Category Archives: dreams

Help! I’m Out Of Money

 
 
According to 2012 data, the poverty line in California for 2 people is $2450/mo, or slightly under $30,000/yr. Also, according to the 2013 Retirement Confidence Survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, nearly 3 out of 10 people have virtually nothing saved for retirement, and 57% have less than $25,000 in total savings and investments.
 
It is always sad to sit with couples in counseling who have come to retirement age with nothing but Social Security income, and often with debt as well. It puts them at or below the poverty level with little hope for a better financial future. Plus, when one of the spouses passes on, one of the Social Security checks disappears. It might necessitate getting back into the working world when jobs are hard to acquire.
 
Social Security benefits were never designed to be a substitute for a retirement plan – just a short term supplement when life expectancy was much shorter than it is today. 
 
Because money can be such a huge area of conflict in a marriage I thought it would be wise to emphasize the importance of taking a serious stance on putting away money for the future no matter what age you might be or what your marital status is at the moment.
 
What I found to work is: 
 
  • Create a very conservative spending plan and stick to it. (I use Quicken to help automate the process.)
  •  Treat all raises as money that can either reduce debt or increase savings.  
  • Maximize all contributions to employer and government sponsored retirement plans to the best of your ability (401K, 403B, IRA, etc).  
  • Take a Dave Ramsey or Crown Financial course.  
  • Have automatic withdrawals set-up when possible. It often feels painful to write out a check to a retirement account you might not use for 30-40 years. Think about how it would feel if you had to write separate checks for Federal, State, Social Security, Medicare and SDI taxes every paycheck. (Actually, that might be a good thing.)  
  • Use financial counselors when needed.  
  • Question and resist new technology – it can be very expensive to keep up with all the new available toys. New toys become old toys very rapidly.  
  • Talk to your spouse regularly about money and spending and make sure you are on the same page so that one of you doesn’t sabotage your plan.  
  • Dump the entitlement mentality. Never use the phrase “I deserve”. The Bible tells us what we deserve – that’s why we need a Savior. 
What is the goal here? It’s so that you can be a help, rather than a hindrance to others. 

Passion!

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the word “passion” in several ways. One of those definitions is considered obsolete these days: suffering. But I think it is very valuable to use that definition as it applies to life pursuits.

In this culture we would probably consider suffering a bad thing on a first glimpse. And the ways we try to avoid pain is legion. Just consider the popularity of drugs, alcohol and entertainment as methods to escape from boredom, loneliness and reality.

But our willingness to suffer for something we love or care deeply about is a worthy pursuit. 

Don’t misunderstand me. I feel fear, or at least uncomfortable when it comes to the thought of suffering – especially when the pain is needless or pointless. But if I am passionate about the goal I am pursuing it changes my perspective.

  • I am passionate about my marriage, but it has been painful at times.
  • I am passionate about my career, and it has been very difficult as well.
  • I am passionate about my faith, and I have struggled with doubt and fear and guilt.
  • I am passionate about emotional wellness and my inner journey, but depression and anxiety has followed me along the road at times.

         “Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith but they are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the passion of Christ.”  C. S. Lewis 

  • I am passionate about the condition of our country, but I have suffered painfully with its decline.
  • I am passionate about music, but having self-discipline to practice on my instrument has not always been an easy pursuit.

Whatever you are not willing to suffer for, you are not ready for – relationships, especially.

What are you willing to suffer for? What means so much to you that you will push past the pain? What goal is so significant that you are willing to volunteer your precious time or money to achieve it?

Psalm 105:4 (NLT) Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him.

Hopes and Dreams

In an earlier post I talked about a marital mission being a great way to connect a couple though a shared purpose. How exactly do you find a mission? I think one way is by sharing your dreams; the kind you have when you are awake.
Our imagination is a powerful tool. It may be heavy on the fantasy side most of the time, but it also includes possibilities. I think as we enter this New Year it is a wonderful time to talk about our hopes and dreams.
Nan and I love to talk about life options. We spend time dreaming together about all sorts of ways we could direct our life energy. We talk about places we could go, what our next counseling project should be, where we would like to spend our retirement years and what we would be doing to stay connected and productive.
Will we accomplish all the things we dream about? I sure hope not. We’d be exhausted. But I have no doubt that we will see some of our dreams come to fruition. But there is something else wonderful that happens – we build intimacy as a couple. There are things that we only share with each other during these times. It is a significant way that I get to know Nan deeper and become known by her in return.
The Bible says in Proverbs 13:12 (NLT)
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.”
In the midst of tough times we have to have hope. One way of having hope is imagining a better future and then talking about it – and then being active in pursuing anything that would contribute to that better tomorrow.
What if your circumstances are not going to get better? Where is the hope?
Our hope then is to change our attitude towards the things we cannot control and to look for any positive moments along the way. We begin to take joy in the simple things that under different circumstances we might have missed or ignored.  
Ultimately, for those who are followers of Christ, there is hope in the certainty of heaven that awaits, and a release from all earthly pain and suffering.
Do you have a hard time dreaming? Are you afraid to have hope? Do you believe that God is trustworthy?
Psalm 39:7 (NLT) And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.
Psalm 119:114 (NLT) You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope.