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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Introduction Part 4 Why the Tttle?

Why the Title, How to Manage Your Monkey?

The title does seem a bit unusual.  We have all heard the expression 'having a monkey on your back'.  Sometimes we cannot pinpoint what exactly is wrong in our lives; we just know that something, perhaps everything, is off kilter.

In reality, most of us have many monkeys on our backs and just plain do not know how to deal with them.  There are so many monkeys; we really do not know where to start.  This course is all about getting all of those monkeys under control and developing a plan to handle all of them.

Some of the monkeys you may run into are spiritual monkeys, emotional monkeys, financial monkeys, family monkeys, and a whole host of others.  Many of these monkeys work together to drive you crazy.  

The way to get these monkeys under control is to take them one at a time to start with and then work as a group once you get the ball rolling.

There is an age-old adage that asks, “How do you eat an elephant?”  The answer is, “One bite at a time”.  This is how you should go about handling your monkeys.  Choose an area that needs work and take it “one bite at a time”.

In the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Franklin discusses how he chose thirteen different areas of his life that he wished to improve.  He would take one area of his life he wished to improve and focus on it for one full week.  Then, he would move to the next area.  By choosing thirteen areas of his life, he could focus on each area four times per year, once each quarter.  In time, he saw drastic improvements throughout his life.

We whole-heartedly suggest reading the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin early in this course.  You can obtain the eBook free from Amazon in the Kindle Format or you may wish to read it free from the Gutenberg Library.

Throughout this text and many of the suggested readings, we find a concept discussed called “Life Balance”.  Even though we may use this term in this course, it is really sort of a misnomer.  If something is balanced, things are in equal proportions.  There may be some things in our life that demand more attention than others. 

Some would say that we should spend more time working and less time on family life and recreation.  That is just backwards.  Work will always be there.  In fact, at least one company has suggested that by shortening the workday, they get more productivity out of their workers[i]

Instead of life balance, life is really like a recipe.  You don’t normally have equal amounts of all ingredients.  You usually have a certain amount of each ingredient, but normally all of these ingredients will not go into the dish in equal amounts.

What kind of cake would we have if it had 2 cups of flour, 2 cups of sugar, 2 cups of baking powder, 2 cups of salt, 2 cups of vanilla, and maybe 2 cups of eggs?  It probably would not come out of the oven looking or tasting much like a cake at all.

Therefore, instead of the term Life Balance, from this point forward, we will try to use the term “Life Recipe”.

[i] CFO Magazine July 2016 www.cfo.com Human Capital Productive Idea: A Five Hour Workday?  By David McCann Pages 20-21

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Introduction Part 2

Consolidation loans

We discovered that since David worked with a finance company, the other finance companies in town were very willing to make consolidation loans.  We took out a consolidation loan.

At about this time, David’s mother offered to sell us one of the cars we were driving.  We included that in the first consolidation loan.  We also paid off the local bank with the loan.

Trade in Car

The car we purchased had a fuel leak and was costing more and more to maintain.  Suzanne’s father, who was a top-notch mechanic, kept it running as best anyone could.  We decided to trade that car and purchase a Ford Festiva.

The new car was great and got excellent gas mileage.  It was so good, in fact, that Suzanne thought we should take on a newspaper route in the early morning to make more money and pay off bills.

We were assigned two routes that were side-by-side.  One was in a terrible neighborhood and the other was in a great neighborhood.  We discovered that the paper routes did not really pay very much, but we could improve on the money we made by placing Avon and Tupperware books in with the newspapers.

We also added Amway.  Adding these books with the newspapers was quite successful.

Suzanne’s job with the friend fizzled out.  We moved to a less expensive house in a less than desirable part of town. 

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Coming to You Soon in Living Color

Most of you have read that tomorrow morning, at 3 AM CST, we will post our special 200th video.  We are happy we have achieved this level.  At this time, we have 7,000+ views.  We are very proud of this.  As a recap, we wanted to post our two most popular videos. 

The all-time most watched video is Handcuff Your Kids.  It has over 1,301 views.  This is amazing.

The second video, Differentiation Vitality Curve, has slightly fewer views with only 1,176 views.  However, it has much more watch time, 3,848 minutes compared to 1,798.

Differentiation Vitality Curve is a business-oriented video. In this video, I give an explanation of what this is and why Jack Welch thought it was so important.  Handcuff Your Kids is a light-hearted look at parenting.

Come on and join the celebration of the posting of our 200th video.  It contains a shout out to our good friend, Eddie Bledsoe, and a quick old-time story.  Please watch with us. 

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Please be advised that all the information in this course is provided to educate, enlighten, and broaden your views in life.  The information provided is not a substitute for medical, legal, dietary, financial/accounting, or religious professionals.  Always consult a professional before you act on any of the information you find in this course.  

Do you have a frugal recipe?  Please e-mail it to me.

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Introduction Part 1


Dear Heavenly Father:
We come to You in Jesus’ name.  We ask that You bless each student of this course.  Please help us all to find the proper life recipe and live according to Your will.

In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

This course is presented from a Christian perspective.  There will be many Bible references.  We will also stop along the way and say an occasional prayer.  If you are uncomfortable with this, you may wish to locate another course.  However, we invite you to stick around for at least a little while to see if perhaps this course will work for you anyway.

The majority of this course will deal with personal finance.  It seems that is where many of us suffer most.  Much of our life affects our financial situation and much of our life is affected by our financial situation.  It is a vicious circle.

Before we go any further, a brief introduction is in order.  We are David and Suzanne McClendon.  We are a husband and wife team.  We have been happily married to one another for nearly thirty-two wonderful years.  We stood before our family and friends on 3 November 1984.  Before that, we had been dating since 1981.  We met at Crescent High School in Starr-Iva, South Carolina, in 1979.

The primary writer of this course is David, so from time to time, things will come more from his perspective than that of Suzanne.

David made some typical mistakes during his time at the University of South Carolina, where he majored in Media Arts.

The credit card companies made it so simple to apply for, and receive, a credit card.  Sears would start a student with no job out with a $100 credit limit.  Once a person had any credit card, he was almost guaranteed a Visa and/or MasterCard.  Once a person had these two cards, he could get any type of card his heart desired.

The early 1980s was a time of “Instant credit”.  This meant if you had a Visa or MasterCard, all you had to do was go to any store, gas station, etc., that had their own credit card and show them your Visa or MasterCard.  The store would run the card though their Charge-A-Plate machine and fill out a few items like address and phone number.  The charge you just made was the first charge on your new credit account.  You would receive your new card in the mail in a few weeks.

David had as many as 99 of these cards at one time.  When Suzanne graduated from high school in 1983, she came to the University of South Carolina as an Early Childhood Education major.  Immediately she said, “We need to get these things under control.” 

Suzanne laid out the snowball method (only she did not call it that) to David.  This is the same method that Dave Ramsey speaks of today.  Dave Ramsey says he did not invent the method.  It would appear that it is just plain, common sense.  However, common sense is not that common any more.

Suzanne and David attacked these cards with the intensity of a lion and paid off all except the Texaco card by the time they left school to get married.

David’s father, Robert Bruce McClendon, Jr., known affectionately as Papa Bruce, proposed to Suzanne one night in his kitchen.  The scene went something like this:
Papa: Suzanne, are you ever going to marry David?

Suzanne: If he ever asks me.

Papa: Are you ever going to ask her?

David: Yes.

Papa: Now that that bull is over, I want to make you an offer.

Papa hired Suzanne to work for him at the family’s Western Auto store.  He went on to hire David as the store manager.  Papa and his wife Merle, David’s mother, owned thirteen houses.  Papa had decided to groom David to take over the company and he would retire to work his rental houses and build a convenience store in Iva, South Carolina.  He also planned to open a Western Auto in Abbeville, South Carolina, and move David and Suzanne down to run it while putting his younger son and whomever his future wife would be to run the Iva store.

We, David and Suzanne, went to work for the store and paid off our Texaco Card.  We also paid off Suzanne’s student loan.  The only credit we had was for the appliances that we bought through the store.

The company provided our house and cars.  We owned nothing.  We made a perfectly good salary at the store, but invested in nothing.  Along the way, we had our first son, Jared.  We thought we were living the dream.

David’s brother Daniel married in 1986, and Papa Bruce decided that, to move forward, the store would need a computer system so that a second store could be supplied from the first store.  On 11 May 1987, the computer became operational.  On 12 May 1987, Papa Bruce died.

David’s mother decided that the family could not run the store and sold it for much less than it was worth. 

We had no debts, but we also had no income and we had no education into how to manage money.

Suzanne’s father, Jimmy Ray Gunter, helped immensely.  In fact, he had some very good ideas on how to manage money.  We will take a look at much of that in a later part of this course.

We had no money for a while.  There was unemployment compensation that came to roughly 25% of our previous salary.  The utilities were past due and the refrigerator broke.  We had a baby in the house and no way to keep his milk cold.

A couple, friends of ours, loaned us the money to fix the refrigerator.  David found a straight commission job with the United States Chamber of Commerce.  This was at the time that the Iran Contra hearings were taking place and most small businesses were concerned that the most pro-business president ever was about to be put out of office.  No one wanted to spend any money they did not have to.

The local bank loaned us the money to get the utilities caught up and pay the friends back the loan.

Suzanne started selling Avon and Tupperware and we began to get a little relief.  Also, Suzanne scoured the newspaper for coupons and grocery ads.  The local paper carrier continued to deliver the newspaper even though we were several months past due with him.  Thanks, Al.

Combining the ads with coupons from the paper gave Suzanne the ability to feed the two of us for only $7 per week.  We had Women’s, Infants, and Children’s assistance, known as WIC, to help with the baby’s milk and food.

One day, David went to one of the finance companies, where we used to finance items we sold at the store, to see if the ladies there would like to buy some Avon. 

The branch manager said, “I don’t need any Avon. I need a good assistant manager”.  David was hired.  This seemed like a solution to the problem but was, in fact, the beginning of financial chaos.

No one ever told us that you do not take out a loan to pay utilities.  No one ever told us that utility companies will work with you to catch up past due bills and that there are programs available that will assist you with these bills.

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