Category Archives: Money Smarts Series

#Biblical Money Smarts- Part Six: Setting Goals

Writing this 6-part Biblical Money Smarts series has been challenging, not because of a lack of content-it’s abundant- but deciding the order in which the topics should be placed. Goal Setting would seem to be the first thing we’d need to discuss but I decided to leave it for last so that I could emphasize exactly how important it is.

Young newlyweds especially, need to begin their unified journey with set, definite, agreed-upon goals. It’s important to discuss what you both want to save for; things like having babies, retirement, a new home and its maintainance, travel, vehicle repair, etc. The goals of both man & wife must be discussed and worked into the family budget from the very beginning.

These goals may include remaining debt free or getting out of debt, paying off family vehicles by a certain date, buying a vehicle without financing or building your dream home.

Once these goals have been clearly defined there MUST be a date attached to each one. A dream is something you “wish to have” at some arbitrary point in the future. A goal is something you “plan to achieve” by a certain date. Plan is the operative word here. Attending a birthday party or a graduation requires that you plan ahead. You set the day and time aside in you calender. You may set an alarm on your smart phone to remind you of the event a few weeks in advance. A “graduate debt-free” goal for your children, for example, obviously requires very in-depth planning. This is why such goals should be discussed asap! There is no time to waste!

Goals are the foundation of your financial success!! Everything else rests on them.

Consider the goal of Christ. He desired to reconcile us to Himself. His plan included a virgin birth, living a perfect life for 33 years, teaching others to live a Godly life and then taking the burden of the Father’s wrath on the cross. If God Himself had a goal and also a plan to acheive it, then it seems a good idea to follow His lead.

1 Corinthians 14:33 states God is “…not a God of disorder”. Looking at the world around us confirms this.  Trees pull water from the ground, up thier trunks, into thier leaves in an orderly way. Days pass by as we circle the globe without colliding with other planets. There is order to the universe because that is His nature.

We must be just as orderly in our financial planning if we are to achieve financial success and this orderly harmony must begin with goals in mind.

Goals serve as a jumping off point. The second you identify a goal, you have also pin-pointed two things: where you are and where you desire to be. As of that point your brain can start construct a road map of sorts. Think of where your job or favorite hang-out is located. Picture it in your mind. How do I get there from where you are right now? See what happened? Your brain immediately went to work constructing a path from your present location to that location.
This is precisely why setting a goal is important. You need to develope that road map towards financial success. If this isn’t accomplished you’ll remain stationary, inactive, unproductive and therefore unsuccessful.

Pray about what your five most important goals should be. Once God has made them clear, write them down, pray about them, asking God’s guidance. Ask Him when these goals should be accomplished.

With His guidence youll be able to Reduce your spending, create Assets and Stay Out of Debt while Educating yourself on finances and Ignoring the Hype created by materialistic advertizing.

Your goals, and God’s loving guidance, will serve as guard rails, keeping you on the straight and narrow path of Biblical Money Smarts!

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Biblical Money Smarts- Part Five: Ignore The Hype

So, you’ve reduced your spending, created assets and learned to manage debt while educating yourself about money….wonderful! What’s next on the road to financial freedom? The answer is more of a mindset than an actual action to take, however, it is ultimately integral to your financial goals.

IGNORE THE HYPE

What do I mean by that?

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Easy, ignore commercials, the next “must have” item, the easy payments and the advice of using “other people’s money”. It’s ALL hype. It’s designed to make you feel that you MUST buy into their sales pitch. But, guess what…..you don’t need the item, the sale, the update or the newest version. You need food, clothing, shelter and most importantly, God. Everything else is not neccessary.

This is the mindset associated with Matthew 6:20 & 21 which says, “Store your treasures in Heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and theives do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

You know the cable package you’re paying for with tons of channels you dont watch? You know why you don’t watch them? Because you DON’T NEED THEM. Human civilization thrived without cable, internet, smart phones and smart cars.

And, yes, I know….many of you will have a heartattack at the idea of cancelling your cable or downgrading to a cell phone plan without internet access. But, consider this: In the not-too-distant past there were some very well-off upper middle class folks living in California. They were making over 200, 000 dollars a year. They had the fancy cars in the best neighborhoods, their kids had the expensive cell phones with a ton of bells and whistles. They had country club memberships and prestigue. Then, one day, it was all gone. Cars were repossessed, the houses was forclosed on and families were living in “tent villages”. Lavish lifestyles became a thing of the past in a short period of time.

I’m sure you’re wondering why this happenned to such affluent families.

Well, they bought into the hype. They believed they were “supposed” to have the bigger house once dad got his raise. And when mom’s business started bringing in significantly more money they strongly believed that they were entitled to a higher credit card limit which then, of course, meant they could spend more on those great sales at the mall and the Home Shopping Network.
What they didn’t know was that behind the hype was a sinister plot to get as much of their money as possible, not caring if they ended up in financial hell. The plot went like this…

First the banker down the street sold a house to the Jones family knowing they couldn’t afford it. This didn’t matter to the banker because her plan was to sell the loan to Big Time investments. This way the bank receives the entire amount of the loan right away instead of over the next 30 years. The Jones family continues paying their mortgage as usual, not to the bank but to Big Time. Again Big Time is not concerned about the Jones Family’s financial future because they have collected hundreds of loans just like the Jones’. They sell these large clumps of loans to an even larger investor, Prime Time.

Second, the Jones family runs into a problem, their transmission on the Audi goes out. This is not a massive problem in itself for such an affluent family because they put the entire charge on a credit card with a newly increased limit. After all, they’ll pay it off easily- they’re affluent! The problem is that their daughter broke an ankle playing softball a few weeks later, mom’s business is in a seasonal lull and the roof of their house starts leaking due to a recent storm.

In this situation the sellers of those must have items don’t run to the rescue. Prime Time wasn’t sympathetic, they didn’t arrive at Mr. Jones’ doorstep with a new contract reducing his monthly mortage payments. Nor, did the credit card company voluntarily deffer payments till after they are back on their feet.

No, the Jones family found themselves in a tent with many others from their upper-middle-class neighborhood. They were all in the same situation because they all believed the hype associated with collecting stuff, stuff and more stuff.

The words of the verse I mentioned earlier would have served them well and saved them a lot of heartache and loss. With this verse in mind they would have taken the extra money from dad’s raise and invested a portion, saved some for emergencies or donated some to charity. With savings and investments they would have been prepared to deal with a leaking roof, a broken ankle and a business going through a seasonal lull.

Another verse that helps keep us in the right mindset is Proverbs 31: 10-18. This passage speaks about the wife of Noble Character. It talks about how she wakes up early, makes breakfast, buys a field and plants a vineyard. Why is that important? Because of what it goes on to say in verse 18, ” She makes sure her dealings are profitable, her lamp burns late into the night”. This is the picture of a smart woman who is not captivated by materialism. She thinks far into the future and works hard to not only maintain but thrive in any economy.

So, now that you’re on the path to financial freedom you must develope a long-term, anti-hype mindset. Heed the words of the Bible and concentrate on Heavenly treasures more than the material stuff that can be lost in a moment. Don’t assist in stuffing the pockets of businessess that don’t give one iota about your financial future. Be like the shrewd woman of Proverbs, work hard, save and be sure that every financial decision helps get you and your family closer to financial independence!!

Biblical #Money Smarts- Part Four: Education

If in Real Estate it’s Location, Location, Location…then in financial wisdom it must be Education, Education, Education!! Think about it. Can you name anyone extraordinarily skilled at their craft who didn’t educate themselves in that craft in some way? Mother Teresa and Ghandi learned the art of self sacrifice. Robert Kiyosaki, Donald Trump and Zig Ziglar learned about money, finances, creating wealth, public speaking and real estate. These individuals didn’t wake up one day with years of knowledge and wisdom downloaded into their brains. It was even said of Christ that He “grew in wisdom and stature”, (Luke 2:52) meaning He displayed more and more of His wisdom as He got older. Now, of course, Christ had all wisdom within Him because He was God wrapped in human flesh but if we are to follow in His footsteps by growing in wisdom then we need to start plugging our brains into wisdom-rich sources. Put down that extention cord…it was a metaphore. You may be tempted to tell me you can’t carve out twenty minutes each day to educate yourselves. To be totally honest, I’M NOT BUYING IT & here are a few reasons why. Drive Time University: In my network marketing business I’ve gotten to know the writings and teachings of a very successful businessman named Jeff Olson. One concept I learned from him is something he called Drive-Time University- listening to audio books, podcasts, etc. while driving from one destinatiin to another. Imagine being stuck in rush-hour traffic while listening to Zig Ziglar speak on patience, endurance, overcoming adversity or other empowering topics. Think of all the places you drive to: Church, work, school, children’s sporting events, visiting family and friends, the grocery store, etc. If you choose to forgo what’s offered on the car radio (which generally has little positives to offer) you’ll have plenty of time to listen to several books per month. I say this from experience!! You can also use your PS3, Xbox or DVD player to play your audio books while doing chores around the house. Yes, you can mop while learning stock options, do the dishes while gaining investment knowledge or learn what a Balance sheet is while folding laundry. So, your “I don’t have time ” excuse can no longer serve as your fall-back, sorry.

Free education? The temptation right now is to move onto popular excuse number two which is, “Financial Education costs too much”. My response to this false statement is: “Does your local library charge an entry fee? You see, most people forget all about the library down the street when they think about how to gain an education. But in today’s world of high-cost colleges and universities, doesn’t it make sense to learn-for free- from successful people like Bob Hopkins, Larry Burkett and Chuck Bentley? There are litterally thousands of books at your library and libraries in neighboring towns from which you can fill your brain with the exact same information you’d get at an Ivy Leauge institution. (I realize that may not be a popular or readily-accepted statement, but I’m here to speak the truth….not win a popularity contest)

The importance of financially educating ourselves cannot be emphasized enough. As stated in the book Where Did My Money Go? by Bob Hopkins: It is enough that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be revolution before tomorrow morning. – Henry Ford. When I first read that statement I was both annoyed and intrigued. I was annoyed because it was made clear to me that the few, mega-rich who control our economies are counting on us remaining ignorant of how the economy really works. Does that not bother you? It should!! Your continued ignorance helps line the pockets of the few while many of us struggle, barely get by and more of us join the ranks of those below the poverty line. Once I was done being annoyed, intrigue took over and I kept wondering 1. What is it they know and I don’t? 2. What am I missing from my financial knowledge? & 3. What am I doing to keep them in power over me? My eyes would never have been opened the truth that there are a few who want us to remain enslaved; without reading Where did My Money Go? by Bob Hopkins. I would have remained ignorant of what Balance Sheets and Income Statements were if I had not opened the pages of Money Came by The House The Other Day. Digging Out the Money Pit helped remind me of the Biblical truths concerning money management. Stock Investing for Dummies provided a clearer understanding of how the stock market works and of the terms used in the investing/trading world. The list could go on for quite a while. Thanks to my goodreads.com account I know I’ve read over 104 books in my life- not all were financial, but a lot of them were- and I’m sure you have better things to do than read a list of books I’ve read. Did you know stock brokers offer free online and in-person classes? Visit stock broker sites like scottrade.comtdameritrade.com and tradeking.com, search through their education sections and sign up for their free webinars and seminars. Most of the time they’ll ask you to create a profile but that is also free.

So we all agree that education is important. Your “I don’t have time” and “it costs too much” excuses have been laid to rest. (I hear tapps playing in the background) Now all you have to do is begin to educate yourselves. Visit your libraries and community centers, check out stock broker sites, search the internet for free and low-cost financial seminars and workshops, get a hold of audio books, browse amazon & Barnes and Noble for low cost books; whatever it takes to start populating your brain with money-based wisdom. Remember, there are a few at the top of the financial foodchain who are COUNTING ON US REMAINING IGNORANT AND THEREFORE ENSLAVED! Fight against the ignorance, rise above a corrupted system that has been set in place to feed on our lack of wisdom. Your excuses are moot, cost is no longer an issue. It’s all up to you- remain ignorant or get smarter, period!

Biblical Money Smarts- Part Three: Getting Out of Debt

I hope you have read the two previous articles in this series. In them I covered two financial disciplines I think are essential for financial success- Over-spending and Creating Assets. 
So if you have followed the advice contained in them- reduced your spending and created assets- Great job!!
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Why are those two concepts important? Easy answer: It leads to part three of the series–Getting (and Staying) Out of Debt!

Teens, newly-engaged and newly married couples are in the forefront of my mind when I consider the topic of debt. Why? Because I greatly desire that they are fully educated on the dangers of debt and the many horrible experiences that being in debt can cause. The number one argument couples experience is on the topic of money. Debt makes home life tense- like trying to walk thru field of well-hidden land mines.

Therefore it is imperative that we avoid debt as much as possible and if we are in it we need to aggressively move towards freeing ourselves from its clutches. Proverbs 22:7 tells us that- The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.

Do you want to be a slave to credit card companies, lien holders, banks and other lending institutions, or would you rather be free and able to put your money to work for you?

 Of course you’d rather be debt free, so let’s look at how to do so. These tips will work for anyone willing to

*Sacrifice

*Remain disciplined

*Keep future goals in mind &

*Trust Biblical principles- they work!

My first piece of advice is cut up your credit cards.

(wait, wait, wait, don’t leave….stick with me for a bit)

Here’s food for thought from the book Where Did My Money Go? By Bob Hopkins:

” Most credit card companies do not want you to pay off your monthly bills. They want you maxed out. They can’t make obscene profits on interest alone…” Mr. Hopkins goes on to explain that those credit card holders who pay off their bill on a monthly basis are referred to as “deadbeat clients”.

(Yeah, I didn’t appreciate the term either)

I can attest to the truth of this. My wife and I used to work in a call center taking in-coming calls for a giant credit card company. Many times clients would ask for a credit limit increase and end up confused as to why they were denied. They’d say things like, “I’ve been with you guys for a really long time. I pay off my bill every month. Why can’t I get an increase?”

The question was legitimate and so was their confusion. They were managing their money well. It makes sense that this type of client would be allowed to borrow more money because they have shown they will pay it back in a timely manner. But, the credit card companies are not interested in you being responsible or Godly. They are interested in charging you late fees, interest, membership fees, etc. It’s all about THEM making money. 

Consider this: Why should you continue giving more and more of your hard earned cash to people who do not support your positive, wealth-building actions?

 Also, if you don’t cut up those credit cards you’ll keep using them. 

 I know, I know, some of you are saying, “I can just stop using it, no need to cut it up Taz, that’s a bit extreme.”

 If that were true you would not be in the debt situation that now has you shackled, worried, up at night, working overtime, arguing with your spouse, mad at the kids and unable to afford to send your kid to band camp much less college.

So keep your eyes on the prize. Keep your account open but cut up the cards and work on paying them off. Once you have a balance of zero dollars you can order new cards.

So now that you have cut them up, step two is pay more than the minimum balance. This is really important. While working at the call center I learned that even a medium sized credit card balance can take a while to pay off. 

 I called my credit card company the other day and asked, “How long would it take to pay off my current balance of $348.17 if I only paid the minimum due each month?” The agent asked for some personal information and came back with the answer of “One year and eight months”.

 I consider that a very long time considering the balance is not really all that big. Don’t you? Ya see, in this situation the credit card company (a.k.a. another big bank) charges me interest each month that I have a balance on my card. So my minimum payment reduces my debt but the interest is added in next month which brings the balance up a bit also. Each month this process is repeated there for dragging out the process of paying off the debt. In my case, instead of paying off a little over three hundred dollars I could end up paying over $500!! Yeah, that’s interest at work- cut up those cards and pay more than the minimum. 

 Call your credit card companies and ask them how much you’d have to pay each month in order to pay off your cards in six months. If the answer they give you is too much for your budget, don’t be ashamed, just ask, “How about if I  pay it off in a year?” Keep asking until you get a number that works with your income and budget.

You need to make sacrifices, period! One of the things I admire about my wife is her financial discipline. There was a time when she was out of work so- being the responsible person she is- she decided to cancel her satellite subscription and she signed up for Netflix instead. There were also other areas in her life where she cut back in order to survive while looking for employment.

Can you say the same about yourself? Are you willing to sacrifice in order to spread your money further and reduce your debt? 

 Consider your spending habits and add up the following monthly costs:

1. Eating out

2. Movies

3. Clothes

4. Video Games

5. Concerts

6. Cigarettes

7. Alcohol…….

…and all the other non-essentials.

 Now that you have that number in front of you, imagine sending those funds to your creditors each month. I am sure you see where I am going with this. That money, currently spent on non-essentials, could greatly reduce your debt. 

 You are literally spending away your financial freedom.

(let that sink in)

My next piece of advice is not something I hear in financial circles a lot and I think it’s a shame and that is; read books about how money really works.

John Adams said it really well when he uttered these words: “All the perplexities, confusion and distress in America arise not from deficits of the constitution or confederation, not from want of honor or virtue, so much as down-right ignorance of coin, credit and circulation.”

I love that statement. I cannot tell you how empowering, freeing and eye-opening it is to soak up the wisdom in books like…

*Where Did My Money Go?

*Money Came by The House The Other Day

*Financial Peace

*Digging Out The Money Pit

*What Ever Happened To The American Dream?

*The Coming Economic Earthquake

*Rich Dad, Poor Dad (entire series)

*Why We Want You To Be Rich

*The Millionaire Mind  &

*The Millionaire Next Door

*The Automatic Millionaire

The knowledge shared by the wise folks if the financial industry yielded me a greater understanding of how money works and what money really is.

That’s right, money is not really what we think it is. What do I mean by that? Get those books I listed above and you’ll see.

 Also, the concept of having my money work for me was driven home by these books and the authors who have lived that concept.

In part two of this series I spoke about the necessity of Creating Assets. That is how you have money work for you! Imagine that you have an ATM machine in your bedroom and every time you put in $200 it spit out $275 back at you. I can imagine you’d spend a lot of time putting $200 into that machine, correct? Now imagine if you put in the 200 and when you got the 275 back you took the excess 75 and sent it to a creditor, reducing your debt by 75 dollars. Can you see how you’d become debt free if you were patient and disciplined enough? This is what an asset does for you. Not only does it increase your income it allows you to reduce and eventually eliminate your debt.

You might now be saying, “Taz, you said you were going to show us how to get out and stay out of debt.”

My only reply would be, “All the things that helped you get out of debt are the same things that will keep you out of it. Stay disciplined, spend less than you make, save, invest, pay off credit cards each month and keep creating assets.

There are tons more pieces of advice I could list but honestly, you have to dive into the books, DVDs, audio disks and websites for yourself. Take personal responsibility, take charge and don’t let Satan beat you down with financial negligence.

Remember Proverbs 22:7- The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.

Let’s not be slaves– let’s be Financially Free!!

Biblical Money Smarts – Part Two: Creating Assets

So, you’ve got some money saved or you have curbed your bad spending habits in order to start saving some cash. What Biblical advice is there concerning being a good steward of this excess moolah? Very good question! Robert Kiyosaki is one of my favorite authors in the world of financing. As a young man he learned about money from a man he calls his “rich dad”. This rich dad taught Robert not only how to- but, more importantly why– creating assets is so important to financial freedom. Before we go any further let’s be sure we know what an asset is:

·         An Asset is anything that generates income. Many people feel their house is their greatest asset. However, for most of us this is not the case. If you are paying a mortgage or rent on a home it can only be an asset if your expenses for that home are outweighed by money created by it. For example, your total monthly house expenses (including taxes, maintenance, etc.) are $1,500/mo and you rent out part of the home & also charge a local farmer for using some of your land to grow some of her crops. The money generated is $1,700/mo. In this case your house is an asset because all your expenses are covered & you have excess cash. In this case the excess is $200 a month of profit- this house is an asset because it generated $200 in income.

Matthew 25:14- 30 is one of my favorite verses concerning money and being responsible with the gifts God gives us. It tells of a man who was about to leave for a long trip. He called his three servants to him and entrusted each with a portion of his funds. When this man returned, both the first and second servants had doubled the money untrusted to them. However, the third- out of fear of monetary loss- buried the cash so that he would be sure to still have all his master had entrusted to him. Upon returning the master was not pleased! He rewarded his first two servants for their shrewdness saying, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ However, to the third he said, “‘You wicked and lazy servant,… you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.” When I read this story I think to myself, “What did those first two servants do to multiply their money? Did they start businesses, buy some sort of primitive stocks or did they invest in some sort of agricultural venture?” One thing is for sure, whatever the venture was, they created an asset- something that helped yield added funds. They didn’t squander it, spend money on a lottery ticket or just put it in a safe place. They made a wise decision on how to multiply what they were entrusted with and were able to look their master in the eye with confidence that they had done the right thing. Can you say that about your money habits? Would the Lord look down on you with pleasure and say, “Well done!?” (which should be a Christians ultimate goal) Or will you be punished like the third servant who was stripped of his blessings?

So, Taz, how do I create assets?

Actually there are many avenues. Recently I have been investigating Common Stocks, (aka Penny Stocks). I have to say I am not upset at the results. The stock market is full of opportunity for those with limited funds or those blessed with excess cash. I know, I know, ”Investing in stocks too risky!”, right? Keep in mind the third servant- who was stripped of all he was given- thought that risk was not worth the possible gains and his master was not pleased when he returned. Out of “fear” he did nothing and as a result he did not please his Master.

 However, those first two servants did not cower to the spirit of fear; instead they looked for smart, wise, profitable, Godly opportunities and moved forward with their investing. We have the same opportunity. Dive into the Word, pray to God for help in making the right investment decision in order to create assets which lead to financial freedom. The internet is full of opportunities to learn about the stock market and a lot of them are FREE! Yes, you can learn the basics and even the more technical/complex lessons needed to make wise investments and you pay zero, zip, zilch, nada, nothin’ for this education! So your excuses for not knowing have just run out.

Owning a small, part time business is another smart way to build an asset. Consider what you love to do. As the great Mary Kay Ashe said, “Find something you love to do and someone will pay you a lot of money to do it.” God has blessed you with talents and passion. I believe these can be great indicators as to what type of business you should start. If you are a natural born teacher and talker, motivational speaking may be your avenue. If you love to paint, see if the local small businesses need an artist to paint logos or scenes in their business windows. If you happen to be a whiz at personal finance, look into teaching others to be better with money.

Phillipians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” God didn’t say

“I have power to help you with everything, except creating assets, when it comes to that… you’re on your own, sorry”.

In fact when I read the passage about the three servants it seems to me that the master expected a return on His investment. It would stand to reason that God expects the same of us. (Note: I am not saying God commands us to be rich, only smart with the funds He has entrusted us with.)

To all those who insist that it just “seems too risky”; keep in mind there is risk in your current traditional job also. You take a risk each day that you won’t get fired tomorrow. You take a risk by trusting your car or public transportation to get you to your job on time each day. You are taking a risk that your boss doesn’t go bankrupt and have no money to pay you. Also, you may want to google “layoffs in 2012” The results may surprise you. It comes down to this: Would you rather be taking a risk while building your boss’ dream or while building your own?

Assets can be created while you are working your nine-to-five. I started with a certain network marketing company a while back. A lot of folks have said to me, “I just don’t have the time to do that”. I ask them, “If your boss offered over time right now, would you take it?” Of course, they say “Yes”. I reply, “If you have time to work extra hours for your boss, you have time to work a few hours for yourself, do you not?”

I am not a millionaire by any means but I can honestly say that my part time business gives me the opportunity to be on in the near future. Can you say that about your traditional job?

Here’s something to consider: If you were the Michael Jordon at your job would it lead you to a prosperous lifestyle? Would your current job lead to the ability to give money to the poor, tithe a massive amount to your Church, or take yearly family vacations in order to build lasting memories with those you love?

 

Savings accounts, bonds, bank CDs, Money Market Accounts, etc. Your options are varied and many when it comes to creating assets. The only real question is: Are you going to choose to be disciplined enough to start creating these assets or will you settle for your current lack of financial freedom?

The Choice is yours!

Educational Resources

Stock market:

1.     Stocks for Dummies: A really good book you can get on amazon.com or audible.com

2.     The four of the following sites allow you to

·        Sign up for a free accounts 

·         Watch free educational webinars & videos or read free articles (I suggest you start with the first one listed)

www.tradeking.com

www.tdameritrade.com

www.scottrade.com

 

Starting a business:

1.     Small Business For Dummies

2.     The Business of the 21st Century by Robert Kiyosaki

3.     Network Marketing for Dummies by Zig Ziglar

So far, in this 6-part series- we have discussed the dangers of Over-Spending and tackled the idea of Creating Assets with the money you’ve saved. Next topic- Getting out and Staying out Of Debt. Not overspending and Creating assets are ways to deal with debt but we will dive a bit deeper into the debt problem in Part 3. Pray, take a deep breath and prepare to be totally honest with yourself. It’s gonna be….interesting.

Biblical Money Smarts- Part One: #Overspending

I have worked and attended school/Church with many people who seem to never have extra cash. I have been one of those people a few times in my past and sometimes money is still a struggle now that I am re-married, in ministry, a business owner and full time college student. I hear those without money talk about how they cannot afford a vacation, health insurance or that new shiny car. However, most of these folks have made one very dangerous and basic mistake- they spend too much. I say that because I see the stuff they DO spend money on.

Doesn’t it seem logical that every dollar you spend is a dollar you no longer have? Yeah…I know, “Taz, that’s pretty much common sense.” Well…it makes sense but, unfortunately, it’s no longer that common.

For the purpose of this blog my definition of Overspending is a simple one- Spending more money than you need to.
Here’s what I mean.
Let’s say you leave home in the morning and you go through the McDonald’s drive thru, you spend $7 for breakfast, then on your lunch break you spend $10 for take-out at a local restaurant. On the way home you decide that the American-style Chinese food Timmy Chan’s is irresistible so you get an 8 dollar plate to go. That’s a total of $25 in just one day! I know most people don’t buy all three meals in a day so let’s just take the seven dollar breakfast for example. That’s still $35 a week- a total of $1820 a year! That’s a good start to a vacation in New Orleans (feel free to come get me and my wife when you’re headed that way).  For those who do buy all three meals per day, you’re spending about $6,500 a year. Wow! Imagine if you had that in your bank account instead of spread among all those local eateries. Imagine the bills you could pay off, vacations you could take or the band camps for which you could pay 100% cash so you could send your talented child to. (you know you want that loud saxophone of his gone for a week…admit it)

Movies can be another pitfall for the many who are struggling with saving cash. These days it’s about $9.25 for a movie and a bit more if it’s 3D. There are folks I know who go see a movie every week. (They insist on seeing it the day it hits theaters…..gotta love crazy people lol) I am not suggesting you stop seeing movies all together but once a week at $9.25 a pop is $481 a year. You could get a Netflix membership, pay $7.99 a month ($95.88/yr) and watch two to three movies a week instead. More bang for your buck seems to make the most sense to me. Compare going to the theater to a Netflix membership and that’s a difference of $385.12 each year. This does not including the cost of fuel it takes to get to the theater. (You have been paying attention to rising fuel prices, right?)

If you are the type of person described here who spends money on breakfast each day, goes to the movies once a week & you are tired of not having money, imagine the result if you decide to eat breakfast at home,  and replace the movie going with the suggested Netflix plan. (No, Netflix is not paying me) You’d have an extra (drum roll please) $1,945.12 every year! That’s money IN YOUR POCKET….ok, in the bank. If you’re setting aside this cash in a savings account for the next ten years, that’s $19,451.20 before interest is added!!
It’s amazing what some patience and Godly discipline can do, huh?

Here’s an important tip to help reduce over spending. It’s a simple, doable, workable one.  Shop at thrift stores! aka, Resale Shops!

“Whooooaaawww!?!? Taz, you want me to buy used clothing? Only poor people do that. I’m not a poor person!”

You may not be poor,… now,…. but in today’s economy we cannot afford to be picky or to think too highly of ourselves. Jesus lived as a “poor person” having no home and was buried in a borrowed tomb. If He could do without the “finer things in life”, you can too. And shopping at a thrift store doesn’t mean you can’t find designer clothing. It does mean you pay less for them (ssshhhhh…nobody has to know)

Shopping at a resale shop means you get the same clothes you’d buy at Macy’s for a far more affordable price. That’s more money in YOUR pocket. Using your money at a resale shop will yield nice clothing and you’ll leave there with five outfits for the same price- or less- than one outfit at Macy’s. Now if you feel the need to unnecessarily spread your hard-earned cash around, I have a Houston, TX address to give you. I assure you I….aaahhh I mean, someone….will put it to good use.

Here’s a Bible verse for ya: Proverbs 6:6–8 says “Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest.”

What does this verse have to do with spending money? God is telling us to be wise, work hard and prepare for the future. Can you do that if you are spending your money unwisely? If you put nothing aside for a rainy day- as the ant- will you be prepared for disaster or even small emergencies? If you buy that expensive shirt, expensive rims or spend a ton of cash on fast food, will you have any left over to repair a suddenly nonoperational transmission of your beloved BMW? For most of us the answer is, “No at all!”

Also, consider the story of Joseph in Genesis 41:14 thru 57

Joseph interpreted the king’s dream and advised the king to save grain in the plentiful years so that his kingdom would be ready for seven years of famine. When famine hit all the lands Egypt was still doing well because of what they stored up. They then sold their excess grain to surrounding lands which had no crop to speak of.

They profited during a depression, imagine that.

Are you ready for a major depression to hit? Considering the current economy it’s not a far stretch to imagine it happening in the near future.

One last scripture to chew on: Proverbs 21:5

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.”

Yes, you have to make a definite plan in order to enjoy a time of plenty. (I remind you of the aforementioned story of Joseph)

Obviously God cares a great deal that we are wise with the allocation of our funds. He wants to see us prosper. I’m not saying you are destined to great riches, not by any means. I am saying that we are responsible for acting wisely with the money our Father has blessed us with.

Interested in learning more about spending, saving, investing and getting out of debt? Here are some books I highly recommend.

1.     Digging Out of The Money Pit: 30 Biblical Solutions to Your Financial Headaches

2.     Money Came by the House the Other Day: A Guide to Christian Financial Planning And Stories of Stewardship

3.     The Millionaire Mind

4.     The Millionaire Next Door

5. Where Did My Money Go?: An Honest Look At Perpetual Debt and The Fiscal  Slavery Of The American Family from A Christian perspective

 &

5. Whatever Happened to The American Dream?

Recap: Rethink how, where and how often you spend money. Research your spending habits, decide what you can live without. Consider this verse: Proverbs 22:7

“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”

Which do you want to be, a victorious ruler or a slave to your creditors?

PS: You may be thinking “So, Taz what do I do with this money once I have decided to save more and spend less?” or you might be wondering, “I have some money set aside already. What is the Biblically correct thing to do with it?”

The options are almost endless for sure. Stay tuned for part 2 of this series- Creating Assets. It’s gonna be very interesting topic- to say the least.

God Bless and Happy Saving