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Posts Tagged ‘Money’

Men owe a lot

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8 (NKJV)

According to Lucy Maher, of CNBC,[i] men are one-third more likely to bring debt into a new relationship.  When you take into account all the wedding planning, and the honeymoon to follow, soon-to-be-wedded couples would be wise to set aside time to go over their spending habits and individual debt levels before they walk down the aisle.  According to Maher, 42 percent of adult men reported bringing credit card debt to their relationships, but only 29 percent of women did.  The average amount of credit card debt adults reported bringing into their relationships is about $4,100.

Talking about finances may not be as exciting as talking about the wedding service, the reception, or the honeymoon, but it is a very smart and important one.  Thirty-five percent of couples, who at least partially combine finances, brought credit card debt into their relationships, and that is particularly the case for 45 percent of millennial adults.  In fact, for millennials, the average debt load is not limited to credit card use. Thirty-eight percent of millennials bring auto loan debt, 36 percent bring student loan debt, and 27 percent bring medical debt into their relationships.

The obvious concern is that twenty-five percent of couples with at least one partner bringing credit card debt to the relationship said that it had a negative effect, sixteen percent said they weren’t able to buy a home or go on vacation, and five percent said it almost caused them to separate.

Taking this into consideration, couples should start by reviewing their credit reports individually and to share each other’s financial condition before entering married life together.  If they choose to proceed with their plans, their first priority should be a plan to pay down their debts.  This can be done by developing a realistic budget and strictly abiding by it. Keep it front of you so you don’t forget what you’re trying to accomplish which is to prevent you from adding on more debt.

Father God, help me to talk openly and honestly about our finances before entering into a marital relationship.

[i] http://www.today.com/money/men-one-third-more-likely-bring-debt-relationship-t28896?cid=eml_tes_20150628

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Save for the future – 2

June 5                         Save for the future – 2

For thus says the LORD: “You have sold yourselves for nothing, And you shall be redeemed without money.” Isaiah 52:3 (NKJV)

Jean Chatzky of TODAY,[i] gives us three more ideas to save money:

  1. Correct Social Security mistakes you may be making. According to the Social Security Administration, the average American takes Social Security at age 64. They’re missing the memo that the longer you wait to take benefits, up until age 70, the more your monthly benefit will be. In fact, it increases 8% every year between full retirement age and 70. For instance, if your benefit at full retirement age is $1,300 a month, you can turn it into $1,716 a month by waiting to take it until age 70. That’s close to $5,000 in extra income a year.
  2. Turn off the lights. There are also other ways to trim your energy bill by 30%. Most people don’t realize that one of the biggest energy hogs in the home isn’t the refrigerator or dishwasher but the cable box. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimated that we spend $2 billion a year to power these boxes even if they are not even in use. Just flip the switch off at the end of the day and you can save big money. Also, be sure to keep boxes off in rooms where the TV is not used frequently.
  3. Automate, automate, automate. The easiest way to make sure you meet your savings goals is to set up automatic contribution or deposits to your 401(k), move money automatically into an IRA or Roth IRA, and move money from checking into savings every time you get paid. At the same time, delink that savings account from checking so that you can’t pull money out of savings every time you hit the ATM.

The English writer, Samuel Johnson said, “A man who both spends and saves money is the happiest man, because he has both enjoyments.”  God gives us the ability to make money and the freedom to return to Him what is His, to spend it as we wish, to save it for the future, and to use it to help others.

Father God, help me to use wisely what you give me so plentifully.

[i] http://www.today.com/money/here-are-some-easy-ways-reboot-your-savings-efforts-t23696?cid=eml_tes_20150601

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Save for the future – 1

For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense, But the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it. Ecclesiastes 7:12 (NKJV)

According to an article by Jean Chatzky of TODAY,[i] the savings rate has been hovering around 5.5% ; in other words, we’re saving 5.5% of our income this year, which is better than the past two years.  Of concern is that Americans under age 35 are still spending more than they’re making, which means they are taking on debt as a result, while those 55 and over are saving 13%.  If you’d like to see yourself saving more, Chatzky has a few suggestions for how to jump-start yourself mid-year!

  1. Discounts you’re not getting: For instance, 84% of Americans never asked for car insurance discounts. Discounts are generally available for self-reported driver information like mileage, marital status, occupation, academic standing and defensive driving skill. If you drive no more than 5,000 miles a year you will pay an average of 8% less than someone who drives 15,000 miles. If you’re married you will generally pay less than singles, and teachers, nurses and accountants are all viewed as safer drivers, and can save money because of it. Call your insurance company and ask your agent what discounts may be available to you.
  2. Money you could be earning on your checking account. According to Bankrate, there are 20 checking accounts paying an interest rate of 2% or more. Of course, there are some stipulations to get that yield. For instance, you must make a certain number of debit card transactions each month, sign up for direct deposit, or use the bank’s online bill pay system. But if you can all of that, these accounts may be worth it.  Do some research to see if your bank offers a plan to help you earn more interest on your money.

The key is looking for ways to save, by both cutting down on your expenses and by receiving more income from any source possible, and then put that extra money aside, saving it for your future.

Father God, give me the wisdom to use the money you give me to take care of my needs, save for the future, and help others.

[i] http://www.today.com/money/here-are-some-easy-ways-reboot-your-savings-efforts-t23696?cid=eml_tes_20150601

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Go forth, O daughters of Zion, And see King Solomon with the crown With which his mother crowned him On the day of his wedding, The day of the gladness of his heart. Song of Songs 3:11 (NKJV)

A short sidebar in Psychology Today[i] explained that the most lavish wedding ceremonies aren’t always the most auspicious.  Many young people hear of the royal weddings, full of pomp and ceremony, or watch the wedding ceremonies of the rich and famous and imagine that the bigger the wedding the happier they will be.

Two recent reports, one by a two Emory University economists and another that two psychologists produced for the National Marriage Project, investigate the power of one of the most important rites of passage – a couple’s wedding.

The studies found that couples who reported having more guests at their wedding also reported, on average, higher levels of marital quality, even when they controlled for factors such as education, religiosity, race, and income.  They also observed that higher wedding attendance was associated with lower odds of divorce.  The benefits of having more witnesses at one’s wedding may be partly due to the psychological consequences of making such a public declaration of commitment, that is, that we strive to maintain consistency between what we say and what we do. These couples also likely have more friends and family who see the relationship as something worth supporting or rooting for.

At the same time, they don’t break the bank in the process of having a large wedding.  Spending more money on weddings and rings, however, was not associated with more stable marriages. In fact, those who spend the most on their weddings were, on average, at greater risk of divorce. The economists speculate that an expensive wedding might place a high degree of stress on a marriage before it’s even off the ground.

The most important lesson from these studies is that the power of the big day is far more likely to lie in the connections and the commitment than the spectacle.

Father God, help us to think wisely about how much we spend on our wedding day and instead invest on a lifetime marriage.

[i] Psychology Today, May/June 2015

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Money matters in marriage

The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts. Haggai 2:8 (NKJV)

Tricia Brown[i] writes that in marriage we share a home, memories, and decisions about all kinds of things, including money.  Most couples that have been married for a while would tell you that money is an important factor in any marriage.  But talking about money, even when done proactively and often, can lead to heated conversations and disagreements. In fact, money is widely reported to be the most common argument among married couples. She suggests a few ideas to have a conversation about money with your spouse:

  1. Set a spending limit. Decide on a spending limit that allows both of you to maintain some freedom and also to talk about the big, and important, purchases before they happen.
  2. Review your future financial expectations and goals. Talk about things like your children’s education, retirement (when, where, how much you will need, etc.).
  3. Talk and Track. Don’t talk about money only when you have disagreements. Instead, make this a regular conversation and track your expenditure so you can make any changes necessary.  In fact, if you both develop a budget and pay bills together you will be able to see how you’re doing and what changes you may have to take in your expenditures or in your budgeting.
  4. Create some ground rules for your money conversations like “No shame and no blame.” As Brown explains, “In order to feel free to admit to our transgressions, avoid the surprises, and share openly, make sure that you are not creating a police state in your home. Build some ground rules that respect the needs and humanity of your spouse.”
  5. Make sure to take time to be grateful for what you have together. While planning for the future is important, it is equally important to stop and consider what you already have and what you have accomplished together. An attitude of gratitude will affect your marriage in a positive way.

Father God, help us to remember that all things we have come from you, to be grateful, and to use all we have as good stewards.

[i] http://www.brightpeakfinancial.com/2013/10/dont-fool-yourself-love-money-related/

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Financial plans – 2

And He said to them, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?” So they said, “Nothing.” Luke 22:35 (NKJV)

 

Before a couple gets married, they should take the time to talk about their financial plans and goals. Mary Bitsko[i] suggests two more questions they should discuss before they say I do.

  1. Do you divide the bills equally or pay a percentage? For those couples that choose to keep their finances separately, you need to decide whether you will divide the bills equally or use percentages. Some couples break down each bill based on salaries. For example, you make $500 more than your spouse, so your spouse believes you should pay a higher amount on the bills.  For those couples who choose to join all their finances  this should not be an issue.
  2. If you plan on having children, do you keep a separate account for them? Many couples who project a family of their own begin to invest in advance. They open a savings account for their children’s expenses. If you have plans of starting a family, it’s wise to open a joint account and deposit whatever amount possible.

There’s another question that should be resolved before tying the knot:  Will you tithe on the gross or on the net?  And the accompanying question is: How much, beside the tithes, will you give to the church?  It is important to understand and decide on this early on.  The bible teaches:  Set apart a tithe of all the yield of your seed that is brought in yearly from the field. Deuteronomy 14:22 (NRSV)   Based on this, the tithe should be based on the gross, that is, on the total we get before taxes are deducted.  Once you settle this part, you need to decide what percentage you will give for the needs of the local church for the church budget and for any special needs of projects it may have.

It is helpful to have a good talk about these issues and make the decision as to who will be in charge of the budget before saying “I do.”  You and your spouse will enter marriage with a financial plan in place, and a lower risk of financial problems.

 

Father, helps us to manage what you give us wisely and carefully that our finances may not be a problem but another way to honor you.

[i] Ibid.

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For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 1 Timothy 6:10 (NKJV)

 

Before marriage, people have their own finances established.  They have individual bank accounts and complete control of their budget.  But once they get married their finances take on a different view.  They have separate incomes and separate bills that they will have to decide whether to join them or not.  They also have to decide who will responsible for keeping the household budget and paying the monthly bills.

Often, couples don’t talk about these things until after they have become husband and wife which can cause tension and arguments.  One or the other may want sole control of the budget. Many of the financial disagreements stem from lack of understanding how the finances will function in the household.

Mayra Bitsko[i] offers four tips on how you and your future spouse should decide your finances.  Discuss together the following questions:

  1. Who is more discipline with the budget? In most relationships, one person is a saver and the other a spender. Also, usually one person is more laid back on making full payments and pays the bills late. Therefore, the person who is strict with keeping a set budget should be the one to manage the finances, pay the bills, and take care of the budget. At the same time, both you and your spouse should be involved in the decision-making and the budgeting process. Both should know where the funds are going. This way no one person has complete control and knowledge but both are fully informed.
  2. Do you continue with separate or joint accounts? Some couples join their monies after marriage and others prefer keeping their own accounts. Though there is nothing wrong with either decision, it is important to discuss the matter before marriage so there are no surprises or false expectations. One option some have taken is to open a separate joint account solely for the household bills. Marriage should be about relinquishing rather than asserting power and control.

 

Father God, when we get married we become one flesh.  Remind us that our finances are part of the intimacy designed for us to enjoy.

[i] http://familyshare.com/4-tips-on-how-couples-should-decide-their-finances-before-marriage

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The buck stops here

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 1 Timothy 6:10 (ESV)

 

  1. Money

Many couples report that the number one issue of conflict in their lives is their finances.  For some, their problems with money begin before they get married when they bring a lot of debt into their relationship.  Student loans, credit card debt, or not having a budget may have contributed to their financial challenges.  The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) recommends that couples who have conflict over money have a serious conversation about their finances.  What can you do?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Be open and honest about your financial situation before you get married. Surprises later lead to conflict.
  • Be realistic about your situation. Continuing the same lifestyle is unrealistic and will only
  • Set aside to talk about it when you are both calm.
  • Don’t hide income or debt. Provide all financial documents, including a recent credit report, pay stubs, bank statements, insurance policies, checks, debts, and investments to the conversation. Don’t point an accusing finger.
  • Together develop a realistic budget that includes a plan to eliminate debt and also a way to have savings. Every pay period, sit together to pay the bills so that both have control over your finances.
  • Set short-term and long-term goals for your future as a family.
  • Use a snowball method by paying first the small debts, one at a time, and adding those payments to the next until all are paid off.

Father God, help us to remember that we are just stewards but that everything belongs to you, an help us to manage all faithfully and carefully.

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A Lasting Inheritance

Scripture: Woe to those who join house to house; They add field to field, Till there is no place Where they may dwell alone in the midst of the land! 9 In my hearing the LORD of hosts said, “Truly, many houses shall be desolate, Great and beautiful ones, without inhabitant. Isaiah 5:8-9 (NKJV)

Observation: Woe. Six “woes” (vv. 8, 11, 18, 20, 21, 22) are introduced by the Hebrew particle translated as “woe” or “alas.” They function as warning devices. They clearly intensify the force of the condemnation to exile. The charges against God’s people are as follows: they do not pay attention to the Lord; they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel; they call evil good and good evil; and they are engaged in sin. The evils God judges in this setting are greed (first woe); self indulgence (second woe); moral perversion (third woe); delusions of grandeur (fourth woe); self indulgence and the resulting social abuses (fifth and sixth woes).

Application: One of the most interesting stories that Jesus taught sprang from a question put to him: “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Luke 12:13 (NKJV) How many families have fallen apart because one took more than their share and another felt they didn’t get enough. Arguments, fights, lawsuits, and even murder have resulted from wanting a larger piece of the inheritance.
But Jesus’ response put the desire for more into a proper perspective: Then he told them this story: “The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. 17 He talked to himself: ‘What can I do? My barn isn’t big enough for this harvest.’ 18 Then he said, ‘Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll gather in all my grain and goods, 19 and I’ll say to myself, Self, you’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!’ 20 “Just then God showed up and said, ‘Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods—who gets it?’ 21 “That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God.” Luke 12:16-21 (MSG)
I just saw this interesting story today which helps us to put Jesus’ words into a different perspective: A man gave orders to do three things upon his death:
(1) That his coffin be carried by the best doctors of the time. (2) That the treasures he had would be scattered along the way to his grave. (3) That his hands would be left outside the coffin in the sight of all.
Amazed someone ask him the reason for his requests. He explained:
1) I want the most eminent doctors carrying my coffin to show that they don’t have the power to heal. (2) I want the road to be covered with my treasures so everyone can see that whatever material goods you accumulate on earth stay on earth. (3) I want my hands out of the coffin so that people can see that we were born empty-handed and we die empty-handed. . . when you die, you cannot take anything material with you.
We can leave our families money and material things; those could help them establish their own future. But more important than those physical things which will pass away one day, we can give them our time with them, the memories we build together, a good character, and most importantly, we can give them our faith in God. . . those things are not perishable. . . they are eternal.

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, help us to remember that our life is in Your hands and that if we want to leave our loved ones any inheritance when we die it is our faith in You.

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Scripture: (1 Sam 17:45-47 NKJV)  Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. {46} “This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. {47} “Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”

Observation: Goliath, the Philistine giant, taunted the Israelites and their God.  David, who had come to bring some food for his brothers accepted Goliath’s challenge.  Both sides of the battle field were drawn and watched as the two contenders came face to face: on the one side Goliath, a large man with great experience in battle; on the other, young shepherd David.  Goliath, presumptuous and arrogant, threatened David, and being self-confident, he took his helmet off.  David, whose faith was child-like, relied not on the king’s armor by on God’s power to defeat this giant.  David used what he was skilled at and what was at hand – a sling and five smooth stones, but all he needed was one which found it’s target on the head of the giant who fell down and was decapitated by David.

Application: We not have to battle a Goliath, but during these times of economic uncertainties, high unemployment, etc., just surviving seems like we’re fighting an invincible giant.  I have some suggestions that could help you, if you apply them to your personal and family finances:
1. Transfer Ownership of Everything to God.
All things that we have  belong to God; we are the stewards!  Nothing really belonged to us. Our house, cars, clothing, children, and jobs were all gifts from a loving father and we were simply stewards of those gifts.  A steward knows that his responsibility is to care for the possessions of the owner. He never sees them as his own. God gives to us not so we can possess, keep, and hoard them, but so that we can be vessels and pipelines of His blessing to others. When we are trustworthy, it makes it possible for Him to bless us even more. His ownership has a single goal: to use all of His resources to be a blessing to His children.
2. Tithe and Give Offerings Joyously.
You don’t have to understand all about how tithing works; you just need to know that it does. Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-8. God “prefers” our giving and tithing to be accompanied by which characteristic?
3. Work Hard.
God intended us to learn this important value of character. According to God’s plan for the family, we are to earn our bread by the toil and sweat of our brow. Work is satisfying, molds character, and develops gratitude, appreciation, and value.
4. Make a Realistic Budget and Keep Accurate Records.
The culprit in family finance problems is not the big-ticket items. It is the steady drip, drip, drip of spending on little purchases that no one tracks. You hit the ATM machine all weekend and end up broke on Monday with no idea where the money went. The absence of an accurate record of spending keeps couples from making good financial decisions.
5. Get out from under the Bondage of Debt.
Your attitude toward money will make a huge difference in the success or failure of your family. A familiar phrase from wedding ceremonies, ‘”Til death us do part,” has tragically become, “Til debt us do part!”  If you have credit card bills which have built up to thousands of dollars, and you no longer even have the disposable items that created the debt, that is the bondage debt about which we speak. If the item for which you went into debt does not provide collateral that is worth more than the indebtedness held against it, you have a problem in the making. To get out of debt, follow these principles:
• Pay Your Bills.
• Get Help.
• Change Your Lifestyle.

May you be victorious as you battle the economic giant that threaten to consume us and our family.

Prayer: Father, everything there is belongs to You and yet You give us so much of it for our benefit.  May we never forget to return joyfully the small portion You require of us, and help us to give generously so that others may come to know You.

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