Saturday, October 17, 2015

Winning the War with Money

 Winning the War with Money

My era of military service officially classifies me as a cold war veteran. As such, I tell people to take it easy on me because I endured a lot of boredom and inspections. I say that because I find it amusing but I was actually fairly busy because I was a firefighter. In the Air Force that meant responding to a lot of in-flight emergencies, the occasional flight line emergency, and anything that happened on or near the greater base area which is essentially a small city.

A USAF Fire Protection Specialist 571X0 has all of the duties of an airport and municipal firefighter as well as being a member of the military. That meant being a part of the rapid deployment force. We were on call for deployment anywhere in the world at all times. They had exercises and inspections for this type of thing, of course. The least popular of which is what we called a “bag drag”. The phone tree would activate at zero dark thirty calling everyone in to their duty stations. We had one hour to be standing tall at the firehouse in uniform with a prepacked duffle bag by our side.

A bag drag drill would last anywhere from a couple of hours to the better part of a day. You never knew if it was the real thing and you were going to be leaving town for an indefinite period of time or if you were just missing out on some sleep and having fun carrying luggage around. The next step after reporting to our duty stations was to be driven as groups to a processing center. Equipment bags would be waiting there that were stored in warehouses for us. These were categorized by climate so the only thing you knew at processing is that you were preparing to go someplace hot or someplace cold.

An essential part of processing was to line up for processing, naturally. When it was your turn you stepped up and the person went through a checklist of items to make sure you were ready to travel. We had passports, shot records, a copy of our will, dog tags, current firearms qualification, current physical qualification, and everything else pertinent for deployment. This included financial readiness. All of our affairs had to be in order. Finances were an essential part of operational readiness.

I have talked about being physically fit but another part of being physically ready for a commissioned life is being financially stable. I am only free to go and to serve if I can afford to do so. That requires planning and the dreaded word “discipline”. Stable finances don’t happen by accident. It’s interesting that the vast majority of lottery winners end up being broke again. A person with bad financial discipline can overcome any windfall with bad choices. It’s just a fact of life and arithmetic.

In some church circles the topic of finances is the number one thing spoken about and a lot of dubious information is expounded from the pulpit about what will miraculously happen to your personal finances if you generously support theirs. These preachers often live in enormous mansions and fly around in private jets while their congregations see nothing but depleted checking accounts. What the preachers are saying doesn’t equate with even common core math and I have some serious questions about their interpretation of scripture. That’s ultimately between them and God. I mention it so I can interject with my own interpretation of scripture concerning our personal finances and giving.

It is my opinion as an ordained minister who has studied the bible in great detail that when the offering plate is passed around on a Sunday morning and you put a donation in, the result will be that you will then have less money. That’s pretty profound, I know. Actually it is in light of a lot of the teaching out there about finances. Give because you want to give to support the church, period. With that being the case you should give what you can afford to give because you planned on being able to afford to give it.

The whole purpose in stabilizing our finances in a disciplined way is so that we can give more simply because we want to give. This can absolutely include being ready to go and to serve anytime, anywhere, in any climate. Finances are an essential part of operational readiness.

Just like the physical fitness part of readiness I am a student in progress on this issue rather than an accomplished master. So for proper training I will point you to a great source, just like I do with physical health and nutrition.

The best information I have ever found on personal finance is from a guy named Dave Ramsey. His Financial Peace workshops are quite popular and he has several books out on the topic. I have implemented and continue to apply his teachings and find him to be very sensible. Dave’s a smart money guy I trust. You can purchase his book “The Total Money Makeover” at the link below:

In the interest of complete disclosure this is a paid link and I will get about a buck fifty commission if you buy this book through this link. I was going to recommend this book anyway and I thought it made good financial sense to set it up this way. I was, after all, blogging about being financially smart. :)

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