Posts Tagged tips

Smart Money: Cash Passport

11 July 2012

Sorry, folks. Traveler’s Checks are a thing of the ancient past. They’ve been replaced by debit cards, credit cards and most recently … Cash Passports.

I’d heard about Cash Passports for several years but was skeptical about them: I always felt deep down that it was some kind of scam. However, after reading some positive testimonials, I decided to try one this year for my trip to England.

You can get a Cash Passport at the exchange company Travelex, found in the international terminals of major airports. You put an initial sum on the card (you get the best deal on exchange rates if you go over a certain amount, like $700) then use it as if it were a debit card, either as a swipe card or to withdraw money from ATMs. It’s widely accepted here in England.

So why use a Cash Passport instead of a debit card? Several reasons.

(1) It has a “chip and pin” system which makes it very secure for use in Europe; over here they consider our non-chip US cards (both debit and credit) very unsafe as it’s much easier to steal information from them.

(2) The amount of the card is in British Pounds (you can also choose Euros) so you only have to deal with exchange rates one time, upon purchase of the card at the airport, and the rest of the time you can figure out everything in British Pounds based on the remaining balance on your card.

In my opinion, it beats having to monitor the exchange rates on your checking account as transactions go through, as well as being charged a percentage for each transaction. The advantage of a Cash Passport over a credit card is similar to that of a debit card with the additional advantage that the CP lets you withdraw cash without charge, whereas a credit card would charge for a cash advance.

You can check your balance online (supposedly — I’ve just been keeping a tally of all my expenses) and if it gets lost or stoelen there’s a number you can call immediately to deactivate the card and you’ll be issued a new one with the remaining balance.

Bottom line is that everyone has a different system and preference for how to handle their money abroad. I’ve tried the CP this year and been very pleased with how it’s worked for me. I think I’ll continue using the CP in my travels in the future. You might want to check it out, too!

Avoid Jetlag by Fasting? Hmmmmm.

28 May 2012

Have you ever:

  • Felt wide awake in the middle of the night when you should have been sleeping?
  • Had huge food cravings at the most inconvenient times?
  • Felt groggy and like your head was full of concrete in the middle of the day?

You may have been experiencing jetlag. Anyone who’s suffered jetlag can testify to how maddening it can be. The rule of thumb is that it takes one day to recover from jetlag for every time zone you’ve crossed. For example, if you fly to London from New York you’ll cross five time zones and it will be five hours later at your destination than at your port of departure.

Who wants to spend five days recovering from jetlag? A new study tested the theory that fasting may be key to avoiding jetlag — completely. Watch the video below and see what lengths you’d go through to avoid jetlag. I’m still thinking about this one.

Your Spiritual Credit Score

31 March 2011

Americans are entitled to three free credit reports per year. For a little extra money, you can also find out your all-important credit score, a score between 300 and 850 that determines your eligibility for loans and special interest rates. Looking at your credit report can be frightening because it brings you face-to-face with the reality of how others (loan officers, car salesmen, potential employers) see you.

But have you ever wondered how you’re doing on God’s scale – do you know your spiritual credit score? How would you score if each relationship in your life were counted as an “account” on a credit report?

1. Are your accounts in good standing?

“Paying as agreed” is a crucial component towards having an account in good standing. Do you keep your promises? Can your spouse, your children and your friends count on the fact that when you commit to something, you’ll stick to it even when it requires sacrifice? Sometimes another person closed out your account and you didn’t want them to. Now the account is in poor standing and you feel a lack of control, bitterness and unforgiveness. With God’s help even this account can be turned around.

2. Do you have too many open accounts?

Keep the oldest friendship accounts open – at least the ones in good standing. Maintain these and give them the attention they need. As the saying goes, “Make new friends but keep the old; those are silver, these are gold.” It’s easy to get sloppy and neglectful if you have too many accounts open. Make sure you allow adequate time and resources for each new friendship. Know the difference between “friendship” and “ministry”: surround yourself with a core of friends who are positive people, people who give and take in a balanced way and maintain proper boundaries.

3. Are you paying off debt or just moving it around?

Face your problems, face responsibility. You’ve opened the account, you’ve gotten yourself into debt, now pay it like a man (or woman). In other words, if you’ve stepped into a relationship with a person and it hasn’t worked out, figure out what’s wrong, ask forgiveness, make your peace before moving on or you will continue having the same type of problem with everyone you meet. Work out your issues, settle accounts, and maintain good standing.

Your most important account

A credit report will show any manner of information in the form of bars, graphs, and pie charts, along with a breakdown of all your accounts, both open and closed. But the bottom line really is the overall credit score. In the end, the bottom line is your relationship with God. Do you love him, fear him, spend time with him? Do you feel like you and God have an understanding that this is a busy season of your life and you’ll catch up with him later when you have more time?

In the end, many of us might be surprised by our spiritual credit score. Perhaps we think that we’re doing great, when we’re actually in big trouble. Or maybe we’ve been beating ourselves up about a past mistake and think our spiritual credit report is permanently damaged but in reality there’s no record of it on our report: it’s been blotted out!

Check your credit score — financial and spiritual — on a regular basis and keep those accounts in good standing. You’ll be glad you did.

What to Know Before You Go: Practical Prayerwalking Tips

2 September 2010

A little planning goes a long way when it comes to a safe and fun prayerwalk. Here are four helpful tips.

1. Plan Your Route – Use the information in a good guidebook to determine your daily route. If you choose a PrayerWalk guidebook, you don’t have to do the walks in the order they appear: change them up to suit your needs and interests.

2. Pack Light – Packing light is smart for several reasons: first, the longer you walk the heavier your bag will seem; second, it allows you to store the things that you find or buy along the way; third, a bulging backpack or purse makes you an ideal target for pickpockets.

Safety Tip – Pickpockets and thieves thrive on kind-hearted and unwary tourists. Be vigilant. Jesus said, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

3. Wear Comfortable Shoes – Go for comfort over fashion. Consider investing in a pair of quality leather shoes rather than wearing tennis shoes. Nothing says “American tourist” like wearing tennis shoes in public. Don’t forget to break in any shoes before your trip.

4. Enjoy the Journey – Prayerwalking is not just about reaching a destination. Learn to appreciate each moment of your journey and experience it through your senses. Look into the eyes of the people you encounter and allow yourself to be moved with compassion for them just as Jesus was for Jerusalem (Luke 19:41).