Choose Your Coworkers Wisely

Coworkers can be a blessing, or they can be a curse.   Nothing is more crucial than having the right mix of people around you to make your day more productive and more fulfilling.  But how do you make sure your coworkers are a blessing and not a curse?

Well, if you’re going to spend over 50 percent of your waking day at a workplace, you really want to vet your potential coworkers as much as possible before you start working with them.  Once you accept a job offer or a department transfer, you’re often stuck with your decision for an extended period of time.

So talk to potential workers, scan online reviews, read about the company culture, and ask your potential boss as many questions as possible.  If you do all of those things and still have a warm and fuzzy feeling, then you should feel pretty comfortable about signing the dotted line on a job offer.

From there, all you can do is pray and hope for the best.

This post was previously written by Ben on LinkedIn.

Follow Ben on Twitter @Ben_Baxter

Types-People-You-Work

Delayed Gratification is not Set in Stone

More often than not, delayed gratification is viewed as a four-letter word that means permanent denial of happiness.  That’s not a healthy definition or an accurate definition as delayed gratification is actually a temporary experience.  If it lasts forever, then it’s not delayed gratification.  That being said, it’s not hard to see why delayed gratification or healthy discipline gets a bad rap.

Hebrews 12:11

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

There are multiple applications for this verse: financial discipline, sexual discipline, athletic discipline, educational discipline, and etc.  If we want to be successful in any area of our lives, it will require some level of discipline.  There’s no way around it.

Fortunately, it becomes easier to live out Hebrews 12:11 if we don’t put all of our focus on the first sentence of the verse.  We get so caught up in the pain of discipline that we overlook the harvest of righteousness and peace.  Simply correcting that shortsightedness will change our lives forever.

Follow @Ben_Baxter on Twitter. Or find him on AL.com and TouchdownAlabama.net.

Delayed Gratification

Love-Robinson, Most Famous Black Doctor of All-Time?

I know it’s a stretch.  But is it possible that in just a few short days, Malachi Love-Robinson has become the most famous black doctor of all-time?

Right now, there are only a few famous black doctors.  One of them is Republican presidential hopeful, Dr. Ben Carson.  However, since he’s retired and doesn’t wear lab coats anymore, I think he should be disqualified from this discussion.

There is also west coast music mogul, Dr. Dre.  He’s been known to “go in the lab” quite often, but there’s no evidence that he meant a medical lab.  Also, his lack of a lab coat just doesn’t cut it.

This leaves herbal therapist, Doctor Malachi Love-Robinson.  While he is youthful, he makes up for this by being completely unapologetic.  Can you blame him? He’s more motivated to make an income than most adults, and yet, we want to shut his business down.

Live on, Malachi! Viva la, Malachi!

Follow @Ben_Baxter on Twitter. Or find him on AL.com and TouchdownAlabama.net.

Fake Doctor

Driving While _____ in the South

A few months ago, I was on a radio show expressing how I felt that my hometown, Dothan, had always had less racial tension that other cities in the South.  But with all the stories that keep coming out about racial tension (especially with police), it made me think of inappropriate behavior that has happened to me just in the city of Dothan.  Here are my stories.  What about yours?

police-in-rearview-mirror

My first story occurs near dusk as I was driving home from work at a local electric generating plant. As I was nearing my apartment, I was unexpectedly pulled over by a police officer that had been lingering behind me since I started my commute.

As the police officer approached, I became very nervous. At this time, I had no idea what I was being pulled over for, but I knew something fishy was in the air.

When the officer arrived to my front door, I rolled down my windows as the officer began to say, “I’m going to need you…”

Before he could finish his statement, he sees my company badge and interjects himself with, “Oh, I didn’t know you worked for the power plant. I had been following you for several miles, and I just wanted to make sure you were OK.”

I sheepishly responded, “Yes, I’m OK.”

The officer then left my car and returned to his police vehicle. Meanwhile, I’m panicking and wondering why this police officer actually pulled me over. Did he pull me over to plant drugs in my car? I’ll never truly know, but I know he wasn’t really checking to see if I was okay.

My second story also occurs near dusk as I was driving from my apartment to shop at the nearby supermarket. Before I could get a block away from my apartment complex though, I was pulled over by another police officer.

Again, once the officer arrived at my driver side door, I rolled down my windows. This time, the officer’s words were not interrupted.

He says with a thunderous voice, “I’m going to need you to get out of your car.”

Because I didn’t want to get physically abused by this police officer, I did what he asked and got out of the car. The officer then proceeds with further statements and questioning.

He states, “I’m going to need to frisk you, and I’m going to need to search your car for drugs.”

If you can imagine, I was very puzzled, but I still cooperated.

As his frisk and search finished, the officer responded, “I just wanted you to know your left tail light was out. Go get that fixed.”

That was the only explanation that he gave. As one might guess, the whole bogus ordeal made me very angry.

The above anecdotes shouldn’t paint the whole picture, but they are signs that we have a systemic problem with inappropriate police behavior—even in supposed progressive cities like Dothan.

Follow @Ben_Baxter on Twitter. Or find him on AL.com and TouchdownAlabama.net.

Getting Tax ‘Refund’ No Reason to Quit Work, Buy New Car

Look.  I get it.  Eight out of 10 filers nationwide received a refund during last year’s tax season.  In the state of Alabama specifically, refund-eligible filers received $2,821.  That’s more money than most of us have at any given time, but it is not enough money to start making rash decisions with.  Unfortunately, this wisdom is not as widely known as it should be, and the absence of this virtue leads to the following common tax-season blunders.

Quitting a Job

Believe it or not, this happens a lot.  This is surprising too since 62 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings and 21 percent have no savings.  But as mind-boggling as that is, workers quit in droves during tax season.  And many of these same workers aren’t immediately looking for a replacement job.

I’m not sure why many of us believe we can truly survive on $2,821 long-term.  The math just doesn’t add up.  Try as one might, one can probably only live on $2,821 for about 2 or 3 months.  And that’s only if one’s expenses are extremely low.   So word of advice on this: don’t quit your job.

Buying a New Car

If we are just buying a cheap used car to get you back and forth to work, this would be fine.  However, most of us who do this already have a decent commuter car; we just want a newer car with a monthly payment.  That’s a sign of lack of contentment and will keep us broke forever.  Let’s put a stop to this bad habit once and for all.

Follow @Ben_Baxter on Twitter.  Or find him on AL.com and TouchdownAlabama.net.

tax-refund

Resist Urge to Panic about the Stock Market

Please sit down.  Take a deep breath and look at the accompanying chart.

Standard and Poors Jan 1950 - Dec 2015

Standard and Poors Jan 1950 – Dec 2015

 

If you are even remotely good at reading a graph, you know this represents the stock market.  More specifically, it is a graph of the S&P 500—the gold standard for measuring the health of the stock market and the economy as a whole.

Look at the chart closely. What do you see? If you are being honest with yourself, you see that the stock market as a whole has a long-term track record of positive growth.  As a result, if your personal investment portfolio is diversified enough, it will also mirror the positive growth of the stock market.

If your personal investment portfolio is not diversified (i.e. all of your eggs are in one basket), then you are probably asking for trouble.  Get a great advisor and make a change today.

Ben Baxter is editor for Baxter & Friends.  Follow him on Twitter @Ben_Baxter

Stop Blaming Churches for Your Financial Problems

With each passing day, another pastor (usually a mega-church pastor) gets vilified in the media.  Most of the time, it’s because the pastor in question is being ridiculed for showing signs of having too much wealth.  Since wealth is often misconstrued for salary, the smoking gun almost always points back to pastors making too high of a salary.  This negative sentiment rings true on a national stage and eventually makes its way down to the local level.  The hater-ation runs deep.

Unfortunately, this mud-slinging is unwarranted because pastors in general are not hoodwinking the public or robbing from the poor.  In fact, for the amount of talent and skill pastors have, they are living pretty meagerly and sometimes near the poverty line.  But let’s not take my word for it, let’s look at the research.

rich-wilkerson-jr

Rick Wikerson, Jr – Celebrity Pastor

According to the Barna Group, 60% of protestant churches have less than 100 adults in attendance while only 2% of protestant churches have more than 1000 adults in attendance.  In addition, according to Leadership Network’s 2014 Large Church Salary Report, per capita giving goes down as church size goes up.  I will get more into that later.

Within this same Leadership Network report, it is measured that for mega-churches (churches with attendances from 1,000 to over 30,000), senior pastor salaries tend to represent only 3.4% of a total church budget.  For example, if a church’s total budget is $2 million, then the senior pastor makes $68,000.  That salary may seem pedestrian at first, but when you consider that the average pastor works 50 hours per week and 35% of pastors work more than 60 hours per week, that salary is paltry.  In fact, many pastors regularly sell items on eBay and Craigslist to make ends meet.

Let’s go back to congregational giving though.  Remember how the media likes to paint a picture that poor people are being robbed to prop up silver-spooned pastors? Well, that’s a load of hogwash.  Look at these figures on giving:

  • American Christians give 1.5 – 3.1% to their church and other charitable organizations. That number has dropped more than a percentage point in the past 10 years.
  • 4 out of 10 church attendees give nothing to their local church.
  • Only 1 out of 10 regular church attendees give a consistent percentage of their income to their local church.
  • Currently only 4% of church-attending Christians tithe (give 10% of their income) to local church.

In summary of those statistics, we can’t get robbed if we are essentially keeping all of our income. So let’s stop perpetrating this robbery myth.  That’s just a smoke-screen to cover up the fact that many of us feel bad for not giving a cheerful amount.

Why can’t we give a cheerful amount? Mostly because we don’t read our Bibles very often.  Even a brief analysis of scripture would show us that financial matters are spelled out pretty bluntly.  If we adhere to scripture, we will financially be better off.

Pastors know this.  They read their Bibles daily like it is recommended.  Supernaturally and practically, pastors gain wealth even if they have horrible salaries because they live below their means and then some.  And in doing so, they can financially help all of the haters who think pastors are their enemies.

Follow me on Twitter @Ben_Baxter

Moving to ATL Won’t Solve All Life’s Problems

A good friend of mine, Robert, tipped me to a great tweet from this weekend that really spoke to me. From @akidnamedspiffy it reads “Why do black people think moving to Atlanta will solve all their problems?”

Can we get an “amen” up in the house tonight?! I’ve never understood the obsession with Atlanta.  The only reason Atlanta is of any worth is because millennials and X-geners, like myself, have obsessed about the city and the overgrown suburbs for nearly 20 years.  Life imitated hype.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t hate Atlanta.  I just think we should be realistic with ourselves and understand that cities like Birmingham, Augusta, Memphis, etc could be world-class if all of our best talented young people didn’t lustfully flock towards Atlanta.

What do you think?  Am I being too cruel?

Stay Away from ATL

 

4 Types of Spouses That Will Ruin Your Finances

It is probably no secret that selecting a spouse is a serious decision.  The wrong spouse can be a nightmare for years to come.  Our personal finances are not immune to the negative effects of a poor spousal decision.  Below are just a few personality types that we might want to avoid if we ever want to get outside the habit of living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Guy Who Drives HER Car Around While She’s at Work

He is every parent’s worst nightmare; however, he seems like a dream to his unlucky lover.  He almost never has a job, but he supposedly makes up for that by dropping his lady off at work and picking her back up at the end of her shift.

He gets extra points for triflingness if he sits in her employer’s parking lot all day until she gets off work.

Guy Who Lacks Awareness of His Economic Potential

He’s actually a half-decent guy, but he never quite realizes that he could make double or triple his income by simply applying himself more often.  He always settles for “good enough” even if he is barely making ends meet.  And if he has a big income already, he has no savings to show for it.  He might make a great friend, but he makes a horrible husband.

Girl Whose Favorite Phrase is “But It’s on Sale!”

Watch out for her.   She makes every purchase seem like an innocent ordeal, but in reality she has a hyper-consumerism problem.  She couldn’t hold water if she were a kettle.  Again, stay away from her.

She may one day learn from her errors, but it will be after she files bankruptcy for the 2nd time.

Girl Who Always Chats About What Her Friends Just Bought

While she will make it sound like idle chatter, it’s not.  Her words are really a warning sign that she will forever be jealous of her family and friends.  No amount of shopping trips and car purchases will ever quench her thirst.  She will never be happy because someone will always have something better than she has.

Follow Ben on Twitter at @Ben_Baxter.

Sits in Car

How to Get 157 FREE Chick-Fil-A Sandwiches per Year

The average American throws away between $28 and $43 in the form of food waste each month.  While that may not seem like much, it adds up over a yearly timeframe.  Using 40 dollars as a reference point, we end up unnecessarily chunking $480 into the trash every year.  Surely, we can find other ways to use that money more effectively.   Please see the following:

An Extra $480 per Year Could Buy…

What some other things could you buy with an extra $480 per year?

Chick-Fil-A