terisaclark

Financial wisdom from a woman of faith

Archive for the month “October, 2013”

Halloween Finance

The discussions about Halloween this year have been good!  You can read some herehere or here.  This post isn’t one about the spiritual, theological or evangelical arguments about Halloween.  It’s one about the financial picture of Halloween.  I mean, what more would you expect from me???  So here it is in an infograph.  The Cost of Halloween, courtesy of creditcards.com:

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Did you get that??? It’s a $6.9 billion dollar day.  Did you get that???  BILLION.  $6.9 Billion.  Wow! I would have never guessed that.

And it got me thinking….what could I do with $6.9 billion.  I have my own ideas.. my Church is my first choice!  We are doing amazing things and that kind of money would make more life change possible!  But I also think of local nonprofits that are making a difference – healing and restoring lives, solving problems in our community.  Research and science. And a fun one – paying off student loans of friends that are sucking wind to keep up with it all….oh I have ideas.  What would you do???

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…..

A quick jaunt through Wal-Mart had my girl shouting “Santa Hats” at every corner…on to the mall, where she “gently” touched the ornaments on EVERY tree we passed….all reminders that Christmas is about 8 weeks away!!

Chances are you find yourself in one of these camps:

Surprised – the statement about 8 weeks just freaked you out.

Carefree – you’re thinking 8 weeks is nothing, tell me when I have 1 week left.

Prepared – you are correcting my calculation to add the days and hours left.

My desire is that no matter which camp you are in, Christmas doesn’t mean debt for you this year.  The sweetness of the Christmas season is found in giving. An exchange of the greatest gift – God’s son for each of us to have eternal life.  May our giving not be exchanged for burden of debt.

Three easy steps to guilt free giving this Christmas:

Start now.

Set the budget.

Pay cash.

 

True Total Compensation

Each year, my employer sends out a “total compensation” statement.  This statement shows the money that my employer pays me and pays others for my benefits.  It’s a powerful statement because it reminds me of those things that you often take for granted.   Health Insurance, 401k, tuition discounts, short term disability, life insurance, long term disability….I bet you are wishing you could be on our staff now!  These things truly are benefits! Not rights – but privileges/blessings!

If your employer doesn’t provide this statement, you should request the information annually.  So why?  And what should you do with it:

1.  Count your blessings.  The money your employer spends on your benefits is money you have saved – while gaining those benefits.  Take short-term disability for example.  The money my employer spends is relatively small – it would probably cost me 3x that amount to purchase this benefit on my own.  And then I personally benefited from STD after having my baby – providing over half of my normal pay for several weeks!  I’m blessed!

2. Know your total compensation.  Knowing what your employer pays in addition to your salary tells the true story.  A story you must know when relocating or changing jobs.  Use this information so that you are comparing apples to apples.  For example, a friend of mine made a move without doing this math……in the end it was a serious demotion financially. The cost of health insurance was much higher in the new city and the new employer did not cover as much of the premiums.   It may feel weird to ask these questions to a new employer – but it’s due diligence.  Know what you are saying yes to.

3. Don’t forget the intangibles.  Beyond the money is the emotional and spiritual compensation of a position.  Looking at my compensation statement reminds me that my employers values are 100% in line with mine!  For example, take the value of family.  My compensation confirm the alignment of our values in many ways – time off and short term disability (see point 1).   And don’t forget that ultimately the nonfinancial compensation (moral, organizational culture, integrity, character, influence) of a position far outweighs the financial matters.  You flat couldn’t pay me ANYTHING to do a job that compromised my convictions.  And likewise, there’s so much more than the $$ that makes me feel compensated in my current position!

 

 

 

 

 

For those of you traveling with….

You know the drill. The attendant stands in the aisle and mindlessly goes through the motions…to buckle the safety belt slide the…in the unlikely event…seat can be used as a flotation…all things I intuitively get.  And then the kicker…for those of you traveling with small children or someone requiring assistance, place your oxygen mask on first and then assist them (or something like that).  

I pause there every time!  That is not so intuitive.  Genuine love and conviction to care for those people makes me want to put their mask on first and then mine!  So why do it the other way?  For the simple reason that if you are not breathing you will not be able to help them.  

And so it is with your finances.  Taking care of you. Your family.  The US in the equation of life should be revived first.  So that you will be around to take care of others.  So if your bills are behind and you know who thinks you should do such and such….stop!  Put your oxygen on first.  If the guilt of not saving for your kids college is weighing you down…hang it up!  Putting the oxygen in your finances now makes you more able to help them later.  

So next time the attendant stands in the aisle – pay attention!  There are some big lessons in that speech.  

 

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