19 Minutes – 6/7/2011 © 2011 6/7/2011 Jeff Thomann

19 Minutes - 6/7/2011 © 2011 6/7/2011 Jeff Thomann

19 Minutes – 6/7/2011 © 2011 6/7/2011 Jeff Thomann
Media: Ballpoint Pen on Paper

This is a quick little still life sketch I did last night.

Interesting Reading – Asimov’s Guide to the Bible: A Historical Look at the Old and New Testament

You folks reading this might think I’m nuts doing this many Interesting Reading posts in this short of a timespan, but there’s a lot of various books that I’ve read and/or am in the middle of reading that have a lot of relevance to this blog and life in general really, and are just great books that I think everyone should at least take a glance at some point in time… I’ll probably add more interesting reading posts in the not-too-distant future…

Asimov’s Guide to the Bible: A Historical Look at the Old and New Testaments is a very interesting book. Asimov, possibly one the greatest science fiction writers of all time, explores the bible from a scientific and historical perspective in this book. He’s an athiest, (and a former Jew I think) but that does not matter. He covers a lot of the historical aspects of each chapter of the Bible in this book from a scientific perspective. There’s not a lot of mushy love and miracle belief talk in the book like you see in a lot of the bible study books that are written by Christians. Also there’s a lot of discussion about geography and history of the locations in the bible, and how each of the main characters in the bible is thought of from a historian’s perspective and how they sort of fit in to the Social Studies and History books. That is something you don’t typically get a lot of with a lot of other books about the Bible. I don’t know that I agree with him on everything (since he is an atheist after all), but I do think he presents a lot of ideas that anyone interested in Religion, History, or Geography, regardless of whether they are Christian or not a Christian might find interesting.

His explanations that seem to explain away miracles or give them a new twist by allowing you to think about them in a different way than the way you might have been taught in Bible School by adding a bit of science is somewhat refreshing, and for the most part does not make the Bible any less relevant or True.

Remember, there are multiple perspectives to our reality… What everyone that witnesses anything experiences is likely slightly different than others that witnessed the same darn thing. It is good to sometimes think about things from a different angle. There might be a slight challenge to your faith in some of the info in this book, but that actually might be a catalyst that will help you gain a stronger faith by reading the book. There is a lot of historical and geographic info in here that you probably won’t come across many other places unless you are theologian and have read a LOT of ancient texts and have a masters degree in religion. It’s good to learn a few new things. and think about things in a different way on occassion! 🙂

Interesting Reading – Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

Dave’s Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness is a very good book. In post-stock market crash world we live in today, it’s reliance on using stocks as the main method of making money once you get financially stable is a bit questionable. However, all of the steps in the book to get to that point are sound, and simple enough that anyone can do them.

The main “baby steps” that need to be taken as the first steps to get financially stable that are listed in the book are:

1. Save $1,000 to start an Emergency Fund. The goal here is to get yourself to a place where you never use a credit card again, or have to take out a loan again in your life if possible. If you can get 1k in savings, and ONLY use it when you have a real emergency (car blows up, etc.), you can slowly get yourself off of relying on plastic and loans.

2. Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball. The idea with the snowball payments is to pay off the smallest debt (loan, credit card, etc.) that you have first, and pay minimum payments on everything else until that little debt is killed off. Then keep paying the same amount you would have to the little loan, and just apply the extra to the next biggest debt, and keep doing that so that you are basically doubling or tripling your payments over time as more things get paid off so that you minimize the amount of time it gets to get completely debt free to a few years instead of to a few decades.

3. Save up 3 to 6 months of expenses in savings. This step is important since it gives you a chance to really build up your savings account. The reason you do this now instead of earlier in step 1 is so that you could drop more cash in to the debt earlier before you do this so that you are not killing your savings interest rate with the interest rate of outgoing cash going in to paying off the stuff in step 2. Honestly, I think for most people, in todays unstable economy, it might be smarter to actually save up 1-2 years instead of only 6 months if possible, just so that you are safe. The unemployment rate is raising a lot more, a lot faster than it has in the past, and I personally know a few people that have been on unemployment (except for a few part time job seasonal monthly jobs) for a couple of years… so it’s a good idea to save!

4. Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement. I’m not sure I agree with Dave on this. I do agree it’s good to invest in something, but since IRAs are still one form of stocks, they can loose money if you the market goes down again… It might be better to invest in US savings bonds. They at least have a guaranteed interest rate that is backed by the Government. I’m pretty sure the government back out on paying bonds any time soon, even if our national debt grows every year at the rate it has for the last few years…

5. Save up College funding for children if you have kids, or alternatively, save up a little nest egg for yourself to get yourself ready to start up that home business you’ve always wanted to start, or to give you enough cash so that you are safe and can try to switch jobs and start doing what you really want to do if you don’t have kids. If you don’t want to do a business and don’t have kids, save up anyways. You never know what the future will bring. I think I read somewhere the other day that on average, a retirement home can eat up about one million dollars over the course of 2-5 years!

6. Pay off your house early. This one just makes sense. Get that mortgage gone so you can be completely debt free. However, don’t make it a priority over other debts unless the total payoff on it is lower than other debts because typically interest rates on houses are a heck of a lot lower than on credit cards and other unsecured debt. You also might put off paying minimum payments on your college loans right before paying off the house, depending on how many college loans you have and if you consolidated, etc. since college loans typically have a death clause and a low interest rate. (The death clause pays off the debt if you die so those you leave behind won’t be paying off your college loans forever after you are gone).

7. Build wealth and give! The ultimate goal is to be completely debt free, and never to rely on loans or credit cards again. Once you get to this point, you can start looking at a lot of different ways to invest and let your money grow itself for you. When you get to this point, and you are not living paycheck to paycheck, you can start looking in to giving money away to charities or people in need. Help them out. It’ll help you out spiritually, and probably mentally too. It’s nice to help people when you can. It’s just hard to get to a point in your life where you can do that without worrying about all the other debt… If you follow Dave’s baby steps, you can get to this point a lot sooner than you might think! 🙂