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The Less You Owe, the More You Live

Can a nation, or a person, run up huge deficits and expect no financial and economic consequences?

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Society conditions us to consume more than we need and to spend more than we make. However, this kind of lifestyle is a recipe for disaster. Taking back control of your finances can help you free up time and make you feel more in control of your life.

Think back to your high school and college history classes: can you recall a nation in the history of the earth that accumulated huge deficits over a prolonged period of time, lacked a concerted effort towards reducing these deficits, yet was able to sustain economic prosperity for its citizens?

Can a nation, in debt for trillions annually, or a person – namely you – consistently run up huge deficits and expect no consequences?  For decades, tens of millions of Americans have accumulated personal debt via credit cards, loans, and other forms of financing. It’s likely that you have some financial debts.

Subtle Servitude

Sustained deficit spending eventually erodes your ability to prepare for the future, and worse, to capitalize on current opportunities. The more you owe, the more enslaved you are! In Consumerism, Dr. Judith Schor notes that you’ve likely been taught to consume more than you need.

Right now, how would it feel if all your credit cards were paid off? How would it feel if you paid your monthly rent or mortgage several months in advance? How would it feel if your car loan was paid off? How would it feel if you were actually able to pay some of your utility bills for months in advance? For most people it would feel great. You’d feel in control of your time.

We all know the arguments about losing the (minuscule) amount of interest you could have earned if you let your money sit in the bank instead of paying the electric bill three months in advance. Ah, but wait. A month after you’ve paid your electric bill three months in advance, you receive the next month’s bill. Guess what? It shows that you have a huge credit and that nothing is due – you’ll smile when you see these kinds of bills!

A Moratorium on Spending

To reduce your personal debts, place a moratorium on optional spending, regardless of what items entice you, until your credit cards have zero balances.

Now, please, let’s not confuse issues. There is value in paying others to do that which you don’t like to do. These are separate issues. Paying for something that frees up your time is a life benefit. Paying for material things which you don’t need, and certainly don’t save your time, might be satisfying, but ultimately can be draining.

Here are some useful exercises for controlling your checkbook, and hence reclaiming your life:

1. Write out checks to pay bills in advance of their due dates. Then, keep an advance file with a folder for each day of the month. Place the check in a sealed, addressed, and stamped envelope. Then put the envelope in the folder of the day it’s to be mailed. This way the money is allocated in advance in your checkbook, and your bills are paid on time. If your checking account pays interest, you don’t lose interest.

2. Occasionally, overpay the balance on your continuing accounts, or pay early. This gives you the aforementioned psychological boost when you see a credit on your next statement, and gives you a good reputation with your creditors, which is handy!

3. Keep a stick-on note in your checkbook for an immediate reference that lists what’s coming in this month and what needs to be paid. This provides you with a running mini-cash flow list you can refer to at will. Update it every week, or day, if necessary.

4. Review old checkbooks and see what you paid to whom for what. Do the same thing with your monthly credit card statements. Put a red mark next to all those expenditures that you didn’t need to make, or that you could have done without after further consideration.

5. Now, considering expenditures on the horizon, which ones can you do without?

Spend Less, Save More

As author Roger Dawson says, “It doesn’t matter how much money you’re making; if you’re spending more than you take in each month, you’re headed for trouble.” If you spend less than you take in, eventually your debt will decrease, perhaps even disappear.

 

Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" and the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com



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Faith

Turner Classic Movies Starts “Reframed Classics” to Look at “Problematic” Classic Movies

In other words, take a look under the hood and tell you where they are bad and how you are bad for liking them.

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If you thought cancel culture might be waning, you are incorrect. Seems like the left just has to keep after anything and everything that was good in our country in the past. Take classic movies for example…

According to NBC Connecticut:

“Loving classic films can be a fraught pastime. Just consider the cultural firestorm over “Gone With the Wind” this past summer. No one knows this better than the film lovers at Turner Classic Movies who daily are confronted with the complicated reality that many of old Hollywood’s most celebrated films are also often a kitchen sink of stereotypes. This summer, amid the Black Lives Matter protests, the channel’s programmers and hosts decided to do something about it.

“The result is a new series, “ Reframed Classics,” which promises wide-ranging discussions about 18 culturally significant films from the 1920s through the 1960s that also have problematic aspects, from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and Mickey Rooney’s performance as Mr. Yunioshi to Fred Astaire’s blackface routine in “Swing Time.” It kicks off Thursday at 8 p.m. ET with none other than “Gone With the Wind.”

“We know millions of people love these films,” said TCM host Jacqueline Stewart, who is participating in many of the conversations. “We’re not saying this is how you should feel about ‘Pyscho’ or this is how you should feel about ‘Gone with the Wind.’ We’re just trying to model ways of having longer and deeper conversations and not just cutting it off to ‘I love this movie. I hate this movie.’ There’s so much space in between.”

So they are going to take a look at old movies that tens of millions – perhaps hundreds of millions – of people have loved over the years and “revisit” them. In other words, take a look under the hood and tell you where they are bad and how you are bad for liking them.

Along with Gone with the Wind, Psycho and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, here are some of the other movies in the left’s sights:

Swing Time
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
Gunga Din
The Searchers
My Fair Lady
Stagecoach
Woman of the Year
The Children’s Hour

NBC Connectucut reports:

“For “Psycho,” which will be airing on March 25, the hosts talk about transgender identity in the film and the implications of equating gender fluidity and dressing in women’s clothes with mental illness and violence. It also sparks a bigger conversation about sexuality in Alfred Hitchcock films.”

Is this just reading into something that doesn’t exist? Is it a waste of time? Should we look at these old movies and see anything other than the perspectives of people from another time? Or should we cancel them?

According to the host, she wants to have people discuss rather than cancel the movies. We’ll see:

The goal of “Reframed Classics” is to help give audiences the tools to discuss films from a different era and not just dismiss or cancel them. And Stewart, for her part, doesn’t believe that you can simply remove problematic films from the culture.

“I think there’s something to be learned from any work of art,” Stewart said. “They’re all historical artifacts that tell us a lot about the industry in which they were made, the cultures that they were speaking to.”

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Faith

How To Live The Best Christian Life

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What does it mean to live well in this world? For many, they root the worldly answer to this question in vanity and materialism. Fortunately, the authority of God’s word has an answer for us. Society and sometimes our own ego’s tell us how important it is to be successful. Our modern world usually defines success as earning more money, getting a big house, a nice car, a boat, maybe even an airplane. Success could mean climbing the promotion ladder at your job, or having a very successful business. For many, they define success in how many “followers” or “likes” they have on their social media platform. Yet, as people gain these successes, many of them are searching still for more happiness and meaning.

Americans of all economic backgrounds are left with a void. According to a Time Magazine story, suicide rates are higher than at any other time since World War I. A Harvard report informs us of an “Astounding increase in antidepressant use by Americans.” This type of sad news informs us that even as citizens of the richest nation in the world, more cars, boats, bigger houses, career advances, etc…. are not enough to make us happy. So what can people do to discover fulfillment and success independent of the material? Luckily, God’s word provides us with the answer. The wonderful youtube channel, The Bible Project, does an excellent job of providing succinct overviews of each book of the Bible. Their take on Ecclesiastes is an instructive guide to aid us in how to live the best Christian life.

The Book of Ecclesiastes explains three observations about our world. The first is father time:

Generations come, and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course…
No one remembers the former generations,
and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow them. – Ecclesiastes 1 ( 4-6, 11) (NIV)

In the grand expanse of the universe, we are just a speck. Everything that is so important to us right now: our careers, our bank accounts, our cars, our “successes” mean nothing in the big picture of God’s eternal plan. Our earthly existence is just a quick flash. A small drop in an enormous ocean of time.

The second observation form Ecclesiastes is that we will all die and return to dust and that our concerns while here on earth are relatively meaningless.
Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. -Ecclesiastes (19-21) (NIV)

The third observation we learn from Ecclesiastes is that life is random. :

The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.
Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come. Ecclesiastes 9, 11-12 (NIV)

The lesson here is that life is way too complex for us to try and control and attempting to do so sets us up for failure and disappointment. These three observations can make life seem pretty dark and pointless. The author explains that everything in life is hevel. This is a Hebrew word meaning vapor or smoke. And like smoke, life can look like one thing, but quickly change into another form. You can reach out and try to grab (control) both smoke and life to no avail.

Modern biblical translations miss the smoke metaphor and usually translate hevel to the word meaningless. However, the author of Ecclesiastes isn’t suggesting that life has no meaning, but that instead, life can be unclear (like smoke). Just like standing in a smoky room, life can be confusing, stressful, and it’s difficult to know what lies in front of you. Therefore, while it may not always guarantee short-term success in our time on earth, we should live in fear of the Lord and have faith because his plan is eternal and beyond our comprehension.

The lesson of Ecclesiastes is that since we have no control in life, we should focus on the one thing that we do have control over, our attitude. Real success is accepting this lack of control and appreciating not the material, but the intangible things in life: holding hands with a loved one, sitting out in the sun on a warm day, your bare feet on the beach, a great meal with friends and loved ones. We should learn to enjoy these good simple moments, and the bad, because while they are fleeting, they are all gifts from a loving God.

The good times and the bad, the money, the jobs, our health, our friends, and even our loved one’s will all come and go. If we can teach ourselves to appreciate the ups and the downs of this rollercoaster of life and understand that God is the master of the entire amusement park, then learning to enjoy the ride is the accurate definition of success. This is how we can learn to live our best Christian life.

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