Making Cents with Money

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Posted 3/19/12 at 4:55 PM | Shane P Barkley

How much is enough?

In a post, about 20 months ago entitled, Limited resources, unlimited wants and needs, I wrote about an economic term called scarcity. The definition of scarcity says that we live in a state of finite resources, but we have unlimited wants and needs. I would guess most that read this post would say that accurately describes their financial position.

The state of limited resources causes many of us heartache but usually for self-imposed reasons. What are those reasons you ask? It is simply the second part of the definition of scarcity. We have unlimited wants, or in other words, we cannot control our desires!

If I were to ask you to describe your financial affairs, most would tell me about their savings, retirement and current cash flow. My next question would be, “Why are you working?” to which many would answer, “To pay my bills.” Unfortunately, most of us really mean, “So I can buy more stuff.”

Have you ever asked yourself how much is enough?

If you have children, I would ask you to evaluate your desires. Whether we want them to or not, our children watch every move we make and will grow up and make the same good or bad decisions they saw modeled in their home. What are you doing to teach your children about money? They need to know the economic, biblical and practical matters regarding money. FULL POST

Posted 9/29/11 at 2:47 PM | Shane P Barkley

How economically savvy are you?

Are you familiar with the concepts of opportunity cost and scarcity? If you are, I am impressed. It could be that you knew the principles behind these concepts even if you haven’t used those terms. If they are new to you, then you’re in the normal range of most adults. Numerous authorities on financial matters will tell you that the economics understanding of the general public in our country leaves a lot to be desired. One publication of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis provides some details:

As adults, we are called upon to make economic decisions every day of our lives. However, this crucial life skill is virtually ignored in elementary and secondary education. For those who attend college, an economics course is often too little, too late. Those who forego college may never be educated in economics and, therefore, are seriously disadvantaged. According to a survey by the Gallup Organization, American adults and high school and college seniors know shockingly little about how the American economy works.

• While unemployment is the economic issue of most concern to Americans, three out of four do not know the unemployment rate.
• Seven out of ten adults report having no economics instruction.
• Seven out of ten cannot identify the most widely used measure of inflation.
• More than eight out of ten rate their knowledge of economics as fair to poor.
• Six out of ten do not know the purpose of profits.
• One out of two does not know what the federal deficit is.
• Fewer than half of today's high school seniors have studied economics.
• More than 96% of those surveyed thought schools should teach more about how the economy works. FULL POST

Posted 1/4/11 at 11:01 AM | Shane P Barkley

11 questions for parents to consider in 2011!

The last week of the year I always spend time thinking about where we have been over the last year and where we are headed for the upcoming year.  In 2010 I spoke with many parents who had great intentions but lacked in follow through.  Since my primary focus is money, I would ask them what they wanted and how they were going to accomplish those goals.  Most recognized their desire but also the lack of knowledge as a stumbling block. FULL POST

Posted 12/14/10 at 2:39 PM | Shane P Barkley

Money and my trip to Romania

Romania is a beautiful country and full of history.  The most well known part of Romania, at least to Americans, is Transylvania, home to Count Dracula.  I was invited to Bucharest the first week of December and had an amazing time in Eastern Europe. FULL POST

Posted 11/23/10 at 6:08 PM | Shane P Barkley

How to Get a Money-Ache

Money is very frustrating!  Typically, most of us do not seem to have enough and when we do, our spouse and kids spend it all.  That may reflect your thoughts but we have a major money issue in our country.  I have learned that money is typically not the problem. Mon­ey problems only reflect heart problems. FULL POST

Posted 11/2/10 at 5:00 PM | Shane P Barkley


Being faithful is a vital character trait we must instill in our children.  "He sure was a faithful employee!"  "They sure were faithful to save money each month!"  "He has faithfully taught Sunday school for 30 years!"  I am sure you have heard many comments such as these.  Recently, I heard an example of faithfulness that is truly amazing!  My wife's aunt worked at the same job, assistant to the school district Superintendant, for 47 years! FULL POST

Posted 10/8/10 at 12:40 PM | Shane P Barkley

The importance of...

I received an email that made me re-focus on the question, "why is learning about money important to kids?" I realized everyone, including me, gets caught up in the lie that kids only need to know about FULL POST

Posted 9/30/10 at 4:32 PM | Shane P Barkley

Your attitude towards...

Why do you and daddy do that to each other? “That’s how daddy and I roll!” said my 6-year-old daughter to my wife. She was laughing and wiping her face from one of her daddy’s famous cowlicks. My wife and I looked at each other in surprise after hearing her response and we inquired as to where she heard that term to which she responded, “Oh, I heard daddy say it one time!”

The surprise of our daughters comment was not one of being upset but amazement of her understanding and proper use of the term. What have you heard come from the lips of your sweet children lately? Have you heard any curse words, nagging, whining, complaining, yelling or pop culture terms? Now stop for a minute, and ask yourself, “Do I curse, nag, whine, complain, yell or use pop culture terms?”

Dr. Kevin Leman, in his book Have a New Kid by Friday, says that most attitudes (and I would submit actions) are caught, not taught. I do not know about you but for me that is a scary thought. I imagine it looking something like this: you look in the mirror and the reflection you see is your kids! Does that thought bring you peace or fear?

By now you are probably thinking, what does this have to do with money? I would ask you to evaluate your attitude towards money. What are your kids catching from your attitude towards money? They are catching one of two attitudes from you. The first: all the possessions I have are mine and I give to God what he requires of me. The second: all the possessions I have are Gods and I am simply a manager of those resources. You might find yourself wondering about the difference in application of these views. Here is an example. FULL POST

Posted 9/24/10 at 6:41 PM | Shane P Barkley

Getting past "because"

You are at a store with your son or daughter and they want a toy, candy, clothing, etc. and when you tell them no, they ask why. You clear your throat and in all of your adult brilliance you say "because!"

Have you ever experienced something like that with your kids? Of course you have. You probably have conversations similar to this just about every day. My girls keep asking and asking until I am exasperated.

I eventually learned that “Because” or “Because I said so” are not good answers by themselves. I know sometimes we use those responses when we’re tired and we don’t have the energy to engage our children at the level of detail and with the patience that they need from us.

But the Encarta Dictionary defines the word “because” like this: “for the reason that follows.” But when we use it, as in my previous example, there was no reason following. That response doesn’t tell a child anything about why. It doesn’t teach them anything.

The practical solution to most of the financial questions asked by your children is to put money in their hands so they can learn to make decisions. I choose to call the method of providing kids money so they can learn, allowance. I have written many times about the importance and benefits of allowance but the implementation is generally the challenge for parents. FULL POST

Posted 9/3/10 at 11:46 AM | Shane P Barkley

How would you answer this question?

How would you answer this question? "Given a choice of the following, being richer, thinner, smarter, younger or other, which one would you most want to be?" According to a new Harris Interactive poll 44% of Americans choose the "richer" category.

The results came as no surprise but as I scanned the data of the poll I noticed an interesting trend. The older the participant, the greater the balance in the categories. The over 55 participants answers were the most balanced over the five poll categories.

"I wish I had spent more time with my family and less time working" is a comment that I heard time and time again in the financial consulting field. Typically, the older the client, the less the focus was on how much but wise management of the existing accounts. I always thought as people grew older they gained a clearer focus on the most important aspects of life.

I guess the most disappointing or maybe disheartening part of the poll is that as Americans get older the focus on money may be decreasing but the vanity simply moves from money to the other categories. Does contentment still exist in the American vocabulary? FULL POST

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