I Thought But Then I Unthought

Looking back over my life I honestly can say, giving it a great deal of thought, the biggest problem I have is when I actually think. Thinking can get me into more trouble than anything else I do.

This was no more evident than recently we got a phone call from the bank. I hate it when the bank calls because they never call to wish me happy birthday or wonder how in the world I am doing today. They always have an agenda. Usually, that agenda has to do with my money.

When I answered the phone all I could say was, “Here we go again.”

Much to my relief it was not about my account, but rather it was the bank account of the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. I cannot tell you the smile that slapped itself all over my face when I heard this.

Immediately I called my wife to the phone and said, “It’s your bank calling you about your account.” Smilingly I handed the phone to her.

For years, we have had separate accounts and it has worked out rather well. I remember when we first were married we had a joint account and it was always getting messed up. We had two checkbooks for the same account, which did not make any sense at all. Everything was messed up and checks bounced all over the place.

To solve this dilemma we decided to have our own checking account in separate banks. I am not quite sure about her account, but the checks keep bouncing in my account and I am not exactly sure why.

The bank was calling my wife because there had been a suspicious activity on her account. I thought about telling them that other activity on her bank account was also suspicious, but sometimes I know when not to speak.

According to the bank, my wife bought a package of wine costing $600 and they were wondering if she was buying it for the church communion service. I heard my wife laugh and figured out there is something going on. We do not use wine in our communion service, we use grape juice. However, the bank did not know why my wife was buying wine.

The only wine in our house is me, who whines all the time and believe me, according to my wife, my whining is very intoxicating. At least to her it is.

We finally had to go down to the bank and try to sort this mess out. My wife tried to tell them that she did not make such a purchase.

I would like to tell you how delighted I was to go to the bank with her and see her in a dilemma that I did not create. I know I create a lot of dilemma in our home. The fact that we been married as long as we have been married says a lot for her tolerance of whiny old people like me.

“We did not think,” the bank manager said to my wife, “that you were buying wine like this. We thought perhaps you might have been buying wine for the church communion service.”

All three of us laughed a very hearty laugh because she knew we did not use wine in our communion service.

However, the truth of the matter was, there was this activity on her account in the amount of $600. My surprise was that she had that much money in her account. I scratched my head a bit and thought, where did she get all that money? Immediately I had to unthought that and get back to the basics of our visit here in the bank.

The bank manager got out all of the paperwork with this transaction.

The first thing of note was that it took place in a liquor store in Southern California where my wife had never been.

My wife looked at me and said sarcastically, “Why are you smiling?”

I thought about telling her, but then I unthought that and got back to the details of the transaction.

In looking at that transaction, the bank manager happened to notice that it was on a particular Sunday when it took place. That Sunday my wife was in church. In fact, the time of the transaction was when my wife was playing the organ.

“Can you verify that she was playing the organ at that time?” The bank manager asked me.

A thought that came into my mind was to tell the bank manager that my wife was so talented that she could be in two places at the same time. After further thought on that, I unthought that idea.

The bank manager finally took care of that transaction and we were able to leave the bank knowing us, or rather she, was free from that transaction. I did not say anything on the way home, but I was smiling on the inside.

Thinking can be a very hazardous occupation, but I was reminded what Paul said. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

I am trying to learn to think about important things and not things that are negative and damaging.

Since 1997, Rev. James L. Snyder has written a weekly religion/humor column, “Out To Pastor,” syndicated to over 300 newspapers and many websites. The Rev. Snyder is an award winning author whose writings have appeared in more than eighty periodicals including GUIDEPOSTS. In Pursuit of God: The Life of A. W. Tozer, Snyder’s first book, won the Reader’s Choice Award in 1992 by Christianity Today. Snyder has authored and edited 30 books altogether.

James L. Snyder was given an honorary doctorate degree (Doctor of Letters) by Trinity College in Florida. His weekly humor column, “Out To Pastor,” is syndicated to more than 325 weekly newspapers.

Financial New Year’s Resolutions You Should Definitely Keep

The New Year is a perfect time to overhaul your life. The first place to start is making financial resolutions that can get you closer to your monetary goals. It’s easy to make resolutions, but not so easy to keep them. This is true for all resolutions, but especially financial ones. The key for all resolutions is to set achievable, actionable goals. Don’t be ambiguous and don’t aim too high. So, if getting your financial life in order is a resolution you would like to make this year, here are a few you might consider adding to your 2019 itinerary.

Prioritize Your Debts
Did you know that not all debt is created equal? Make a list of all your financial obligations and organize them by the interest rates. Debt with the highest rates (most likely your credit card debt) should be paid off immediately. It does no good to invest funds while you are paying 19 percent or more in interest each year.
I suggest putting all this financial information into a spreadsheet. I want to warn you though, this can be a frightening activity for most people. It’s like weighing yourself when you know you have over eaten. Nevertheless, it’s critical in establishing your plan to rid yourself of unnecessary debt. I suggest having a cocktail or two before you determine your grand total.

Once you have all of the debt and interest rates established, then select the best repayment approach for you. Some people prefer paying the smallest debts first while others like to pay the highest interest rate debt first. Select the option that works best for you.

Save 15% or More of Your Gross Income Most people say they want to save more, but don’t know how much they should save or where they should save it. The best way to be a successful saver and achieve this goal is to set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account for the same amount every month. If you find you need some of that money in the future you can always transfer it back.

Set up Automatic Bill Pay Everyone’s life gets frenzied, and it can be tedious keeping track of what bill gets paid when. Technology has made it easy to schedule your bills to pay on their due date automatically. Credit Union members have Bill Pay access to set this up in one place, and you can choose if you want to manually schedule it or automate it.

Close Unnecessary Accounts Most banks charge fees for everything. Is it really necessary to have several credit or checking accounts? Although there are exceptions, in the vast majority of cases the answer is a firm no! If you need to have multiple accounts, you may want to check out your local credit union, which in most instances do not charge checking and savings fees.

Earn Money Doing What You Love To Do Most everyone has a passion. Have you thought about turning your passion into profit? The world is full of amazing occupations. Find one that works for you and love what you do while paying off your debt.

Track Your Expenses Daily Tracking your daily expenses will make you mindful of everything you spend. There are many free apps like Expenses OK and Spending Tracker that can help.

Instead of Paying Off Debt Pay off a little each month Reducing your debt is a great goal, but it’s not going to be easy to do. It’s best to have a set plan for payoff, and picking an amount each month is a great way to stay on track. If you have seasonal income, you could try setting a yearly goal. Just remember to keep it attainable.

Go on a Cash Diet
If you spent a great deal of money on your friends and family this holiday season and your credit cards begin to bulge, then my suggestion is you go on a cash diet for the next six months. Limit your spending to a certain amount of money every week and see if you can live off that amount. Being conscious of your money and the way you spend it is the first step in becoming financially healthy.

When I say a cash diet, I mean actually paying for items with cash. Swiping your debit or credit card shuts down our brains and we don’t even think about what we are buying. It’s like it isn’t happening. When you make a cash payment, you are forced to keep your brain connected. I believe a cash diet is a great way to keep your spending under control.

Collect Loose Change
Start a piggy bank for adults. Every time you pay cash for something and they give you pocket change, go home and throw it into a container. If you do this over the course of a year, you have the potential of saving several thousand dollars.

Knowledge is Power
If you want to learn to do something you read a “how to” book or ask someone to show you. Reading financial books can put you in touch with ideas you can utilize in your own financial life. By reading “The Intelligent Investor” or other financial periodicals you can pick up on ideas, philosophies and techniques of the most talented minds in the financial circles. Committing yourself to educating yourself about financial health is essential to creating your long-term wealth.

Remember; set yourself up for financial success in 2019! Staying on track will motivate you to keep going throughout the year. Start small and keep it real. Soon you’ll be on your way to becoming a personal finance champion.