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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May Update

May was a busy month with one trip to Florida, last day of school, a children's day service at church, and prep for our 3 week road trip.  No wonder I didn't find time for blogging or my favorite series "Frugal Living".  In fact I will have to skip writing a monthly post for Frugal Living because we've hit status quo for the moment.  Instead I'll work on a few travel with family posts, my 2nd favorite topic.

Frugal Living - May Edition 2017

Update on our Frugal Living Journey!  

Managing Debt:
A few months ago I wrote about opening a 14 month interest free credit card for the sole purpose of transferring an annoying debt.  I did it again!  This time I transferred $10,500 onto a new Discover card.  The debt was an unsecured personal loan for our fixer upper house which was charging 7.74%. The interest was approximately $160 per month which would have gone down as we paid down the loan so it's hard for me to estimate exactly how much savings was had but frankly I don't care, just knowing it's interest free for the rest of the year is good enough for me!   I plan to have this paid off in one year.

Our debt fluctuates depending on life needs, for example, our vehicles are both over 100K miles and our primary will need to be replaced in the next few years.  That will likely incur a small debt because most of our savings goes into the house, but we are careful to only buy used so it would probably be less than 10K.

We may need to take out another loan to finish our house, it depends on how much my husband can do himself or how urgently we may need to finish it and hire help to do so.

I consider the above to be manageable debt and my goal is to manage it in the cheapest way possible.

I've always found investments to be confusing.  Outside of putting 6% of our monthly income into IRA's I haven't given it much thought.  But after reading two excellent blogs about finances, I'm convinced to figure it out.  The two blogs are:

After reading both for a month I decided to try out two things:
  1. Acorn App - this app goes into your bank account and rounds up to the nearest dollar and puts the rounded up amount into the investment app.  We pay for the majority of our bills through credit cards to gain the rewards so I'm not too worried about this app taking out a big chunk of change.   In the first month, it only moved $21.  The app tells me that if I invest $20 per month from now until retirement, I can earn $$$.  So far it's an easy little app to use but doesn't provide too much information on how it's investing your money.  I found Stash to be more informative as it lets you select things you care about to invest in.  I might try that out in the future.
  2. Vanguard - goal is to save $1,000 this year and invest it.  This will come from any money earned on consignments, ebay sales, etc.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

What do a pregnant teenager and Jen Hatmaker have in common?

Both have offended Christians and been judged in a very public way.  Sides have been drawn.  Many articles have been written in anger, defense and moral outrage.  In the background, both ladies have been persecuted in a very personal way.

The only question I have not seen asked is this:  Why are Christians so angry, mean, and judgmental in these two cases?

Back story on Jen Hatmaker:
Jen is a writer of many popular Christian books that encourage people to dig deep into their faith and help others.  She's adopted two children in addition to having several of her own.  She's been a popular in-demand speaker for Christian events.  She's had a TV show and maintain's a popular blog.  She was, in my estimation, one of the top 10 women Christian speakers in our country until she wrote a Facebook post earlier this year coming out in support of gay marriage.  Her husband, a pastor, backed her up with a longer post about how they had arrived at this conclusion.  Jen's books were immediately banned from LifeWay Christian Stores.

I thought the story was over.  I thought, another famous person has picked another side in a Christian world that has many, many, many viewpoints.  One only has to look at the number of churches in any town to realize that there are literally hundreds of views out there.  I just thought, oh, she's pick a path, not a popular one, but a path.  I was never a follower of Jen's writing so I just assumed she'd found her new community and settled in.  Around Easter this year, I came across another post of hers that talked about the abuse she'd been dealt.  Some of the details in this post are down right evil, regardless of where you stand on gay marriage, this sort of behavior towards another person is just wrong.

It IS possible to disagree on theology and still treat another person with dignity and respect.  It is NOT a Christian attitude to degrade, debase, and embarrass another human being.

I've experienced church division first hand.  I've seen people leave the church I currently attend and pick a different path.  Every time I see these people I give them a hug.  They deserve love and friendship.  I may not agree with their new found theology, that does not remove them from my friend list and love.

Back story on pregnant teenager:
This is a local story.  A school in my hometown, Heritage Academy, has made the decision to not allow a pregnant teenager to walk her graduation.  The outrage has been intense.  It started with an article written in the New York times and then picked up locally - all are basically saying the school has not shown a loving approach to this teen.  The Washington Post has covered the reaction the family has received personally. These parts got my attention and made me cringe:
"The backlash has been severe, especially on social media, where she says strangers, acquaintances and parents of other students have attacked her.
“It has really gotten out of control,” Runkles said. “Moms of students have tagged me and said nasty things about me. I’ve had students start group messages to start nasty rumors. People saying I’m just attention-seeking and spoiled.” 
This is horrible behavior by professing Christians.  It is possible to disagree with the school's decision and still react in love.  It is possible to disagree with the student's behavior and approach the situation with love and kindness. There is no Biblical foundation for treating this girl with anger.

Jesus did not call people nasty names, he did not gossip about them to the disciples, he treated people with kindness and love.

There is only one point in the Bible where Jesus gets angry and it's with business being done in the temple.

I have to say "Christian Anger" is causing major damage to the Christian reputation and I don't like it one bit.  We are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Not lash out in anger when people do things we believe to be wrong.  Who in their right mind would ever want to join a church that is so angry?