kindle…

Are you a reader?

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If there’s one question I dread it is the “Are you a reader?” question. And it doesn’t help that it is present at every writers meeting or workshop. Almost like the unspoken pass-code for fraternity members.

I am currently reading Warsan Shire’s Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth.” My mind hides. I’d never be caught dead reading such material. Dude pulls the book from his backpack. “I have my mother’s mouth and my father’s eyes; on my face they are still together.” is how the cover reads. I salivate.

I just started Nora Roberts Obsession…” But before my mind distinguishes it from Calvin Klein’s Obsession, the lass argues that Nora didn’t do a good job on it. The tea in my cup unsettles itself as we wonder how we will survive the onslaught. “Alchemist!” I blurt out and the group bursts in excitement. Paulo always excites. I am relieved. Especially because I don’t have to reveal that it has been my only read in last couple of months.

Novels ain’t my thing. I prefer novellas. Straight to the point! BUT troubled times have led me – all in one night – to wipe a 300 page slate clean! That said, I do try and a lot of my times are spent rummaging through financial blogs for financial information. These blogs have helped me out of ignorance to a place where I proactively manage my monthly blessings. I am grateful for the internet in which I have found simple, straightforward and safe resources for a soul that was deep-in-debt. Safe because financial issues are sometimes so private that it makes it easier to discuss with google. Here is a useful link on Financial Planning Basics.

Subscribing to a personal finance blog that posted weekly provided a lot of mental support for a deep-in-debt soul. The comments section were even more powerful as I realised that I wasn’t alone in the journey. It felt like we were holding hands and Bob Lotich – founder of Christian Personal Finance (now known as Seed Time) – was doing a great job at guiding us. It’s been 10 years since I started following Bob and I can attest to bearing much fruit put by putting into practice his propositions. His blog is Practical, Biblical, almost Magical 🙂 I highly recommend it!

Teachings on money continue to help me steward resources that go beyond my purview. I am currently journeying with Dave Ramsey and I kinda wish I had met him earlier. But everything in its time. I just finished his 8-Day JUMP START series and every post has been richly insightful. One of his articles breaks down personal financial growth in years. Take for example his advise to those in their 50s. He suggests they sell their house and move to a smaller one since the kids are now all grown up. “Continue investing…” he says, “And make sure you enjoy life!“. Do you see why the frat asks us to read? It opens the mind…

*This post is dedicated to my cousin who got me my first and only kindle. An Amazon Fire! I really didn’t know what it was, all I know that it was a miraculous answer to prayer. “I couldn’t think of someone more deserving…” were my cousins words. A true angel he is! A true angel ❤

generosity burnout…

7 Habits of Highly Productive Giving…

I recently read an article on beating generosity burnout. The title 😮 Really? Isn’t generosity supposed to be just that – generous? So why talk about burnout. I must, however, commend the authors for bringing in fresh thinking to the subject of giving. And whilst the article is geared to helping the employee achieve work-life balance, I believe the ‘7 Habits of Highly Productive Giving‘ shared is something that can be applied to money matters too.

1. Prioritize the help requests that come your way

Giving can be prioritized and more specifically planned for in advance. How? Deciding whom you want to give to in the coming months, allocating specific amounts to give to these categories, and opening your heart to the priorities (read emergencies) of others.

2. Give in ways that play to your interests and strengths to preserve your energy and provide greater value

While Grant & Rebele’s article refers to managing workload, this point makes for an interesting perspective in financial management i.e. we should not feel confined or restricted to giving from our pockets but explore other avenues of giving such as offering our expertise or counsel.

3. Distribute the giving load more evenly

The generosity burnout article encourages people to refer requests to others. This alludes to the fact that we do not have to single-handedly bear a burden. Bringing others on board helps resolve a ginormous problem quickly, easily, intelligently 🙂

4. Secure your oxygen mask first — you’ll help others more effectively if you don’t neglect your own needs

To be a highly productive giver, you must cater for your needs first. A budget is one tool that allows for the effective management of one’s finances. And you know what? It is absolutely fine to say you are not in a position to help.

5. Amplify your impact by looking for ways to help multiple people with a single act of generosity

I don’t want to belabour this point so I will simply say pay those who work in your homes and organizations (generously) well and the ripple impact will be greater than great!

6. Chunk your giving into dedicated days or blocks of time…

Love this! It reiterates my previous post that giving doesn’t have to be an abracadabra exercise. It can be planned for aka chunked i.e. divided into smaller achievable portions.

7. Learn to spot takers, and steer clear of them.

I don’t necessarily agree with this thought as such is the nature of giving and a ‘taker’ label is a tad bit too harsh! BUT then again the context in which the authors lay their discussion is totally different from this post. That said, do NOT encourage dependencies, do NOT encourage debt, and more especially do NOT encourage bad manners 🙂

Do take a minute to check out the burnout article.

 

giving…

Move it from being an abracadabra exercise…

I thought it unwise to move to the next budget category of expenditure without spending a little more time on giving. What is it and why do we do it?

A couple of months ago, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of young graduates on the subject matter. “Is giving necessary?” I asked. “Absolutely not!” A young chap retorted. He, however, confessed that the feel-good factor made it somewhat worthwhile. I smiled. Such a genuine response and a reflection of where my heart sometimes is. “To give or not to give? Reasonable or excessive? Broke, so what should I do? What will they say if I don’t contribute?

My own search for answers has made it important to define giving.

Giving is a holy expression of thanking God for what He has done / does for us. Of course we cannot buy God or His favour but we have an opportunity to worship Him through our tithes and offerings.

Giving is our physical expression towards those we love. When I think about the generosity my parents continue to extend to us, I cannot help but desire to bring up my kids in the most generous of ways.

Giving is our human expression towards fellow men who cannot possibly make it on their own. Men who need to be helped up and out of poverty. Men seeking the opportunity to fish so that they too can dignify their kin. And, if you think about it, those men are sometimes us.

From a personal finance standpoint, I am convinced that planning out our gifts allows for purposeful, generous and cheerful giving…

  • Purposeful: At the end of the day, giving should not create unnecessary dependencies or undue stress. Planning can help determine how much of my earnings goes towards specific categories of giving.
  • Generously: Generous gifts communicate value but it isn’t always possible to do so with one paycheck. For example, you may want to give your brother a decent wedding gift but your salary wont allow. Budgeting for it across months will easily help achieve the goal.
  • Cheerfully: There’s nothing as sad as regretting your giving because you did not put much thought to it. Taking a minute or more to think about your gift will help move it from being an abracadabra exercise to an exciting and blessed experience.

That said, there’s a lot more that can be given besides money. The idea is to cultivate a generous community that is more concerned about justice, mercy and faith.

Happy Valentines! ❤

tithe…

A covenant that continues to break the hold money…

You cannot begin to imagine the horror I felt when I saw a post that read “Tithe is a subscription that followers pay to a religion.” If the guy was close by I’d give him a real good fix. Just kidding 🙂 The truth is, however, this matter has never failed to attract controversy. No, I do not intend to add to the debate. Mine is to share what tithe means to me. Here goes…

Back then – when I joined the Church – I didn’t hear too much of it spoken about (money) but I heard a little enough to make me search the scriptures and understand what was being taught. Our Pastors always encouraged us to confirm the word for ourselves. I would spend a lot of time searching the scriptures to understand – for myself. And when I understood, I made a covenant with God that tithing would for me be a spiritual act of worship.

Has the journey been easy? Not always. Some season are rough. Some seasons are tough. Some seasons the money just isn’t enough but I have a covenant. A covenant of worship. A covenant that continues to break the hold money has over me.

Has it been rewarding? Absolutely! In seasons of bleak, I have seen God’s miraculous provision not just financially but mentally. You need a mental hardness that only God can give in times of lack. Seasons of bloom are harder for the reason that it is easy to forget that God has been at the centre of all. Tithing brings me back.

So is it just about checking lists? James of the Bible 🙂 says that true religion means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt us. Jesus, himself, warns against such a checklist. See excerpt below…

23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” ~ Matt.23:23