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I’m Offended

Posted by Kim on September 9, 2013 in Relationships |

What does this statement really mean?  When reworded, I think we can begin to understand it better.

“I have chosen to take offense to someone’s words or actions.”

This wording is more accurate. It helps me understand that I have a choice. To choose to be offended, I first have to judge the actions or words of someone.

Let me pause here and say that I have certainly been offended before. Sometimes for good reason (whatever that is). And sometimes for not so good reasons. And if I’m truthful, I think a better description of my emotion would have been called “hurt.”  Generally speaking, I’m not an easy person to offend. Here’s why…

As I said before, to choose offense, I have to first judge the words or actions of someone else. By deeming their behavior offensive, I am letting them know that I don’t approve. If someone told me they didn’t approve of me in some area, I don’t think that would motivate me to change. I think it would make me stay away from them. If it were a group of people, I might actually feel isolated from that group.

Lets call that group “1st Community Church”. Lets say that the mission of 1st Community Church was to be a vessel of God’s love to the community. Ultimately, the idea is that people experience the unconditional love of God and enter into their own personal relationship with him. Thus, becoming a vessel of Gods love to others and so on and so on.

Now lets say that the members of 1st Community Church have lots of community outreaches where they help the members of their community with yard-work or whatever. Great community church. Right?

Now lets say that the individual members of the church are frequently offended by the lifestyles of those who haven’t yet conformed to the rules they govern themselves by. How does this demonstrate unconditional love? How does this model work to fulfill the mission of the church?  Why would anyone who isn’t perfect, or at least who hasn’t perfected the art of looking perfect, want to be a part of 1st Community Church?  More specifically, is this the model we expect them to duplicate?

This model is a recipe for an implosion of the church. This model is essentially waiting for people to mess up and be judged and ostracized. This model will destroy the church and its mission. This model laughs in the face of The Gospel of Grace.

Jesus hung out with those who were outcasts of the church. I wonder how he did this. Why would they let him hang out if he was always offended by (judging) everything they did and said. I think he loved them. I think he loved them regardless of their lifestyle… unconditionally. And I think that model of unconditional love was so attractive to people that they pursued God and became a model of unconditional love too… and so on and so on.

I speak from experience here. I was this person for many years. I had a standard that I expected people to live by. If they didn’t, I probably treated them differently than I treated all of the “perfect” people in my life.  I wanted people to “act right” because I love people and I truly want everyone to improve.  I had good motives. But my perspective was skewed.  I think the key is to accept the fact that we are all on a journey. Mine looks differently than yours. Mine has different speed bumps than yours. But the fact is the only one I need to worry about is mine. And I need to love others while they are figuring out their own journey.  I still want to help people have better lives. But it’s okay with me if they don’t. I choose not to be offended.

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Life Is What You Make Of It

Posted by Kim on October 28, 2011 in Time |

I read a great quote the other day.  It has kind of bookmarked my mind over the last few days.

Things turn out the best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out. – John Wooden

Life happens.  Things don’t always go our way.  Sometimes, things go the exact opposite of the way we want them to.  Nothing in life is fair.  People will hurt you.  You will hurt yourself.  We will make mistakes and have to pay the consequences for them.

This paragraph sounds like I’m a pessimist.  But, actually, the opposite is true.  That’s where this quote comes in.  Things in our life are going to go wrong because that is life.  What we do with the hand we are dealt is what matters.

So, what do we do when things go wrong?  Obviously, the individual steps you will have to take in each situation are going to depend on the situation you are facing.  But, the attitude you keep throughout them all will most likely determine the direction you go.

Don’t let fear cripple you.  The idea of moving from a place of comfort to the unknown is often overwhelming, especially if you are a person who doesn’t like change.  But, if we guide our thoughts to a better perspective, we will find the strength to take the first step.

A new perspective might be to allow yourself to look forward to a new adventure or opportunity in life.  Holding on to the past will often just bring you pain and keep you bound in fear.  The idea is that we keep moving.  We don’t stop and pitch a tent in the land of misery.  The first step is always the hardest.  What is the worst that could happen?  What is the best that could happen?

If your life has turned out different than what you planned, maybe it is time to regroup.  Where do you go from here?  What are your strengths?  What are your passions?  What areas could you add value in?  Invest yourself in the areas of life that matter most to you.  This will give you a passion and joy for your new life.

Find a new hobby.  If you are having trouble moving beyond whatever has you stuck, it is time to refocus your mind.  To do this, you need to refocus your time.  What have you always wanted to do?  Turn off the television, get off of the computer, and do it.

Make friends with change.  This won’t be the last time you have to associate with it.  You will find more peace and joy in life if you allow yourself to be flexible.  Think of the trees that sway with the wind verses the ones that are too strong to bend.  In hurricane force winds, they either bend or break.  Be flexible in life.  You will be much happier.

When all else fails, just dance!  Put on some good music and let yourself enjoy the moment.  Even if you can’t control the circumstances around you, you can control the next three minutes.  Choose to enjoy them.

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An Unconventional Family Activity

Posted by Kim on October 27, 2011 in Family, Relationships |

Last Saturday, we had a very unique opportunity for a little family fun.  A friend of ours had a birthday and wanted to celebrate by participating in a zombie walk in downtown Houston.  Now, I know very little about zombies and even less about how to become a zombie.  However, the one thing I do know about zombies is that my children were both very excited about the idea of becoming one of them.

I knew this was a family activity that my kids would never forget.  And, I want them to leave my house with as many positive memories of our family time together as possible.  My kids are growing up way too fast.  I sometimes feel like I need to cram a bunch of fun in before they are gone.  This seemed perfect.

So, I searched for some YouTube videos on how to become a zombie.  Then, off to the costume store I went.  I sent the hubby to Goodwill to find some cheap clothing that we could ruin.  I guess, in hindsight, we probably could have found some in our own closets.  But, we didn’t.  I was completely overwhelmed at the costume store.  I have never seen so many disgusting things in all of my life.  I decided against the scars and bullet holes.  Instead, I spent my $30 on white and grey face paint, deep purple for the bruising around the eyes, a bottle of blood (eeewww!), grey hair paint, sponges and paint brushes.  I felt like that was a pretty good deal.  My son’s best friend came over too and I went to work.

Here is a picture of the five of us.  Aren’t we a scary looking bunch?

While we were waiting for the walk to begin, we were invited to be part of a flash mob as zombies!!!  Ummm… yes!!!  And, as we were walking down the street, cars were stopping to stare and take pictures.  This was a fantastic day!  I hope these pictures convey the amount of fun we all had (zombie style!)

While Lexi was tying her shoe, she looked up at me.  This is what I saw.  Her eyes freak me out!!

The boy

Me and the hubby

I guess the point of this particular post is to remind everyone to make time for fun with your family.  You can never get time back.  So, make the most of what you have.

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Where Did All Of This Stuff Come From??!!

Posted by Kim on October 25, 2011 in Household Management, Time, To Do Lists |

As we go through life, we become collectors of stuff.  Our bodies have a way of expanding to accommodate all of the stuff we put in them.  Unfortunately, our homes don’t operate this way.  We actually have to take time to clean out the stuff from time to time or we will become overrun with clutter.  I guess that same truth could be said about our bodies.  But, that isn’t today’s topic.

So, how do we get rid of all of this stuff?  Where do we find the time to go through it all?  And, what do we do with all of it once we have established that we don’t need/want it anymore?

Start with one room at a time

Pick an easy one.  Make a list of all of the cabinets and drawers that need to be cleaned out.  You won’t realize it at first, but this list will motivate you to keep going when it has some things checked off of it.  You will need forward momentum.

When you move on to another room.  Add it to the original list.  You’ll be encouraged that you completed one room and will want to complete the next one.

How Do You Eat an Elephant?

One bite at a time!  Just clean out one drawer or cabinet at a time.  The truth is that a drawer will only take 10 – 15 minutes.  We can all commit to 15 minutes.  Don’t make the whole project one big overwhelming task.  This isn’t a sprint.  Your house became cluttered over a long period of time.  It will take a long time to declutter it too.  Save the larger projects for the weekends.  But, try to fit something small into each day.

Throw stuff away

When you are going through your stuff, don’t just look at it and put it back in the drawer.  If you don’t use it, get rid of it.  Look at every single thing.  Ask yourself if you have used this item in the last year.  If not, chances are you won’t need it.  Remove it from the drawer.  Throw it away, give it away, or sell it.

Keep clean areas clean

Once an area is clean, make sure you take the time to keep it that way.  The last thing you want to do is have to cycle back through the room once it is all checked off.  Take the last 10 minutes of each day and pick up the things that have been left out.  This will make a huge difference!

Everything needs a home

While you are cleaning, organizing and decluttering, think about what you would label each drawer or cabinet.  You don’t actually have to put labels on things.  But, let your mind think through that process.  If this drawer had a name, what would it be?  Now anything that fits the title should go in that drawer.  You might need a bigger space for that category.  If so, relocate the contents of the drawer to a larger area.

As you go through each room, you will add to that drawer.  For instance, office supplies should all be in the same location of the house.  If you are looking for tape, sticky notes, staples, note pads, extra pens, pencils, or paper, you will find them all together in one location.  As you find these items in other rooms, relocate them to the office supply area.

The president is coming

Look around the room.  If you were having a very important guest over, what else would you relocate?  Are there things stacked in a corner?   Sometimes we become so comfortable with the clutter, we don’t even notice it.  It is the small things that clutter a room.  If you do this right, you will feel like you are living in a brand new house.

Put out a memo

Attention Family Members… this is a no clutter zone!!  Let everyone know how you have designated the areas.  They may not remember and will probably need gentle reminders.  But, they will enjoy having everything organized even if they fail to mention it.

 

Your home should be a place of refuge.  It shouldn’t be a source of stress.  Clutter is the enemy of peace!!  And, we all need peace.  An organized home will give you time back in each of your days.  Gone are the days of searching for hours to find things.  Your home has the potential to be a well sharpened tool for you to increase your productivity.  You will find yourself with more time to spend with your family and friends.  You may even start inviting them over for dinner again.

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Help!! I’m in Debt!!

Posted by Kim on October 24, 2011 in Debt, Money |

These words haunted me for many years. My husband and I were in debt and it seemed that all of our income was being used up by payments to a variety of different banks. I remember this feeling well. It was crippling. I remember beating myself up for getting in this position to begin with. I felt like I knew better. Yet somehow, here I was. What a mess! When I did the math and calculated the compound interest being charged on my debt, we were looking at several years before we would get to the end of this nightmare. And if we just made the minimum payments on all of this stuff, we would never get out. This just wasn’t okay with us. We had to make some changes.

We stopped spending!!

We used our money for groceries, auto fuel and basic household expenses. Notice the word “basic.” We didn’t even have cable television. There were no frills. We didn’t go out to eat. We didn’t use money for entertainment. And, we only bought the clothing that we absolutely had to have.

I’ve outlined the budgeting plan we used in these two articles:
Why Budgeting Doesn’t Work Part 1
Why Budgeting Doesn’t Work Part 2

We changed the way we thought!

We started thinking about our money the same way you have to think when you are on a diet. Instead of watching every bite we put into our mouths, we watched every penny we spent.

Think about this. If a rich man comes into money, he invests it. If a middle class man comes into money, he pays off all of his bills. If a poor man comes into money, he spends it. Why do you think that is? He does this because he has a desperate feeling that he’ll never have this opportunity again. He lives in the moment’s gratification instead of having a long term plan. He has no hope. So, he goes on a shopping spree so he can look and feel rich instead of one day being rich.

Although I wouldn’t have classified us as having a poor man’s mentality, maybe we did. I mean, we spent money that we hadn’t yet made. I could justify the expenses and tell you that they were mostly auto repairs and medical bills. But, who cares? We were in debt and had to find a way out.

We found ways to make extra money

We took on part time work to get extra money. Another thing that has helped people is to sell some stuff to get the ball rolling. Have a garage sale or use Ebay or Craig’s List.

We created rules

We created rules to protect us from our own personal weaknesses. For instance, we each were allocated a certain amount of pocket cash. On the days that we were tired and didn’t feel like cooking, it would have been easy to pull out the plastic. But instead, we created a rule that any eating out must come out of our pocket cash. This kept us from having expensive restaurant bills.

We set obtainable goals

We started with the bank we owed the least to and paid them off. Once we were free from that debt, we applied their payments to the next bank, and so on, and so on. The process of getting out of debt is overwhelming. When we focused on one step at a time, the process was manageable.

We rewarded ourselves.

To help us get through the very long process, we created small rewards when we met goals. This might have been a dinner out or maybe a movie. After paying off a really large debt, we might have planned a little bigger reward. But, we didn’t go crazy. We avoided the mentality that got us into the problem to begin with.

 

We worked hard and it paid off. At the end of three years, the only thing we owed money on was our house. Nothing happens that you don’t create a plan for. You have to make it happen. We were in debt until we created a plan to get out. We stopped looking at the Jones and decided that they probably had payments on all of the stuff they “owned” and we didn’t want that anymore. We decided that we were rich because of who we were, not because of what we owned. All of these changes in our thinking helped us slowly work our way to freedom.

Was it hard?  Yes.

Was it worth it? Absolutely!

Would we do it all over again? You bet.

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Who Am I?

Posted by Kim on October 21, 2011 in Relationships |

Who am I?

What is my purpose in life?

What should I do with my life?

What is the meaning of life?

I did a little research and found that the phrase “who am I” has been googled (is that a word?) more than 100 million times in the last month; 20 million of those were in the United States.  To give you a point of reference, there are a little more than 300 million people living in the United States.

This information has made me horribly sad.  First, it perplexes me that there is so much confusion regarding this question.  Second, it is sad to me that people are asking the internet for such important information.  The internet!!  Think about it.  Have we really become so unattached to each other that we have to use a computer to find out who we are?  Have we isolated ourselves to the point that we don’t reach out to each other when we are confused about our very identity?

I’ve spent some time thinking about this subject.  And, I’ve come to some conclusions about it.  While it is certainly sad that people reach out to the internet instead of their friends/mentors to answer this, I believe the fact that they do this goes a long way to answer their original question.  Let me explain.

Knowing who we are as individuals is important.  But, I don’t believe the question can be answered in the vacuum that it seems to be asked in.  While we are certainly all individuals, we aren’t designed to live that way.  We are designed to live our lives in communities with other people.  That is where we will find fulfillment in ourselves.  That fulfillment will ultimately answer the question, “Who am I?”  We find the answer to that question in how we live and interact with other people.

Think about the self-serving people you know.  Are they fulfilled?  Are they happy?  Absolutely not.  Think about the times when you went out of your way to help someone.  What did that do inside you?  You felt good about yourself.  Right?  In that moment, you weren’t wondering what your purpose was.  You fulfilled your purpose, thus eliminating the question from your mind.

The fact that we are asking a computer these types of questions only illuminates the fact that the question remains unanswered.  And THAT is sad to me.  People living without real relationships with other people makes my heart hurt.

I understand why people do this.  They have obviously been hurt by other people.  We all hurt each other at different times in life.  Does that make us all bad?  No.  It makes us all imperfect.  But, building walls only isolates us from having the real relationships that we need to feel fulfilled.

We all have different personalities, character traits, strengths, skill sets and life experiences.  When we use these things to help those who are around us, we find our purpose.  When we hoard all of those things and only use them for ourselves, we rob others of the benefits and cheat ourselves too.  By offering ourselves to others, we will find that they return the favor.  And, if we all lived our lives this way, there wouldn’t be over 100 million people asking a search engine who they are.  The question just wouldn’t exist.

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Teenagers!!!

Posted by Kim on October 20, 2011 in Parenting, Relationships |

The exclamation points behind this word would lead one to believe there is a sense of frustration when saying this word.  And ten years ago, that is exactly the emotion I thought I would have right about now.  But, I am pleased to say that I don’t feel that emotion at all.  I love having a teenager in my house.  Actually, I have found them to be like roaches… where there is one, there are lots of them.  So, my house is frequently full of these creatures.  They are full of life.  That generally energizes me.

Now that my son is a high school senior, we parent him differently than we did when he was seven.  I was thinking about the different ways we have parented him throughout his life.  And I realized that we have reduced the level of actual parenting as our influence in his life has grown.  I would say that at this point we simply guide him from time to time and make ourselves available for consultation when needed.  (Typing that makes me feel like he should be sending us monthly checks.)

Early Years

I would probably classify these years to be from around 6 months old to around 8 or 9ish.  These were the years that we were always instructing and correcting.  And with Josh, there was a lot of correcting!!  (Love you, son!)  It seemed like we said the same things over and over.  We controlled the influences in his life, like friends, tv, music, and books.  We tried to give reasons for our no’s.  But, honestly, there wasn’t always time.  While we were in the early years, we weren’t sure we were doing anything right.  I just thought that if I could keep him out of therapy, I would count that as a success.  Kidding!!  It was a challenge raising a kid whose brain (and limbs) never stopped moving.

During this time, we also tried to get to know him.  Who did God create him to be?  What are his passions?  What are his strengths?  Who is this little person who lives in my house and what am I supposed to help him do in life?  There were times where I thought I was the one in need of therapy.  Above all, we wanted him to have a relationship with God.  So, we took time to point him in that direction on a regular basis.

Middle Years

From around age 9 to age 14 or 15, our methods shifted from instructing and correcting to monitoring.  By this point, he understood what the rules were.  He knew what he was allowed to do and not do.  He knew our expectations.  This was a time where we let him venture out more on his own.  He stayed at friends’ houses, etc.  We didn’t micromanage the influences in his life.  We had developed a trust and respect for each other.  He knew we were the parents.  And we trusted him as long as he continued to obey our rules.  We spent more time talking during this time about the reasons why we made the choices we did.  Our goal was to train him how to think.  We pointed to examples of others’ consequences when they were available.  You usually don’t have to look far to find people making poor choices.  We worked on our relationship with him during these years.  We built memories and had fun. 

These years were full of different kinds of frustrations.  They weren’t the same as the early years.  Mostly, we just wondered if he would ever “get it.”  Trying to figure out what motivated him was always a challenge.  But, we were starting to feel a little more confident in our parental strategies.  Though it was slow progress, it was still forward momentum and that was encouraging.  Still, the horror stories of the “teen years” that we heard from others made us wonder if all of this was going to work in the long run.

Full Blown Teen Years

Age 15 through, well, now have mostly been a pleasure.  Was this what we were afraid of?  I’m a little afraid to exhale, I think.  The boy is making great choices.  He has made great friends.  He has his own personal relationship with God.  I would say that we are now parenting mostly through influence.  We’ve taught him how to think and as many life skills as we could think of.  Now, it is his time to test out his own theories and see how they work.

Our struggle now is in letting him make his own mistakes and not rescuing him from consequences.  I’m still Mom.  I want to protect him.  I birthed the boy, after all.  But, we feel that it is important for him to learn from his own dumb choices while we are still footing the bill for his everyday needs.  Let’s face it, most of us learn the hard way.  So, the sooner he learns some of these life lessons, the better.

He now comes and goes according to his own schedule.  And, we take advantage of any time he has to spend with the family.  He keeps a pretty busy schedule and isn’t home a lot.

What’s to come next?

I expect that he’ll make some good choices and some bad ones too.  I’m hoping that we don’t freak out if his life doesn’t fall into our predefined mold of happiness for him.  Actually, I think we should just throw out the mold and stand by his side through the good times and bad.  He’s a great kid.  And even if he makes some really dumb choices that have some terrible consequences, he’s still a great kid.  And he will always be our great kid.

I expect that he’ll do just fine.  I can’t wait to see how he charters his own life and where he chooses to go.  One thing I’m sure of, he’ll have a lot of fun along the way.

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How Do You Spell Relief? – Part 2

Posted by Kim on October 18, 2011 in Time |

Last week (Part 1), I talked about the importance of peace in my life and how I find ways to budget my time to help me keep peace. This week, I have some confessions to make. Sometimes, I waste time. I’m not always productive and sometimes, I’m downright lazy. So, I made a list of the things that waste time and decided to do something about it.

I Identified My Time Wasters

  • Once I identified my time wasters, I set personal rules for them. The top three for me were Facebook, TV and the phone. Okay, I admitted it!!! So, I set up some rules for these areas of my life. If I’m watching TV, I try to do something else at the same time. I will do some floor exercises with my 5 pound weights or laundry or whatever else can help me multitask. But, I try not to just sit and watch TV. Also, I only watch what I DVR. And I limit myself on how many shows I record.
  • I gave myself a daily time limit for Facebook. Once I did this, I stopped reading every little thing. I only looked at what I was really interested in. Also, I found that I don’t use all of the time I gave myself. I’m sure I miss lots of stuff. But, do I really have to know everything? I think I broke the addiction!
  • I have a love hate relationship with the phone. I love using it to catch up with friends and family. And, I love to talk about what my kids are doing or the latest idea I am chasing. But, I really hate when it interrupts what I’m in the middle of focusing on. So, I decided the phone needed some rules too. Rule number one is, I don’t acknowledge it after 9pm (with rare exception). This makes my friends and family a little crazy sometimes. It gives them something else to make fun of me for. But, I’m okay with that. I often get phone calls that start with the caller saying, “It is 8:56!! I’m still allowed to call.” And if I happen to call someone after 9pm, they will usually answer and say, “Ummm… it is after 9pm. Why are you calling me?” I have great friends and family!! They make me laugh and keep me from taking life too seriously. Oh, by the way, my husband loves this rule!! ;)
  • Rule number two, the phone is for my convenience. So, if I’m in the middle of something, it isn’t my first priority. I don’t jump up to answer it. I also rarely run to it when I get a text. I’ll answer it when I come to a stopping point. People in my life know this about me. They don’t expect immediate access to me. The exception to this rule is this, if my phone rings twice in a row, I’ll check it. It might be an emergency or a friend who really needs to talk. I can be interrupted for that. I love my friends!

I try to remember that anything that wastes time actually robs from the things I would rather be doing, like having fun with my family. What kind of things waste time in your life? And, what kind of rules can you set up to help protect yourself from these time wasters?

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Why Budgeting Doesn’t Work – Part 2

Posted by Kim on October 17, 2011 in Budget, Cash Flow Plan, Money |

Last week, (in Part 1) we talked about the reasons budgeting never worked for my household until we unlocked the mystery of the cash flow plan.  This plan changed our lives by helping us create and implement a plan to get out of debt and save money for the first time ever.  This week, I want to finish telling you the system that worked for us.

I recommend that you download this free worksheet before you begin the next step.  These instructions will assume you are using it.

Budget & Cash Flow Plan Worksheet

Step 3 – Balance your budget

  • In this step, we will only use Column A.  We aren’t going to worry about the Cash Flow Plan until we balance the budget.  Begin by inputting all of the income and expenses that you listed in the first two steps.
  • Input your income in the blue “Income” section and your expenses in the green “Expenses” section.
  • If your expenses exceed your income, you only have two choices:  Increase your income or reduce your expenses.  You may find that you have to cancel some subscriptions to balance.  You may have to cut back on some hobbies like shopping.  This will not be the most enjoyable moment of your life.  It will force you to deal with the reality that you don’t have a money tree in the back yard.  However, it is a good lesson to learn now rather than later.
  • To create additional income, you might consider selling some things to pay off a credit card or two.  This would help reduce the amount of expenses you have and help balance the budget.  Even if you can’t completely pay off the credit card, it is not a bad idea to get you moving in the right direction.
  • You can’t skip this step.  It is necessary before you move on to Step 4.

Step 4 – Creating a Cash Flow Plan

  • Now that you have balanced your budget, you should know that you are further along in your financial plan than most of America.  Congratulations!!  However, you aren’t finished.  The budget alone doesn’t work.  It is time to give it legs and watch it walk.
  • Start by typing your checking account balance in Cell E3.  Each column will calculate to give you the beginning balance before you deposit each check.  Your ending balance will show in Cell J3.
  • Create a column for each date you receive income next month.  I have created five columns for you already.  You just need to change the dates to reflect your paydays.  In other words, if you get paid twice and your husband gets paid twice, you should have four columns.
  • Now, plan out how you will spend each paycheck according to the budget you created by filling in Columns E – I.  Make sure you give yourself time to mail your payments to your creditors.  In other words, if your bill is due on the 16th, you can’t plan to pay it with the check you receive on the 15th if you have to put it in the mail.
  • What bills get automatically drafted from your account?  You need to know this information for your Cash Flow Plan.  If your mortgage payment gets drafted on the 1st, but you don’t get paid until the 2nd, you are going to incur some overdraft fees.  Be careful!
  • Make sure you don’t plan to overdraw your account.  You can’t pay all of your bills with the first check of the month.  Well, most of us can’t.  You will probably need to space them out over the four checks you receive.  Your account balance is at the top in pink.  If your plan overdrafts your account, you will see red numbers in Row 3.  You’ll need to make adjustments.

Step 5 – Work the Plan

  • You did it!!! Now work the plan!!
  • Don’t forget this step.  This step needs to be done every single day.  Your plan will only work if you work it.  If you didn’t plan a trip to purchase new shoes, you should not go out and shop for new shoes.  Otherwise, you will bust your budget and your Cash Flow Plan will fail.
  • You should expect to have variances in your budget, especially the first few months you are trying to learn what your expenses really are.  When this happens, you will have to adjust the plan.  You may have to reduce some expenses in one area to make up for unplanned expenses in another area.  If you planned a Miscellaneous category, it will help in this instance.
  • Tracking each category is necessary to keep from overspending in each area.  The easiest method is using a Cash Envelope method.  This would mean that you pull money out of your account each payday and put it into cash envelopes for each category.  If you would rather leave the money in the account and use a debit card, you will need to keep track of your receipts to make sure you aren’t busting your budget.

Five steps are all you need for a balanced budget and cash flow plan.  We are just normal people with normal incomes and we did this.  And you can too.  Remember, without a well-executed plan, your dream is only a fantasy.  Your budget and cash flow plan is your key to unlocking your dreams.

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Our Family “Sticks” Together

Posted by Kim on October 14, 2011 in Family, Parenting, Relationships |

I like evaluating things to find a better, more efficient way of doing things.  It is a very natural way for my brain to think.  I find myself doing this often.  As a matter of fact, I have to make a choice not to do this if I’m in a situation where I just need to be content with whatever my surroundings are.  For instance, the first season my daughter played softball, I was learning the dynamics of how the ball park operated.  First of all, the park is run by volunteers.  So, their time and resources are limited. So, for me to get frustrated every time something didn’t go right or information wasn’t given to me in a timely manner would be pointless.  I have to believe that they are doing the best with the resources they have.  So, I don’t sit around judging everything that goes wrong.  But, honestly, that takes conscious effort on my part (and sometimes a gentle reminder from the hubby).  :)

I believe we are all designed with a purpose.  I believe our responsibilities change with the various seasons of life.  But, for the most part, we have gifts and talents woven into our personality and character that make us unique.  Then, along come our family members.  They too have unique gifts and talents.  Since I don’t believe it was an accident that we all are placed in the same family, there must be a reason, a responsibility, a purpose we all share.  So, how do we find out what this is? 

My husband and I decided to explore this one day.  We sat the kids down at the table and gave everyone a pad of sticky notes.  The instruction?  Write down everything you can think of that describes our family or a particular member of our family; one thing on each little square.  And be kind!  The kids loved it.  We wrote our likes and dislikes, our hobbies, our talents, strengths and weaknesses.  Who are we?  That was the question.  We had to go get more sticky notes.

 

We then put them all on the wall (Dean and the kids put them on each other) and looked for common categories.  We started grouping them.  Again, the kids thought it was fun.  We talked with them about responsibility that day.  We wanted to make sure they realized their responsibility in life, in their community, and in their schools.  We discussed being a team and what that meant.  We discussed helping each other with our weaknesses, forgiving often, and treating each other with love and respect.  At some point, the family activity was over and we all learned a lot about who we all were.

When the kids left, I wrote all of it down.  I didn’t want to forget anything about this day.  I knew this was only the beginning.  I’ll blog more about what we did with all of this newfound knowledge sometime in the future.  In the meantime, what kind of family bonding do you find to be helpful?

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