You are a winner! Registered Prizewinner — Charles Lowery has been named the winner of $833,377 cash and will receive a check for the entire amount via registered mail. Charles Lowery is guaranteed $833,377 if you respond to this notice! The cash is now on deposit, and we will mail a check for $833,377 to (home address) via registered mail! And because so much money is at stake, I'd advise you to follow these instructions carefully! Simply remove the Grand prize validation seal from below the list of the latest winners and affix it to the entry document enclosed. Then be sure to mail the entry in the official sweepstakes envelope at once. It's that simple! And I can assure you beyond any doubt right now that if you have the grand prize-winning entry. … You are at the top of the list just above Bill Thompson of Maysville, KY who won $713,000."

Consumer Reports investigated a sweepstakes claim. A person had been notified that he had won a prize from a list that included a $10,000, $1,000 or $100 savings bond, or a $200 gift certificate. He called a 900 number at his expense to determine his prize. He discovered he had two prizes. He won the $200 gift certificate twice. He received a catalog from a marketing company allowing him to use the gift certificate. The catalog consisted of discontinued models of products advertised as current items priced far higher than retail. Consumer Reports concluded he won nothing and would spend more money by being a winner. This is our world today.

There are many plans out there. A wealthy man being interviewed by a reporter said he became wealthy because of the four D's — determination, discipline, and dedication. When asked what the fourth D was he replied, "Oh yeah, the death of my rich uncle who left me $6 million." A junk dealer was asked about how he became so wealthy. He said it was simple. He just bought for $3 and sold it for $5. He said you would be surprised how much that two percent markup mounts up. Many plans are really shams. They either don't add up or they go up in smoke.

A cigar smoker bought several hundred expensive cigars and had them insured against fire. After he'd smoked them all, he filed a claim, pointing out that the cigars, had, in fact, been destroyed by fire. The insurance company refused to pay, and he sued. The judge ruled that because the insurance company had agreed to insure the cigars against fire, it was legally responsible. The company paid the claim but when he accepted the money, they sued him for arson.

A simple plan is to spend conservatively, borrow carefully, save consistently, and give faithfully. A man said, "This year I plan to live within my means even if I have to borrow to do it." Borrowing keeps us going. Americans have to get a grip on borrowing. We are willing to pay as we go if we only knew where we have been. We dig holes we can't get out of. One man said, "I'd give back all the cheese if I could just get out of the trap." The tennis player Ilia Natasi said his American Express card had been missing for a year and he had not reported it. When asked why, he replied, "Whoever had it was spending less than my wife was."

We can't have it all. Where would we put it? The more stuff we have the more the hassle. We are afraid some one will get it so we protect it, watch over it, and install alarm systems. A couple received some beautiful pieces of silver for a wedding present. It was her treasure and the only thing of value she had. She thought about it all the time. Every time she heard noises at night she told her husband someone was breaking into the house. For twenty years they had countless interrupted nights of sleep. One night they did hear a burglar downstairs, and he was stealing the silver. The husband rushed down the steps and said, "Please come meet my wife. She has been waiting for you for twenty years."

What will help you keep your perspective on money and stuff? Remember the cigar story. Everything will go up in smoke.

We witnessed that a few years ago when the California fires destroyed many homes. There was a support group formed for those people. They were talking about what they had lost. They had lost the stuff that meant so much to them. One lady said that she had a wonderful porcelain piece. Not long before the fire she felt compelled to give it to a friend that she loved very much. After the fire that destroyed so much, her friend gave her the porcelain piece as a gift. Another lady said that she had given away the things she didn't like before the fire and after the fire they were all returned to her.

Get the drift? God says there will be a fire one day. It will all be wiped away, but even a cup of water given in His name will be rewarded. Sometimes even a hundred-fold. Now that sounds like a great fireproof plan.

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  • Charles Lowery