Saturday, March 31, 2012

Raising funds for the public good

I can't tax you.  There are people out there who can.  Because they have the power to do so, they often do.  Yet, I think there are other ways to raise money for what we would consider public needs.  Schools are a prime example and the one I will speak to here.  We have a local technical college that is looking to build some buildings and expand their services.  They want to raise the funds through property taxes.  It is up for a vote.  Instead of thinking creatively, they are going default.  Instead of asking the public if they would voluntarily chip in, they want to take money from property owners.  Why not instead, ask for donations from wealthy individuals and prominent companies?  If people won't give voluntarily, maybe it isn't a good project in the first place.  Why not sell naming rights to the buildings they plan on building?  Why not take it slow and pay for the project with cash after the money has been raised in due time?  Why not ask local contractors to donate their building skills and time to the project and raise money for the materials?  To me, raising taxes is the last thing the government should do.  It is also the most lazy thing they can do no matter how good the cause maybe.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Amazon MP3 Downloads

Most of the MP3 files I have were ripped from CDs that I own but now that I don't buy CDs anymore,  I go out to the internet for songs.  The music service I use is Amazon MP3 Downloads.  Google Music and iTunes are also places that I have used.  Amazon has a very good music selection and reasonable costs per song.  Their price points are $1.29, 99¢, 89¢, and 69¢.  Occasionally they will give away a $2 credit.  So be on the alert for those as you can get two songs for free.  News of what is happening in the Amazon MP3 Downloads store can be followed at Twitter and Facebook.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Love Languages

This morning, I have finished reading "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman.  Pick up this book and read it.  This is not a complicated or lengthly read.  Anyone could get through this one in short order. I especially recommend it for those who are married.

The five ways to express or receive love according to Mr. Chapman are Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Receiving Gifts, Physical Touch and Acts of Service.  I think my way of expressing and receiving love is through some combination of Quality Time and Acts of Service.  However, I think we would all be better off if we recognize the five ways in which a person can express love.  Complaining that your spouse doesn't love you because they don't sit on the couch with you every night gazing deep into your eyes.  Look at what your spouse doing.  Maybe he or she is serving you by cleaning dishes, vacuuming, and balancing the check book.  Maybe he or she is working long hours in order to have the money to purchase a meaningful gift.  Those too are expressions of love.  People have to become more aware of the ways people express love and assume the best.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Business cards

At the urging of a career coach, I bought business cards.  The company I used was Vistaprint.  They have a lot of designs and options for a customized card.  I choose green ink on a white back ground.  My name is bolded in the center and my contact information is listed.  My tagline is "Success and Solutions".  On the back I again have my name bolded and a short blessing.  The total cost was under $22 including shipping.  There are 250 cards to a box.  They arrived in less than 10 days.  I have liked having a card to give to people as I introduce myself.  It seems very natural to hand them out.  It is a thoughtful gesture and a way for someone to see your name in case they did not quite hear it.  I would recommend getting business cards for networking.  Be proactive and get yours ordered now.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Routine

Most people sneer at the word routine.  I actually enjoy routine probably to a larger extent than most people.  Routine means predictability and security.  It also means efficiency and a normalcy.  Change just to change with no real progress is a downer to me.  Being forced to change without any upside for me is a way that my energy is sapped and I start feeling behind and unconnected.  There are certain things that I like and would prefer to do them again and again as long as I can.  Not because I can't change or learn something new but because they work and they are good habits.  I prefer to sow over a long time knowing that there will be a harvest down the road.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Quality time

My emotional love tank is filled by spending quality time with my spouse.  I also give love by just being with people.  It is not very complicated.  Time equals love.  This love language runs up against the desire to succeed and being able to afford the lifestyle that I want to live.  Material things become empty to me quite quickly when there isn't someone there to enjoy them with.  I will not work long hours week in and week out to buy gifts because that is not my love language.  So the dilema is how do I work just enough to live at the level I want to live at and still have time for my spouse?  To give love by my presence and to feel love by spending time with her?  I wish I knew.  I think it can be done.  I just need to find the right formula.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Why such devotion?

Why such devotion?  Let me try to explain.  If a bullet was fired at you and a stranger stepped in front of you and took the bullet and died but you lived, would you feel some allegiance to the person who did that?  Would you want to know all about him or her?  Would you speak of your savior often?  If a person pushed you out of the way of a car heading straight for you but in the process got hit and died, would you not have gratitude in your heart toward that person?  In the same way, the Son of God, Jesus Christ died for me.  I did not know Him at the time but He knew me and looked down through time and saw me and did something for me that I could not do for myself.  He lived a perfect life not deserving of any punishment but He died because He knew I would otherwise need to be eternally punished.  Jesus did die but He rose from the dead after three days in the grave to show that He could not be mastered by even death.  His action of taking a fatal blow that was meant for me is the reason I have a devotion and dedication to Him.  I am most grateful for His death because it makes a way for me to live eternally.  I love Jesus and maybe you can now see why.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Define winning


It has been said to begin with the end in mind.  How do you define winning?  I am a short-distance runner.  When I participate in a 5k, I define winning as finishing the race without stopping or walking.

There are five priorities in my life that I would like to define winning for.

1.  God - I would like to have a growing, loving relationship with my Creator.  Increasing in humility, awareness, and mercy.
2.  Family - I would like to spend quality time with my family.  Experiencing life together, relating, and doing various activities.  Focusing on their needs, I will serve them and help them reach their goals.
3.  Physical - I would like to have excellent health, be fully functional, at minimal pain levels.
4.  Finances - I would be a responsible overseer of resources.  My goal is to increase my holdings to a million plus so that I can give, do, and go as I decide too.
5.  Career - I want to work where I am using my strengths 85% of the time, where I am delighted with my contributions, making a significant impact.  Ownership, flexibility, and profitability would all be key components.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Motion

Recently, we had a new network added to our over-the-air television stations.  It is Live Well Network.  The only program with any value so far has been the half hour program "Motion".  It airs on Sunday nights at 6 o'clock and then also at 6:30 PM.  The host is Greg Aiello.  He is seen in far off parks, coasts, and mountains, hiking through and providing a narrative as well as tips and how-to's.  I recommend "Motion" for the inspiration, the natural grandeur, and for the practical outdoor survival guiding.  Tune it in.  You will be pleasantly surprised I think.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spend money to save money - part 12

Preventative maintenance is a way to spend money to save money in the long run.  Getting in to see the dentist for a cleaning and a exam is a way to treat things when they are small and inexpensive so that you can avoid big pain and a large expense later on.  Having your furnace inspected once a year can be a cheep way to keep it running and working longer.  Taking your automobile into the mechanic so that he can spot possible problems is a way to keep you safe, on the road, and prevent future expensive payouts.  Try to anticipate areas of wear and tear and do what you can to keep them working longer.  With a little planning you can head off unexpected, large expenses.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sports

Sports are on my radar and a part of my awareness but they are on the very edge.  Over time, the only team I have been able to keep any allegiance to is the Green Bay Packers.  I don't know if it is a long-term habit, the uniform colors, or the history but I can always get into a Packer football game.  College teams do not appeal to me in any sport.  Basketball at the national level has a slight appeal but not the Bucks.  The Brewers I enjoy somewhat but I can only get them on the radio around here and I will unlikely be a strong fan if they are never played on the television.  Some one asked me once if we were to agree to see who could reach the other end of the room first, would I care to compete.  He was in essence saying that he would compete under any circumstances.  His idea for a race did nothing for me.  I just would not care about something so trivial.  Way back in my schooling days, I was pretty much done by the time high school rolled around.  Putting on a uniform was not something I had a liking for.  I can't bare to give up my individuality and I don't like to perform in front of others.  The contracts signed by these players or their lifestyles are not something I can easily relate too.  Sports are okay and I appreciate the athleticism, hard work, and drive to win.  However, our nation is over saturated with sports and I think we could give this area of life a rest.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Housing

There are many housing options to explore.  Apartments, condominiums, home ownership.  Where we choose to live is no doubt important.  Our residence often comes with how we are portrayed to our friends and family.  People quickly make assumptions about our education and income level due to where we live.  Our home is useful because it gives us a place to store our stuff, to shower, to eat meals, and to rest.    Yet our housing needs end up costing us a great deal.  Often times our total housing costs are 25% to 40% of our take home pay.  In order to build wealth, it is important to get this area of your budget under control.  If you are renting, the aim should be to get the monthly amount down to the least amount.  This can be done by moving to someplace cheaper, having roommates, or working in exchange for housing.  If you are buying a house or a condominium, I recommend the 100% down payment.  This can be done!  There are houses available today for $35,000 that have access to many services and businesses.  If two people are working, they can save that sort of money if that is what they want to do.  If you have to take a mortgage, I recommend a 15 year loan with a fix rate.  I do not recommend the 30 year because the objective is to be an owner, not a life long slave.  Thirty years is a long time and it creates the mind set that you will always have someone to pay.  Once you have your housing under control, it is time to build wealth.  Save, save, save.  But make no mistake about it, getting your housing under control and in line, is very important for you to in order to build wealth.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Read

Reading is an important exercise for me.  I read devotionals and the Bible in the morning.  Later, when I get onto my computer, I will read blog posts.  In the afternoon and evening, I enjoy reading a book.

Some of my favorite quotes on reading are as follows.  “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them” from Mark Twain and “Leaders are readers” from Charles Jones.

Reading is a good way to relax and feed the brain.  It is very comforting to me.  I feel like I am doing something good and good for me when I stretch out on the couch and open a book.

I usually will have more than one book going at once.  Sometimes even three.  There are also a few magazines lying around that yield a good article or two.  My books lately have been coming from the library.  They are free and returnable.  I am not trying to collect books as I once was as I am not one to re-read or re-open a book once it has been completed.  I also like to live lightly.  At some point, I will again move and I don't like moving books as they can be as heavy as bricks.

Read in the morning, the afternoon, and the evening.  It is a great habit and a way to learn something.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Train your dog

This post is meant for dog owners.  All dogs need to go outside of the house to relieve themselves.  It is important that you as the owner make sure that the results are out of sight, mind, and smell.  When I go jogging around the pond, I notice that dogs and their owners have proceeded me on the same path.  As a result I have to be careful where I place my feet.  There are piles on the immediate side of the road and even in the middle of the road.  This is not the place for your animals droppings.  It is unsightly and it is disgusting.  Here is an idea and the one that we use in my house.  Very early on, we would take our young pup outside on a leach with a chock collar.  When we went outside we would  quickly walk her over to parts of our property that were not mown, that is, where the grass was tall.  Our command was and is "go potty".  She now associates the long grass and the command with going.  Now, even when we walk in the park or around the bock, she seeks out the tall grass to do her business.  You may say that you don't have any tall grass.  Well, let part of your lawn go tall and make it clear that from now on this is where your dog needs to head when he or she goes outside.  This is really simple, it works, and it makes for a more sanitary community.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Ideal Job IV

In the spring, I get excited about new growth and new plantings.  I love finding just the right tree for just the right place.  Often when I am driving through the countryside or through towns, I will see where something needs to be trimmed or where something needs to be planted.  It would give me a thrill to help people make their land more useful and more attractive by planting trees and such.  Sometimes I think I could do this sort of thing as a full-time job because it will create such a passion in me.  I like using natural resources to better human life.  Working with nature would be like working with God, hand in hand.  I like that idea of working with my Creator so closely and having His pleasure.  There might be an ideal job here.  Any thoughts?  Please leave comments below.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ideal Job III

Personal finances has been a long-term interest of mine.  I am drawn to speakers on this topic.  People like Larry Burkett and Dave Ramsey are people I will listen to and take advise from.  Their books are ones that I will buy and read.  I am conservative with my money and I will even be bold enough to say that I am pretty good at handling finances.  I like this overlap of the practical with matters of faith.  There is a nice combination there.  Working on finances is very clean and it is often about getting things in the right order and then making some adjustments to make things better.  I would like to find a position where I take a financial mess in peoples lives and give them some order.  I could see myself as a financial counselor where I advise, set up budgets, and periodically review progress.  It would be objective enough that it would not be emotionally draining.  I think I could be true to myself in this sort of role.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Ideal Job II

This last week there were some terrible tornados in the mid-west.  Whole towns were destroyed.  People have lost loved ones.  Houses are completely gone.  I would like to serve as a person who comes in to clean up the mess and to counsel.  I would love to have a pick-up and a camper and be ready to go at a moments notice to far flung parts of the USA.  I could see arriving the day after the storm, finding a place to park the camper, coordinate with other volunteers, and go talk to people.  I would ask them if medical attention was necessary, if they had contacted their insurance agent, and if they needed my help with removing debris.  After a week or a month in one place, I would head out to the next mis-fortune.  I would love to have the freedom to just go.  I have always liked living lightly and having just what I need.  I think it would be a great job.  It would probably get crazy in spring and then quiet down in winter.  How to make this financially possible, I don't know.  Perhaps you have some ideas.  Please leave comments below.  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ideal Job I

An ideal job for me is as follows.  I would love to buy up foreclosed, abandoned, and dilapidated properties, take them down, and make the plot into a green space.  I have such an urge to better, beautify, and improve things.  I also like to be a responsible manager of resources.  This idea continues to come to mind repeatedly as it did once again Saturday.  I was watching the movie "Green Fire" which was about Aldo Leopold.  He bought up a large track of land in Wisconsin that had been irresponsibly used and, in time, turned it into a very natural, balanced location.  That inspires me.  I would like to do the very same thing.  Except I would like to take a house or an urban setting and raze the place and make it into a natural setting.  I would plant appropriate trees and shrubs and then walk away, letting it go natural.  It is a weird dream but believe me when I say it is in my head often and it is within me with some real energy.  How I could do this and profit, I have yet to figure that out.  Maybe you can help.  Leave comments below.

Monday, March 5, 2012

March morning jog

This morning I bundled up and went for a jog.  I put on a hat, long underwear, exercise pants, socks, running shoes, t-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, and fleece top.  It was about ten degrees and sunny.  The roads were dry and clear.  Traffic was light.  The trees were sprinkled with snow and the sky was blue.  It was a classic view to behold.  I stretched to warm up and then walked a little ways down the street.  I jogged from the end of the road, down to the pond, went around the pond, and came back to the street end before I slowed to a walk again.  My head had a slight pound to it but it never really became an ache.  This is the third time this year I have gone out for a run.  I hope to run on Mondays and Fridays for about a mile and a half.  My goal this year is to run in four 5k's.  There is one coming up March 30th which I think I will enter.  Before then, I need to run at least one time for 3.1 miles just to get myself into condition.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Constantly re-evaluating

During this time of career research, I have to constantly re-evaluate what I am doing.  I have to ask myself what is my highest priority.  What is giving me the best return on my time?  I also have to ask myself what is the activity that is the least helpful, the least likely to give me any sort of positive return.  I have dropped a few things.  At one point, those activities seemed like roads that were taking me to great places.  Yet, I choose to get off of them because they were draining me, I was not making a connection, or I was being controlled and not in control.  I think we all need to ask ourselves what is my highest priority?  What am I involved in that I could just as well cut from my schedule?  Am I busy just to be busy or am I accomplishing something here?  Is this activity something I am called to do?  Does it fit who I am and what I am planning on doing?  I sincerely believe that we all could cut some things from our schedule and be better off because of it.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Spend money to save money - part 11

Keep your eye out for gift cards that have a larger face value than what they are sold for.  For instance, you may only have to pay $15 to get a $20 gift card.  There are places  offering discounted iTunes, retail, and restaurant gift cards.  Usually this is a way to draw new customers but it can also be a way to generate general excitement.  If you are planning to frequent that establishment anyway, trying to find a discounted gift card can be a way to spend money to save money.