by Casey Lewis | Mar 23, 2016 | Dreaming, Faith, Family
In this online universe, where we all are constantly consuming content that is educational, informational, entertaining, or this video of a pig dancing to Rihanna’s song Work, our appetite for content is never satiated.
And in the demand for a constant stream of unlimited content, as a content creator it can be overwhelming to deliver consistently.
So I’m pressing pause. I’m asking a question that I wish so many other content creators would ask.
“What’s the end game here?”
There’s so much advice about how to “build a successful online business” and a lot of it comes down to consistency over time. Which is certainly true. I’ve written on this site and numerous others for over 7 years now. Hundreds of thousands of people have read my words. For 10 months I consistently put out a new podcast episode and had an average of 2,000 listeners each week. Consistency builds and creates trust with an audience over time and fosters a community.
So why is this the first blog post I’ve written in just over 60 days and only the 5th in the past 6 months? Why have my last 5 podcast episodes released sporadically and weeks apart?
It wasn’t intentional. To be honest I’ve even felt a little guilty about not publishing a new article or podcast episode (even when I’ve promised to be more consistent about it).
But, what’s the end game here? Why do I write? Why do I podcast? Why do I create content?
I want to help people get better with money so they can chase after their own dreams and passions. I’ve seen the power of getting out of debt and building some wealth in my own life. I was able to quit a steady job to become a full time entrepreneur. We paid cash for 2 cars. We took our family on an epic Disney World vacation. I get to work when I want to work, where I want to work, and earn however much money I choose to make. And all of that is from getting out of debt and saving a little money.
If I could encourage and equip one person, or 20 people, or 1,000 people to do that same thing then what type of change would we see in the world?
So I write and podcast to help other people get better with money. But the end game ultimately is to just help people.
And I’ve been able to do tons of that through my local community, through Facebook posts, through people emailing and asking questions, through various online groups. If I were a good blogger I’d take the advice I’ve given in other places and post them here on my website, my “home base.” But honestly it’s just been nice to stop focusing on building a business and just help people that need help.
I could record 5 new podcast episodes a week and create 5 new blog posts a week and record 5 new videos a week. I have plenty of content available in my brain that I could deliver that content. I’m self-employed and work from home, so I could find the time to make all of that happen. But I don’t know if putting that kind of pressure and consistency in place reaches the end goal of just helping more people pay off a credit card or student loan.
I think it just puts significant pressure on me, a one man show, to produce great content, consistently, even when I’m coaching my sons baseball team, or going to my daughters dance class, or leading worship in my church, or helping a family find an awesome realtor in their part of the country, or helping a family locally buy or sell a house, or taking my wife on a date, or watching Tarek and Christina screw something up on Flip or Flop….
So I’ll figure this internet thing out. Consistency is important, I get it. But so is being an available husband and dad. So is helping people out when they need some help. So is taking a vacation and lots of naps.
I write this message to myself but also to you. If you’re discouraged in yourself because you’re behind on something you really want to do, just know that being a human is hard enough work. God’s given you grace. Give yourself some too.
by Casey Lewis | Dec 2, 2015 | Dreaming, Faith, Family, Money
If Black Friday has taught us anything about the human race it’s that we’ll fight to the death over that last $9.99 toaster oven at Walmart.
Okay, so you probably avoid the chaos that surrounds the Friday after a day of giving thanks for the blessings you already have. But the days between Thanksgiving and December 24 are still likely filled with shopping for the perfect gift for everyone on your Christmas list.
I’m a generous guy. I love giving gifts. I love receiving gifts. There’s something about a living room filled with stacks on stacks on stacks of wrapping paper that just screams CHRISTMAS!
But in my 3 decades on this earth I can’t really recall any of the gifts I received at Christmas time growing up.
You know what I do remember?
I remember my dad putting boot prints in the ashes of the fireplace on the year I had stopped believing in Santa Claus so that the next morning I woke up to believe for one more year.
I remember my first Christmas Eve service in “Big Church.” I was handed a candle and the stupid little paper guard didn’t work, so hot wax spilled on my hand and I cried while my mother held and comforted me.
I remember driving through the neighborhoods in the rich part of town looking at all of the Christmas lights on houses.
I remember the string quartet playing music before Christmas Eve service and what seemed like a 300 member choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus.
I remember having family and friends over to our house on Christmas Eve and eating a dinner made up of queso, sausage balls, little smokies, and the silly veggie tray mom always insisted on serving even though no one ever ate off of it.
I remember pull-apart cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Christmas Morning and Ham for Christmas Dinner.
I remember sneaking out of bed in the early Christmas Morning hours to see if Santa had come yet, and then running into my sisters room to see if she was awake too.
I remember the first time dad let me help put the Christmas lights on the roof. I remember the home-made light up star we put up each year that could be seen from over a mile away on the highway.
I remember helping set-up our massive Dicken’s Village Collection. I remember picking out a Christmas Tree and needing to give our real Christmas tree water before we finally got a fake tree.
I remember shaking presents weeks before Christmas day. I remember sorting presents under the tree by whose name was on them. I remember counting presents to make sure my little sister never got more than me. I remember putting in place the rule that we open presents one at a time, in order from youngest to oldest and each time we came back around my grandma would forget it was her turn.
I remember all of this, but I have a difficult time recalling any gift I’ve received at Christmas.
The experiences, the events, the time with family, the annual traditions… that’s what makes this the most wonderful time of the year. It’s these things that get put on our annual Christmas List.
As you go through the next few weeks in a panic about buying that perfect Christmas gift for each person on your Christmas list, know that 5 years from now they won’t remember what they received but they’ll absolutely remember the experiences you share.
by Casey Lewis | Jul 28, 2014 | Faith, Money, Uncategorized
I’m all about convenience.
When given the option of ordering pizza for dinner or picking it up on the way home, I’ll always order. My car doesn’t have time for crank down windows. I’m an Amazon Prime member because who has time to wait more than 2 days for something they bought online?
When it comes to the conveniences and luxuries of life I’m all for them.
But what I know is that most of those conveniences come at a cost. With Pizza there’s a $2.50 delivery fee plus the tip you leave for the driver. Ordering a movie On Demand costs double the cost of driving to the nearest Redbox.
I understand that and make that decision willingly to afford myself a few extra minutes with my family, or if I’m being honest because I’m just flat out lazy some days.
Over the past decade I’ve started seeing more and more churches accept credit and debit cards as a method for receiving tithes and offerings.
It’s not to the point where they’re passing a digital offering plate down the aisle where you just swipe your card (although I’m sure that exists somewhere.) But at most major churches around the country, you can find self service kiosks to swipe your card, enter the amount you wish to give, and do your giving this way.
Churches also have setup to receive your giving by a card through their websites.
Wow! We don’t have to remember the checkbook or grab cash from our bank the day before. Plus if you’ve got a rewards credit card, you’ll get reward points for giving! Yay! Reward points and Jesus! It’s super convenient and sure can make that part of our life easier.
But giving isn’t supposed to be convenient or easy. It’s supposed to be a sacrifice. It’s a part of worship and an outward display of our acknowledgement that God owns every aspect of our life, including our finances. And when we make giving a convenience or something that seems easy, or put an opportunity for reward points because of our generosity,we’re crippling the point of giving in the first place.
I accept debit cards as the primary form of payment for my business. Over 90% of my sales are done online, so it’s just part of daily operations for me. But with accepting those cards comes an expense. I’m a rather small business so it costs me about 3% of each transaction to process those cards.
When churches accept cards because it’s an added convenience for their members, it becomes a huge expense item in their operating budget. If your church takes in $10M a year in credit/debit card giving and they pay 2% to process those transactions, they are spending $200,000 a year just to receive their offerings.
How many children that are under-resourced in your local community could receive school supplies for $200,000? How many local families could your church feed if they didn’t have to pay card processing fees?
When we make our church giving a mere convenience it waters down the significance of giving and cripples the churches ability to make an impact. Stop relying on convenience and remember to bring your checkbook.
by Casey Lewis | Jun 24, 2014 | Debt, Faith, Money, Uncategorized
It’s naive of me to think there are no benefits to using a credit card.
I hear story after story of people paying for vacations and airplane tickets and concerts using their reward points. I understand the convenience of swiping a card and then just paying one bill every month. There’s even a program out there where you could meet Justin Timberlake because you swipe a credit card.
And the argument for their use is always the same.
“I pay it off every month.”
“I don’t pay any interest.”
“I took my vacation to Europe this Summer using all reward points.”
“I got VIP tickets to a concert.”
And the list could go on and on about all the awesome reward benefits of credit cards.
Congratulations! You’ve found a way to use the system to your benefit and you’re cashing in huge. You’re responsible. You pay off the card every month and never pay a dime of interest.
But this seems like a flawed business model for the credit card company. Pay out all these awesome benefits, for free, and not make any money…
Who’s paying for all those reward points?
The simple answer…. Slaves.
The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is SLAVE to the lender. – Proverbs 22:7
For every 1 person that’s getting the benefits of those reward points, 9 are in slavery to the credit card company to pay for it.
Now this isn’t an excuse for those that use credit cards irresponsibly.
It is their own fault.
No one ever intentionally gets into credit card debt. It’s a slippery slope. And in the vast majority of cases it’s because of irresponsibility. Even though they voluntarily signed up for the ride, it’s still slavery.
They signed up hoping to gallivant around the world using those same airline miles the “rich and famous” enjoy. Yet now they pay 10%, 18%, 29% interest and are slaves.
Is it possible to use credit cards responsibly? Absolutely! I’ve written about that before.
Can there be benefits to using credit cards? Absolutely!
But who pays for the trips to Europe, and the hotels, and the plane tickets, and the concerts, and the . . . ?
by Casey Lewis | Apr 15, 2014 | Faith, Money, Uncategorized
We are the most heavily marketed to culture that has ever existed. Just from where I’m sitting now I can see 15 different brand name items in my house.
And the marketing dollars these companies spend actually work. We become “brand loyal” and spend money on buying products we don’t need just because a marketing message was put in front of us enough times where our willpower to say no gave way to the joy of saying yes.
We are bombarded with these advertising messages with such frequency that our internal default has immediately become “no.”
That’s fantastic when it comes to a new 55″ TV every 6 months or a new luxury car once a year. It’s fine to have a default reaction to say “no” when a deal of the day shows up in our inbox for an item we probably don’t need.
But what about on the things that really matter?
Last week I got an email from a long time friend who happens to be in med school. It was a simple 3 sentence message asking for a $5-$10 donation as he was hoping to raise $100 total toward the St. Baldrick’s Organization. If you’re not familiar with this group they fund research grants to find cures for childhood cancers.
As I opened the email and quickly read through it my gut reaction said “no.” That’s right. I said no to helping fund cancer research for kids. But as I thought about it I realized that $20 wouldn’t break the bank and would help my friend get to 20% of his goal. More importantly it goes to a charity that is doing fantastic work.
But why was my default reaction to say no? I believe in the work this group does. I’ve been friends with this guy for almost 11 years and trust him completely. While I’m certainly not wealthy, the $5-$10 he was asking for was probably what I spent on lunch one day that week.
The reason my default reaction said “no” is because I am selfish.
And you are too.
We calculate out exactly 15% as a tip for the waitress and if we don’t have enough change we leave her a dollar short instead of a dollar extra. At Christmas time we’ll put $2 in the red kettle the first time we see it that season but avoid that entrance to the store for the rest of the year.
When a friend tries to crowd source money for a mission trip we ignore their posts on Facebook or delete their emails. We read blogs of authors where we enjoy the messages that they share for free but never spend a dime on one of their books or pay to attend an event they speak at.
We consistently say “no” to the things that really do matter yet eventually cave to the marketing pressures of a $5 lunch or $10 movie.
When someone or something you believe in approaches you with an opportunity to provide financial support it’s not a time to be selfish. Fight the urge for your default reaction to say no.
Generosity always wins. Stop being so selfish.
by Casey Lewis | Mar 17, 2014 | Debt, Dreaming, Faith, Money, Uncategorized
If Jesus told me to go to a foreign nation today to proclaim the Gospel for the rest of my life, I don’t think I could. As someone that longs to be a better follower of Christ every day, that’s a difficult conclusion for me.
But could you? If you heard an audible voice from Christ telling you to pack up and leave everything you know behind immediately, could you do it?
It’s nice to think we could and would.
Check out the disciples though. Simon was just minding his own business, hanging out with his brother Andrew, catching some fish, putting in a hard days work. Then this stranger guy named Jesus comes up and says, “Follow Me. And I will make you fish for men. Oh and Simon, I’m changing your name to Peter.”
And they got up, left their nets, and immediately followed this stranger!
Now, I don’t think Jesus ever would call us to abandon our obligations. He would never say, “I know you have 2 young kids and a spouse, but you need to leave them here and go minister to orphans in Haiti for the rest of your life.” Christ would never say, “I know you have car payments, and a mortgage, and that you still owe money for your college education, but forget about those debts and follow me.”
What if Simon Peter had financed his fishing boat and nets? What if he had 2 used donkey payments? Would he have felt conflicted about leaving everything he knows and owes immediately to follow Jesus? Would Jesus have even called Peter to follow him for this journey in the first place?
“No one can be a slave to 2 masters since he will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and love the other. You cannot be slaves of God and money.” – Matthew 6:24
I proclaim to follow Christ. I have a relationship with Him. He’s not a stranger to me. The thought of not being able to follow Him when He calls me for something awesome has kept me up at night.
When we put ourselves in bad financial positions; owing others money, not having any equity in a home, financing cars and student loans, and buying things on credit cards, it makes it difficult to follow Jesus immediately when He calls.
Worse, what opportunities is He not calling us to because we have other obligations?