Five Ways to Increase Your Income Today

increase income todayUnless someone is independently wealthy, they would like to have more money coming in.   But with all of our current responsibilities it may seem like it’s just a dream.   But in reality, it’s not only possible, but much easier than you might imagine.   Here are five ways to increase your income today.

But in order for this to work, you have to change your way of thinking.   That means changing your entire mentality as it pertains to money.   Don’t believe that it isn’t possible.   Believe it and acknowledge it!

Here is an example of the right motivation:   If you were told to save $500 within the next two weeks, most likely you would blow off the concept and consider it impossible.   But if someone told you that unless you came up with $500 within the next two weeks that you would go to prison, you would   instantly become a money-making machine.   That is the kind of drive that you need.


Idea #1:   Sell, sell, sell

That means everything lying around your home that you don’t need or use consistently goes into a garage sale.   Clean out closets, go through the garage and the basement , venture up into the attic and get   rid of it. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll find and what people will buy.


Idea #2:   Go online

More and more people are working online for added income and the numbers are growing.   Businesses are taking advantage of this workforce by offering plenty of opportunities to make money. Many require little or no training or experience.   The good news is they have secured payment methods and most offer flexible schedules.


Idea #3:   Get paid to write

People are always looking for bloggers or someone who can write articles for them.   The more you write, the more you make.   Getting yourself established means that customers will start coming to you instead of having to fish for additional work.


Idea #4: Collect all your old gold and jewelry and cash it in.

Everyone has old gold lying around in their jewelry box.   With the upsurge in gold prices, this is the perfect time to exchange it for cash.


Idea #5:   Hire out your hobby or skill

Do you like photography?   Are you an expert at cleaning?   Are you a master at sewing?   There are many trades that most people are not good at and would pay handsomely for.   The trick to making money at your skill and being successful is offering something that other people either don’t have time for or don’t like to do.

For instance, most people hate cleaning.   If you don’t believe it, take a look at their homes.   You might not really enjoy cleaning, but if you are efficient at it then this could pay off very well.   Put the word out that you are for hire to take care of the task that other’s put off and you’ll have more work than you can handle.   Who knows?   You could even hire an assistant to work for you and pocket the difference.


What are some other ways YOU are making more money today?

Are you Frugal or Cheap? Find Out With This Test

frugal or cheapFrugal and cheap.  Those are two words that people interchange in daily conversations.  Speaking from a general sense, frugal is more respectable than being cheap.  When I think of a cheap person I think about someone who takes towels home from hotels. On the other hand, I envision a frugal person buying name brand clothes at discounted retailers.

But what does the Dictionary say about these two types of people?

Frugal-  economical  in  use  or  expenditure;  prudently  saving  or sparing;  not  wasteful

Cheap-  embarrassingly stingy

I’ll be honest folks, I’ve been called both.  And let me tell you, it’s never fun to be considered the “cheap guy.”  Thankfully I’ve changed from my cheap ways and I’m much more value focused and not just on the price.

So, how would you know if you are frugal or cheap?  Moolanomy came out with a frugal vs. cheap test a while back which inspired this post.  Take out a sheet of paper and a pencil and answer these 12 short questions:


1- When you fill up for gas, what do you do?

1. I go to the most expensive gas station.  Must be better quality right?

2. I shoot for the name  brands  but look around for the best prices

3. I fill up at the cheapest gas station regardless of brand

4. Why fill up, I can run on fumes for another two days


2- What car do you drive?

1. Why buy when you can lease?

2. I’m always on the lookout for next year’s model

3. Used is the only way to go, I never buy brand new

4. I take the bus, it’s better for the environment


3- When Christmas rolls around, what do you do for gifts?

1. I want to impress everyone so you get the latest tech toys recommended by MSN

2. I buy reasonably priced gifts from their lists

3. I buy gift cards for everyone

4. I don’t buy anyone anything and hope no one notices


4- When you want to update your wardrobe, what do you do?

1. Time to hit good ole’ Nordstroms

2. I buy off-brands and maybe one brand name item

3. I space out the purchasing over a couple months and shop at Ross and TJ MAXX

4. I never shop for new clothes.  That’s what Goodwill is for


5- When you grocery shop, what do you do?

1. I head to Whole Foods and buy whatever I want.  Grass fed beef anyone?

2. I go to one grocery store and bring my coupon book

3. In one trip, I go to multiple discounted grocery stores

4. I take food from work for my meals


6- While walking you see a quarter on the ground.  What’s your next move?

1. You snicker and keep on walking

2. I pick it up and then toss it because it’s dirty

3. I pick it up and put it in my wallet for later

4. I pick it up and start looking for other coins on the ground


7- What do you use for showers?

1. I have designer shampoo and conditioner

2. I buy high quality products but always look for the sale

3. I buy whatever is on sale

4. Who needs product?  I use water and a bar of soap


8- Where do you invest your money?

1. Uhhh what does the word “invest” mean…

2. I invest in the latest hot stock or mutual fund

3. I invest through a wide range of mutual funds and ETFs

4. I can’t afford to eat because I invest so much


9- What do you usually do with your tax refund?

1. I hot the closest casino and lose it all

2.  Get the latest and greatest TV of course!

3. I invest it

4. I let is sit in cash gaining zero interest


10- What do you usually tip at restaurants?

1. 20% plus, waitresses rely on the tips for income!

2. I tip based on performance

3. Average service gets no more than 15%

4. I don’t tip, that’s just ridiculous


11- When it’s time to change your oil, what do you do?

1. Take my car to the nearest dealer

2. I get my oil changed at an independent mechanic shop

3. I change my own oil with the cheapest oil out there

4. I skip oil changes and hope my car keeps running


12- A friend asks you to borrow some money.  What’s your response?

1. I whip out your wallet and ask your friend how much he/she needs

2. I ask what the money is for and then agree on a payment plan

3. I write down how much I’m lending and make my friend sign a contract

4. I tell my friend to hit the road


Drum-roll please!  How did you score?

The point system is simple.  All you gotta do is give yourself 1 point for a #1 answer, 2 points for a #2 answer, 3 points for a #3 answer and 4 points for a #4 answer.

And here’s a breakdown of your score:

48= You’re cheap and you should be ashamed of yourself!

36-47= Congrats, you’re frugal and should give yourself a pat on the back 🙂

24-35= You’ve got some work to do.  Time to get back to the basics

12-23= Boy oh boy, you’re not doing too hot.  You should shred your credit cards and follow a budget again


What did I score?

I scored a 38.  What does this mean?  I guess this makes me frugal!  I probably didn’t need a quiz to tell me that but I always need some affirmation.

Take some time and take this test.  When you’re done please comment below and share if you;re frugal or just plain cheap!

9 Tips to Getting Control of Your Finances

Many people are so intimidated by setting up a budget that they never do it. Setting up a budget is really an easy process. It can be done in nine easy steps.

1.  Organize Incoming Funds
The first step is to organize the money coming in. Many people work more than one job. They may work a full time job, but also do several side jobs. The first step in creating a budget is to get a handle on all the ways your family is bringing in money.

2.  Journal
For one month record every penny that you spend. If you spend it write it down in a book. Many people are amazed at the money they spend on incidentals each month, because it goes out a little at a time.

3.  Organize Outgoing Funds
While the second step may take some time, it is vital to the success of your budget. Now look at the list you created in the second step. Divide the list into categories. List these categories according to their importance.

4.  Control the Outgoing Funds
The fourth step is to determine your budget before the month starts. Look at your categories you have set in your organization step. What needs to be changed? Do you need to add savings for your kid’s education or your retirement? Now, determine how you will spend each penny of your earnings.

5.  Go Ahead and Pay Yourself First
The fifth step is to pay yourself first. Take the first ten percent and put it aside.  You work hard for your money and deserve to have some fun with it. Without rewarding yourself, you will not feel encouraged to keep working. Take that money off the top so that you be encouraged to stick with the program.

6.  Giving Money
The sixth step is to give away some money. Give away ten percent of your money. Decide what church or charities deserve your money and give away ten percent. If you are not use to doing this, it may bother you a little to begin with, but you will be amazed at how good you feel. It will also encourage you to work even harder.

7.  Save Money
The next category you should include is savings. Put ten percent of your income into a savings account Many people ask how much savings is enough. You should have a minimum of six months of expenses in a savings account.

8.  Mortgage or Rent
Your mortgage or rent should be the third thing you pay. It should not exceed 33 percent of your income. If it does, you may need to consider moving. In the first three steps, you have spent 63 percent of your income.

9.  Remainder of the Outgoing Funds
The remaining categories are very personal. Look at where you are spending your money now. Take steps to control how much money is going into each of the remaining categories.

Many people find it hard to set up a budget. The hard part is to make it personal. Make sure and reward yourself first. Then, give some money away. Next, save ten percent of your money. Stretch the remainder of your money to cover your bills by using great coupons. Never pay full price for anything.

(Jemma Ryan wrote this article – she loves blogging about her pets, cooking & improving her credit score.)

Can “Doin’ it Yourself” Save you Money?

save you moneyIt seems fair to say that times are tough right now. Many people are struggling and lots more are looking for ways to cut back on expenditure. One method that is often touted as a good way to save cash is doing it yourself. But is a DIY approach all it’s cracked up to be? As with everything, there are two sides to the story. For instance, while doing your own decorating might be a big tick in the â˜yes’ box, doing your own car repairs (unless you’re actually a mechanic) is probably not going to help you â“ and it’ll probably reflect badly in your car insurance quotes.

So then, it seems that while doing things yourself does have potential, there is something of a tricky path to steer to get the best results from it. Let’s take food and drink as an example – this is one area of big spending where, for many of us, a little bit of DIY probably wouldn’t go amiss.

For instance, many people who go out to work every day by their lunch while they’re out. Whether this is a sandwich from the lunch cart, something from the company canteen or something upmarket from a local restaurant, it involves spending dollars you don’t really need to spend. Making your own lunch before work might not be that exciting, but if you’re looking to cut back, it makes a difference.

Say you currently spend $5 a day on lunch and other snacks while you’re at work. That’s around $100 a month just on lunch alone. It’s not much of a stretch to say you could save upwards of half of that by switching to homemade meals. After all, it isn’t much of a stretch to spend $5 on a single cup of fancy coffee when you could be making your own for a fraction of the cost, so food is clearly an area where DIY can help us save money.

As mentioned above, household activities such as decorating can also be benefitted by DIY. Maybe you already do all your decorating yourself, which is great, but many of us still hire someone in to take care of these things on our behalf â“ and labor is costly, especially if you want a really good job. Instead, buying the supplies yourself and setting aside a weekend to decorate a room costs a small percentage of hiring someone to do the job for you â“ and if you’re spending all weekend painting, you won’t be spending money elsewhere, either.

All of this shows that if you want to save money, it pays to take matters into your own hands. Of course, there are some things where DIY is resolutely not advisable, such as anything to do with electrics or other tasks that require a professional touch. However, there is a surprising number of ways where we can save money simply by putting a bit more of an effort in. From getting your own insurance quotes instead of sticking with the same supplier to getting busy in the kitchen, we could all make some changes in order to save some cash.

Controlling Expenses From the Top Down

top downIn an attempt to get control over finances, we’ll usually start with an assault on the smallest expenses; because they’re the smallest, cutting them will produce the least amount of disruption in our lifestyles. But it’s equally true that cutting small expenses also produces the lowest savings. No amount of coupon clipping, turning out unused lights or canceling subscriptions will offset a crippling house payment or an outsized car payment.

If we’re serious about controlling our financesâ”and I mean really serious–nothing will have greater impact than lowering expenses from the top down, meaning the Big Stuff. I’m talking about four expenses in particularâ”housing, cars, health insurance and entertainment.

Let’s consider each and the impact it has on our finances. At the end, we’ll discuss why this is even more important for a Christian.


Many or even most other expenses in your budget will be determined by how much you spend on housing. A house is the single biggest driver of lifestyle inflation! Where you live and the size of the home affects what you pay for utilities, repairs and maintenance, furniture, insurance and even entertainment and the car you park in your driveway. It’s never just about being able to afford a particular house payment–bigger houses seem to demand higher outlays for everything else.

For this reason it’s critical to be conservative in your choice of housing. For decades we were told to buy the biggest house we could afford, and our finances would grow into it; do we believe that anymore? Should we?

Here’s something else: once you close on your home and sign the mortgage papers there’s no way to lower your monthly house payment should it become necessary! This is especially true today since the ability to refinance is no longer assured. And while the principal and interest portion of your payment will be stable for the life of your loan (on a fixed rate), taxes and insurance can and usually do rise over time.

Consider these facts when buying a home, or even if you’re currently struggling to maintain your payment. It’s better to buy beneath your means when it comes to housing.


High car expense isn’t nearly as long term in scope as housing, but it can still do a lot of damage in the short run. Much like housing, other expenses tend to rise the more you pay for a car. Like housing, there’s a strong argument for buying less car than you can afford.

If you’re struggling with an uncomfortably high house payment you may want to consider buying no more car than you can afford to pay cash for. A car payment on top of a large house payment can be the tripwire into financial oblivionâ”most of us can afford to carry some debt but we can’t have it coming at us from all directions.

Health insurance

There’s a strong case to be made that this is quite possibly the most important expense we have in the modern world, but even if that’s true it still has limits. Many people want their health insurance plan to cover as much as possibleâ”the fewer checks they have to write the better. The problem with this goal, from a financial standpoint, is that it’s also very expensive.

A substantial part of the cost of health insurance is coverage over first dollar expenses. What this means is that the lower your co-payments, deductibles and co-insurance provisions, the more you’ll pay for your premiums.

If you’re in generally good health, it can be more cost effective to trade higher co-payments, deductibles and coinsurance provisions for lower monthly premiums. You can also offset these by maintaining an emergency fund balance large enough to cover your maximum deductible and coinsurance provision in any one year. You’ll be covered in the event the worst happens, and if it doesn’t you’ll be ahead through lower monthly premiums.


Not so long ago entertainment was a fringe expense, something we paid for with what was left after all the bills were paid and some money was socked away in the bank. No longer. Today entertainment has a far stronger claim on our first fruits, so much so that many go into debt to be able to afford it.

The problem with this lifestyle is that it’s expensive! Theme parks, travel, restaurant meals and professional sporting events are expensive, and even old stand-by’s, like movie theaters, are no longer cheap. If you’re entertaining yourself with these on a regular basis it’s a solid bet that entertainment is eating up a much larger slice of your finances than you might assume.

I have a theoryâ”stay with me for a momentâ”I think formal entertainment has grown with the decline of families and communities. The less interaction we have with people, the more we’re willing to pay to find recreation and contentment in more formal venues.

Spend more time with peopleâ”they’re more fun than formal entertainment, and a lot less expensive. Be purposeful about getting together with family and friends on simple activities like potluck suppers, outings or at home movie nights.

If boredom is an issue, try volunteering to help the less fortunate, exercising to improve your health or starting a side business to earn extra money.

What’s the payoff?

I’m of the opinion that as Christians we need to travel light❠in life. That starts with keeping control of the biggest expenses. By doing so we have more money free for other purposes; some examples:

Mobility. God sometimes calls us to stop what we’re doing and to go in a different direction. Mission work is an example; a career or geographic move are a couple of others. It’s not so easy to heed such a call when we’re weighed down with expensive possessions, large debts or a high cost lifestyle. We need to be ready because we can never know when such a call might come.

Peace of mind. Possessions have a way of controlling our thinking. The more possessions we have, and the more money we have tied up in them, the more we obsess on them. While we’re obsessing, we’re stressing, to at least some degree, and almost certainly neglecting other pursuits we’re charged with, including prayer and Bible study, fellowship and volunteering.

Liquidity. I believe that as Christians, we have an implied command to stay liquidâ”that is to have money, time and resources to contribute to our churches and to help others. Having income available and at least some discretionary savings will enable us to either deal with a personal crisis, or to help others with theirs. None of that can happen if our income and savings are maxed out in possessions or a lifestyle that’s at or just beyond our reach.

Giving. The less money we spend on our basic cost of livingâ”in other words, the money we spend on usâ”the more we’ll have to store up treasures in heaven❠( Matthew 6:20) by helping others.

Time. It’s become almost axiomatic in our culture that we never have enough time; how much of this owes to the fact that we strive to acquire and maintain a certain lifestyle? Time is probably a more valuable commodity than money because it represents our very lives, and not just our money. The more of it that we have that’s free, the more we have to do everything else we should be doing as followers of Jesus Christ. Our witnesses are driven more by how we use our time than by how we use our money. But in the Catch-22 that life can be, how we use our money has a major effect on how we use our time as well.

We can free up both our money and time for Kingdom purposes by controlling all kinds of expenses. But by tackling the biggest onesâ”by controlling our expenses from the top downâ”we can do even more!

Creating a Spending Journal: Tips for Budgeting

spending journalWondering where your bank account has gone?   Individuals and families who don’t do the best job in the budgeting department can arrive often move along through a vicious cycle of living paycheck to paycheck, because they’ve neglected to budget their money. If you’re wondering how your money seems to disappear shortly after each perhaps a spending journal could be the answer.


The Useless Budget

Your budget might be useless.   If you have no knowledge of how you’re spending money, where it’s going, and how your finances look by month’s end (budgeted amount vs. actual expenses) â“ you might be wasting your time with your current budgeting strategy.

A budget is something like a credit card statement, so to speak.   In other words, you should not just update your budget, fill in the expected category values with idea numbers, and then even fill in what you’re spending.   You have to put it into action: your budget should serve as a guide, a conversation❠of sorts between you and the numbers.

It may seem a little odd to explain it in that way, but it’s true.   If you aren’t engaged with your budget, looking through the numbers and seeing how you’re doing, you might be wasting your time.   The budget serves as a guide, giving you perspective into your income, expenses, savings, and furthermore.


Using the Spending Journal

Whether it is or isn’t part of a formal budget, a spending journal can give you that perspective.

Imagine if you wrote down anything that you spent money on â“ from your groceries to your morning visit to the coffee kiosk, and even your actual bills â“ all noted in your spending journal.   And add the option to attach a category onto the purchase, which would allow you to itemize and sort the payments.   What would that do for you?

At the end of the month, you would have a list of all the purchases you made, from the expected ones to the compulsive ones that undermine your budget. This is the idea of the spending journal; it is a simpler form of the budget⦠and it could be all you need if keeping track of income isn’t complicated.

As you look at your spending habits, you’ll be able to find areas of improvement.   Maybe you’re spending too much on coffee in the mornings, or eating out (always an area with potential.)   This is the type of tool that can keep your spending habits in check, and allow you to concentrate on your saving/investment goals, and whatever is pressing at the moment (debt, buying a home, etc.).



Well, of course you can keep the journal as a true journal.   Those that prefer the old fashion way of doing things can still log items in via the pen and notebook.

Technological individuals have a number of options.   You could keep your spending journal on a spreadsheet or get a free personal finance budgeting program. There are a number of free options online, or available through software you can install on your computer. If you have a smartphone, you could easily keep track of your expenses when you’re on the go â“ very convenient, as you can imagine.


It’s really up to you!

Regardless of how you keep a spending journal, this powerful tool can offer plenty of potential.   It’s up to you as to how useful it can be in your financial situation.

How do you plan your spending each month? Do you find that a set-in-stone budget is a must-have for financial success? Share your tips with us â“ leave a comment below!

(The following is a guest post by Lisa at  Wallet Watcher, an Australian personal finance blog created to help readers figure out how to save money and watch your own spending habits.)

The Trouble with Tithing

trouble with tithingAs Christians we’re called upon in scripture to be generous both to our churches and to those in need. That giving is often codified into the tithe, generally interpreted to mean 10% of your income. There are many open questions in regard to tithing, including should you tithe based on gross or net income or whether or not the contribution should extend to include an equal portion of unearned income, such as capital gains.

We can spend as much time as we like debating the finer points of tithing, but perhaps the bigger question is the tithe itselfâ”are we truly required to tithe and what troubles might be involved if that’s how we believe we need to handle our giving? Troubles? What kind of troubles?

Misinterpretations, first and foremost. That we’re to be generous in our giving is beyond questionâ”the issue is whether or not that giving takes the form of a legal requirement with very specific guidelines, as the tithe is thought to represent. From that we can and often do open the door to even greater misinterpretations that take us still farther from God’s intended purpose for our giving.

What are some of the tithing misinterpretations and what troubles may they bring?


Tithing is NOT a requirement for salvation

Notice that the issue of tithing doesn’t appear in the Ten Commandments, nor does Jesus make mention of it in the Sermon on the Mount. In fact, in the New Testament, where lessons on money and giving abound, there is no command to tithe. Where tithe❠appears, it’s usually incidental to another teaching. For example, in Luke 18:10-14, Jesus seems to be taking us in quite a different direction:

Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: â˜God, I thank you that I am not like other peopleâ”robbers, evildoers, adulterersâ”or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, â˜God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.â

Clearly Jesus is telling us here that tithingâ”among other ritual actsâ”is not the key to salvation. The implication in the parable is that the tax collector didn’t titheâ”he didn’t do anything except throw himself on God’s mercyâ”and yet he went home justified before God.


We should never measure our standing before God by our giving

In prosperous cultures, there’s often a tendency to belief that money is the highest good, that we can gain access to what ever we need simply by writing a check for the proper❠amount. To a large degree that may be how things work in the world, but clearly the Kingdom of God works on different rules. From an eternal perspective it could be dangerous to assume that we’re walking with God mainly on the strength of a faithfully given tithe.

In Matthew 9:13, Jesus tells the Pharisees:

But go and learn what this means: â˜I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.â

Tithing is a form of sacrifice (giving something we value to God), but Jesus is making it clear that at a minimum, mercy is more important. This doesn’t mean that giving has no place in the life of the believerâ”it is stressed elsewhereâ”but it does mean that we have to be careful not to elevate it just because it holds a special place in the human realm.


10% may not be the right amount for everyone to give

It’s generally believed that tithing is the giving of 10% of ones income to the Church and to other Kingdom activities. But is this percentage set in Eternal concrete? For many poor and even working class people, giving 10% of their income may be an unsustainable burden. Conversely, for many of the wealthy, giving 10% would hardly qualify as sacrificial.

We have an example of this in Mark 12:41-44:

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, â˜Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everythingâ”all she had to live on.’ â

There’s an imbalance here that Jesus highlights as a message to his disciples and to us.


The corollary: Tithing is not some sort of God Taxâ

If we come to believe that the giving of a titheâ”of 10% of our incomeâ”is a Christian obligation, then we have effectively created a tax. Now in the Old Testament, that’s exactly what the tithe was, a tax to support the clergy and even other societal functions. However that was a time when mankind was under law, not grace, and acts of obedience and obligation were part of what defined the people of God. Is that still true post-Calvary?

The problem with elevating the tithe to a tax is that no one likes to pay taxes! If we see the tithe as a requirement, then we’re unlikely to be cheerful givers❠(2 Corinthians 9:7). Is this how the God who looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7) wants us to give?


We will not become prosperous because we tithe

There too many hints that prosperity can be had as a result of tithing. The danger here is that we might be tempted to tithe primarily for the purpose of personal gainâ”and we know that can’t be right. The scriptural basis for the prosperity interpretation comes from Malachi 3:10:

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,❠says the LORD Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.â

Now if we take that verse as a standalone declaration from God, the connection between tithing and prosperity is possible, but that’s not exactly what’s happeningâ”in fact that isn’t remotely what’s happening.

There are two obvious facts missing from the popular interpretation of Malachi 3:10. The first is that the verse itself is part of a chapter that deals not with the individual, but with the entire nation of Israel. As we know from the Old Testament, God is constantly trying to draw a renegade Israel back to Himself. He points out their sins and shortcomings (in this case a lack of generosity) and offers promises if they’ll repent and come back to Him. I believe that is the central teaching of Malachi 3, not any sort of promises or guarantees of personal prosperity if only we tithe according to Old Testament law.

The other point of contention is the promise, and what is it that God promises? Blessing. There’s no mention of riches! Blessings can be all kinds of things, including health, long life, large families and even favorable weather! In fact, in the very next verse, God defines some of those blessings as keeping away pests and vines that will not drop their fruit until it’s ripe.❠Now we can interpret that to mean prosperity in an agricultural society and perhaps it is, but nowhere are riches of any sort even implied.


We should never judge others by how much they give

If we consider tithing to be a command from on high, we can easily find ourselves sitting in the judgment seat, feeling superior to others who are less generous than we are. Conversely, if we aren’t able to give as much as others, we might be judged by them or even feel inferior to them.

In a twisted way, this is a process of elevating money to a higher position than it deservesâ”which itself is a form of idolatry. We have a commandâ”many of them throughout scriptureâ”to give and be generous, but when we assign a percentage benchmark we’re also creating a fixed standard by which to judge ourselves and others.


Giving can also be in the form of time and effort

Giving can be done in ways that don’t involve the transfer of money. In fact in biblical times people often had no money at all! We can give of our time and talents, and that can be even more sacrificial than writing a monthly check to the church. In Matthew 9:37 Jesus tells his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.❠Jesus wasn’t calling for moneyâ”he was calling for workers!

That’s time and talent, and anyone can give those. There is no hierarchy establishing money as the preferred way to give, and by giving directly of our time and talent we can come that much closer to fulfilling a true command that is beyond interpretation:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.ââ”Matthew 28:19-20, The Great Commissionâ

What do you think about tithing 10% of your income? Was it an Old Testament law that no longer applies? Does it still apply today? What are your thoughtsâ”I could be all wrong about this!

How to Find Work Fast During a Down Economy

find work fastThe economy continues on a path of mediocrity, the stock markets present almost daily doses of whiplash to investors, and just this week the U.S. Census Bureau released a report on poverty in the United States (hint: it’s increasing). If you or someone you know is unemployed or under-employed, it’s time to evaluate every income producing option available – even those options that are less than ideal.

I’ve worked for well over 100 employers (no, that’s not a typo or an exaggeration). I know a few things about finding a job, and quickly, when the chips are down. So if the landlord is banging on your door, your car is running on fumes, or you just need to pay for a decent sandwich – then I’m your own, personal “expert” at finding work in a hurry. Read on…

Swallow your pride and do something “beneath” your abilities.

This is no time to think that “you’re too good” for whatever it is that you don’t want to do. Here’s one trick to use when searching for so-called “low status” jobs: try looking for work in towns located some distance from your normal “stomping grounds”. This way, people you know won’t find out that you’re delivering pizzas or working at McDonald’s (the ones that they might patronize, that is.)

No matter how rotten the economy is, the same industries always seem to be seeking workers. Many businesses involved in the retail, restaurant, seasonal, leisure, agriculture, and trucking industries are always hiring. And don’t forget call centers, also. (By the way, if you decide to look for work at a call center, try to grab a position that involves “inbound” vs. “outbound” calls. “Outbound” means: you’ll be cold calling people just as they sit down for dinner. Not fun.) Remember: a little “hard time” at the crummiest greasy spoon in town may well help you get a management position at a respectable nightclub in the future.

Deliver pizzas

This one really isn’t bad, and probably gets a worse rap than it deserves. To get paid to deliver a major staple of the American diet, you’ll need three things: wheels that you don’t mind putting some mileage on, a reasonably decent driving record, and insurance. Don’t bother with this type of gig if any one of these is missing. You’ll get tips, which means you’ll have cash – always.

You can work whatever schedule is convenient for you (though, obviously, weekends will be more lucrative). Bad weather means better tips. You can listen to whatever you want on the radio, and pull over and use the cell phone at your convenience. Bonus benefit: free food! And, if you’re single: you’ll certainly encounter cute members of the opposite sex, either co-workers or customers.

Start a hauling and/or moving business

I did this once – and wound up with a business that lasted over two years. There are now national franchises that are making millions from hauling away junk from homes, garages, and storage units. If you have a pickup truck and/or trailer, a cell phone, work gloves, and a willingness to get paid to excercise – you can be in the hauling business. When I ran a junk hauling business, I used local weekly small-town newspapers to advertise.

Running classified ads in these types of papers is pretty cheap, and they always yield at least a handful of phone calls. You can use online classifieds like Craigslist, of course – but so is your competition. Besides, many homeowners don’t bother calling service businesses listed in Craigslist because they don’t trust those businesses, or take them seriously.

Play the numbers game

It’s obvious that you should be using the web to look for work. But try the old school method of “pounding the pavement” – since so few others do this these days. Find the area near you where the half-dozen (every town has this area) fast-food joints are located near one another.

Or go visit your local mall. Grab applications at each store, take them home, then fill them out (it’s a more laborious process than you think – do it at home, trust me). Then return those completed applications in person. Try to hand your application over to the store manager on duty. This will leave an impression on that particular manager that you’ll never be able to deliver via cyberspace. You may even receive an interview on the spot – I’ve had this happen to me several times when the business in question needed workers immediately.

Get a commercial driver’s license

This idea only applies if you have a decent driving record, no felonies, and you’re single. If you aren’t single, you soon will be – if you go OTR (trucker parlance for “over the road”). You’ll be away from home for weeks. In fact, some drivers don’t bother having homes and instead live out of their trucks. Which, actually, will save you huge amounts of money – but cost your social life dearly.

Now, you can also drive “local”, but these driving gigs are far more difficult to get, especially for newer drivers. Most local driving gigs involve 10-12 hour days anyway, so even these will greatly impact your non-working life. I’ve worked mostly local gigs, and made great money doing them. But, I like my downtime. A LOT. Which is why even the most lucrative local driving gig, for me, only lasted three years. (However – I paid off huge debts during that period.) Having a “CDL” means you’ll always have work (if you want it).

Use temp firms

Yes, there is a lot not to like about temp firms. Most treat applicants like ten-year-olds, take a cut of your hourly pay, and will waste a lot of your time before sending you to a gig. Temp firms tend to want you at their office, in person, so that they can run you through a battery of tests to prove you aren’t a complete moron. Ironic, since many temp staffers are. (I’m not a fan of temp firms, in case you didn’t notice.) On the other hand, maybe you don’t care, since you need cash immediately.

Let’s face it – in any economy, the temp firms usually have something (anything!) Don’t kid yourself, though – many temp firms are trying to fill lousy gigs with warm bodies – the kinds of gigs that in-house H.R. departments gave up trying to fill. Some firms, of course, are worse than others. The worst part about applying for work via a temp firm is watching the dummy videos that nearly every temp agency forces prospective employees to watch. Painful.

Volunteer, or work for free

If money isn’t really that pressing, and/or you’re fortunate to have a side income or partner who brings home the bacon, then thank your lucky stars. Go visit a volunteer website and offer your time to someone less fortunate (there is always someone less fortunate than you.) Find a cause you can get into and help out. Even a couple hours a month is welcome. You can also work for free (Different from volunteering; I’m talking here about donating free work to a for-profit organization.)

I’ve noticed that sometimes “experts” on job hunting will occasionally suggest that you work for free. This may (“experts” claim) lead to a paying gig. I suppose that might be the case, sometimes. I doubt it, though. I’ve worked for “free” as a freelancer on several occasions. Not once did doing so get me paid work. I don’t recommend doing this, but it’s an idea worth including here.

Some job hunting sites are better than others

I have had good luck finding full-time and part-time work through classified sites like Craigslist and; not so much with the larger job-related “megasites” like or CareerBuilder. The latter two sites are overloaded with listings from recruiters, who will waste your time more effectively than actually find you paid work.

The former two sites, however, are filled with job listings from employers looking for help and who need to hire quickly. Beware of scams, however – especially with Craigslist. Never send a prospective employer your Social Security number via e-mail or via an online job application until you are sure of who you’re dealing with. That said, there are far more legitimate job opportunities on the online classified sites than scams – just be careful. If a job opening sounds to good to be true, it’s likely a scam.

Just because you’re a college graduate (and especially if you aren’t) doesn’t mean a good job is your birthright. Quit expecting your “dream job” to fall out of the sky, and look for work beyond “your field” (do people still use this phrase?) Your field is wherever the work is, right now. A paycheck derived from driving a taxi is better than no paycheck at all.

(This has been a guest post by Matt Henterly, a developer of The BuckTrak Budget Planner, a free online financial manager for individuals and small businesses.)

Let Savings Fall Onto Your Lap

savingsI’ve always believed that as long as your vacation is ahead of you, summer is clearly not over. It’s not unusual for me to wait until the fall, September or even October to make my yearly escape from the everyday grind. After all, I live in New York, so jaunting off during the summer months simply to lie on a beach is no enticement to me; we are frankly surrounded by beaches.

In fact, many New Yorkers save their vacation time for the winter months; that’s about when we start to get homesick for our beach-lying days. As a massive money-saver, I really enjoy the fact that my off-season vacationing can lead to a lot of savings, but most of all I appreciate dealing with a lot less crowds! Does anyone feel like Disney?

Vacation when no else is

The Travel Industry Association estimates that 23% of people report taking their vacation in the fall, which is a sharp drop from the 38% who reported a preference for vacationing during the summer months; fortunately, as the masses reduce, so do the prices. In resort areas known for their postcard-worthy beaches, the price drop is particularly noticeable. The Caribbean and Florida are two prime examples of this; hotel rates alone can see their rates drop almost 40% compared to peak season.

There are some places where tourism never seems to cease, big cities like New York and Chicago never seem to offer a prolonged period of off-season rates. But I live in New York and assume Chicago is pretty similar. Why would I want to go there?

Utilize credit cards to your advantage

I also fill out a lot of credit card applications throughout the year, simply to enhance my vacation savings when the time comes. Like many, I only associated the frequent flyer miles on my credit card with vacation savings, over the years I have expanded my repertoire, using different credit cards for everything from gas to hotel stays, each with their own built-in savings. Of course the flyer miles are probably still the best savings there is, but even with that, I no longer settle for just the typical 20,000 miles or so. Why would I when there are offers out there of up to 100,000 miles. They are not as easy to come by, but they do exist.

Do your research first

A lot of cards offer hotel programs:   these can lead to major savings, but it does take a little more work to do a proper comparison shopping on these cards. Often they will have a lot of blackout dates and capacity limitations. The ones that claim there are no blackout dates will instead have some strong capacity restrictions. Do your homework on these and you can save some serious cash. For local trips I, of course, have a gas card credit card that I use. Of course, with the high price of gasoline over the past several years, I often think it would be cheaper just to fly. Sometimes taking the scenic route can end up being the best part of your vacation. If it makes you feel any better, think of it this way:  using a gas card which earns money back means the more that you spend, the more you are actually saving. OK, so it’s a bit of a justification, but it is true nonetheless.

One other tip I learned the hard way: it you are going overseas on your vacation, make sure you use a card that at doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee. Most do and you will end up paying more for every purchase that you make â“ a real vacation killer for me!

Percentage of Income to Save Each Month

income percentageThe Perfect Percentage

If you’re looking to prevent overspending, you will need to develop a method that fits your budget. One common method involves tracking all expenditures during the month and adjusting them to ensure that expenses never exceed income. This may work for some, but others want something more concrete and ambitious. So what percentage of your earnings should you save each month?

Unfortunately, there is no perfect, one-size-fits-all number, but 40% provides a good starting point.  Make sure to plan according to what you can afford to set aside; your number might need to be different.   If you hit your perfect percentage, you won’t have to count every penny, and you’ll have plenty of extra cash at the end of the day.

The Key to Putting Money Aside

Contrary to common belief, it rarely matters where you’re overspending. After all, it’s all debt. But, it is important to understand your committedâ”or fixedâ”spending so you can be ready for   unforeseen expenses. Big, irregular expenses can drain the remainder of your emergency cash reserves. If you set aside 40% percent of your total earnings, you may be able avoid flat-lining your accounts when you take a vacation or fix the roof.

How you handle committed expenses often determines whether or not you’ll hit your 40% savings goal. Try not to spend any more than 60% of your income on fixed expenses. Many things  fall into this category, including food, clothing, essential household expenses, insurance, bills, and taxes.


Your Allocation Scheme

Once you have figured out how to budget your way to 40%, you’ll need to put that extra money in the right places. Here’s one way to divvy it up:

Long-Term Savings Goals: Make deliberate steps to create a long-term savings goal. A certain percentage of the 40% should go into your retirement account. Aim high and scale it back if needed. Start with 10% to be safe. Drawing money from this bucket should be your last resort.

Irregular Expenses: This is the big one. You will need to set aside 20% for vacations, repairs, appliances, gifts and other irregular and unpredictable expenses.

Entertainment Expenses: Everyone needs to live a little. Set aside 10% for fun. This includes weekend trips, amusement parks, movies, bars, restaurants, and whatever else you’re into.


Make Your Mark

As you probably know, there’s no perfect percentage for the masses. You’ll need to test the waters and figure it out for yourself. But, if you start at 40%,   you’ll probably find your mark rather quickly.

By saving regularly, you’ll put yourself in a better position to meet future financial challenges head on. Of course, it’s not all about helping yourself. When you set a goal now, you can make your mark on your children’s lives, too. Be sure to set realistic expectations, and always maintain a lifestyle that fits your budget. The Jones’s aren’t that cool, anyway.

(Check N Go is the fourth largest consumer financial service institution offering installment loans, check cashing and online payday loans in the United States. As a founding member of the Consumer Financial Services Association (CFSA), Check N Go has always been committed to responsible lending and works with legislators to improve the credibility of the cash advance industry. Check N Go has check cashing and payday loan locations in 28 states, with online locations in an additional 3.)

photo by debs-eye’s