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Entries in Accountability (3)

Thursday
Jun082017

Smart Women and Financial Choices

Known as "America's Family Financial Expert,"® Ellie Kay walks her own financial talk. She knows the power of following clear  financial principles. In this Financial UPGRADE, she suggests wise tips to help women become more money savvy.

Ellie asks, “Would you like to make smarter decisions when it comes to money matters? Think about the woman who ‘considers a field and buys it: with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard’ (Proverbs 31:16). She’s smart!”

I (Dawn) know the Bible has a wealth of wisdom regarding finances* and Ellie has some great tips to encourage the wisdom process too.

Ellie continues . . .

When I was a young bride, I was overwhelmed in learning how to manage a household. I didn’t even know how to cook and I remember asking my mom how to boil an egg.

She said, “Boil it until it floats.” I had no idea she was joking, and I boiled it for an hour until the water evaporated and the eggs exploded. They never floated.

Today, I have young millennial daughters and daughters-in-law who are learning to manage their own homes, and I developed guidelines that can help them a little more proactively than my mom’s advice helped me.

Here are my top ten tips for women to make better financial choices.

1. Avoid Emotional Spending.

Never shop online or in the store when you are depressed, sad or lonely because you are far more likely to engage in “shopping therapy” and overspend.

2. Show Love through Actions and Not Things.

If you have a love language of gift giving, or if you tend to show love to others by what you buy for them, then you may want to shift your point of view and save your budget in the process.

3. Volunteer Often.

Those people who have the best balance in their financial lives understand how fortunate they are by giving back to their communities.

4. Err On The Side of Generosity.

By following the principle of tithing 10% of your income, you invite God’s blessing upon your money matters and live a more abundant financial life.

If you are going to err, don’t let it be on the side of stinginess, but let it be on the side of generosity.

5. Ask Yourself, "Is This a Need or A Want?"

Most of us do not have unlimited financial resources and for every purchase we make, it’s wise to ask ourselves this question BEFORE we buy.

6. Play the Waiting Game.

In order to avoid impulse buying, when you see something on sale in the mall or online, wait 24 hours to purchase it. This helps you get beyond the impulse to see if it’s something you truly need.

7. Have A Money Buddy.

Accountability is a wonderful thing.

Every woman should have a person who can ask the hard questions about sticking to your budget, paying down consumer debt, or funding a retirement. In community, you are far more likely to keep your financial commitments towards good stewardship.

8. Become a Master Saver.

The Millionaire next door rarely pays full price on anything when they can save money. Read money savings blogs, download apps for coupon codes, and be prepared to compare prices on goods and services.

9. Become Comfortable with Negotiation.

Whether you are negotiating the price of a car or the bid on painting your house, you have to feel it’s the best deal for you.

Tell the other person, "I don’t feel comfortable with that price," and then be quiet. I’ve found that nine out of 10 times, I’ll get a counterbid that is something I feel more comfortable with; and if I don’t, then I feel the freedom to walk away.

10. Pray about Money Matters.

Recent PEW Research indicates that 80% of Americans admit to praying weekly or even daily. Even a financial expert like myself needs to pray to be make wise financial decisions, that people won’t be able to take financial advantage of me and that I’ll be able to find the best provision for my budget.

When in doubt, pray.

Which of these steps do you already practice and which ones can you implement today?

Ellie Kay is the best-selling author of fifteen books including Lean Body, Fat Wallet (with Danna Demetre), and Heroes at Home. She is a Toastmaster Accredited Speaker as well as a popular international speaker and media veteran who has given over1,200 media interviews including appearances on ABC, CNBC, CNN and Fox News. As a popular columnist, she writes for six national magazines and has been a Subject Matter Expert for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post. Currently, Ellie provides financial education to military members through her “Heroes at Home Financial Event” sponsored for USAA. Ellie is married to LTC Bob Kay and they have seven children.

* Some Key Scriptures about finances: Matthew 6:24-25, 33; Philippians 4:11-13; Luke 12:15; Psalm 37:21; Mark 8:36; Proverbs 15:27; 22:7; 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19; Philippians 4:19; Malachi 3:10; Acts 20:35; 2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Luxstorm at Pixabay.

Thursday
Feb162017

Are You Really Addiction-free?

Surviving and thriving after numerous trials, Yvonne Ortega speaks words of wisdom to women who hurt and struggle. In this "Choices" UPGRADE, she encourages women to break free from their addictions.

Yvonne asks, “When you think about addiction, do you imagine a drunk person, who slurs his words, stumbles, and smells of alcohol? Perhaps you visualize a drug addict in a questionable neighborhood selling family possessions to buy illegal drugs."

Because I (Dawn) have faced few "addictions" of my own—like obsession with food—I know addictions can overwhelm anyone. But I also know from experience: we can break free!

There truly is hope!

Yvonne continues . . .

You may think that if you don’t drink or smoke, you are addiction-free.

  • However, you may be addicted to food, such as sugar.

Can you make a meal out of candy, cookies or cake? Do you stop at the store, buy a half-gallon of ice cream, and eat it in one sitting? You may be obese. You eat when you worry, get bored, or can’t cope with grief or some other pain. Rather than talk with a trusted friend, mentor, or counselor, you eat.

Philippians 3:19 addresses this problem and says, “Their god is their stomach” (NIV).

  • Perhaps you go shopping to cope.

Your father verbally, physically or sexually abused you as a child. You held in the anger and pain of that abuse, but turned to shopping to cope. Now if someone hurts you, you go shopping.

Until you face that pain, you will stay addicted to shopping. 

  • Maybe you’re a slave to perfectionism.

If you invite guests to your home, your house will be in perfect order inside and out. You’ll probably clean the windows too. You’ll serve a homemade meal and wear the perfect outfit and have every hair in place.

Your addiction to perfectionism won’t allow you to relax, enjoy your guests, or life for that matter.

  • If you choose unhealthy relationships, you might date an alcoholic, a batterer, or a gambler.

As one woman said, “My boyfriend doesn’t have a job, but he has a motorcycle. He’s exciting.” As she talked about the different men she dated, she said, “My parents never liked any of them, but they were fun—even the one who ruined my credit.”

She was addicted to unhealthy men and wanted to help them. She needed help to improve her self-confidence.

How can you BREAK FREE from addiction?

1. Admit that you use an escape mechanism to avoid reality.

James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

It’s not enough to admit the addiction to yourself.

Do so to a pastor, a Christian counselor, or to a Christian recovery group. Confession and prayer will help you. 

2. Establish accountability.

The devil wants you crippled with guilt, shame, and secrecy.

Psalm 34:5 says, “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame” (NIV).

When you meet weekly with your pastor or counselor, you set up accountability. This is comparable to a sponsor in a 12-step group. 

3. Know who you are in Christ.

Find Bible verses about your identity in Christ, such as Ephesians 2:10 (NIV):

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Each day repeat those verses often.

Once you believe with your heart and soul who you are, the relief from addiction won’t entice you.

What will you do this week to break free from addiction?

Yvonne Ortega is a licensed professional counselor, a bilingual professional speaker, and the author of Moving from Broken to Beautiful® through Forgiveness, Moving from Broken to Beautiful: 9 Life Lessons to Help You Move Forward (both in paperback, Kindle) and Finding Hope for Your Journey through Breast Cancer (Kindle), all available at amazon.com/books. She not only survived but thrived after a domestic violence marriage, breast cancer, and the loss of her only child. With honesty and humor, Yvonne uses personal examples and truths of the Bible to help women move from broken to beautiful. Learn more about Yvonne at her website.

Graphic adapted, courtesty of TeeTasse, Pixabay.

Thursday
Mar312016

Go for Breadth ... and Depth (Part 2)

In my previous UPGRADE post, I (Dawn) encouraging people to remember both breadth and depth in life, and we focused on Breadth.

Once we get the Big Picture--a broader perspective and biblical priorities, we're ready to tackle the details.

CONCEPT #2:

GO for DEPTH!

What does focusing on details include?

1. Appropriate Strategies

  • We need to block off some time alone with God in order to think clearly with Him and clarify where we're heading. Spiritual roadmaps help us arrive where we plan to go.
  • Envision the goal. For the Christian, a worthy, biblical goal is to become like Jesus (Romans 8:29; 1 John 2:6). So, what is He like? What would He choose? How would He operate? (1 Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 2:10)
  • We might want to prepare ahead of time so we're not tempted or distracted by things that disrail us from our goals. Simply eliminating some options (Romans 13:14) can make the path to success clearer.
  • Identify some actionable steps to take right away. Brainstorming with others will help generate creative ideas to move forward. Spiritual success comes step by step, choice by choice.

2. Accountability Stimulation

We have to find what motivates us to stay on target.

  • It might be as simple as a weekly check-in or a chart to fill in.
  • Or it might be a progress report or an evaluation conducted by someone in charge.
  • For others, it's a promised reward!

3. Advocating Supporter

  • We can all use a trustworthy "buddy" to bounce our ideas back and forth — hopefully a wise one who can help us recognize foolish thinking.
  • We all need people who will encourage us, advise us, even fight for our success (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 10:24).
  • In other words, we need some positive "cheerleaders" in our life.

For example, in the case of my dietary program:

  • I have a number of strategies—some supplied by the nutritionist and some created on my own—to help me "stick with the program." I cleaned all the tempting food out of my cabinets and refrigerator and made choosing wisely a simple process.
  • For accountability, I have regular meetings with my nutritionist and a worksheet sheet I've filled in that shows the foods I've eaten and the exercise I've done during the week.
  • My nutritionist is a wonderful supporter of my efforts, and I have several encouraging "cheerleaders" in my family as well.

It's a process that will work for any Big Picture goals, whether it's tackling a bad habit or pushing toward a personal dream or ministry project.

The process is:

Strategize well - Stay accountable - Seek support!

As a Christ-follower, my best strategies come from God's Word and I am ultimately accountable to Him (Romans 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10). Even if no one on earth understands my struggle and comes alongside to cheer me on, I know the Lord is with me, desires my spiritual success and blesses me as I honor Him.

Sometimes we'll see results in the here and now. But when we don't see immediate results or those we seek, we must go back to the Big Picture where we know there will be lasting victories, fruitfulness and reward.

I struggle with a "besetting sin," as do all of us. Although I get small victories here and there and I see clear evidence that the Lord is changing my heart and behavior, I still mess up. I'm still human. I'm still a sinner.

But someday the final victory will come. God's Word tells me so! (1 Corinthians 15:57; Philippians 3:21a)

God the Father is making me like His Son. Having rescued me from sin's power, He is enabling me now to choose not to practice sin, and someday I will be completely transformed and free from even the presence of sin.

So if you are struggling today with your own "I still mess up" problem, consider these two questions:

Do you have the big picture clearly in mind? How can you tweak your strategies, design accountability that will motivate you, or find more support?

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is the creator of three blogs: Heart Choices Today, LOL with God (with Pam Farrel), and Upgrade with Dawn. She is on the board of Network of Evangelical Women in Ministry (NEWIM) and is a contracted researcher for Revive Our Hearts. She and her husband Bob have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.