Monday, October 29, 2012

Don't Let Debt Weigh You Down

Take charge of your finances. Don't let your finances take charge of you.
~ Stacy J. Coles

The holiday season is just around the corner and it seems to hit earlier every year. We already hear Christmas music in the stores and see decorated trees in display windows. Now, before you make your list and check it twice, take a minute to make sure your finances are able to handle the demands of the season.

This is the time of year when too many people run themselves further into debt, unnecessarily. But, there are ways to avoid this and take charge of your finances before they take charge of you.

First, go back to the basics of budgeting. Make a list of all your bills, starting with the smallest and ending with the biggest.

Second, if you can, make a little extra payment (even if it's $5 or $10) on the smallest bill until it gets paid off. Once it's paid off, apply that entire monthly payment to the next bill on your list as additional principle. Continue until the second bill is paid off. Once it's paid off, apply that entire monthly payment to the next bill on your list as additional principle. Are you seeing a pattern here? I promise, it works. If you stick to this, you will be amazed at how fast you can pay off bills.

Third, put something into a savings account every month ~ even if it's five dollars. If you have the option, have a set amount automatically taken out of every paycheck and directly deposited into your savings account. That way, you won't see it; you won't miss it. And when your monthly bank statement arrives, you'll be pleasantly surprised to see your money is growing.

As far as the holidays go, don't spend what you don't have. If you know now there's something you will want to buy for Christmas, make a plan, set aside some money, and buy it free and clear when the time comes. The holidays will be a lot less stressful knowing there won't be a huge bill in the mail after the New Year.

Don't be afraid of the holidays approaching. By making sure your finances are in tact and a little planning, you will be ready to deck the halls without breaking the bank.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Look For The Good

Whether we look for the good or the bad in a person, we will find it.
~ Stacy J. Coles

We often go through the day and judge people based on the clothes they wear, the car they drive, or the job they have. We quickly label the nature of their character without knowing the nature of their situation.

Just as my late mother often advised me to look for the good in any situation, she also taught me to look for the good in people. There will always be someone around who drives us crazy. It's just human nature. The challenge is to look for something good about that person. Just one thing. Once you've found it, focus on that one thing. Compliment that person. Pray for that person. You'll soon find that your attitude has changed towards that person.

It's not about making those who annoy you your best friends. It's about looking past the annoyances. It's about acceptance. It's about kindness.

If that's too cheesy for you, look at it this way: if there is someone at work or a neighbor who is always angry or ornery, instead of assuming they are terrible and avoiding them, find out what's behind the behavior. Maybe they've just lost someone close to them. Maybe they are going through financial trauma. Maybe they are lonely and their behavior is a protective wall that's been built up over time.

Look for the good and be the one who makes a difference. You don't have to be nosy, just care enough to say "Hi," or smile, or ask how they are doing. A little effort can go a long way.

In the Walt Disney movie, Pollyanna, one little girl changed the attitude of an entire town ~ just by looking for the good. She looked past the ornery townspeople, the rude maids, and her lonely aunt, and found good in each of them. She kept her spirits high when they tried to tear her down and in the end, they had a change of heart. It would have been easy for her to leave everyone to their miserable state of mind, but she chose to look for the good in each one of them until she found it.

Granted, that was just a movie. But, the message is real. Pollyanna referred to a quote by Abraham Lincoln that she wore on a necklace. I changed it to make it a little more positive. This is my version: Whether we look for the good or the bad in a person, we will find it. The choice is ours, every day. We should put more effort in finding the hidden good in others, than focusing so much on the obvious negative.
Look For The Good