Category Archives: Life Skills

Step 1 for A Secure Financial Future – Take Stock!

Whether you have broken your 2020 new years resolution by now or not, for the most of us, our finances continue to be a concern.

Here is the first step towards planning for a Secure financial future.

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Take Stock of Current Financial Status, that is,

  • Calculate your current NET WORTH.
    • Do this at least quarterly; certainly
    • do it once a year!
  • Compute the current value of all your assets (what you own).
    • The total of non-obligated funds (balance) at all bank accounts
    • The fair market value of all real assets you own
      • trade-in value of cars, motorcycles, boats, scooters, trucks, etc.
      • Current fair market value of all real property you own
        • house(s), farm(s), land(s), etc.
      • Current trade-in value of equipment and appliances you own
        • TV’s, Refrigerator, tools, computers, sound systems, etc.
      • Current trade-in value of all furniture, jewelry, antiques, etc.
    • Compute the current value of all financial investment instruments
      • (these are the value of these instruments
        • that will be available to you on demand
        • after deductions of all penalties, fees,commissions etc.)
      • Cash payout of all retirement accounts
      • Cash payout value of bonds, stocks, etc.
      • Cash payout of life and other insurance policies
        • if any;
      • Cash payout of all other investments
  • Compute your total debts (Liabilities);
    • Current short term loans
      • (those payable within 1-5 years)
      • credit card(s) balance(s)
      • total current value of all car loans/note(s)
      • other short term debt(s)
        • e.g. lease or rental obligations
    • current value of total long term obligations
      • Mortgages/house payments
      • Student Loans
        • many student loans have a payoff value
          • attached to your total balance
      • Other Long term contractual Obligations
        • current value of total child support payments
        • current value of alimony or divorce settlements, etc.
        • current value of all other court ordered payments, etc.
  • Compute the Net Worth
    • = Total Current value of Assets – Total Current Value of all Debts.
    • This is the foundation of all planning for a secure financial future!
    • The numbers need not be super accurate.
    • This is just a birds eye view of your current position
  • Now that you know your current financial status,

  • the Next Step is to SET SOUND FINANCIAL GOALS
    • That is, clarify where you want to be
    • That’s in the next Post

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Orientation for a Secure Financial Future

Scanning the landscape of your financial future?

There are about six major ways to become wealthy:

  • Be Born into a Wealthy Family

    • It goes without saying that
      • if you are the child, relative, or heir of
        • Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Sam Walton, or
        • Africa’s Aliko Dangote, or Mexico’s Carlos Slim, or
        • any of the royal families in Kuwait, Oman, or Dubai, etc.
          • you WILL also be wealthy.
    • But this path to wealth is not available to over 99% of the planet!
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  • Marry into a Wealthy Family

    • Kate Middleton, and Meghan Markle
      • married into British Royalty and into Wealth!
    • The wives of Rupert Murdoch, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk
      • all married into wealth.
    • However, this road is reserved
      • for only a tiny sliver of humanity. 
      • It also appears that
        • the wealthy generally marry
          • people of similar economic status.
  • Win a Lottery Jackpot with a Big Cash Prize

    • The odds of winning the mega million jackpot in the US
      • for example, is over 1 in 300 million
      • that means it is ‘possible’ to lose over 300 million times
        • before you win once!
      • It also means that you may never win
        • if you play the lottery every day
          • of a 100-year life span
          • (that is about 36,600 days!)
          • and never win!
      • As a means to wealth,
        • winning the Jackpot is therefore a ‘false hope’
        • for the majority of us.
      • Note:  Forget about the publicity
        • around those who win;
        • the prize money
        • (less the portion
          • that goes to the organizers)
          • is coming from all those who did not win,
            • (that is a lot of people!)
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  • Steal Money From Plenty of People or From a Wealthy Person

    • The problem with this approach is that
      • it is illegal and you may get caught, 
      • it is anti-biblical, unethical, and immoral; moreover
      • people/the wealthy will work to protect their money, and
      • therefore the success rate of achieving lifetime wealth
        • through thievery is also very low.
    • Therefore, this is not a viable approach to wealth
      • for average person
      • (some still try to make a living
        • by scamming people out of their money).
  • Become a Successful Professional in a Well-paying Industry 

    • Note: “successful”
    • Also Note: “well paying industry” of the economy, meaning
      • star athletes, champion sportsmen, movie stars, etc.
        • at the top of their profession
        • (Usain Bolt
          • the 100 meter Jamaican world record holder
          • is reportedly worth over $30 million
            • in 2019!);
      • professions requiring high qualification, and
        • that are in high demand
        • but with low supply of workers, for example,
          • brain surgeons, computer whiz, fund managers, etc.
    • Also Note: Working for income in an excellent but regular job
        • is not usually a means to wealth!!
    • The possibilities here in my judgment are greater
      • than the previous listings
      • but still for most people
      • it is not a feasible way to build lifetime wealth.
  • Start and Run Your Own Successful Business 

    • Note again “successful”
    • Starting and running a business requires
      • special skills
        • which many people do not appear to have;
      • willingness to take risks,
      • willingness to bear full responsibility
        • for your own welfare.
      • But with risks comes financial reward
        • that can grow without limit
          • into lifetime wealth,
          • as long as the business continues to grow
            • and is successful.
    • The proportion of people who can take this is also greater 
      • than than the previous options!
  • Get A regular career and invest wisely

    • in other Successful Businesses
      • over a long period of time!
    • Note: you do not have to be successful at
      • starting and running a business; but
        • you must be good at picking successful businesses
          • over a long period of time!
    • This means using modest regular income, and
      • saving all you can, while
      • investing in businesses that are successful,
      • over a long period of time,
        • will generally compound into wealth!
    • This is the most available route for most people!
      • More next time.

On a final note:

  • Becoming ‘wealthy’ need not be your goal, rather
  • Make it your goal to become Financially Free:
    • Have enough to tithe and give to the work of the Lord.
    • Have enough to cover your budgeted expense
      • including miscellaneous, as well as
      • unplanned and unexpected expenses.
    • Have enough to cover for emergencies.
    • Save enough to guarantee a desired standard of living in retirement.
    • Have enough to leave a legacy for the next generation!
    • Have enough to be generous and make a difference in the lives of others.
  • This we can all do
    • If we start early,
    • with much planning, prayer, and discipline!!

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New Year! What Resolutions?!

I NO LONGER MAKE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS!!

WHY?  Two things!

  • I have come to view the end of one year and the start of another as 
    • a little too artificial.
    • Imagine looking back to the earth
      • from the vantage point of the moon.
      • What is the difference between
        • December 31st and
        • January 1st?
    • Or Imagine being a bird, or another animal.
      • What is the difference in the experience
      • of December 31st relative to January 1st?
  • I have resolutions,
    • but they are no longer bound by an artificial timeline.
    • My resolutions
      • like time itself,
      • are always on a continuum; and they
      • are about
        • ‘always growing’;
        • always becoming a better version of me.
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    •  I don’t stop striving to become better version of me
      • just because I broke a resolution after two months.
    • Neither do I wait until the next December 31st
      • to resolve to start again;
      • to become a better version of me;
        • after I fail by February 1st each year.

So what should we do on the 31st of December each year?

  • Do celebrate 
    • the end of a block of (man made) ‘time’ and the start of a new one,
      • like everybody else; and
      • it is useful to have time markers along the way, but
  • Do, never become obsessive
    • that you must meet all your benchmarks within the year
      • to consider yourself successful!

So here is the ONE AND ONLY RESOLUTION you need to have:

  • Always strive to become a better version of yourself with each passing day:
    • Be better at your faith, you know,
      • trust, pray, love, give, testify, know, and serve more, etc.,
        • about and as a result of your faith!
    • Better in your character
      • (the real you;
      • what’s inside;
      • like toothpaste,
        • what comes out when pressure is applied);
      • Be more dependable, more patient, more truthful,
      • more balanced, less self-centered, more at peace with yourself,
      • more generous with others,
        • with your resources as well as with their faults etc.,
      • more self disciplined with time, words, and actions; wiser.
  •  Better in your relationships: more
      • serving, self-less, open, forgiving, listening and less talking,
      • considerate, gentle, humble, and more self-control.
    • Better at your Career:  Make it your goal to be 
      • more dependable, knowledgeable, skillful, useful, available, etc.
        • with each passing day.

A wise man once said, long ago:

“…One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize…” Paul (ca. AD 52-62, Phil 3.13-14)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!  PLEASE LIKE AND SHARE!!

How to Give the ‘Perfect Christmas Gift’

In Developing Countries;

  • it is easier to come up with gift ideas,
    • (if you have the funds for it),
  • there are many things that people need
    • but do not have; indeed
    • cooked food was the gift that
      • my mother dispatched
        • (through us children)
        • to neighbors, extended family, and friends
        • as a sign of good will at Christmas time;
    • watches, shoes, garments, jewelry, dishes, sheets,
    • pens, books, personal music player, TV, computers, toys, etc.
      • are all also great gift ideas.

In affluent societies like in the Western World

  • coming up with the perfect gift at Christmas
    • can be a challenge;
      • because most people use
        • their regular incomes or
        • credit cards to buy what they
          • need or use regularly.
  • One option is to buy
    • high-end gifts or
    • exotic and rare versions
      • (which can be very pricey)
      • of things people use on a regular basis.
  • Regular folks therefore have to work harder to give the perfect gift;
    • here are a few suggestions of how to give the perfect gift.

The perfect gift takes time

  • Start early, as early as September;
    • listen to everyday conversations,
    • listen to expressed desires and aspirations
    • and make a note for gift ideas from those conversations.

The perfect gift may be an ‘experience’

  • Gift ideas do not have to be ‘things
    • they can be
      • a vacation, cruises, concert, a trip to a destination
      • museum/zoo visits or theme park rides, air fare, special trips;
      • time off work, housekeeping, or baby sitting;
      • an offer of cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping;
      • scholarship, tuition contribution, tutoring,
      • a special radio station/you-tube, blog post announcement, etc.

The perfect gift should be personalized, customized or handmade;

  • an autographed book/ticket/music/fan wear,
    • (from the author or composer, or admired person)
  • monogrammed items:
    • a person’s name, initials or special message,
      • can be inscribed on
        • silverware,  bathroom set, plaque, musical instrument;

The perfect gift must fit the personality of the receiver 

  • Some people want big
    • (the amount spent is impressive)
    • others look for small details
      • (how rare, how much effort, how much thoughtfulness!)
  • Some people are visual
    • others are action oriented, still
    • others are moved by sound, etc.
  • Some people like things, others like ‘experiences.’
  • Some people want to keep up with their peers
    • (they get gifts that are popular)
    • others want to know that ‘they’ are unique
      • (they get gifts just for them);
  • How do you know what is the perfect gift?
    • People usually give the type of gift
      • that THEY like to receive;
      • use that to guide your gift giving
        • TO THEM!
        • not the other way around
        • do not give what you cherish
          • (I once gifted a hat to my wife
            • that she has never used;
            • it was something I fancied for myself!)

The perfect gift may be what someone tells you they want

  • They tell you directly or respond if/when you ask.
  • Some apps make it easy to create a registry for gift requests.

 

 

Thanksgiving (An Attitude of the heart!!)

This should have been posted before Thanksgiving Day.  All the same,

“Better Late than never,” and on thanksgiving week,

I heard one radio announcer say:

“Thanksgiving is not a day, it is an attitude of the heart.”

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Photo by nappy on Pexels.com
  • T – THANK and PRAISE God

    • for all things BIG and SMALL!
      • And do not forget
        • the precious people in your life!
  • H – HEALTH AND LIFE

    • are things we can all be thankful for
      • even if we are ill at a hospital
        • or in bed!
  • A – APPRECIATE and ADMIRE

    • the beauty of God’s creation around you.
  • N – NAME and NUMBER

    • your blessings,
      • its a rewarding experience,
      • including the precious people in your life.
  • K – KINDNESS and THANKSGIVING

    • in the heart
      • are twin siblings in the same home.
  • S – A SMILE and a CHEER;

    • want to see it on the face of the deserving?
      • Just say, “Thank You!”
        • from the heart
        • and with a warm smile!
  • G – GIVING and RECEIVING:

    • The one exists not without the other
      • every time you say,
        • “Thank You!”
  • I – ICTUS;

    • Five Greek letters for ‘fish‘:
    • Jesus, Christ, God, Son, Savior:
      • at least one reason to “give thanks!”
  • V – VISION and VALUE:

    • Nothing says:
      • I see and I value what you have done” like when you say
        • “Thank you very much,”
          • from the heart.
  • I – INSIDE and OUTSIDE:

    • A thankful heart, expressed outwardly in sincere words
      • belong together.
  • N – NICE and NEW: 

    • Thanksgiving is always that
      • and much more.
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Photo by Panos Sakalakis on Pexels.com
  • G – GOOD to GREAT: 

    • ‘Good Gifts’ become ‘GREAT GIFTS,’
      • when it is received with a heartfelt:
        • “Thank you.”

 

 

 

 

Of the ‘Devil’ and the Evil in All of US!

Where does Satan and our Sinful Nature fit

  • in explaining the evil that is in the World Today?

As a Christian

  • I learn about the existence of ‘Satan‘ and of the ‘Sinful Nature,’ but
  • I have not fully resolved
    • how those two (sinful nature and Satan) interact to bring evil in the world.
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Regarding Satan (the devil, serpent, tempter, accuser, destroyer, etc.)

  • Is he present everywhere at the same time?
    • everyone appears to be constantly being affected or
      • tempted by him;
  • How is he able to tempt each person individually?
    • How come he knows what we are thinking?
    • How come he knows so much
      • about our individual histories, personalities and weaknesses?
  • If Satan, ‘the devil’
    • can tempt, deceive, dissuade, discourage, destroy individuals
      • even as the human population on the earth
        • continues to grow and
        • has reached over 4 billion; and if he
    • can work his evil from generation to generation for thousands of years;
      • the way some people say he does,
      • does not that make him a very powerful person
        • with some attributes like God(!)?
        • But he is NOT GOD!

This brings us to another source of evil in the world:

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  • The Sinful/Evil Nature in all of us.

A ‘celebrity’ (in the early church)  once said this about himself:

  • (in the first century)
  • “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me,
    • that is, in my sinful nature. 
    • For I have the desire to do what is good,
      • but I cannot carry it out.   
    • For I do not do the good I want to do,
      • but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”
        • (Paul: Romans 7.18-19)
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Photo by sebastiaan stam on Pexels.com

This is what that sinful nature looks like:

  • He(She) is lazy, slow, and a procrastinator.
  • He(She) lies, exaggerates, and deceives
  • He(She) is incredibly selfish;
  • He(She) is greedy, proud, boastful, and self-promoting
  • He(She) can be lewd, nasty, and insensitive
  • He(She) is utterly against God
    • He(she) does not want to submit to God’s rule or to worship him;
    • He(She) does not like to humble himself before God;
    • He(She) does not like to pray;
    • He(She) does not want to read sacred scriptures;
  • He(She) does not like limits
    • if the speed limit is 40 mph, he(she) wants to go at 45 mph or
    • if the speed limit is 55 mph, 65 mph seems attractive to him/her
  • He(She) lacks self control, prefers excesses,
    • he(she) does not want to wait or to accept limit on him/herself
      • whether it’s with regard to food and drink, or
      • in relation to social interactions,
        • including sex, and marital fidelity;
    • he(she) does not want to go to bed or to wake up early;
    • with regards to words and conversations,
      • he(she) can be mean, insensitive, inconsiderate, gossipy, and crass.
    • He(She) is never satisfied, always wants more.
  • He(She) works against the interest of the person in whom he dwells;
    • the excesses of the sinful nature may cause
      • disease, physical harm, crime and punishment;
      • auto accidents, fire, financial ruin,
      • ruined relationships and broken families,
      • loss of face and status, loss of power, etc.;
    • but this does not stop him or cause him to change direction .
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I believe that

  • this sinful/evil nature is in every human being;
    • it can be conditioned/tempered by
      • parental discipline and personal experiences;
      • Christian (religious) conversion and education, and by
      • custom, and the laws of society;
  • this sinful nature is a “he/she” because
    • it is a part of but
      • not the totality of who we are as individuals
    • because he(she) appears to operate by ‘reason’ and ‘persuasion’
      • to our minds and/or to our will
      • (See Paul above in Romans 7.15-25);
    • as individuals we have still have the ability
      • TO MAKE A CHOICE between what
        • the persuasion of what the sinful nature wants and what
        • commons sense, conscience, laws of society, and the dictates of our faith, tell us.
  • (Personally, I refer to this sinful nature as “THE BEAST”).
  • Bring a community of people together
    • with this sinful nature and its tendencies,
    • we then have endless possibilities for evil,
      • in our world!

NEXT POST:  BRINGING THE TWO TOGETHER:

  • SATAN, OUR SINFUL NATURE, AND THE PREVALENCE OF EVIL IN OUR WORLD!!

Questions: Pain, Suffering, Evil, and God!

I ADMIT IT!!!

  • I have had a lot of questions that have plagued me for a long time

    • about pain, suffering, evil, and God!

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  • I have seen (first person) or heard and read about

    • Christian men and women (young and old)
      • faithful to Jesus Christ,
        • active witnesses for Christ,
        • righteous in their lifestyle choices,
        • selfless in service to others,
        • regular and authentic worshipers,
      • loved by all, and then
        • fall ill and die,
        • drown at a Church outing or swimming in a home pool, or 
        • killed in gruesome road accidents, sometimes
          • while out or soon after evangelizing, or
          • while going about their normal business;
          • leaving behind grieving
            • (sometimes young) families,
            • congregations and the church at large,
          • while their ‘less worthy’ and sometimes criminal compatriots
            • live on!
  • I have read about 

    • how about five million Jews (‘God’s people’)
      • were killed in the second World War;
    • how over two hundred thousand people
      • were killed during the Tsunami in Asia in 2004,
    • how hundreds of thousands (including many innocents) were killed during
      • World War I, World War II,
      • Genghis Khan Wars, Alexandra the Great wars, Roman Empire Wars,
      • wars of Independence in US, India, Nigeria, Pakistan,
        • in South America, Africa, Asia, East Asia, Europe,
        • in civil wars and terrorist plots all over the world, etc. etc.
  • I/We have seen TV/Video clips of infants and babies 

  • struggling with cancer and other horrible diseases
  • that adults find it difficult to cope with, much less little children
  • born with birth defects
    • (blind, deaf, without limbs, joined with other children etc.)
  • I/We have seen the crooked and the unrighteous

    • get rich and powerful
      • by engaging in ruthless, unethical, and evil schemes,
      • swindling their customers, investors, and society as a whole,
    • beat the system instead of paying for their crimes,
    • appear to continue on with their lives
      • after destroying the lives of others
        • including family, trusting friends, and associates.
  • I/we have also seen

    • the poor remaining poor
    • the sick remaining sick
    • the rebellious child remaining rebellious
    • the marriage not becoming healed
      • even after a lot of prayers!

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 PAIN, SUFFERING, AND EVIL, GOD! QUESTIONS?!!

I CAN NOW SAY THAT I HAVE ANSWERS THAT SATISFY ME AND I WANT TO SHARE THEM WITH YOU.

NEXT POST!!!