Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The difference between poor and broke.

Recently I've fielded several calls inquiring about scholarships for behind the wheel instruction.  Here at community education we offer behind the wheel at a cost of $250 for six hours of instruction.  I'll admit $250 is expensive.  But the cost covers the instructors pay, insurance (which is high) gas, and maintenance of the vehicle.

In one particular case a mother and her daughter asked if we could set-up a payment plan so that they could tackle the cost in chunks.  They agreed to pay $50 a month.  Once we received $150 we went ahead and gave the behind the wheel instruction, but we kept the daughters form that allows her to take the drivers test until we received the final $100 in payment.  Once we received the $100, she would get her form and be able to take the drivers test.

A month after she had finished behind the wheel, the mother and daughter failed to make any payments on the rest of the $100 that was owed.  Then the mother called and asked for a scholarship for the remaining $100.  I said no.  Then she told me that they weren't in a position to come up with $100 and wouldn't be able anytime soon be able to come up with $100.  I simply said, "as soon as you come up with the $100 we'd be happy to give you the form to allow your daughter to take her drivers test."

I wanted to help, I wanted to bring her into my office and figure out how she could come up with $100.  But I didn't.  I didn't because I knew this woman was not only broke, but poor.

There is a big difference between being poor and being broke.
When you're poor you have no money, and no hope of ever getting money
When you're broke you have no money, but you have hope.
When you're poor, you focus on all the problems
When you're broke, money is only a short-term problem.

Instead of looking for work, she was looking for a hand out.
Instead of teaching her daughter how money works, she was teaching her how unemployment works.
Instead of focusing on ways to come up with $100, she focused and worried about lack of money.
Instead of taking action and making a decision to do anything, she decided to take no action.  

This is how mom was raised and is raising her daughter.  And so the cycle continues.

Reminds me about the quote, It's not where you've been that's important, it's where you are going.

In the past 12 months our house has been hit with an usual amount of household problems.  Not one but two cars needed to be replaced.  Bought used cars.  Used cars ran well - for about a week.  Made numerous trips to the mechanic.  Dryer went out.  Vacuum died.  Needed beer. 

Then we made some tough choices with money.  Instead of having a stay-cation, we went to Colorado for a family reunion (we committed to go and paid for half the trip).  We also decided to send our kids to private school, which is not cheap.

Throw in all those financial obligations and we spent close to $15k in expenses that we normally don't have.  I don't know about you, but an extra $15,000 added extra stress to my life.   It's enough to freak you out.  Especially when the bill from the mechanic has an extra zero that you weren't planning on.  We couldn't pay the bill.   Because we didn't have all of the money to pay for the repair, the mechanic kept the car.  Don't worry, it worked out.  We got creative with transportation and eventually paid, and got the car back

If you're poor and you have a flat tire... your whole world gets turned upside down.  Poor people operate on a thin margin of error.  Luckily for us, we are not poor, just broke.  When misfortune hits, we work extra hours, we slash our expenses, and eat a lot of peanut butter sandwiches.  It may take a while for us to get on track, but at least for us there is hope.  Which above all is the main difference between being poor and being broke.  We know this is just bad-luck and is only short-term.

So I say to all my readers... hang in there.  "Out of suffering comes perseverance.  With perseverance comes character.  Out of character hope.  And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured his love into our hearts by the holy spirit, whom he has given us"  -Romans 5: 3-8.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Time, I want more.

Let’s face it.  We all want have multiple areas in life that we want to do well in.  Things that matter to us.  Without a doubt these things, if done right, require time from us.  Time is a finite resource, and we only get so much of it before we leave this world.  Question is, can we some how have enough focus on the things that matter to us without sacrificing one or more of them?

Here is my list of things I want to spend time on.

My faith
My wife
My daughter
My son
My Friends
Family (brothers, parents, aunts, uncles, grandmas, cousins, nephews, in-laws)
Church and church activities (Small group, connectors, fundraisers)  
House and household duties (Cleaning, Repairs, Cooking – eating better than box dinners)
Coaching Cross Country
Career and continuing with my part-time job, attending 1-3 nightly meetings a week.
Finances – spending time going over the family budget.
Volunteering – all pro dad/school activities/Rotary/volunteering at school
Reading and learning
Rest – getting 8 hours of sleep a night, keeping Sunday afternoons activity free.
Attending local sporting events, and the occasionally Gopher basketball game.

I asked my wife can we do it all?  We concluded, if we do, we have to be intentional, and put everything in the calendar in writing and then stick to the calendar.  Undoubtedly this would leave us with a rigid schedule for each day almost everyday.  Which as I type it, sounds constraining and leaves little room for spontaneity.  That doesn’t sound too appealing either.

Can you prioritize the most important areas of focus and then align your actions with those priorities?    Can you be congruent with your priorities and how you spend your time?

Keep in mind that emergencies will pop-up and require us to temporarily re-allocate our time. 

It’s making a decision on where to spend your time, and then being ok with not spending time on something else.  What will we sacrifice?  Will I be ok with that sacrifice?

Do you know anyone that's figured this out yet?