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Monday, January 24, 2011

February: Money Month

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. - 1 Timothy 6:10

Money often costs too much. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Time is more value than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time. - Jim Rohn

Money is like most anything else in this world - it can be used for good, or it can be used for evil. I've heard people try to say that the Bible says money is the root of all evil - but that's not correct. It says that the love of money is the root of all evil. I think that another way to say that is that the love of power is the root of all evil. Why would someone love money? Money is nothing but a tool. The only value of money is what it can do. It's a means, not an end.

I'm not perfect when it comes to money. I'm even less perfect when it comes to discipline, which is why I dedicated January to it, and discipline affects money to a substantial degree. But money is definitely a toughie. How much is enough? Is there ever too much? How much should you spend on yourself, and how much should you spend on others? Is it ethical to live comfortably when others don't, through no fault of their own? The more you make, the more you could donate, right? So then should you attempt to make as much as possible? This is such a personal issue and I know that everyone will come to their own different conclusion, but I think it's an important issue to examine your own feelings and motivations toward.

Because I'd like to change some of my financial habits, and because money is such an important issue, I've dedicated February to money. I have five goals:

1. Practice a "no-spend" month (Convenient, isn't it, that February is the shortest month of the year???)
2. Save.
3. Donate to a charity
4. Attempt to make extra money
5. Read 4 Day Work Week

I spoke previously about "no-spend" month, but I'll be a little more specific. No spending on anything that I don't NEED. If I can get by without buying groceries, I will. Within reason, of course. If I go to work without packing a lunch, I will either have to go home to eat (the extra gas I'll give myself a break on) or go hungry. This means absolutely no spending on clothing, trips, eating out, entertainment, or gifts! I have one birthday that month, so I already bought that gift.

The purpose of "no-spend" months is to get you to realistically evaluate your spending habits, and to become more aware of them. I have been using Mint.com to keep a budget for about 8 months now, and I think it has helped my budgetary awareness somewhat, but not as much as I need. Since I won't be spending, all that extra money will go into savings (#2). I think I'll also be getting my tax refund money at that time, so the newness will have worn off before I'm able to go out and spend any of it.

I want to donate to a charity. I have heard of Kiva.org before, and never have actually used it. The other day and read some more about it, and I think it sounds great. Technically, it's not a charity. The money you give goes to an entrepreneur in a poor country to help them start/maintain a business to make money for their family. It is actually a loan that you're making, but the money comes back to your Kiva account for you to reinvest or withdraw. The cool thing is, you get to pick a specific person and their payments actually come to you. You can see their success stories in the update section! I read a little bit about how some of the loans are guaranteed, and it seems very smart. Some of them have a circular guarantee within one community, which takes advantage of societal pressures. Apparently some of the recipients have already used the system before, because the listing will tell you whether they have had ontime payments in the past. Should be fun and interesting to use.

I'd also like to sponsor a child. I remember when I was young, we sent off a slip to start one, but never heard back. I watched an amazing video that relates to it recently (it's not quite 4 minutes long):


Attempting to make extra money will involve my listing some of my artwork and crafts on etsy. I need to get back to work on my tablecloth - haven't had as much time lately!

4 Day Work Week will be my first audio book. I used the term "read" loosely. I wanted to read a book about money for February, and because of my desire to move and possibly not have a traditional job, I thought this would be a great way to learn about some options. I'll give an update on what I was able to glean.

My January resolutions are coming along about the same, I am performing terribly getting to work early (I think I'm making a "D" in that area), but doing great about getting there on time, and everything else has been going pretty well. Only one January week left! This year has been fun so far.

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