Do Like Bilbo Baggins: Go on an Adventure

Do Like Bilbo Baggins: Go on a AdventureBilbo: “Can you promise that I will come back?”
Gandalf: “No. And if you do, you will not be the same”.

You know what? I love movies. They can provide great entertainment and when they leverage great material treated right, movies can also inspire us, challenge us.

The exchange at top of the post today comes from one such movie: “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”.

In case you are not familiar with the story, Bilbo Baggins is a Hobbit who is quite comfortable with life as it is. He loves his house, his garden, and his books.

Then an old family friend, Gandalf the wizard interrupts his life with a proposal. Gandalf wants Bilbo to join him and go on a very wild, dangerous adventure to help some of his friends.

Bilbo is not ready and does not want to go. This is not what he does. Here is Gandalf’s final challenge to him:

Are you too Comfortable with your Financial Situation?

When we get in a position of comfort with our situation, change and progress is hard even though, it could be good for us.

Maybe like Bilbo, you are just too comfortable with your financial situation.

Perhaps you have grown accustomed to the idea that you don’t know how to handle money. Your family never did so that’s just the way it is and you are ok with that.

Or maybe you have convinced yourself that doing a budget is hard and you are just not good with numbers.

It could be that you are in agreement with the view that you will always have a car payment and that no one can go to college without a student loan.

You may have also come to believe that living on credit cards and paying interest is a way of life. After all, everyone else does it. What makes you so different?

And finally, maybe you are resigned to the fact that you can’t save for retirement, that’s too late for you. You will just have to work forever and hope the government takes care of you in your golden years.

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You Need to Go on an Adventure with Your Finances

Gandalf brought some truth into Bilbo’s life. He challenged his notions and gave him a chance to become someone else.

Please allow me to speak some truth in your life because someone spoke truth in my life at one point.

You see, I used to believe all of those things about money and finances myself. And I was quite comfortable with it too.

But the truth of the matter is this: you can learn to handle money. You can learn to budget. You can get out of debt. You can live without credit cards.

It won’t be easy and it will require sacrifice to win, but you can change your financial destiny.

You can be a blessing to your family and to others. Think about all of the great things you could do only if you were in a strong financial position.

You know what happened with Bilbo right? Gandalf and his friends left. Bilbo was left to live his life the way he had grown accustomed to. Was that the end? No:

Bilbo finally decided that it was time for a change. It was time to go on an adventure.

It’s that time for you too. It’s time to go on an adventure that will change the financial destiny for you and your family for good.

I can help you get started today.

Question: Are you ready to go on an adventure with your finances?

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Please Take My 2014 Reader Survey

Figueroa Financial 2014 SurveyI want to improve my blog make it more relevant to your needs and interests on personal finances.

To do that, I need to know more about YOU. For that purpose, I have created my 2014 Reader Survey.

Would you please take a few minutes to fill out the survey? By doing so, you will be helping me and will ultimately be helping yourself.

How is that? Because you will be helping me make my content on personal finance even more interesting and relevant to you.

My goal is to bring help and hope to your financial situation and I want to make sure this is what I am doing with my blog.

I would love to hear from you. Your opinion is very important to me and I also know your time is very valuable. The survey is very easy to fill out and the results are completely anonymous.

I won’t be able to tell who said what. And it will only take five minutes of your time. Thank you so much for your time.

Figueroa Financial Survey

Would You Post a “Personal Finance Selfie”?

Personal Finance SelfieHave you been caught in the “selfie” craze?

Recently, Oscar Awards ceremony host Ellen DeGeneres posted the most retweeted “selfie” to this point (over 3M retweets).

With the proliferation of both smart phones and social media, everyone is posting pictures of themselves and sharing them with the people in their networks.

Typically you want to celebrate how you look, what you are doing, and in Ellen’s case, who is hanging out with you.

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But would you post a “personal finance selfie”? Would you be willing to be open and share how well you are doing with money?

Well the answer is probably no, simply because how you are doing with your money is a very personal and private matter. We typically do not like to broadcast that information or even discuss money matters with anyone outside of our own household.

But let’s assume that we could get past the privacy issue. What sort of picture could we create to generate a snapshot of your finances?

I think a “personal finance selfie” could include objective items such as:

  • Annual Household Income
  • Assets (what you own): Emergency savings retirement savings, property equity.
  • Liabilities (what you owe): Consumer debt, Mortgage.
  • Net Worth (Assets – Liabilities)
  • Annual Charitable Giving

Your “personal finance selfie” could also include more qualitative items such as:

  • Are you managing your money with a monthly budget?
  • If you are married, are you working with your spouse on money matters?
  • If you have children, are you teaching them how to handle money?
  • How do you deal with major purchases? Do you use debt or do you save to pay cash for those items?
  • Do you review your credit report at least once every year?
  • Do you have the required insurance to handle the risks to your finances?
  • Have you prepared a will?

So as you evaluate and gather this information, you can get a pretty clear picture of where you stand financially.

And don’t worry, I don’t want to see your selfie. This “personal finance selfie” is just for you.

You are the one who has to be in charge and know what’s happening with your money.

You are the secret sauce to your financial success.

It’s all up to you, so go ahead and take charge and win with money. It is possible!!!

Then send me a selfie of all the fun and great things you are doing because you decided to take control of your finances.

That’s one selfie I would love to see and retweet to celebrate with you.

Question: How satisfied are you with your “personal finance selfie”?

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Principal Components of Your Financial Plan

Principal Components of Your Financial PlanIn order to win with your money, you need to have a plan of attack for your finances.

It won’t happen by accident.

Financial success requires that you are steadfast in executing and monitoring each step of your financial plan along the way.

As the great Zig Ziglar said: If you do the things you need to do when you need to do them, then someday you can do the things you want to do when you want to do them.

In order to help you, I have created a quick reference for you containing the principal components of your financial plan.

The plan components are grouped around 4 major categories:

  • Build a Firm Foundation: Get your money under control so you can be positioned to win.
  • Protect Your Household: Manage the risks to your finances.
  • Plan For the Future: Think about long term goals.
  • Be a Generous Giver: Self -explanatory.

For each financial plan component, you will find relevant posts as well as useful resources. If you have questions, get in touch with me any time.

I want you to win with your money and be able to dream again. Start today!

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Financial Plan Components

Build a Firm Foundation

Plan Component

Relevant Posts


Establish a Monthly Budget

The Recipe for a Great Budget

Budget Template

 Budget Guidelines

Budgeting Help: The Envelope System

Budget Priorities: Protecting the Four Walls

Eliminate Consumer Debt

6 Steps To Debt Freedom

Debt Snowball Template

Why I Don’t Use Credit Cards

Why do we stay in Debt?

Protect Your Household

Plan Component

Relevant Posts


Emergency Savings

The Blessings of Learning to Save Money

Savings Guidelines

15 Tips for Saving Money

The Remedy for the Debt Disease: Learning To Save Money

The Role of Insurance

7 Required Types of Insurance

Zander: Life & ID Theft Insurance

 Wise Insurance Group

Plan for the Future

Plan Component

Relevant Posts


Save for Retirement

How I Am Preparing For Retirement

Retirement Calculator

Save for College Expenses

College Savings

Dave Ramsey’s College Planning Guide

Book: Debt- Free U

Prepare a Will

3 Reasons You Should Prepare a Will

On-line Will Preparation

Pay off the Mortgage

Time to Buy a House?

Mortgage Calculator

 Be a Generous Giver

Plan Component

Relevant Posts


Giving should always be part of your financial plan.

10 Stewardship Questions

Book: Thou Shall Prosper

The Purpose of Wealth

Generosity as a Lifestyle

 Question: What would it take for you to get started with your financial plan?

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3 Fundamental Principles of Biblical Stewardship

3 Fundamental Principles of Biblical StewardshipNow this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (NASB)

As a Christian, what’s your view of stewardship? Does the word bring up feelings of guilt? Or is being a steward a cause of joy for you?

If we are not careful, we can make this concept of stewardship too complicated. I do believe that part of maturing as a Christian involves growing in our understanding of biblical stewardship.

A mature believer understands that he/she is an asset manager or a steward and that God owns it all (Psalm 24:1). He does not need our money.

But I would like to help us understand the essence of biblical stewardship. Let me use the verses above to share with you the 3 fundamental principles of biblical stewardship.

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Principle #1: We Reap According to what We Sow

In the context of this passage, the Apostle Paul is encouraging the believers at Corinth to gear up and get ready to support the offering for the saints in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 9:1-5).

In this first principle, he borrows a concept from farming. Namely, we reap what we sow. Not only that, but we also reap in the same measure as we sow.

The idea here is that in stewardship, you get back as much as you put in. And he is not only talking about a financial return. He is speaking about all of the benefits that come your way when you give.

Jesus put this way: “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over.” (Luke 6:38).

You can’t out-give God. He is the Great Giver and He delights in blessing the obedience of His children.

Principle #2: We Should Give with a Joyful Heart

Even though Paul encourages us to give generously, he immediately introduces the second principle.

Yes, we should give but we should do it with a joyful heart. Note that he also indicates that each of us should give as we have purposed in our hearts.

You see, giving is very personal. It’s between you and God and no one else. Yes, He wants you to give and to be a good steward but not under compulsion, out of guilt.

My stepdad worked in construction all of his life. He was usually tinkering around the house doing something:  maybe unloading the tools and wood he used after a hard day of work, or maybe working a project around the house during the weekends.

My mom always felt that I should help him, but to be honest, that was not my first inclination. I always had to be told to go help him which I did grudgingly.

However, every time I helped him, I ended up having a good time and learning something in the process. If I had known better, I would have given my time to that effort happily.

In stewardship, you can enjoy it more if you do it from the heart, from the beginning regardless of the amount. You will receive more than you can ever imagine.

Just try it!

Principle #3: We Should Trust God’s Grace in Provision

Here is the fun part in biblical stewardship:  once we decide to jump in with both feet, we can trust God will provide what we need for every good deed.

Isn’t that something? God will provide all that you and I need to be a good steward. He is more interested in the condition of our hearts than in anything else. And when we give, we are transformed for the better.

When we obey God in the matter of stewardship, we unlock the power of His grace to work in our lives. We can be a blessing to the rest of the body of Christ and to all who are in need of His love and compassion.

Question: What principle of biblical stewardship will you put in practice today? 

“You can’t out give God. Why not try it and see for yourself?”
Greg Laurie,
Senior Pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship  

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