“The simplest definition of a budget is
"telling your money where to go.”
― ---Tsh Oxenreider
I realized after taking with someone about their finances and giving them recommendations that at sometimes it can be a major challenge to implement. The lifestyles we are accustomed to living become routine. What works for me when I implement any new discipline is to focus on the small success. This celebration of any positive movement also works for me in the areas of finances, prayer, personal and spiritual growth, and relationships. That list seems to encompass all areas of my life!
When I retired my wife and I had worked with our financial planner for years to achieve our goal. I can remember at my retirement dinner telling everyone with enthusiasm, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” because I had achieved my lifelong goal. We were also eagerly anticipating several major trips planned the year of retiring.
Retirement was everything I dreamed it would be. Then a year later our country experienced the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. That event greatly impacted our investments. At the same time our rental property needed major repairs and we had just purchased a new car. Because of the lifelong discipline of working with a budget, I could more readily adjust and balance the income and expenses to accommodate the unexpected turn of events.
That is why I encourage people of all ages to establish a realistic budget. It is also important to celebrate each success, each accomplishment, otherwise it is not a rewarding discipline.
When I made the adjustments in our fixed and flexible income and expenses, I created additional money to pay off the loan on the improvements to the rental house and the car. I made a weekly payment instead of monthly and that accelerated the payoff of the loan. The lady at the bank commented, “You are really serious about paying off this loan!” I told her I have a plan and I enjoy seeing it work because once this loan is paid off this money is going back into our travel budget. I always kept the end results in mind and the opportunities that would open up once I accomplished my goal.
I receive a welcomed encouragement from what I call “my fan club of readers” of my postings. I realize I am preaching to the choir because many already practice what I share. If you are a reader that is already having success with any discipline, especially the area of finances, I would appreciate your sharing this posting with those who may benefit by implementing this tool for living a life of abundance. I will be glad to email anyone interested in the excel format I use for my budget.
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and starting on the first one.”
Over the years I have encouraged those interested in reducing the financial stress caused by credit card debt to establish a prosperity budget to manage their finances. The first month of a new year offers the best time to start this practice. Many people who have contacted me for guidance in establishing this practice but unfortunately allowed the necessary discipline to discourage them. Others who have implemented the practice are free of the financial stress that many are experiencing after the spending frenzy of holiday shopping.
The yearend statistics have been released showing the average spending for Christmas last year was $1,000 per family. Many charged these purchases and it will take five months to pay off the credit card. Christmas for the both of us has always been our favorite holiday celebration. From the very beginning of our marriage we started a Christmas savings so that we could fully participate in the spirit of the season debt free. Included in that savings was money to reach out to a family that was less fortunate as part of our overall tithing.
The way I set up our budget is to put all expenses into two categories: the first includes fixed expenses, house note, insurance, taxes, utilities, etc.; the second category accommodates flexible expenses i.e. entertainment, travel, monthly personal allowances, Christmas savings. This process has worked for us throughout our 51 years of marriage and has made it possible in retirement years to enjoy life on a fixed income.
For those who have charged on credit cards during the holiday season now is the time for affirmative action. This will help you pay off debt faster and prepare a 2019 Christmas savings budget. The first month of every year I review our budget and evaluate possible changes to best meet current needs and goals. If you are currently addressing Christmas expenses, the amount initially used to pay off credit card debt could, upon completion of payment of charges, become your monthly “payment” to create your 2019 Christmas budget.
For many of you this may seem to be a complicated and overwhelming challenge. Just break it down to a weekly goal and it becomes attainable. If you are in the national average category of spending for the holidays, just reduce current expenses by $20 a week and you will have a year-end Christmas budget of $1040. If you think this is an unrealistic goal just drive by and observe the long lines at the drive-up windows of Starbucks or Chic-fil-A. If everyone in those lines would change those habits just two days a week, they would create their $20-a-week savings.
If you know someone that is interested in having a debt free Christmas, you may want to share this blog posting.
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things,
because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
I recognize I have been blessed with the gift of curiosity. That gift has opened many doors for me. It was very beneficial in my marketing career because I would learn about upcoming projects before my competition. If I were driving in my territory and saw trees being removed, I would stop and ask questions about the proposed project. Twelve years into retirement I am still curious about what is going to be built on a site under development.
This intense curiosity extends to all areas of my life. When something peaks my interest and I assess it to be beneficial to me I take immediate action to implement it into my life. I am often amazed that practices that have been part of my life for years are unheard of by people to whom I happen to mention them.
This became evident to me yesterday when a tax preparer called me to get the telephone number of a friend who is of Chinese heritage. She said she really needed more clients coming from the Chinese community and thought he may be helpful. I asked her if she had thought of posting the number of clients she planned to attract to her business on her Dream Board. Her response was “What is a Dream Board?” I realized once again that my intense curiosity has propelled me to explore and implement many things to assist me to live a life of abundance that many people have not been curious to explore.
Since I was speaking with a professional, I wanted to make certain I gave her factual resources to understand how powerful the Dream Board can be to help focus our efforts in achieving our goals in life. I directed her to a book I read Feng ShuiYourLife JaymeBarrett. http://jaymebarrett.com/losangelesfengshui/index.html.
On page 125 of the book it covers Manifestation Techniques and discusses the Manifestation (Dream) Board. “Each Dream Board is a visual representation, a blueprint for the success you want life to emulate. As you look at it every day, the images become imprinted consciously and subconsciously. You become what you focus on.”
You may be reading this and thinking you really do not need to do this because you are satisfied with your life. I firmly believe that as long as we’re breathing, we need to keep dreaming. A Dream Board can encompass all areas of your life. You may want to post creating time in your week to help others or increase quality family time. You may have a special talent that you would like to spend more time developing. Our dreams nurture our spirit and make life exciting. Dreamers impact our world!
Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you.
My wife and I completed our 2019 Dream Board on New Year’s Day. It is now hanging on the wall in our office.
I was encouraged when several of our grandchildren called to let me know they were working on their Dream Boards. Reading about the statistics regarding why New Year’s Resolutions don’t last long, I encouraged them to start an annual practice that I know is successful. A full 35% of resolutions are broken before the end of January. Apparently, distractions and the busyness of daily life create the obstacles. In the survey taken at the end of any given year only 23% of New Year’s resolutions were kept.
Even during these retirement years things constantly happen in my life that distract me from my goals. As I stated in my previous posting my success rate last year was 50% in spite of the many challenges throughout the year. The following practices help me to keep a higher percentage rate of success.
Accomplishing a higher rate of success than the national average of kept resolutions becomes a reality because we are very passionate about those dreams. It is exciting to create experiences that enrich our lives and the lives of our family.
I am a very visual person; our Dream Board encourages me to keep moving forward to bring those desired experiences into reality. Those dreams could be easily forgotten if they were just written in a notebook and put away in a desk drawer.
Regardless of setbacks I keep the faith. Like most of us I like to have control of events and outcomes. I have to remind myself to “Let Go and Let God.” To support my efforts in manifesting these goals I often have to make adjustments in my strategies and priorities. That is not difficult as long as I keep reminding myself of my intentions and goals.
Whenever “a dream comes true,” I immediately express my gratefulness in my journal. We also celebrate in some special way. It is truly a gift that our family is participating in the Dream Board. Sharing our success with them enhances our excitement.
Now that holiday celebrations are over you may want to spend some time this weekend to complete your 2019 Dream Board. Making that extra effort can tremendously increase your success rate in accomplishing those resolutions for 2019.
“Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.” --Meister Eckhart
When we entered into married life 51 years ago the love and excitement we had for one another colored our ambitions and fueled endless possibilities for building the life of our dreams. We were blessed to experience several years of living out that dream. But in all relationships, it is inevitable that disillusionments and disappointments will happen. But in any committed relationship it is important to put forth the effort to work things out. As we were taught in Marriage Encounter, this effort leads you to true joy.
This past year has offered us many challenges although not specifically with our relationship with one another. But there were outside forces like major unexpected expenses from dental work, automobile and home repairs. A minor scratch coming from a fall my wife had caused cellulitis necessitating a hospital stay and then surgery on her elbow. Then on a less personal level there was the constant negativity in the news and the hostile political environment of our country.
So yes much of this year has been focused on solving problems. So as 2019 approaches I welcome the gift of opportunity that this New Year has to offer. Today is the day that I set aside a block of time to pull out many of the tools I have shared with my followers to create a life of abundance.
Every day in spite of what is happening in my life and in the world, I spend time to write in my grateful journal. I then read and reflect on several resources of inspirational material. Today I’d like to focus on the reading from
Daily Word. “I perceive a new possibility and make it a reality. As I enter the new year, I utilize my imagination to perceive possibilities that are not currently visible.”
Every year my wife and I write down everything we would like to experience in our life for the new year. We than select the ones that are most important to us and put pictures of those on our Dream Board. Since our Dream Board is displayed in a visible place in our office. We see it daily and remind ourselves what we are committed to make happen in our lives. The things posted do not magically happen, but often do manifest with our effort and determination. Looking at the results of “our dreams” for 2018 year some people may say this is not effective because only 50% of what we had posted happened. With all of the challenges of this past year I think 50% is fantastic!
You may want to take advantage of the positive energy that will happen at New Year’s Eve celebrations as the 2019 is ushered in. Spend some time during the next few days and write down what you would like to attract in your life and post that on your Dream Board.
“Anything you really want, you can attain, if you really go after it.” – Wayne Dyer
The following words are heard often during the Christmas season, “Making a list and checking it twice.” Unfortunately many people do not use this magical childhood belief throughout the year. Many self-help authors and even the bible support this concept.
Then the Lord told me and said, “I will give you my message in the form of a vision. Write it clearly enough to be read at a glance.”
Habakkuk 2 1-3
“Decide what you want, write it down, review it constantly, and each day do something that moves you toward these goals”.
I personally believe and seek signs before making major decisions in life and I write down what I hope to manifest.
I have always made a list of the things I want to attract in my life. When things would automatically fall into place, I knew I was on the right tract.
At a young age I had written that I wanted to own a house before I got married. I envisioned this house would be a double so that I could live in one side rent free. I stayed focused on that goal and fortunately I got a few breaks with investments in the stock market. I purchased my double within months of my return home from a tour of duty in the Army.
I always believed that marriage would be a tremendously important decision in my life. In preparation I practiced some of the principles I have shared with my readers. I wrote down the qualities I wanted in that person I wanted to attract and with whom I would live out a lifetime commitment.
A sign of the power of this tool of writing down what we want to attract in our lives was later confirmed and truly amazed both of us. Unknown to either of us was the fact that we both worked in the central city and occasionally went to the same church to pray for the same thing, the right person to marry with whom we could fully share our lives.
When I came home after being drafted and stationed in Europe for two years many of my friends were married and having children. I dated one girl that I had known in the past, but it did not work out. Than coincidentally or providentially friends of ours arranged a blind date with Jeanne for a company dance, and as they say, “The rest is history!”
Yes, 51 years later I have to say it was the best decision of my life.
In my blog posting last week I talked about the rocker given to me by my grandfather one Christmas. Check out this picture with two rockers under our Christmas tree. The other one was given to my wife as a gift when she was two years old. We both kept these treasured gifts we received as 2-year-olds and decided to put our rockers under our Christmas tree. This is symbolic of the many treasures we each brought to our relationship that bridged the gap of differences.
As we get closer to the end of the year and start anticipating a fresh start and a new opportunity to live life to the fullest, you may want to take some time to make a list of what you would like to attract into your life.
A great leader also has the ability to make people an inch taller in his presence.
N. R. Narayana Murphy
Throughout this Christmas season I have been given many gifts that did not need to be opened. They came in the presence of family and friends and time to visit with many we have not done so in years. Our time together gifted us with the sharing of great memories and future hopes and dreams. These are truly the gifts that will last throughout the coming year.
The presents we are given will certainly be appreciated but many will not be remembered several years from now. The memories of the family gathering together to celebrate one another’s presence will be remembered. That is why my wife and I put so much energy into preparing the traditional family meal with courses that were served by our ancestors. When our grandkids are served oyster dressing, dirty rice, green beans, and sweet potatoes with marshmallows along with the turkey and ham we will let them know about our ancestors who introduced the traditional foods always served on Christmas Day.
I was blessed growing up with loving grandparents who took delight in spoiling me, not so much with material abundance but by generously giving me their time and presence. They gave me the gift I needed growing up. They listened to me and encouraged me in my outlandish schemes and endeavors, in spite of my many childhood misadventures.
This year I thought about my grandfather and was reminiscing about the one and only actual Christmas present he gave to me. It is the rocker that you see in the picture under our Christmas tree. That rocker was given to me 75 years ago. I cherish it. It rekindles the good memories of my grandfather. He could have become a sad broken man. His wife and baby died in the birth of their 8th child. He was a farmer in the country and had no one to take care of the children. The family was separated, and several were raised by different members of his family. As a child growing up I did not know much about his history. I only knew I loved being with him. He was a very humble, peaceful man. He had an enthusiasm for life. He was very calm and good-natured. I always felt he really listened to me as we sat together while he whittled pieces of wood.
Since he never earned much money, he could not afford to give presents for Christmas. All of the grandchildren would sit on his lap on Christmas Day to receive a hug and get a crisp dollar bill.
In the society we live in today so much focus is on material things. An enormous amount of energy goes into getting the right gift. Unfortunately most people do not remember the gifts they received just last year. I am not saying gifts are meaningless, but traditions and stories create the lifetime of memories.
Christmas Day offers a great opportunity to share “our stories” with family and friends. It is also a good time to give each person the gift of listening and being fully present as each opportunity arises.
Nobody knows what anticipation is anymore. Everything is so immediate.
There is an energy available to all of us during this time of the year. It’s powerful anticipation. Regardless of our spiritual faith practice this energy affects all of us. For the children it is waiting for Christmas morning to open their presents. Gathering family and friends during the holidays has been traditional for both of our biological families. It is a tradition we have carried forth and will hopefully pass on to future generations. Jeanne and I have also incorporated a program for Advent of viewing a short daily video on John’s Gospel as we anticipate the new birth on Christmas Day. I must admit though that a tremendous part of our anticipation during this season evolves around preparation for the Christmas day gathering of our children and grandchildren.
I realize there are many people who are not blessed with family or even close friends in their lives, but the energy is still out there to tap into. We find this time of year also creates in us a desire to have special time with close friends. So we just get our calendar out and make sure it happens.
I had an experience yesterday of how much influence this energy has on people’s lives. It was late last night my neighbor was putting Christmas lights on his house. I told him I wish I had that much energy. I said to him “You never seems to get tired!” He said “No, I am tired, but my wife said we were the last undecorated house on the block.” Apparently, she did not want to miss out on the festive energy in the neighborhood.
Once the day arrives and the presents have been opened there is then the opportunity to use the energy of the new birth in our own lives to create a life of abundance.
There have been many challenges this year that have at times discouraged me to share my true beliefs with others. This has been a year of attending many funerals of family members and friends. It has been a year of medical challenges for my wife and friends. It has been a year of putting aside focusing on my Dream Board postings. Sometimes life just happens but blessings always show up and that’s what this season of anticipation is giving to me.
I am preparing myself for the new year by my daily practices of journaling, reading inspirational material and viewing the daily video on scripture. You may want to take advantage of the powerful energy of anticipation and write down a few things you plan on doing to create a life of abundance. You will be creating presents for yourself that will keep on giving throughout the year.
“It's a good place when all you have is hope and not expectations.”
I have been told in the past “You teach what you need to learn!” I do not see myself as a teacher when I write articles for my blog. I see it more as just sharing my story. I must admit though I am learning from my readers by the comments I receive.
The following insight struck a nerve because I immediately started reflecting on how this has created a block in my positive approach to creating a life of prosperity. Prosperity for me is not only defined by financial success, but also includes the emotional and spiritual aspects of life as well as living each moment to the fullest. The following is a reader’s comment to last week’s posting on Attitude.
“Positive Pops: Attitude is important but please meditate on the word “expectations” because I think I have had to face that in many areas in my life. It can be a positive or negative aspect in your life depending on your attitude that you decide to choose. Therefore expectation comes first and then I decide what to choose. Kind of what comes first the chicken or the egg. So glad you are back.”
I realize I have been blessed with having a great attitude about life. I have trained myself to focus on the positive regardless of how overwhelming the challenges may be. However reflecting on the word “expectations” I realize this is an area in which I definitely need some growth because it can certainly create a block in my living a life of abundance and prosperity. For example, I started writing this blog because my wife could not get me to write in a Grandparent’s book that was given to me when our first grandchild was born 18 years ago. At one point I was also encouraged by my spiritual director to write my story in a blog and that could be my story for my family.
This new initiative in my life, my Positive Pops Blog, created a whirlwind of expectations three years ago. A few friends started to call to tell me they enjoyed my postings. After that a few people I did not know commented on different topics and said it was helpful to them. That now sparked the success drive in me. A strong ego and a natural positive approach to life fueled this drive. I used these natural gifts to attract a much larger audience. So I set a goal that I would have 2,500 weekly visitors. That is when I realized my expectations were out of control because once that happened, I started to focus on having 3,000 readers.
Expectations have always been an issue for me. In my career in sales I developed a Creative Marketing approach to increase sales. Because of the success I was having I expected everyone to use this same approach to marketing. I experienced much disappointment when I would travel to other areas of the country and there was very little interest in this marketing strategy.
I had the same high level of expectations when we were in leadership in the Church. We were so excited about the experience of being a team in Marriage Encounter. When other couples were invited to be a part of this leadership, I could not understand how they could turn it down.
This same high level of expectations often leads to disappointment with family and friends. My awareness is now heightened in my realization that this is definitely an area on which I need to continue to reflect and make positive changes.
You may want to note a few areas in which you have expectations in yourself and others and how that is holding you back from living a life of abundance.
For the past two months I followed my typical routine of writing in my grateful journal and then reading inspirational and spiritual material. This has been my routine for years. The last three years I took this routine a step farther by selecting a word to which I was particularly drawn and expand that thought to create a posting for my blog. Then something strange happened. Week after week went by and nothing surfaced for me to share with others.
I just accepted the fact that my blog had come to an end. I visited with my spiritual director and she said “You share yourself in your blog and that has not come to an end. You are on a mini vacation so just relax and you will know when to start posting on your blog again.“
While I was on this mini vacation, I refused to check my site to get the statistics on how many people were going to my website to read my past postings. This weekend I was pleasantly shocked to learn that 2,400 people a week are still checking into my website.
Encouraged by the words of my spiritual director I am writing once again. The following insight in particular boosted my incentive to activate Positive Pops. “Man creates because of his attitude. Man hinders because of his attitude. The importance of keeping the river running and flowing...when we have a bad attitude, it creates a dam. Everything stops. This is why people cannot get beyond it many times. So, you have a glow in life that others learn from, a good attitude.”
Those words were given to me, but I truly believe they can be beneficial for everyone. Having a good attitude can change everything.
When we eat breakfast out, I usually tip at a higher rate than the minimum expected tip. The service is typically as good as a luncheon meal at half the cost. Last week our waitress obviously did not enjoy the work she was doing. Her attitude and service were terrible. Just a little smile would have gone a long way. Yes, I still tipped her, but I would be very surprised if she remains in the service industry. Her attitude will certainly affect her success.
You may want to select one of the following quotes on attitude and post it to inspire you to take an inventory and see how you’re doing!
A note to all who have been checking into my website for new material: I appreciate your patience and that you did not give up on me. I am excited to be back doing what I love to do…sharing my story that was initially intended only for my grandchildren.