Wednesday, December 14, 2011

No Plan Day

A few weeks ago, one Saturday, we had a 'No Plan Day' in our household. We decided not to plan any social hangout or day trip, but to spend the day taking care of our overall finance.

C.J. and I sat down together and did what we call 'finance check-up'. We don't do this for fun. It's not fun at all. Going over how we've been doing in saving, giving, investing, and spending, we sometimes get quite tense and sharp with each other.

However, we do this because it's very good for our soul. For us, this check-up time is like doing a deep-cleaning of the house. It's a stressful and agonizing process, but when it's done, we feel so relieved to know that things are in order and that there is no little mouse eating away a corner. More than anything else, when we keep our finance in order through this check-up time, we have such a peace knowing that we are staying accountable to God with His money.

We try to have this No Plan Day a few times a year, instead of once a year. In that way, the amount of work and stress involved is not overwhelming, and also we get to keep track of our annual budget and make any necessary adjustment through the year.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

On Passion

Do you love your job? I recently met two people who love what they do.

The first person is Rachel Coleman, the creator of Signing Time series. Just for fun, C.J. and I had started exposing (I don't like using the word 'teaching') Elisha to sign language through DVDs that we found at the library. We randomly picked one DVD, and it happened to be Signing Time. In this DVD series, Rachel teaches American Sign Language in such a fun and exciting way that even C.J. and I often get lost into it while showing it to Elisha.

After a while, I started wondering how Rachel had started learning ASL and how she makes learning ASL so fun. Then, one day, I happened to watch the special features section of one of the DVDs, where Rachel gave the answers to my questions. When Rachel's daughter, Leah, became one year old, Rachel and her husband found out that she was profoundly deaf. That's how Rachel started picking up ASL. Then their second daughter, Lucy, was born with spina bifida and cerebral palsy. Lucy learned to sign and eventually to speak, and proved her doctors were wrong.

Rachel has the firsthand experience of what sign language can do for children with special needs. Also, she feels that it's her mission to promote sign language among hearing children as well so that they will grow up thinking of signing as normal. That explains the passion and earnesty that I see in her in those DVDs.

The other person is C.J., my husband. Well, he did NOT like his previous job where he had worked for about 11 years. C.J. worked to pay the bills - nothing more than that. Right now, he loves what he does as a Government Negotiator. When he was offered this position, as the job was so different in nature from what he used to do before, he hesitated quite a bit. However, C.J. is thoroughly enjoying his 'saving taxpayer's money' work, and I am thrilled to see him loving what he does for living.

A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. Ecclesiastes 2:24


Friday, September 2, 2011

Not on FB

People keep asking me if I am on Facebook. No, I am not. As of now, I don't have a plan to go Facebook. There is no "noble" reason. It's just that I know I can't handle it responsibly. I know I will neglect my priorities Facebook-ing...lack of discipline.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Debt Tolerance

Ha, Obama government did it. They raised national debt ceiling. And I loathe it.They found an easy way out - easy for them....which is heavy on the back of honest, hard-working people and the future generation. Now Mr. Obama will be remembered as "the president who got us into deeper debt".

Obviously, S&P is not as debt-tolerant as Mr. Obama, since they lowered U.S. credit rating right after the debt ceiling was raised.

If I can't afford to buy a new car, I would buy a used car. If I can't afford to buy a used car, I would take a bus until I save enough money to buy a car. All because my debt tolerance is very, extremely low. I might have allergy to debt.

Both in America and here in Korea, I see many young people taking out loans with no second thoughts, just to get a new car or to live in a bigger house. By the way, here in Korea, right now the interest rate for a loan is around 7-8%.

I have a friend who once had $30,000 debt in college. It was not a school loan. It was a credit card debt. She loved shopping, eating out, traveling - all done with a few credit cards in hands. When she accepted Jesus into her life, one of the first things she wanted was to become financially clean and responsible.

After talking to our pastor, she moved out of her apartment and moved in with an old lady, who hired my friend as her caregiver. Salary and free housing - she was already able to cut huge part of her monthly expenses. Then she stopped eating out. Between classes and her new job as a caregiver, she didn't have time to go out any longer.

She paid off the $30,000 debt in two years.

What is your debt tolerance? Does the word 'debt' make you cringe? Would you take out a loan or would you downgrade your life style?

Any government, like any family, can for a year spend a little more than it earns. But you and I know that a continuance of that habit means the poorhouse. Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1932


Monday, August 1, 2011

Your Money Counts

Reading this book was the very first assignment for our Crown Financial Ministries class back in Summer 2008. C.J. and I still refer to this book to make decisions on our finance.

As I see the current economic turmoils going on in the States, I am so thankful that C.J. and I are living by the sound, biblical guidance we had gleaned from this book.

Do you want to do something about your finance, but don't know where to start? Are you worried about the pandamic economic fails? Do you want to clean up your financial mess? Or do you simply want to know what God says about money? I can't think of a better book for you than this one.

I hope you will be convicted, challenged and changed forever by reading this book.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Don't Mess With TAPO-man!

Don't we too often minimize what a simple 'asking' can do?
Last week, we made a flub with our finance! Of course, we fail once in a while, just like everyone else. However, one thing that we do which most people don't do is we try hard, very very hard to minimize the damage.

Two weeks ago, we opened a new savings account and transferred most of our money from our checking account to this new savings account. Last Thursday was C.J.'s payday and our credit card payment was withdrawn on Wednesday. Even though the credit card payment was scheduled on the same date as payday, due to the time zone difference between US and Korea, it didn't work as we had planned.

So the bank charged us for the overdraft and the credit card company charged us a hefty finance charge. Now, we had two options: too tired and therefore succumb to the giants,or ask for forgiveness and see what happens.

Well, C.J. decided to be the man and fight for it. We thought if we could get at least some of the charges waived, we would be grateful. C.J. politely explained the situation to both the bank and the credit card company, and asked for a favor.........And, to our surprise, both of them waived ALL charges!

I am so proud of C.J. that he has the gut and willingness to "try", instead of giving up without trying...That's the true TAPO-man.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Conduit of Blessing

A few months ago, C.J. got a bonus from his work. As it was an unexpected, surprise income, I thought we were going to tithe, spend little bit to treat ourselves to a nice dinner, and save the rest of the money. However, God obviously had a different plan for that money.

C.J. suggested we support a friend who was leaving for an one-year missions trip, and he also wanted to donate to a few missions organizations including Japan Tsunami relief fund. After giving to those people/organizations, we still had some leftover from the bonus, and I was looking forward to spending and saving the money for US now. Oh well, that was not God's plan, though.

A few days later, we found out that CJ's old friend passed away from an illness, with his wife and newborn twins left behind. C.J. wanted to help out the widow raising the twins, and we decided to donate to their scholarship fund.

By that time, we gave away more than what we got from the bonus! I was about to complain to God: "God, I didn't get to touch even $1 of that bonus money!" That's when God whispered to me, "Hyuna, I gave you the money so that I could bless those people in need." God used us as the conduit of blessing, and we are more than excited to be used for His work.


Economy of Hand-me-downs

Can someone guess how much C.J. & I have spent for Elisha's clothes? By the way, Elisha is almost 14 months old now .............................. Well, we spent $15 for her clothes so far!

We were able to do it thanks to people who cheerfully gave away their children's old clothes. They gave us not only clothes, but also socks, shoes, hats, swim suits, bath tub, potty trainer, toys...all kinds of baby stuff. We wash and clean them and they are good to go!

I understand that some people do not like using used stuff for their children, but we don't mind it at all. It not only saves us a lot of money, but also helps us keeping ourselves from spoiling our only child with materialism.

Whenever I see a cute baby dress in a store, I do get tempted to buy it. However, knowing that Elisha has enough, actually, more than enough clothes to wear for the next two years or so, I can easily snuff that desire. So in a way, it puts a restraint on me as well.

Well, if you want to get rid of your kids' stuff, we are more than happy to take them!