Proverbs 22:3 A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.

In today's world it seems that danger is always close. Financial woes are only one accident away. It makes sense to put aside money for those unexpected and inevitable events. Let's dive into ways that will allow you to put aside as much as God's money as possible.

If you are determined to live a frugal lifestyle it is essential that you learn the art of purchasing items at the lowest possible prices. Doing so allows you to keep a higher percentage of your paycheck; therefore, allowing more for paying off debt, saving, and investing.

How do you accomplish frugal spending?

First, pawn shops.  These stores are very underrated.  My wife and I frequently shop at a pawn shop next to our apartment. Since we both love buying movies we were thrilled that this shop sells DVDs & Blue-rays for less than $5. We can buy three movies for the price of one brand new movie at popular store chains. The movies haven’t been shortened, altered, or otherwise made any less great just because they are priced lower than their brand-new counterparts. Also, we love knowing we are getting the most bang for our hard-earned bucks.

Second, thrift stores. Along with pawn shops, these stores are a great resource for clothing, furniture, electronics, and power tools. There is a thrift store in my neighborhood where I can buy a jacket, tie, slacks, and dress shirt for less than $5. Yes, all those items for less than $5! You may be thinking these items are off brand, unimpressive rags that I would not wear in public. You would be wrong. I’m talking about brands like Perry Ellis, Liz Claiborne, and many others. Of course, off brands are also available. However, if you are dedicated to living frugally, the brand’s name should not matter at all.

Thrift: noun \’thrift\ prudent use of money and goods: the sensible and cautious management of money and good in order to waste as little as possible and obtain maximum value.

Imagine that you have $50 set aside for clothes. You can go to a famous chain store and purchase one, maybe two outfits. Conversely, you can go to a thrift store and spend $10 for similar items. That is the art of Frugal Shopping! And of course you cannot get any more frugal than free. I like to browse the free section of Craigslist every now and then. Over the years I have acquired things like glass shelves, vases, a mattress, indoor plants, clothes, shoes, couches, a TV, and many more. It would be difficult to add up the monetary savings I have achieved over the years. Also, the barter section of Craigslist is very helpful. Why not exchange something you are willing to get rid of for something you want or need? Bartering allows you to acquire items without taking away from your bank account.

If you want to keep more of your paycheck and become a frugal shopper, the first step is to search for thrift stores and pawn shops in your area; and pay them a visit.  Happy, frugal shopping!
 
 
After selling a lot of my possessions and reducing my expenses, I suddenly felt stuck. What else could I do in order to keep increasing my meager savings and get ahead financially? Then it hit me; I could use my talents. I had always been told I should be a teacher, so I decided to teach what I knew – martial arts and hip hop dance. I put a low-cost ad in the paper and before long, my phone was ringing, with future students on the other end on the line. While this didn’t bring home a ton of money, it was enough that I started paying off some of the debt caused by the identity thief. I got a secured Visa in order to start rebuilding my credit and I started a savings account with around $300…and at that point, $300 was a lot of money in my world! I finally felt like things were looking up.

One very important event helped me tremendously.  A friend told me about a monthly plan that would allow me access to attorneys who could advise me on my situation.  Only five minutes into the DVD presentation I hit pause, got online, and signed up.  As mentioned in part one of this blog, I was arrested multiple times for crimes I never committed, each time paying bail to be released.  The law firm was able to refund my bail on four of the six occasions.  I then repaid family and friends from whom the bail money had come. The attorneys also spoke to the IRS on my behalf and proved that I didn’t owe the taxes they were seeking. I was very impressed with everything the attorneys did for me. That fact led to my next frugal decision…network marketing. I asked my friend how to make money with the company. She explained, I signed up, and within three months I earned three promotions and three raises. Enter massive sigh of relief and a sense of accomplishment.

I continued shopping at thrift stores and clearance racks while marketing the legal plan. I still bought the lowest-priced fuel and went to free – or almost free – events with my son.  I only used my secured Visa after sending a payment in the amount I planned to spend and I saved as much as possible.  I still ran into setbacks but I pushed forward.  Eventually I reached an income level that allowed me to get an apartment and purchase a used vehicle, 100% cash. I’d like to say that was the end of the story but it was not. However, I had reached a point where I could relax and felt zero financial anxiety. There would be many more years of suffering the consequences of the thief’s actions. But through it all, Living Frugally played an important role in helping me bounce back and rise above!

Thinking back to this traumatic event, throughout which I spent less than I made, reminds me of Proverbs 21: 20--- The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.


PS: When I started this ministry I intended to never mention where a person could get the legal plan I mentioned in this blog. I made this decision because it seemed very self-serving because I am now an associate of the company, selling the legal plan products. However, i know it helped me out of a serious financial bind. And, isn't what this blog site and my ministry are a ll about? So, here is a link to my site. Look around, check out the videos and write to me if you have questions. let God- not me- be your guide when it comes to deciding if the membership is right for you and your loved ones.

www.ebright.legalshield.com

 
 
I remember the day it happened with amazing clarity.  As the morning sun heated my face, I stared unbelieving at the bank statement that indicated a balance of -$1,540.  What? There’s no way my account is negative!  I have $15,000 in there! What happened?  Someone had stolen my identity!  While pretending to be me, this individual had written hot checks and committed other crimes in my name.  He had substituted his picture for mine on my driver’s license. The IRS came after me for unpaid taxes as he had taken two jobs in my name. My business failed, I was evicted from my home, my car was repossessed, I was arrested multiple times, and it became difficult to find consistent employment. How did I recover from this tragedy and pull myself back above the poverty line?  By relying on God's Word, trusting him to recover my identity and frugal living.

First, I sold all the unnecessary stuff: music CDs, books, jewelry, DVDs, a PlayStation console, etc. If I didn’t need it, it was sold, period!  The money I made from selling merchandise was set aside for fuel since I would need a car for job interviews.

Second, I cancelled any non-essential subscriptions like satellite TV, magazines, Netflix, internet, etc. It would take a while to find work and having added expenses would negatively impact any income.

Third, I combed the local papers and labor halls for odd jobs. As the Bible says in 2 Thessalonians 3: 10, "...Those unwilling to work will not get to eat".  I took any job I could find and put aside as much as I could. Two of my main concerns were food and fuel costs for anyone who would give me a ride to where I needed to go…and of course I searched for the lowest priced fuel.  I also made a commitment to walk to any job interview that was less than two miles away in order to cut back on the fuel expense.

One of the hardest things for me to deal with during this time was suddenly not having money for certain activities with my young son.  Like all good fathers, I wanted my son’s respect and my financial situation made me feel as if I was losing it. Fortunately, my frugal mindset taught me to find free or low-cost events, close to home, for us to attend together.

During this time I learned to exchange my talents and services for goods I needed…the art of bartering.  If a parent couldn’t pay cash, I taught private martial arts lessons to their child in exchange for dinner for me and my son.  This meant the meager groceries I’d already bought would last a bit longer than originally planned.

While going through all this I insisted on saving as much as I could. I literally had numerous hiding places for my cash: jars, a hole in the back yard (no I’m not kidding), and an actual piggy bank.  For a long time I struggled, got a few steps ahead, got pushed back a few steps, and repeated the process over and over.

In the midst of all the setbacks, drama, and inconveniences I noticed something…my savings was building!  I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and told myself, “This living frugally really does work. Keep it up.”

How long did it take me to fully recover, to get back on my feet?  Stay tuned and we’ll continue the conversation.

 
 
So, you’ve reduced your spending, created assets and learned to manage debt while educating yourself about money….wonderful! What’s next on the road to financial freedom? The answer is more of a mindset than an actual action to take, however, it is ultimately integral to your financial goals.

IGNORE THE HYPE

What do I mean by that?

Easy, ignore commercials, the next “must have” item, the easy payments and the advice of using “other people’s money”. It’s ALL hype. It’s designed to make you feel that you MUST buy into their sales pitch. But, guess what…..you don’t need the item, the sale, the update or the newest version. You need food, clothing, shelter and most importantly, God. Everything else is not neccessary.

This is the mindset associated with Matthew 6:20 & 21 which says, “Store your treasures in Heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and theives do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

You know the cable package you’re paying for with tons of channels you dont watch? You know why you don’t watch them? Because you DON’T NEED THEM. Human civilization thrived without cable, internet, smart phones and smart cars.

And, yes, I know….many of you will have a heartattack at the idea of cancelling your cable or downgrading to a cell phone plan without internet access. But, consider this: In the not-too-distant past there were some very well-off upper middle class folks living in California. They were making over 200, 000 dollars a year. They had the fancy cars in the best neighborhoods, their kids had the expensive cell phones with a ton of bells and whistles. They had country club memberships and prestigue. Then, one day, it was all gone. Cars were repossessed, the houses was forclosed on and families were living in “tent villages”. Lavish lifestyles became a thing of the past in a short period of time.

I’m sure you’re wondering why this happenned to such affluent families.

Well, they bought into the hype. They believed they were “supposed” to have the bigger house once dad got his raise. And when mom’s business started bringing in significantly more money they strongly believed that they were entitled to a higher credit card limit which then, of course, meant they could spend more on those great sales at the mall and the Home Shopping Network.
What they didn’t know was that behind the hype was a sinister plot to get as much of their money as possible, not caring if they ended up in financial hell. The plot went like this…

First the banker down the street sold a house to the Jones family knowing they couldn’t afford it. This didn’t matter to the banker because her plan was to sell the loan to Big Time investments. This way the bank receives the entire amount of the loan right away instead of over the next 30 years. The Jones family continues paying their mortgage as usual, not to the bank but to Big Time. Again Big Time is not concerned about the Jones Family’s financial future because they have collected hundreds of loans just like the Jones’. They sell these large clumps of loans to an even larger investor, Prime Time.

Second, the Jones family runs into a problem, their transmission on the Audi goes out. This is not a massive problem in itself for such an affluent family because they put the entire charge on a credit card with a newly increased limit. After all, they’ll pay it off easily- they’re affluent! The problem is that their daughter broke an ankle playing softball a few weeks later, mom’s business is in a seasonal lull and the roof of their house starts leaking due to a recent storm.

In this situation the sellers of those must have items don’t run to the rescue. Prime Time wasn’t sympathetic, they didn’t arrive at Mr. Jones’ doorstep with a new contract reducing his monthly mortage payments. Nor, did the credit card company voluntarily deffer payments till after they are back on their feet.

No, the Jones family found themselves in a tent with many others from their upper-middle-class neighborhood. They were all in the same situation because they all believed the hype associated with collecting stuff, stuff and more stuff.

The words of the verse I mentioned earlier would have served them well and saved them a lot of heartache and loss. With this verse in mind they would have taken the extra money from dad’s raise and invested a portion, saved some for emergencies or donated some to charity. With savings and investments they would have been prepared to deal with a leaking roof, a broken ankle and a business going through a seasonal lull.

Another verse that helps keep us in the right mindset is Proverbs 31: 10-18. This passage speaks about the wife of Noble Character. It talks about how she wakes up early, makes breakfast, buys a field and plants a vineyard. Why is that important? Because of what it goes on to say in verse 18, ” She makes sure her dealings are profitable, her lamp burns late into the night”. This is the picture of a smart woman who is not captivated by materialism. She thinks far into the future and works hard to not only maintain but thrive in any economy.

So, now that you’re on the path to financial freedom you must develope a long-term, anti-hype mindset. Heed the words of the Bible and concentrate on Heavenly treasures more than the material stuff that can be lost in a moment. Don’t assist in stuffing the pockets of businessess that don’t give one iota about your financial future. Be like the shrewd woman of Proverbs, work hard, save and be sure that every financial decision helps get you and your family closer to financial independence!!
 

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    I'm just an everyday guy, father, husband, Christian and business owner. Here I am sharing my experiences which serve to prove the validity of Biblical teachings concerning finances, money and stewardship.

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