Controlling the Little Kid Inside

Any time you turn on the TV, open a magazine, or walk down the street, you’ll find a plethora of advertisements for incredible products that you can’t live without.  While many of these products may well be amazing, if you lose control of yourself and let the little kid inside take over, you can end up with a home filled with some cool stuff and retirement and savings accounts filled only with IOUs.  Perhaps worse than that, you’ll find that your resources were unintentionally spent on things you value little, and those priorities that you want to value highly go wanting.  Today we’ll dive into the topic of prudent spending and offer a few suggestions on how to enjoy some of the nicer things in life now, while preserving your future and tempering buying with wisdom.

I Need a New One!

One of the starkest examples I’m aware of that illustrates this danger dramatically is the following story.  A man owns an older car that he had purchased years ago and maintained well.  One day, as he’s tuning through presets on his car’s radio, one of the buttons pops off.  “Well, I can get by with only four presets,” he thinks.  No big deal. A few days later, while setting his coffee cup in its usual place, he hears a loud “Crunch!” as the well-worn plastic cup holder finally gives way.  A week after that, he notices that his brakes start squeaking, and then grinding.

“That’s it, he exclaims, “I’m getting a new car!”  And off he goes to trade his $2,000 car in for a $15,000 brand new one, for which he’ll take out a loan.  Normally our man would know better than to do such a thing, since he’d read the TotalThriver post on the value of saving for large purchases.  But, he let that information drift far from his mind in this moment of weakness since, even though he didn’t have the money saved up yet, he HAD to do this because it was an “emergency.”

Upselling Yourself

Before we’re too hard on our reckless friend, we should recognize how easy it is to let yourself begin down this road, and then justify a higher and higher purchase price, ignoring the fact that you don’t have the money for any of this.  Our man did have a real problem.  His car radio, cup holder, and brakes all needed to be repaired.  Let’s even imagine that in this case, the total repair bill would have been high enough that putting such a large sum into an old car wouldn’t have been wise.  In this case, what our friend should have done was sold the car as-is.  Perhaps it would only bring $1500 because of the defects that he left unrepaired.  But here’s where our man went awry:  He thought to himself, (as we have all done one time or another), “well, since I’m getting another car anyway, I might as well get a nicer one while I’m at it…”  Though this isn’t necessarily a terrible sentiment, problems come when things go too far out of proportion.

A more prudent decision for our friend to would have been to spend $800 or so from his savings account to put with the $1500 that he received from the sale of the old car in order to purchase a $2300 vehicle.  Notice that this is an upgrade from the car he had before, and should definitely include functioning cup holders, a radio, and brakes.  Though a $2300 car isn’t as fun to drive as a $15,000 one, our man would have solved his problem while staying out of debt, thereby preserving his options.  By avoiding entering into a loan agreement, he will have more of his income available to replenish his emergency fund, and then begin his car savings fund.

I’ll Bet You Like Options

This brings us to the more pleasant side of the coin—enjoying the good things in life in a prudent way.  According to the revised plan outlined above, our friend is on the path toward a better car, without the risk and bondage of the debt that came with the “new car today option.” As he saves the money month by month, he can evaluate how important a premium car is to him.  He lives, as most of us do, with some limit on his available cash.  Because we have these limits, we must decide which things are most important to us, and conversely, which areas we will tolerate a lower-quality product.  What we often don’t realize is that when we sign up for a $15,000 loan on a new car, we’ve just locked ourselves into a high-quality vehicle and low-quality everything else—potentially even very important things like a future home, retirement savings, kids college, and many other aspects of our lifestyle.

The point is that by having the cash saved up, you have multiple options.  You can think about what areas you desire a quality product, and what areas you’ll tolerate something lesser.  Perhaps you want a really nice car and don’t care about eating at restaurants or buying expensive gifts for others.  Or perhaps you don’t mind driving an old car but you’ve got to have a new iPad and an unlimited data package.  For you ThirveFit members, perhaps your priority is high-quality weight equipment, supplements, and nutritional products, and you’ll put up with a five-year-old computer and TV without complaint.  Whatever your combination is, the important thing is that you find out who you are—what’s important to you—and then make sure to limit your big purchases in lower-priority areas.  Though this sounds obvious when put this way, it is so easy to find ourselves “ponying-up” for a great ______, (car, tv, washing machine, computer) when we can’t really afford it, and then later regretting having so much money tied up in that item.  The point isn’t that you can’t have nice things; it’s that we all must be vigilant to resist the “kid in the candy store” mentality ruling our every purchase.  We are wise to remember that money saved on a purchase today is money we’ll have available for those things we truly value.*

*Incidentally, this could be another purchase, or something even more valuable like giving to others or supporting spreading the Gospel.  But we’ll save that topic for another day!  🙂

What a Trip!

I had the incredible privilege a few weeks ago to travel with a group from my church, Calvary Baptist, to Indiahoma, Oklahoma. We partnered with a local church in that area, Post Oak Mennonite Brethren, to host a Vacation Bible School for the kids and reach out to the community through fun events and worship services. Today, I’ll share some of the great experiences we shared together as we proclaimed the gospel of Christ with these wonderful brothers and sisters.

 

First off, let me take a moment to express a heartfelt thank you to all of you who purchased products from our store during the month of July. All proceeds from these sales went to support our team, covering expenses associated with the trip. Your prayers and financial support were instrumental in the success the Lord gave us, and we are deeply grateful.

Our trip began early Wednesday morning, when we crammed 16 people into two vehicles: a 15-passenger van with virtually NO storage space for luggage and our leader Eric’s Highlander. Eric and Brian were our gracious drivers on the 10.5-hour trip (including a few stops!) We all had lots of fun playing catch phrase, telling jokes and stories, and listening to Lydia practice her ABCs.

Lydia singing

We arrived around dinnertime, and met our fabulous host, Victor. Several families had offered to open their homes to us, so we split off into groups of 3-5 to unpack our stuff and get settled in for the night. A small group of us headed for Walmart at 9:00 pm to load up on food and supplies. We filled four carts with food for the week, and after a rousing round of the Price is Right, Travis came away victorious by guessing closest to the $400 total price without going over! 🙂

We decided to swing by Sonic on the way home to pick up drinks for everyone and a second dinner for me (the running joke of the trip was how I was seemingly eating constantly… Sue me—I like food!! 😉 but noticed as we pulled up that there was only one minute until closing time! Thankfully, a voice answered when we pushed the button, “Did you have a call-in order?” “No,” we replied. “Oh, well then we’re closed!” Bummer!! Thankfully, I had some snap peas, bananas, and mixed nuts from our shopping trip, so I tore into those…

The next morning we all met at 7:00 am for a quick continental breakfast and devotional. I shared a lesson from the book of John, encouraging our group to thank and trust our Lord Jesus Christ, who has equipped us to share his Gospel with the world. To learn more about this devotional, see the TotalThriver post from two weeks ago.

After our lesson, we headed over to the church to prepare for VBS. Brian manned the registration table, recording each child’s info and giving them a name tag. Brian was our emcee and storyteller, and poured so much energy and enthusiasm into his role that no one could keep from laughing and learning! One of his favorite things to do to get the kids’ attention was to scream, “Feet!!” to which all of us pounded our feet on the ground. Then, “Hands!!” and we would follow with thunderous applause. Next, “Mouth” and we would all hoot and holler. And finally, “Quiet!” and believe it or not, quiet swept over the room. Pretty good trick, huh?

Our theme for the week was Psalm 100. We all practiced saying it together, and all our stories and lessons were related to this theme. Psalm 100 is as follows:

1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
3 Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
5 For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

The first day, we heard the story of Paul and Barnabas in Lystra from the book of Acts. The people there worshiped false gods such as Zeus and Poseidon, and had a legend that the gods would come in their midst incognito. When Paul and Barnabas performed miracles through the power of Christ, the people began to worship them as gods! Paul and Barnabas were insistent that they were not gods, rather they were simply servants of the one true God. The people then turned on them and sought to stone them to death. Paul was left for dead, yet survived, and Paul and Barnabas left the city rejoicing that they had been able to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the city.

The story was a hit and we all shuffled off to our individual classes to practice the memory verse and discuss the story. The kids were all very sharp and asked such great and transparent questions, as only kids can do. We followed class time with games (capture the Frisbee) and crafts. Finally, we all came back together in the sanctuary for music and closing time. Michelle and I lead the music, which ended up being a mix of classic hymns like “Are you washed in the blood,” contemporary choruses like, “praise ye the Lord, hallelujah,” and fun and silly songs like, “Hip-hip-hip-hippopotamus!” My chords on the guitar were nowhere near clean and perfect, but either no one noticed or they were to kind to let on!

After a nice lunch at the church and a short nap for the kids, we headed off to climb Mount Scott in the Witchita mountain range. Before you’re too impressed though, we climbed to the top using our 15-passenger van. That’s right, it was paved the whole way! But, in true TotalThriver fashion, I did take the opportunity to free-climb down the 80-degree or so slope. Coming back up was actually easier than going down—I think because I knew what to expect, and had fewer fears of sliding down to my demise… 🙂

For dinner that night, we had a special night out at a historical local restaurant. Meers Store and Restaurant has been in business since 1901!  I ordered the steak and the waitress brought out a delicious-looking slab of raw meat and a knife. I chose how thick a cut I wanted and began the cut, then she took it back to the kitchen where they finished the cut and cooked it to a perfect medium-rare. I’m not much of one for restaurant steaks, as I prefer the charcoal grill on my back deck, but I’ll tell you what—that was in the top five restaurant steaks I’ve had in my life! We left the restaurant that night stuffed full and content from a glorious day!

Our second day of VBS centered around the story of Creation. We talked about how Genesis tells us that God spoke the universe into existence. He is the one true God because He is the One who created all things. On days one, two and three, we learned that God made the places for his creation: (1) separating light from darkness, (2) separating the waters above from the waters below, and (3) separating the land from the seas. On the next three days, he filled those places with: (4) the moon and stars, (5) the birds and fish, and (6) animals and man.

The highlight of our class time that day was a fierce battle, boys vs. girls, answering questions about the story. I held yarn of various lengths in my hand, and every time your team got a question right, you drew a piece of yarn and added it to your line. Whoever string went farthest was the winner, and those boys managed to swipe the win in the closing seconds! It was a blast for everyone!

After the kids went home, our team split into the guys and the ladies. The ladies took to the kitchen to organize and clean from top to bottom. The men headed up the block to an old gymnasium belonging to the church. Unfortunately, this gym had burned down recently, so there were piles of beams and roof material in piles around the concrete pad. It was our job to load everything into a trailer and haul it away. Our gracious host Victor allowed us to use his SUV and trailer. Eric pulled the vehicle around and parked near the piles, then ran off to do something. I noticed that he’d left quite a bit of space between the trailer and the piles, so I told Travis to back it up closer. “No way!” he replied, “I don’t know how to back up a trailer.” “So what,” I replied, “neither do I; how had could it be?” In I hopped, and jammed the car into reverse. I then noticed that no matter which way I turned the wheel, I couldn’t get the trailer to move in the direction I wanted. “Crunch,” went the trailer into the back headlight of the SUV. “Oh man! Apparently this is tricky!” Well, needles to say, I learned how to back up a trailer the hard way. I told Victor vehemently many times that I was paying for the headlight replacement, but he would have none of it. “You all don’t get country folk—we slap a band-aid on it and keep going. No big deal.” I have half a mind to send him a check anyway—if I can figure out how to do it without making him mad!

You might think that the most dangerous part of moving piles of wood that have been sitting out for months would have been the snakes, spiders, and scorpions who make these piles their happy home. Or, perhaps you’d think that the most dangerous moment was when Travis and I constructed a fulcrum in order to break the long boards in half to fit in the trailer and were precariously balanced each on one side of the lever, bouncing up and down. But no, none of this led to trouble—it was Brian looking up while walking that resulted in a nail penetrating his shoe, sock, and toe, driving clear out the top of his big toe! Ouch! He pulled it out and headed for the bathtub for some serious scrubbing. Thankfully, his latest tetanus shot was a few weeks ago! Pray for his healthy recovery!

That night, we led a special worship service for the town. Michelle and I led music, with the church’s pianist playing for us. Our first song that evening was sung in the language of the people of the church. It was very beautiful, and we did our best to keep up. Eric gave the message, discussing the sacred union of a man and wife in marriage. We learned how marriage is a dramatic picture of Christ and the church, and that we men are to love our wives as Christ loves the church, and gave himself up for her. We were all encouraged and moved by this excellent sermon, and it was very clear that the members of the church were deeply touched as well.

Our third and final day of VBS, we learned the most important story of all: Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. We talked about how, because of Adam’s sin, we are all born in rebellion against God. Because God is Holy, he cannot allow us in His presence. And because God is just, He cannot overlook our sin as if it simply did not exist. Jesus came to the earth, took on the form of a man, and lived a perfect and sinless life. At Calvary, He took our sin upon Himself and endured the punishment we deserved. When he breathed His last, the curtain separating God from His people was torn in two, and on the third day, Christ rose again to demonstrate His power over death, hallelujah!! As I’ve experienced in the past, I was amazed how children can grasp such complex ideas and communicate them back so simply. One girl in our class shared with us, “to be saved, you just need to know your ABCs—Admit you’re a sinner, Believe in Jesus, and Confess Jesus as your Lord.” Wow! This must be what our Lord meant when He spoke of the faith of a child being the only kind of faith that saves!

That afternoon we went to the nearby Army base with several families from the church. There was a beautiful lake with a sandy beach for the kids to play on, and the view of the nearby mountain range was spectacular. The sun was hot but the water was cool, and we even got to go down a big water slide! Lydia and Nathan loved it, and even managed to avoid a sunburn somehow!

As usual, our loving Calvary ladies took care of the kids at the beach. Cheryl and Chrysti were so kind and gracious to watch the kids and both Lydia and Nathan formed a deep bond with all these loving ladies. As seems always to be the case on these trips, we sought out to bless another church on this trip, but found our own community blessed more than anything else. We were so thankful for the time we spent together and the closeness we found as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Sunday morning after the church service, we said our sad goodbyes. Lord willing, we will return again to Indiahoma to see our friends again, but the day we really look forward to is the one coming soon when we will all praise out Lord Jesus Christ together in heaven. Father, hasten that day!!

No Breaks!

One of the most important aspects of any successful training regimen (or perhaps any pursuit in life) is consistency. Today, we’ll discuss the importance of sticking with your workouts and never letting too much time pass between training sessions.

Here Comes an Excuse

As you may have read in previous posts, I had the joy of traveling to Indiahoma, Oklahoma last week to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the children, youth, and adults in the community. We had an awesome time (more to come on that soon) and forged many wonderful relationships. However, there was one thing we didn’t do while there—workouts!

While I was able to stay pretty active moving rubble from a burned-down building, swimming at the lake, and even a bit of free climbing, I didn’t lift any heavy weights. And, though I intended to go on a few runs and do some bodyweight exercises, I never managed to make it happen.

The Price That Must Be Paid

Consequently, I was in for a rough day back to the gym today. My last full workout was 6 days ago, and that’s much too long to go between workouts. My metcon of heavy squats, dips, dumbbell jerks and pull-ups started off well, but I ran out of steam about 3 minutes in and my whole body began to feel like Jello.

I’m afraid that there’s no good way to get around the rough spot that I found myself in today, should you skip too many workouts. The only way to get past it is to go right through. So, that’s exactly what I did, pushing my Jello-feeling body through the next 15 minutes of punishment. By the end, I was totally wiped, and struggled to catch my breath for about five minutes.

The Reward on the Other Side

However, once I did catch my breath, I began feeling much better, even better that I had felt all day. I spent the next 10-15 minutes stretching my hips and calves, which had grown rather tight and immobile in the two 10-hour bus rides that we’d taken last week. All in all, I felt great by the end, but there were some rough moments in there for sure.

Learn from Mistakes

As you can probably tell, I’ve been through this a time or two in the past, and have learned to avoid this situation as much as possible. Since I powered through today, I’ll likely be back in a good groove tomorrow or the next day. Getting back in a good rhythm requires paying a high price, though, as I experienced today, so I’ll be working to avoid another slip in the future.

Be Good to Your Body

One or two days of resting and stretching can be a great way to rejuvenate your body and recover from a tough workout. But three days can be dangerous and four days is trouble. If you make my mistake and wait six days between, you’re in for a rough day back, so don’t let it happen to you! Make workouts your habit four to five days a week, and even if it’s just a few rounds of sprints and push-ups, your body will thank you for avoiding the punishment of a “first day back!”

Equipped

Today’s post is a devotional on John 20:19-23. This story takes place just after Jesus’ resurrection, and from it, we’ll learn four ways that Jesus equips us to take His gospel to the world.

19So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23“If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”

He Seeks Us

The first way that Jesus equips us to share the gospel with others is by seeking us where we are, even when we are not seeking Him. In verse 19, we read that the disciples were not looking for Jesus, even though He had told them many times that he would rise on the third day after His crucification. Instead, they had locked themselves in a room in an attempt to keep safe from those who hated Jesus and succeeded in killing Him. Yet, Jesus sought them out anyway.

Notice also that Jesus met the disciples where they were in terms of belief. They clearly did not believe His words that He would rise again, but rather than harshly condemn them for their lack of faith in Him, he offered them to touch the wounds of His hands and side. In the same way, Jesus is patient with us and our small faith. When we doubt His words that He can give us a new life, make us a new person when we trust Him as Lord and Savior, he begins showing us in little and big ways, the extent of His awesome power to transform lives.

Jesus seeks after us even when we don’t seek after him. Just like the disciples in the story, many unbelievers have come to faith in Christ not by seeking out a church in the phone book and attending regularly in order to find the Truth, but instead found Jesus at their rock bottom—prison, near-suicide, or in the midst of trying times. Jesus finds us when we need most, and this shows how amazing his grace is! He doesn’t wait for us to deserve salvation, rather, He gives us what we desperately need but can never obtain on our own–forgiveness and eternal life with Him.

Calming Fears

The second way that Jesus equips us to share His gospel is by calming our fears. In the story, the disciples were clearly afraid, so much so that they hid in a locked upper room. Like these men, we face fears of all sorts living the Christian life in a hostile world. John 16:33 says, “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” Jesus tells us that we will face challenges in this world, but He also tells us that He is with us. As He calmed the disciples fears through His steadfast love and comforting voice, let Him ease your fears today. Call out to Him in prayer, and trust in His promise, “lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20).

As the Father Sent Him

The third way that Jesus equips us to share His gospel with the world is by sending us in the same manner that the Father sent Him. This we read in verse 21, and we take comfort in knowing that Christ himself blazed the path for the Truth to enter the world. We are simply to follow in His footsteps. There are many aspects in which our mission and Christ’s were similar. Two of the clearest are as follows.

First, His mission was difficult. Though He performed countless miracles and spoke with wisdom greater than any other, many hated Him. Just the same, when we share the Truth with those who reject Christ, we will gain many enemies. And yet, as Christ pressed on in spite of opposition, pain, and discouraging circumstances, so must we do as we tell others of His love.

Second, His mission brought glory to God. When Jesus took the sin of the entire world upon Himself and endured the punishment we deserved on the cross, He redeemed His people back to Himself! Though we had rebelled and cursed our Creator, Jesus made a way for our forgiveness and justification. Hallelujah, what a Savior! Like Jesus, we bring glory to God as we shine as lights in a dark world. In sharing the gospel of Christ, we glorify the Father in heaven (see Philippians 2:10-11).

The Holy Spirit

The final way that Jesus equips us to take His gospel to the world is by giving us the Holy Spirit. Having the Holy Spirit in us unleashes the power of God to work through us. The moment you put your faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in your heart (see 1 Corinthians 6:19). What an incredible blessing to have the God of the universe abiding in our heart! What power is ours, what effectiveness for winning souls, if we will bit recognize that God is in us—powerfully able to speak with wisdom, grace, and truth if we will boldly go where the gospel message needs to be heard.

In Acts 2:1-13, the Holy Spirit allowed the disciples to proclaim the works of God in every tongue. Those who saw the sight were astounded! But this same God, this same Holy Spirit is in us! Let us allow Christ to deepen our faith, and prepare to stand in awe before the work God will do through us, His people.

 

  1. Jesus seeks us out where we are and makes himself known to us
    1. Jesus appeared to the disciples
        1. In a closed room (v19). He took the initiative—they didn’t go to the synagogue or the Mount of Olives to look for Him
        2. Where they were in terms of belief. He showed them evidence that He was the risen Christ (v20).

       

    2. Jesus finds us and saves us
      1. Luke 19:10 says, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
      2. John 3:16 says, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
  2. Jesus calms our fears by his presence
    1. We have real fears in this life
      1. The disciples feared persecution from the Jews (v19)
      2. We will face difficulties too. John 16:33 says, “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
    2. Twice, Jesus calmed the disciples’ fears (v19, v21). He is patient with our fears (lack of faith)
    3. Because Jesus was with them, they found joy despite their fears (v20)
  3. Jesus sends us in the same way the Father sent Him
    1. Jesus’ mission was difficult; He has told us ours will be too
    2. Jesus’ mission brought glory to God, as does our fulfillment of the Great Commission (see Philippians 2:10-11)
  4. Jesus fills us with the Holy Spirit
    1. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”
    2. Having the Holy Spirit in us unleashes the power of God to work through us
      1. In Acts 2:1-13, the Holy Spirit allowed the disciples to proclaim the works of God in every tongue.
      2. Jesus granted the disciples power to forgive or retain sins by the Holy Spirit (v23).

What’s Important to You?

What would you think if I told you that you have two sets of priorities?  Or that you have two sets of values?  Perhaps you will deny it—“of course not!  I know what’s important to me, and my values are clearly sorted in my mind.”  Maybe so, if you’re like many people, your bank statement will demonstrate quite a disparity between the list of priorities in your head and the true priorities according to which you spend your money.

Your Treasure and Your Heart

Jesus taught this principle quite clearly in Matthew 6:21 when he said, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  For example, if I look at my bank statements and notice that I spend 5% of my household income on golf in an average month, this demonstrates that golf is important to me. Conversely, if I say, “international missions are very important to me,” yet none of my money is given to support international missions, I’ve demonstrated that my imagined priorities are quite different than my actual priorities.  Your treasure will go to that which your heart values.

An Eye-Opening Experience

Now, if you’re anything like me, the first time you sit down to look at where your treasure went, you will be very disappointed with yourself.  I remember the day, years ago, when I sat down to start getting my finances in order.  I first developed an imaginary budget, allocating something like 2% of my salary to entertainment.  This made my budget work out very well, apportioning a solid sum of money towards saving and paying off debt, which I thought were high priorities to me (my imagined priorities).  Then, I looked at the previous month’s bank statement.  To my chagrin, I found that my actions demonstrated a high priority of enjoying activities with friends and buying drinks at the bar.  Instead of working toward a place of financial strength, I placed high value on having fun with money now.

If you find yourself in a place like I did—with “real” priorities rather far from the ideal you imagine, take heart, for change is quite within your reach.  Start by creating your budget for next month, using your bank statement as a template.  Then, adjust down slightly the categories that you think are too high (entertainment, in my case) and increase other more desirable categories by the same amount.  The trick is to not go “scorched earth” in your first month.  If you try to reduce entertainment from 5% of your budget to 1% on the first try, you’ll be tempted to “forget the whole thing” a few weeks from now.  Instead, focus on incremental progress, one month at a time.

Some Practical Steps

Herein lies the beauty of a zero-based budget.  Before the month begins, spend all the income you expect to receive on all the categories of expenses that you will have.  Allocate every dollar to the appropriate category, then get several blank envelopes.  Write the category name on each envelope, and withdraw the appropriate amount from the bank after each paycheck is deposited.  Now, if you will restrain yourself to only spend from your envelopes, you have no choice but to follow your budgetted plan. 

Staying Flexible

When something unexpected comes, as it always seems to, you may have to go back to your budget mid-month and reallocate.  This is perfectly acceptable, so long as you reduce one category by the amount that’s needed in another category.  Just make sure to do this with all your numbers in front of you, so as not to start the month with 2% allocated to clothing and find at the end of the month that you gradually ratcheted up to 7% by not paying attention.

All in all, this practice of advance cashflow planning is a great tool for spending your money on things that are truly important.  The sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that comes with switching expenses which bring you little value for those that you truly care about is magnificent, and will serve you well on your path toward the thriving life.