Lessons from personal car buying experience

I did not own my own car until my parents bought me a 1989 Nissan Sentra just before my junior year of college. The car needed some work, but once the engine was overhauled, it reliably hauled me all over. The car had over 100,000 miles when I became the owner and I don’t think that I put more than $1,000 into it in the five years that I had it.

Do you need to downsize your life?

I recently purchased an item of furniture via Craigslist from a woman in a nearby town. In the course of our interaction, she stated that she was trying to get rid of furniture because she was moving to a smaller apartment. She stated that she was trying to “downsize”.

Tips for selling on Craigslist

Last week, we gave some tips for shopping on Craigslist. Today, I would like to talk about the other side of the bargain – selling.

Emergency fund: what to do if you do not have one, but need cash fast

Times are tight for many people these days. Many Americans have had to use and even exhaust their emergency funds without warning. There is a whole other group of people who never had an emergency fund in the first place. However you get there, being in a cash crunch without an emergency fund is a tough place to be.

Here are some options for dealing with a dire family cash flow problem:

Borrow from relatives

Money can be a sticky topic in family relationships. Something like this might take a whole lot of humility, furthermore there can be long-term consequences from family financial arrangements. However, if your need is genuine, you might have family who can help.

Give and it will be given you

Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure–pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return. Luke 6:38

Sometimes those of us who watch our pennies closely forget to practice this verse. Recently, I had a friend do a favor for me for which I was quite thankful. Afterward, when I was reflecting on his generosity, I was struck by a thought: Would I have done the same thing if the situation were reversed? I had to admit to myself that the honest answer was “no”! I am often the person who avoids getting involved with others, either by making excuses for why I cannot help someone in need or by immediately wondering, so, what’s in it for me?

Tips for shopping on Craigslist

Mrs. Stew and I have used Craigslist a great deal over the past few years and I keep finding more and more reasons to return to the site. The Craiglist concept was invented almost before Al Gore invented the internet. The service was first an email distribution list between friends and then the idea became a website in 1999. I used to view Craigslist just as a free version of the online auction site, Ebay, however while it is true that the best thing about Craigslist is the fact that item listings are free, the site is much more than a place to buy and sell.

What does your dream trip cost? (World Cup)

The 2010 FIFA World Cup starts this Friday at 10 am MST. I plan to watch both of the first two matches . . . after that, we’ll see . . . I happened to be in Germany during the first weekend of games during the 2006 World Cup and although I was unable to attend any of the matches live, just being in the host country during the event was a great experience. I am a big soccer fan and I cannot wait for the tournament to start. Every single game fascinates me. My job has enough flexibility for me to watch most of the matches during the first two weeks. After that, I will be traveling quite a bit and will probably have to miss a few games.

Tips to avoid gambling problems

On Wednesday, we discussed the issue of gambling in relation to being a Christian. I am not much of a gambler, but I know that many people enjoy this form of entertainment. If gambling is something that you do in moderation, here are some tips to help you to know whether or not your habit is “moderate” and to keep it that way.

Do you gamble?

I grew up in a pretty conservative Christian environment where all gambling was off-limits, no if’s, and’s or but’s. Any sort of gambling was on “the list” of activities in which no believer would ever participate. In fact, I remember listening to my pastor explain that even playing a game with a traditional card deck was off limits for any good Christian. As a result, I grew up playing a lot of different card games that did not use the traditional 52 card deck. Games like Rook, Phase 10, Uno, Old Maid were okay, but not poker games like Texas Hold’em, BlackJack, Omaha, etc. A casino was a business to be boycotted and protested.

Frugal Philanthropy

I used to work in the fundraising department of a non-profit organization and we focused on developing two types of givers: the type who had the ability to give a large gift on one or two occasions and the people who gave smaller, but regular donations – $25 a month or $100 once a year. But what about those of us who cannot even afford to give any money at all? While I faithfully give to my church, there are other charitable efforts to which I would like to give, but I simply do not have the money.

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