Saving Money, Practicing Humility and Getting Dirty
Have you ever been hit square in the face with the realization that you need to make changes? This happens to us all once in a while and our human nature is to cling to the familiar, even when we know deep down it may not be working. I’m sure you’d agree that it can be pretty scary to branch out, break old habits while earnestly working to create new ones that will ultimately be in our best interest. The thing is, when you’re standing at this proverbial Y in the road, you don’t always know that the new path will be a better one, you just know that the current path won’t work for you in the long-run. I’ve referred to this in past writings as the Compound Effect. At first, changes may be so small they’re hardly even noticeable. However, over time, the outcome of our choices, routines, and habits become bigger and bigger. And, this is true for both the positive and the negatives in life.
You may recall in last month’s newsletter that I mentioned Linda was going through Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey. It was a class that was offered through our church, Northpointe Community Church in NW Fresno. Truth be told, I did not want to do it so Linda forged ahead faithfully without me. You see, she realized she needed to make changes with her own financial stewardship. She has been a good student too. Both committed to the process but also excited to remove long-standing routines and replace them with new, disciplined habits, that over time, will compound and create fruit in her (and my) life. In Matthew 25: 14-30, Jesus tells a story of The Parable of the Talents. Jesus actually talked a lot about money in the New Testament and specifically, through parables so that the everyday person could understand. The essence of his story is that when you are entrusted with any amount of money, the expectation is that you need to be faithful and wise with it, not lazy and unfocused. If you’re faithful with little then how can he trust you to be faithful with much.
Although the classroom part of Financial Peace University has now ended, the work is on-going. In her zest for creating new habits, Linda has spurred several conversations between the two of us that have gotten me to thinking. In our “I want it now” society, everything is just a payment. We’re desensitized to it; at least I am. Whether it’s your gym membership, car payment or now even annual passes to the Magic Kingdom, we tend to rationalize it away and think, I can afford that $129 per month, no sweat. The problem is, all those monthly bills add up and overtime, they’re out of control.
We need to be better stewards of our resources
After many talks with Linda, I decided I needed to let some things go so that we could get back to the basics and be better stewards of our money and resources. We’re actively working to control expenses in our business too. We’ve trimmed a lot of the little bills at the office that when added up, amounted to a lot of money. Rather than looking at the individual monthly expense, I’m now looking at it in the big picture. We’ve decided to let our gardener, pool service, and house and office cleaner go. That alone is $350 dollars per month or $4,200 dollars per year or $21,000 dollars over 5 years. If we apply the principles of compounded interest, that $21,000 would be worth considerably more in lost savings and interest. In 10 years time, those expenses alone would be approaching $50,000 dollars. What if we saved that $350 dollars each month and in 10 years time, $50,000 would be a nice cushion in the bank…Now that’s something to think about!
Back in 2013, I was blessed with the opportunity to be one of the leaders of Core 12, a year-long leadership development study for the Men’s Ministry Team at Northpointe Community Church. It was patterned after a study called Joshua’s Men and was meant to be a prerequisite for men’s ministry leadership. 12 men were hand selected to go through this year long class with extensive reading and homework each month. At the very first meeting, we each discussed the two top vices that we dealt with on a daily basis as men. One of them was consistent with every guy in the room, and that was Pride.
Most of us can agree that pride leaves a bad taste in our mouth. Both when someone around you is acting arrogant and prideful, but in retrospect, if you’ve acted that way yourself. It’s not the best feeling. We all know excessive braggers or name-droppers, right? This is nothing more than someone’s pride and insecurities bubbling to the surface and them maneuvering to position themselves above you so that they can seem more important. I can readily say, I’ve struggled with pride most of my life in one way or the other. It’s not fun to admit, but it’s truthful. Humility is a goal that I now strive hard to achieve. Each day, each month and each year. And, some days are better than others. I believe it will be a lifelong pursuit.
For the last 10 weeks, I’ve been taking care of my yard and pool once again
Now that I’ve properly framed the context of my situation, in truth, I was naturally resistant to cutting certain expenses like the gardener and cleaner. However, as I unpacked that resistance and examined its inner workings, I was left with the unsettled feeling that in part, it was due to pride. After all, Linda and I are both extremely busy and we own a business, we can’t be bothered with things like this. The few people I’ve discussed these changes with, have made comments about the value of my time and is it wise to be doing these things. In truth, they make a good point. However, right now, I feel the cost is too high for me not to take these things over. I’m not referring to the actual monetary cost but the cost of not confronting this pride and dealing with it head on. And, it’s been good. For the last 10 weeks, I’ve been taking care of my yard and pool once again. It’s been a while but I’m getting back into the swing of things and quite frankly, although my yard guy did a phenomenal job, there was a lot of stuff that needed to be improved on. In the process, I’m getting great physical activity and also, really enjoying it. Cleaning the office, not so much, but at least (we) are getting physical activity.
Back to Basics
One of the added benefits of taking these chores back was getting to buy some new yard equipment. It’s been so long since I’ve tended to my own yard, I no longer had any equipment. For those of you that know me, well, you know that I’m a certified tech geek, and with that, comes a stupid amount of research before buying anything. We have a creeping fig vine that was planted on our fence around the entire peripheral of our backyard, and we live on a corner. Our gardener did not trim this vine as part of his regular service and it hadn’t been trimmed for the better part of several years. It was really overgrown. Not wanting to drag an extension cord around the yard for a hedge trimmer, I began to research cordless hedge trimmers. That research led me to the Ryobi 40V yard equipment. After reading every review and watching every video I could find, I purchased one. Let me tell you, it’s cool. It works as good if not better than the corded trimmers I’ve used in the past. In fact, it worked so well, I started looking into the rest of Ryobi’s line of cordless lawn equipment. I’ve now gotten the Ryobi 40V lawn mower and the weed eater which has an Expand-it feature where you can remove the trimmer and add accessories. We purchased the rototiller accessory and it works absolutely amazing. I’ve rototilled most of our flower beds and mixed in organic soil Amend. Linda has planted about 3 flats of flowers and more are needed for the backyard.
It’s been nice to reconnect with our house and yard. There really is a sense of fulfillment to making something beautiful, but it’s also working on me too. It provides thinking and planning time. New marketing strategies are hatched in the chambers of my brain. New targeting metrics. New ways to cut costs and save money while improving efficiencies.
When the realization hit me that change was needed, I knew it was the right thing to do. I knew I had been resisting it in the past too. I’m thankful for Linda for putting her fears aside and blazing into the great unknown.