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And UPGRADE'S Founder

   Dawn Wilson


Entries in Generosity (3)


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.


Upgrade Your Generosity

I think Holly Hanson is an expert when it comes to saving money, but she's also an expert giver in many ways that count. In this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, she encourages us to upgrade our generosity.

“When you are faced with a charity request, it’s easy to get overwhelmed," Holly says, "but I’ve discovered you can give generously by using your brain and not necessarily your own wallet.”

Were you holding your breath like I (Dawn) was when you first saw the title of this post? I sometimes think, "I wish I had more money to give." I don't think I have much to give. But Holly inspired me. Maybe we need to rethink generosity.

Holly continues . . .

If you are like me, you’ve probably been hit up a lot lately for charitable gifts. It seems there is always a need coming to the forefront.

  • Maybe there’s a family that walks to school in clothes that are in bad shape.
  • Maybe there’s that homeless shelter down the street with a lot of hurting people.
  • Maybe there’s an obvious need you see that someone is too embarrassed to mention.

Should you feel compelled to do anything?

I think the Bible has a very clear answer.

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it" (Proverbs 3:27, NASB).

That verse hit me in the gut the first time I read it.

I felt overwhelmed. I certainly couldn’t afford to help EVERY person who had a need.

But then I realized, I’m a money-saver by nature. I didn’t have to pay for it all! It was in my power to help!

I just had to use the gifts God gave me, tap the resources I have access to, and be obedient.

Using a pool of options, I am now able to find solutions for many of the needs I see, without spending a fortune.

1. Inspire others with your vision.

This is my favorite method. When I start to dream big, I tell my friends what I am thinking, and let them join in. By expanding my web of influence, I can sometimes get major donations for my projects, just by dropping a name or two. Sometimes friends will use their own resources to contribute to my project.

I work as a Realtor and recently, I helped sell a divorcing neighbor’s home. He was frustrated about the divorce and didn’t want to move all of his things out, but was willing to give them to my homeless project just because he was inspired by my “pitch.” When I sent him a picture of all of his things being worn and used by the homeless, he said it was the best thing that came out of his divorce.

Incidentally, it also prompted him to ask me why I do things like that, and I was able to tell him about my love for Jesus and the call he has placed on my life.

2. Join as many free sites as you can.

I belong to a “buy nothing” Facebook page that only offers free things to give and take between members. When I see something that would benefit a friend, a young mom, or help the homeless folks I serve, I request it.

I also belong to a local “classifieds” page on Facebook that also frequently advertises free items for pickup.

3. Utilize your consumer connections.

To help my daughter make homeless hygiene packs:

  • We asked her orthodontist and dentist to donate toothbrushes and toothpaste;
  • We hit up some local hotels for travel sized shampoo, conditioner and wet-wipe amenities;
  • We redeemed coupons for free lotions and body wash; and
  • We asked friends to check their cupboards for washcloths, soap, razors, and lip balms.

The kits cost very little this way, but serve a great need.

4. Keep your spending focused.

Are you considering giving a gift to a missionary?

Do you want to thank your pastor’s wife for something?

Are you in need of a professional service?

Upgrade your generosity by allowing those in your church, faith community or circle of friends to be the vendors for your purchase.

By buying from them instead of an outside company, you bless their businesses and help them pay their bills. When they have more money, they can afford to be more generous as well, and the circle gets bigger.  

Smart spending is a super-strategic way to build God’s kingdom!

What specific need can you fill this week, and who can you ask to help you?

Holly Hanson is a veteran Emmy Award-winning journalist who finds her calling in her family motto: “Love God, Serve Others.” Holly has written and produced internationally for Women of Faith, Turning Point Ministries, and locally with KFMB-TV, KFMB-AM and KPBS Radio. She is the founder of the Moms Inc. Ministry and is a licensed California Realtor. She is married and is a mom, step-mom, and step-grandma. Holly is active at Shadow Mountain Community Church, in El Cajon, California, serving with women's ministry, children's ministry, and singing in the Shadow Mountain Choir.


Smart Ways to Be Generous

Ellie Kay, America's Family Financial Expert®, is both wise when it comes to finances and compassionate when it comes to generosity. She is the perfect person to share this special Christmas UPGRADE!

"Christmas is the season for giving to others in our family, community, country and world," Ellie says. "What are ways you give to others during the holidays?"

I (Dawn) like the emphasis on giving that stretches us out of our comfort zones and into the compassionate zone, so Ellie's post really speaks to me.

She continues . . .

In the timeless children’s book by Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree, the story begins, Once there was a tree ... and she loved a little boy."

In this story, the boy would daily come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk ... and the tree was happy.

But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree kept giving and giving—until she gave her apples, her branches and her trunk in order to provide the boy with wealth, a home and a boat.

But in the end the tree was happy to give.

Jesus said, “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward” (Matthew 9:41).

I believe that every person can become a generous and savvy giver by looking for ways to reach out to their world and give more.

I also think this is something we can teach our kids and grandkids, too.

1. Donations to the Local Community    

You may be someone who is plugged into a local church that runs kids programs in the summers, provides food and clothing to orphanages, and sends money to victims of natural disasters.

Just as The Giving Tree happily contributed her apples to others, you could give a chance for people in your community to have employment opportunities.

For example, you may want to donate your outdated suits to DressForSuccess so that women who are struggling financially can have proper clothing to get a job interview.

Or, consider giving clothing to a consignment shop that benefits an organization you believe in helping.

Be sure to save tax receipts for all donations to any non-profit organization.

2. Don’t Fund Overhead or Fund Raising

The Giving Tree gave directly to meet the boy’s needs. You may want to do the same and probably do not want your donated dollars funding fat salaries, fancy overhead, or excessive fundraising expenses.

The Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance offers guidance to donors on making informed giving decisions through their charity evaluations, and the quarterly “Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide.”

3. Starting Your Own “Foundation”

If you are fortunate enough to have a large gain from a stock or mutual fund that you have held for over a year, consider using it to become what is essentially your own “foundation.” 

For example, if you own $5,000 worth of stock that you bought years ago for only $1,000, then you can donate the stock by setting up a Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund account. By doing this, you get an immediate $5,000 tax deduction and save having to pay taxes on the $4,000 gain.

In the years to come, as that $5,000 grows, you instruct the company that manages your “foundation” where to donate the proceeds.

Our family worked with military members for 20 years and established a Public Charity to help teach service members financial literacy. In 2016, we gave 15 presentations on ten bases across the country, giving away 3000 financial books and other resources. Heroes at Home 501(c)(3) started as an idea and became an amazing reality. In 2017, we will scale 25 events at 17 bases around the world.

4. Kid Philanthropists

It’s also important to teach our kids the value of philanthropy.

When our kids were growing up, they helped us gather and deliver food items for a local food pantry. They helped purchase modest toys and they dropped the gifts into the box at the “Toys for Tots” program.

Another option is to allow your children to manage a donation in a predetermined amount that you set aside for the purpose of teaching them to give. They get to research a variety of non-profit organizations and decide which one will receive their donation. Then donate the amount in your child’s name.

You get the tax benefit, your child gets the thank you note—you BOTH become Giving Trees.

Ten Priceless Gifts You Can Give for Free!

  • Fix broken fences by mending a quarrel.
  • Seek out friend you haven’t seen in a while or who has been forgotten.
  • Hug someone and whisper, “I love you so.”
  • Be patient with an angry person.
  • Express gratitude to someone in your world.
  • Make a child smile.
  • Find the time to keep a promise.
  • Make or bake something for someone else—anonymously.
  • Take a walk with a friend.
  • Smile.  Laugh a little.  Laugh a lot.

How will you give during this holiday season?

Ellie Kay is the best-selling author of fifteen books including Lean Body, Fat Wallet, 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.