I’m not dead. I’m just really busy making da money.

I’ve always wanted to be the type of person that sets goals for themselves. Let me pat myself on the back as, today, I’ve reached a new goal.

LONGEST TIME BETWEEN BLOG POSTS IN THE 6 YEAR HISTORY OF THIS BLOG.

I know. I know. You’re so proud of me right?! Thanks for your encouragement.

For realsy though, I’m at a weird crossroad. This blog is literally titled Punch Debt In The Face, and as such, feel like the voice of the blog should be about debt, or at the very least, personal finance. That said, after 1,170 blog posts, I just don’t have much left to say about money. 

That’s not to say that I’ve stopped caring about money. My Roth IRA, 401k, and taxable investment accounts are still very much a part of my life and I love them dearly. But I just don’t have any interest in writing about them anymore. At least not often enough to warrant posting here.

I’ve flirted with the idea of selling off my blog for a couple thousand bucks. Letting some spammer take it over and blast you with a million posts about “10 ways to get out of debt” or “Best credit card offers”. I’d want to punch myself in the face for doing it, but money is money.

The other part of me wants to just let it lay dormant and post as desired (kind of like I am right now). Maybe sometimes I post a couple times a month. Maybe I go six months without any new content.

Part of me wants to just rename my blog Punch Life In The Face and just write about whatever the hell I want without feeling like I need to cater to a specific audience, but unfortunately, website SEO hates new domains.

And so here we are. Only problem is, I’m not quite sure where “here” is.

I can tell you that I’ve been continuing my latest money making hobby of flipping a ton of furniture on craigslist. Here are my most recent deals..

Original Z Chair. Paid $250. Sold for $850.


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Stanley Credenza. Paid $250. Sold for $600.

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Lane Credenza. Paid $50. Sold for $500.
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Arnt Sorheim Credenza. Paid $450. Sold for $1,050.

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Lane Credenza. Paid $250. Sold for $650.

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Norwegian Teak Credenza. Paid $500. Sold for $1,500.

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BoConcept Leather Chairs. Paid $1,000. Sold for $1,900.

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Walnut Credenza. Paid $350. Sold for $800.

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I know after my last post about flipping furniture I got a few emails from readers saying they gave it a shot and were able to make a quick profit. So far my furniture investing is absolutely destroying actual stock market investing. Can’t beat a 100% to 200% return on investment.

Go flip some furniture already. Unless you live in Seattle, then back off… I call dibs 🙂

Oh, and I’m 99% sure Girl Ninja and I are having a piece about us go up on Forbes this week. I’ll link to the post when I see it… assuming I’m happy with how it portrays us, haha.

Edit: the forbes article is up. Found here.

I could make a full salary on Craigslist.

I’ve blogged many times about my love of Craigslist, and how I’ve used it to save money over the years. Over the last six weeks or so, I’ve been flipping furniture on CL and am shocked at just how profitable that can be. Spefically, when you are wheeling and dealing mid century modern furniture. Let’s look at a few case studies shall we…

Case Study 1: 

Girl Ninja and I had been using a black ikea cube bookshelf thingy as a storage space behind our couch. I hated how cluttered it always looked and decided it was time to look in to getting an actual credenza for our space. I came across this guy for $120 on CL. I offered $90 and the seller accepted.

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After realizing it was waaaaaay too small for our space, I decided to put it up on CL for $350 and see what happened. I’ll tell you what happened. Someone paid me $350 and bought it.

Profit: $260

Case Study 2: 

I made $260 in profit from my first credenza so figured it was only logical to roll that money in to another credenza. One that better fit our space. I paid $250 for this Lane Rhythm credenza…

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I did a little refinishing. About 30 minutes worth of work, sanding down the top and staining it to make it shine. I sold it for $650 less than 24 hours after buying it.

Profit: $400

Case Study 3: 

I wanted to dabble with two tone furniture, so I was on the hunt for a mid century dresser. Found this guy for $200 on CL (paid $150 for it after negotiating)…

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I put about two hours worth of work in to this guy. Doing some light sanding, priming, and then painting, with leftover white paint I had on hand. This is what it looked like when I was done…
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I was super happy with the end result and felt like I just Pinterested the crap out of the dresser. I posted it up for $400, and it sold quickly.

Profit: $250.

Case Study 4: 

I had a tree taken down in our backyard a couple years ago and saved one of the rounds that was leftover, figuring I could make something cool out of it. Originally my plan was to make it a centerpiece for our dining room table, but then I decided to turn it in to a live edge, side table. I paid about $45 for some hairpin legs and simply screwed them in to the bottom of my tree round. This was the final product…

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I posted it up on CL for $180 and it sold shortly after listing it.

Profit: $135.

Case Study 5:

I paid $65 for this credenza.

IMG_4925Can you believe it! $65 for this diamond in the rough. The seller was using it as storage for his kids toys in their playroom. He decided he wanted it gone. Within 20 minutes of him posting it, I was on my way to meet him and take it off his hands. It had an ugly wood base that had pretty nasty water damage to it, so I hammered off the ugly bottom and was left with the picture you see above.

I got the bright idea to buy some mid century modern angled legs online and dress things up a bit. The legs and angled brackets set me back $90. That’s right, I paid more for the legs than I did for the actual credenza.

I rubbed the piece down with some teak oil to bring out the woods natural tones and this is what it looked like after…

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My total investment was about $165. I probably could have sold this for about $800 on Craigslist, but a friend of mine loved it and needed a new TV stand. I gave him a friend deal and sold it to him for $400.

Profit: $240 (could have been $600+ if I posted on CL).

Case Study 6: 

Found this mid century dresser on Craigslist Sunday morning for $200…

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I didn’t do a single thing to the dresser. I reposted it on Craigslist as soon as I got home for $450, and it sold six hours later for $450.

Profit: $250.

Case Study 7: 

If you haven’t noticed the theme, I like to stick to credenzas and dressers that could be used as credenzas. It was time to mix things up a bit so I decided to flirt with a new piece.

I saw this coffee table listed on CL for $60 (I paid $50 for it)…

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I brought it home, staged it, took some photos and back on to Craigslist it went. It sold 24 hours later for $200.

Profit: $150.

Case Study 8:

Picked up this Broyhill Brasilia Tallboy dresser on Sunday for $200…

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Haven’t done a single thing to it (except stage it and take some photos). It’s on craigslist right now for $750, and should sell somewhere between $500-$750. I may end up keeping it though because it’s so freaking pretty. I mean look at it…

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So beautiful, and a pretty rare piece at that.

Case Study 9, 10, 11, and 12: 

Picked up this Lane Acclaim credenza for $450 on CL…

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I sanded down the top and stained it to make it shine. I posted it for $800 on CL and had a slew of people wanting to come see it. Girl Ninja freaked out and pulled a trump card saying I wasn’t allowed to sell it. So for now, this is the credenza that we are keeping behind our couch 🙂 Unless I can find someone that is willing to pay me $950 for it, then I’m gonna trump her trump and sell it 🙂

Here are a few other pieces I could sell for a couple hundred more than I paid for them, but Girl Ninja has trumped…

Paid $220 for this white leather chair, could probably sell for around $400…

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Paid $150 for this mid century leather chair. Should sell for $300-$400. 00X0X_jUxBqGVeL1u_600x450

Paid $250 for this desk and chair. Posted it for $500 and had multiple people asking to come see it. That was before Girl Ninja told me I wasn’t allowed to sell it…

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Conclusion:

In the last month, I made about $1,700 by simply buying furniture on Craigslist and selling it a few days later (or sometimes the same day) for double or triple what I paid. And that’s without even trying. It just kind of organically happened. I bet I could triple that income if I really got serious about it.

If you’re interested in flipping on Craigslist here are a few pointers I have for you:

1. Look for crappy ads. Most of these items only had a single cell phone picture of the furniture piece and there was barely any description of the item. Craigslist posts like these tell me the person just wants the piece gone and doesn’t care about getting top dollar. If the furniture is staged and has a detailed description, the seller probably knows exactly what their piece is worth, so there isn’t much room for profit.

2. Always offer less than what they listed the piece for. ALWAYS! Most of the time I can save $25 to $100 by simply asking the seller if they’ll consider taking less. About half the time they agree, the other half they stay firm. Any money you save on the purchase, increases your profit come time to sell.

3. Stage your photos and use a nice camera to take pictures (your 12mp cell phone camera isn’t going to cut it). You’ll notice each of my listing photos are edited to really make the piece stand out. I increase the contrast and sharpness, bring out the natural colors of the wood, and blur the background to make sure the furniture stands out as the focal point. Great photography translates to great profits.

4. Don’t budge on price. You’ll notice in just about every instance I negotiated a lower purchase price from the seller. But I’ve never once budged on my asking price when I’m the one doing the selling.

By the time people have taken the time out of their day to drive to my house and see the piece, I’m almost positive they are emotionally attached to the piece. They ask if I would consider accepting less, and I respond with something like “Sorry, I’ve gotten a handful of other emails on it and am confident it will sell for asking. But I understand if you want to pass. No pressure either way.”

They fear missing out on it, and they end up paying me full asking. Worst case, they walk away, and the next day someone else is knocking on my door to pay full price.

5. Look often. Craigslist gets thousands of new listings every day. I’ve gotten very good at sifting through CL to discover the diamonds in the rough. Search terms, sorting by newest items, and putting the layout in “grid mode” will be your biggest helpers. There is an art to Craigslisting and if you spend enough time on there, you’ll figure it out.

Now get off my blog and go make yourself a little extra money!

 

 

 

Good news friends. I’m not dead.

So let’s just talk about the big elephant in the room. 

Yes.

I dropped off the face of the earth for the last two and a half months. And ya know what, it felt soooooooooo good.

I wish I had some cool story about how I was doing awesome things that kept me so busy I had no time to blog. But the reality is, I just didn’t want to write.

It’s that simple.

I like to consider it a blogging sabbatical. I mean I’ve been writing now for six years, a break was very much needed.

Special thanks to the dozen or so of you that sent me emails checking to make sure I hadn’t been kidnapped and had all my skin cut off by a creepy blog reader.

Much appreciated 🙂

On another note…

Girl Ninja and I might be moving. To where you ask?

ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.

I applied for a job with a well known government agency back in April, and over the last three months I’ve been jumping through a bunch of pre hiring hoops.

I’ve been interviewed, lie detected, stabbed, pricked, poked, x-rayed, and investigated.

 

I’ve successfully passed each of the stages and am awaiting a final hiring decision. Word on the street has it, that decision should be coming very soon.And if I am extended a final offer, Girl Ninja and I could be moving. 

Most secret squirrel jobs with Uncle Sam require the employee to sign a mobility agreement. Meaning, the employee agrees to move where the agency requests they go. In my case, that could end up being anywhere in the world. 

Literally.

I requested to be placed in either Seattle or San Diego (since these two locations are where we consider “home”), but there is nothing stopping them from putting me in the midwest, the south, the east, or even the Middle East, Korea, Africa, Spain, etc.

What’s more, it’s possible I don’t even get a job offer. Which means we’d be staying put in Seattle and I’d have to figure out a new game plan in regards to my career path.

Needless to say, life is a little crazy right now and we’re doing our best to temper our anxiety. I feel like a college student all over again, waiting for the acceptance (or rejection) letter to show up in the mail. Fingers crossed the news comes this week! 

In conclusion, look at how cute Baby Ninja is now that he doesn’t look all alien like…

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The great deduction debate.

I came across a person the other day, who suggested that anyone who lists charitable gifts on their taxes is not donating out of the goodness of their heart, but for the selfish benefit of receiving a tax deduction. Upon hearing those words I had a facepalm moment…

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I guess they have a point, the deduction benefits probably do encourage charitable giving. I mean when was the last time you gave more than $500 to a business or organization that didn’t qualify for a deduction?

If you’re like me the answer is almost never.

Sure I give $20 here and there to a homeless person, or I might give $100 to a friend for a missions trip, but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever just walked down to my local coffee shop and been like; “Hey you guys do awesome work and I want to support the business, here’s $500.”

So yes, I guess most of us probably do only give substantial financial gifts to charities that allow us to deduct that gift from our tax obligation, but ultimately I have to disagree with the sentiment.

I might be wrong, but I’d bet most people who make charitable contributions do so because they want to help someone or something out, not because they’ll get a deduction.

It just doesn’t make financial sense.

If I’m in the 25% tax bracket and I give $10,000 to charity over the course of the year, my maximum benefit for making that contribution would be $2,500. Why the heck would I give someone $10,000, so I can save $2,500? It clearly would be to my benefit to never make the contribution, write Uncle Sam a check for an extra $2,500, and keep the remaining $7,500.

And that is exactly the point I want to make today.

Why do people get so pumped on tax deductions like they are best thing ever? I mean people were telling me to keep my student loans because I could deduct some of the interest on the loan.

They literally were trying to convince me to keep paying $2,000 a year in interest to Sallie Mae, so I didn’t have to send the government $500.

I bet some of you with mortgages have probably had similar garbage preached to you, “Don’t pay off the mortgage, you’ll lose the deduction.”

Don’t get me wrong. I love me some deductions. If you are eligible, take ’em. Just don’t do something stupid and give Person A $5,000 so you can avoid giving Person B $1,000… Unless of course you have so much freakin’ money you like wasting it, then by all means waste to your heart’s content.

Have you been told to keep a debt around longer than you wanted because of the tax deduction? Do you regularly give significant financial gifts to non-qualified businesses or organizations? Have you ever given a gift, purely for the tax benefit?

I kinda sorta wanna sell our home.

From the Seattle Times:

From July 1, 2012 to July 1, 2013, Seattle grew by 2.8 percent — the highest rate among the 50 most-populous U.S. cities.

From the Seattle PI:

The wealthy in Seattle are getting wealthier at a faster pace than any other U.S. city, while those in the lowest income bracket are not keeping pace, according to a new analysis of America’s largest cities by the Brookings Institution.

From Me:

LET’S SELL OUR FREAKING HOUSE!!!

 

Girl Ninja and I weren’t fortunate enough to buy at the bottom (circa 2011-2012), but in the two years since we’ve bought our house, the local real estate market has been nothing but bonkers.

If you live in a major metropolitan area it’s probably the same story for you.

Our buddy just tried to buy a house a few miles from us. He lost out to one of the 17 other offers the sellers received.

With the housing supply at its lowest levels in history, prospective buyers just don’t have a lot of options.

Which means they are all competing on few properties available.

Which means bidding wars, cash buyers, and waived contingencies are the norm.

 

Girl Ninja and I love our house. It’s hella old (85 years and counting), hella charming, hella affordable, and has a hella big backyard for the area.

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That said, I also kinda like making money. Especially when it requires very little effort on my part. If we could sell our house for $50k or $100k above what we paid for it, it would be hard to pass that up.

What’s more, Girl Ninja and I didn’t mind renting. We loved the flexibility of the renting lifestyle. No hidden expenses. No maintenance. No changing light fixtures just for the sake of changing light fixtures. We are some of the few people that own a home, that won’t make you feel like you’re dumb for choosing to rent.

We wouldn’t sell if we couldn’t net at least $50,000 in appreciation off the sale. Couple that with our $70,000 down payment that we would get back, and we’re looking at a $120,000 pay day.

 

But Girl Ninja hates change. She cried the day we put an offer on our house (because she feared it might be a mistake). And I bet ya $50 she’ll cry the day we put this house on the market (fearing it might be a mistake).

And to be honest, I don’t really know what I would do with $120,000 cash. Well besides this…

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This…

business man anger shouting with money falling rain isolated on white background, asian model

 

and this…ORg2Hxa

Ah fudge. 

It’s hard to know Seattle is experiencing one of the best seller’s markets in history, but have no desire to capitalize on that momentum.

Oh well, I guess I’ll just watch other people get rich when they sell their homes.

 

 

I’m about to save you 10% on life!

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Thanks to you bullies, I decided to splurge the other day and buy a $450 Weber grill. I wasn’t able to bring myself to a point where I could justify the purchase, but after a bunch of peer pressure from some of my readers I felt I had to.

Okay, that’s a lie.

I just really wanted a new grill, and your encouragement was just the nudge I needed. So thank you for that. 

I don’t know if you keep up with the comments that I get on my blog posts, but on my previous post there was a comment made that TURNED MY WORLD UPSIDE DOWN!!!!

Buy the grill. Yours is toast and you can afford the Weber. If buying at Home Depot, go to giftcardgranny.com and buy some discount Home Depot gift cards to cover the purchase. That will reduce the price by 8-10% which will ease your pain–especially if you get a Memorial Day sale price.

What is this sorcery? 

It sounds too good to be true… ONLY IT IS TRUE!!!!

Intrigued I hopped on over to Giftcardgranny.com (GCG) punched in Lowes (since that is closer to me than Home Depot) and BAM, hundreds of gift cards were being sold at a discount.

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GCG doesn’t actually sell the gift cards, they simply point you to various websites that do. Kind of like how you don’t purchase your airfare from Kayak, but they simply show you prices for all airlines. 

I was lucky enough to find a $400 Lowes gift card being sold for $359.96.  There may be similar deals on Home Depot coupons.

A 10.2% savings!!!!!

I was a little sketched out by the process and was fearing it was all a scam, but I decided to be your guniea pig and give it a try. The gift card I bought had an e-code associated with it (so I didn’t have to wait for a physical gift card to be mailed to me).

I punched in my credit card information, submitted my payment, and sure enough, 5 minutes after being notified my transaction went through, I got an email with my Lowe’s gift card code.

The moment of truth

I was so nervous that I just got suckered out of $360.

I clicked over to Lowes.com, added the $450 grill to my cart, and on the billing screen punched in my gift card code.

IT FREAKIN’ WORKED!!!!

In less than 5 minutes I saved myself 10% off an item that almost never goes on sale (Weber grills are like iPhones, they’re almost never sold at a discount because they don’t need to be).

My life has been changed forever. 

Why pay full price for anything when I can save between 2% and 10% at virtually every big box store?

Answer: I won’t.

So thank you PDITF commenter for sharing that gem of a website, and enlightening me and my readers.

Oh, and on a random side note. I think the BBQ gods wanted me to get this grill for free because in the mail yesterday I got a $500 Chase bank promotional offer. I get $300 for opening a checking account with them (I’m currently with Wells Fargo) and setting up a direct deposit. And $200 if I open up a savings account and transfer over $15,000 that I leave there for 90 days. Totally worth it as this promotion covers the full cost of my Weber!!! WOOHOO!!!

Will you be using discounted gift cards in the future?

Can I buy that?

The beautiful thing about having money in the bank is you can afford to buy things. The ugly thing about having money in the bank is, well, you can afford to buy things.

Although I’m grateful to be in the financial position we are currently in, sometimes I miss the days of paying down debt.

That does not mean I miss debt. 

But I do miss the clear and simple objective one has when working their way out of debt.

Overtime income?

Pay off debt.

Tax return?

Pay off debt.

Side Hustle?

Pay off debt.

Birthday money?

Pay off debt.

No matter the situation, the solution was always the same. 

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Within the last month or so, there have been a handful of relatively expensive items I’ve wanted to purchase, but haven’t managed to pull the trigger yet because I feel like it would be irresponsible. Here are a few of the items on my list.

Upgrade my iPhone 5 to a 6+: 

It’s kind of disgusting that we operate in a world where we believe our ridiculously expensive cell phones are essentially garbage after two years, simply because a newer model of the same phone exists. I’m a victim of the “ohhh, pretty-shiny-thing” cult as well. In a week I will be out of my ATT contract. I can upgrade my iPhone 5 to the new 6+ for $299. I’d get a better screen. A better battery. And a better camera.

That said, the primary purpose of my cell phone is to make/receive phone calls, make/receive text messages, make/receive emails. The iPhone 6 doesn’t do this any better than my current phone. Why would I pay to upgrade to a phone that has negligibly better features? Or a better question I suppose is, why do I WANT to do that?

Buy a Weber Grill: 

Five years ago, I got a relatively cheap ($199) Home Depot grill for my birthday. It has lived a long and glorious life, but after two moves, and years of use, the lack of quality is apparent. The burners no longer self-ignite. The thing is ginormous and eats up an excessive area of my patio. But most importantly, it doesn’t burn hot enough.

A burger should take 8 minutes to cook (about four minutes on each side). My grill has declined so much that it takes about 25 minutes for me to grill three burger patties. It’s a waste of propane and a terribly frustrating experience.

A Weber Grill would solve all of my problems. Just as Nordstrom is known for it’s superior customer service, Weber is known for manufacturing stellar grills. They aren’t cheap (base model is $399), but they are unmatched in value.

I love to grill and have been scouring craigslist like crazy trying to find a lightly used Weber. So far I’ve had no luck finding one that I feel is priced fair. The frugal part of me says I should wait until September to buy a new grill as that is typically when the big sales are to be had due to the end of the summer season, but the other part of me says that is stupid as I’d have to endure another grilling season with my barely functioning BBQ.

I’ve made a deal with myself that if I haven’t found one on craigslist by Memorial Weekend, I’m going to Home Depot and buying a brand spanking new one.

Pay for Electrical work:

This one isn’t so much a purchase, but more a “should we pay to have this work done.” We have an outlet in our pantry that we plugged our microwave in to a few months ago. Within one second of turning the microwave on, the outlet went out and our exterior security lights went off. It’s not the breaker. It’s not the outlet. It’s not the fuse. I’ve exhausted my electrical skills and can’t troubleshoot the problem on my own.

I had two electricians come by last week to get quotes. Since they aren’t yet sure what the problem is they could only give me estimates on how long they think it might take to identify the problem. Essentially, it’s going to cost about $300 for them to simply diagnose the problem, and potentially a lot more depending on what the issue is.

I hate having lights and outlets that don’t work. That said, these are probably the least important lights and outlets in my entire house so I don’t feel a rush to necessarily get them fixed. Why spend $300-$500 when we don’t need to? But when the time comes to sell our house, we are probably going to have to pay for this service anyways since a home inspector would surely note the issue.

I’ve never understood why people wait on upgrading their home. People will live 20 years with their builder grade laminate counter tops, only to replace them with granite when they decide they are ready to sell their house. Why not pay for the upgrade earlier and actually enjoy your counters? This is how I feel about my outlets. If I’m going to spend the money now, or down the road, why not have the electrical work done today?

I guess my issue is that I never want our financial privilege (money in the bank) to cloud my judgement and distort my perception of being a good steward of God’s resources (the money he has put in our bank).

Do I believe it’s okay to enjoy nice things? Absolutely.

Do I believe it can also be crippling? Absolutely.