Go the Distance

To piggy back off of last week when we talked about seeking out the best resources and the best deals, this week we are talking about how far we are willing to go to get certain things. I worked at a car dealership and I was always surprised to see people coming from Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, even California, to buy cars from us. The reason we attracted so many people from all of the midwest (and the country) was because we had the best deals on new and used cars. People made the decision, after doing their homework, the deal they would get on the car was worth the long trip. I don’t think making this trip for groceries every week would be logical, so going the distance is dependent upon the deal you are seeking.

Since I mentioned groceries, we’ll stick with that example. The store closest to my house is significantly more expensive than the grocery store I pass on my way home from church. Because of that, I shop at the store in a neighboring town. I calculate the cost of the gas used is less than the difference of purchasing groceries from the store closer to my house. I am willing to travel a little further for a better deal because I am still saving money.

When you are doing your homework on the best deal, also calculate travel costs to see whether the deals are really worth it in the long term. The customer from California that bought a car from us, also stopped to visit family, making the trip a little more worth the money and time. As I mentioned, the grocery store I shop at, is on my way home from church. I’m already in that direction at least once a week, making it worth the gas. Going the extra mile is great if the deal is worth the extra mile.

  1. How much money is in your budget for gas?
  2. When choosing the next thing you want to buy, and your homework, calculate travel costs.
  3. Determine how far you are willing to travel for regular purchases like groceries, clothes, gym, etc.

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One of the signs of a person who loves their family very deeply is to give them the best of everything possible. We have to know what those best things are and how to get them for the best price. I’m not talking about iPhones here, let’s consider needs, like food.

We have to eat, but there is a lot of garbage “food” out there that is terrible for our bodies and have serious long term consequences. Therefore, we should seek out real food, that comes in recognizable colors and textures. We have to research food to know what is actually helpful and nutritious, and what can be harmful. There are some foods that pretend to be healthy, but can actually be very unhealthy We have to read and research to find the best options to put into our bodies. Take eggs, for example, packed full of protein and cholesterol. Not exactly a health food, but one people eat all the time, probably because they don’t know any better.

Once we determine what the best options are, we need to seek out the best deal. We’ve talked before about the importance of good money management, spending and saving wisely. This comes from doing some more homework. Check out different deals around town to find the best one. Cooking meals based on produce that is on sale can do a lot for the monthly budget. This isn’t just for meals. Finding the best deal on a car, new kitchen appliance, or the best bank to use, are all important and require some research.

Seeking out the highest quality resources is very important for living a physically healthy and financially responsible life. Getting into the habit of never making a large purchase without extensive research, making a moderate investment after doing some homework, or doing regular shopping with a plan, will set an important habit for the future.

  1. How do you usually make the decision to purchase something?
  2. What are some tangible things you can do to become a more educated consumer?

Profit, Not Loss

Money, money, money! Oh how so many of us struggle with money. I read an article once that said the number one reason people struggle in their marriages is because of money. I found that pretty interesting because divorces are expensive and terrible for your credit.

Today we are talking about how we can be financially savvy and how to prepare to bring a husband profit and not loss.

  1. Get your spending in check: There is a difference between needs and wants. We need food, healthy food. Don’t consider healthy, organic food a luxury. It’s an investment in your body and absolutely a need. Eating out with friends is more of a want.
  2. Save: Learning how to save money when shopping for the essentials is very important. Learn how to cook meals according to sales, buy new clothes on clearance at the end of season, and show used whenever possible. I love pre-loved books!
  3. Budgeting: This is probably the most important because it is necessary for knowing how and when to spend and save. The top 10% doesn’t belong to you, you’re just holding onto it for Jesus, that’s your tithe. Other things to write into your budget are short and long term savings, emergencies, charity, bills, and fun money. Budgeting is about setting priorities, this is a very important skill.
  4. Manage your money: It is essential you know how to be a good money manager. Know your monthly and weekly income, know your monthly and weekly expenses, know where your money is, know what debt you have. I recommend keeping your debt to a minimum, or eliminating it all together. I have a finical goal of being debt free; and I think it could do a lot of good for your future to consider living financially free.
  5. Turning a profit: Figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life can be just as daunting as figuring out who you want to spend the rest of your life with. Take stock of your strengths and weaknesses, hopes and dreams, and allow them to determine your career path. I have a desire to be a stay-at-home homeschool mom, but that can put a lot of strain on the sole breadwinner. During this time, I’m working to build location independent income so I can work from home and supplement my husband’s income, or become the primary breadwinner if necessary.

Finances are one of the most important aspects of marriage, it touches so many other areas of life. Where you live, what you own, and how many kids you have can all depend on money. It isn’t something to ignore. When the time comes for a courtship, having open and honest dialog about spending, saving, and earning money habits can go a long way in a having a healthy marriage. During this time of singleness, don’t be idle or wasteful, spend money wisely, save regularly, and earn creatively.

  1. What are some of your needs, and your wants?
  2. How much debt do you have, how can you pay it off?
  3. How can you save more and earn more?

Challenge: Create a monthly budget for yourself.

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Trustworthy people are vital to us. Think of the relationships you have and what you feel around someone you trust. I know that when I’m around my loved ones, I feel comfortable, secure, safe, and open. Ideally every relationship would look this way, family, friends, co-workers, and significant others. The reality is, many people can’t be trusted. Too many of us, especially young women, lie, gossip, and manipulate. Are these the actions of a trustworthy person? Are these the actions of a good wife?

Out of the three things listed above (lying, gossiping, and manipulating), lying is the easiest to recognize, understand, and stop. It’s the other two we re going to go more in depth with. Shall we start with gossip? I used to be a huge gossip girl, it was one of my worst character flaws. What made it even worse, was that I didn’t care I was hurting others, nor did I realize I was gossiping. There are often sins we don’t realize we are committing because we do them all the time. This is when a well formed conscience is vital. Gossip is always wrong and should be avoided because it not only damages our relationships with others, but also with God. Here are few tips to help you stop gossiping:

  • Pray: Ask God for his grace to show you when you are gossiping. Recognizing when you are doing something wrong is the first step toward making a change in behavior. Because this behavior has been part of your life for so long, you need the Lord’s gift of self-awareness and humility to recognize when you may be saying something unnecessarily.
  • T.H.I.N.K.: I’ve always been told to think before I speak. Unfortunately I’m not very good at that. I’m a bit of a talker and tend to ramble about non-sense. I also never really considered what I should be thinking about until I started working with children. I saw a picture on Pinterest that a preschool teacher was using to help the kids be nice to each other. It works with adults too: Before you speak, T.H.I.N.K.
    Truthful: is it truthful?
    Helpful: is it helpful?
    Intelligent: is what you are about to say smart and appropriate at this time?
    Necessary: is this comment essential?
    Kind: is this story kind to all the people involved (the speaker, the listener, and any third parties)?

When we take the time to run through this list, I found I talk a lot less about other people. Generally the Lord tugs at my heart when it comes to the necessary and kind. Try using this next time you want to talk about someone.

Now let’s talk about manipulation. It comes in many shapes, sizes, and colors. This is one I continue to struggle with. A few of the ways I tend to manipulate others is through puppy dog eyes, a soft smile, and baked goods. Because I have a history of unchecked manipulation, I may become one of those wives that withholds sex because my husband won’t take out the trash. 1 Corinthians 7 would strongly object to that. The thing of it is, what we practice as single women is what we will practice as married women. I praise God that he has shown me that I can be a manipulator now so I have time to correct my behavior before he chooses to bless me with a a husband. The biggest problem with manipulation is that it is extreme pride at its core. It is the thought that I need something from the other person so I’m going to do something to get it. I’m using people as objects for my own personal gain which is completely against God and neighbor. The love Christ calls us to cannot be found when we manipulate people. How do we combat manipulation? Here are a couple tips:

  • See God in others: We are all made in the image of God so search for him in the people around you.
  • Humble yourself: Before you do or say something, consider how you would feel in that situation. How would you feel if you knew you were being manipulated by someone, and used for their own personal gain, not to help you?

A man must be able to trust his wife in all things. He needs to know she won’t blab his personal information to the neighbors, she won’t spend all the money on new shoes, and that she isn’t trying to trick him. People often divorce because trust has somehow been broken. As single women, we have the privilege of growing more trustworthy before we present ourselves to a husband on our wedding day.

  1. Would your friends and family call  you trustworthy?
  2. Are you good with money and secrets?
  3. What can you do to become a more trustworthy person?

Challenge: Today, try THINKing before you speak.

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A Rare Treasure

When I was in high school, my best friend’s dad used to tell the boys, “There are girls you date and there are girls you marry. Never get the two confused.” It’s a pretty funny statement that rings very true. The woman worthy of marriage is hard to find, she is a rare treasure. The girls you date, on the other hand, are a dime a dozen. There are plenty of those fish in the sea. I don’t think most of us think like this in our relationships. A woman of worth does not sleep with her boyfriends. A woman of worth dresses with modesty. A woman of worth, finds that worth in Jesus, not her dad, the culture, or her boyfriend. Do you see your worth through the eyes of God?

We, as women of faith desiring marriage, should conduct ourselves accordingly. Later we will see this woman who has worth beyond jewels is wise, compassionate, and steadfast. During this blessed time of singleness we should grow in virtue, diligence, and develop in our relationship with the Lord. To Christ, your worth is already beyond jewels, so throughout the next few weeks, let’s start viewing ourselves the same way. When we can see how Jesus sees we will live in a way that honors him and the people around us.

  1. Are you a diamond in the rough?
  2. Are you the kind of girl to date or marry?
  3. How can you grow in your relationship with Jesus and in virtue to prepare yourself for marriage?

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