Why Are We So Quick?

Matthew 7

Judging Others

1“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.3“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Why are we so quick to tell people how to fix their problems without being fully aware of, or even considering, their circumstances?

A number of times recently I’ve noticed either myself or others commenting about lack of money, and someone else will be very quick to respond (because it is online) along the lines of “Well, you have an internet connection, surely that is one way you could save money!”

Three situations spring to mind where while money may be tight, cutting the internet would not be of any benefit. The first is of a work-at-home person who uses their home phone and internet connection for work. This is a great idea in my opinion, it saves gas, and if you can motivate yourself to get up in the morning (or whenever you need to work) to do your job at home with no-one watching over your shoulder or cubicle wall ensuring you’re on task, go for it.

The other is my current situation. The internet bill is not addressed to me, nor do I pay it. I use the internet connection in this house with permission (IE: I’m not stealing the neighbors), but this house is also not mine.

The third also applies to me, but more directly to others. A large number of employers are only accessible online. That is, you need an internet connection and an email address to communicate with them in order to have much of a chance at getting a job to fix your impending financial woes.

So, dear people of earth, just because someone has a problem, doesn’t mean you should fix it without asking them some further questions. Maybe your hastily and rudely given practical solution isn’t so practical after all.

A Week Of Lists: Friday – Things I’d like to accomplish within the next 12 months

These are some of the things I’d like to have achieved by the end of 2010. Most of these are material items, but some are also potential social tools rather than silly status symbols.

This list has some in-order, and then misc “Whenever money is available” items.

  1. Get a job. Definitely, number one priority.
  2. Purchase a second car for us, very close second. This will allow us to be independent in terms of transport, at least after number 3 has been achieved.
  3. The Subaru needs to be inspected by a mechanic, probably by the Subaru dealer, and investigate several small faults and see if there are any major or minor problems that will need to be worked on, determining whether we need to have the car repaired or whether we replace it.
  4. Pay off some of our higher-interest loans and the outstanding credit card, and pay down some of the other larger loans. I plan on using the credit card as I would my normal debit card (and nothing more!), paying it off every month for around 12 months before canceling, in hopes of improving my credit score.
  5. Move out!
  • Buy an XBox 360 and a Nintendo Wii. I have no interest in a PS3..
  • Replace, repurpose and/or otherwise upgrade my computer systems. If possible I’d like to start work on my rack-mounted wishlist.
  • At least begin saving for NZ trip, ideally save enough for Christmas 2010, or early-mid 2011.
  • Repair/replace my camera. I’d like another 2 cameras – a little point-and-shoot and a DSLR, not expecting both this year.
  • Acquire some equipment towards a home studio (small mixer, firewire in, etc..)

Current Balance: $1,041.77

Money isn’t really my friend. I have a bad habit of getting money and immediately spending money. I guess it’s a reflex left over from the idea of “Well, there’s money, let’s spend it before someone else does, or we find something else that it has to go towards.”

In fact, that $1000 isn’t hanging around very long anyway, there are a couple of credit card bills to be paid, and we’re going shopping tonight, so who knows how much we’ll have in the morning. But we’ve also filled up both vehicles with gas, and set aside our outgoing payments, we just need to keep doing what we’re doing and our standing balance should slowly rise!

I’m still looking for a job, so if anyone in Virginia (or DC) is looking for a Level 1 Helpdesk Analyst or DC Ops Tech (will work any shift if required), hit me up and I’ll send a resume. I don’t mind driving to work, I was quite happy to drive 2 hours each way to Rackspace, and I’ll be happy to do the same for you.

Get-Out-Of-Debt Quick Plan

My apologies to all who find this to be boring crap, obvious crap, useless crap, or otherwise crap.

For the last 12+ months my wife and I have been in rather large debt, primarily owing to her student loans, but also loans to pay for immigration forms and some credit-card stuff, and now our new car is on that list too.

It got so bad we moved back in with her parents, where we’ve been since November last year.

But, things are looking up again. She now has a full time job, I have the promise of casual work and possibly a permanent part-time job at an after-school program (will hear from them tomorrow, hopefully). We have a budget surplus of around $300/mo after all the income and most of our outgoings are paid for. If I get the part-time job then our outgoings increase slightly (gas, mostly), but our surplus will increase to around $800/mo. Now, we need to save something, in case of emergencies etc, and $800/mo isn’t really enough to comfortably move out again. My plan for us to change our circumstances doesn’t come from moving out and then paying off debt, it comes from paying off debt and then moving out.

See, right now we have two credit cards, one of which is more than twice it’s limit, the other we are trying very hard to keep below the limit, and as close to $0 as possible (so far we are succeeding). We also have a couple of loans that are either small or rather annoying which we can get rid of fairly quickly. My solution is to take about $400 of our surplus per month and put it towards a single loan.

For example, the over-limit credit card charges us about $50/mo. If we add $400 to that, we can pay $450/mo until it is paid off. That will take roughly 3 months. Then we can take that $450 and put it towards something else, like one of our smaller loans that is $65/mo, so we’ll be paying $450 + $65 = $515/mo until that is paid off. A third smaller loan is about $75-80/mo, so we can take the $515 from our two previously paid off loans, and add it to the $80/mo, and be paying $595 on an $80 loan payment – how fast do you think that loan will go away? I think fairly quickly. And all it costs us extra per month is the $400 we put in to begin with. Once those three payments are knocked out, we could take our $400 back out again, and we’ve just found an extra $195 a month, bringing our budget surplus up to nearly $1000 – we’re getting closer to being self-sufficient now. The other two loans we have are $138 and $159, and I haven’t done the calculations based on how quickly these would have an effect on our current loan balances, but I envisage we could be fairly debt free (one loan has a huge balance) within 24 months.

Highland Retreat Staff Assistance Program

Hello all,

If you read regularly or know me well then you’re probably aware I don’t ask for things much, especially when I understand so many others are struggling right now, in other ways as well, but financially especially.

I’m waiting for confirmation (final paperwork was sent in yesterday, expecting a decision next week probably), but I’m expecting to be working at Highland Retreat over the summer, a non-profit camp focused at children and young people. I’ll be making somewhere in the vicinity of $20 a day, for around 22 hours work (a day) – because apparently when I’m sleeping it counts as work (in the same room as campers, and they’re still my responsibility).

They’ve suggested, and this is what this post is about, that I spread the word and try to gain further financial support beyond what they are able to provide themselves. Below is a copy of their suggested letter, and I’ll attach links to images of the original sample letter and the form provided on the back thereof.

Highland Retreat is a non-profit Mennonite camp located near Bergton, Virginia. Summer staff members often give up the possibility of better-paying jobs in order to minister in service to the youth who attend summer camp at Highland. Full-time summer staff work at Highland for 9 weeks and receive from $70­ – $130 per week, plus meals and lodging, for their service. These committed young people give their summer to help share their faith in the natural setting of camp.

In order to help make this ministry a financial possibility for those staff willing to serve, Highland has initiated the Staff Assistance Program. You are invited to help meet the financial needs of those serving at Highland through your support, thus allowing them to commit their gifts and energies in summer ministry. There are three ways you can contribute to this program.

1. Make a contribution to Highland Retreat and designate it for the Staff Assistance fund without naming a specific beneficiary. Such contributions will be used at the desecration of the camp leadership in assisting individuals who need help. Such a contribution is fully tax deductible.

2. Make a contribution to Highland Retreat and designate that it to be directed to a specific summer staff individual. Such contributions are not tax deductible.

(When funds given according to options 1 & 2 above are dispersed, payroll taxes apply both to the individual and to Highland Retreat. . Consequently the individual actually receives slightly less than you give.)

3. You can also make a gift directly to the summer staff individual. In this case the gift is not tax deductible but no taxes are withheld and the individual receives the full amount. Such a contribution should be sent to Highland Retreat Staff Assistance Fund but the check should be written to the designated staff person.

We will hold the check until the term of service is complete then pass it on to the individual.

Option three is the most efficient if you want to designate a specific beneficiary because it is a gift and is not reported on a person’s W-2. However if your contribution will allow the individual to receive matching funds from a Mennonite college or University you must use Option 2 because the contribution can only be matched by the college if it comes from Highland Retreat. The beneficiary of your gift should inform you if they qualify for matching funds.

Contributions can be made any time up until the individual completes his/her term of service. You will receive a receipt for your contribution when it is made. Upon completion of the individual’s term the support will be forward, either to the individual or to the institution as requested by the individual. If the person does not complete their term of service as agreed upon, your contribution will be returned to you, or we will consult you about an alternative.

Please prayerfully consider what you can do to help these young men and women share Christ with our youth.

For reference, I am not eligible for a college matching grant (as far as I am aware).

Here is the letter and form as promised! They’re PDF files so you may need Acrobat Reader to view them.

The Letter and The Form.

Your assistance is appreciated, thank you.