2020 – It’s a New Year – Actually it’s a New Decade


Wow where has the last year gone? Actually where has the last decade gone? Anyone remember Y2K?

One year, 10 years, 20 years….wow did they go as fast for you as they did for me? And how many of us have made a New Year’s Resolution each year to make next year better than the last? Especially when it comes to finances.

According to an article in Forbes Magazine published in January 2019 just one year ago and one year later than the 2018 PEW Research article mentioned below, as well as a 2017 CareerBuilder study found that 78% of U.S. workers are living paycheck to paycheck. See a pattern? Year after year different studies and research find the same results. What do they say the definition of insanity is? Isn’t it; keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.
Who are these people? Are they people living below the poverty level. No, in fact many are earning by many standards a good income. CareerBuilder reported nearly one in 10 workers making $100,000+ live paycheck to paycheck.

Here are some other crazy statistics reported in Forbes;
• Nearly 3 in 4 workers say they are in debt – and more than half think they always will be
• More than half of minimum wage workers say they have to work more than one job to make ends meet
• 28% of workers making $50,000 – $99,999 usually or always live paycheck to paycheck, and 70% are in debt

Clearly the Financial Matrix is alive and well as many people have fallen victim to the fact that Financial Literacy is not being taught in our schools. I believe a certain level of financial literacy should be a requirement to graduate from Middle School and a greater level of literacy at the High School level. You may ask how and why should we expect a certain level of financial literacy even at the Middle School level? I live in Central Pennsylvania where a significant number of my friends come from an Amish and Mennonite background and many of them attend school until the 8th grade (Middle School). For many of these families this age group enters the work force and many even become entrepreneurs, if not immediately soon after. This takes an understanding of handling money, investing in their business, understanding cash flow, operating budgets, and concepts such as credits and debits. You are never too young to learn about money, something that affects our lives forever, even after we die, think inheritance and legacy.

What are some changes we can make right here and right now? Let’s see what the most financially successful investor of our time Warren Buffet says…

In two CNBC make it Articles published; May 10 2018 on Money, and Apr 30 2019 about Power Players, Warren Buffett says avoid debt at all costs. If legendary investor Warren Buffett could give one piece of advice to young people, “it would be just to don’t get in debt,”. He told this to a 14-year-old shareholder at the 2004 Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting.
“It’s very tempting to spend more than you earn, it’s very understandable,” he said. “But it’s not a good idea.” And if you’re deep in the red, it may be a good idea to “never look at a credit card the rest of [your] life,” Buffett added.
Warren Buffett, who is worth nearly $89 billion according to Forbes, is famous for spending only $3 a day on breakfast. Buffett said he uses cash “98% of the time. Buffett’s tendency to use cash puts him in the minority among Americans. Using cash, however, can actually be a good way to save money. And researchers have found that physically handing over money feels painful, making you less likely to do it.
In 2018, only 18% made “all or almost all of their purchases” with cash, according to the PEW Research Center. About half (52%) of Americans made “some” of their purchases with cash and 29% made none of their purchases with cash.

That is over 80% which is very similar to the percentage of people who are 90 days from bankruptcy. In other words if they did not have a check come in for 90 days they would have to start selling items to pay their debt obligations.

So….What changes are you going to make in 2020 that you promised yourself you were going to do in 2019, and maybe also in 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015?

Now is the time! Let’s make 2020 a New Beginning.

Get Financially Fit.

A.G. Gaston’s 10 Rules

While on a trip across country, My wife and I had the opportunity to visit the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham Alabama.

It was heart wrenching to see both the discrimination and hatred of individual‘s due to the color of their skin. It was a sad and disgraceful time in our country’s history. Sorry to say that this type of discrimination has always been, and will most likely always will continue, due to the fallen nature of men & women. It doesn’t seem to matter the race or what part of the world it exists it is all wrong. But in spite of the circumstances there are those who prosper.

One  such example was A.G. Gaston. Arthur George Gaston born in 1892 in Alabama was one of those individuals.

Mr. Gaston’s father died while he was still an infant. He grew up in a log cabin with his mother and grandparents. A.G. Gaston’s formal education ended with the 10th grade. After WWl he went to work in the mines and according to Wikipedia while working in the mines, he decided there was a need to feed the workers and came up with the idea of selling lunches to his fellow miners and then branched into loaning money to them.

Overtime Mr. Gaston had become a wealthy businessman in spite of the discrimination and poverty that surrounded him. His success included a business college, insurance company, a home for senior citizens, a bank, savings and loan association, motel, funeral home, bottling company, construction company, two radio stations, and a boys and girls club. He was a tremendous success by any standard of measure.

What were some of the principles that Mr. Gaston practiced and live by that allowed him to ascend to this level of success?

A.G. Gaston had 10 rules for success which he followed;

  1. Pay yourself first and save a part of all you earn.
  2. Save at an established institution such as a bank or savings and loan and stay away from loan sharks.
  3. Take no chances with your money.
  4. Never borrow anything that if forced to it, you can’t pay back.
  5. Don’t get big headed with regular people. It you take care of their needs they will make you big.
  6. Don’t have so much pride and wear the same suit for a year or two. It doesn’t matter the kind of suit if there is no money in it.
  7. Find a need and fill it. Successful businesses are found on the needs of other people. Keep good books and hire the best people you can find.
  8. Never run around with people that you can’t compete with. Stay in your own class.
  9. Once you get money or a reputation for having money people will give you money.
  10. Once you reach a certain bracket it is very difficult not to make more money                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Mr. Gaston famously said, “I never went into anything with the idea of making money. I thought of doing something, and it would come up and make money. I never thought of trying to get rich” Mr. Gaston’s net worth was estimated to be more than $130 million dollars at the time of his death..

I have learned over the years that when it comes to finances that good principles are necessary to follow. No matter your background or environment, if you follow sound financial principles not only will you find a way to earn money, but you will more than likely be able to keep it.

Money Focused or Purpose Focused?

What is your Money View?

A great question to ask ourselves, because we spend so much of our life working for it – Chris Brady New York Times best-selling author does a talk explaining the concept of a money-view. Because like your worldview, your money-view determines how you approach money. And because we all have the need to earn money, how we view it determines the role it plays in our lives.

In a well articulated article Eric Blomdahl explores finding and living your GOD-given purpose. The challenge we seem to face as a society is we serve GOD on Sunday or in Bible study or on a missions trip, but 40 hours a week (80 for most couples) people focus on money by going off to a job. Many Christians feel that we are not doing GOD’s work if we make a profit, yet Christian authors are paid, and most Pastors are paid, and they usually have a paid staff to assist with the operation of the church. Our defense is the Pastor and staff, are doing GOD’s work.

In contrast most people work a job not because it was their life’s purpose or GOD’s purpose for their life, but because it paid better than the last job.  Where I live near the State Capital of Pennsylvania when asked where someone works if they work for the state you usually get the response with a reply like “I work for such and such at the state, only 12 more years to go. Does that sound like the response of someone whose job is fulfilling their life’s purpose? It sounds more like a prisoner who is doing their time for a crime committed. Maybe it should be considered a crime wasting the life and talent GOD gave us to make money when the only reason we do it because it pays more. In Scripture it states “the love of money is the root of all evil”. Well why else would someone devote their entire life to a job where they are counting the days until they retire if it wasn’t for the money? I doubt they would be there if they weren’t getting paid.

Perhaps our worldview has been shaped in the church. Many of us get our perspective on money from hearing people misquote scripture by saying money is the root of all evil or we attend a church that tends to criticize and make its members feel guilty if they earn income.

A white paper titled Pastoral Care in the Context of New Wealth authors Cooke and Moon researched to determine a Pastor’s capacity to counsel a church member who came into money through inheritance or financial success and found that most are ill equipped to provide such counsel or even know where to turn to provide direction for a church member. They cite several reasons but generally speaking it has to do with the misunderstanding of money and the role it plays in a person’s life. This confusion has been passed on in many cases to the congregation. Money in the hands of good people who understand it’s role can do amazing things.

LIFE challenges men and women to step out of a job where we work for money and into a life of purpose. What is that purpose you ask? That’s for you to decide, but let me offer a few suggestions. I’ve said recently if my children were young with today’s technology we would home school them and travel the country so they could see and experience life first hand. Imagine the memories that would be created stopping to view a sunset on the Pacific Coast of California or to wake up with your kids overlooking Lake Tahoe and have breakfast lakeside. How about going on a Missions Trip every quarter of the year? Would you take your parents on a trip to Bermuda, or a cruise to Alaska with their grandchildren? Would you volunteer more time to your favorite charity? Would you take time to really appreciate your family and each other rather than living the hurry scurry of life most families endure?

What legacy do you want to leave and when are you going to start living that legacy to leave one?

New Year’s Resolution

It’s a New Year and the time so many people make some new commitments to change their LIFE.  So what can you do different than every other new commitment you have made to change your life? How about changing some associations?

I found out many years ago that I had to change the habits that got me the same place every year. Experts call it Pattern Interrupt. I had to interrupt the patterns I had formed that caused me to make the basically the same decisions year after year. One thing I did was to get some new input, from some new associations. I made some new friends that had results in life I had hoped to accomplish. How did I do it? Like many people I went to a seminar to learn new information and make some new friends, because life is like a team sport. You win and lose based on who is on your team and how they play the game.  Hey, what I was doing wasn’t giving me the results I wanted so why not change what I was doing?

It’s not too late so why not give it a shot. Do something so absolutely crazy your friends will think you lost your mind. What could possibly be so wild that is so different that your friends will think you’ve lost it? How about taking a weekend and not going to the bar or a birthday party for a child so young they will never remember and go to the LIFE Convention in Columbus Ohio Jan 27-29, 2012 (can you believe it is 2012?).

Maybe you went to a LIFE Open or Teamcast, or maybe someone shared the concept of the LIFE business. What could you possibly learn that you don’t already know about what you may have seen?

How about a different perspective on money? Maybe meet some young people who have left their jobs before the age of 25, 30, 35, 40, anyway way before having to wait until age 65 or 70? You might just learn something about yourself.

How about a change in your regular weekend routine? One thing for certain, it won’t be boring. Still uncertain, ask yourself this question; what could you possibly do that weekend that could change your life forever? This convention could. It did for us and many others. Why not for you?

Make a New Year’s Resolution, and follow the Nike quote and “just do it”!