Dating for relationships: trust, trust, trust.

 

 

This article is in response to a friend of mine who can’t seem to catch a break. Through his numerous Facebook and blog posts, personal messages and one-on-one conversations with me, it’s apparent to me that he’s missing something essential in his dating persuits. This goes out to him, and he’ll remain unnamed, but I hope it helps him and anyone else who comes across this blog.


 

I’ve spent a lot of time giving good relationship advice, and I have written numerous articles on this subject. I’ve been published by FamilyShare.com with this advice, which has been republished across numerous sites, including radio and news sites across the United States.

I had a long and arduous, albeit good and fun, dating career through my teens and twenties. I had over 20 committed girlfriends, 5 or 6 who were quite serious, and was either fully or practically engaged twice before I met my wife. (The second engagement ended just three weeks before the wedding.) Needless to say, a large amount of girlfriends came from a large amount of dating. I guestimate I went on over 200 dates over the course of those years.

When I met my wife, Jessica, in 2014, I knew she was different. I knew if I played my cards right, built trust, worked to get to know her and her needs, wants, desires and preferences, I could have a good relationship with this girl. Thankfully, she still continues to love me and help build a happy marriage. We continue to date and to court, we talk late into the night, and we have meaningful experiences together both in and out of the home.We text throughout the day; very little is a surprise, regarding each others’ emotions.

This was something I could not push, and my dating history taught me that women will not do anything which they feel they aren’t ready. With Jessica, I took things slowly. I didn’t bring up marriage until I was absolutely sure, and while I did push her in that direction, and even fought for her a few times when she got scared, I never once insisted she do something before she was ready.

I didn’t do it perfectly; she still doesn’t love how I proposed to her. But she said yes, because I had spent time building her trust, and I continue to do that on a daily basis throughout our marriage.

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Getting to the marriage point can be sticky, to say the least. Once you get down the dating thing, though, marraige is definitely visible. (You will be more emotionally vunerable at this point, just so you know.)

To get started let’s talk about what what I’ve written regarging what my sales career has taught me about dating. I’ll recap those here:

  • Qualify everyone – not everyone is the perfect fit.
  • Be persistent – keep inviting the same person to join you, if you’re interested in them.
  • Play to win– go after what you want, don’t let up until it’s yours. In my case, that was a solid Latter-day Saint marriage in the holy temple.
  • No doesn’t always mean no, but a firm no always means no.
  • Relationships can sour if you don’t care for them constantly.
  • For single people, prospect everywhere. Look for dates and friends anywhere you share similar values with people.

I would also now include this sage advice: don’t go for the “close” too early. In sales, when you close someone, they buy your product or service. This is what keeps us professional salespeople in this type of work: it feels good to know you’ve won the trust.

Sometimes, that trust can be won in just a cold phone call or two. Other situations require months, even years of courting the prospect, taking them to lunch, digging deep into their company and truly understanding what makes them tick.

Occasionally, someone you know could become your prospect, as well. This does require a great amount of care, though, because if you are seen as dishonest or simply putting your want to close and earn a commission.

I knew a couple in college (who later became my clients) who started dating pretty quickly after starting to date. They did know each other beforehand and had hung out and been in group situations together, so it was easy for them to move to the next level. They spent over a year together before they were engaged, developing a deeper relationship.

The point of the sales/dating analogy is that all prospects must be brought through a buying process. The buying process will go quickly for some, and slowly for others, but it’s always the same:

  • Approach.
  • Qualify.
  • Assess needs (ask questions, then shut up and listen, then ask follow-up questions).
  • Present a solution.
  • Handle objections (if any, but don’t create them!)
  • Negotiate terms.
  • Ask for the business.
  • Close/Sign.
  • Manage the account.

This process absolutely must be followed, or you will very likely lose the sale. Put in dating terms, follow a similar process:

  • Approach – ask the person on a date. If you’re marriage age, a one-on-one activity is preferable.
  • Qualify – this can happen before you approach them, but the first date is usually the most important part of the qualifying process.
  • Assess needs – figure out what makes this person tick. If it’s nothing too ridiculous, move forward, assuming there is a connection.
  • Present a second date.
  • Repeat the previous three steps as often as necessary.
  • Ask for commitment- Once there’s been several dates, hangouts, communication is regular (including phone calls!) and the person is beginning to trust you and may, ask for exclusivity in the relationship.
  • Handle objections, if any. Unlike a sale, though, objections will happen throughout the relationship. How you resolve them, together, will be the defining characteristic of your relationship with this person. There have been books written by many people about this concept, but the ones I would suggest the most are by John Gottman, a relationship scientist who has revolutionized how psychologists approach counseling married couples. I would also note that simply demanding the person accept you as you are, without you making any changes, will doom your relationship to failure. You may not need to change the essense  who you are, but be willing to accept constructive correction, as it comes.
  • Negotiate terms of your relationship and life together. Again, this is an ongoing process. Permanent relationships will always have differences. The average couple has eleven of these. Being able to negotiate your disagreements without making the other person feel belittled or controlled will bring peace to your relationship more quickly than almost any other skill.
  • Tell the person that you love them. Once you begin doing this, do it often and with meaning. Don’t let them have any doubt about it.
  • Ask for the enagement. If you want to marry this person, begin talking about this once you’ve learned their behavorial patterns and you know how they behave in both good and difficult situations.
  • Close and sign- do it. Go get married.
  • Continue to build the relationship, day in and day out.

Throughout this process, the focus must be on building trust. Being in sales has taught me that trust is the number one key to building any human relationship. To think otherwise is discarding the science of human psychology at its most basic form.

This is best illustrated by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The image below shows this hierarchy and it’s basic format:

maslow-pyramid

 

Let me break this down:

First, a person to want to be with another, they have to know that this person will not get in the way of having food, water, warmth, rest, and probably will be even more responsive to knowing that you can contribute to these base, human needs.

Second, for women particularly, they need to know that the guy they’re interested in can provide safety, both physical and emotional. If you discard her emotions as silly, inane, pointless, etc., you will not get past this stage, ever. A woman must understand that you care about all of her safety.

For guys, they do need to know that their partner will not harm them emotionally, as well, even if they don’t admit it outright.

So please understand this, if you don’t grasp anything else in this post:  only once these two needs will be obviously met by a potential suitor will a person (who is psycologically healthy) be willing to get into a relationship, much less even know if you’re relationship material.

Once you’re in the relationship, you must work together to provide these basic needs for each other. There will be times when one is better than the other at this, and that’s okay, and it’s what makes a relationship stronger. You also need to begin working up the pyramid and helping the other person feel belonging, have their esteem built, and realize that the relationship will help them meet their full potential, or you stand to lose that person later down the road.

 

Another strong analogy is that of argument writing. When seeking to set forth an argument, one must include logos, pathos, and ethos, or logic, emotion, and ethics, for it to be complete and be able to include all facets of the human mind’s way of processing information and having it stick.

In dating, convincing someone to be with you takes all three of these aspects of argument. It may be logical for the two of you to be together, but if you aren’t addressing the emotional and ethical sides of your date and their needs, you’ll likely lose the “argument” and ultimately a chance at the relationship.

Likewise, if you’re an emotional mess, and you only think with your feelings, it will drive any sane person away very quickly.

And if you’re a walking bag of ethics, concerned only about “what’s right” without meeting the emotional needs of someone, you can forget getting past a first date.


 

 

 

 

 

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Mormons: the Most Christian of all Christian Faith

This post is written for my fellow Latter-day Saints, who are Christian in the truest sense of the word, in response to Tarik Lacour’s “Are Mormons Christian? Not really…” post from 28 August 2016, on his personal blog.

Almost since the Church was restored in 1830, people began accusing the Latter-day Saints of not being Christian. Their reasons are varied and many, and most are because we believe God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ are separate, distinct beings with physical bodies, perfected and immortal.

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Growing up in the South, I corrected the erroneous belief about my Church to many, many friends and coworkers. The conversation usually went something like this:

Friend: “Dennis, I hear you’re a Mormon.” (I was never shy about this.)

Me: “Yes. What’s your religion? Where do you go to Church?”

Friend: “Oh I attend the Baptist/Methodist/Presbyterian/Nondenominational Christian Church.”

Me: “Tell me what you believe.”

Friend: “I believe in Jesus and… (general expounding of personal interpretation of Christ’s teachings). What do you believe?”

Me: “We believe in God, His Son Jesus Christ, in the Holy Ghost, and that they speak through prophets today. This was restored through a prophet named Joseph Smith.”

Friend: “Wait, you said you believe in Jesus??”

Me: “Yes, and let me share why.”

The conversations usually ended quite amicably, with me respecting someone’s belief in Christ, and them understanding that my faith in Him, His Atonement and His prophets, both ancient and modern, was central and core to who I am as a person and as a Mormon.

Other conversations weren’t so friendly. Occasionally, people would say things like, “Well, you might be Christian, but I know the rest of the Mormons aren’t.” Some would even claim to have met Mormons who didn’t believe Christ was the only name on which we can be saved (which claims were wholly untrue, and I would be happy to call them on that and correct their erroneous belief, and then remind them of the commandment to not bear false witness).

As a missionary in Seattle, I came against Ed Decker’s followers and many so-called born-agains, who would attack my Christianity because of the holy temple rites we Latter-day Saints embrace, and because of our claim that Joseph Smith is indeed a prophet. Again, it was saddening, and aggravating when the very name I bore on my chest was Christ’s, but not surprising. Even more ridiculous was the idea that we aren’t Christian because we “worship a different Jesus,” to which I would reply yes, we do, and He’s the one represented in the New Testament, when He and His Father appeared to Stephen the Apostle in Acts Chapter 7.

Such arguments were ignorant, hate-driven, and fueled by those who were and are apostates from the truth. Humans, being emotional creatures, tend to believe that which those who surround them believe. Thus, not being surrounded by Mormons, I can understand their misunderstanding.

However, this week, I encountered a new claim that I’ve never before considered, even though I may have heard it: an academic philosophy that we aren’t Christians because we’re a “Restoration Church,” (even though this person admitted we follow Christ) on a comment on my good friend Tarik Lacour’s Facebook. This was a new concept to me, and frankly is puzzling.

Tarik agreed with this person who presented this idea, and he went on to write a blog post as to why we aren’t Christian as Mormons, which is astounding and doctrinally heretical, given he’s a baptized member of the Church. The logic and argument he used to argue that we aren’t Christian, however, can be used to prove that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is indeed Christianity in its purest and most original form.

I will attempt to respond Tarik’s post, but not from an academic point of view, as he wrote his points of view. Instead, I’ll write from the standpoint (and my personal knowledge) that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living Church on the face of the earth, that our theology is wholly true and correct, and that even if practices have changed, our doctrine is consistent and Christian. I do this because I feel it’s unfair to the doctrine, and one cannot fully appreciate our doctrine if only studied from an academic point of view.

Before I do this, let me state that to remain truly Christian, we must have restorations as people and groups apostatize. There was evidence of this all throughout the Old Testament, New Testament, and the Book of Mormon. To say or even imply that the two ideas of Restoration and Christianity are mutually exclusive are exceptionally erroneous, and such a concept should be discarded as false doctrine.

Adam and Eve were the original Christians. 

Indeed, we know that Adam knew Christ in His Spirit form, before Christ had obtained His physical body here on earth. Adam, who was Michael in the pre-mortal life, chose, along with Eve, to partake of the fruit and become mortal, thus needing a Savior to return to the presence of God. They fell that we, their descendants, might be, and Christ came to save us all.

Adam learned more of Christ’s sacrifice when an angel appeared to him asking why he made sacrifices unto God. Adam replied that he didn’t know, and the angel taught him that it was a “similitude” of Christ’s sacrifice for all of us, and commanded that we do everything in the name of Christ. (All of this is detailed in the Pearl of Great Price.)

Thus, Adam operated at the first Christian or follower of Christ. Old testament prophets after Adam were all Christian, and taught that only through Him, Jehovah, may we be saved.

The Biblical saints were referred to as “Christians,” and the Book of Mormon saints were also followers of Christ.

 One of the earliest references in the New Testament comes from Acts 11: 26:
“…And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Emphasis added). This term is then used throughout the New Testament.

The Book of Mormon is replete with evidence that it was the Christian Church, complete with prophets, high priests, elders, priests,  and teachers. Nephi’s statement in 2 Nephi 25:26 that “… we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins,” is quite simply a beautiful proclamation of Nephi’s Christianity.

The Great Apostasy was a time that warped Christianity from it’s purest form, and Joseph Smith was the prophet that restored truth to the earth regarding God and His nature. 

Tarik began his blog post by almost immediately quoting the Nicene Creed. It’s erroneous and false teachings were Greek and Roman in nature, with some Christianity mixed into it. The fact that Emporer Constantine locked all the officials of what would become the Roman Catholic church in a room and made them agree to doctrines, essentially at swordpoint, is enough for me to discard its teachings.

Such a situation could not have had the Holy Ghost present, as it was full of argument, and Christ Himself taught that contention is of the devil; indeed, all the Apostles that He had called were dead (with the exception of John the Beloved), and the Holy Priesthood was no longer on the earth.

Said Gordon B. Hinckley about the Nicene Creed and Latter-day Saint beliefs:

“When the emperor Constantine was converted to Christianity, he became aware of the divisiveness among the clergy concerning the nature of Deity. In an attempt to overcome this he gathered the eminent divines of the day to Nicaea in the year 325. Each participant was given opportunity to state his views. The argument only grew more heated. When a definition could not be reached, a compromise was made. It came to be known as the Nicene Creed, and its basic elements are recited by most of the Christian faithful.

“Personally, I cannot understand it. To me the creed is confusing.

“How deeply grateful I am that we of this Church do not rely on any man-made statement concerning the nature of Deity. Our knowledge comes directly from the personal experience of Joseph Smith, who, while yet a boy, spoke with God the Eternal Father and His Beloved Son, the Risen Lord. He knelt in Their presence; he heard Their voices; and he responded. Each was a distinct personality. Small wonder that he told his mother that he had learned that her church was not true. And so, one of the great over-arching doctrines of this Church is our belief in God the Eternal Father. He is a being, real and individual. He is the great Governor of the universe, yet He is our Father, and we are His children.”

What’s important to note is that Joseph Smith never questioned, at least not publically or in writing, the actual Christianity of another, if they were not a Latter-day Saint and confessed some other form of Protestantism or Catholicism.

However, the Nicene creed is a very warped version of Christianity. For Tarik to imply that the acceptance of it’s doctrine is required for one to be truly Christian means that he doesn’t understand the basis of the original Christian Church being Adamic in nature, and that said Church continued through the Old Testament, was restored numerous times by prophets and even Christ Himself, that the Christian pattern is one of restoration, because God gave us Christ to restore us to Him.

Today’s statements on our Christianity.

All we do in the Restored Church is done in the name of Christ when it comes to rites, ordinances, sermons, and other sacred, holy practices. We pray in His name; we claim Thomas S. Monson is His prophet and that He has 14 other living Apostles. We trust in Him; He is our Redeemer. We know He speaks to these men.

We bless people, by the power of His Holy Priesthood, in His name.

Two incredibly powerful documents on His divinity, The Living Christ, and the Gospel Topics Essay “Are Mormons Christian?”both state our belief in Christ.

From The Living Christ:

“He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New….

“His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come. He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice. He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary’s cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth. We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.

And from “Are Mormons Christian?”

While members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have no desire to compromise the distinctiveness of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, they wish to work together with other Christians—and people of all faiths—to recognize and remedy many of the moral and family issues faced by society. The Christian conversation is richer for what the Latter-day Saints bring to the table. There is no good reason for Christian faiths to ostracize each other when there has never been more urgent need for unity in proclaiming the divinity and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a living Apostle, has stated, “Divine covenants make strong Christians.” Indeed, if we are the only Church where covenants are valid, then that would imply that we are Christians.

Those covenants are made through Christ’s priesthood authority. We claim that we are the only Church with this authority. Indeed, if its His authority, then that would consequently make us the most Christian Church of all other Christian Churchs.

This doesn’t mean the members or even the leaders are perfect; rather, it means that we have the best ability to bring souls the closest to Christ among all other churches, both in this life and in the next.

We do not have to be the only Christian Church to be the true Christain Church.

In “Are Mormons Christians,” the passage above that I quoted implies that there are many forms of Christianity; the point is that we all seek the follow Christ and His teachings to the best of our knowledge.

Tarik Lacour’s assumption that we must say we are the only Christian church and his call for us to separate ourselves and essential renounce our Christianity, or his other solution  contrast that with the claim that we are the only Christain Church, is absurd and heretical. His call is ironically accompanied by a statement that implies that the Church and its Saints are not honest.

Such actions with either appease the masses and discredit the entire work of the Lord, quite the opposite of Tarik’s assumption that it would accelerate and assist in the legitimacy of the work. He states that “In order to be honest, you must clearly state what you believe, and honesty is the best avenue to have fruitful interfaith dialogue. In order for this to happen, Mormons will need to be honest and say that they are a separate religion from Christians, be straightforward about their materialistic and polytheistic beliefs, and honest that they alone are the vehicle of salvation and exaltation, even if other faiths do much good. We cannot move forward unless we are strictly honest.”

Such a statement would make it clear that he feels there is no legitimacy to the work of the Lord in current time.

Quite the contrary, with a knowledge that he claims to have that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, he is being dishonest with himself, the Church and  with his fellow man. If he really knew it was true, he would take the words of the prophets seriously, and believe in his heart that we are Christians, and work tirelessly, even vigorously, to defend that Christianity that Latter-day Saints hold so dear.

Such a sterile, academic view of the Restored Gospel, and even the rest of Christianity, is the epitome of the phrase given by the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ to the boy prophet Joseph Smith: “They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (JSH 1:19), and thoroughly denies the power and divinity of this, the most true and correct Christain work on the earth, thus removing the most important thing from the equation: the power of the Holy Ghost, whom Christ sent to us to declare His word to our hearts.

This power and manifestation of the Holy Ghost comes by honest inquiry to God, asking Him with real intent and being willing to act on His direction that will inevitably come if that intent is real. Appealing to academic theological studies and points of view, without first assuming the Restored Gospel is true and Christian, will always lead to these types of apostate statements, views and demands, and robs the writer and those who agree with him or may come to believe him of true revelatory experiences.

In short, Tarik should discard these views and instead look the source, Jesus Christ and His true Church, His prophets and apostles, and the official statements and publications of the Church regarding this matter.

After all, if we aren’t willing to look to the source, where else will we get accurate information?

 

 

 

 

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In Response to Hillary Clinton’s op-ed for the Deseret News

Today, the Deseret Published a guest opinion editorial article written by Hillary Clinton. As a good media outlet should, they’ve asked all the major candidates to write a piece defending their positions and inviting people to vote for them. Last week Gary Johnson wrote his editorial, which specifically addressed religious freedom after he had made a perceived gaffe on the matter. Donald Trump will likely be next, and I’m very interested to hear what he has to say, given I don’t like him very much and still can’t really understand how his positions are conservative, even though he’s been in the race for over a year.

All these articles are targeting members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as they will likely be an important demographic in this upcoming election. This is a new concept, because Utah, which is approximately 70% LDS, hasn’t turned Blue in over 50 years. However, given current polls, the state could swing to any of the three candidates, and if there isn’t a crossing into the electoral vote number of 274 from other states, that could be a deciding factor in what will likely be a very tight election.

Hillary Clinton’s article certainly was written to appeal to Mormons today. If you’re familiar with our people and our faith, you know a few things that Mrs. Clinton played to in today’s article:

  • We know that family is central to God’s plan for us on this earth and in the life to come.
  • We believe in the strength of community, including wards, stakes, and branches.
  • We believe that agency, or the ability to make correct choices while receiving opposition to do wrong or simply be neutral, is central to God’s plan for us as individuals, families and as His children if we are to become like Him and His Son Jesus Christ.
  • We believe God speaks to us today through living prophets.
  • We believe the Constitution was inspired by God, through the Founding Fathers.
  • Our freedom of religion is key to the Restoration having taken place, and is important in continuing the work of salvation today.
  • We believe in being “Honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men.” (See Articles of Faith 1:13.)

 

 

THE FAMILY: Mrs. Clinton makes some solid appeal regarding our familial values. She clearly understands that we value keeping the family unit intact, as has been stated by our leaders in multiple facets, but particularly regarding the Church’s stance on immigration.

The Church has specifically stated on multiple occasions that it is against immigrating illegally, overstaying visas or any similar behavior that violates the soverignty of a nation. However, it has also been stated in these same public briefings that the Church is for comprehensive immigration reform that allows those who have come or stayed illegally to be able to work out a way to “square themselves with the law and continue to work without this necessarily leading to citizenship” (emphasis added).

It is the position of the current administration to offer a path to citizenship for these people, and it’s only logical to conclude that Mrs. Clinton would continue this policy, given she is a Democrat and has worked as Secretary of State for President Obama. As a Mormon who believes the prophets see things we cannot, I am firmly against this stance.

The family must be kept intact, physically, whenever possible. Allowing a path to legality is the best way to do that. But since taxation without representation is unconstitutional, I predict that it will be argued that these immigrants must be allowed full citizenship if we are going to tax them, so this becomes a very sticky situation, one that could be better resolved with a republican or libertarian president (but not Donald Trump, since he is suggesting deportation).

COMMUNITY and HONESTY: The direct appeal and ask people to for their vote using Sister Rosemary Wixom’s quote from her April 2014 talk on keeping covenants  is outrageous. This talk was all about making promises to God, walking in the light and seeking to become like our Heavenly Father.

Throughout the talk, Sis Wixom cites numerous examples of strong, faithful Latter-day Saint women and girls who are working to have “total allegiance to the kingdom of God.” She teaches of looking to and being worthy to enter the holy temple, and walking uprightly. Indeed, to enter the temple, we are asked if we are “honest in our dealings with our fellow man.”

Hillary Clinton has been anything but honest in her dealings with the American People. She has repeatedly lied about her email server, putting the country’s very security at risk, a fact so well-known I don’t even need to cite it here. Her party’s chairman, Debbie Wasserman-Shultz was found to be conspiring to rig a primary so Bernie Sanders could not beat her, and her campaign (which does very much represent Mrs. Clinton) immediately hired the disgraced chairman to a top position. She talks about campaign finance reform, but then becomes the example of the opposite to her position and appeared with billionaire Warren Buffet, calling for higher taxes on the wealthy and even the middle class, showing great hypocrisy in this position.

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Picture from the New York Times

(Think higher taxes are the right answer? The Book of Mormon would beg to differ, as Mosiah 11 talks about 20% taxation being too high, when it goes into the pockets of the ruling class.)

But back to the quote, to use it in such a way is also dishonest; indeed, Sister Wixom wasn’t talking about community, at all. She was talking about being strong individuals.

Mrs. Clinton also repeated her well-known phrase of “it takes a village,” and then followed up with “Or a ward” to “build the change we hope to see.” hillary-clinton-thumbs-up

Picture Source

Yes, it does take a ward, but again, the ward exists primarily for the salvation of the members of the Church and as a missionary unit to help bring those who have not yet been baptized to Christ. The ward unit is not a political one; indeed, the Church makes it very clear that as an organization, we are politically neutral, but speak from time to time on certain issues.

And as a side note, I cannot think of a stronger contrast to Hillary Clinton than Rosemary Wixom. Knowing Sister Wixom, and indeed having a close friendship with her husband, I feel like this is an affront to a moral, chaste, honest woman and her righteous words. Mrs. Clinton should apologize for taking this quote out of context and using it to campaign for President of the United States.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM and AGENCY: The Church has made it clear that banning entire religions isn’t in line with God’s teachings, either today or in the past. In December of last year, after Donald Trump made some rather outrageous statements on banning immigration simply because of one’s religious choice, the Church responded with some quotes from the Prophet Joseph Smith about allowing for pluralism of religion.

However, the Democratic party will only defend part of religious freedom; they would not allow for civil rights of those who run private businesses to deny service for something they feel is immoral. This would deny the business owners their agency to choose what they feel is right, something over which they could lose lawsuits, and perhaps even face harsher penalties.

DEFENDING THE CONSITUTION: Much of what Mrs. Clinton would do regarding the second amendment/gun rights is in direct violation of the constitution. I don’t need to say a whole lot here, but all of her actions would, in some way, take away the rights of legal gun owners to defend themselves. Read her stances here.

In the FBI Director’s statement regarding Mrs. Clinton’s email servers, we learned that she violated national security laws and regulations. However, the Department of Justice decided not to prosecute the case, no indictment has been brought forward. But just because there hasn’t been an indictment, it doesn’t mean that the law has not been broken. The Constitution states that “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Indeed, if she takes office, she is breaking the Supreme Law of the very Constitution she has committed to defend, and subjects herself to impeachment and removal from office, and possibly even jail time.

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Director Comey of the FBI takes an oath of honesty before testifying in front of congress regarding Hillary Clinton’s email server scandal. Picture found here.

What other ways might she violate the constitution? I don’t know. But if she keeps the current administration’s behavior going forward, we know the use of executive orders will be vast and varied, and will essentially function as legislation, much like the DREAM act, which Hillary defends.

 

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Final note: What was left out of this article is perhaps the most interesting to me. Hillary Clinton did not once mention abortion. This is perhaps the most repugnant stance of the Democratic Party, that it’s a “woman’s right to choose” to harm her baby. LDS voters should reject Hillary, if but on this principle alone because we believe it to be an ugly sin that is identical to murder when used as a form of birth control, and one that Hillary Clinton would  continue to funnel federal tax dollars to Planned Parenthood and other similar organizations to continue in their murderous debauchery and their pro-abortion agenda.

Indeed, this is in direct violation of the 4th commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”

She stands proudly with Planned Parenthood, who has made a mockery of the Church and is likely in violation of copyright laws with their recent “CTR” condom stunt. Indeed, to stand with such an organization is wrong, moral-less and disgusting.

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Picture via CNN

In short, Latter-day Saint should not be fooled by Hillary Clinton, her cunning words, and her use of our vernacular to convince us to vote for her. She is the antithesis of the cause echoed at the end of the 13th Article of Faith: “If there is anything virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”

 

 

 

 

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America’s Political Situation- my opinion

Today my good friend Charles Archibald sent me a lengthy message on Facebook, as he’s beginning to understand politics, the election process and important social issues. This post is dedicated to him, and it is my answer to his questions.

I want to make clear that these come from my worldview as a Christian, a Latter-day Saint, a Southerner, a conservative who leans libertarian, and a capitalist. I also want to make it known that I’m not a political scientist, by any stretch, but I have extensively studied the political process, the constitution, the Founding Fathers and many political theories and histories. Nonetheless, I’m thoroughly flattered he would come to me with such a comprehensive list.

I present to you his questions in italics, along with my answers, in normal type.

It seems most economic policies could be placed on a sliding scale from complete government control to complete laissez-faire.

  1. Where on the scale is best for America? This is a hotly-debated question, and I think it’s because we’re such a large country with many different cultures (and frankly that’s both the beauty and frustration of being divided into individual states.)

You see, politics is all about compromise, so policy-makers will have to collaborate with other policy-makers who likely disagree with them. The issue that we’re facing with our current congress is that neither party really wants to actually let anything from the other party get done, and no one really respects different points of view.

A well-respected PBS documentary once described our nation’s economics as sitting on a pendulum, with Marxism/Communism on the left, and complete laissez-faire on the other. Obviously, we’ve never actually been on to either end in this country, and for the most part we’ve stayed in the center, except in the Great Depression Era, when FDR’s popular left-leaning policies were implemented in an effort to save the economy from certain doom. FDR took us off the gold standard, implemented modern welfare, and laid the groundwork for social security. The core argument is if the economy would have actually gotten better without World War 2’s production or if it would have stayed stagant/gotten worse.

A more recent example is when George W. Bush was at the end of his presidency, the pendulum, both in policy and public opinion, was swinging more to the left again, and has basically continued in that direction through today. Again, left-leaning stimulus was implemented, including the TARP funds (bank & Wall Street bailouts) and The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The effectiveness of these stimuli is still under consideration. Many on the left feel as if it did it’s job, but those of us on the right seriously worry that it’s going to continue a pattern of over-corrections in the market.

  1. What are Socialism, Communism, and the United Order and how are they all different?

Socialism is basically a left-leaning policy that sits between the free market and communism. It’s also been referred to as a “mixed market.” Essentially, the state regulates business and taxes them to be able to fund social programs. Most of the time, the further left they go, the state ends up running off businesses and the people are left with a rapidly-declining GDP, with much less money actually being pumped into the economy through individual spending.

The scale on where the mixed market should lie is the continued debate between republican and democrats, but it’s important to remember that neither party is actually for a fully free market. Right wing and centrist Republicans, as well as Blue-dog democrats, feel that there should be some taxes and regulations, but caution that too much taxation will kill incentive. Socialist Democrats seemingly disregard the law of incentive when it comes to taxation because they feel the need of social welfare outweighs the need for profit.

Communism is when full state control has been realized, when any and all  production is given to the state for them to distribute, essentailly at gunpoint. People generally have very little incentive to gain wealth because they know the state will take it all.

The United Order is similar to communism, but the key difference is that everyone has the same ideals and has chosen to live in such a setting and understand by putting in their best effort, the community will strongly benefit. Thus, no one is being forced to hand over their goods: they’re doing it out of their own free will.

I personally feel that socialism and communism are Satan’s solemn mockery of the laws of tithing consecration, respectively, because moral agency is eliminated in choosing how to spend one’s money.

  1. As prices soar and wages stagnate, how can we facilitate Americans escaping poverty? This complication is extremely complicated. Going back to free market vs. communism, I don’t think the state can effectively eliminate poverty, ever.

Whenever prices soar, though, the market is likely inflated by high taxes. I would strongly advocate lower taxes, because that puts more money back in the hand of employers to give to their employees, who can then save it so the banks can loan it, or they can spend it and increase production of the places where they choose to do business.

You and I can do good things, as well, by starting businesses and treating those who work for us fairly by paying them what they’re worth, providing benefits, and helping them invest their earnings wisely with retirement planning and financial counseling.

  1. What is the ideal economic responsibility of the government? What is the government’s job? My opinion is that the government was actually instituted for our good. I do believe, however, that it should stay small, allow the states to govern as their people ask, and ahere to the constituition.

The primary role of government is protection. We are guaranteed life, liberty and property in the constitution, meaning the government can’t take it away unless we are felons, as well as free speech, personal defense, and certain civil rights.

The federal government is not obligated to feed us, clothe us, or provide us medical care, however. If the people ask for it, it creates a dangerous dependance that someone else has to pay for, and is, I believe, the primary reason our national debt. If the people of a state want such programs, that should be left to the state itself.

  1. Please tell me about America’s tax policy.

Can I skip this question? >_<

Seriously, though, it’s far, far, far to complicated, but let’s keep it simple here.

Income taxes in America are imposed on a curve: the more you make, the more you pay. Because America is such a mix of culture, it goes up and and it goes down. Congress has the power to levy taxes, and we have the chance to represent our opinions by electing representatives and senators to vote for or against proposed taxation.

We’re taxed several different ways: Sales tax (which includes both good and services), federal income tax (used for many purposes including social security, medicare and more), state income tax (most states but not all states levy such a tax), property tax, estate (death) tax, gift tax.

Additional taxes may be levied from person to person. What is paid is decided on an individual basis, and individuals may write off business expenses.

Captial gains taxes are imposed when your investments (real estate, stocks, bonds) increase in value.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare) imposed 24 new taxes on Americans, including the infamous penalty for not having health insurance (gag).

New taxes are imposed regularly. Democratic/liberal/centrist policy usually raises income and other taxes, while conservative policy usually lowers them.

I’m no CPA, but I do understand there are many ways to shelter oneself from taxes. Democrats would seek to close any of these loopholes, and those of us for the free market would like to see everyone have as many tax loopholes as possible.

Currently, the only financial instrument that is tax-free is cash-value life insurance.

  1. Should it be changed? How? Why?

I would love nothing more than to see our tax code simplified. I believe taxes should be flat, low, and based on earned income, because it will pump more money into our economy to buy assets, create cash flow and strong savings.

  1. What credence do you give the push for renewable energy and pollution reduction?

I think the EPA is the stupidest creation there is. It’s the core exemplifaction of executive overreach. I think enviromental standards ought to vary from state to state.

As for renewable energy, there is some legitimacy to it, especially when we consider solar power, but the government has hijacked this idea of renewable energy in an effort to eleminate the oil and coal industries, and far too much taxpayer money has been spend on unreliable technoligies.

I do believe the oil industry could be more responsible, but we can’t control what goes on in most of the world, especially the middle east. As long as there are cars/modern transportation, there will be need for oil.

Concerning electricity, nuclear enegy has definitely proven its effectiveness, as has solar.

Concerning water, it should be kept clean, but modern tech can clean water so very well, so I’m not terribly worried. Desalinization is certainly underrated.

There should be fines imposed on companies that dump dangerous waste into rivers/lakes/oceans, because that puts life in danger, and that’s unnacceptable.

  1. What policies would best help?

See above- leave it to the states to decide. The situation is different in Utah vs. Massachussets, so locale can better decide the action, rather than the disconnected fed.

Legislators are often accused of corruption. They have no term limits, are paid handsomely (and chose their wage), and are often swayed by men and organizations with money.

  1. Should a term limit be made? How would it or wouldn’t it help?

I seriously believe term limits should be imposed, and it should be done as a constitutional amendment. It would ideally have the following provisions:

  • 4 terms (8 years) for the house of representatives
  • 2 terms (12 years) for the Senate
  • Adding certain offices to the Executive branch that are elected, including the Secretaries of State, Treasury, Homeland Security, Defense, and the Attorney General.
  • Limit of time allowed as a justice of the supreme court, but still appointed by the President and ratified by congress

This would re-balance power, minimalize special interests groups’ influence on the legislative process. It would likely keep one political party from having too much power for too long, and would allow for less overreach within the executive branch.

  1. How do we fight corruption?

That’s a really good question. Corruption, is unfortunately, a very arbitrary concept in Washington and in any given state’s politics. I would probably define it as receiving bribes, pandering to special interests, gerrymandering congressional districts, and other dishonest practices that don’t fairly represent the people.

I believe as long as there are no term limits and special interests groups, there will always be corruption, especially when personal gain for both power and money are at stake. Such is the risk of a republic.

The problem is that the executive branch essentially has been given a lot of the power congress once had, and is essentially allowed to do whatever it wants without ramification. The Obama administration, particularly, has engaged in many corrupt activities, with the Fast and Furious gun scandal at the top of that list.

What congress hasn’t given, the members use for their own personal gain of power; that’s an undisputable fact.

As long as there as strong groups like the Tea Party caucus, however, I think there will never be complete corruption.

  1. Should their wage and/or benefits be altered? How and why?

The state of Utah does it best: the members of its congress only receive $11,000 per year, and are only paid for the days the legislation is in session. The Federal government would do well to follow suit. A higher salary than $11,000 would be fine, but I feel it should not exceed more than $90,000 for congress and $150,000 for the Senate, and should decrease by 10% every time a representative or senator is reelected.

Immigration and refugees are a hot button topic.

  1. What should we do about illegal immigration? What about their U.S. born and raised children?

I’m all for building a wall, especially in the most dangerous areas of the border. I think if we continue to financially squeeze Mexican drug cartels by legalizing and regulating drugs, it could help, but the violence and continued currency issues in Mexico are the main reasons people continue to come here illegally.

ICE and US Border Patrol, as well as the armed forces and local law enforcement want to do something about it, but their hands are tied by current policy. The DHS needs to crack down and give a directive to round up and deport all violent offenders.

A budget needs to be found for stronger border security. Border states need to be allowed to also enforce these laws with their own relative needs.

As for non-violent illegal immigrants (the media likes to call them “undocumented” immigrants), they also need to be given ultimatums:

  • Learn English and pass a basic english test
  • Go through the immigration process, receive green cards and tax IDs
  • Get a legal driver’s license
  • Get a bank account
  • Pay a tax penalty for breaking our laws
  • Not be allowed to wire money outside the country for a certain amount of time
  • Unpaid community service or military service
  • Obtain a GED or prove graduation from high school/college or a valid reason why they can’t
  • Children born to illegal immigrants should not automatically be citizens, but should be given that opportunity when they turn 18 years old, and go through a similar process as their parents.
  • Legal immigrant’s children should be given citizenship upon birth

This process would seriously deter illegal immigration and would fund the necessary walls/stronger borders.

  1. What do we do with the thousands of refugees fleeing Africa and the Middle East?

We should let as many as we can into our country, but we should do it safely, and certainly not en mass. Helping others get here and get on their feet is the American thing to do, but again, these people need to go through a legal process to ensure they aren’t terrorists seeking to destroy us.

Guns:

  1. No regulation, some regulation, iron regulation, or ban entirely? Why and how?Should this differ state to state and city to city?

 

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Minimal regulation is necessary since the 2nd Amendment absolutely guarantees this right. Those who say it doesn’t don’t understand 18th-century writing:

  • The militia, at the time of the writing of the constitution, was all free people. If anything, the definition of free people has been expanded since slavery was abolished women’s rights were established.
  • Preambles were used in the 18th century and early 19th century to disclose the “why” before the actual statement was given.
  • If it were written in today’s language, it would likely read, “All American Citizens, over the age of 18 years, with the exception of convicted violent felons, shall have the right to keep and carry a firearm for personal and home defense, for the purpose of maintaining a free state. No governing persons or body may infringe upon this right.”
  • “Shall not be infringed” is very clear language. It’s because of this phrase that whenever gun laws are challenged in the courts, they don’t hold up.

The permit system is probably a good idea, in theory, but all it does it license those who legally hold guns. More effective is having serial numbers on guns themselves, thus tracking to whom it belongs.

Cities such as Chicago, Detroit,  New Orleans and Los Angelas are all examples of gun control not having it’s intended effect, and Chicago is the exact opposite, where the ghetto of South Chicago is a blood bath. Contrast that with an attempted mass shooting last year in Texas where two terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda went to shoot up a party at a museum, but were quickly dropped by two people who were legally carrying.

Should everyone own a gun? Well, that’s their choice, but the law says we should be able to buy one if we want it, to carry it, to use it to defend ourselves, our families, our properties and anyone else who might be in danger.

Personally, I’m glad I’ve made the choice to carry a gun. It’s saved my life once and prevented me from being robbed/jumped on three separate occasions. Ask me to tell you the stories sometime and I’ll be happy to share them.

Liberals would have us believe the average citizen should not carry a weapon or even know how to use it. If they truly were educated in the ways of the founding fathers, their writing and thoughts, as well as educated on how guns work and how to use them, they likely wouldn’t push for the garbage gun control that has  failed to withstand a court decision or effectively prevent violence.

Abortion: None, some, open, or other? W&H?

As a form of birth control, it’s abhorent. President Spencer W Kimball describes it as an “ugly sin.” It’s taking the innocent life of a child who did not choose to be conceived. The methods used are violent, depraved in disgusting.

Occasionally, a pregnancy will occur because of rape or forcible incest. The Church teaches abortion is not a sin in this case, but should still be very carefully and prayerfully considered. Also, if the mother’s life is endangered by the pregnancy, it can be considered without ramification.

I do believe it should be kept legal for these purposes. I also believe that a minor should never receive an abortion except in the case her parents and the father (and his parents, if a minor) consent, if it was not rape or forcible incest.

Abortion for any other reason should be stopped, especially mid and late-term abortions, which involve tearing the child limb from limb, or jamming scissors into the child’s skull and vacuuming out the brain, or even poisoning it with saline.

Along those lines, Planned Parenthood should be stopped from doing these types of abortions, and the feds should watch them closely, up to and including observation and videos with warrants, to see if they are committing murders on children who have been born and are breathing.

Thoughts Net neutrality: . Yes, no, some? W&H?  

Terrible idea. It’s definitely slowed down internet browsing speeds. The FTC had the authority to make it a utility, but it was still a terrible, anti-business idea.

Same-sex marriage: . Yes, no, some? W&H?

I’m fine with civil unions, contractually speaking, but I do feel the state should get out of issuing marriage licenses. Let the Churches handle it.

Morally, I’m very opposed to homosexual relationships, but I don’t believe it’s the government’s job to regulate it. Liberals have essentially turned this into a civil rights issue, but it could be a non-issue and a lot of tax dollars could have been saved if the government was out of the marriage altogether.

Religious freedom and separation of church and state Thoughts:

The constitution is clear that there should be no endorsed state Church/religion, but it doesn’t mean we can’t talk about God and Christ, Allah, prophets, morality, the devil or other religious ideas in public forums. To this day, invocations and benedictions are given at Presidential Inaugurations.

 

Interestingly, the left attempts to guilt the whole of Christianity into feeling the need to help the poor and take care of the earth by using terms such as “Socialist Jew” to describe Jesus. It makes me sick; Jesus was not a policitican. He taught consecration on the individual, voluntary level, which is not the same as forcing someone at gunpoint or even the simple threat of jailtime or fines if they don’t pay their taxes that fund social programs with these forced transfer payments.

Racial and religious issues

  1. How bad is racism and religious discrimination in America?

It’s not as bad as the media makes it out to be, but I can tell you that it’s gotten worse the past 9 years since Barack Obama started running. There are definitely racists in this world; I have relatives who are racist. I call it out when I see it.

 

However, the left uses it as its end-all argument about why we conservatives don’t like President Obama’s policies (I actually think he’s a decent man, just has terrible policies.)

 

Occasionally, there will be limited, isolated instances of true racism by someone in authority, but the media jumps all over it to try to paint all white people as racist. Moreover, the recent emergence of the arbitrary idea of “white privlege” looks to me, someone who is mostly white and grew up with zero privlege, who has had to work for everything he’s ever had (I literally have bought 90% of the nice things I have with my own hard work), who was rejected from several colleges and grad programs even though I was fully qualified, feels that Affirmative Action has ruined fair chances for all people to gain what they’ve worked for.

  1. What ought to be done?

Get rid of affirmative action. Seriously. We can’t regulate free speech, however. I feel a religious return to the principles of Christ would make life a lot easier for everyone. Preaching the gospel will solve a lot these type problems.

Feminism

  1. What is it? 2. What should it be/do?

Let me be clear: my wife is a feminist, and so is my sister. They, along with other third-wave feminists, strongly believe it means “equality.” Their fights for fair pay and anti-rape legislation are to be applauded.

 

I, however, disagree that the basis and objective is equality, and have been able to find no true, clear definition for what it means. For Madeline Albright, it was about woman power, and as far as I can see, it’s extremely sexist in it’s objectives. Many feminists, including the infamous Kate Kelly, are man-haters.

The fruits of feminism sow discord wherever they go. Hard feelings follow, and I feel that no real solutions can be permanently accomplished by those women who have such hate toward the male gender.

And to be snarky, gender studies are useless and don’t get anyone who holds such a degree anywhere in life unless they emphasize learning actual skills during their studies.

Political parties and Campaigns

  1. Harmful, helpful, or somewhere in between?

George Washington did, in fact, warn against having political parties. This would have been an ideal situation, but government in general has always been divided into factions since the time of ancient Rome.

Understanding a little more American History is important, also. The Democratic-Republican party is the mother-party of both parties we have today. At the time of its formation and shortly therafter, there were the federalists (for a stronger, central government) and whigs, which weren’t too dissimilar from the present right-winged ideals.

Today, however, we have two major political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. The problem with this system is that it’s bilateral, and each party attempts to paint its ideals and agenda as mutually exclusive from the other. Frankly, it’s a living, breathing false argument of either/or choices. Such cognition is considered unhealthy, in the world of psychology.

Each party has some good ideals and some bad ideas, and everything else falls somewhere inbetween. However, what’s important to Democrats vs what’s important to Republicans is very, very different. If you listen to the recent primary election debates, you’ll hear entirely different topics being addressed.

Business Insider politics put out an article this week showing exactly what these different topics are. Rarely do the topics converge on both parties.

For example, Republicans tend to talk about ideals and Democrats tend to talk about groups of people. As a result, there is serious miscommunication about what they are.

Democrats tend to think that Republicans don’t care about people. Quite the opposite, most Republicans wish simply care for the poor and afllicted on their own terms, not the government’s.

On the same lines, many Republicans see Democrats as baby-killers. Most Democrats (regular, everyday ones, not the ones in Washington) them abhor the idea of an abortion, but want to keep it legal simply because they don’t want the black market to take over a serious medical procedure.

  1. Should there be a third or fourth major political party? Should we abolish the party system altogether? Is there need for reform? Other thoughts?

I would love nothing more than to see the party system go away entirely. It would kill the dialogue of right vs left, and we’d actually start talking about issues. As for the moment, it’s just ad-hominems and two entirely different worlds.

I do dwell within reality, though, and know that the establishment in Washington won’t have it, so unless the states pass a constitutional amendment abolishing parties, it’s not going to happen. We’ve had two major political parties in play since the 1700s, whether it’s the Federalist vs the Democratic-Republicans, the Democrats vs the Whigs, the Republicans vs the Democrats.

Worth noting, the Republican party is in serious trouble, and I can see the serious possibility of the Libertarian party and the Tea Party rising up in its place, which would be good and provide true contrast to the Democrats.

The Democrats’ biggest strength is their ability to unite people of many different cultures and mindset, and the other party could learn from that.

 

  1. Campaigning Politicians are stereotypically dishonest. A fact check review of many of what current politicians say supports this stereotype. What should be done? Can we do anything about this? Does it even matter?

 

Before we go tossing everyone from office, I do feel like the truth can be twisted to show one’s opinions as right or wrong. I also feel like the journalists in charge of “fact-checking” are also dishonest and tend to lean to the left in their checks.

 

However, we need to change who we are as Americans, before our politicians change. The way our system is set up, it reflects the American people’s daily operations and values. As a country, we have become immoral, unchaste, corrupt, lying, conniving, and any other negative trait I can think. We’re obsessed with money, we’ve devalued the family (both in the traditional sense and as the basic unit of society), and we can’t get a hold on crime and corruption.

 

If we want our politicians to change, we need to change as a culture, return to the basic morality on which this country was founded. This would start by ousting people who show such dishonesty without regard to its consequences.

 

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3 Simple Savings Ideas

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Learning how to get myself from broke to having a few thousand dollars in the bank at all times hasn’t been easy, and there are still times when my savings account depletes faster than I want it to, but

1. Control your spending. This really is easier than it sounds. (I know that blouse is really cute, but do you need it? Your kid really likes that name brand cereal, but I can guarantee he won’t be able to tell the difference when you buy the store-brand.) Things like coupons for your normal, must-have essentials will go a long way, as well as planning your meals at home instead of eating out.

Not sure where to start with your spending habits? Fear not: begin by tracking your expenses every day, every penny. (Sounds tedious? Stick with me, it’ll be worth it.)

I personally keep a four-column ledger of our household finances, along with a running balance of our bank and investment accounts, cash on hand, gift cards, etc:

1) Income

2) Expense

3) Refund

4) Balance.

A weekly run-down of these expenses with your spouse can help you both decide what is necessary, what’s fun/okay to spend occasionally, and what spending habits you both need to stop. You’ll be suprised at the ease with which poor spending habits are curbed by simply doing this.

Also, consider using online bill-pay through your bank. It’s an easy way to control when the money goes out, and it keeps your creditors and utilities from billing your account or credit card too early or too late. It will also give you the peace of mind

2. Automate your savings. This is so very easy to do. Most employers will let you use direct deposit a set percentage or dollar amount into a separate account from your savings account. If this isn’t available or you’re unsure of it, set up automatic transfers.

I strongly recommend using different banks for spending and savings. For savings, an online bank that doesn’t have a physical banking location is ideal for this. I personally use Digit, which takes minimal withdrawals and sets them aside for me in a separate account. If I need my money, I simply deposit it back into my checking, and it’s available the next business day. This keeps me from making stupid impulse purchases with my savings.

3. Get a side hustle. Simple moonlighting work can be great to bring in extra income. If you feel you don’t have the right skills, you can learn something simple like computer coding. Other ideas include using Amazon, Etsy, or Ebay to sell items you acquire or make yourself, allowing ads on your personal blog. AirBNB is also a really great way to get some extra cash, especially if you live in the city or near a tourist attraction.

Off the internet, tutoring, a cleaning or handyman business, or (if you’re brave) medical studies are just a few of the ways you can get some extra money in the door to help you toward your savings goals.

BONUS: Try the “52 week money challenge” saving strategy, but do it separately from your normal savings plan. This is really simple. Save $1 the first week, $2 the next, $3 the third week, and so forth. After 52 weeks (one year), you’ll have an extra $1378 in the bank. There are many variations to this plan, too, and a quick Google search will pull these up.

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10 Simple Ways to Get that 2nd Date

A simple Google search of “how do I get a second date?” brings up a myriad of dating sites and advice. Clearly, this is not an uncommon question. The advice is as varied as it could be, but you can notice common themes in these advice columns.

Below are the ones that I personally found worked well. Now, as a married man, I can look back on all the first dates I had, both good and bad, and realize what went well and what I could have done better. You can’t control what the other person does, but if you put yourself out there, make sure you’re doing your best to make them feel like it was worth their time.

1. Be your best self. Guys, open her door. Ladies, say thank you when he goes out of his way to make you feel special. We’re culturally expected to be on our best behavior on the first date, so make sure that this really is the case.

If you’ve got spotty things in your past, remember that this person has probably Googled you. Have an explanation ready, but don’t obsess or worry too much.

Also, some things are always a no-no: don’t get drunk, don’t share your conspiracy theory on aliens taking over the world, and so forth. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “Am I seeming over the top in any way?” If you can answer yes- at all – cool it and change the subject.

2. Be real. Nothing will make the other person comfortable more quickly than seeing that you’re being yourself. While you should still be at your best, being relaxed and easy-going will help the other party also feel at ease.

Speaking your mind is definitely okay, especially if the person is willing to push back a little bit in the conversation. Strong dialogue is a good indicator that you can balance each other out.

3. Stay off your phone. No one likes wondering if their date is texting the person they met from Tinder last night. Do yourself a favor and stay off your phone unless it’s an emergency, and this includes checking your smartwatch. Being 100% present will tell your date that they’re a worthwhile person and you are enjoying spending time with them.

4. Ask questions, but don’t interrogate. When I was working on my undergrad, I once had a really fun date to the circus with a great girl. She had run for student body president the year before, was pretty, funny, smart and could hold her own. However, on the drive home, she began firing questions at me like a police officer trying to get a confession out of her suspect. It made me rather uncomfortable, and I was leery about going out with her again.

Ask questions about who they are, such as their family, what growing up was like, what they do in their career. It may seem mundane, but this is basic information that’s vital to moving forward in any realationship.

5. Keep the first date simple, but have a plan. This will help you avoid the awkward, “So…. what do you want to do?” conversation. Something like ice cream or a free concert could be a ton of fun without dominating their entire evening. There’s nothing wrong with calling it a night after an hour or two.

6. Don’t let your eyes wander. Seriously. Going back to being 100% present in the moment, this helps your date feel important. Don’t flirt with the waitress, don’t mention that the person on the corner is hot, and certainly don’t be caught checking out the guy who just walked by.

7. Don’t show off, but don’t be cheap, either. This is a fine balance to achieve. Going to that pricey steakhouse downtown probably isn’t a way to make the lady feel comfortable, but don’t take her to a burger joint, either. This falls back to number 5: have a plan, and make sure she’s going to be comfortable with it.

8. Give a kiss on the cheek. Only do this if you want a second date. This lets the other person know you’re definitely interested, but that you’re not expecting anything. If they want to kiss you back, great, but if they don’t reciprocate, say goodnight and call it good.

9. Ask what they’d like to do on the next date, or even just ask what some of their favorite activities are. This gives a segway into tying down a place and time for the next time you want to see this person.

10. GUYS: Call her back – quickly. One of the biggest errors I’ve heard from single guys is “Wait at least a week.” This is absolutely a terrible idea. Send a text that evening saying you had fun, and then dial her number within 24-48 hours and ask her out again, if haven’t done so already. This will let her know you’re interested and willing to do what it takes to spend time with her.

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15 Reasons Why You’re Losing Friends on Facebook

While social media etiquette is still a very abstract and ambiguous concept at best, and preferences most certainly vary by demographic and from even person to person, there are some pretty standard things that are terrifically annoying and just typically aren’t a good idea on social media.

I’ll admit, I’ve been on social media since it was born with Myspace in 2004, and I got on Facebook in 2005, so I’ve been guilty of these missteps myself from time to time. However, having worked with social media as part of my job and business ventures these past few years, I’ve learned exactly what’s okay and what’s not.

My advice should be taken at face-value; the items on this list simply reflect my opinions and experiences.

1. You over-post. Facebook can be used to express our feelings and opinions, for sure. If it’s not overly-personal, post away. But limit yourself to a few times a day. If you have pictures to upload, do it all at once, not one at a time through your Instagram.

And for heaven’s sake: please don’t sync your twitter to your Facebook (especially if you’re a big tweeter/retweeter), because it causes what I refer to as “Newsfeed noise” that no one enjoys really enjoys seeing.

2. You like and comment on literally everything you see. I can’t tell you how much this makes me want to un-friend someone. If you have solid feedback or a great comment, please leave it on the post, but every time I log in or pick up my phone, I really don’t want to see that you’ve commented for the 30th post in a row.

The same goes for liking. If it resonates with you, you’re genuinely glad for the person, or you think it’s actually funny, like away. But chances are if you’re liking everything that’s in your newsfeed posted by your friends, it’s reflecting your own inability to think and act for yourself.

3. You don’t post anything original. Incessant memes, Some E-cards, a celebrity’s good deed, news stories and other shared posts all have their own place, but if you don’t have any of your own ideas going up with all the rest of that, it again appears that you’re not able to think for yourself.

4. You’re obsessive over your significant other. When I see frequent kissing selfies, mushy “I love you more than grilled cheese sandwiches” and consistent “My husband is the best!” posts, it gets old.

Even worse is the couple who is all-too-frequently “on again, off again” and updates their relationship status every time they get back together, only to break up again the following week, swearing up and down that they’re “Never, ever, ever getting back together. Whether or not you choose to put your relationship status on Facebook is entirely up to you, but don’t use it to get attention that your not getting from your relationship.

5. You post cryptic, attention-seeking updates. We’ve all seen it:

“I’m just done!”

“So happy!”

“I can’t even anymore.”

“Fake people make me so angry. Goodbye, $%*&!!!”

This is not adult communication. Especially if you’re talking about something or someone who’s caused you heartache, “Vaguebooking” is not the right way express this. If you want sympathy and it’s not overly-personal or bullying, post what the actual issue is and solicit feedback.

6. You try to turn Facebook into your therapist. However, airing your dirty laundry is not adult communication, either. If you’re currently struggling coping with something serious, pick up the phone and call someone you know cares or who at least will listen. They’ll likely respond in a caring way, rather than rolling their eyes and moving on.

Moreover, if you’re posting things like “I wish I was dead,” if you’re actually struggling with suicidal thoughts, it could be dismissed by those on your facebook as an attention ploy. Things like this are serious and should be dealt with in tight family circles and by professionals who can help.

7. You sign your name on your posts and comments. This one goes to all you baby boomers out there. We know it’s you: you have a profile with your name and picture. This isn’t an email; think of this as a conversation.

Equally as horrifying is commenting on a status or post with no regard to the subject matter. “Hi Billy, Hope you’re doing well! Just wanted to check in and see what time you’ll be by on Saturday? Love, Aunt Jo.” Think of this as butting into a conversation without regard to what the people around you are saying.

Just, no.

8. You misspell someone’s name. This is as offensive as it is silly. Their name is RIGHT THERE, on the profile you’re interacting with. If someone can’t take time to spell my name carefully (such as Denis or Danis or Denise), then I know they clearly don’t care about me, my life, or the so-called “friendship” that we’re claiming to have.

9. You constantly post about your multi-level marketing scheme, your summer sales job or your business you own.  I will never knock someone for being able to make some extra money or especially a good income through their own efforts and sales. But if you’re always posting from your personal profile about it, messaging your friends to join you and advocating it every other post, it gets annoying and people are more likely to tune out.

Instead, make your own like page- and learn how to effectively put money behind so that the right people can see and engage with your posts and hopefully buy your product or service.

10. You post too many gym pics and statuses. Yes, you work out. Yes, we know. No, we don’t particularly enjoy knowing every time you’re “getting your grind on” or downing that protein shake.

Posts like this appear cocky, arrogant and holier-than-thou. Lay off, bro. We get it.

11. You check in too frequently at your favorite coffee shop. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional checking, especially if they require it to access the internet. We just don’t want to see it every day.

12. You troll your friends’ statuses who disagree with your political or religious views. At this point, nearly every politician and mainstream religion is using social media to make their messages heard. This is actually pretty effective, given their campaigns are designed well and they have a good following. If your views align with theirs, there is nothing wrong with simply sharing something that resonates with you (but please make sure it’s accurate and has data to back it up, if it’s making a claim).

There’s also nothing wrong with a good, healthy debate. But using this platform to inundate us all with your beliefs won’t change anyone’s views. Those kinds of changes are made in the classroom and by reading books, not memes and articles.

13. You put your private matters on blast. Spousal arguments, financial problems, and your kid’s bad grades all fall in this category, along with many others. Again, making FB your therapist is an annoying attention ploy that people don’t want to see.

14. You post way, way, way too many selfies. We all post the occasional one. But if you’re taking a zillion pictures, please, take it to Snapchat, where people are actually expecting to see that.

15. You  have a joint account with your significant other. This is perhaps the worst thing I see. It’s inconvenient for most of your friends, it looks unprofessional to employers, and we can’t even figure out whose birthday it really is!

This is what the relationship status is for! I love that my profile says that I’m married to Jessica, and for us, it shows that we’re equal but different people.

Bonus: “Copy and paste so that ____ will or won’t happen!”  scams. I have to take my hat off to whoever comes up with these silly posts that seem to circulate every several months, or so. The most popular posts are actually searched by hackers, and they will then attempt to break into your account. If your password is weak, this makes your profile a very easy target.

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