Category Archives: Money

Buyer’s Market

There is a positive element about the current economic calamity: It is a buyer’s market. The price of real estate is down, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is at a 12-year low, and Christ’s redemption is being given away freely.

Translation:

  • Buy real estate if you can. Jesse Duplantis says, “Buy land, God ain’t makin’ no more!” It’s demand has to go back up because it’s supply never will.
  • Buy stock: There’s a big reduction sale going on right now. You can buy more shares for less money! If this was at your favorite place to shop, you’d be having a field day!
  • If not “buy land”, then buy “C” (C being Christ). If you’ve never before considered the Gospel message of Jesus Christ, there is no better time than now. Invest in the kingdom––it’s free! And of all these, it is the biggest bargain with the biggest payoff.

I’ve heard my pastor say, “Until God is all you have, sometimes you don’t know He’s all you need.” Maybe you’re at that point. Maybe you don’t have the resources to buy land or purchase stock. Who knows when and if your resources will be replenished? Stop trusting in the resource and put your trust in the source.

MythBuster

I don’t have traditional cable (too cheap, I mean, fiscally prudent) but I was lucky enough to catch a few MythBusters episodes while on break at work. If you haven’t seen it, it’s where science meets entertainment. The hosts take urban legends (for example, is it possible for a human to catch a bullet with his teeth?) and either confirm or debunk the myth basically by destroying stuff. [GRUNT Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor-style]

I think reality can be a better measure of outcomes than reality TV. Take the following old adage for example:

“Money makes the world go around.”

Is it Myth or Fact?

No laboratory or studio needed here. The testing grounds for this myth is real life. It routinely has a way of wrecking things on its own (or at least the entities in life like greedy corporations and corrupt governments do). There hasn’t been many times in history when the dollar has taken a beating like it has the last several months.

  • Foreclosures up 81%
  • Layoffs up 55% (200,000 in January alone)
  • Unemployment up 2.7% to 7.6% (4.1 million more jobs lost in ‘08 than ‘07)
  • Burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft up
  • Real estate value down 15.3%
  • Dow is Down 37% (4700 points) since one year ago
  • Consumer spending down 8.9% Q4 2008 (worst since 1947)
  • Federal government over $10 trillion dollars in the hole
  • Fed $787 billion more down (pending the “stimulus” package)

There is no money left out there! Has the earth’s rotation slowed? Has the days gotten any longer? Has the world stopped?

myth-stamp

Bottom Line (no pun intended):
Money does NOT make the world go around.

Deal or No Deal?

Wall Street and Main Street might well be Easy Street compared to the effect the current financial calamity has had on Skid Row (in keeping with the “street” theme––no disrespect intended). With little money to go around these days, perhaps the charitable organizations have been the biggest victims. Some companies have realized this as an opportunity, not just for generosity but for profitability too.

Saturday night, we went to Ruby Tuesday’s with some friends. At the end of dinner, the server solicited a donation to Second Harvest Food Bank through the purchase of a half-dozen cookies. I was familiar with the name of the organization from a story about the shrinking support of charities caused by the worlds economic mess. Earlier in the day, we drove through a shopping center parking lot that was hosting a media-sponsored food drive for Second Harvest. So as you can imagine, my heart was being softened for an organization that is apparently starving for resources. Upon further questioning though, it turns out that the cookies cost $8.99 with only 10% (or about $0.90) going to Second Harvest. WOW––what a lame way to be charitable.

Who would I really be feeding by buying those cookies? $1 to “feed” the hungry and the remaining $8 to feed six cookies to a “healthy” couple still full from a $40 meal. Something about that just didn’t seem right. We did make a donation to Second Harvest Food Bank but it wasn’t through buying cookies (I need a cookie like I need a hole in my head). Through another corporate donor, Harris Teeter (a grocery chain), we purchased two $5 gift cards that will go directly to Second Harvest to be used at their discretion. Here’s how it all adds up:

Option 1:
$40 meal + $10 cookies = $1 donation (or 2% of total cost)

Option 2:
$40 meal + $10 gift cards = $10 donation (or 20% of total cost)

Did we make a good deal? Yes, we made a very good deal! To whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). God wants us to be good stewards of what he has entrusted to us. Remember the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30, the man who made the most of what was given him was rewarded generously and the one who did nothing, neither spent it nor invested it, received nothing. Are you making good “deals” with what God has blessed you with?

Pocket Change

I used to have this favorite pair of jeans that had holes in the pockets. I didn’t realize it until I heard change hitting the floor and felt my keys working their way down my pant leg. Of course, it took a few times of wearing them before either remembering to pitch them or being burdened with picking loose change off the floor and misplacing my keys. Thankfully, I didn’t lose anything too valuable before changing my strategy, that is, I replaced those jeans with a different pair.

Well, maybe it’s time for a “pocket change” here in America too; maybe we have been trying to “wear the pants” in the house but unfortunately have been trying to wear them in the wrong house. Check out how timely the Lord’s 2,500 year-old words are for America and even the world as a whole:

5Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

7This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD. 9“You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. 10Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands.”

Haggai 1:5-11 (NIV)

(emphasis mine)

The Christian foundation on which this nation was built is continually being chipped away only to be replaced by a house of cards. We have seemingly gambled our values for valuables that “moth and rust destroy, and thieves break in and steal.” Consequently, the world around us appears to be “going to hell in a hand-basket.”

What do you think–is this global recession more of a spiritual problem or an economic one? Whose house have you been building on a personal basis? What can we do corporately to switch the focus to building the right house here in America and abroad?

Goodwill Challenge

Finally as promised, here’s the sequel to Good Meal, Goodwill, Good Deal . . .

My mom used to question our success at Goodwill––not at finding bargains, everything is a bargain at Goodwill, but at finding new or like-new designer apparel. She often blamed her location (cause she’s not in the BIG city) and would challenge us (probably jokingly) saying, “I’ll pay for anything that you find in there.” Well, in January of this year, we just happened to be driving by the rural store in her small, low-income Pennsylvania town when we spotted a shirt displayed in the window that looked like something fitting my daughter’s taste. That was all the persuasion we needed. Game on! Mom, get out your checkbook ‘cause we’re about to rack up in this joint!

Can you say, “cha-ching cha-ching?” We didn’t get the shirt in the window (wrong size or something) but within five minutes I had a Banana Republic blazer for myself and an Old Navy one for my wife; she had a pair of leather boots. I also walked out of there with a pair of distressed button-fly Mossimo jeans that still had the tags on them (big whoop, right? It’s Target’s brand––don’t act like you don’t shop there.) Even though we didn’t get the full experience due to a preset dinner time, we still managed to buy over $60 worth of stuff; and that doesn’t include the $20 or $30 worth of stuff that we put back in order to be fair to my mother or the dozen or so XXL shirts that I showed her for my dad (he didn’t need any at the time). Don’t feel too bad for my mom, we didn’t exploit her; we were willing and able to pay for everything we bought but she insisted (she’s a stand-up woman). Besides, she walked out with some things for herself and a new appreciation for a great organization.

If you’ve never tired it, don’t knock it until you do. You may have to look a little harder than in your traditional store but it is worth the effort. And most of the time, the workers are genuinely nicer than you’ll find anywhere else and that’s an endangered commodity these days.

Gas Gauge

HOORAY! I just got gas for under $3 per gallon. Finally some reprieve at the pump! Now if we could just gas up the economy!

No Easy Button for America

BREAKING NEWS: A revised $700B financial industry bailout bill passed Senate by 74-25 vote tonight; the House is to vote Friday

Government interference, corporate irresponsibility, public ignorance in part—a trilogy of events that has lead us down this path of economic calamity. Unfortunately, there is no “easy button” for this dilemma; there will be no easy street for Wall Street or Main Street. Either strategy, the pay out or play out, has its share of consequences that will likely burden America for years to come. And while the economic fate of America hangs in the balance waiting for elected officials to act, what are we to do?

Trim the fat—America needs a diet!

For government:

  • Govern more and meddle less when it comes to business
  • Don’t prostitute citizens to big business but protect them from it
  • Reduce wasteful, excessive spending
  • Don’t accept handouts from corporate America (or other special interests)

For corporate America:

  • Stop the madness of overinflated executive salaries at the expense of the company’s performance
  • Limit risky ventures like sub-prime lending
  • Run lean even in prosperous times
  • Don’t expect handouts from the government

For the American people:

  • Reduce debt, spend frugally, increase savings
  • Quit confusing privileges for entitlements
  • Don’t expect handouts from the government
  • Hold your public officials accountable
  • And by all means—VOTE!

Here’s a question:

$10 trillion deficit overall, $400 billion budget deficit just this year and the US government has the audacity to describe their plan as a “bailout” and “rescue.” Does that even sound logical?

The answer to bad government is not more bad government, to paraphrase Jeffrey A. Miron, a senior lecturer in economics at Harvard University.