You Can Win The Money Game If You Know These Rules

The number one reason for divorce, domestic abuse, stress related disease and male suicide all have one thing in common–money.

As an engineering student at SMU, I took classes in things like Calculus, Scientific Computing, and Engineering Economic Analysis. I learned how to code in different programming languages while building an autonomous robot that picks up ping pong balls and shoots them in a basket.

But despite my love of numbers, I realized one thing. I had never taken a course in personal finance. In fact most people never have, which is why according to CNN Money, about 8 out of 10 Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

Now, as a Personal Financial Advisor, I know how the money game works. I’m going to reveal to you the secrets that millionaires know that most people don’t. YOU can WIN with your money!

1. The Rule of 72
Albert Einstein once said, “The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest.” The Rule of 72 shows how fast your money doubles. This can work for you (savings and investments) or against you (credit cards, student loans, etc.)

All you do is take the interest rate and divide it by 72. The result is how many years it takes for that dollar value to double. For example, if you had an investment or loan at 3%: 72/3 = 24 years to double. This picture shows you the HUGE difference that a 3, 6, and 12 percent rate of return can make with a $10,000 balance.

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So be careful next time you get a credit card or loan with a 15-20% interest rate. Things can escalate VERY quickly!

2. Debt Stacking/Snowball
This concept helps families get out of debt much quicker without spending more money. It has been around for awhile but it is very popular now because Dave Ramsey uses it.

Oftentimes, when someone has a debt and they pay it off, they think “Great. Well that’s $200-300 a month I don’t have to spend anymore. I’ll spend it on shoes, food, clothes, etc.”

Don’t do this!

Instead, use that same amount of money (in this case, $200-300) and apply that to your next smallest debt regardless of interest rate. Before you know it, your monthly payments will create more momentum and knock your debts out in a fraction of the time.

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3. Expert Recommendations for Personal Finance
Oftentimes, people don’t know how much of their income they need to save for emergencies, unexpected events and retirement. Here are some helpful tips:
– You need about $1,500-2000 for an emergency fund. This is for when the transmission goes out, pipes bust in the house, etc.
– You also need 3-6 months of bill money saved just in case of a lay off, job change, moving to a different city, etc.
– For retirement, if you want to retire middle class, save and invest 10% of your income. If you want to retire wealthy, save and invest 15%. If you want to retire early, save and invest 20%.
– Most people spend and save what’s left over. Wealthy people save first and spend what’s left over.

Hope this information is helpful. You can win at the money game because now  you know the rules!

The #1 Way To Guarantee Your Marriage Fails

I have the key that guarantees your marriage will fail. It is the number one cause of divorce, division, and devastation to the average American family.

Be selfish.

That’s all you have to do. You may be wondering, “…Why would you blog about  failure? Can’t we keep things light and happy?”

Note that oftentimes, my blogs take a positive approach. It recommends what people should do. But this blog is to help people realize what they shouldn’t do if they plan to have happy, successful, long lasting relationships.

When you’re selfish, you will not care for the other person’s mental, physical and emotional needs.

Loving them in their love language? Nope. You’ll insist on loving them with yours instead. Also, you’ll focus solely on your own needs and when that person doesn’t meet them, you’ll start pondering who or what could satisfy.

Here’s the deal: marriage isn’t even about you. It’s not about your spouse either. Your marriage is a reflection and representation of Christ’s love for the church. Regardless of how you feel, you have an obligation to love your spouse passionately, unconditionally, and in a way that they receive love.

When you’re selfish, you won’t care about teamwork:

Let’s take house work for example. This can actually work one of two ways. The first way it could play out is if someone isn’t pulling their weight. When one is selfish, why would they help clean up around the house? After all, they’ve had a long day and they feel their spouse should understand!

The other way this could go is when someone does too much with the wrong intentions. They may do all of the housework in order to have leverage in an unrelated argument later on down the line. They are just waiting for the right moment to say “I do this, this, this, this, aaaaand this! YOU OWE ME.”

Marriage works best when the two individuals are not just teammates but friends. Constantly battling for power is a recipe for disaster. The husband may be the head of the household, but the wife is the neck that supports Him and makes things work.

When you’re selfish, you’ll get that feeling that you always need to be right…Every. Single. Time.

And you’ll make sure it happens by any means necessary. What’s worst is when you know something isn’t a big deal, but you desire to be right so much that you make it into a bigger deal than it ever needed to be. Your relationship will be categorized as one that is difficult and exhausting. You may love one another, but you won’t like each other.

My pastor mentioned something profound once. He said, “I’ve never humbled myself and lost an argument.” The reason that many relationships suffer from selfishness is because of pride. But whenever you approach things with humility instead of pride, you’re guaranteed to win. Sometimes winning is not about who’s right or wrong. Instead, it may be agreeing to disagree for the sake of peace.

How does your marriage compare? Am I highlighting areas in your life that are hitting close to home? There’s no better time to evaluate than now. But evaluation doesn’t start looking at the whole. It starts with a different type of “self centered” approach. Begin with you, your relationship with Christ, and improving areas you can control.

The Marriage Cliche That Is Actually True

Before Amanda and I were married, there were many things I heard about marriage. People, whether they were married or not, took the liberty of offering their golden nuggets of advice. Some advice was very helpful, other advice was not for us; however, there was a cliche that I always heard, and after I got married, I realized its validity.

Happy wife. Happy life.

It’s amazing. There’s a direct correlation to the happiness of Amanda and the happiness of my life. In order to keep a smile on her face, I do a lot of things from cleaning up around the house to bringing home roses. But there are two things that I do daily and intentionally that set the foundation for a happy marriage.

The first thing I do is love her in her love language. If you’re not familiar with the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, it is a must. This book will not only change your marriage, but also your personal relationships. One of Amanda’s primary love languages is words of affirmation. Mine is not. However, that doesn’t matter. The Bible states to love your neighbor as you love yourself. But I would take that a step further and say to love your neighbor as they want to be loved. I may like strawberry ice cream and she may like apple pie. If I loved her like myself, I’d give her strawberry ice cream. But instead, if I want to show her love, I give her apple pie because it is what she receives as love.

Even though words of affirmation don’t mean much to me, I practice building her up through kind words and it makes a difference in how she goes about her day. I call her beautiful, I call her gorgeous, and I call her my best friend.

The second thing is that I do this earlyThe key to happy wife, happy life, is implementing this concept at the beginning of the day. You would be amazed at how the first five minutes of your day can impact the rest of it. In the first five minutes, I tell her that I love her, that she’s perfect, and we kiss and cuddle (morning breath and all!). That sets the stage for the rest of her day. All day she’s thinking about how sweet, kind, loving and gentle I am. As a result, she reciprocates that and she’s happy. An old adage says “it’s not how you start. It’s how you finish.” But I’ve found that giving myself a head start makes for a much easier race.

The marriage game is easy. Love early and often. Love smarter, not harder.

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Chronicles of a Married Man: Months 4-5

Well hello there!

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Well I’m glad to be writing you guys and updating you on how Amanda and I are doing. I decided to combine months four and five because… well… not much happened in month four. We just kinda got into a groove, ya know? Getting the school thing, the work thing, and the church thing down.

When asking Amanda what she’s thought of the last couple of months, she said something along the lines of, “I feel like the past couple of months have been the same. Just happier. I feel like we’re more intentional about cuddling in the morning and at night, I feel like we are more intentional with our words of affirmation… I mean, the house is a little dirtier, but we’re happy!”

She’s absolutely right. Over the last couple of months, Amanda and I have grown to love each other even more. It’s amazing what a little bit of extra effort can do to improve a relationship — especially when it was already a great relationship to start with! I started committing the first 10 minutes or so to cuddling in the mornings. I think physical touch is Amanda’s love language, so needless to say, that provides good vibes to start the day. Then throughout the day, I try to give her compliments and mention how much I love and appreciate her. Sometimes we’ll take marriage enrichment study breaks during the day 😉 Life is good.

On a more serious note: in October, our love actually grew deeper in the midst of tragedy. Unfortunately, Amanda’s grandfather passed away in October. He was an amazing, Christian man who was really involved in church and tractor pulling. Though we have the comfort of knowing his eternal home, it was still a difficult season for Amanda. But we both realized that it is much easier to go through tragedy with the love of your life than alone. It gave us an opportunity to travel up to Minnesota and I got a chance to meet her family. They are all amazing individuals and I look forward to building a relationship with them in the future!

Another thing that Amanda and I have done more in the last couple of months is implement a budget. We used an envelope system recommended by Dave Ramsey, and it worked really well… for a few days. I think it was a couple of weeks… maybe.

Budgeting is hard, man! Things always seem to “pop up.” Also, we got kind of lazy because we were supposed to only use cash. But then the weather changed… it got cold… didn’t feel like going to the ATM… I know. Excuses galore. But we’ll minimize that. We know that consistency is the key to all things successful. That can be a goal for us in month six.

That’s all for now. If you have any questions about the first five months of marriage, let me know! I don’t know much, but all I do know, I am willing to share. Love you guys!

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I’m a Married Man Who Loves Another Man

I have battled with certain thoughts for some time. It’s a battle that I hadn’t heard many men talk about. After searching the web, talking to my wife and even consulting a mentor, the question still burned in my brain.

How can I be a straight man and have an intimate relationship with Jesus—a man?

As a man of the Christian faith, I read scriptures that refer to the church as “the bride of Christ.” As the bride, I am to love the Lord will all my heart, all my mind and all my soul. But personally, this challenged me.

Whenever I listened to worship music, it didn’t make it any easier. Take William McDowell’s popular song “Wrap Me In Your Arms.” The lyrics include phrases such as,

“Draw me closer than I’ve ever been….wrap me in your arms…take me to that secret place where I can be with You…”

Words I say to my wife, but never to another man. Seeing that Jesus was a man, it was really difficult for me to take my ideas of man-to-woman love and apply them to Him.

How could I make this work?

First, I had to change the way I viewed love.  I realized that a passionate love with Jesus is not like the romance I have with Amanda. It doesn’t include roses, kisses or a little R&B. On the contrary, a passionate relationship with Jesus is based on our dependence on and obedience to Him. Our love for Him grows as He shows us that He cares for us more than we could ever care for ourselves.

Then, I changed the way I viewed the term “bride”.

The Bible never refers to individuals as the bride. Rather, it gives the term “bride” to the church which is made up of all people who are in the Christian faith. The church is the bride. When I began to see that I’m part of the bride but not the bride, it helped a lot.

I see it like this: On our wedding day, Amanda’s hands were not the bride, but they carried her bouquet. Amanda’s feet were not the bride, but they were used to walk down the aisle. Amanda’s mouth was not the bride, but they spoke views of covenant. The bride of Christ is a unit that is made of many parts—and each part has a purpose.

In this video, you can see how excited she was to find out she was going to be my bride. But after things calmed down, she recognized that being a bride entailed responsibilities. The first was to become my teammate, just as Eve was to Adam.

Secondly, she knew that she had to remain faithful (this was never a problem, but it’s important.)

Finally, she knew we had a mission as a couple to make Jesus known, care for one another and impact lives. There is nothing better than talking with someone about Jesus and seeing them go from despair to hope.

My relationship with Jesus changed when I realized that I didn’t have to have a romantic perspective. Instead, I am mission-minded. Growing deeper in love with Jesus means helping and remaining faithful to the mission He provides for me.

For humanity, salvation is the ring inside the box. Jesus’ sacrifice was the ultimate proposal. But unlike man, Jesus did not get on His knees. Instead, He got on the cross to save us from our sins.

And if you don’t know Christ, I encourage you to explore what it means to have a relationship with Him. He is the truest example of love that we have.

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The Chronicles of a Married Man: Month Three

 

 

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WELL HELLO THERE

Month three is in the books! Can you believe it? It just felt like yesterday that Amanda and I were tearing up the dance floor at our wedding reception. I still look at our wedding video, and think “What a party!”

Fast forward three months later, and Amanda and I are pretty much old news. Everyone’s said their congratulations, all the wedding gifts have been given, and Amanda and I have to “settled in.” Now the real work begins!

Before we were married, we used to hear people say things like, “marriage isn’t a fairy tale” and that we “will have trouble.” At the time, I thought “…Well, duh. Two imperfect, flawed people moving into one place. WE GOT THIS…I GOT THIS

But I was surprised to realize that being a great husband doesn’t just happen. It’s like — it’s kind of like working out. Some days, you’re on it! You get to the gym, lift weights, get some cardio in, etc. But the next day, you may be sore from the previous day, tired, or just don’t want to!  You’d rather sit around, play Xbox, eat Ben and Jerry’s and call it a day.

As a husband, I have to “work out” every day. In the words of Babe Ruth, “Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.” Every day brings a new opportunity to either fail or succeed. Similar to working out, this discipline goes against my natural inclination. I would much rather not work out. However, I want to get stronger. Eventually, the things that are difficult for me now (with patience and effort) will be less difficult in the future. I’m sure by now you understand the analogy between the two.

It’s pretty funny. Some people interact with Amanda and I over social media and they think because we’re young, in-love, and Christians that we have it all figured out. I wish! Some days, I’m more difficult to put up with than others. I wish I handled stress better. At times, being the leader of a household can be intimidating when the final decision for two people is in your hands. Sometimes, I’m right, but there have definitely been times that I’ve missed the mark. But I’m thankful for the grace and unconditional love of God and my lovely wife!

LESSONS LEARNED IN MONTH THREE

This month, Amanda and I launched our Bible study called The Path. It’s through our church Grace Community Church – North Dallas, and it has been going really well! I’ve been amazed by the number of people that’ve used my blog or social media page to reach out to us and come out. You should like our facebook page (www.facebook.com/ThePathPage), and visit us sometime! We’re at Zera’s Coffee Co in Denton, TX. 7pm-8:30, Monday nights.

In the midst of launching this, Amanda and I felt like we were facing a lot of spiritual attacks. We’ve realized that when you’re doing God’s work, you’ll often face spiritual opposition.

It was frustrating man! Oftentimes, we’d have these “spats” right before church on Sunday morning. We’d be distracted going into Sunday school or worship service, and it’d take us awhile to get over it.

For the longest time, we didn’t realize this pattern. Once we did, we started brainstorming solutions to fix it. The solution we came up with was to only speak positive things to one another on Sunday mornings. If there’s something that comes up, we’ll address later on before bed. But before church, we’re making the conscious choice to be happy and positive. The result? This has paid off in amazing ways! It’s solved the problem, and now, Amanda and I can better focus on the main thing — which has been, is, and always will be Jesus.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Amanda and I need to do a video soon. There’s so much I’d love to spill over these blogs, but ya know.. I don’t want to be too wordy. Then people don’t read them!

Continue praying for us! We keep it real so we can help people out there. If this helped you or may help someone you know, share it using #TCOAMM. Love you guys!

Michaelpittman20@yahoo.com
@michaeljpittman

The Chronicles of a Married Man: Month Two

Well, month two is in the books folks. I’ll give you an update on how we’re doing and what life is like for us being married. I’ll pick up where I left off from month one. Let’s go!

Month Two – What Went Well:
God was GOOD
Month two was crazy. I had to prepare for my final internship presentation at GE Capital, I had 12-hour days in RA training, and to top it off, our car got totaled while Amanda and I got hit by a flash flood on our way to church.

But through all this, Amanda and I had each other. It’s amazing to have someone by your side, encouraging and loving you as you lead. Dealing with insurance claims, balancing job responsibilities and remaining level headed can at times be difficult. Before I was married, I would often try to handle things on my own. But as a husband, I’m learning how to transform my independence into interdependence. I’m learning how to rely on Amanda for comfort and help. It has only made our relationship stronger!

God’s faithfulness has amazed me. As I mentioned before, our car got totaled on the way to church on Sunday. Driving through a nearly 2-foot flooded dip in the road, our car died instantly. Water started flooding the interior, and a good samaritan in a truck rescued us before our pastor found us. It felt like we were in a movie! The engine was hydro-locked and my transmission was destroyed.

Ironically, we were on our way to teach our Sunday school class, and the scripture of focus was from 1st Peter 5:7 – “Cast your cares on Him because He cares for you.” Little did we know that we would put our lesson into practice that very same day. Not only did God keep us safe from harm, but He also covered us in peace.

But after losing the car, how good is God? Well, let me give you some context. Back in October, I negotiated a good deal with the car dealership and paid them cash for my vehicle. 10 months later, the vehicle was totaled. After GEICO did the adjustment for the total loss, we actually ended up receiving hundreds of dollars more than what I paid for it! The car was not a total loss–it was an investment. 

In the midst of everything, Amanda and I know this to be true: God will come through. It may be confusing and uncomfortable, but at the end of the day, we are His children. He has the final say with every single situation in our lives.

Month Two – Where Can I Grow?
As A Husband:
After we read our couple’s devotional Bible and pray before bed, Amanda and I grade each other. I noticed that the HR manager at GE graded his employee after each day of work, and thought the concept would transfer well to marriage. We’ve been adopted this practice, assessing each other on a letter-grading scale, all in love and for the purpose of growth. Every night, I ask Amanda, “So what’s my grade today?” An “A” feels amazing, but a C helps me grow. I do the same for her, and the method has served us well as we continue to serve each other.

Today I asked my wife, “Where can I grow as a husband?”

My wife responded so kindly,

“Honestly babe, you have been the perfect husband to me. I’m amazed at how you love me. An area in which you could serve me better is through spiritual leadership. You’ve grown in that level, and now I feel that there’s another level that God wants to take us to.”

Separately, we do our own studies, but I know that Amanda would love for us to have focused, lengthy studies together. Doing this will allow us to be on the same accord by possessing equal knowledge and understanding on a given topic of the Christian faith. Studying together will expand our territory and strengthen our ministry. Is there any field of biblical you would recommend us covering as a unit? We plan to start soon!

Teaching the Gospel
Amanda and I are launching a Young Adults Bible study here in the DFW area in September! Together we lead the Young Adult ministry through our church, Grace Community Church of North Dallas. While preparing for this opportunity to serve, I recognize that I need to lead myself in order to lead others! I’ve been studying The Word more (realizing mornings work best for me), I’ve been listening to scholarly podcasts and I’ve been reading books on Christian apologetics.

The word apologetics comes from the Greek word apologia found in 1 Peter 3:15 and means “defense.” The Bible says that we’re to always be ready to give a “defense” (an apologia) to all who ask us about the hope we have as Christians.

Amanda and I both love apologetics; it strengthens your faith and your ability to defend it through reason, historical probability and facts. Some of the people I’d recommend listening to are Ravi Zacharias (a former Athiest) and Nabeel Qureshi (a devout Muslim turned Christian). You can find both of them on Ravi’s website http://www.rzim.org. To start, go to the search bar and type in “Q&A”. You’ll hear Ravi and Nabeel answer difficult questions from scholars at Princeton, Columbia, and places across the globe.

A book I’d recommend is “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist” by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek. Although highly intellectual, it’s an easy read, and it’s been hard to put down!

If you’re in the DFW area and you’re interested in checking out our Bible study or our church, shoot me an email at Michaelpittman20@yahoo.com. We’d love to see you at both!

How You Can Pray for Us:

1) School starts on Monday. Pray for us to have the best semester we’ve ever had academically and spiritually!
2) Pray for the new Bible study we’re launching in September, Lord willing. We want to do it in Denton near the UNT campus, but we’re still looking to finalize the best meeting location.
3) Pray that God gives us guidance with our car purchase. We want to make a smart, well informed, God-led decision.
4) Pray that we continue to walk in humble obedience to God.

If you have any questions you’d like us to address through our YouTube videos, comment below or email me at michaelpittman20@yahoo.com. We love y’all!

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The Chronicles of a Married Man: Month One

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Married life is incredible. Without a doubt, it is my new favorite thing! I’m currently in a pretty unique situation. I’m 21, Amanda is 20, and one month ago, we took a step of faith and got married while we’re both still in college. Within the first month, I have learned A LOT. I hope to shed some light on questions others may have. Here we go!

Month One: What Went Well?

Communication
From sex to dishes to toilet seat position (Yes fellas, women do care that you put the seat back down), communication is incredibly important. Before Amanda and I were married, we were intentional about expressing our thoughts, feelings, opinions and struggles to each other. From how she likes my hair to how we interact with the opposite sex, we left no stone unturned. This was mainly because we knew early on that our relationship was leading to marriage. We knew transparency and communication were important in marriage, so we wanted to do as well as we could as fast as we could. This is something I’m grateful for because it has made this first month of marriage really smooth. Here’s something I learned: once you’re married, the communication in your relationship picks up where it left off. Vows and a ring don’t just turn on a “good communication” switch in a relationship. That’s why you constantly have to learn and study your partner. What makes them tick? When do they feel most loved and valued? Do they prefer acts of service or affirming words? Knowing these things about your partner and about yourself can save you a lot of headache.

Service
Amanda and I always heard stories about couples “falling off” and life after the “honeymoon phase.” Well, being a month in, we’re obviously still in the honeymoon phase, but we are intentional in constantly trying to “out serve” one another in a loving way. My goal is to serve her more than she serves me. Her goal is to serve me more than I serve her. We’ve practiced this since January 2013, and it has now become second nature. I try to make my wife’s life as easy as possible. Sometimes, that’s doing laundry. Sometimes, it’s dishes. Often times, it’s making sure I’ve spent enough time with her. When I’m consistent in my efforts to serve and love her, I literally can’t lose.

Conflict Resolution
Many people have asked us if we’ve had our first married fight yet.

Well, it depends on how you define “fight.”

Have we screamed obscenities at the top of our lungs while throwing kitchenware at one another? Well… no. But have we been in situations that we have not seen eye to eye and disagreed with one another? For sure.

As I mentioned earlier in the communication section, what you do before marriage will carry over into marriage; however, when it comes to handling conflict, my Biblical responsibility has changed.

Becoming a husband requires even more maturity in conflict than it does as a courting single. In 1st Peter 3:7, it says:

“Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

Before we were married, I was stubborn during conflicts because I had no Biblical obligation to Amanda. If I didn’t feel like understanding her, I didn’t. I didn’t have to. She wasn’t my wife. But now, as her husband, it’s my responsibility to understand my wife’s perspective, her feelings, and her opinions. I thought that the transition into this would be more difficult than it has been, but God has been gracious.

Month One: Where Can I Grow?

Spiritual Leadership
I feel like this is an area that I’ll never master. If you were to ask Amanda, she would tell you that I’m a great spiritual leader (I pay her well to say nice things lol). But the way The Bible speaks of husbands and their Biblical responsibility, boggles my mind. For instance, loving my wife like Christ loves His church? Seriously? For this reason, I view this more as a journey of growth than a destination I’ll actually arrive to.

Amanda and I constantly strive to strengthen our spiritual foundation. We pray when we first wake up and we pray every night before bed. We see it as the daily “pill” that we need in order to survive. We have a couples devotional bible that we use and we’ve started to memorize more scriptures. In an ideal world, I’d spend more personal time in my word and prayer. We’ve done well as a couple, and Amanda does well spending personal time with God, having more time. But as a man, I can’t use that as an excuse. My goal is to spend more time with God in month two. As the spiritual leader, I understand it’s necessary.

Month One: Struggles?

Struggles? What struggles could I possibly have when I’m a month into marriage with my best friend?

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Sleep

I wouldn’t call this a struggle. More of an adjustment. My single friends laugh at the picture above while my married friends say, “Amen.” There is no truer picture of marriage. Single brothers, enjoy the ability to stretch out your arms and extend your legs to the fullest. Because once you’re married, well… it’s over. When you combine bed space management with additional body heat and “extracurricular activities,” your space is no longer your own. But hey, I guess there are worse problems I could have, right? 😉

I look forward to next month’s blog. Keep Amanda and I in your prayers for month two. Love y’all!
#TCOAMM