the trap of pursuing a “silver bullet” solution instead of installing a “system” that would absolutely ensure that the change you desire will happen.

Think about it.  Have you ever …

  • Got sick of being overweight and bought a pill to fix it – and did not change diet and initiate regular exercise?
  • Wanted to get in shape, and signed up for a gym membership – only to use it once or twice a year?
  • Wanted to get out of debt and after only a month or so began swiping the credit card again?
  • Wanted your child to behave and bought a book to help you –  yet stopped applying what is taught because after disciplining them for bad behavior two or three times – you stopped because it was so emotionally exhausting to continue?
  • Wanted to win with your money so you downloaded a free budget from our website – yet you did not follow the very plan you prepared?

SYSTEMS are the key to real and lasting change.  SILVER BULLETS rarely do.

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10 Reasons You Aren’t Winning With Your Money

As I travel this nation on this crusade to help people accomplish far more than they ever thought possible with their personal finances, I see many people who want to win with their money but they aren’t.

If that is you, read the list below to see if any of the below apply.   The GOOD NEWS is that you CAN win with your money!   Be sure to check out our FREE financial tools HERE.

In no particular order, here are the top reasons I see that people are not winning with their money.

  1. Inability to say NO (to themselves, spouse, and/or children)
  2. Shiny Stuff Syndrome
  3. Lack of financial education
  4. Spouses not working together
  5. Lack of giving (rarely do I see selfish people truly win with their money)
  6. No savings (it is impossible to win financially if you do not save)
  7. Unwilling to take risk with any investments
  8. Listening to the wrong (and broke) people
  9. Impulsive spending decisions
  10. Failure to carry health and disability insurance

Would you add any reasons to this list?

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Lost It All

I recently listened to a keynote speech delivered by Dr. Kevin Elko.

He made a passing statement that really caught my attention.   In fact, three days after hearing it, I am still thinking about it and have even dreamed about it!

Here is the statement:

“If you lost everything you had today and got it back tomorrow, tomorrow would be the greatest day of your life!”

THAT is so true!   We can get so focused on what we do not have that we totally forget what we do have!

It has really challenged me to continually align my focus on being thankful for what I do have.   I hope it does the same for you!

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Deception of Appearances: Mercedes In Front Of A Trailer

merc_14

Many people that I meet who are TOTALLY B-R-O-K-E have all the appearances of being wealthy.

They …

  • Have a great job
  • Have a great education
  • Started out life on a middle-class launch pad
  • Wear awesome clothes
  • Drive a super nice car – like a Mercedes

BUT …

They go home and park that car in front of a trailer – or in front of a 100%-financed house.   They use a credit card to buy their food and gas.   Their credit is trashed.   And they wonder why they can’t ever seem to get ahead.

It’s called “STUFF-ITIS”.   It is being afflicted with the DESIRE TO LOOK GOOD, and it is accompanied with the lack of ability to prepare and follow a real plan that allows them to prosper.

It is called – “All hat and no cattle.”

If this is you, TODAY is the day to set yourself free.     Here are some practical steps you can take:

  1. YELL really loud
  2. Announce that you are SICK of living this way!
  3. Resolve to STOP signing up for any more debt.
  4. Prepare a spending plan BEFORE your next paycheck arrives and PLAN every dime before you actually receive it (FREE budgeting tools HERE).
  5. FOLLOW the plan!
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 EVERY SINGLE MONTH!!!

I like Mercedes.   I like nice things.   But NOT when they rob me of greater things.   Who’s with me?

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Two Words Many Can Apply To Bad Financial Management

Pastor Daniel Floyd and Pastor Jeremy Pickwell of Lifepoint Church in Fredericksburg, VA introduced me to an old MadTV video that AB-SO-LUTE-LY applies to poor financial management.

There are just TWO WORDS that need to be applied …       Watch the video to discover these two magic words.

Can’t see the video in this post? Click HERE to view it on YouTube.

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